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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

Seyth Miersma

Average Detroit debut car had 331 hp, 7 speeds, 0-60 of 5.6 seconds

Posted Jan 24th 2015 8:00PM

My fellow Autoblog editors and I were hyped for the 2015 Detroit Auto Show before the doors at Cobo even opened, and the sheet metal we all saw bore out that early excitement. And, as is usually the case, you readers tuned in more often and in greater numbers for coverage of this show than you do for any other single event on the calendar of the car world. Thanks.

By basic measures then, Detroit '15 was a smashing success. (If you're within striking distance of the Motor City, I highly recommend that you buy a ticket and see for yourself.)

With big names like Ford GT, NSX, Titan, Tacoma and Volt rolling onto stages this year, its no wonder that our eyeballs were glued to the coverage. But the diversity of products (along with my recent breakdown of the cars I drove in 2014) had me wondering what the "average" Detroit debut car looked like this year.

To get some statistical idea of what the show produced this year, I fired up Excel and started to chart the facts and figures relayed by dozens of press releases.

As you might guess, the results left huge gaps in the data set. Mixing concept car info with just-announced production vehicles means that powertrain details like power and torque can be sketchy, while really sensitive info like pricing and fuel economy ratings are almost non-existent. What's more, my rough calculations only took into account debuting products, not the entire roster of every company's show stand (which often includes existing production models).

In short, I was hunting for trends more than rigorous science. (Hey, I'm an English major, back off.)

All of those caveats listed then, what did the spec sheet Detroit's average debut vehicle look like? Here's a list of figures (all "where applicable"): READ ON.

Image Credit: Copyright 2015 AOL

2015 Ram ProMaster City Wagon [w/video]

Posted Jan 20th 2015 11:57AM

At the tail end of 2014, I had some time to sample Ram's slightly more civilized version of the Promaster Cargo Van - the ProMaster City Wagon.

From the driver's seat forward, the Wagon and Tradesman (Ram's name for the cargo version) are practically the same, but the former trim is a lot different in the back section. The rear gets a folding, three-passenger-wide bench seat in the middle, and a carpeted cargo area behind that.

This isn't exactly a new formula for the market; Ford has been selling a passenger-friendly five-seat version of its Transit Connect for a few years now. But the baby Ram is another competitor for small business owners in need of shuttles and such, or individuals who place a premium on interior space over creature comforts. READ ON.

Image Credit: Copyright 2015 Seyth Miersma / AOL

GAC WitStar provides your annual dose of Chinese-OEM conceptual weirdness from Detroit [w/video]

Posted Jan 17th 2015 10:00AM

The Chinese automakers rarely fail to provide moments of whimsy or baffling innovation when they present at the Detroit Auto Show, and the Guangzhou Automobile Group was no exception this year. GAC offered up both with its WitStar concept, a falcon-wing-doored, range-extended hybrid whose wacky interior belied the potential for innovation under its skin.

We'll start off by saying we have no idea how close to reality any of the powertrain components are, but here are the WitStar particulars. GAC specifies a Chevy Volt-like setup, with an small gas engine (1.0-litre inline-four) feeding an electric drive motor via a generator. Peak power for the drive system is said to be around 127 horsepower and 168 pound-feet, with a total electric-only range of 100 kilometres or more from its 13 kWh, li-ion battery pack.

Visually, while the WitStar seems arresting at a distance, the up-close view rewards with chintzy details and weirdness. The wood flooring and reversible seats remind us a bit of the Mercedes-Benz autonomous luxury pod, though with a big step down in material quality. But hey, the GAC concept has a fish tank for an armrest... that's got to be worth a few points, right?

There's no real press release available for us to share with you, but GAC has provided a badly-translated-idiom-laden corporate sizzle reel, if you'd care to indulge, below. We'll be feeding the (plastic) fish.

Image Credit: Copyright 2015 Seyth MIersma / AOL

Car and Driver reveals spy shots of mid-engine 2017 Corvette

Posted Jan 10th 2015 6:00PM

Some news in the car world is perennial, and some is perennially wrong. Typically news about some upcoming mid-engined Chevy Corvette has fallen into the latter category, with rumours never yet generating a road car.

This time could very well be different.

Car and Driver has some exclusive photographs of what would appear to be a Corvette test mule with a mid-mounted engine. The car in question might look like a Holden SSV ute that's undergone some indelicate modification, but C/D editor Don Sherman assures that the bones of a C8 'Vette live within that crude bodywork.

Sherman points to the closeness of the cabin to the front axle as clue number one of this car's mid-engine attitude, as well as the powertrain-sized space between the back of the seats and the rear axle. The roof and glasshouse are all clearly plucked from the current C7, and the gas tank filler positioned on the B-pillar is another huge clue.

The buff book estimates that the mule points to a timeline for sale, even. Testing on this level could mean a mid-engined C8 ready for sale in as few as 20 months, or for the 2017 model year.

Click over to Car and Driver to have a close look at this important set of spy photographs, as well as a rendering of what a finished C8 might ultimately look like.

Related Gallery2015 Chevrolet Corvette Z06: First Drive
2015 Chevrolet Corvette Z06: First Drive2015 Chevrolet Corvette Z06: First Drive2015 Chevrolet Corvette Z06: First Drive2015 Chevrolet Corvette Z06: First Drive2015 Chevrolet Corvette Z06: First Drive2015 Chevrolet Corvette Z06: First Drive2015 Chevrolet Corvette Z06: First Drive2015 Chevrolet Corvette Z06: First Drive

2015 Chevrolet Corvette Z06 [w/video]

Posted Jan 7th 2015 12:15PM

Moving The C7 From Great To Genius

I think I was supposed to be back hours ago. Driving northwest on State Road 190 with a final destination deep in the heart of the Death Valley National Park, it occurs to me that I might have agreed to return after an hour or so, instead of the four I'll end up stealing, solo, in the new Z06. Somewhere in the combination of mountain vistas, arching, speed-hungry desert roads, and the sound of this titanic engine on a constant run up the rev ladder, I forgot everything I'd promised back at home base.

The generous, civilized part of me worries for a moment that absconding with the new-best Corvette might have left one of my fellow journalists without a car. But the selfish part of me – the part largely in control of the rocket-launcher of a throttle under my right foot ­– says "screw it."

I spent two days with the 2015 Chevy Corvette Z06, a monster of a sports car that will soon be dominating track days everywhere, and I never once was inclined to share it. Hurtling through the shattered stillness of the desert and pulling big Gs at Spring Mountain circuit, I never felt overly disposed to give up my seat. This Corvette, more than any I've yet driven, was deep enough to hold my attention; for two days, for two years, probably.

Image Credit: Copyright 2015 Seyth Miersma / AOL

2015 Chrysler 300 [w/video]

Posted Dec 23rd 2014 12:00PM

V8, Fullsize And In A Class Of One

When Chrysler last updated its 300 in 2011, the fullsize sedan market was a very different place than it is today. Ford's redesigned Taurus was in showrooms, sure, but segment stalwarts like the Toyota Avalon and Chevrolet Impala were languishing at the tail end of their model cycles.

And still, the second-generation 300 (not counting the "letter series" cars from the 1950s and '60s, of course) failed to recapitulate the booming success of the model reboot in 2004. Something in the combination of the down economy, higher gas prices and great product from front-wheel-drive entries in the class kept the 300 from the six-digit sales numbers it saw in the early 2000s.

For the 2015 model year, Chrysler hopes that a more clearly defined purpose for its big sedan, combined with liberal dipping into the corporate tech toy box, will rekindle buyer interest. Considering the mild characters and front-driver dynamics of its mainstream competition, the promise of V8 power and rear-wheel drive should at least turn the heads of those looking for a car with a little edge.

Image Credit: Copyright 2014 Seyth Miersma / AOL

2015 Volkswagen Touareg [w/video]

Posted Dec 5th 2014 12:00PM

VW Offers Up A Safety-First Facelift

The second-generation Volkswagen Touareg has been in production since 2010, and is therefore staring down the last part of its model cycle. To keep buyers interested, the company has undertaken a refresh of its upscale midsize SUV. As is typical of these things, the changes include some exterior and interior rejuvenation, as well as increased content levels and a slight uptick in price.

The basics of the styling changes are pretty straightforward. The 2015 Touareg can be pretty easily spotted versus the outgoing model by way of its four-bar chrome grille, a cleaner headlight design, bigger VW badge and a completely new lower front clip. (I got one photo of the old and new models side-by-side for my Twitter followers before we rolled out on the drive.) There's also a thin strip of chrome that runs around the bodywork, standard LED taillights and a selection of three new wheel styles and five new paint colors.

Inside, I found it harder to spot the changes, old to new. The Touareg's switchgear has been updated and there's a new frame for the infotainment display, but there's no piece that stands out and says "new model year!"

Powertrains and mechanical bits all carryover from the 2014 Touareg, too. But there were a few functional changes to the vehicle, primarily in the new Driver's Assistance Package, for me to take note of as I took a lap of my favourite Ann Arbor, MI driving route.

Image Credit: Copyright 2014 Seyth Miersma / AOL

2015 Chevrolet Trax

Posted Dec 4th 2014 12:00PM

More Empty Nester Than Emo Kid

2015 Chevrolet Trax

After the obligatory product presentation for the 2015 Trax, I caught up with Steve Majoros, Chevrolet's director of marketing for crossovers and cars, and asked him to elaborate on which markets his planners believe will be the hot starters for this tiny CUV. Without much hesitation, Majoros began to click off traditional sales havens for Subaru, namely, New England and the snowy bits of the East Coast, Colorado and the Pacific Northwest.

That news might not surprise you, but it did me. Perhaps it's something as basic as the Trax's tall-hatchback looks, or the emphasis Chevrolet put on the urban driving cycle during my test in San Diego. But before my chat with Majoros, I'd considered this a crossover pointed at the Millennial city mouse more than his bumpkin cousin.

But a closer look had me re-examining the granola cred of Chevy's smallest crossover. Having spent my fair share of time in New England and around New Englanders, I started by mentally listing the Trax's Subaru-like traits: practicality, thrift, all-weather ability and, well, just a dash of ugliness. (I suppose a hatchback needn't always be ugly to sell in Maine, or Boulder or Portland... but a 'distinctive' face doesn't seem to hurt.)

After a day of driving through sunny San Diego and its surroundings, I can say that Trax makes an interesting case for itself against the standard bearers of the L.L. Bean set, but I'm less sure of its argument for young urbanites.

Image Credit: Copyright 2014 Seyth Miersma / AOL

Honda builds 300-millionth motorcycle, it's a Gold Wing

Posted Nov 28th 2014 6:00PM

Honda has been selling motorcycles in Japan since 1949. And it's been selling bikes to North American customers since John Travolta had a paper route. Combine all those years, huge markets and great products, and apparently the number you come up with is 300,000,000. Wowza.

Starting with the iconic 98-cc Dream Type-D you see above, Honda announced that it has built its 300-millionth motorcycle this month. The company currently sells all manner of powersports goodness, of course – ATVs, side-by-sides and two-wheelers – at 32 facilities in 22 countries.

Honda motorcycles took our country by storm in the 1960s, taking the title as the best-selling bike brand in the world during that decade, largely on the back of the Honda 50 or "Super Cub" bike. Honda's success in the '60s also helped to justify the establishment its first manufacturing footprint in North America, in Marysville, OH in 1979.

The company mentions, in the press release you'll find below, that lucky number 300 million was a Gold Wing produced at the Kumamoto factory in Japan. We're celebrating that tidbit with a heaping helping of historic Gold Wing photography, in the gallery of Honda bikes, above.

Image Credit: Honda