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Detroit Auto Show prankster 'damages' hundreds of thousands of dollars in cars

  • Detroit Auto Show prankster 'damages' hundreds of thousands of dollars in cars
  • 2015 Jeep Renegade Trailhawk [w/video]
  • 2017 Jaguar XE
  • Ford reveals new F-150 Raptor packs 450 horsepower

Chris Paukert

2015 Land Rover Discovery Sport

Posted Jan 30th 2015 12:00PM

Just Because You Have A Family Doesn't Mean You Can't Have An Adventure




The SUV category transitioned from glorified agricultural equipment into slick mall trawlers in the blink of an evolutionary eye. But in the genre's speedy civilization process, something was left on the table – the promise of those all-conquering Marlboro Man antics that first tempted so many motorists out of their station wagons and MPVs. Despite utility vehicles being more popular than ever, that sort of do-anything capability is largely the stuff of fiction these days. The only uncharted thresholds modern CUVs cross are new coffee shop parking lots and unfinished McMansion developments.

At first blush, this latest entry from Land Rover would appear to be no different – the 2015 Discovery Sport wears the same rounded features, oversized 19-inch wheels and safety-first backup cameras typical of its peers. Those shovels and rakes and implements of destruction that farmers once bolted to the sides of their Land Rover Series Ones? Long gone, pal.

When it was first revealed, the 2015 Discovery Sport was unsurprisingly and uncharitably labeled a "soft-roader" by much of the automotive media and Autoblog commentariat, a quasi-epithet shared with many premium pavement pounders like the Audi Q5, BMW X3, Mercedes-Benz GLK and Volvo XC60. That descriptor suggested the Disco Sport was yellow of belly, willing to risk the Green Oval's peerless off-road credentials in its chase for the suburban dollar. Perhaps in order to divorce us of that notion, Land Rover invited us to Iceland in the dead of winter to test their new baby's mettle.

Image Credit: Copyright 2014 Chris Paukert / AOL

2017 Jaguar XE

Posted Jan 28th 2015 12:00PM

Pouncing On The Wide-Open Compact Luxury Sports Segment




For the first time in decades, the prize for the best-driving compact luxury sport sedan is very much up for grabs.

BMW's 3 Series, the segment's longstanding archetype, has grown a bit soft, distant and pricy. Its Japanese rival from Infiniti, the Q50, lost the plot thanks to its video game steering and dated powerplant. The Audi A4 is due for replacement and the fantastic Mercedes-Benz C-Class skews luxury over sport. The Cadillac ATS? With an excellent chassis hobbled by middling powertrains and the devil's own infotainment system, it isn't selling. Unlikely as it sounds, the Lexus IS is probably the segment's best driver, but you've got to learn to love those turn-to-stone looks.

So, where's a segment malcontent to look? Provided he or she is patient enough to wait for this car's spring 2016 arrival, allow us to recommend the 2017 Jaguar XE.

Let's be honest. Jaguar really needed to come out with guns blazing. The last time the British brand battled in the compact premium sport sedan segment, its much-maligned X-Type slinked into the underbrush, tail between its legs after just a single generation. While the X was in some ways a better car than history will begrudge it, there's no getting around that Jaguar brought a front-wheel-drive knife to a rear-wheel-drive gun fight.

Image Credit: Copyright 2014 Chris Paukert / AOL

How feasible is Hyundai's HCD-15 Santa Cruz pickup?

Posted Jan 21st 2015 9:00AM



When the silk finally slipped off Hyundai's HCD-15 Santa Cruz concept at the Detroit Auto Show, it was tangible, four-wheeled confirmation following years of rumours that the Korean automaker has been investigating the pickup market. Yet despite strong early critical and online reception, the likelihood of a production Hyundai pickup remains muddy at best.

Hyundai's HCD-15 Santa Cruz concept confirmed that the company is keeping an eye on North America's pickup market. But how likely is the Korean automaker to get into the game? Continue reading as we plan to find out... READ MORE

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World Premiere Hyundai Santa Cruz Crossover Truck Concept at NAIAS 2015

Image Credit: Copyright 2015 Brandon Turkus / AOL

2015 Ram 1500 Rebel drops the crosshairs, muscles in with new snout

Posted Jan 17th 2015 2:00PM

2015 Ram 1500 Rebel Final (retouched)

Emboldened by record sale and increasing market share, Ram continues to spin off derivatives of its fullsize pickup. Bowing at today's Detroit Auto Show, the 10th model based on Ram's 1500 series is the new-for-2015 Rebel, and it's designed to capture the affections of that exceedingly popular marketer's bogey, the "active lifestyle enthusiast."

Ram officials figure they've already got the hunt/fish/camp crowd all sewn up with the 1500 Outdoorsman, so the Rebel's imposing snout strikes out in a different direction in search of extreme-sports types – namely customers with dirt bikes, side-by-sides, jet-skis and other powersports toys. If that has you envisioning the Rebel as a rival to the Ford F-150 SVT Raptor, think again – "It's not an extreme, desert-racer off-road type product," says Ram boss Bob Hegbloom. If you're seeking an analog from another automaker, look to the Toyota Tundra TRD Pro and we think you'll be in the ballpark.

The Rebel's most distinctive styling element has to be its radical new grain-finish grille, which does away with Ram's longstanding crosshair motif in favour of an interlocking design that intentionally won't be for everyone. There are lighting changes, too, with black-bucket headlamps featuring LED accents and matching LED foglights. A non-functional twin-snorkel sport hood, tonneau cover with stamped logo, blacked-out taillamps and unique badges are other model telltales.

Jaguar working on windows that open when you touch them

Posted Jan 14th 2015 1:30PM



Jaguar is working on side windows that will whir up and down not with a push of a button, but with a touch of the glass itself.

According to Jaguar Design Director Ian Callum, "For instance, if you want to pull the windows down, you touch a certain area of the glass and you can actually just drop them down." Callum would go on to caution, "These things are all a work in progress at the moment," before pausing and saying, "That's coming."

When we asked when we might see such technology deployed in a production car, Callum, who spoke with Autoblog at the Detroit Auto Show on Monday, said, "I don't know when, but we certainly know how to do it."

Callum was less forthcoming about how the technology functions, saying, "Oh, I can't tell you (laughs)... it's proximity, mainly." It's not clear whether traditional physical switches mounted on the doors would still be required with such a system.

The designer then went on to discuss Jaguar's innovation in proximity-based switchgear – the automaker has already been using the technology for its interior overhead lighting controls and glovebox release. When we asked about any safety concerns that touch-control windows might generate, Callum said, "I think if it's a very specific area, there's absolutely no ambiguity about what you're trying to do – it's fine."

Callum knows a thing or two about the need for absolute specificity in this area – when Jaguar introduced its XF sedan with proximity switchgear, it found passengers were accidentally opening their gloveboxes with their knees, which prompted a quick redesign. "It's a whole new genre of disciplines that we have to think about – what is safe," he said.

Ford Detroit stand map clearest evidence yet of new GT, Mustang GT350R, SVT Raptor

Posted Jan 9th 2015 11:30AM



An anonymous tipster has leaked a map of Ford's display stand plans for next week's Detroit Auto Show, and the schematic contains some interesting details that supports the idea of a Ford GT revival, as well as the presence of the rumoured Shelby Mustang GT350R and F-150 SVT Raptor.

The map, used by workers to help erect the Blue Oval's Cobo Hall display, maps out a show with a performance-heavy influence, with a codenamed vehicle, "Phoenix" sitting front and centre, flanked by "Hummingbird 2" and "F-150 SVT Raptor Teaser." Our sources within Ford have confirmed that Phoenix is the long-rumoured GT successor (a notion furthered by the presence of a pair of historic GT40s shown near the display entrance), and Hummingbird 2 refers to the GT350R (note also that there's a "Mustang Historic" GT350R on its own dais nearby). We've also learned that while the Raptor is labeled "Teaser," our Ford source assures us this is effectively the production truck.

Rumours of a neo Ford GT have been picking up speed for months now, and we've been lead to believe that this new car will have motorsports applications firmly on its mind, but it won't follow in the same retro-steeped design footsteps of its 2005-2006 forbearer.

While the map does show Focus models on display, including the performance-oriented ST, we note that there isn't a spot seemingly earmarked for the rumoured next-generation Focus RS, which has been the subject of the Motown rumourmill for some time. Instead, we expect to see Ford's hottest hatch bow at the Geneva Motor Show in March.

Even without a Focus RS revival, the Ford stand is shaping up to be a high-performance, high-horsepower showing, and we're excited to see if the Blue Oval can steal the show come Monday.

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Image Credit: Lewis

Autoblog's Top 100 Photographs of 2014

Posted Dec 31st 2014 12:00PM

Here are the shots the stopped us in our tracks this year.




On a daily basis, we do our very best to convey the excitement and visceral emotion of all things automotive for you, dear reader. Sometimes, however, a simple photo says more than our keystrokes ever can. This gallery of our top photos of 2014 aims to prove the wisdom in that thought one hundred times over in vivid detail.

This year, we've compiled everything from seven-figure supercars suspended in California's golden sunlight to 4x4s on leafy trails and EVs tilting at windmills – not to mention vintage motorsports, drifting and concours action. It's all here for your viewing enjoyment.

In short, It's been another excellent year in automobiles, one with an embarrassment of curves and horsepower – not to mention more than a few seminal stretches of road thrown in for good measure.

Click through to our gallery and download your favourites (there are links to the full shoots and articles in the gallery) and get set as we ready our camera gear for an even more promising season of snapping in 2015. Happy New Year!

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Image Credit: Copyright Autoblog / Autoblog Canada / 2014

How GM's OnStar is building a better Check Engine Light

Posted Nov 22nd 2014 1:00PM

Cars Will Warn Of Failures Before They Happen

A display alerts the driver that the engine power has been reduced in an OnStar equipted vehicle in San Mateo, Calif., on Monday

Soon, OnStar will be used to mine your car's systems and compare its findings against vast pools of data in the cloud.

We've all become accustomed to our cars' dashboards warning us of an impending calamity, be it low fuel, low tire pressure or even the dreaded nonspecific "check engine" light. But what if your car could tell you specifically that your alternator is going, or that your water pump is about to fail? That technology is coming, says General Motors' executive vice president of global product development, Mark Reuss. In a Thursday media luncheon, Reuss confirmed to us that GM is working on the technology using cars equipped with its OnStar communications network. According to Reuss:

"Being able to predict about when that [a failure] is going to happen prevents walk homes. If there's a problem with a brake rotor, if there's a problem with a brake system or a steering system – being able to predict that [failure] and inform the driver that they need to go to a dealer and have that service performed before it happens, that's really good R&D."

Today, OnStar is best known for its subscription services that help drivers deal with inconveniences and problems, from turn-by-turn navigation to automatic emergency services notifications in the event of an accident. But soon, OnStar will be used to mine your car's systems and compare its findings against vast pools of data in the cloud. If it finds variations in the performance of your vehicle's systems that are indicative of impending failures, OnStar will then be able to automatically notify you of the potential problem utilizing in-car screens, either via the infotainment system or gauge cluster display. OnStar presently has the ability to notify owners of vehicle maintenance intervals using email, so conceivably notifications could be delivered in this way, too.

So, will this be yet another subscription-based service for GM? Not necessarily. Reuss says:

"We're figuring out the business model right now. But theoretically, we'd like to offer that to all of our customers. We already give away a ton of money on that equipment of OnStar in the car that nobody really pays for. So we're going to use it."

So, is this pie-in-the-sky technology? No, Reuss says. "We're testing the system now with our employees," he says, which suggests it's coming soon.

Now, how long will it be before OnStar checks to make sure your preferred dealer has the required replacement part in stock and reserves a service appointment for you?

Image Credit: ZUMA Press, Inc. / Alamy

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