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2018 Ford C-Max

The Car Connection News Feed - Thu, 01/18/2018 - 22:09
The 2018 Ford C-Max, now in its sixth and final model year, is a tall compact hatchback available only as a hybrid or plug-in hybrid. It launched in 2013 as the company’s response to the popular and fuel efficient Toyota Prius. The higher-volume C-max Hybrid suffered from a pair of reductions in its EPA fuel-economy rating, and has not sold...
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2018 Fiat 500X

The Car Connection News Feed - Thu, 01/18/2018 - 21:52
The 2018 Fiat 500X is in its third year as the first Fiat designed specifically for North American buyers. Small crossovers are hugely popular right now, and the 500X adds sales to the aging Fiat lineup with a mix of Italian style and utility-vehicle practicality. We rate the 2018 Fiat 500X at 6.3 out of 10 overall. (Read more about how we rate...
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2018 Fiat 124 Spider

The Car Connection News Feed - Thu, 01/18/2018 - 21:47
The 2018 Fiat 124 Spider's name traces its roots back to the 1960s, but its bones are much newer than that. The two-seat sports car shares a structure with the Mazda MX-5 Miata, but the Fiat makes an effort to strike its own path. While it is built in Japan by Mazda, it has Italian model names like Classica, Lusso, and Abarth, unique styling, and...
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2018 Fiat 500L

The Car Connection News Feed - Thu, 01/18/2018 - 21:37
The 2018 Fiat 500L is a different vehicle than the stylish little three-door hatchback that relaunched the Italian brand in the U.S. seven years ago. The five-door 500L is a compact tall wagon (or perhaps a five-door hatchback) that offers lots of interior room and a decent level of standard and optional features. The trim levels are the base Pop...
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Washington Might Block Chinese Automaker From Entering U.S.

Motortrend News Feed - Thu, 01/18/2018 - 21:30

At this year’s Detroit Auto Show, Chinese automaker GAC Motor announced plans to begin selling cars in the U.S. in 2019. The goal is to sell a redesigned version of the GS8 SUV (shown above) as a 2020 model and then slowly fill out its lineup over the next several years. But while GAC sounds like it knows breaking into the U.S. won’t be easy, it may have underestimated how much resistance it will face from Washington.

Reuters reports that yesterday, Senate minority leader Chuck Schumer called the rules for exporting cars to China “manifestly unfair, and a typically unfortunate example of China’s rapacious trading policies.” That’s because if a car is built in China and sold in the U.S., it is subject to a 2.5-percent tariff, but if a car is built in the U.S. and sold in China, the tariff is 10 times higher at 25 percent.

In a separate interview, President Trump told Reuters he felt the same way. He believes “we have helped to build China because they have taken out so much money in terms of trade deficits with this country,” and that “when China or another country charges us 50 percent tariffs—more than that in some cases—and we charge them nothing, that’s not fair. That’s not fair.”

While Trump and Schumer appear to agree that China’s tariffs on U.S. goods are unfairly high, it’s not entirely clear what they plan to do about it. At the moment, neither has called for an increased tariff on Chinese cars or proposed a way to block GAC from selling vehicles in the U.S. But considering how little Trump and Schumer agree on, the fact that they’re on the same side of this particular issue could be bad news for GAC.

We’ve reached out to senator Schumer’s office and the White House for comment, and are awaiting their replies.

Source: Reuters

The post Washington Might Block Chinese Automaker From Entering U.S. appeared first on Motor Trend.

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2018 Alfa Romeo Giulia

The Car Connection News Feed - Thu, 01/18/2018 - 21:23
The 2018 Alfa Romeo Giulia has the world’s finest sports sedans in its sights. Although it isn’t quite the bullseye that the Italian automaker might need, the Giulia compact sports sedan is brimming con brio, a delight to drive in even its humblest form, and sells for a fair price, too. We rate it at 7.4 out of 10. We give points above...
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2018 Alfa Romeo Stelvio

The Car Connection News Feed - Thu, 01/18/2018 - 21:08
The 2018 Alfa Romeo Stelvio is the make-or-break moment for Fiat Chrysler Automobiles' Italian luxury brand. It’s the brand’s first crossover SUV, and as such the Stelvio plunges the company into uncharted territory. Alfa Romeo hopes it can blend old-world charm with the New World’s obsession with high-riding off-roaders better...
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PSA Working on U.S.-Bound Vehicles but Brand Decision Still Year Away

Motortrend News Feed - Thu, 01/18/2018 - 20:45

Which brand PSA Group will choose to sell in the U.S. by 2026 will be decided next year, and engineers in Germany have begun work on ensuring the future models meet North American regulations and tastes.

DS or Peugeot are most likely. Alternatives include Citroën and now Opel and Vauxhall after PSA bought the U.K. brands last year from General Motors for about $2.5 billion. Opel is the least likely candidate, as the plans to return to North America began before the acquisition and the brand would have too much overlap with existing GM models, especially Buick models created on Opel platforms.

PSA is using the former Opel engineers based in Rüsselsheim to work on next-generation models for the U.S., and they began their work a few months ago, said Carlos Tavares, CEO of the PSA Group since 2014. He thinks their engineering combined with the emotion of French brands will resonate with American buyers.

Citroën C4 Cactus

Research shows the three French brands have a positive connotation in the U.S., associated with fine wines and cool design even though the products have not been sold on this side of the Atlantic for a long time. Citroën left in 1974, and Peugeot left in 1991. The attractive vehicles should resonate in North America much like they have in other markets, but Tavares said PSA must not be so arrogant as to think success in Europe guarantees success on this side of the pond. So he is being deliberately slow and careful in the rollout.

“Our heritage is French brands, that’s a differentiator for us,” said Larry Dominique, president and CEO of PSA North America. “We have done the research. We know directionally what we want to do,” and they have the time to ensure they understand the market and their brands’ position in it.

The brand coming to the U.S. has been essentially chosen, but the final decision will be made in a year, Dominique said, allowing time to continue to monitor the market and the product development efforts. Peugeot has the most recognition, he said. Past comments and speculation have centered on DS. There has been talk of a return to North America for years; at one time the plan was to sell Citroën in Canada first as a test bed.

The latest plan is a 10-year, three-phase re-entry to both the U.S. and Canada with sustainable retail sales no later than 2026. High volume is not a criteria.

The first two phases are car-sharing services using competitive vehicles initially and then PSA models. The final stage has retail sales of the yet-to-be named brand.

Step one uses the car-share app Free2Move that is a global app with 600,000 users but only a few thousand in the U.S., where it has not been marketed, Dominique said. It is like Expedia for car-sharing, allowing access to ZipCar, Car2Go, and other sharing partners, and it will use vehicles from other automakers. It will start in a large East Coast city in a few months and expand to a few more U.S. cities later this year.

PSA has a separate partnership with Travel Car, a peer-to-peer rental app already available in Los Angeles, San Francisco, and Chicago with Seattle to be added soon. It books other people’s cars and also finds and books discounted parking.

Car-sharing with a fleet of existing Peugeots could happen as early as next year, giving PSA control over the fleet.

The third phase is deciding the best brand to bring to the country and how to sell them, Tavares said. He would not say if it is a luxury or more mass-market brand. And they are looking at sales through traditional dealers, online, using a subscription model, or a combination of distribution models.

“The risk is to do things poorly,” he said. “Because our company is profitable and healthy, we don’t need to rush.” Tavares does not want to repeat mistakes of some past foreign automakers entering the U.S. market unsuccessfully.

“The U.S. market for PSA is only about upside, so I don’t have to be fast,” Tavares said. “So the number one criteria is to do it well.”

PSA CEO Carlos Tavares

Tavares also said that by 2025 all PSA vehicles will have some form of electrification–either full battery electric or plug-in hybrid—as an option on all of its 40 vehicles. Gasoline and diesel engines will continue to be options. Several second-generation all-electric models are launching next year, but Tavares does not know how many models will be pure electric by 2025.

By 2030 the automaker will also be offering some degree of autonomous vehicle technology on 80 percent of its vehicles, and 10 percent will be Level 4 or 5, which means the cars are capable of self-driving. Level 1 started with the Peugeot 3008, and Level 2 technology is in the new DS7 Crossback. Level 3 will be on the road in 2021–2022 followed by Level 4 by 2023.

The French automaker is financially healthy, and turning Opel around is a priority. Tavares said vehicles on GM platforms will migrate over to PSA architectures as each model completes its current life cycle, a process expected to take three or four years. It raises uncertainty for GM products such as the Buick Regal, which rides on an Opel platform.

Opel is where PSA was four years ago, and it will follow the same turnaround trajectory. The PSA team found Opel vehicles more complex than necessary, which affects manufacturing, as well. “The cost of manufacturing in U.K. plants is double the cost of French plants,” Tavares said. Cuts are inevitable, and next week the CEO is meeting with unions in the U.K. who have been told their plant costs and productivity are where PSA plants were four years ago; those plants have since had their manufacturing costs cut by 50 percent. The CEO also continues to meet with government officials in the aftermath of Brexit.

The post PSA Working on U.S.-Bound Vehicles but Brand Decision Still Year Away appeared first on Motor Trend.

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How the Ram 1500, Ford Ranger, and Chevrolet Silverado Compare in 5 Areas

Motortrend News Feed - Thu, 01/18/2018 - 20:28

The 2018 Detroit auto show was the most truck-heavy show we’ve seen in years, with three major automakers debuting new pickups. GM and Fiat-Chrysler had new generations of the Chevrolet Silverado and Ram 1500 to show, and Ford brought back the midsize Ranger to our shores after an absence of nearly a decade. We don’t have all the specs yet—and yes, the Ranger is in a different class than the Silverado and Ram—but we can still compare these new trucks in a few key areas.

Engines

The new 2019 Ram 1500’s gas 3.6-liter Pentastar V-6 and 5.7-liter Hemi V-8 engines mostly carry over but receive new eTorque starter/generators fed by a small battery pack that provide between 12-16 hp and 90-130 lb-ft of torque, depending on application. The eTorque motors also restart the engine in 0.55 second after shutting off via the new stop/start capability. The 3.0-liter EcoDiesel V-6 is set to return in 2019 without the eTorque mild hybrid system.

The 2019 Chevrolet Silverado’s full engine lineup is unknown but will again include 5.3- and 6.2-liter V-8 options, now equipped with cylinder deactivation tech that can shut off as many as seven cylinders. But the big news is an all-new Duramax 3.0-liter turbodiesel inline-six that GM promises will deliver better performance than the competition, possibly meaning 30 mpg on the highway. A four-cylinder hybrid could be offered in the future. Chevy says a total of six engine and transmission choices will be available on the Silverado 1500.

Meanwhile, the 2019 Ford Ranger will launch with a version of the 2.3-liter EcoBoost turbo-four found in other Ford products. It’s a second-generation turbo-four and features a forged steel crankshaft and twin-scroll turbocharger. No specs were revealed, but it could make around 280 hp and 310 lb-ft like the unit available in the Explorer. Future engine options could include a turbodiesel five-cylinder that’s available in other markets, but no hard details have surfaced yet.

Transmissions

Given that these are next-gen trucks, high gear counts are to be expected, and all three deliver. The 2019 Ram 1500 uses a specially tuned version of FCA’s eight-speed automatic, which has been programmed with more than 40 shift maps to work in concert with the eTorque system. Meanwhile, the Silverado and Ranger both use the 10-speed automatic that was jointly developed by GM and Ford. The Hydra-Matic 10-speed can be found on Silverados with the diesel and 6.2-liter V-8, and it comes with stop/start tech.

Infotainment

All three trucks get their respective automaker’s latest infotainment system, but the Ram 1500 Limited steals the show with a segment-first 12.0-inch touchscreen running Uconnect 4C (the display is shown above). The screen is brighter and sharper than FCA’s others, producing 1,000 candela per square meter and matching the resolution of the iPhone 8’s Retina HD display. Lesser Ram 1500 models will continue to use the 8.4-inch touchscreen. SiriusXM Guardian offers a 4G LTE Wi-Fi hot spot for a subscription fee.

Base Chevy Silverado 1500 work trucks will get a 7.0-inch color touchscreen, and LT models and up get an 8.0-inch unit. A 4G LTE Wi-Fi connection continues to be offered for a subscription fee. The Ford Ranger gets an 8.0-inch touchscreen available with Ford’s Sync 3 infotainment system and also offers a 4G Wi-Fi through the subscription-based FordPass. All three trucks are compatible with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto (when properly equipped), but only the Ford is available with the Amazon Alexa voice assistant.

Bed

Although connectivity is great, people buy trucks to do truck stuff—and the bed is a big part of that. The 2019 Ram 1500 will be available in multiple cab and bed configurations, and the bed in each features sides that have been raised 1.3 inches to increase box capacity. RamBox in-bed storage continues to be offered and adds a 115-volt power outlet and repositioned lighting in the lids.

The 2019 Chevrolet Silverado’s bed gains nearly 7 inches in width, thanks to new construction methods. The bed floor is made of roll-formed high-strength steel and is rated for 500 megapascals of force (up from 340 MPa in the previous model). An in-bed 120-volt outlet provides up to 400 watts, enough juice for most large power tools. GM’s CornerStep bumpers are now taller to accommodate work boots, but the Silverado’s big party trick is its available power tailgate that can lower and raise using the key fob.

Ford didn’t provide dimensions for the U.S.-market Ranger, but the truck will be offered as a four-door supercrew or a supercab with two rear half doors, so there will likely be different bed sizes.

Off-Road Chops

Not all truck owners will take their rigs off-road, but those who do will appreciate that the Ram 1500, Silverado, and Ranger all have the capability to do so, along with special variants designed to do it better.

The Ram has an available updated air suspension and new Frequency Response Damping shocks that improve performance off-road. There’s also a new 4×4 off-road package that include a 1-inch lift, unique shocks, locking rear axle, and hill-descent control feature. Of course, the off-road-oriented Rebel trim is still offered, which gets the locking differential standard along with a host of other goodies.

The Silverado’s suspension gets a redesign, which should help its off-roading prowess. For maximum off-road looks and capability, though, there’s a new Trailboss variant that adds a 2-inch lift and the Z71 Off-Road package, which includes skidplates, Rancho shocks, a locking rear differential, and 18-inch wheels wrapped in Goodyear Duratrac off-road tires.

Ford says the Ranger is designed with off-road adventures in mind, which is why it has such a short front overhang and high ground clearance. There’s an FX4 Off-Road package available that includes all-terrain tires, off-road-tuned shocks and suspension, skidplates, and a Terrain Management System similar to the one available in the F-150 Raptor. A Trail Control feature acts like a low-speed cruise control and takes over throttle and braking to let the driver focus on steering. An electronic locking rear differential is available, and four-wheel-drive models have a selectable low range setting.

2019 Ford Ranger 2019 Chevrolet Silverado 1500 High Country 2019 Chevrolet Silverado 1500 LT (and LTZ) 2019 Chevrolet Silverado 1500 LT Trail Boss 2019 Ram 1500 Rebel

 

The post How the Ram 1500, Ford Ranger, and Chevrolet Silverado Compare in 5 Areas appeared first on Motor Trend.

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Nissan Titan Improves Score in Small Overlap Crash Test

Motortrend News Feed - Thu, 01/18/2018 - 19:15

The Nissan Titan has improved its score in the driver’s side small overlap crash test from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety. Titans built after August 2017 earn a “Good” rating in the test, while the previous model received a “Marginal” score.

The improved score is the result of changes Nissan made to the truck’s front-end structure. In the test, the driver’s space was well maintained after the crash, with a maximum intrusion of 7 inches at the lower door-hinge pillar. IIHS says a real life crash of this severity may result in injuries to the left lower leg. When the old model was tested, the driver’s space was not well maintained with an intrusion of 11 inches, IIHS says, and the crash would likely result in injuries to the left lower leg and possibly the left foot and right lower leg.

Introduced in 2012, the driver’s side small overlap test replicates what happens when the front left corner of the vehicle hits another car or an object at 40 mph. Only three other large pickups—the Honda Ridgeline and Ford F-150 crew cab and extended cab—received a “Good” score in the test.

The re-worked 2017 and 2018 Titans boast “Good” scores in other categories including the moderate overlap front, side, and roof strength tests, and head restraints and seats. However, the models aren’t eligible for the Top Safety Pick award because they fail to offer a front crash prevention system.

IIHS recently introduced a small overlap crash test for the passenger’s side after finding automakers were spending more time working to improve protection for the driver’s side. The Titan has not yet been rated in this test, nor has any other pickup.

Source: IIHS

The post Nissan Titan Improves Score in Small Overlap Crash Test appeared first on Motor Trend.

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Aston Martin CEO Questions Dyson’s EV Ambitions

Motortrend News Feed - Thu, 01/18/2018 - 18:25

Last year, Dyson, a company best known for its vacuum cleaners, announced plans to build an electric car. What was even more surprising than a vacuum cleaner company planning to build a car, however, is that Dyson said it would bring the car to market by 2020. That’s ambitious, and if you ask Aston Martin CEO Andy Palmer, it’s probably a little too ambitious.

Speaking to Autocar, Palmer said he thinks Dyson CEO James Dyson may have underestimated how difficult it is to build an electric vehicle. “I wish him the best of luck,” Palmer said, “but on the numbers that have been reported, I know you won’t do it for that money, and you won’t do it in that timescale. At least, I know that I couldn’t.”

Aston Martin offers a consulting service, the not-so-creatively named Aston Martin Consulting, that provides design, engineering, and manufacturing services to various companies. According to Palmer, when it’s consulted on EV projects, one of the common themes has been companies not understanding how complicated the development process is.

“We’ve had discussions with about 10 of them,” he continued. “Every single one has underestimated the difficulty of engineering a car to a budget and to an aggressive timescale. Some of them will get there, but always over budget and late.”

Palmer’s experience isn’t limited to Aston Martin Consulting and the ultra-limited-edition RapidE, either. Before he joined Aston Martin, Palmer spent many years at Nissan, where, among other things, he oversaw the development of the Nissan Leaf.

Source: Autocar

The post Aston Martin CEO Questions Dyson’s EV Ambitions appeared first on Motor Trend.

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2018 Hyundai Kona rated at 30 mpg—with a catch

The Car Connection News Feed - Thu, 01/18/2018 - 18:08
The 2018 Hyundai Kona's outlandish styling isn't the only thing likely to grab buyers' attention when it goes on sale in the next few months. Front-wheel drive versions of the quirky, pint-size crossover will be rated at 30 mpg combined by the EPA, but there's a big fuel-economy hit for opting for the Kona's optional all-wheel-drive system. Those...
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PSA Pushes for Electrification as it Prepares for U.S. Debut

Motortrend News Feed - Thu, 01/18/2018 - 17:00

French automaker PSA announced a few years ago that it will enter the U.S. market in 2026. And around that time, it plans to have a wide range of electrified vehicles in its global lineup, the company’s CEO has revealed.

PSA will offer 40 electrified vehicles worldwide by 2025, said Carlos Tavares, speaking at the Automotive News World Congress. That means it will offer full electric cars, plug-in hybrids, mild hybrids, or any combination of these type of vehicles. The 40 vehicles will come from across PSA’s five brands, which include Citroen, DS, Opel, Peugeot, and Vauxhall.

By 2023, PSA wants to have electrified 86 percent of its core models. A year later, all vehicles in the Opel lineup will be electrified. Tavares said the goal is for PSA to become the most efficient carmaker, not the biggest.

Right now, PSA is playing catch up as it prepares for the U.S. market. The first model coming to the U.S. is being developed by U.S. engineers in Europe. In the meantime, PSA has launched mobility services in the U.S. and will offer car sharing across a few big cities this year. This move will help the automaker better understand U.S. customer preferences before it makes a big play in this market.

We still don’t know which brands or vehicles PSA will bring to the U.S, but earlier reports suggested DS could lead the way. Tavares said that a pickup is not a top priority.

Despite big plans for the U.S., Tavares said, “turning Opel around is my No.1 priority.” PSA bought GM’s unprofitable European business last year in a deal worth around $2.3 billion at the time.

Source: Automotive News (Subscription required)

The post PSA Pushes for Electrification as it Prepares for U.S. Debut appeared first on Motor Trend.

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Ride-sharing may be driving people away from car ownership

The Car Connection News Feed - Thu, 01/18/2018 - 16:33
Ride-share company Lyft has released an “economic impact” report for 2017, and it makes some bold claims. Most notably, Lyft says that nearly 250,000 of its customers gave up owning a car because of ride-share availability. Must of the report focuses on growth, with 2017 numbers rising sharply over 2016. The 23 million passengers...
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London office market ends 2017 on a high

Property Week News Feed - Thu, 01/18/2018 - 16:11
Take-up in the London office market reached 13.2m sq ft in 2017, up 7% on the previous year, according to research by CBRE.
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Imperial Place sold for £62.5m

Property Week News Feed - Thu, 01/18/2018 - 15:34
Cromwell Property Group has sold the Imperial Place office campus in Borehamwood to First Property Group for £62.5m.
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Ford reshuffles, Ram 1500 in-depth, China's electric car sales: What’s New @ The Car Connection

The Car Connection News Feed - Thu, 01/18/2018 - 15:30
Ford looks to streamline crossover, sedan lineups Buy a new Ford Escape in a few years' time and there's a good chance you won't need to do much more than pick the color you want at a price that suits your budget. Infiniti takes innovative approach to encourage orders for 2019 QX50 Infiniti is planning a novel reward system for customers of its...
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Savills Ireland recruits head of residential

Property Week News Feed - Thu, 01/18/2018 - 15:08
Robbie Dillon has been appointed by Savills Ireland to head up its residential division.
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Nissan Titan performs well in latest IIHS crash-testing

The Car Connection News Feed - Thu, 01/18/2018 - 14:11
The latest Nissan Titan serves as a reminder that automakers are starting to get serious about pickup truck safety. Certain 2017 and 2018 Titan Crew Cab trucks earned "Good" overall marks from the IIHS in the latest round of safety testing. In its instrumented tests, the IIHS praised the strength of the Titan's structure and noted acceptable...
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Tritax buys Crewe warehouse for £36m

Property Week News Feed - Thu, 01/18/2018 - 13:43
Tritax Big Box REIT has bought a 387,541 sq ft warehouse in Crewe for £36.1m.
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