Archive for March, 2013
See Consumer Guide’s review of the 2013 Acura MDX.
Hot on the heels of its “Prototype” unveiling at the 2013 Detroit Auto Show, Honda’s luxury brand debuted the production version of its flagship SUV at the 2013 New York Auto Show.
This is par for the course for Honda/Acura. Vehicles shown at auto shows that carry the “Prototype” or “Concept” tag are not terribly different from what the final product will be. The 2014 Acura MDX is no exception. Though this is an all-new vehicle, its styling cues look more evolutionary in nature. Since the MDX is, by far, Acura’s best-selling vehicle, we can understand the take-no-chances approach to the design.
As with the Detroit concept, the production MDX will have a longer wheelbase but shorter overall length than its predecessor. This means more room for 2nd- and 3rd-row occupants.
MDX will share some of its drivetrain components with the 2014 Acura RLX sedan. Power will come from a 290-horsepower 3.5-liter V6 engine mated to a 6-speed automatic transmission. The engine employs high-pressure gasoline direct injection and cylinder deactivation as fuel-saving measures. Buyers will have a choice between front- and all-wheel-drive configurations. The former is an MDX first. EPA-estimated fuel economy for the front-drive model is 20 mpg city/28 mpg highway; AWD versions score 18/27. Credit not just the engine’s high-pressure gasoline direct injection but also a total weight reduction of 275 pounds for the improved fuel-economy numbers.
Rather than hold individual launches for each of its divisions at the 2013 New York Auto Show, General Motors rolled them together into a 1-2 combo from Buick followed by an uppercut from Cadillac.
The oldest product in Buick’s lineup is the LaCrosse, which bowed in its current form for the 2010 model year. For 2014, GM is giving the car a substantial freshening. A new front fascia brings LaCrosse’s appearance up to date with more recent Buicks, including the compact Verano sedan and midsize Enclave SUV. Powertrains are unchanged and include GM’s eAssist gas/electric 4-cylinder and conventional 3.6-liter V6 engines, each mated to a 6-speed automatic transmission. Newly available safety features include lane-departure warning, forward-collision alert, and pre-collision braking. Most models will also include the latest generation of Buick’s IntelliLink infotainment system. The 2014 Buick LaCrosse goes on sale this summer.
Similarly updated for 2014 is the smaller Buick Regal. Like its bigger brother, Regal gets Verano/Enclave-inspired styling cues. The eAssist 4-cylinder engine remains standard. Sporty versions, including the top-line Regal GS, get a new 2.0-liter turbocharged 4-cylinder engine with 259 horsepower. From 2014 onward, the GS will be the only Regal model to offer a manual transmission. All others will come only with a 6-speed automatic. For the first time, Regal will be available with the choice of front- or all-wheel drive.
See Consumer Guide’s review of the 2013 Porsche 911.
Porsche is using the 2013 New York Auto Show to celebrate the 50th birthday of its most iconic sports car. Part of the festivities include the debut of the 2014 911 GT3.
The GT3 is basically a sportier version of the standard 911 Carrera. How do you make an already sporty car even more so? By giving it more power, better handling, and more expressive styling.
Porsche accomplishes the first by taking a 3.8-liter horizontally opposed 6-cylinder engine and massaging it to 475 horsepower. Though this motor is technically related to the 3.8-liter unit in the 911 Carrera S, the company says only a few parts are shared between them. Unique to the GT3 are titanium connecting rods and forged pistons, each of which is necessary to sustain the engine under extreme loads—up to 9000 rpm in this case. Power gets to the rear wheels (all-wheel drive is not offered on the GT3) via a specially designed 7-speed dual-clutch automated-manual transmission, called a PDK in Porsche speak. Much to the chagrin of purists, no manual transmission is available. A sport exhaust allows gases to escape faster, and the GT3 gives owners the ability to switch between two modes.
With the unveiling today of the 2014 Chevrolet Camaro Z/28, we thought it would be cool to look back at the Z/28s of yore. The first one dates back to the original Camaro, which first hit American streets in the autumn of 1966 as a 1967 model.
The surprise introduction of the 2014 Chevrolet Camaro Z/28 was the big news from Chevy at the 2013 New York Auto Show. This track-focused Camaro joins the refreshed 2014 Camaro lineup. (See Consumer Guide’s review of the 2013 Chevrolet Camaro.)
See Consumer Guide’s report on the 2014 Mercedes-Benz CLA-Class.
As the 2014 Mercedes-Benz CLA-Class approaches its on-sale date, the German manufacturer unleashed its high-performance sibling at the 2013 New York Auto Show.
The CLA-Class is Mercedes’ new entry-level car. Think of it as a pint-sized CLS-Class, and you have the general idea. The first models to reach our shores will be front-wheel drive and powered by a 2.0-liter turbocharged 4-cylinder engine with 208 horsepower.
As with its other cars, the AMG-tuned edition of the CLA will make its conventional sibling seem absolutely pedestrian in comparison. The 2014 Mercedes-Benz CLA45 AMG will also have a 2.0-liter turbocharged 4-cylinder engine, but massaged to 355 horsepower. Thankfully, AMG engineers are pairing this engine with a specially tuned version of Mercedes’ 4MATIC all-wheel drive (imagine trying to channel that much power through the front wheels alone). The sole transmission is an AMG-designed 7-speed dual-clutch automated manual. Expect a 0-60-mph acceleration time of 4.5 seconds with a top speed of 155 mph.
Other high-tech goodies include a three-stage antiskid system, including one setting that disables this safety net completely. A specific performance suspension includes reinforced bearings designed to improve stability at high speeds. Faster steering ratios and larger brakes promise greater control and stability.
Three BMW vehicles are making their first appearances in the United States at the 2013 New York Auto Show. The company is also announcing some major updates to its ConnectedDrive telematics suite.
The trio of vehicles includes one concept and two production cars. The “pie in the sky” vehicle is the Concept Active Tourer. This small wagon pairs a plug-in electric motor with a 3-cylinder gasoline engine that BMW says will achieve a combined 95 mpg. The roof is made of a composite glass panel that allows users to darken or lighten its tinting with the push of a button. It’s a similar concept to the MAGIC SKY roof found on the Mercedes-Benz SL-Class and SLK-Class convertibles.
Those interested in more “realistic” vehicles can check out the 2014 BMW 3-Series Gran Turismo. This 4-door fastback has a longer wheelbase than its sedan counterpart, which allows for more passenger and cargo room. Think of this car as a shrunken version of the brand’s 5-Series Gran Turismo. Powertrains will come from the 3-Series sedan and include a 2.0-liter turbocharged 4-cylinder and 3.0-liter turbocharged inline 6-cylinder. Though not specifically mentioned, we would expect this car to offer the choice of rear-wheel drive or BMW’s xDrive all-wheel drive. The 2014 BMW 3-Series Gran Turismo goes on sale in late summer, with pricing to be announced closer to that time.
See Consumer Guide’s review of the 2013 Toyota Highlander.
The redesigned 2014 Toyota Highlander bows in New York. The Japanese brand’s 3-row crossover gets a major styling overhaul, a new interior, and new features.
Company officials say the revamped highlander has 30 percent more sound-deadening material, making the cabin quieter and less prone to vibration and harshness.
Highlander will seat up to 8 passengers, making it one of only three midsize crossovers to do so (the others are twins Chevrolet Traverse/GMC Acadia and the Honda Pilot). Buyers will have the option of selecting a bench seat for the 2nd row or two-place captain’s chairs with a collapsible center storage tray. The cabin is 4.3 inches wider, allowing for more shoulder space and easier access to the 3rd row.
Available drivetrains don’t change much. Entry-level models with front-wheel drive will offer a 2.7-liter 4-cylinder engine paired with a 6-speed automatic transmission. The volume 3.5-liter V6 returns, but for 2014 it teams with a 6-speed automatic (replacing the previous 5-speed). This engine is available on models with front- or all-wheel drive. Toyota will continue to offer a gas/electric hybrid model with standard all-wheel drive as well. It pairs a 3.5-liter V6 engine with an electric motor and is mated to a continuously variable transmission (CVT) that behaves like an automatic.
See Consumer Guide’s reviews of the 2013 Kia Forte, Kia Optima, and Kia Soul.
Kia is debuting three products at the 2013 New York Auto Show, which completes the company’s plan to launch seven new or significantly freshened vehicles during the four major U.S. auto shows (Los Angeles, Detroit, Chicago, New York).
The debut of the 2014 Kia Forte Koup in New York marks the final new model in this compact car’s stable. Kia has performed a gradual rollout of the 2014 Forte, starting with the sedan’s launch at the 2012 Los Angeles Auto Show and following with the 5-door hatchback at the 2013 Chicago Auto Show.
Per brand convention, the Forte Koup returns in base EX and sporty SX trim levels. Standard on the former is a 173-horsepower 2.0-liter 4-cylinder engine paired with a 6-speed automatic transmission. The SX includes a 201-horsepower 1.6-liter turbocharged 4-cylinder borrowed from the Veloster Turbo produced by Kia’s corporate parent, Hyundai. SX buyers will have the choice of a 6-speed manual or 6-speed automatic transmission.
See Consumer Guide’s reviews of the current-generation Volkswagen Golf and Volkswagen GTI.
Following its world premiere at the 2013 Geneva Motor Show, Volkswagen is giving North American audiences their first look at the next-generation Golf compact car. While it might not look radically different than the car currently on sale, the “Golf A7” (7th generation) is a clean-sheet redesign with a new chassis, body structure, engines, features, and assembly plant.
The 2015 Volkswagen Golf will return in conventional gasoline, diesel-powered TDI, and high-performance GTI variants. These hatchbacks also reprise the choice of 2- or 4-door body styles, which is unique among compact and sporty/performance cars. All versions have a new body shell that, thanks to the use of high-strength steel, weighs 50 fewer pounds than the outgoing model. Other places where VW engineers sought to save weight are in the seats, air conditioning system, and electronics.
The car itself is longer, wider, and lower than its predecessor, which VW says translates into a 10 percent improvement in aerodynamics. Rear-seat legroom improves by 0.6 inches.