Category Archives: Car & Truck

2017 Mercedes-AMG CLA45 4Matic Tested: Show Me the Boost!

Mercedes-AMG’s CLA45 compact sedan may only work the door at Affalterbach’s internal-combustion madhouse. But with a transverse inline-four engine producing a bonkers 188 horsepower per liter, it makes for one helluva greeter. A host of recent updates have made the CLA45 4Matic—already a serious performer when it debuted for 2014—even stouter for 2017, albeit without much addressing of its underlying issues. READ MORE ››

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Cheaper Jaguar XF Sportbrake Coming; XJR575 and XE Project 8 Top $100K

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2017 Porsche Cayenne Turbo S Tested: Going Viral

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The Porsche Cayenne Turbo, introduced in 2003, was the vector for a contagion that has since spread to the farthest reaches of the automotive universe. The 1992 GMC Typhoon may have been the first diagnosed case of this high-performance SUV virus, but now even Ferrari is running a fever. Symptoms can include weight gain, swelling of under-hood forces, elevated profit margins, and thinning of a brand’s heritage. While the 2017 Cayenne is still frothing mad in Turbo S form, the Porsche’s overhaul for 2019 with Stuttgart’s latest infection means this could be our last checkup with the current model. READ MORE ››

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2018 Toyota Camry SE 2.5L Tested: The Sporty Camry!

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Hell has frozen over and pigs are flying, as Toyota has done the seemingly improbable: build a Camry that, for once, isn’t a wallflower when it comes time to dance. After 16 years of riding on Toyota’s venerable K platform, the 2018 Toyota Camry moves the company’s mid-size family sedan onto the scalable Toyota New Global Architecture (TNGA) that also underpins the Prius hatchback and the C-HR subcompact crossover and which will serve as the basis for the next-generation Avalon, Corolla, and Highlander. READ MORE ››

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2018 Mazda CX-9 in Depth: A Three-Row Crossover with a Sporting Bent

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Three-row crossovers are great for hauling kids and cargo, but they aren’t always pleasing to drive. The Mazda CX-9 is a rare example of a crossover that still blends a great deal of driving fun in with all the utility thanks to a well-sorted chassis and communicative steering. Also, its beautifully designed exterior looks the part, with a long hood, steeply raked windshield, and fastback rear end. Inside is an equally lovely cabin, dressed in nearly class-above materials and features. We’d be lying if we told you all this goodness came without compromises: Cargo capacity and third-row passenger space are among the lowest in the segment. But those compromises are small, and they weren’t enough to sway us from naming it to our 10Best Trucks and SUVs list for 2017. READ MORE ››

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2017 Dodge Challenger SRT 392 and SRT Hellcat In-Depth Review: Lord of the Horsepower War

2017 Dodge Challenger SRT / Challenger Hellcat

Billowing burnouts and thunderous emanations are standard equipment on the Challenger SRT siblings. Dodge’s devilish duo are fitted with an adaptive suspension and substantial brakes; the SRT 392 packs a 485-hp Hemi V-8, and the Hellcat summons 707 horses from its evil-sounding supercharged V-8. Both retro-styled coupes route power to the rear wheels through a standard six-speed manual transmission or an eight-speed automatic. While the stripped-down 840-hp Challenger SRT Demon dominates the drag strip, the SRT twins terrorize weekly cruise nights with a comfortable ride and snazzy standard features. Hard-core versions of Chevrolet’s Camaro (the 650-hp ZL1) and Ford’s Mustang (the 10Best Cars–winning Shelby GT350 and GT350R) have escalated the pony-car wars to DEFCON 1 with racetrack-capable handling. Dodge and SRT are instead banking on having the most powerful weapons of mass destruction. READ MORE ››

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2018 Chevrolet Traverse High Country Tested: GM’s Latest and Greatest Family Bus

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When General Motors killed its minivans and launched a range of three-row crossovers on a then new Lambda platform about a decade ago, it seemed a risky move. But it paid off: Fast-forward to now, and Americans have bought more than 2 million of those Chevrolet, GMC, and Buick (and, yes, Saturn) people haulers. READ MORE ››

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2019 Genesis G70 Driven! Is It the Start of Something Good?

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The Genesis G70 is hugely important for its maker, a sports sedan shouldering outsize expectations that it can stake a place for the nascent Korean luxury brand as a contender against the established players. But even Genesis itself admits that the world doesn’t need more luxury cars—“The world is fine without Genesis,” brand chief Manfred Fitzgerald told us—and therefore the company says it needs to be daring to make its products special and desirable. While the larger G80 and G90 already on sale are good, they don’t break any new ground, and their genealogies include Hyundai-badged antecedents; the G70 line starts under Genesis, and that fact, along with its broader target audience, codifies its significance. READ MORE ››

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2018 Honda CR-V In-Depth Review: Long-ball Hitter, Crossover Ace

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Honda’s CR-V is a triple threat: it packs a host of high-tech equipment, impressive fuel economy, and copious cargo space. As if that’s not enough, the CR-V also boasts contemporary styling and engaging driving dynamics. It’s powered by a base 184-hp inline-four or a more responsive 190-hp turbocharged 1.5-liter inline-four. A standard continuously variable automatic transmission (CVT) pairs with front- or all-wheel drive. The CR-V’s roster of talents earned it a spot on our inaugural 10Best Trucks and SUVs list. While the compact-crossover league is loaded with home-run hitters, the CR-V has the stats to be named MVP. READ MORE ››

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GM and Cruise Reveal Driverless Car, Claim It’s Ready for Mass Production

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General Motors’ autonomous-vehicle team said it has created the world’s first mass-producible car designed to operate without a human driver. Cruise Automation CEO Kyle Vogt said the electric vehicle, derived from the Chevrolet Bolt, “isn’t just a concept design — it has airbags, crumple zones, and comfortable seats.” In a post at Medium, he said its most significant attribute is that it is ready to be built at a GM assembly plant with the capacity to produce hundreds of thousands of vehicles annually. And it meets redundancy and safety requirements needed to operate without a human behind the wheel, Vogt said.

“If something on a vehicle fails while there is an attentive human in the driver’s seat, they can yank the wheel or stomp on the brake pedal to avoid an incident,” Vogt said. “This isn’t the case for a car with no driver, so we built backup systems. And in some cases we built backups for the backups — and backups for those systems, too.” All the while, Vogt said a production symphony had to be orchestrated at GM’s plant in Orion Township, Michigan, where the automaker assembles the regular, ready-for-consumption Bolt. The wiring harness alone in the newly revealed autonomous car has 4085 wires and 1066 connectors, Vogt said.

The self-driving concept unveiled this week is the company’s third autonomous-car generation in 14 months. The first-gen car was a standard Bolt retrofitted with Cruise’s existing autonomous technology. GM bought Cruise Automation for $1 billion in 2016. This year, Cruise and GM have been working toward developing an autonomous car that could be mass produced. They cut their teeth on what is considered a second-generation autonomous vehicle, which was revealed in June as a fleet of 130 self-driving Bolt EVs. The second-gen cars were meant to get suppliers in sync with the process of equipping necessary hardware on the assembly line, but Cruise rounded out the process with its own software and had to build some of its own sensors and controllers.

The second-gen cars have key elements for autonomous driving, but they lack the safety and redundancy systems needed for full driverless operation, Vogt said. Enter the third-gen car. “Safety and validation teams have carefully considered plausible failure modes for all critical systems and fed changes back into the design,” Vogt said. “Our newest self-driving car might look like a regular car on the outside, but the vehicle’s core system architecture more closely resembles that of a commercial airplane or spacecraft.”

GM and Cruise are designing the cars to emulate human abilities without making human mistakes. The automaker sees these autonomous vehicles as geared more toward company-owned fleets that could be used in ride-hailing programs in urban areas, for example. It’s less oriented toward consumers purchasing at dealerships, in part because the technology remains very expensive. Also, just look at it: Consumers willing to spend big rarely choose tiny cars sporting giant goiters on the roof, let alone models that haven’t even been graced with a name. Private ownership of computer-driven cars could be years or even decades away, though, so there’s time.

More immediately, the newly built, third-gen self-driving cars will join a fleet of Bolts that shuttle Cruise and GM employees around San Francisco, coordinated via a mobile app for ride hailing and scheduling. “For now, there will still be a human behind the wheel,” Vogt said of the cars, which should expand their utility, since no jurisdiction has fully resolved the legal issues surrounding pilotless vehicles.

GM is far from alone in this march toward autonomy, but its claim of being ready for mass production does distinguish it from its domestic competition. Ford says its goal is to deploy Level 4 autonomous vehicles—those with systems that can handle all operations in specific areas—by 2021. By the end of this year, Ford plans to have a fleet of 90 autonomous vehicles active on public roads. Fiat Chrysler has been making Chrysler Pacificas with a wiring harness outfitted for Google’s Waymo autonomous-driving hardware, as the latter adds 500 of the hybrid minivans to its autonomous fleet.

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