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2018 Ford MustangThose who want the excitement of a Mustang fastback or convertible but are interested in good fuel economy can opt for the model’s EcoBoost 2.3-liter four-cylinder engine. The Mustang’s V-6 engine is no longer offered. Opting for the more efficient four banger doesn’t mean drivers have to live with mediocre performance or style. Featuring a refreshed appearance in 2018, the Mustang offers a slightly lower hood and a more aggressive front fascia. Add in an available Performance Package and there’s also a new decklid wing and new lower rear diffuser to make this pony car even sportier.

The 2.3-liter EcoBoost engine can be mated to either a 6-speed manual transmission or a new 10-speed automatic.  This transmission promises much quicker shifting and can handle more torque than the previous 6-speed automatic. All 2018 Mustangs now have MagneRide magnetorheological adaptive dampers for improved handling. Performance-oriented drivers will appreciate the Mustang’s line lock feature for performing easy burnouts regardless of engine choice.

2018 Ford Mustang InteriorStandard equipment includes a 4.2-inch center screen, Ford Sync multimedia system, a rearview camera, two USB ports, keyless entry/start, and 17-inch alloy wheels. Options include navigation, Shaker premium audio system, Recaro seats, racing stripes, 18 to 20-inch alloy wheels, a heated steering wheel, two-tone leather upholstery, and a reconfigurable 12-inch LCD cluster.  An array of available active safety features includes adaptive cruise control, automatic emergency braking, pedestrian detection, lane keeping assist, and automatic high beams.

The EcoBoost Performance package adds 19-inch alloy wheels with summer performance tires, a Torsen limited-slip differential, larger brake rotors, heavy-duty front springs, unique chassis calibration, and a large rear anti-roll bar. It also includes specially-tuned stability control, electric power steering, and anti-lock brakes. A rear wing is added on fastbacks.

2018 Ford MustangA 12-inch digital gauge cluster replaces the traditional analog speedometer and tachometer. It offers configurable modes and display patterns for personalization, plus a drag racing mode that displays an NHRA-style starting light – or "Christmas tree" – for practicing launches.

Ford claims a 0-to-60 time of about 5 seconds for its 310 horsepower 2.3-liter powered Mustangs. Surprisingly, this kind of performance comes with EPA fuel economy numbers as high as 21 mpg in the city and 31 mpg on the highway. The Mustang EcoBoost has a starting price of $25,680.

2018 Mustang Digital Cluster

lexus-ls-500h-front-B1aLexus’ all-new flagship LS 500 series, built on the automaker’s new Global Architecture-Luxury (GA-L) platform, includes the LS 500h hybrid powered by the latest Lexus Multi Stage Hybrid System. It features a sleek, coupe-like silhouette in a package that’s longer and lower than the previous LS model, at a premium price that’s still worlds lower than the former flagship model.

The exterior is striking, a blending of aggressive yet sophisticated elements with a distinctive shoulder line, flared fenders, and a bold front fascia featuring dramatic three-projector headlamps and L-shaped LED running lights. Lexus’ signature spindle mesh grille features thousands of hand-adjusted surfaces to lend a jewel-like quality in changing light. Those who want to go even more upscale can opt for an LS 500h F-Sport variant.

lexus-ls-500h-cabinn keeping with the Lexus philosophy, the LS 500h accommodates driver and passengers in a welcoming and luxurious cabin replete with the high-end features desired by premium car buyers. The dash is designed at a uniform height so a driver can comfortably access all controls without changing body posture. Nearly all surfaces are leather-wrapped, and the interior’s artisan wood is created through intricate sliced wood and laser-cutting processes.

Both driver and front passenger can enjoy available 28-way power adjustable front seats, while rear passengers also get special attention like heated seats that integrate two heaters focused on the shoulder and lower back areas, thus providing warmth in these areas rather than heating the entire body. A Shiatsu massage feature is also available. We tried that feature in the model’s optional rear reclining ‘Relaxation Seat,’ that features a raised ottoman and front passenger seat that articulates forward to provide substantial space and ideal positioning for a massage. Trust us…once you’re in that seat you won’t want to get out.

lexus-ls-500h-frontThe Lexus Multi Stage Hybrid System in the LS 500h combines a naturally aspirated, Atkinson-cycle 3.5-liter V-6 engine with two electric motor/generators that together deliver 354 horsepower. That’s plenty of juice for serous driving sessions on twisty roads, as we can attest from our time behind the wheel in Northern California.

This system essentially incorporates a four-speed automatic transmission coupled to a continuously variable transmission (CVT). A first for any Lexus hybrid is the inclusion of a selectable ‘M’ (manual) mode controlled by steering wheel paddles, which simulates driving with a 10-speed transmission and provides a more dynamic driving experience. Dual Variable Valve Timing with Intelligence (Dual VVT-i) ensures ample torque across the engine's speed range.

lexus-ls-500h-rear-A2Driver assist systems are replete in the 500h. Lexus' Integrated Safety Management safety systems include Pre-Collision, Pedestrian Alert, and Lexus CoDrive, the latter combining All-Speed Dynamic Radar Cruise Control with Lane Trace Assist. There’s also Front Cross Traffic Alert, Road Sign Assist, Intelligent High-beam with Adaptive Front Lighting, and Lane Departure Alert plus a continuing list of intelligent and driver assist/safety systems. Side clearance and cornering views have been added to the vehicle’s Panoramic View Monitor to provide periphery safety checks, imaged on the car’s 12.3-inch display monitor.

The fifth-generation LS flagship sedan accomplishes its mission by providing impressive design and high levels of premium content, combined with dynamic performance and a hybrid powertrain that nets estimated fuel economy up to 33 highway mpg. Slated to go on sale later this month, the LS 500h luxury hybrid delivers all this goodness at a premium price that’s yet to be announced, but is expected to be in the high $90,000 range.

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BMW 530eBMW’s 530e, the fourth plug-in hybrid in this automaker’s growing iPerformance lineup in the U.S., combines a TwinPower Turbo engine with an electric motor to achieve desired performance and efficiency. The 180 horsepower, turbocharged 2.0-liter engine and 111 horsepower electric motor feature a total output of 248 horsepower and 310 lb-ft torque. This model marks the first time a BMW iPerformance model is available with either sDrive rear-wheel-drive or xDrive all-wheel-drive.

The electric motor and combustion engine deliver power to the wheels via an 8-speed Steptronic transmission that’s optionally controlled by paddle shifters. With the electric motor in front of the transmission, all gear ratios are also available in the all-electric mode. This eliminates the need for a torque converter and helps offset the weight penalty of adding electric drive. T

bmw-530e-xrayEnergy is supplied to the motor via a lithium-ion battery pack with a total capacity of 9.2 kilowatt-hours. This provides an all-electric range of 16 miles with a total gasoline-electric range of 370 miles. The battery pack features refrigerant cooling and is located beneath the comfortable and well-appointed cabin’s rear seat.

Drivers can select Auto eDrive, Max eDrive, and Battery Control modes to tailor the driving experience.  In the default Auto eDrive mode, the engine and electric motor work optimally under all driving situations and allow all-electric driving at up to 56 mph.  In Max eDrive, the 530e can run on electricity alone up to 87 mph. Battery Control mode lets the driver set charge level manually and makes it possible to conserve or even increase battery capacity while on the highway, so urban driving in the miles ahead can be entirely on electric power.

bmw-530e-chargingThe 530e iPerformance is well-equipped with driver assistance systems, featuring Blind Spot Detection, Traffic Jam Assistant, Lane Departure Warning, and Active Lane Keeping Assistant with Side Collision Avoidance. Along with maintaining any selected speed, Dynamic Cruise Control supports energy-saving coasting by decoupling the engine from the powertrain when the driver lifts off the accelerator at higher speeds. Active Cruise Control with Stop & Go uses radar to adjust a pre-selected speed to traffic conditions. It can brake to a standstill in stop-and-go traffic and automatically sense vehicles ahead so speed can be adjusted earlier and smoother.

Further enhancing driving safety is the 530e’s Evasion Aid capability that provides evasive steering action if a quick lane change is required at speeds up to 100 mph.  Dynamic Stability Control handles the faster steering and counter-steering needed during evasive maneuvers to reduce vehicle instability. Evasion Aid also uses information from the car’s sensor systems to check how much unobstructed space is available around the vehicle.

BMW 530eIt’s notable that the 530e is offered at the same $52,650 base price as the gasoline-powered 530i, which bucks traditional pricing practices in which buyers typically pay a substantial premium for a more efficient plug-in hybrid variant. It’s a laudable move on BMW’s part that may well entice more new car buyers to step up to the ‘greener’ model.

panamera-4-e-hybrid-front-1Except for green e-hybrid badges on the front doors, green brake calipers, and green ‘Panamera 4’ at the rear, Porsche’s new-generation Panamera 4 E-Hybrid looks just like its non-hybrid V-6 sibling. But there’s a lot going on behind the scenes that justifies this plug-in hybrid model’s additional $10,000 cost. For beginners, the Panamera 4 E-Hybrid combines a 330 horsepower twin-turbocharged, 2.9 liter V-6 and a 136 horsepower electric motor to produce a total of 462 horsepower and 516 pound-feet of torque, providing some pretty stellar performance.

The Panamera 4 E-Hybrid is offered in a base model along with Sport Turismo and Executive variants. The Sport Turismo is the closest Porsche is likely to ever come to building a station wagon, with this model stretching the roofline with new sheetmetal aft of the B-pillar, plus a more upright rear window and larger hatch. This greatly improves rear headroom while also delivering marginally more cargo space. The Sport Turismo seats five with four place seating optional. Even more spacious is the Executive model, which adds 5.9 inches to the wheelbase and provides additional rear legroom. Along with other amenities, the executive model has a large rear center console with 10.1-inch screens that can double as tablets.

panamera-4-e-hybrid-plugged-inInternal combustion output is delivered to all four wheels via a ZF eight-speed dual-clutch automatic transmission. The electric motor is positioned between the V-6 engine and transmission. Electrical energy is stored in a 14.1 kilowatt-hour battery pack located under the trunk floor. This is sufficient for an all-electric range of 31 miles and a maximum speed of 87 mph, with the speed limitation intentional to maximize battery driving range. The battery pack can be charged in 12 hours using the car’s 3.6-kilowatt, 120 volt onboard charger or in just three hours with an optional 7.2-kilowatt, 240 volt charger. The E-Hybrid automatically starts driving in pure EV mode. When the battery is depleted the powertrain switches to hybrid mode, delivering varying combinations of combustion and electric power for maximum fuel efficiency.

A standard Sport Chrono package offers default E-Power and Hybrid Auto modes, plus Sport and Sport+ modes that sharpen throttle response and shifting, stiffen dampers, and open the optional sport exhaust. The car’s E-Hold mode conserves the battery’s state of charge so the Panamera can run in pure EV mode at a later time. In E-Charge mode the V-6 engine generates more power than needed to recharge the battery while driving. Driver assistance systems like Night Vision, Lane Change, and Lane Keep are options. Also available is InnoDrive adaptive cruise control that reads upcoming corners, changing gradients, and traffic conditions.

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2018-lexus-lc500h-34-frontThe 2018 Lexus LC 500 and 500h grand touring coupes are striking and refined in ways that will make buyers in the prestige/luxury sector of $100,000+ cars take notice, though the LC 500h hybrid slides in just below that mark with a base price of $96,510. Just 400 of these new models are being produced each month, which means there’s also an element of exclusivity that prestige car buyers and early adopters seek.

In Toyota’s sights are competitive models like the Mercedes SL, Jaguar F-Type and BMW 650i, high-end cars that can serve as daily drivers while highly capable as international touring vehicles. The LC 500 coupes keep the romance of crossing Europe safely at high speed and comfort a practical reality. Note that the LC 500h is particularly fuel efficient for a high-performance car, given its EPA rating of 26 city and 35 highway mpg.

2018-lexus-lc500h-34-rearThese coupes have an entirely new platform designated as GA-L (Global Architecture - Luxury). Design goals achieved are a low center of gravity for improved handling and chassis stiffness that exceeds even the half-million dollar Lexus LFA supercar. These characteristics were well-proved during drives where roll and lean were never an issue in tight corners, even as the model delivered high marks for comfort and handling.

We had the opportunity to drive and compare both the 471 horsepower V-8 and the 345 horsepower Multi-Stage Hybrid V-6 with twin electric motors. Both versions have their own personality with only three-tenths of a second performance differential from 0-60 mph, in favor of the V-8. Our focus here is on the 500h and what makes it a distinctive and top contender for prestige clients.

2018-lexus-lc500h-engine-1Power in the LC 500h is derived from an Atkinson-cycle, 3.5-liter V-6 with direct fuel injection, variable value timing, and a redline at 6,600 rpm. This engine accounts for 295 horsepower and 256 lb-ft torque. The hybrid system allows the LC 500h to operate with the gas engine off at speeds up to 87 mph.

The hybrid system includes twin MG1 and MG2 permanent magnet motor-generators. MGI’s primary function is generator, engine starter, and control of engine speed. MG2 drives the rear wheels and handles regenerative braking. The car’s compact lithium-ion battery is comprised of 84 cells and is located between the rear seats and luggage compartment. Total system power is 354 horsepower, sufficient to deliver 0-60 mph acceleration in 4.7 seconds, outstanding for a car that weighs 4,435 pounds. Top speed in electronically limited to 155 mph. Rather than aiming at being a track star, this is a 2+2 designed for safe touring in comfort at speed.

2018-lexus-lc500h-emblemHybrid Synergy Drive has evolved in the LC 500h. The hybrid powertrain retains its planetary-type, continuously variable transmission and has added a unique four-speed transmission. Working in concert, the two gears alter output in four stages to utilize the V-6 engine across the entire speed range. In M mode, the two gear sets act together to provide the effect of 10 ratios, giving the LC 500h a highly engaging feel and allowing the driver to shift though the ratios with paddle shifters.

Sport, Performance, and Touring Packages further personalize the LC5 500h. As expected in this level of automobile, all the latest safety systems are standard and include pre-collision with pedestrian detection, all-speed radar cruise control, lane departure with steering assist, sway warning, and an intelligent high beam headlamp system.

2018-lexus-lc500h-front-action-1A signature Lexus spindle grill gives the LC 500h a distinctive and highly-recognizable look. In this application Lexus designed a unique mesh texture that changes visual tension as it spreads across the front of the car. Adding to the sleek look of the front end are ultra-compact triple LED headlamps with functional venting that adds aerodynamic stability and cooling.

Chrome plated moldings along the edge of the roof are meant to represent the lines of a traditional Japanese sword. Even the rear tail lights have a design element not previously seen, using mirrors to create a three-dimensional series of L-shaped graphics. The LC 500h rides on standard 20-inch cast aluminum wheels with run-flat 245/45RF20 tires up front and 275/40RF20 at the rear. Front brakes have 6 piston calipers with 4 piston calipers used at the rear.

2018-lexus-lc500h-cabinThe coupe’s monotone interior is exquisite with controls that are intuitive and require little movement to reach. An 8-inch LCD display with Eco driving indicator is set low in the cockpit. Door handles are sculpted in satin chrome. Alcantara-covered door panels feature a wave effect that complements the lines of the dash. All interior stitching is done by hand.

Happily, Lexus designers have retained an upright gearshift lever rather than resorting to a ‘pop-up’ dial shifter. Multimedia features combine a graphic user interface with upgradeable software, along with latest remote-touch interface touchpad. The instrument binnacle is unique in its singular look and design and is the lasted version of thin-film transistor display technology, first introduced in the LFA supercar. Traditional it is not, and it may be setting the new contemporary look for functionality. Our LC 500h test car came equipped with the optional Mark Levinson 835 watt, 7.1 channel, 13 speaker sound system tailored to the LC interior. This system includes Harmon Clari-Fi music tech that analyzes and improves the sound quality of compressed digitized music.

22018-lexus-lc500h-sideToyota’s new flagship coupe is important to the company, a point driven home by the automaker’s commitment of a billion dollars over a five-year development period to launch the LC 500 and 500h grand touring coupes. We’re confident these will be well-received by prestige car buyers looking for efficiency and performance in a no-holds-barred, utterly distinctive, and imminently pleasurable vehicle.

lexus-lc500h-actionInspired by the LF-LC concept unveiled by Lexus four years ago, the 2017 Lexus LC 500 is destined to become the automaker’s flagship coupe. Now it will be joined by a hybrid LC 500h variant. The model represents a shift in Lexus’ engineering and design direction, and thus marks the beginning of a new phase for the Lexus brand with several ‘firsts.’

The LC 500h features the world’s first Multi Stage Hybrid System, a next-generation hybrid powertrain specifically designed for performance vehicles. The system was developed with two opposing objectives: First, to provide a hybrid with a more sporting and engaging driving experience by closely aligning engine speed with throttle inputs. And second, to achieve the best possible balance between power and fuel consumption.

2016.02.08Like the non-hybrid LC 500, a 295 horsepower, 3.5-liter V-6 engine is used in the LC 500h. The LC 500h adds a new lightweight and compact electric motor and lithium-ion battery pack, with a four-speed automatic transmission mounted at the rear of the hybrid transmission. A lighter electric motor offsets the added weight of the automatic transmission, meaning the Multi Stage Hybrid System weighs the same as Lexus’ current hybrid powertrain. An ‘M’ Mode offers the first driver-initiated gear shifts on a Lexus full hybrid powertrain. M Mode allows making direct and responsive gear shifts for the most sporting and engaging drive yet from a Lexus hybrid model.

The electric motor generates better acceleration feel than a conventional engine while adding physical gears more closely aligns engine rpm with driver inputs. The result is a much more direct connection between the accelerator pedal and vehicle acceleration. A total of 354 horsepower results in 0-60 mph times under 5 seconds.

2016.02.08The LC 500 and 500h are the first to use the automaker’s all-new, premium rear-wheel-drive luxury platform that will become the basis for the company’s future front-engine/rear-wheel-drive vehicles. For enhanced dynamic capability and performance, Lexus engineers focused on what they refer to as the LC 500h's ‘inertia specification.’ This places most of the vehicle mass, including the engine and occupants, as low and centralized as possible within the chassis.  Locating the powertrain behind the front axle results in a front mid-ship layout while very short front and rear overhangs push the large diameter tires to the vehicle corners.

Handling is enhanced by a center of gravity that’s further lowered by reducing body weight, in part through the use of an aluminum hood and fenders, aluminum door skins on a carbon fiber structure,  a carbon and glass composite trunk lid, and carbon fiber roof. Aluminum front suspension towers, forged alloy wheels, and ultra-compact LED headlamps also contribute. The model’s extensive use of a high-tensile steel body structure further reduces weight, improves weight-distribution, and increases body rigidity.  Run-flat tires eliminate the weight and weight-distribution penalty of a full-size spare.

lexus-lc500h-leadThe LC 500h's multi-link front suspension system allows for large diameter wheels while keeping a very low hood line. It features two upper and two lower control arms, with double ball joints on each arm. This arrangement optimizes suspension geometry to facilitate precise control from driver inputs and road conditions, creating exceptional steering response.

Included as part of LC 500h standard equipment is Lexus Safety System + to help prevent or mitigate collisions across a wide range of traffic situations. Combining a camera and millimeter-wave radar for a high level of detection performance, the system features a Pre-Crash Safety system with pedestrian detection to help prevent or lessen the severity of collisions, All-speed Adaptive Cruise Control, Lane-Keeping Assist, and Automatic High Beam headlamp technology are also included.

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New Acura NSX in Berlina BlackThe Acura NSX supercar is taking a long time to reach the reality of showrooms, years after the automaker’s late-2011 announcement that it would be offering a successor to the original NSX. It’s now expected to begin manufacturing in Marysville, Ohio in spring 2016. When it goes on sale in a time frame that sees competitors introducing early 2017 models, NSX fans will have been waiting over four years to witness the model’s rebirth. By all indicators it will be worth the wait.

Acura has taken a rather innovative approach in creating the NSX successor that replaces the previous generation last seen in 2005. The new NSX is an all-wheel-drive hybrid with power supplied by a 3.5-liter, mid-ship V-6 and three permanent-magnet synchronous AC electric motors. It will produce an expected 500-plus horsepower.

NSX Powertrain - Top ViewThe V-6 is all-new and shares nothing with other Honda/Acura engines. Its 75-degree 3.5-liter DOHC V-6 features dry sump lubrication, twin turbochargers, and intercooling. The engine is mated to a new, nine-speed dual-clutch transmission integrated with the rear electric motor. This motor, mounted at the front of the transaxle, can power the NSX up to 50 mph for only a few miles since the car’s lithium-ion battery is limited in capacity. The rear motor's primary purpose is to add torque when needed for maximum performance.

Up front there’s a Twin Motor Unit consisting of two smaller electric motors, each powering a front wheel via a planetary gearset. When used with the rear brakes, this provide a torque-vectoring capability. The driver can select between quiet, sport, sport-plus, and track modes to tailor the driving experience.

New Acura NSX in Berlina BlackMuch has been done to keep weight down and the center of gravity low. For starters, there is a carbon-fiber floor panel and part of the rear subframe uses proprietary aluminum-casting technology for stiffness and low weight. The aluminum-intensive space-frame structure is joined together by self-piercing rivets, flow-drill screws, welding, and much adhesive. High-strength steel is used in the super-thin A-pillars. The hood and doors are aluminum while the fenders are SMC, a common form of fiberglass. An aluminum or carbon-fiber roof can be ordered.

Performance is expected to include a 0–60 mph time of 2.7 seconds, 0–100 mph in 6.4 seconds, and a 190 mph top speed. Plus, as if that kind of performance excitement isn’t enough, an even hotter version is planned. For those who can afford the price of entry, the coming Acura NSX will mean that gasoline-electric hybrid power has never looked so good.

New Acura NSX

 

2015 Ford Focus STIt’s well understood that Ford’s EcoBoost engines combine direct injection, variable valve timing, and turbocharging to achieve impressive power and high efficiency. While these advanced engines deliver the acceleration and high fuel economy desired in mainstream models, EcoBoost engines also power the automaker’s performance-oriented models like the Mustang and Fiesta ST. As die-hard enthusiasts always wonder…is there a way to eke even more performance from my car?

And the answer is ‘yes,’ with new hand-held programmers from Ford that adjust a multitude of engine parameters. Tuners often go the traditional route of replacing original equipment with aftermarket parts like performance camshafts, exhaust and intake manifolds, high-flow fueling systems, and even superchargers, sometimes with unwanted trade-offs in efficiency, durability, or comfort.

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Ford points out that in an age of computer-controlled engines, a better answer is performance mods using Ford Racing’s programming handset. The $595 ProCal programmer for the Focus ST 2.0-liter EcoBoost engine and Fiesta ST 1.6-liter EcoBoost plugs into the car’s diagnostic link connector port, enabling performance tweaks to everything from throttle response characteristics and idle speed to turbo wastegate control, fuel curves, and spark timing.

In the hands of engine tuning experts, tweaking with the ProCal can bring impressive gains in horsepower and torque output. The Focus ST can gain up to a 90 lb-ft torque increase while maintaining the Ford-backed limited warranty. Custom engine calibrations for the all-new Mustang 2.3-liter EcoBoost are being developed by Ford Racing with a product expected by the end of 2015.

2014 SEMA: Mountune Mustang

 

 

2015 Chevrolet Colorado Z71Chevrolet’s all-new 2015 Colorado midsize pickup seeks to fill a potentially hot market replete with buyers interested in the functionality of a truck but requiring a bit smaller package for better maneuverability in urban areas. Starting at an MSRP of $20,120, the Colorado is available in four-door extended cab or crew cab models to fit varying needs, offering a standard six-foot pickup bed with a short five-foot bed also available on a short bed crew cab versions. Rear seat room is very tight in the extended cab and reasonably comfortable in the crew cab.

Power choices include two fuel efficient engines, a 2.5 liter four-cylinder and a 3.6 liter V-6.  The four-cylinder is rated at 200 horsepower and 191 lb-ft of torque, with approximately 90 percent of the peak torque available from 2,000 rpm to 6,200 rpm. The V-6 engine is rated at 305 horsepower and 269 lb-ft of torque. Fuel economy is estimated at 18 city/26 highway mpg with the V-6 and bumps up to 20 city/27 highway mpg with the four-cylinder. A new clean diesel option is coming with the 2016 Colorado, which will be offering a new 2.8-liter Duramax engine featuring an expected 181 horsepower and a sizeable 369 lb-ft of torque coming on at a low 2,000 rpm. Fuel efficiency promises to be outstanding for a pickup.

2015 Chevrolet Colorado Z71

Aluminum blocks and forged-steel crankshafts, along with dual-overhead camshafts with variable valve timing, direct injection, and jet-spray piston cooling are shared by both of the current gasoline engines. The Colorado's trailering rating is up to 7,000 pounds with the V-6 engine and heavy-duty towing package. All models come with a standard six-speed automatic transmission with auto grade braking and a tow/haul mode. Extended cab 2WD WT models equipped with the 2.5-liter engine are available with a six-speed manual transmission.

The Colorado features triple-sealed doors inlaid in the body sides for improved aerodynamic performance and a quieter interior. To help keep overall mass down, lightweight materials such as an aluminum hood are used. It also has active aero grille shutters, designed to enhance aerodynamics when closed. Electric power steering improves efficiency by eliminating the energy used by an engine-driven hydraulic pump.

2015 Chevrolet Colorado Interior

With nearly the capacity and features of the full-size Chevrolet Silverado pickup, this mid-sized pickup offers not only better fuel economy, but enhanced maneuverability including  a short turning radius of 41.3 feet, great on city streets or backing a trailer into a camping spot.

The Colorado may be a pickup, but it offers the advanced electronics so desired by consumers today. Safety is also top-of-mind with forward collision alert and lane departure warning plus a standard rear-vision camera.

audi-laserlightIlluminating the road ahead is a crucial element in driving. It’s also one that has long benefitted from technological innovation. To this end, Audi celebrates the evolution of automotive lighting with its Sport quattro laserlight concept car. The high performance, two-door, Plasma Red coupe harkens back to the iconic 1983 Sport quattro even as it’s abundant advanced technology and design cues point to the future.

The laserlight concept is named for its future lighting technologies. Two low-profile trapezoidal elements are visible within the headlights. An outer one generates low beam light using matrix LEDs and an aperture mask, while an inner element produces laser light for the high-beam.

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Laser diodes are significantly smaller than LED diodes, only a few microns in diameter. They can illuminate the road for a distance of nearly 1,640 feet, approximately twice the lighting range with three times the luminosity of LED high beam lights. This technology is finding use in the 2014 R18 e-tron quattro for track duty.

Motivating the laserlight concept is a 4.0-liter, bi-turbo V-8 TSFI (turbo stratified fuel injection) engine and a disc-shaped electric motor located between the engine and transmission. The V-8 produces 560 horsepower and 516 pound-feet torque, with the electric motor contributing an additional 148 horsepower and 295 pound-feet torque. A modified eight-speed Tiptronic transmission is mated to the quattro drivetrain with a sport differential at the rear axle.

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Electrical energy is stored in a 14.1 kilowatt-hour lithium-ion battery, sufficient for 31 miles of all-electric driving. When the V-8 and electric motor are working together, the Audi Sport quattro laserlight concept can accelerates from 0 to 62 mph in 3.7 seconds. Top speed is 189 mph. This impressive performance comes with an equally impressive 94 US mpg fuel economy. This is achieved in part through its electric plug-in operation in addition to a cylinder on demand system that deactivates four cylinders of the V-8 under partial load. Also helping is a start-stop system and several levels of regen braking to enhance driving dynamics.

Drivers can switch between three different modes. In EV mode, just the electric motor operates with sufficient high torque power, even outside the city. The active accelerator pedal indicates the transition by a change in pedal resistance so a driver can intentionally influence the mode selection. The Hybrid mode provides optimal interplay between the V-8 and the electric motor for best fuel-savings, and additionally incorporates environmental and route data. A driver can choose the Hold and Charge modes to ensure sufficient electrical energy is available for electric-only driving at their destination. There are different levels of regenerative braking to enhance the driving experience.

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The laserlight’s multifunction sport steering wheel has buttons to control the hybrid drive, start-stop function, vehicle handling system, and the car’s virtual cockpit. Key information is shown on the large Audi TFT display in high-resolution 3D graphics. A cutting-edge Nvidia Tegra 30 processor handles the graphics.

Nearly all functions can be controlled from the further-developed MMI mounted on the center console. Its large rotary pushbutton, which also serves as a touchpad, can be pushed in four directions. It’s surrounded on three sides by four buttons that control the main menu, submenus, options, and a back function. The intuitive layout is similar to a smart phone with all frequently used functions accessed lightning fast.

Lightweight design plays a major role in the Audi laserlight concept’s dynamic performance. A combination of ultra high-strength steel sheet and structural elements of cast aluminum is used in the occupant cell. The doors and fenders are made of aluminum, with the roof, engine hood, and rear hatch and other components made of carbon fiber reinforced plastic (CFRP). Thus, the concept weighs 4,079 pounds including the weight of the large battery pack.

 

audi-a6-tdi-sideIt’s hard not to wear a broad grin while driving Audi’s 2014 A6 TDI. One of a growing array of upscale TDI models in the Audi stable, the $57,500 A6 TDI presents a compelling case for premium mid-size sedan buyers to go clean diesel. Time behind the wheel illustrates the well-balanced nature of the A6 TDI, which artfully blends luxury, comfort, performance, and efficiency in a very desirable package. Plus, it’s just fun to drive.

The A6 TDI’s 3.0-liter turbocharged direct injection V-6 is surprisingly quiet and smooth, dispensing with the two inherent challenges that diesel as a whole has faced in attracting U.S. buyers in the past. Ride quality, handling, and overall driving characteristics are excellent. The A6 TDI is powerful, with strong low-end torque pressing you back in the seat with ease while delivering 240 hp and an impressive 428 lb-ft torque. All this power is channeled to the highway via an 8-speed tiptronic transmission and quattro all-wheel drive. Acceleration from 0-60 mph is achieved in a quick 5.5 seconds.

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This level of power-at-the-ready does not sacrifice efficiency as one might expect, particularly in highway driving as the model achieves a rather impressive 38 mpg. Total driving range of over 700 miles is possible. The TDI clean diesel’s inherent efficiency is bolstered with other efficiency measures including a relatively lightweight chassis and aluminum body panels, plus a start-stop efficiency system that shuts the engine down under specific conditions such as extended idling or at stoplights. The engine restarts instantly when a driver releases the brake pedal.

Driving performance and efficiency are just part of the story with the Audi A6. This model makes a point of enveloping driver and passengers in a luxurious and accommodating interior, paying great attention to detail throughout the cabin with a curved wraparound dash, fine leather, and high-end materials. Instrumentation and controls are well placed and intuitive.

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Infotainment and connectivity features are extensive with MMI Navigation plus and Audi connect, which offers Google Earth mapping and in-vehicle Wi-Fi connectivity for up to eight wireless devices. Available are an array of sophisticated features including night vision assistant, heads-up display, and Audi pre sense plus, the latter system helping to detect imminent collisions and initiate protective measures.

The A6 TDI presents a very upscale exterior with sharp lines and unmistakable Audi design cues, among these Audi’s signature LED lighting technology. Add in efficient and responsive TDI power and the package gets even more compelling.

 

tesla-model-sSaleen Automotive’s offerings are traditionally gasoline-driven and they are fast. The company is well-known in automotive circles for its stylish and performance-oriented versions of noted sports cars like Ford Mustangs, Chevy Camaros, and Dodge Challengers. Now Saleen is turning attention to high-performance in the electrified world with a new effort involving Tesla’s Model S.

Company CEO Steve Saleen says this latest focus on the Tesla Model S is not a departure from Saleen Automotive’s own core values of elite power, style, and performance. Rather, he feels the Model S epitomizes the sports car of the electric vehicle field, which of course would make it a natural for the company. Saleen says they are working on renderings and engineers are preparing a spec sheet that will detail some of the enhancements and innovations that Saleen Automotive aims to add to the Saleen Tesla Model S.

BMW will be debuting its Concept Active Tourer plug-in hybrid concept and clean diesel 328d model at the upcoming 2013 New York International Auto Show. Featuring a three-cylinder gasoline engine and electric motor, the Concept Active Tourer is expected to achieve up to 95 mpg. It features a composite glass roof using suspended particle device technology that allows a driver the ability to darken or lighten the roof at will.

For the near-term, the 328d speaks to the expanding clean diesel movement in the U.S. as automakers increasingly look toward this high-efficiency propulsion technology to meet federal mpg goals and consumer desires for more efficient vehicles.

Powered by a TwinPower Turbo four-cylinder engine, the BMW 328d delivers 180 horsepower and 280 lb-ft of torque, a combination capable of propelling the four-door sedan from 0 to 60 mph in a sprightly 7.2 seconds. Fuel efficiency is expected to be upwards of 40 mpg. Actual EPA estimates will be revealed closer to the model’s launch.

This combination of efficiency and power is important to the brand, as BMW buyers have come to expect performance levels that support the company’s well-known claim, ‘the ultimate driving machine.’ Offering a four-door 328 sedan that accomplishes both well will position the 328d very competitively in an expanding clean diesel market in the States.

VW has unveiled its Golf GTD at the Geneva Motor Show, a sporty and fuel-sipping model offering a welcome 56 combined city/highway mpg. It does this with a new 184 hp four-cylinder TDI engine, a turbocharged and direct-injected powerplant that meets the challenging EU-6 emissions standard. The 56 mpg figure is achieved with Golf GTDs equipped with a six-speed manual transmission. Combined fuel economy is 50 mpg with VW’s optional six-speed DSG dual-clutch automatic transmission.

The first Golf GTD variant debuted some 30 years ago as a sporty compact that aimed to offer GTI-style features with notable fuel efficiency. This latest iteration, based on the seventh-generation Golf, is the most powerful GTD ever.

This is no slouch. Along with the 184 hp comes 280 lb-ft torque at a low 1750 rpm, supplying sufficient power to press you back in the seat. The Golf GTD is meant to be an efficient long-distance tourer and performer, which it backs up with a fun-to-drive nature and a top speed of 143 mph.

VW’s Golf GTD sits on lowered sport suspension and features side skirts, rear diffuser, and rear spoiler. It has distinctive features like smoked LED taillights with LED license-plate lights, 17-inch GTD wheels wrapped with 225/45 tires, and dual chrome tailpipes. The cabin offers GTD features including  tartan-patterned sport seats, sport steering wheel, and stainless-steel pedals and foot rest.