Author Archives: Greg Fink

2019 Toyota Yaris Sedan: iA No More

By | March 26, 2018

2019-Toyota-Yaris-Sedan-PLACEMENT

After two model years, the Toyota Yaris iA is dead. In its stead comes the 2019 Toyota Yaris sedan. Like its Yaris iA forebear and the Scion iA that came before it, the Yaris sedan continues as a rebadged, fish-faced Mazda 2 (a model that’s no longer sold in the United States). Minor changes to the Yaris sedan’s mug relative to its Yaris iA antecedent include a new honeycomb-style grille and available LED headlights. READ MORE ››

Read More »

2018 Honda Accord Hybrid Chops More Than $4K from Price

By | March 21, 2018

2018 Honda Accord hybrid

The Honda Accord, just redesigned for the 2018 model year, now welcomes back a gasoline-electric hybrid variant. Available in a total of four trims, the entry-level Accord hybrid wears a starting price of $25,990; that’s $1530 more than a base Accord LX and $4505 less than the previous-generation Accord hybrid.

Like the regular Accord, which is a 10Best Cars winner, the 2018 Accord hybrid comes standard with a host of convenience and safety items including LED low-beam headlights, dual-zone automatic climate control, adaptive cruise control, automatic emergency braking, and lane-departure warning. Those in search of additional luxuries can move up to the better-equipped EX for $29,780, the EX-L at $32,330, or the top-spec Touring for $35,600.

2018 Honda Accord hybrid

As before, the Accord hybrid is motivated by a 143-hp 2.0-liter inline-four and a 181-hp electric motor, which work together to produce a combined 212 horsepower. Power to the electric motor is supplied by a 1.3-kWh lithium-ion battery pack that rests under the floor as opposed to its previous location in the trunk. That change allows the new model to offer the same 17 cubic feet of cargo space as its nonhybrid stablemates.

Unfortunately, the new Accord hybrid is slightly less efficient than its predecessor, as the new model’s 47-mpg city rating is down 2 mpg from before. Both the current and previous Accord hybrid are rated at 47 mpg on the highway. Look for the 2018 Honda Accord hybrid to reach dealerships before the end of March.

2018-Honda-Accord-hybrid-reel

Read More »

2018 Toyota Land Cruiser Tested: Effortless Cruiser

By | March 20, 2018

2018-Toyota-Land-Cruiser-PLACEMENT

Successful relationships are built on honesty and trust, and the Toyota Land Cruiser has found success as a straight-shooting and dependable sport-utility vehicle for more than 60 years. Although the Land Cruiser is no longer the no-frills Jeep alternative it originally was, the bricklike SUV remains true to its name: If there’s land in front of this Toyota, it can cruise on it. READ MORE ››

Read More »

Hyundai Considering Track-Compatible Warranty for Sporty Veloster N

By | March 20, 2018

2019 Hyundai Veloster N

Hyundai Australia will sell the high-performance i30 N hatchback with a track-friendly warranty, according to our colleagues at Australia’s Wheelswho report that buyers of Hyundai’s hot hatchback won’t void their warranty by taking it to the track provided the events are noncompetitive. In other words, taking an i30 N to a track day won’t void the factory warranty, but entering it in a race will.

While we Yanks won’t receive the i30 N, Hyundai is sending us the mechanically similar Veloster N. Powered by a turbocharged 2.0-liter inline-four with up to 275 horsepower and 260 lb-ft of torque, the Veloster N, with a six-speed manual transmission, will go up against high-performance hatchbacks such as the Honda Civic Type R and the Volkswagen Golf R.

2019 Hyundai Veloster N

Whether the Veloster N comes with a track-compatible warranty remains to be seen, however. A spokesperson for Hyundai acknowledged such a warranty is something the company is discussing internally as specifications and pricing for the U.S.-spec Veloster N are finalized.

Hyundai has been well known for its long warranty coverage, so opting to introduce the Veloster N with a track-friendly warranty seems like a logical step as it attempts to establish its high-performance bona fides. We’ll know more about the Veloster N’s warranty by time the model launches later this year.

VelosterNREEL

Read More »

Jeep Wagoneer Roadtrip Concept Is an Ode to a Past Era

By | March 20, 2018

Jeep Wagoneer Easter Safari concept

The Jeep Wagoneer Roadtrip is a nod to the family vehicle of generations past and a time before terms such as minivan and crossover had entered the automotive lexicon.

The folks at Jeep expertly transformed this classic SUV, which started life as an ordinary 1965 Wagoneer, into a modern restomod. Along with a five-inch wheelbase stretch, the Wagoneer Roadtrip benefits from a pair of Dana 44 axles and a modern coil-spring suspension setup. Assisting the Wagoneer Roadtrip in its off-road ambitions are a set of 17-inch wheels wearing 33-inch-tall BFGoodrich Mud-Terrain tires.

Jeep Wagoneer Easter Safari concept

In order to accommodate the meaty rubber and a wider track, the Roadtrip has custom-made fender flares and modified wheel wells. FCA also tweaked the Jeep’s looks with a later grille, new front and rear bumpers, and green architectural glass in place of the original windows.

Like its exterior, the Wagoneer Roadtrip’s interior is steeped in nostalgia. The original front and rear bench seats have been retained and are upholstered in a deep red leather. Above is a wicker headliner, and in back is a cooler made from 1960s luggage and a toolbox fashioned from the valve cover of this Wagoneer’s original 3.8-liter inline-six engine.

In place of that straight-six, the Wagoneer Roadtrip is motivated by a contemporary 5.7-liter Hemi V-8 paired to a four-speed automatic transmission.

While the Jeep Wagoneer Roadtrip may only be a one-off concept, we’re crossing our fingers that this classic SUV manages to properly inspire those working on the forthcoming Jeep Grand Wagoneer flagship SUV. It certainly wouldn’t be the first time a classic Moab Easter Jeep Safari concept influenced a production Jeep model.

Jeep-Wagoneer-Easter-Safari-concept-reel

Read More »

Under the Tucson Sun: Hyundai Revives Tucson Sport Trim

By | March 19, 2018

The Hyundai Tucson Sport returns as a late addition to the compact crossover’s lineup for the 2018 model year. The model joins the SE, SEL, Value, SEL Plus, and Limited trims. 

Unlike the 2017 Tucson Sport, which relied on a 175-hp turbocharged 1.6-liter inline-four paired with a seven-speed dual-clutch automatic transmission for motivation, the new Sport trim comes with a larger, 2.4-liter inline-four and a six-speed automatic gearbox. Its formidable 181 horsepower helps the Sport lives up to its name, as it’s the most powerful 2018 Tucson. The 1.6-liter turbo remains available on the Value and Limited models, while a naturally aspirated 164-hp 2.0-liter inline-four powers the SE and SEL.

Unfortunately, the Sport requires more fuel to feed its extra ponies, and the front-wheel-drive model earns EPA ratings of 21 mpg in the city and 28 mpg on the highway, while the all-wheel-drive version sees those figures fall to 21/25 mpg. For comparison, 2.0-liter with front-wheel drive is rated at 23/30 mpg. Adding all-wheel drive lowers those estimates to 21/26. Meanwhile, 1.6-liter turbo model earns ratings of 25/30 with front-wheel drive and 24/28 with all-wheel drive.

Along with its bigger engine, the 2018 Tucson Sport comes standard with niceties such as 19-inch wheels and tires, proximity key with push-button start, a 7.0-inch touchscreen infotainment system, heated front seats, dual-zone automatic climate control, and a blind-spot monitor. The Tucson Sport starts at $26,130 (add $1400 for all-wheel drive), placing it between the SEL and Value trims.

2018-Hyundai-Tucson-reel

Read More »

Volkswagen Arteon May Get a Wagon Stablemate

By | March 19, 2018

2019-Volkswagen-Arteon-134

The Volkswagen Arteon four-door may soon be accompanied by a wagon counterpart.

This news came out of Volkswagen’s annual media conference in Berlin, Germany, last week. Volkswagen characterized the model as a “shooting brake.” That suggests a wagon with two doors, but it’s our understanding that VW is speaking more generally about a sporty wagon, and we expect that the Arteon variant will keep the sedan’s rear doors (in the same way that Mercedes-Benz has marketed a four-door CLS Shooting Brake in Europe).

There’s no word on when a second Arteon model will be available, but U.S. wagon fans should not get their hopes up that a wagon would come here. We can, however, look forward to an R-Line variant of the current Arteon, which will make its debut at the New York auto show later this month.

2019-Volkswagen-Arteon-Reel

2018 New York Auto Show Full Coverage

Read More »

Ford Explorer ST Confirmed, Rear-Wheel Drive a Possibility

By | March 15, 2018

Ford formally confirmed that the next-generation Explorer lineup will include a sporty ST variant, much like the recently announced Edge ST.

Expect the high-performance Explorer ST to take the place of the current Sport trim level in the Explorer hierarchy. Like the Sport, the Explorer ST is likely to be motivated by a twin-turbocharged 3.5-liter V-6. Look for power to increase, however, from today’s 365-hp output, growing to almost 400 ponies.

More significantly, we anticipate the new Explorer will utilize the brand’s CD6 modular platform, which is said to accommodate front-, rear-, and all-wheel-drive powertrain setups. Rumor is that the Explorer will revert to a longitudinal engine layout and come standard with rear-wheel drive, while all-wheel drive will remain available throughout the model line and is almost certain to come standard on the ST.

Look for the new Explorer also to breed a Lincoln variant, which is likely to resurrect the Aviator nameplate. We should know more about the Explorer and its Aviator sibling before the end of the decade.

Ford-Explorer-ST-spy-photo-Reel

Read More »

This Ford Transit USPS Truck Prototype Could Be Hauling Your Mail Soon

By | March 15, 2018

Ford Transit mail truck (spy photos)

Six vehicle manufacturers are in contention to claim a government contract to create and build a new mail truck for the United States Postal Service, one of which is Oshkosh. We recently spotted the Wisconsin-based truck manufacturer’s proposed mail truck testing on the streets.

Compared to the unique styling of the Karsan and Mahindra proposals (AM General, Utilimaster, and VT Hackney are also competing for the contract), the Oshkosh mail truck takes a more cost-conscious approach. Rather than develop a purpose-built truck specifically for mail delivery, Oshkosh is taking a standard Ford Transit cargo van and modifying it for postal service.

Ford Transit mail truck (spy photos)

Changes include new doors that appear to widen the cabin and make it easier for the driver of the right-hand-drive van to get in and out of the vehicle. Additionally, Oshkosh has replaced the standard barn doors with a roll-up door, which ought to ease the loading and unloading of packages. A set of extenders on the front and rear bumpers should help limit damage to the van in a low-speed collision, while several additional mirrors help the driver better navigate his or her surroundings.

Given that the USPS is requesting its new mail truck be diesel powered, we’d wager that Oshkosh’s Transit-based proposal will use Ford’s turbo-diesel 3.2-liter inline-five engine. With 185 horses and 350 lb-ft of torque, it ought to be plenty powerful enough for the low-speed job of mail delivery.

The USPS is expected to decide by year’s end which proposal will be granted the contract to build and supply it with new mail-delivery trucks to replace the aged Grumman LLVs, which have been puttering about towns across America for more than a quarter of a century.

Ford-Transit-mail-truck-spy-photos-Reel

Read More »

Mean Mug: Ford Unmasks Face of the 2019 Shelby GT500

By | March 15, 2018

The Ford Mustang Shelby GT500 strip show continues, and the American automaker has given us our best look yet at the face of the forthcoming Mustang model.

Fitted with flared front fenders and a big Audi-like grille, the GT500 will include a robust front splitter and large lower vents that extend past the headlights and merge with the fenders. Unlike the 2018 Ford Mustang, the GT500 appears to carry on with the angrier-looking headlight shapes of the 2015–2017 Mustang.

While Ford is keeping mum on key details, we expect the mightiest Mustang to sport a supercharged 5.2-liter V-8 engine under its hood. Code-named Predator, the new powerplant is expected to share its block with the naturally aspirated 5.2-liter V-8 “Voodoo” engine found in the Ford Mustang Shelby GT350. Alas, the Voodoo’s flat-plane crankshaft is expected to be left on the cutting-room floor, and the forced-induction GT500 likely will use a less rev-happy conventional crankshaft design.

It’s a small price to pay, though, as the GT500 will pack more than 700 horsepower when it goes on sale in 2019. The Dodge Challenger SRT Hellcat and the Chevrolet Camaro ZL1 have been put on notice by Ford, and we can now confirm that the 2019 Ford Mustang Shelby GT500 will wear a mug as mean as the big supercharged bent-eight that is sure to power it.

GT500-Spy-REEL

Read More »

2018 Mitsubishi Outlander Sport 2.4L AWD: It’s Still Out There

By | March 15, 2018

2018-Mitsubishi-Outlander-Sport-2.4L-AWD-Placement

In some ways, the 2018 Mitsubishi Outlander Sport reminded us of the Wagon Queen Family Truckster of National Lampoon’s Vacation fame. With tacked-on fender vents and a creaky driver’s seat that rocked fore and aft with each prod of the throttle and stab of the brake pedal, it seemed a parody of a contemporary crossover vehicle. READ MORE ››

Read More »

Master and Commander: Jeep Grand Commander Spotted in Michigan

By | March 14, 2018

Jeep Grand Commander (spy photos)

Meet the Grand Commander, Jeep’s latest crossover SUV. Rumored to be based on the bones of the Cherokee, the Grand Commander is boxier and has space for seven seats, whereas the curvier Cherokee provides chairs for five.

Previewed by the Yuntu concept that the brand unveiled at the 2017 Shanghai auto show, the Grand Commander is a China-only model that’s not expected to be sold in the United States. Nevertheless, we caught this completely undisguised Grand Commander parked near our Ann Arbor, Michigan, office, and the handsome-looking crossover SUV fit right in with the midwestern landscape.

Jeep Grand Commander (spy photos)

With styling that blends cues from the smaller Renegade and the mid-size Grand Cherokee, the Grand Commander is an attractive if somewhat forgettable crossover. Power is expected to come courtesy of Jeep’s new turbocharged 2.0-liter inline-four, which makes a formidable 270 horsepower in the 2019 Cherokee. Both front- and all-wheel drive will be available.

Chinese consumers will be able to get their hands on a Grand Commander before the end of the year. Meanwhile, America awaits the return of the larger, luxury-lined Wagoneer to make its way to market in the early part of the next decade before we get a Jeep with three rows of seating.

Jeep-Grand-Commander-spy-photos-Reel

Read More »

Climbing the Hill: Jeep Raises Price of New Wrangler JL

By | March 9, 2018

2018-Jeep-Wrangler-102

Jeep is raising the price of the all-new 2018 Wrangler JL by $750. The news comes on the heels of the brand’s February sales report, which saw the off-road-oriented Wrangler sell 15,936 units for the month—a 17-percent increase compared with the prior February.

With so much metal moving, it seems Jeep found it an opportune time to cash in, and a sum of $500 has been added to the price of every Wrangler model with an additional $250 added to the SUV’s destination charge. As a result, the least-expensive Wrangler JL will now set customers back $28,940. Those looking to save some coin can continue to get their hands on the cheaper previous-generation Wrangler, which Jeep still sells as the Wrangler JK. Like the all-new Wrangler JL, the Wrangler JK’s destination charge rises by $250, so it now starts at $25,440.

While we already found the 2018 Wrangler JL quite pricey before Jeep added an additional $750 to the tab, we can’t blame the brand for cashing in on the model’s success. After all, Mercedes-Benz and Toyota sell similarly capable off-road vehicles for more than double the price of the Wrangler. Although the Jeep is a more wieldy tool than either the G-class or the Land Cruiser, the two luxury-oriented models’ relative success in the field of high-priced, off-road-worthy vehicles is a good sign that a $750 price increase is likely to have little to no impact on Wrangler sales volume.

2018-Jeep-Wrangler-Reel

Read More »

Shakedown Street: Dodge Challenger Adds Racy Looks to Shaker Models

By | March 8, 2018

2018 Dodge Challenger R/T Shaker Shakedown Package

Dodge’s new Shakedown package adds styling inspired by the Shakedown Challenger SEMA show car to the brand’s Challenger coupe.

The package, priced at $995, is limited to shaker-hood-equipped Challenger R/T, R/T Plus, and 392 Scat Pack models. It adds asymmetrical black stripes that cover the hood, roof, and trunk of the car. Notably, the stripes bend around the shaker hood scoop, a feature that’s shared with the Shakedown Challenger show car.

Additionally, Challengers equipped with the Shakedown package include white gauges and an upgraded audio system: a six-speaker system in the R/T and a nine-speaker unit in R/T Plus and 392 Scat Pack trims.

Sadly, the Shakedown package brings no additional performance features to the Challenger, which means Shakedown-equipped Challengers continue to use either a 375-hp 5.7-liter V-8 engine in R/T and R/T Plus models or a 485-hp 6.4-liter V-8 in the 392 Scat Pack.

2017-dodge-challenger-Reel

Read More »

Ford Transit Connect Cargo Van Facelifted, Adds Diesel-Engine Option

By | March 7, 2018

2019 Transit Connect Van

Following the reveal of the 2019 Ford Transit Connect passenger van in February at the Chicago auto show, Ford formally took the wraps off the 2019 Transit Connect cargo van at the Work Truck show this week in Indianapolis. Unsurprisingly, the cargo-carrying variant of Ford’s smaller work van has adopted its people-moving counterpart’s many changes.

Notably, the Transit Connect cargo van features a revised powertrain lineup that consists of a standard 2.0-liter inline-four and an optional turbo-diesel 1.5-liter four-cylinder. Both engines feature stop/start technology and mate to an eight-speed automatic transmission. Although Ford isn’t ready to provide specifics, company representatives informed us that horsepower and torque totals for the 2.0-liter engine will be down slightly compared to the van’s current 2.5-liter inline-four, which musters 169 horsepower and 171 lb-ft of torque. Meanwhile, the diesel is anticipated to produce approximately 120 horsepower and 200 lb-ft of torque, all the while returning at least 30 mpg on the highway.

2019 Transit Connect Van

Fleet buyers can continue to get the Transit Connect with the current van’s 2.5-liter inline-four and six-speed automatic transmission on models prepped to run compressed natural gas or propane.

Accompanying the cargo van’s updated engines and refreshed styling are a host of new technology features. Automated emergency braking and a 4G LTE connection that allows the Transit Connect to serve as a Wi-Fi hotspot for up to 10 devices are both standard, while blind-spot monitoring, lane-keeping assist, adaptive cruise control, and a wireless phone charger are optional.

The 2019 Ford Transit Connect cargo van reaches dealerships this fall and will be offered in short- and long-wheelbase versions in XL and XLT trims.

2019 Ford Transit Connect

Read More »

Blazing Saddles: Mulliner Crafts an Equestrian-Inspired Bentley Bentayga

By | March 7, 2018

Bentley Bentayga by Mulliner, Inspired by The Festival

Bentley’s Mulliner division has let its latest creation out of the stable, and the one-off Bentley Bentayga by Mulliner, Inspired by The Festival is as ornate as its name is long. For those of us less attuned to the world of equestrian sports, The Festival is a four-day horse-racing event in the United Kingdom staged by the Jockey Club.

As its name implies, the Bentayga by Mulliner, Inspired by The Festival is, well, inspired by The Festival. Painted in a green shade called Spruce, the large luxury SUV features contrasting black trim and rides on massive silver and black-painted 21-inch wheels.

The real magic can be found within the British crossover’s cabin, though, where Mulliner has lined the dashboard, doors, and seats in either Cumbrian Green or Saddle Brown leather—appropriately equestrian color choices. Finishing things off are niceties such as burr walnut wood, which Bentley said is inspired by the furniture located in the Jockey Club’s private rooms; horse and jockey emblems embroidered into the seatbacks; and a gold horse emblem on the passenger side of the dashboard.

The right-hand-drive Bentley Bentayga by Mulliner, Inspired by The Festival will be on display from March 13-16 at The Festival, which takes place in Cheltenham, about 100 miles east of London.

Bentley-Bentayga-by-Mulliner-Inspired-by-The-Festival-Reel

Read More »

Audi Reveals e-tron Quattro Electric SUV Prototype in Geneva

By | March 7, 2018

Audi e-tron prototype

Audi is one step closer to releasing its e-tron Quattro all-electric crossover SUV, as the four-ring brand showed off an almost production-ready prototype at the Geneva show. The prototype is one of 250 such vehicles that Audi has been testing across four continents.

Scheduled to launch in Europe before the end of the year, the production e-tron Quattro will apply the lessons learned by Audi over the course of more than 3 million miles of prototype testing. The all-wheel-drive crossover will be joined by two other Audi electric vehicles before the end of the decade: a production version of the e-tron Sportback concept and a smaller compact model.

As previously reported, the e-tron Quattro will use a 150-kW fast-charging system, which is expected to provide the five-passenger crossover with an 80 percent charge in approximately 30 minutes. The production Audi e-tron Quattro is anticipated to reach our shores in 2019 and will have a driving range of more than 200 miles on a single charge.

Audi-e-tron-prototype-Reel

2018 Geneva Auto Show Full Coverage

Read More »

Stage Five Stinger: Kia Introduces 500-Unit Atlantica Edition

By | March 6, 2018

2019 Kia Stinger GT Atlantica Edition

Marking its second model year, the 2019 Kia Stinger sport sedan will celebrate its garnet anniversary with a new limited-run Atlantica edition. 

Based on the top-of-the-line GT2 trim with all-wheel drive, the 365-hp Stinger Atlantica will be limited to a total of 500 units. Each Atlantica wears a coat of Deep Chroma Blue paint and rolls on 19-inch wheels cribbed from the European-market model. Completing the Atlantica’s exterior is a large “Stinger” badge at the center of the deck lid. Meanwhile, the Atlantica’s blue hue is complemented by Espresso Brown nappa leather seats and a black faux-suede headliner.

2019 Kia Stinger GT Atlantica Edition

The Atlantica isn’t simply an exercise in styling, though, as Kia has added meat to the model’s bones thanks to a trio of technology features that are new to the Stinger: a surround-view monitor, a wireless phone-charging system, and seat heaters for those positioned in the rear outboard seats.

Look for the 2019 Stinger Atlantica to go on sale this summer. Pricing has yet to be announced for the limited-edition model, but we’d wager that the Atlantica will sticker for a couple bills more than a 2018 Stinger GT2 with all-wheel drive, which is priced from $52,300.

2019-Kia-Stinger-GT-Atlantica-Edition-REEL

Read More »

Prickly Issue: Citroen Makes Its C4 Cactus More Normal

By | March 6, 2018

Citroen C4 Cactus

Like a goofy teenager entering adulthood, the Citroën C4 Cactus is shedding its strange and casual looks for classier styling and a more friendly face.

Gone are the massive “Airbumps” that had previously lined the exterior door panels and surrounded the headlights and taillights, as the pimply plastic is now restricted to a small portion of the model’s lower door panels, while the front end incorporates Citroën styling cues such as LED daytime running lights with chrome surrounds that merge into the two chevrons that make up the brand’s badge. Out back, a wider set of taillights feature 3D-effect LEDs. The finished product is arguably more attractive, albeit more forgettable.

Citroen C4 Cactus

Citroën isn’t known for making ordinary vehicles, and the French automaker has replaced the C4 Cactus’s visual distinction with technical eccentricity thanks to the addition of Citroën’s Progressive Hydraulic Cushion suspension system to the compact crossover. The system uses hydraulic stops to help absorb and dissipate energy when the suspension compresses and rebounds, improving ride quality over bumps by limiting the typical jostle of springs and dampers.

Despite changes to the exterior and suspension, the C4 Cactus’s powertrain lineup remains rather tepid. Base models feature a standard 80-hp 1.2-liter inline-three and a five-speed manual transmission. An available 109-hp turbocharged inline-three adds an optional six-speed automatic to the mix, while a 129-hp turbocharged three paired with a six-speed manual is the performance pinnacle. Citroën also offers the C4 Cactus with a 98-hp turbo-diesel 1.6-liter inline-four and a five-speed manual transmission, and a more powerful diesel with an automatic transmission will be available by year’s end.

Citroen-C4-Cactus-REEL

2018 Geneva Auto Show Full Coverage

Read More »