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Weekend Roundup: Automobile, Design, Man, Technology, Racing Car Of The Year – Rumor Central

Weekend Roundup: Automobile, Design, Man, Technology, Racing Car Of The Year

Been away from your computer this week and missed all the automotive news? We’ve gathered a few of the top stories of the past week for your convenience.

2013 Automobile of the Year: Tesla Model S

This week we announced five awards, starting with Automobile of the Year. We picked the Tesla Model S not just because it’s an electric car, and not simply because it’s a luxurious car, but for the way it demonstrates how a Silicon Valley start-up has created a world-class car. The Model S impressed us with its solid build quality, long real-world driving range, and effortless (and BMW M5-equalling) acceleration.

2013 Design of the Year: Porsche Boxster

Design editor Robert Cumberford greatly admired the 1993 Porsche Boxster concept, but found the subsequent production models far less attractive. So it’s telling that this year he named the new PorscheBoxster our Design of the Year, thanks to a host of subtle revisions that improve the roadster’s proportions. Credit Porsche design chief Michael Mauer, who has “brought the Porsche design team into a realm it had never before occupied, with pure style and pure functionality fused in products of exceptional elegance.”

2013 Man of the Year: Sergio Marchionne

Chrysler once seemed beyond saving, but today the automaker is profitable, has launched a range of great new products, and has posted thirty consecutive months of year-over-year sales increases. Much of that success can be attributed to the actions of CEO Sergio Marchionne, also head of Europe’s Fiat, who has guided Chrysler from bankruptcy and bailout to being able to pay back government loans. Even though Fiat is struggling in Europe, Marchionne has proven himself a shrewd businessman capable of keeping car companies on the right financial track.

2013 Racing Car of the Year: Ben Bowlby’s Revolutionary DeltaWing

We haven’t named a Racing Car of the Year for some time, but the Nissan DeltaWing project was so revolutionary that we decided to resurrect the award. It may not have won a single race so far, but we think the DeltaWing could easily be named Racing Car of the Decade. Designer Ben Bowlby has created a small, nimble racing platform that has proven dramatically more fuel-efficient than traditional Le Mans prototypes — while still delivering solid on-track performance. It may look weird, but the DeltaWing may render an entire generation of racing cars obsolete.”

2013 Technology of the Year: Cameras!

Cameras have been available in cars for years, but this year we recognized the technology because it is starting to become more prevalent on affordable, everyday cars. The cameras themselves may be less powerful than the ones in your cellphone, but the software behind them has the capability to improve driving and prevent accidents. Whether it’s watching for children behind a parked car, warning of vehicles in a blind spot, or monitoring lane markers in case the driver veers off course, in-car cameras are proving they have untold numbers of applications that could save lives.

Spied: Facelifted 2013 Honda Civic Sedan Caught In The Wild

The 2012 Honda Civic had a lukewarm reception due its perceived cost-cutting, so Honda is in a rush to launch an updated version. As our spy photos show, the car benefits from tweaked fascias and sheetmetal, including revised taillights, a new front fascia and grille that ape the front of the 2013 Accord, new wheels, and a redesigned trunk lid. No major powertrain revisions are expected, although at some point in the future we hear that a new version of Honda’s IMA system will be added to the Civic hybrid, and non-hybrid models may eventually add direct-injection engines. We expect the 2012 Honda Civic will bow at the L.A. auto show later this month.

Report: Hyundai, Kia Repaying Buyers for False Mileage Claims

Hyundai and Kia admitted this week that they will lower the fuel-economy ratings of about 900,000 cars, after determining that the companies’ internal fuel-economy tests didn’t match the tests required by the EPA. That means seven different 2013 Hyundai models and different 2013 Kia models will see their ratings drop by anywhere from one to six mpg. To make amends to consumers, the automakers will mail debit cards that cover the approximate cost of fuel based on the difference between the original and new MPG ratings for each car.

Top 10 Favorite Cars From The 2012 SEMA Show

This week’s SEMA show gave us a chance to admire (and sometimes cringe at) the wide range of tuned, tweaked, and modified vehicles on display at the annual Las Vegas show. We picked through the long list of entrants to select our ten favorite new cars on display at the 2012 SEMA show. Some, like the Chevrolet Camaro Hot Wheels Edition, are destined for showrooms, while others, like the wild Ford Cobra Jet Twin-Turbo concept, are merely meant for automakers and aftermarket tuners to show off their wrenching skills.

2014 Subaru Forester To Debut At L.A. Auto Show

A new version of the Subaru Forester will make its debut later this month at the L.A. auto show. Subaru revealed photos of the 2014 Forester, which adopts more mature body lines, a grille shared with the new Impreza, and a slightly larger body. The company promises more interior and cargo room, better on-road suspension manners, and better fuel economy. The base engine remains a 170-hp, 2.5-liter flat-four engine, while the upgrade powertrain is a new turbocharged 2.0-liter flat-four with 250 hp. Look for the 2014 Subaru Forester to reach showrooms by spring 2013.

First Drives: 2013 Land Rover Range Rover, 2013 Toyota Avalon

This week we headed to rain-drenched Morocco to evaluate the 2013 Land Rover Range Rover. The new luxury SUV proved just as capable as ever of tackling sand dunes, mud, and steep inclines as we trekked across rough terrain in Morocco. And keeping up with the other half of its promise, the new Range Rover kept occupants comfortable, entertained, and ensconced in such luxury that we could easily imagine luxury sedan owners abandoning their cars for this fancy SUV. We also got behind the wheel of the 2013 Toyota Avalon and Avalon hybrid, both of which prove far more interesting and exciting than the previous Avalon. The V-6-powered model is quick but not a sporty car, while the Avalon hybrid impresses with strong fuel economy and the ability to drive on electrical power alone at low speeds.




By Jake Holmes

Wheelies: The Gamer Edition

DeltaWing, undergoing a wet test in April.Nissan North AmericaDeltaWing, undergoing a wet test in April.

In which we bring you motoring news from around the Web:

Lucas Ordoñez.Nissan North AmericaLucas Ordoñez.

• Lucas Ordoñez, the winner of the 2008 Sony PlayStation GT Academy and current driver for the Greaves Motorsport team in the LMP2 class, was named to the test squad for the DeltaWing, the racecar prototype that had its debut in March. The vehicle, which is getting readied for its race debut at the 24 Hours of Le Mans in June, is partially financed by Nissan. Ordoñez entered the automaker’s driver development program after his gaming victory in 2008 and has reached podiums on multiple occasions. (Nissan)

• As an incentive to spur sales of its iQ supermini, Scion announced it would offer a Sony PlayStation Vita portable gaming system with every sale. Jack Hollis, vice president of Scion, said in a media release that the car and console were complimentary products, offering high technological content in small packages. Through April, the Toyota subsidiary had sold 3,485 iQs in 2012. (Scion)

• On Monday at the Electric Vehicle Symposium in Los Angeles, Toyota announced details of its RAV4 EV, a purely electric version of its compact crossover. With a powertrain co-developed by Tesla Motors, the RAV4 EV is expected to cost $49,800 before tax incentives and undisclosed delivery charges. Toyota estimates the vehicle, with a 115-kilowatt motor, roughly the equivalent of 154 horsepower, can travel up to 100 miles on a charge and recharge from a fully depleted state in six hours at a 240-volt station. Sales initially will be limited this summer to four metropolitan areas in California. (Toyota)

• Jaguar Land Rover is expected to invest £200 million, or $324 million, at its plant in Castle Bromwich, England, to accommodate production of the F-Type sports car, which was teased at the New York auto show in April. The plant was threatened with closure in 2009 amid depressed sales. Under the Indian conglomerate Tata Group, Jaguar Land Rover has recovered sales volume and increased its market valuation. (The Daily Telegraph)

By THE NEW YORK TIMES

Quick-Charging EV Charging Infrastucture: Ford, GM, Nissan, Chrysler, Tesla Sign DOT Pledge

Quick-Charging EV Charging Infrastucture: Ford, GM, Nissan, Chrysler, Tesla Sign DOT Pledge

Early sales of electric vehicles like the Nissan Leaf and Mitsubishi i-MiEV may have proved underwhelming, but don’t count out the zero-emissions vehicles yet. At the Washington Auto Show, the Department of Energy announced the Workplace Charging Challenge signed by 13 companies including GM, Ford, Chrysler, Tesla, and Google. These companies have pledged to introduce a plan for workplace charging in at least one major company location. The DOE says the ultimate goal over the next five years is to increase tenfold the number of U.S. employers offering charging.

2013 Chevrolet Volt plugged in 300x187 imageAlso ambitious is the related EV-Everywhere Challenge. By the year 2022, the DOE hopes to see companies in the U.S. be the first to manufacture a five-passenger American electric vehicle that’s affordable and has a payback time of less than five years, yet still have a decent range so that families can use it without compromise. Helping to complete that picture will be additional fast-charging options scattered in various urban spaces.

“Having a robust charging infrastructure helps build range confidence, which boosts interest in and use of electric vehicles,” said Brendan Jones, Nissan’s director of electric vehicle marketing and sales strategy.

We’ve already reported on Tesla’s so-called Superchargers, and Nissan this week has announced its plans to add at least 500 quick-charging stations in the U.S. over the next 18 months, starting with 40 eVgo Freedom Station sites in Washington D.C. The sites can provide a Nissan Leaf an 80-percent charge in less than 30 minutes. Service plans offered by eVgo allow users to pay a monthly fee for unlimited charging.

Considering the 2013 Motor Trend Car of the Year is the all-electric Tesla Model S, and the “extended-range electric” Chevrolet Volt earned the golden calipers in 2011, increasing charging infrastructure sounds like a good idea to us. Before a national hydrogen refueling infrastructure gets any traction, perhaps the Workplace Charging Challenge and EV-Everywhere Challenge will help boost sales of electric vehicles.

Source: DOT, GM, Ford, Nissan

By Zach Gale

Electric Car Range Suffers in the Cold: Why it Happens and What’s Being Done About it

Nissan leaf driving in snow

Recently the New York Times and American electric car maker Tesla got in a highly publicized war of words over a review of the Model S electric car. Amongst other contentious issues, the range of the vehicle didn’t meet the Times’ writers expectations.

Tesla, as well as throngs of alternative fuel fans, were quick to point out that any hybrid or electric vehicle tested in the cold will suffer from lower performance.

Almost all batteries will suffer similar side effects in the cold, but unlike in your laptop or phone, the change in a car’s range could be the difference between making it to your destination… or waiting for AAA.

WHY DO EVS SUFFER IN THE COLD?

2011 Chevrolet Volt 16-kWH lithium-ion battery cutaway renderingThe simple explanation is that batteries use a chemical reaction to provide power. Chemical reactions are slower in the cold, and the battery doesn’t produce the same electrical current that it can at room temperature. As a result, EV batteries have to work harder as the mercury sinks, reducing range.

Each vehicle’s range will differ in the cold and it’s hard to pinpoint exactly what to expect when dealing with a cold vehicle and driving range. The folks at TheCarElectric.com, a Consumer Electronics Advisory Group website specializing in EV news and advice, say a change of 10 degrees Fahrenheit can sap 50 percent of a battery’s output.

AVOIDING BATTERY-FREEZE

2013 Nissan LEAFAll EV batteries suffer from these issues. Hybrids do too, though due to smaller batteries the issue isn’t as severe. Also, hybrids are able to use their gasoline engine to warm the electric components.

Automakers are currently developing similar ways to achieve the same result in purely electric cars. For example, the Nissan LEAF is equipped with a battery heater that activates to help the car turn on if left unplugged in the cold. Without it, the battery would get too cold and the car wouldn’t start. This battery heater kicks in only when the Leaf is left in extremely cold weather (around 14 degrees Fahrenheit) and uses minimal power to avoid draining the battery.

HVAC IS THE ENEMY

Tesla-Snow-3It’s also worth mentioning that if the vehicle is cold, the driver will be too. Cranking up the HVAC system will put a larger drain on the battery and reduce range even further.

“Since battery range is much more important in fully electric vehicles like the Toyota RAV4 EV, we employ a number of HVAC strategies to help preserve driving range,” says Toyota spokeswoman Cindy Knight. “The RAV4 EV has a pre-conditioning system that can be activated before you get in to drive, while the car is still plugged in and using household electricity.”

That can be set up either through a smart-phone app that is registered with the vehicle, or through the car’s infotainment display. Furthermore, the RAV4 EV features a few different HVAC modes to help make the car comfortable without killing the battery. While a “Normal” mode works just what is expected in any other car, the “Eco-Lo” and “Eco-High” modes are far more conservative in regards to energy usage.

2012-Toyota-RAV4-EV-dash.jpg

“Eco-Lo balances cabin comfort with range improvement,” says Knight. “The blower level is slightly reduced and the compressor and electric heater operate at lower levels to reduce power consumption.” Additionally, the driver’s seat warmer is activated automatically and adjusted. The other setting, Eco-High, is much more serious about saving energy. “Eco-High maximizes driving range at the expense of cabin comfort,” says Knight. “It reduces the blower, compressor, and heater levels and does not activate the seat heaters.”

By using these different modes instead of the normal mode, the range of the Toyota RAV4 EV increases by 18 percent in Eco-Lo, and 40 percent in Eco-High.

Other EVs have features just like these, including the Nissan Leaf.

“For 2013, Nissan will be equipping all Leafs with a new hybrid cabin heating system that will keep the cabin warm while using significantly less energy than previous models,” says Nissan spokesman Steve Yaegar. This change might not make a big impact on the EPAs tested range, but Yaegar is confident that it will make a difference in real-world driving.

OTHER TIPS FOR THE COLD

Tesla-Snow-2There are some other ways to protect an EVs range in the cold.

“Generally speaking, the less use of HVAC, the better,” says Daniel Gray of MPGomatic.com. Gray’s site slogan is “Burn Rubber, Not Gasoline” and the site has a focus on fuel-friendly vehicles. He offered some tips on how to keep an EV going in colder weather.

“The defroster is a double-whammy, because it turns on the A/C,” he says. The best practice, according to Gray, is to turn it on, defrost and defog, then use it sparingly. Gray also advises owners to keep their car in a garage if possible.

In order to reduce the reliance on the HVAC systems, many EVs have seat warmers, and drivers are encouraged to use them.

“Seat heaters are much more efficient and faster at warming the driver and passenger than blasting the HVAC” says Knight.

CALCULATING THE COLD

2012-Toyota-RAV4-EV-electric.jpg

It’s important to recognize that all EVs are sensitive to cold weather, and are going to suffer from reduced range in those conditions. Through new innovations and owner initiative there are ways to reduce the impact, but if you’re considering buying an EV for daily driving, and live in an area where it gets really cold, you may not find the vehicle’s range enough when the winter weather hits.

By Sami Haj-Assaad

Top 10 New Car Future Classics

Top 10 New Car Future Classics

We’ve all seen televised classic car auctions where a one-owner piece of vintage iron fetches six-digit sums, and we’ve all wondered the same thing, “How did that guy know his car was going to be a classic one day?” Not long after, you probably looked at what’s in your driveway, and wondered, “Will my car ever become a classic?” Being car guys (and girls), we often wonder the same thing – what modern cars might become future classics? We’ve compiled a list of the top 10 new cars that we think might one day be collectible.

So what in our minds makes a car a future classic? Three things: Significance to either the automaker or industry, rarity (which very well may leave a few significant cars off this list), and styling with staying power – because who wants to own an ugly classic car? Also (with one exception) the vehicles in question have to currently be on sale. With that in mind, here are our Top 10 New Car Future Classics:

BMW M3: We believe the E90-series M3 might become a future collectible for a few reasons. For starters, this generation of M3 represents the end of an era for the storied M Car. BMW’s M cars have always been known for their high-revving naturally aspirated engines. Unfortunately, the future of the M car lies with the turbocharger, which means the M3′s rev-happy 414-hp, 295-lb-ft 4.0-liter V-8 could be the last naturally aspirated M motor to ever be built. Because of that, the M3 will likely become a prize for future BMW collectors.

2011 Cadillac CTS V in Germany side in motion 300x187 imageCadillac CTS-V Wagon: This is the car that many thought GM didn’t have the cojones to build: a Nürburgring-slaying station wagon packing a supercharged 6.2-liter V-8 producing 556 hp and 551 lb-ft of torque, driving the rear wheels through a proper six-speed manual transmission. The CTS-V Wagon has a couple things going for it on the collectible front: it’s a niche product so not many exist (relatively speaking), it’s expensive, which keeps it out of the hands of its mostly young fans, and it’s truly stunning to look at. The CTS-V Wagon very well may be a blockbuster at Barrett-Jackson auctions in the distant future.

Chevrolet Corvette ZR1: Like the C4 Corvette ZR-1 before it, the C6 Chevrolet Corvette ZR1 is bound to become a collectible  This Corvette represents the best of the C6 ‘Vettes, and is easily among the best Corvettes ever made. The ZR1 is guaranteed collectible status thanks to the stories behind it: this is the first Corvette to crack 200 mph and the first to cost over $100,000. It’s also a world beater, having gone up against the best Europe and Asia has to offer, like the Ferrari 599 GTB Fiorano and Nissan GT-R. So why will the Corvette ZR1 be a future classic? Because America.

2012 Fisker Karma pre production front three quarter drift11 300x187 imageFisker Karma: Likely to be a controversial choice, the Fisker Karma nonetheless easily meets the criteria to be a future collectible.  The Karma is significant to Fisker and the automotive industry because the Karma is not only the first vehicle Fisker has ever built, but it’s also the first luxury extended-range electric vehicle. The Karma’s got rarity too, especially considering all of the production delays that were necessary for Fisker to recall all of its vehicles. Lastly, the Karma is a striking automobile to look at, and it’ll likely look just as good as it does today 20 or 30 years from now.

Ford Shelby GT500: What could be more significant than being both the most powerful factory Mustang ever and the first Mustang with a 200-mph top speed? Simple: Carroll Shelby. The 2013 Ford Shelby GT500 is the last factory Shelby Mustang that the dearly departed Shelby ever worked on. Because of that connection, the car’s big 5.8-liter 662-hp supercharged V-8, and the ridiculous top speed, the Shelby GT500 is most certainly on its way to becoming a collectible.

Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution X: Like the BMW M3, the current-generation Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution X will likely be remembered as the end of an era. While its Subaru rival will continue on into its next generation, the Evo X marks the end of the Evo as we know it. Mitsubishi reportedly wants to go in another direction with the Evo XI – a direction that ditches the all-wheel-drive rally rocket’s turbocharged 2.0-liter I-4 in favor of a plug-in hybrid setup. Will it be able to live up to the Evo name? Only time will tell, but if Mitsubishi does go that route, the current Evo X may very well become a prized collectible.

2013 Nissan GT R Black Edition front three quarter 300x187 imageNissan GT-R: What can we say about Godzilla that hasn’t already been said? Not only is the Nissan GT-R highly desirable, but it’s an incredibly important car for Nissan. The R35 GT-R is significant because it’s the first GT-R to ever be legally sold in the U.S., and it’s taken the segment by storm, frequently finishing on the podium in our Best Driver’s Car competitions. Despite its relatively low price, Godzilla remains a rarity on the streets, and though it has love-it-or-hate-it styling, the GT-R will without a doubt remain desirable in the future.

Saab 9-5: As mentioned above, the Saab 9-5 is the sole exception to the on-sale now rule, because while you can’t buy one new now, you could still buy a brand new 9-5 up until the Swedish automaker declared bankruptcy in January of this year. The 9-5 earns its spot on the future collectible list because it was the last new Saab car introduced. It may have had quite a few components from the GM parts bin, but the 9-5 was still the last true Saab. It was great to look at, full of quirky Swedish charm, and actually fun to drive. The 9-5 was the last Saab, and perhaps one of the best, which makes it a future collectible in our book.

2013 SRT Viper GTS Launch Edition Left Front 300x187 imageSRT Viper GTS Launch Edition: The 2013 SRT Viper GTS Launch Edition marks the return of the other American sports car icon. To celebrate the Viper’s rebirth, SRT created the limited-edition Viper GTS Launch Edition (Rarity? Check). Powered by a reworked 8.4-liter V-10 cranking out 640 hp, the Launch Edition comes wearing the stunning blue and white stripe paint job that helped make the original Viper GTS famous (Styling? Check). Finally, checking off the significance box is the fact that the new Viper is the first SRT-branded vehicle ever, giving it that special something that collectors will most certainly love decades from now.

Tesla Model S Signature Performance: The Tesla Model S is not only significant to Tesla as its first mass-market vehicle, but it’s significant to the industry as a whole as the first all-electric car that actually works for most Americans’ needs. The Model S Signature Performance is being built in a limited run of just 1000 examples. Making the Model S Signature Performance even more enticing is its world-beating performance, which allows the EV to smoke its gas-powered European rivals on the drag strip. The stunningly handsome Model S is a technological marvel that’s sure to be just as impressive sitting pretty on the auction block in the coming decades.

Do you agree with our list? Which cars would you have added and/or left off? Sound off in the comments below. 

By Christian Seabaugh

2nd annual National Plug In Day will feature EVs, free iPads

national plug in day 2011 santa monica



…and then there were 60.



That’s how many cities will be celebrating the Second Annual National Plug In Day later this month.



The celebration of all things EV, which is being put on by Plug In America, Sierra Club and the Electric Auto Association, will take place Sunday, September 23, in cities ranging from the usual suspects – Boston, San Francisco and Austin – to the less-than-usual (for EV enthusiasm) locales like Dallas, Baltimore and Salt Lake City.



Additionally, organizers are looking to drum up further enthusiasm with free “ride and drive” opportunities as well as iPad giveaways at 10 of the events. For instance, the Los Angeles-area ride and drive will take place at the Automobile Driving Museum in El Segundo, near Los Angeles International Airport. That event will give people a chance to cruise in a Nissan Leaf, Chevrolet Volt, Tesla Roadster or Mitsubishi i as well as check out cars like a 1947 Chrysler Windsor and a 1957 427 Chevrolet Project X.



Last year’s first-annual National Plug In Day, which took place in October, was held in 29 locations across the country, including one in Santa Monica, CA (pictured), that featured a parade of about 200 plug-in vehicles. We’ve got press releases on both the National Plug In Day events and the Los Angeles-area EV “ride and drive” festivities below.

By Danny King

Gran Turismo 6 Details Revealed, Demo Coming This Summer

Gran Turismo 6 Details Revealed, Demo Coming This Summer

The next-generation of simulation racing games is coming. While celebrating the storied marquee’s 15th anniversary at Silverstone, Sony announced that Gran Turismo 6 is coming to PlayStation 3 this holiday season, with the first playable demo coming in July.

2012 Tesla Model S Signature Performance GT6 front three quarter turn 300x168 imageSony touts Gran Turismo 6 as bringing new levels of realism and authenticity to the sim racing genre. GT6 boasts an entirely new game and physics engine, the latter of which includes a new aerodynamic model, a new tire model, and a new suspension and kinematics model. Like its rivals at Forza 4 (which worked with Pirelli to help with its tire models), the GT6 team joined with Yokohama and KW Automotive to help develop a more realistic experience in the latest Gran Turismo game.

Gran Turismo 6 will reportedly be released this holiday season, though it’s probably worth noting that GT6′s predecessor, Gran Turismo 5, was the subject of multiple delays. Still, there are a few reasons to remain optimistic. For starters, all of the cars and tracks in GT5 will be carried over to GT6, which will include 1200 cars at launch (though as production manager Kirill Ougarov joked on Twitter, “1100 of them will be Skylines”).  The newest Gran Turismo will also include seven new tracks (including Silverstone), bringing the track total to 33. There will be 71 different track layouts in the game, with 19 of them new. If those grow old, the course maker function has been improved.

Gran Turismo 6 Silverstone 7 300x168 imageWith the announcement of GT6, Sony is planning on continuing its collaboration with Nissan’s GT Academy, the program that turns Gran Turismo gamers into real-life racers. GT Academy returns this July, with the release of the GT6 Silverstone demo.

Speaking of the demo, Sony released a short teaser of the killer graphics and cars we can expect to see in GT6, including the 1986 Audi Quattro rally car, and the 2012 Tesla Model S Signature Performance.

Here are the cars you’ll be able to drive in the July demo. Bold text indicates the car is new to the Gran Turismo series:

-          1991 Acura NSX

-          2011 Alfa Romeo TZ3 Stradale

-          1968 Alpine a110 1600S

-          1986 Audi Quattro S1 rally car

-          2009 Ferrari 458 Italia

-          1971 Ferrari Dino 246 GT

-          2006 Ford GT

-          2012 KTM X-Bow R

-          1974 Lamborghini Countach LP400

-          2007 Light Car Company Rocket

-          2010 McLaren MP4-12C

-          2011 Mercedes-Benz SLS AMG GT3

-          2008 Nissan 370Z (GT Academy Version)

-          2008 Nissan 370Z Tuned Car (GT Academy Version)

-          2012 Nissan GT-R Black Edition (GT Academy Version)

-          Nissan GT-R Nismo GT3 N24 Shulze Motorsport

-          Nissan Leaf G (GT Academy Version)

-          2012 Tesla Model S Signature Performance

-          2012 Toyota 86 GT

2012 KTM X Bow GT6 rear high 300x168 imageSome other cool Gran Turismo 6 facts, straight from associate online editor Nate Martinez, our man on the ground:

- 200 cars more than GT5

- A lot more tuning parts than GT5

- A lot more Downloadable Content (DLC)

- “Adaptive Tessellation” (not pixilation) to vehicle models allows for greater details shown

- Several thousand tuning parts will be available

- GT5 had limited wheels; GT6 will have tons more freedom and choices

-New tracks added every month via DLCs

- Updated Course Maker for GT6

- 10 square kilometers of scenery available

- New algorithm for highly detailed backgrounds and layouts

1986 Audi Quattro S1 rally car GT6 side 300x168 imageGame Engine:

- New rendering engine

- For PS3, pushes unit to its limits

- Flexible expandability

- 50x increase of dynamic range vs. GT5

- Hi-res photographic backgrounds during gameplay result of dynamic range

Community Club/Race Organizer:

- GT5 missed this feature; GT6 will not

- Players can form own communities (local, domestic, global)

- Can organize own racing series and championships

1974 Lamborghini Countach LP400 GT6 front three quarter track 300x168 imageNew User Interface:

- Directional keys and touch operation balance

- Faster responsiveness; shorter loading times

- UI No 1. goal = much faster

Multi Device Compatibility:

- New for GT6

- PlayStation, smart phone, tablet, PC

- Best driving experience is on the PS3

- “Get involved with GT6 practically anyplace.”

- Activity with other OEMs and automotive brands, such as the partnership with Toyota and the 86s, will be announced later in next 6 months

- Next GT Academy starts in July 2013

- Winners now will race a NISMO GT-R GT3 for FULL season

By Christian Seabaugh

The Apoca-List: 10 Cars You Must Drive Before the End of the World

The Apoca-List: 10 Cars You Must Drive Before the End of the World

It’s nearly December 21, which means we’ll soon know whether the end of days is truly at hand. Before the world does go up in flames from an enormous solar flare or gets sucked into a black hole – as some believe will happen – we feel it’s important for you to experience some of the best automotive creations humanity has to offer. As such, we’ve assembled our top 10 vehicles you must drive before the end of the world.

Below, in no particular order, you’ll find a list of cars, trucks, and SUVs that will provide one last thrill before the Earth’s demise. Click through to read about all 10 picks!

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Acura, Features, Ferrari, Ford, Jeep, Mercedes-Benz, Nissan, Tesla, Top 10 Lists

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By Alex Nishimoto

Nine Road Trip-Ready Vehicles – Rumor Central

Nine Road Trip-Ready Vehicles

Memorial Day weekend means many things to many people, but it universally signals the start of one summer tradition: road trips. Regardless of if you’re heading to see family, escape into the great outdoors, or simply crisscross the country, we’ve rounded up some ideal road trip vehicles for those seeking to hit the road this summer.

Volkswagen Passat TDI front three quarters view 2 300x199 imageI want to…go there and back on a single tank.

Volkswagen Passat TDI

Base Price: $26,225
EPA mileage: 30 mpg city/ 40 highway

There are a number of thrifty, diesel-burning vehicles offered in North America – and plenty from the Volkswagen Group, at that – but few strike us as ideal for long-distance road tripping when compared to the Passat TDI. Volkswagen’s diesel-sipping midsize sedan is powered by a 2.0-liter turbo-diesel, which cranks out 140 hp. What it lacks in sheer power, however, it delivers in impressive fuel economy. Fitted with the optional six-speed automatic transmission, a 2013 Passat is rated at 30 mpg city, 40 mpg highway.

These numbers are incredible when you consider the size of the Passat. Yes, it’s deemed a midsize sedan, but at 191.6 inches long, it’s on the larger end of that spectrum. That extra size results in plus-sized interior, with enough space for large adults to sit in both the front and rear seats. Think you sacrifice on cargo space? Wrong again – there’s 15.9 cubic feet with the rear seats up, allowing the trunk to resemble Mammoth Cave – albeit with a bit more plastic trim and carpeting.

Mercedes Benz Sprinter passenger van front three quarters view 300x199 imageI want to…bring the entire family. And I do mean the ENTIRE family.

Mercedes-Benz Sprinter

Base price: $41,315

EPA mileage: not tested by EPA

If the tired stereotype of precocious in-laws and annoying extended family members applies to you, skip this section. If not – and you’d actually like to travel with your large family using as few vehicles as possible – there’s really only one option shy of picking up a used transit bus at public auction: the Mercedes-Benz Sprinter. In its passenger form, the Sprinter seats up to twelve fairly comfortably, and even more comfortably if equipped with the cathedral-spec, 107.5-inch tall “high roof” option. The 140-inch wheelbase provides plenty of space (23.7 cubic feet) aft of that rear bench, but the elongated 170-inch model provides up to 31.2 cubic feet. We’ve seen (and lived) in urban apartment dwellings with less usable space than a Sprinter.

Yes, the sliding door rattles a bit over bumps; no, interior materials aren’t the fanciest; and yes, the price tag – especially if you go crazy with stand-alone options – isn’t inexpensive – but that’s beside the point. For such a gargantuan people mover, the Sprinter is surprisingly easy to drive – and it’s also incredibly efficient. Its weight class allows it to sidestep EPA testing, but we’ve frequently seen combined averages around the 19-20-mpg mark. For a vehicle that has the aerodynamic profile of a two-story house, that’s impressive.

Tesla Model S front view on road 300x199 imageI want to…use no gasoline, diesel, or combustible fuel at all.

Tesla Model S

Base price: $71,070

EPA rating: 88 mpge city/ 90 highway
Yeah, we get it – electric cars aren’t necessarily road-trip vehicles, or if they are, they’re only so when paired with a range-extending internal combustion engine. Still, if you insist on using a battery-powered vehicle for a road trip, it’s hard to best the Tesla Model S. Why? Space, for starters. There’s room for five passengers within the Model S, although that number grows to seven if you opt for the small, rear-facing jump seat. We’d skip that, as it frees up the rear cargo area for your luggage and other belongings. Between that area and the “frunk” beneath the hood, there’s nearly 31.6 cubic feet of storage available.

Range? That’s still a hot-button topic, but the top-tier Model S Performance comes with a 85-kWh battery that theoretically provides as much as 265 miles on a single charge. Of course, your distance will vary based on temperature, terrain, and your own temperament – but compared to the EPA-rated range of, say, a Ford Focus Electric, it’s fairly sizable. Depending on your journey, we’d still recommend ensuring your planned drive regularly passes charging stations, and that you do budget time for a recharge or two along the way.

Mercedes Benz S350 Bluetec front three quarters view 300x199 imageI want to…travel as far as possible in the lap of luxury.

Mercedes-Benz S350 Bluetec 4Matic

Base price: $93.905

EPA rating: 21/31 mpg

Diesel-powered Mercedes-Benz sedans have long been sold in North America, but until the launch of the S350 Bluetec in 2012, Mercedes always shied away from selling a diesel-powered flagship here. We’re just glad the S350 finally made the trek from Germany, as it blends first-world luxuries with first-rate fuel economy.  Despite tipping the scales at 4784 pounds and being paired with an all-wheel-drive system, its 3.0-liter, turbo-diesel V-6 and seven-speed automatic help the S350 attain an EPA rating of 21 mpg in the city and 31 on the highway. With a full 23.8- gallon tank of diesel, the S350 can cruise over 730 miles without refueling.

That cruise will be quite comfortable, given the S Class is arguably one of the most refined, comfortable, and luxurious sedans this side of a Rolls-Royce. Benz’s premium leather interior boasts attractive hand-stitched accents on virtually every surface, including the dash and door panels. Rear seat occupants are already gifted with 42.3 inches of legroom, but an optional package allows those in the outboard seats to heat, cool, and recline their seats. Add power sunshades, a DVD entertainment system, and a Bang & Olufsen audio system, and you’ll be cruising in unimpeached comfort.

Jeep Grand Cherokee SRT front three quarters view1 300x199 imageI want to…haul the family, cargo, and ass.

Jeep Grand Cherokee SRT

Base price: $63,990

EPA rating: 13 mpg city/ 19 highway

We wanted to throw a muscle car on this list, but last we tried, packing a family of four and their cargo into a Camaro or Mustang is essentially impossible. Or if it is possible, it doesn’t make for a very comfortable (or tolerable) four-hour drive. But what if there were a way to blend the power of a muscle car with the packaging of a family vehicle? Enter Jeep’s SRT-tuned Grand Cherokee. Seating for five? 35.1 cubic feet of cargo space with the rear seats up? 470 hp on tap? 0-60 mph in about five seconds? Check, check, check, and check.

Unlike the first generation model, today’s Grand Cherokee SRT is a comfortable chimera that walks the line between performance and civility with few qualms. Adaptive Bilstein dampers at all four corners provide a surprisingly compliant ride quality for long hauls, but stiffen up to snuff out body roll on twisty back roads. The 6.1-liter V-8 slams passengers into seatbacks like a Mercury Redstone rocket, but idles four cylinders under light loads to reduce fuel consumption. Better yet, this latest iteration of SRT Grand Cherokee can tow up to 7200 pounds – perfect for dragging a speedboat behind your speed wagon.

Audi S5 Cabriolet front three quarters view static 300x199 imageI want to…soak up the sun.

Audi S5 Cabriolet

Base Price $60,195

EPA Rating 17 mpg city/ 26 highway


Nothing says summer like soaking up UV rays while behind the wheel of a convertible. Several drop-top models are on sale in the United States, but the Audi S5 is one of the most well-rounded choices available. There’s room for four, with rear seats that are larger than the glorified parcel shelves found in many convertibles. There’s adequate trunk space – 12.2 cubic feet, with the top up, or 10.2 with the top down. There’s the sophisticated interior (note the rear-seat reading lamps integrated into the convertible top) and handsome exterior styling. And, for those who might want to plan a road trip to a ski resort come winter, the S5 is one of the few convertibles offered with all-wheel-drive.

Better yet, the S5 is a blast to drive. Audi’s supercharged 3.0-liter V-6 serves up 333 hp and 325 lb-ft of torque, and emits a delectable growl at wide open throttle. Although S5 coupes are offered with a six-speed manual transmission, S5 cabriolets feature Audi’s seven-speed dual-clutch automatic as standard equipment.  No matter – it’s still happy to snap off lightning-quick gearchanges in either sport or manual mode. Do make sure to opt for the so-called “sports differential,” which replaces the standard rear diff with a torque-vectoring unit that helps the car rotate into corners.

Jeep Wrangler Unlimited front view in woods 300x199 imageI want to…stray from the beaten path.

Jeep Wrangler Unlimited

Base Price: $26,790

EPA rating: 16 mpg city/ 20-21 mpg highway

Road trips are great, but what if your destination isn’t exactly on a road? For those who want to journey far outside the beaten path, we can’t think of a better choice than Jeep’s eternal Wrangler. By modern SUV and crossover standards, the Wrangler may seem like a bit of a crude anachronism, but in truth, it’s better than ever. A new instrument panel design is more attractive than ever, but the 3.6-liter Pentastar V-6 tucked underhood finally delivers adequate power – something the JK Wrangler previously lacked.

Although it is possible to squeeze four into a two-door Wrangler, don’t count on bringing all their belongings along for the ride. For that reason – and to give rear-seat passengers legroom for long hauls – we’d go with the four-door Wrangler Unlimited, which still offers the same off-road prowess and open-air sensations but with additional versatility. That said, you’d better act quickly if you’re in the market for one – demand for four-door Wranglers is nearly double that of the two-door model, and dealer inventory is presently at 68 days supply.

Nissan NV Roadtrek NAV 6 front three quarters view 300x199 imageI want to…stay overnight, but not in a hotel.

Nissan NV Roadtrek N6 Active

Base price: $65,260

EPA rating: not rated by EPA

Remember the days when minivans could easily double as mobile camp sites? Decades ago, such vehicles ran rampant across this country, but ever since the Volkswagen Eurovan died in 2003 the good old pop-top camper was virtually extinct. Thanks to Roadtrek, an Ontario-based motorhome manufacturer, that’s no longer the case. The new N6 Active – which is also sold as the NAV-6 – converts a Nissan NV passenger van into a multipurpose camper.

In its van configuration, the N6 Active/ NAV-6 seats six. That’s roughly half that of a standard NV passenger wagon, but understandable when you see Roadtrek packs in everything including the kitchen sink. Cabinetry installed next to the two-passenger third-row bench houses a refrigerator, sink, microwave, and cupboards. Second-row captains chairs swivel to face the rear seat and a pop-up table. The optional pop-top roof increases headroom and provides an extra two berths for sleeping, yet still allows the NV to fit in most garages.

 

Mazda MX 5 Miata side view on road 300x199 imageI want to…take a road trip only using back roads.

Mazda MX-5 Miata

Base Price: $24,515

EPA Rating: 21-22 mpg city/ 28 mpg highway

Another convertible on this list? Yep. The Miata’s top – either made of fabric or metal — does fold and stow for top-down fun, but that’s not why we chose it for this group of cars. We revel in road trips that trade the hustle, bustle, and malaise of the interstate system in favor of winding, scenic, two-lane, back county roads. And for that, there’s virtually no way to best the MX-5. We should know – we adopted a MX-5 for a summer two years ago, and frequently sought the curvaceous road less taken instead of the quickest route between points A and B.

Yes, we know the Miata’s cabin is a bit tight, and that packing for a long trip may require you to invest in those vacuum space-saving bags seen on late-night infomercials. Still, if you’re looking to plan a long trip full of entertaining roads – i.e. PCH, Tail of the Dragon, OH-555, etc. – there’s not a better choice. As road test editor Chris Nelson wrote back in 2011, “you can find a lot of little things to complain about, but if you do, you’re missing the point. The Miata is, has been, and always will be a purpose-built automobile. That purpose is to be one of the purest, most enjoyable sports cars on the market. Give it a smooth road, good company, and great scenery, and the Miata takes care of the rest.”












By Evan McCausland

Weekend Roundup: 2012 Chicago Auto Show, Tesla Model X, Chevrolet Cruze Wagon – Rumor Central

Weekend Roundup: 2012 Chicago Auto Show, Tesla Model X, Chevrolet Cruze Wagon

Been away from your computer this week and missed all the automotive news? We’ve gathered a few of the top stories of the past week for your convenience.

2012 Chicago Auto Show

Check out our coverage of this week’s Chicago auto show, with news and photos from all the new product debuts. New cars on display at this year’s show range from practical rides like the 2013 Hyundai Elantra GT and 2012 Nissan NV200 van, to performance offerings like the 2013 Ford Shelby GT500 convertible and 2013 Nissan 370Z.

Tesla Model X Prototype Crossover Revealed with Falcon Door Fixation

Tesla this week revealed the Model X, an all-electric SUV from the maker of electric sports cars. The most notable design touch is what Tesla CEO Elon Musk calls “falcon doors”, which rise up above the SUV’s body when opened. Power will come from lithium-ion batteries in two different sizes, allowing anywhere from 200 to 300 miles per charge. The Model X rides on air suspension and is expected to weigh about 4700 pounds. The car should go into production next year before reaching customers in 2014.

Chevrolet Cruze Wagon Debuting at Geneva Motor Show

Chevrolet will use the Geneva Motor Show to introduce a wagon version of the Cruze. The new variant will be 3.2 inches longer than the Cruze sedan, and will offer between 17.7 and 53.0 cubic feet of cargo capacity, easily trouncing the 15.4 cubes on offer in the sedan version. This is actually the third body style for Chevrolet’s strong-selling compact — although the Cruze is offered only as a sedan, European buyers can also choose from a five-door hatchback. Sadly, chances of the Cruze wagon making it to the U.S. market are close to nil.

Buick Makes eAssist Standard on 2013 Regal, Adds Automatic Option to 2012 Regal GS

Buick announced a mild powertrain shuffle for its Regal sedan. The 2012 Regal GS sports sedan will henceforth offer an optional automatic transmission, expanding the appeal of the formerly manual-only car. Buick says acceleration times and fuel-economy for the automatic Regal GS will be equivalent to the manual-transmission version. Buick also announced that for 2013, the Regal sedan will drop its base inline-four powertrain and make the car’s eAssist mild hybrid system standard. The eAssist drivetrain combines a 2.4-liter inline-four gas engine with an electric motor-generator, returning lofty EPA ratings of 25/36 mpg (city/highway).

New Mitsubishi Outlander Making Debut at Geneva Motor Show

Mitsubishi will show the next-generation of its Outlander crossover in Geneva. The three-row model adopts a new exterior design and is said to have higher-quality interior components than the current Outlander. Additional equipment includes a power liftgate, adaptive cruise control, lane departure warning, and a collision-avoidance braking system. Mitsubishi also will offer a plug-in hybrid version of the new Outlander, with an eco-friendly powertrain derived from the company’s PX-MiEV II concept car. The Outlander goes on sale here toward the end of 2012.

Spied: 2013 Nissan Altima Prototype in Michigan

Though the midsize sedan won’t be revealed publicly for a few more months, we managed to snap photos of the 2013 Nissan Altima testing on a Michigan highway. The sedan appears to have grown a bit compared to the current Altima, with new taillights and a redesigned front grille. Nissan plans for the 2013 car to be a “very strong contender” in a crowded segment that is dominated by the Toyota Camry. There will almost certainly be a hybrid version, with regular powertrain options likely comprising a small inline-four and a 3.5-liter V-6.

Ford Personnel Shifts: Kuzak and Booth to Retire, Huntsman Joins Board

Two senior executives at Ford Motor Company announced their retirement this week, and the Blue Oval announced that a former presidential candidate would join Ford’s board of directors. Ford chief financial officer Lewis Booth, who has been with the company since 1978, will retire April 1. Derrick Kuzack, vice president for global product development, has worked for Ford since 1978 and also will retire April 1. At the same time, Ford says former GOP presidential hopefuly Jon Huntsman, Jr., will join the company’s board of directors. Huntsman previously served as United States Ambassador to China under President Obama, and was governor of Utah.

Spied! 2013 Mercedes-Benz GL in Los Angeles

Mercedes-Benz will soon update its GL-Class SUV, and our colleagues at Motor Trend managed to snap some photos of the next GL driving around Los Angeles. We spy only minor changes to the exterior of this three-row prototype, including restyled taillights and new LED running lights. Instead, expect major changes under the hood. The GL550 will probably stop using a 5.5-liter V-8 in favor of the newer, more efficient twin-turbo 4.6-liter V-8. We can safely expect the next version of the Mercedes GL to debut next year.

Nissan Previews Invitation Concept Ahead of Geneva Debut

Nissan also previewed a car that will be unveiled in Geneva, the Invitation concept. It foreshadows a European-market hatchback that will fit between the Micra and Juke in Nissan’s lineup. The Invitation is based on the company’s B/V platform, which underpins the new Versa sedan. However, it’s unknown whether this car will ever be sold in America. When it goes on sale in Europe in 2013, the car will be badged as the Nissan Note.

First Drives: 2012 BMW 335i, 2012 Toyota Prius C

This week we drove a powerful German sports sedan and a small, thrifty Japanese hybrid. The former was the 2012 BMW 335i, the gutsiest version of the new F30-generation 3 Series currently on sale. The 300-hp 335i is plenty fast and rewards drivers with excellent handling, but we wish the BMW had more steering feel. At the other end of the automotive spectrum is the 2012 Toyota Prius C, which packs the company’s famous Hybrid Synergy Drive into a small hatchback body. The Prius C is an excellent hybrid car that feels even more refined than prior versions of the Prius, but the subcompact’s interior doesn’t feel as upscale or attractive as in non-hybrid competitors like the Ford Fiesta and Kia Rio.







By Jake Holmes