Consultant pulls curtain on Big 3 in Detroit

After the Detroit Auto Show wowed everyone with new models, some were left noticeably nonplussed, skeptical and doubting. James Bell, an independent consultant for the automotive industry with nearly 20 years of experience, including Kelley Blue Book and General Motors, instead opined on what he saw at the Detroit Auto Show from the Big 3.

“Much has been made of the recent resurgence and sales success of the “Detroit 3”, said Bell, who also offered to look a little closer behind each curtain:
  • Ford disappointed many at the last month’s Detroit Auto Show when their “big news” was not a new car or truck but rather BIG investments in connectivity, autonomy, mobility/ride sharing, and the customer “experience.”

Not until later in the week did they make decent product news by announcing four new SUVs in next few years.

  • FCA provided some fun with the “this is NOT a minivan” Pacifica and lots of love for the high margin Jeep and Ram brands in effort to avoid its darker ironic reality of overall financial drama as evidenced by delayed updates to key products such as the Grand Cherokee and Ram. And they announced the death of the Chrysler 200 and Dodge Dart sedans until another maker can be roped into producing one car for both brands. In both cases, it seems that, as in the early 2000’s, the hypnotic dance of the cheap fuel cobra has worked its magic once and lulled these companies into complacency thanks to profitable truck and SUV sales.
  • Only GM seems to be planning for a more realistic future by using today’s false windfall to keep the pedal down on alternative fuel vehicles like the Chevrolet Volt and Bolt, even in the face of fewer sales in the near term. Seems GM might have learned a lesson from bankruptcy after all.”
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Ford Raptor now offers Supercrew model

Gray_Raptor_Dunes_Action_0190

  • Roomier: All-new Ford F-150 Raptor SuperCrew adds room for passengers and gear, expanding choice and versatility in the toughest, smartest, most capable F-150 Raptor ever
  • More agile: Enhanced suspension, use of advanced materials, all-new EcoBoost engine technology plus smart engineering saves up to 500 pounds, for improved power-to-weight ratio for even better off-road agility than previous F-150 Raptor
  • Unmatched performance: All-new high-output 3.5-liter EcoBoost, all-new 10-speed transmission and torque-on-demand transfer case make F-150 Raptor even more powerful, efficient and easy to drive off-road
  • Better traction: Segment-exclusive redesigned beadlock-capable wheels help increase grip in low-traction conditions; unique Avalanche Grey color signifies Raptor’s Ford Performance tie

DETROIT, Jan. 11 – Eagerly anticipated and still unmatched by any auto manufacturer,  Ford – America’s truck leader – introduces the all-new F-150 Raptor SuperCrew, adding agility, versatility and roominess to the toughest, smartest, most capable F-150 Raptor ever.

Developed with the DNA of a Baja race truck, F-150 Raptor is unique among off-road and performance vehicles, with a purpose-built engine, chassis and suspension that enables it to travel fast over challenging desert landscapes or crawl over rocky terrain.

F-150 Raptor SuperCrew with four full-size doors provides rear passengers with more legroom and comfort on the trails and more space to stow gear while exploring the American and Canadian wilderness. SuperCrew’s 145-inch wheelbase is 12 inches longer than the standard Raptor SuperCab 133-inch wheelbase.

“F-150 Raptor means superior off-road capability, from rock crawling to sand running,” said Dave Pericak, Ford Performance global director. “With the addition of SuperCrew, F-150 Raptor customers can leave the pavement behind – without sacrificing comfort and space.”

Advanced materials – including high-strength steel and high-strength, military grade, aluminum alloy – help save up to 500 pounds versus the prior Raptor for improved off-road prowess. Combined with all-new EcoBoost engine technology, the next-generation F-150 Raptor’s power-to-weight ratio has been improved, making the truck even more agile off-road.

Gray_Raptor_Interior_Pass_Side_0017Toughest F-150 Raptor ever
The all-new F-150 Raptor starts with a purpose-built fully boxed frame – the backbone of the truck – that is the strongest in the F-150 lineup, featuring more high-strength steel than the outgoing Raptor.

F-150 Raptor’s chiseled looks are reminiscent of Trophy Trucks – the fastest and most powerful class of off-road pickups. F-150 Raptor is 6 inches wider than standard F-150 for enhanced stability off-road.

The all-new F-150 Raptor also boasts its first-ever dual exhaust and new 17-inch wheels with next-generation BFGoodrich All-Terrain KO2 tires designed for off-road performance.

Smartest F-150 Raptor ever
F-150 Raptor is powered by Ford’s new, second-generation high-output 3.5-liter EcoBoost® engine that produces more power with greater efficiency than the current 6.2-liter V8, which is rated at 411 horsepower and 434 lb.-ft. of torque.

The high-output 3.5-liter EcoBoost is a Raptor-exclusive in the F-150 lineup paired with an all-new 10-speed transmission for improved efficiency.

An all-new four-wheel-drive, torque-on-demand transfer case, with advanced, easy-to-use off-road mode driver-assist technology, further improves Raptor’s performance so it is easy to drive off-road across varying terrain.

F-150 Raptor’s new transfer case, which manages power distribution between the front and rear wheels, combines the best attributes of clutch-driven, on-demand all-wheel drive with durable, mechanical-locking four-wheel drive to send power to the wheels in slippery conditions.

F-150 Raptor’s pioneering off-road driving mode technology has evolved into an all-new Terrain Management System™ that enables the driver to select modes to optimize driving dynamics to environmental conditions – from snow to mud, sand and more.

Six preset modes help the truck power through different terrain and driving conditions:

  • Normal mode for everyday driving
  • Street mode for higher-performance, on-road driving
  • Weather mode for rain, snow or ice
  • Mud and sand mode for muddy and sandy trails and terrain
  • Baja mode for high-speed desert running and
  • Rock mode for low-speed rock crawling

Most capable F-150 Raptor ever
An available Torsen front differential increases off-road capability further. The system increases grip significantly for the front end of the truck and allows it to pull itself over obstacles and up steep grades – even when traction is split between the front tires.

F-150 Raptor comes standard with new FOX Racing Shox with custom internal bypass technology that works to damp and stiffen suspension travel over rough terrain, helping prevent the truck from bottoming out.

Front and rear shock canisters have grown from 2.5 inches to 3 inches in diameter for improved performance. They feature more suspension travel than the current Raptor’s 11.2 inches at the front and 12 inches at the rear.

All-new F-150 Raptor will be built at Dearborn Truck Plant and goes on sale in the U.S. and Canada this fall.

F-150 foundation
Ford F-150 – the same hard-working light-duty truck available from XL work truck to Limited, the most luxurious F-150 ever – is the foundation of every F-150 Raptor. F-150 is part of Ford F-Series, America’s favorite truck for 39 straight years and America’s favorite vehicle for 34 straight years.

LC 500 Coupe sets new course for Lexus

2016 LEXUS LC 500

2016 LEXUS LC 500

DETROIT  — When the Lexus LF-LC Concept debuted at the 2012 North American International Auto Show, the press, loyal customers, and enthusiasts wondered if the concept’s arresting styling and dramatic proportions could ever evolve into a production 2+2 coupe. Today, four years after the debut of the breakthrough concept that inspired it, Lexus has revealed the all-new LC 500 luxury coupe. This provocative, athletic flagship coupe makes the strongest statement yet about Lexus’ future product direction.

The past five years have seen Lexus evolve rapidly with the creation of the luxury brand’s globally-focused organization, Lexus International. Exciting new models involving elevated levels of emotional styling and dynamic driving characteristics such as NX, RC, and IS have also helped Lexus’ brand shift with consumers. Akio Toyoda has been at the center of the Lexus global expansion, personally driving a heightened level of collaboration among design, engineering and marketing teams to help build a luxury brand better suited to meet the needs of the next generation of consumers.

“The LC 500 has been an important product for Lexus and me personally,” said Akio Toyoda, Chief Branding Officer and Master Driver for Lexus. “A few years ago, we decided to guide the future of the brand with products that had more passion and distinction in the luxury market. This flagship luxury coupe’s proportions, stunning design and performance make a strong statement about our brand’s emotional direction and will grow the Lexus luxury appeal globally.”

Design and Engineering Teams United
Beyond its styling and impactful performance, the new LC 500 serves as a symbol of the achievement that can result from heightened collaboration between design and engineering groups and their commitment to help overcome each other’s hurdles. When Akio Toyoda challenged these development groups to produce this special car, it meant surpassing many manufacturing, design, material, and dynamic obstacles that could typically compromise a vehicle’s targets or design vision.

The LC 500 was driven by a strong, appealing fundamental design target (LF-LC), and engineering teams worked tirelessly to find new solutions to maintain as much of the concept in the production car as possible. Likewise, vehicle designers were very involved from the earliest stages of the dynamic development process to understand the engineering targets and collaborate with design viewpoints and potential solutions. With LC 500, additional levels of prototype vehicle build also allowed both teams to better study design or engineering ideas and refine key elements. For Lexus, the LC 500 project became much more than simply the development of a new coupe. The LC 500, with the shift in engineering processes and design ideologies it represents, symbolizes the beginning of a new phase for the Lexus brand.

“Design and engineering sides worked together on issues and obstacles that were overcome one by one. I feel we achieved something greater than simply preserving the spirit of the concept’s design,” said Chief Engineer Koji Sato.

Exterior Design
At first glance, it becomes apparent that the engineering and design team’s collaboration was highly successful, considering how much of the LF-LC’s design ideology the team was able to transfer into the new LC 500. The new production model shares many of the key design elements, proportions and visual dynamism of the concept car that inspired it. The LC 500’s visual appeal is defined by an athletic aerodynamic shape. It features sensual curves, emotional forms, an available flowing carbon-fiber roof (glass roof standard), helping create a low, wide imposing stance that comes together for a highly functional, passionate package.

The LC 500’s front fascia features a powerful interpretation of Lexus’ distinctive grille, bordered by chrome on three sides and a radical new 3D mesh design that varies its visual tension. The “L”-shaped daytime running lights rest below a new Triple LED headlamp unit, specially designed to include one of the industry’s thinnest projectors enabling a low hood with a short front overhang. Functional venting also plays into the LC 500’s exterior design to help improve aerodynamic stability and cooling. The car’s athletic profile is characterized by its fast, sloped roofline, its wind-cutting silhouette, a long 2,870 mm (113 inches) wheelbase with compact front 920 mm ( 36.2 inches) and rear 970 mm ( 38.2 inches) overhangs and low hood height. The sexy curves and flowing lines maintain a consistent tension in sheetmetal through to the rear end that features slimly designed, multi-layered tail lamps with a unique lighting effect that helps convey a sequential L motif. A rear diffuser and available active rear spoiler also help manage airflow during performance driving. It rides on machined cast aluminum 20-in. or available 21-in. forged aluminum wheels.

2016_NAIAS_Lexus_LC_500_041_EDF24DCBA00C12B286B0E695516F9E43AA08821E_lowInterior Design
The interior design of the LC 500 is influenced by the dynamic luxury theme of the exterior with a layout that is both cockpit-focused and elegant. The coupe’s driving position was calibrated to invite spirited, sporting driving, and help develop easier confidence with a more intuitive control layout. In fact, for LC 500, the driver’s hip point was engineered to be as close as possible to the vehicle’s Cg (Center of gravity) where feedback from the car is the most communicative to the driver. The front seats offer excellent support and comfort for long drives while available sport seats offer additional bolstering and lateral support during cornering. Lexus engineers put considerable effort into creating an engaging yet seductive atmosphere for the driver, focusing on details such as the size and angle of the steering wheel, the feel and positioning of magnesium alloy paddle shifters, and available supple leather and Alcantara seating surfaces. The LC 500’s exquisite door panels, center console and dash pad structures feature elements of Lexus’ world-renowned, detail-obsessed Takumi craftsmanship in their finish.

“At an early stage, the designers collaborated with the engineers to understand their image for the LC 500’s driving dynamics, and they incorporated this into the design,” said Tadao Mori, the chief designer of the LC 500. “For example, we gave serious consideration to where the driver’s eyes would focus, and designed the surface shape in that area to help support a driver’s mindset. This project was one of the first times that designers were closely involved in the dynamic engineering development so we could understand the driving goals and support with the car’s design.”

Chassis
In helping to drive the future of the Lexus brand, the mission for LC 500 is to offer a dynamic driving experience and character unlike any Lexus vehicle prior to it. The pursuit of a sharper, more refined driving experience became the mission for the development team who also sought to maintain a superior Lexus ride quality befitting a flagship luxury sport coupe.

The LC 500 is the first Lexus to use the brand’s all-new, premium rear-wheel-drive luxury platform and is part of the new corporate global architecture for luxury vehicles (GA-L). The underpinnings of this new coupe will become the blueprint for the company’s future front-engine/rear-wheel-drive vehicles. In an effort to sharpen the car’s handling, the LC 500’s engineers focused on the platform’s fundamentals by placing most of the mass, including the engine and the occupants, in a position more centralized and lower in the chassis to improve the center of gravity.

Internally, Lexus engineers referred to this menu of mass-arranging tactics as the “inertia spec.” The driver hip and heel points have been lowered, wheels have been pushed to the corners of the car with shortened overhangs, and the drivetrain mass has been located behind the front axle line to create a front mid-ship layout. The LC 500 also relies on run-flat tires to improve packaging, reduce weight (thanks to no spare), and help shorten overhangs to achieve dynamic targets. The 12-volt battery has been relocated to the trunk as part of the mission to redistribute weight.

Other mass management measures include the available carbon fiber roof, aluminum door skins mounted to the carbon fiber door inner structure, and a composite trunk floor. The LC 500 also represents the Lexus brand’s most intensive use of high-strength steel. This provides enhanced rigidity while reducing—and ideally positioning—vehicle mass to optimize dynamics. As a result, the LC 500 is very balanced with a nearly ideal front/rear weight distribution of 52/48.

To help achieve the level of chassis performance targeted for this new coupe, Lexus engineered the stiffest unibody the brand has ever produced. For LC 500, the strategic use of lightweight, high-strength steel helps make for a high degree of torsional rigidity that is more resistant to twisting forces than the exotic, carbon fiber-intensive LFA supercar. The platform design maintains a consistent level of resistance to flexural forces and stiffness across the vehicle’s wheelbase to help create consistent, predictable handling behavior and sharper steering responses. Special braces in the engine compartment (usually a more twist-prone part of the chassis), the adoption of stiff aluminum front suspension towers, and the addition of a ring structure near the rear fenders are all measures that help further bolster the strength of key chassis structures.

Particular attention was devoted to the LC 500’s multilink suspension system. Double ball joints on the upper and lower control arms allow for control of the smallest movements from the driver inputs and road conditions. Beyond sharing workload, a dual ball joint arrangement helps optimize suspension geometry to increase wheel control and create a more precise steering response with better initial effort. To help reduce unsprung mass and improve suspension response, all but one of the control arms are made of lightweight forged aluminum. Providing the grip on the show prototype car are concept versions of Michelin Pilot Sport tires with Premium Touch® sidewall technology: 245/40RF21 up front and 275/35RF21 at the rear. When all the handling elements come together, LC 500 becomes a world-class luxury sports coupe that exhibits razor-sharp reflexes, exceptional handling balance and rock-solid stability. This all-new platform will continue to undergo continuous improvement and enhancement throughout the vehicle’s lifecycle.

Said Sato: “We spent more than triple the usual amount of R&D time to pursue linear steering and to find the sweet spot for road contact feel. We also focused our efforts on suspension rigidity and enhancing geometry. Thanks to advancements in product engineering, we are now at a world-class level for suspension rigidity, and performance when lateral g’s are applied.”

2016_NAIAS_Lexus_LC_500_037_BAEB03D3B006E9182F4A0B7449FD328A163CD50C_lowDrivetrain
The power delivery to the rear wheels for LC 500 is handled by a new, very well matched set of components that maximize output to the wheels. The heart of the new LC 500 is derived from the proven, high-revving 5.0-liter V8 that is found in the RC F and GS F. The naturally aspirated V8 was selected for its smooth, linear throttle response and emotional engine sound. The all-aluminum, 32-valve V8’s output targets 467 HP and 389 lb.-ft. of torque. The new engine is built for durability with lightweight, high-strength forged connecting rods and titanium valves that allow the engine to flourish at high rpm. This naturally aspirated engine makes an ideal pairing to a balanced sports coupe with its linear power delivery that allows easier control and exhilaration behind the wheel.

The engine in the LC 500 uses a dual intake inlet that help improve breathing and allow the engine to produce its fantastic sound. The new coupe features an active exhaust that opens baffles in Sport mode to help give the car a more aggressive exhaust note even in start-up. In fact, even when the vehicle is in Normal mode the exhaust baffles open above 3500 rpm. During acceleration, a Sound Generator involving tuned acoustic plumbing enhances the engine’s raucous melody into an aural thunder that helps distinguish the LC 500 in its competitive segment.

Helping power transfer to the rear wheels is a newly developed 10-speed automatic transmission—the first ever in a luxury automobile—with shift times rivaling those of a dual-clutch transmission. The component is smaller and lighter than some current 8-speed transmissions. The wide bandwidth of shifting afforded by 10 closely spaced gears is ideal for all forms of driving, providing an optimal gear in all conditions. This transmission is matched to a new electric control system with software that helps anticipate the driver’s inputs by monitoring acceleration, braking and lateral g forces.

The new transmission is just one key element in a vehicle that has had all of its dynamic control elements such as power application, braking, and steering tuned to operate rhythmically in sport driving conditions. Drivers will feel the controlled balance between the quick, smooth shifting actions, the application of linear engine power, and the deceleration afforded by 6-piston front brake calipers (4-piston at rear).

All of the platform and drivetrain engineering helped endow the LC 500 with performance and agility uncommon for a four-person coupe; the vehicle targets a 0 to 60 mph time of less than 4.5 seconds.

Interior Electronics
This flagship coupe will debut the 2017 Lexus Multimedia package that will feature updated, faster, more flexible software enabling future enhancements and a more inviting graphic user interface. Occupants also will be treated to an exceptional audio experience inside the cabin: in addition to the available audiophile-worthy Mark Levinson audio package, a new premium Pioneer audio system comes as standard equipment. Pioneer’s sound engineers worked in collaboration with LC 500 body and cabin designers to enhance interior sound performance within the cabin, studying the acoustic environment and driving structural changes to enhance sound performance.

The LC 500 also will boast Lexus’ renowned safety technology, Lexus Safety System + , which integrates several of Lexus’s active safety technologies: an All-speed Dynamic Radar Cruise Control (All-speed DRCC) that relieves stop-and-go traffic stress, the Pre-Collision System (PCS) helps prevent and mitigate collisions; Lane Keep Assist (LKA) helps prevent vehicles from departing from their lanes; and Automatic High Beam (AHB) that helps ensure optimal forward visibility during nighttime driving.

These technologies are part of a multi-faceted approach to active safety, the Lexus Safety System + package, and combines millimeter-wave radar with a camera to help achieve a high level of system reliability and performance.

*Spec and equipment might differ by market

Specifications

LC 500
Horsepower 467 HP@7,100 (redline 7,300 rpm)
Torque 389 lb-ft@4,800
Transmission 10 speed Automatic
Seating Capacity 4
Overall Length 4,760 mm (187.4 inches)
Width 1,920 mm (75.6 inches)
Height 1,345 mm (53 inches)
Wheelbase 2,870 mm (113 inches)
Layout Front engine, Rear Wheel Drive
Fr/Rr Overhang Fr: 920 mm (36.2 inches), Rr: 970 mm (38.2 inches)
Wheel size
(front and rear) 1. 21 inches (forged aluminum – available)
2. 20 inches (forged aluminum – available)
3. 20 inches (cast aluminum – standard)
Tires size
Fr: 245/40 RF21, Rr: 275/35RF 21
Fr: 245/45 RF20, Rr: 275/40RF 20
Fr: 245/45 RF20, Rr:275/40 RF20
0 – 60 mph Under 4.5 seconds

BMW M2 ($51,700) and X4 ($57,800) revealed in Detroit

 

BMW M2

BMW M2

The 2016 BMW M2.
Making its highly anticipated world debut, the first ever BMW M2 features the renowned BMW M performance complimented by a sleek interior and exterior design. The new entry model of the BMW M GmbH is perfectly aligned with M tradition ensuring unbeatable driving dynamics on the roads and the track, embodying the true DNA of BMW M vehicles. A newly developed M TwinPower Turbo technology 3-liter, 6-cylinder engine produces 365 bHP and 343 lb-ft of torque between 1,400 and 5,560 with an overboost function raising this figure to 369 lb-ft between 1,450 and 4,750 catapulting the high performance vehicle from 0-60 mph in 4.2 seconds ( M DCT) with a top speed of 155 mph. Inspired by its motorsport roots, the BMW M2 sets the pace in its segment when it comes to agility, driving feeling, directional stability, steering precision and controllability at the limit, without any compromise in everyday use.

The 2016 BMW M2 will be available at authorized BMW centers starting at $51,700 plus Destination and Handling starting in April 2016.

BMW X4 M40i

BMW X4 M40i

The 2016 BMW X4 M40i.
The cutting-edge drive technology in the new BMW X4 M40i guarantees the free-revving thrill typical of a BMW M developed motor and its outstanding power delivery. With 355 hp and 343 lb-ft of torque, the newly developed M Performance TwinPower Turbo technology inline 6-cylinder engine will also be making its world debut. Reaching an electronically limited top speed of 150 mph, the BMW X4 M40i delivers best-in-class acceleration, traveling from 0-60 mph in just 4.7 seconds. Design and technology are also at their peak in the BMW X4 M40i and include a powerful yet efficient exterior chassis tuned to M Performance specifications, BMW ConnectedDrive, intelligent xDrive and TwinScroll turbo technology.

The 2016 BMW X4 M40i will be available at certified BMW dealers in February 2016 starting at $57,800 plus Destination and Handling.

2017 M-B E-Class bows

The most intelligent luxury sedan

Mercedes-Benz is taking a big step into the future with the new E-Class. The tenth-generation of the E-Class sedan delivers stylish highlights with its distinct, emotional design and high-grade interior. The new E-Class also marks the world premiere of numerous technical innovations, enabling enhanced comfort, a new level of safe driving, a new dimension in driver assistance and a new infotainment and control system. A new, optionally available AIR BODY CONTROL air suspension ensures outstanding ride comfort and driving dynamics. The sum total of these innovations makes the E-Class the most intelligent sedan.

“The E-Class is the core of the Mercedes-Benz brand and in the past has repeatedly redefined the standards in the business-class segment. Now it carries this tradition into the future with a wealth of top-class innovations. The new E-Class takes another major step towards fully autonomous driving. In addition, it enhances efficiency, safety and comfort, reduces the stress level when driving and intensifies driving pleasure,” says Prof. Dr. Thomas Weber, Member of the Board of Management of Daimler AG, responsible for Group Research and Mercedes-Benz Cars Development.

Powerful, coupe-esque design

The new E-Class is sophisticated, confidently stylish and sporty. Compared with its predecessor, its wheelbase has grown by 2.6 inches (115.7 inches vs. 113.1 inches) and its overall length by 1.7 inches (193.8 inches vs. 192.1 inches). Its design features hallmark Mercedes-Benz sedan proportions. The elongated hood coupled with a coupe-esque roof flowing into a sensual, broad-shouldered tail end creates an exciting silhouette. The powerfully extended vehicle body is characterized by short overhangs, a long wheelbase, large wheels and taut, well-defined flanks displaying a fresh, stylish and dynamic interpretation of the feature line, all of which allows the E-Class to deliver the perfect take on the Mercedes-Benz design philosophy of “Sensual Purity.”

A muscular front end underlines the status to which the business-class sedan aspires, boasting a different look for each design and equipment line. The Luxury version features the classic Mercedes radiator grill with the star on the hood, while the Sport models are identifiable by the sport radiator grill with a large Mercedes star as its centerpiece. Each of the radiator grill designs lends the E-Class a distinct character, offering a unique degree of diversity that makes each model stand out.

At the rear end, broad shoulders above the rear wheel arches lend the E-Class its unmistakably muscular character. Single-piece tail lights featuring a two-bar design framed by the vehicle body clearly identify the E-Class as a new member of the Mercedes sedan family. Rear lights provide additional levels of detail with an appearance designers refer to as the “stardust effect.” Making its debut on the new E-Class, this available “stardust effect” is created by innovative reflector technology with a specially configured surface structure for the tail lights.

Next Level Interior Design

The interior of the new E-Class embodies the synthesis of emotion and intelligence, poles that are defined by the Mercedes-Benz design philosophy – distinct forms with a sensual flow to them. The U.S. version of the E300 offers a next-generation high-resolution display, with a wide navigation display screen diagonal of 12.3 inches – a first in this segment, and a traditional gauge cluster behind the steering wheel, all integrated into one casing. Beneath its integrated glass frame, the display visually conflates into a wide-screen cockpit that seems to be hovering in thin air, creating a central element that emphasizes the horizontal orientation of the interior design.

Touch-sensitive control buttons (‘Touch Controls’) on the steering wheel make their first appearance in a car. Like a smartphone interface, the Touch Controls respond precisely to horizontal and vertical swiping movements, allowing the driver to control the entire infotainment system without having to take their hands off the steering wheel. In keeping with the motto “hands on the wheel, eyes on the road,” this new control interface minimizes driver distraction.

Further controls for the infotainment system are provided by a touchpad with a controller which can recognize handwriting in the center console and a voice control system, accessible at the push of a button. For systems such as air-conditioning or various driver assistance systems, there are direct-access buttons located on the center stack.

A new, intelligent graphic design with high-resolution animations, together with simplified logic, further enhances this all-new infotainment experience. At the same time, the occupants enjoy a spacious interior, which combines the elegance of the luxury class with sportiness.

Intelligent material design

High-quality materials define the E-Class’ interior style, including Natural Grain Ash wood, and wood with “flowing lines.” Another Mercedes hallmark clearly evidenced is the high-quality look and feel created through meticulous attention to detail and craftsmanship.

Interior materials and colors have been carefully selected, highlighted by various shades of brown, including several attractive, new color combinations which allow for an even more personalized interior design.

Lighting atmosphere with 64 colors

Interior lighting makes exclusive use of durable, energy-saving LED technology, even throughout the enhanced ambient lighting system. With 64 colors to choose from, the ambient lighting system offers a host of possibilities for personalization, adding touches of light to various trim parts, central display, storage on the center console, handle recesses, door pockets, front and rear footwells, overhead console, and tweeters (if the vehicle is equipped with the Burmester® high-end 3D surround sound system).

Seat design: first class

A further highlight of the new E-Class is its seats. Their ergonomic and sculpted form combines Mercedes-Benz’s hallmark suitability for long journeys with a refined, sporty look. Another new feature in this segment is a Warmth and Comfort package, which includes heated door armrests and center console, heated steering wheel and rapidly-heating front seats.

The rear bench seat in the new E-Class sedan comes with a three-piece backrest with a 40% – 20% – 40% split, making it exceptionally versatile. Integral features of the center armrest include a storage box and two pop-out drinks holders. There is also the option of a holder for a tablet device for the rear passengers.

New engine generation

In the US market at launch, the new E-Class will feature a turbocharged 2.0-liter four-cylinder gasoline engine with 241 hp and 273 lb-ft of torque. Further model variants will be added to the range after the market launch.

Nine-speed automatic transmission

All E-Class models available at market launch will be equipped with the new 9G-TRONIC nine-speed automatic transmission as standard equipment. This advanced transmission enables both fast gearshifts and low engine revs while cruising, which provides improvements in both efficiency and interior noise levels.

Suspension – sporty comfort

The suspension on the new E-Class offers agile driving pleasure on twisting roads as well as the highest level of ride comfort in the segment. The E-Class sedan comes with a steel-spring suspension as standard. Two DIRECT CONTROL suspension systems with selective damping are available in conjunction with this suspension:

  • DIRECT CONTROL Comfort suspension
  • DIRECT CONTROL Sport suspension

AIR BODY CONTROL air suspension

Alternatively, the new E-Class can be equipped with a multi-chamber air suspension at all corners – the only car in its segment to offer this option. Three chambers of different sizes in the spring struts of the rear axle and two in the spring struts of the front axle make it possible to control, in three stages, how firmly the suspension reacts to the road. In this way, the occupants enjoy a soft base suspension, together with the secure feeling of good handling stability as speed increases.

Furthermore, the highly sensitive and fast-responding AIR BODY CONTROL air suspension features all-round self-leveling for excellent ride comfort even with the vehicle loaded. It automatically controls the ride height depending on the speed and reduces fuel consumption on the freeway, for example, by lowering the vehicle. When driving on rough roads, ground clearance can be increased at the push of a button.

The multi-chamber air suspension is supplemented by a continuously operating, electronically controlled damping adjustment system, which automatically adapts the damping on each individual wheel to the current driving situation and road conditions. The system therefore delivers good road roar and tire vibration characteristics, excellent ride comfort and outstanding driving dynamics.

A DYNAMIC SELECT switch in the cockpit enables the driver to select from four AIR BODY CONTROL modes: “Comfort,” “ECO,” “Sport” and “Sport+.” The additional “Individual” option allows drivers to configure their vehicle to suit their own preferences.

Next-generation driver assistance systems

Mercedes-Benz’s new assistance and safety systems take safety, comfort and driver assistance to a new level.

Standard on the new E-Class is PRE-SAFE® Sound. This system is based on a protective human reflex in the inner ear, called the stapedius reflex. PRE-SAFE® Sound emits a short interference signal through the vehicle’s sound system if the risk of a collision is detected. This signal can trigger the natural reflex and thus prepare the occupants’ ears for the expected sound of the accident.

Active Brake Assist, fitted as standard, is able to warn the driver of impending crash situations, provide just the right level of support during emergency braking and, if necessary, also apply the brakes automatically. In addition to slower-moving, stopping or stationary vehicles, it can also detect pedestrians crossing within the area ahead of the vehicle.

Additional standard equipment includes ATTENTION ASSIST with adjustable sensitivity, which can warn the driver of inattentiveness and drowsiness, and Crosswind Assist, which can assist the driver by substantially mitigating the effects of strong crosswinds to prevent the vehicle from drifting too far off track.

Highlights of the optional Driver Assistance Package Plus that make the E-Class the most intelligent sedan in its class include:

  • DRIVE PILOT: This system represents Mercedes-Benz’s next step along the road to autonomous driving. While on both freeways and country roads, Distance Pilot DISTRONIC is not only able to automatically maintain the selected distance from the vehicle in front, but, for the first time, it can also follow the traffic in front at speeds of up to 130 mph. This can make life easier for the driver, who no longer needs to operate the brake or accelerator pedal during normal driving and also receives plenty of steering assistance from Steering Pilot – even on moderate bends. Another unique feature of Steering Pilot is that the system can continue to actively intervene by taking account of surrounding vehicles and parallel structures, even if the lines are unclear or nonexistent, as they can be during road construction, even at speeds up to 81 mph. The system therefore makes driving much easier, especially in traffic jams or heavy congestion. Additional DRIVE PILOT innovations include, for the first time, Active Lane-change Assist. This radar-and-camera-based system assists the driver when changing lanes on multi-lane roads and can steer the vehicle into the lane selected by the driver – when overtaking, for example. Once the driver has indicated a turn for at least two seconds, Active Lane-change Assist assists with steering into the adjacent lane if it detects that the lane is unoccupied. More details will be offered at the time of the U.S. launch in summer 2016.
  • Active Brake Assist with cross-traffic function: Compared with the standard version, this system has extended speed thresholds with respect to vehicles and pedestrians. Furthermore, it can detect crossing traffic at junctions and, if the driver fails to respond, apply the brakes autonomously. For the first time, it can also detect hazardous situations at the tail end of a traffic jam where there is no room to maneuver and initiate autonomous braking well in advance. Consequently, it is possible to completely avoid accidents at speeds up to 43 mph or substantially reduce the severity of accidents at speeds above this level.
  • Evasive Steering Assist: This new system ideally complements the pedestrian detection function of Active Brake Assist. When the driver deliberately or instinctively performs an evasive maneuver in a dangerous situation, this function can assist by adding precisely calculated steering torque to support the movement of the steering wheel. This helps the driver to avoid, for instance, a pedestrian in a controlled manner while subsequently facilitating the straightening-up of the vehicle to allow the situation to be negotiated safely.
  • Advanced assistance systems: The intelligent assistance systems in the new Driver Assistance Package Plus also include proven systems that have been further developed in terms of their mode of operation and the sensors they use. Active Lane Keeping Assist can help stop the driver from unintentionally changing lanes, this being done by corrective one-sided application of the brakes, including in the case of broken lines and risk of collision, e.g. with oncoming traffic or fast overtaking vehicles. Active Blind Spot Assist can now also warn of the risk of a lateral collision in typical urban traffic at low speeds. PRE-SAFE® PLUS can also protect against collisions with traffic following behind, reducing whiplash and other adverse effects on the occupants.

The range of new features in the new E-Class also includes:

  • Remote Parking Pilot: For the first time, this system allows the vehicle to be moved into and out of garages and parking spaces remotely using a smartphone app, enabling the occupants to get into and out of the car easily, even if space is very tight. More details will be offered at the time of the U.S. launch in summer 2016.
  • Car-to-X communication: The MY2017 E-Class will have the world’s first fully integral Car-to-X solution going into series production. The mobile phone-supported exchange of information with other vehicles further ahead on the road, for example, can effectively allow the driver to “see around corners” or “through obstacles” well in advance. This means that the driver receives an earlier warning than previously in the event of imminent danger, such as a broken-down vehicle at the edge of the road or also in the event of heavy rain or black ice on the road ahead. In this case, the new E-Class simultaneously acts as a receiver and a transmitter, since warning messages are conveyed automatically by evaluating vehicle status or manually by the driver to the backend. More details will be offered at the time of the U.S. launch in summer 2016.
  • PRE-SAFE® impulse side: This system is part of the Driving Assistance package PLUS. If a lateral collision has been detected and is imminent, it preventively moves the driver or front passenger away from the danger zone to the side. To do this, the system inflates an air chamber in the side bolster of the front seat backrest nearest the side of the imminent impact in a fraction of a second, thus increasing the distance between occupant and door while, at the same time, reducing the forces acting on the occupants.

Three-dimensional listening pleasure

Fitted as standard, the Mercedes-Benz Frontbass system in the new E-Class delivers a unique listening experience, utilizing space in the cross-member and side member of the body structure as a resonance chamber for the bass speakers. The E-Class is optionally available with two Burmester® sound systems, including the top-of-the-line Burmester high-end 3D surround sound system. If the vehicle is equipped with the optionally available Burmester high-end 3D surround sound system with 23 speakers, the occupants are treated to a listening experience reminiscent of the acoustics in a concert hall, as it includes a third dimension of sound courtesy of roof speakers.

Robust yet lightweight bodyshell

An outstandingly stiff body forms the basis for exceptional handling, astonishingly low noise and vibration levels and a high level of crash safety. To achieve this, the engineers opted for a bodyshell with a far higher proportion of aluminum and ultra-high-strength steel components than its predecessor. The front fenders, hood, trunk lid and large sections of the front and rear ends are made of sheet or cast aluminum. This lightweight design reduces fuel consumption while making for perceptibly sporty and agile vehicle handling.

Against the wind

Aerodynamic performance is one of the main reasons behind the outstanding efficiency of the new E-Class. To achieve this, the aerodynamics experts had to optimize numerous details and implement new ideas. The sophisticated aerodynamics also minimizes wind noise while making sure that the new E-Class is quieter than many luxury-class models.

The 2017 Mercedes-Benz E-Class will be available at US dealers in the summer of 2016.

2017 Audi A4 to debut at Detroit

  • With class-leading horsepower, the redeveloped 2.0 TFSI® engine generates 252 hp and 273 lb-ft of torque
  • Lightweight aluminum-hybrid construction helps to achieve significant weight savings

As the bestselling model in Audi history, the all-new 2017 A4, with innovative design and advanced technologies, sets a new benchmark for the luxury sedan segment. Boasting class-leading horsepower, confidence inspiring driving dynamics, as well as available driver assistance and infotainment systems, the A4 represents the best in every detail from Audi and exceeds the exceptional standards that have become synonymous with the four rings.

2017 Audi A4 
From the redeveloped engine to the available Audi virtual cockpit, technological innovations found throughout the 2017 Audi A4 provided inspiration for the precise and striking design details of the all-new sedan. The exterior has been redesigned to feature sportier proportions including a horizontal, contoured Singleframe® grille, powerful wheel arches and a crisp wrap-around shoulder line which flows seamlessly from the hood to the rear of the vehicle. The interior has a greater feeling of spaciousness and lightness due to a three-dimensional decorative inlay that spans from the door panels across the dashboard. Featuring a completely redeveloped powertrain, the 2.0 TFSI® engine can generate 252 hp and 273 lb-ft of torque. A significant weight savings was achieved through the aluminum-hybrid lightweight construction. The A4 also features a suite of advanced infotainment functions including the available Audi virtual cockpit and a newly designed infotainment system with standard Audi smartphone integration, which supports Apple CarPlay™ and Google™ Android Auto. An available 19 speaker, 755 watt Bang & Olufsen 3D Sound System virtually creates a sense of sound dimensionality offering a revolutionary, life-like musical experience. With exceptional attention to detail, dynamic handling, sharpened design and the latest technologies, the ninth generation A4 sets a new standard in the luxury sedan segment.

Powertrain and Performance

KEY SPECIFICATIONS

MODEL ENGINE TRANSMISSION HORSEPOWER TORQUE
A4 2.0 TFSI® FWD 2.0 TFSI Seven-speed FWD S tronic® 252 hp @ 5,600-6,000 rpm 273 lb-ft @ 1,600-4,500 rpm
A4 2.0 TFSI quattro® 2.0 TFSI Seven-speed quattro S tronic® 252 hp @ 5,600-6,000 rpm 273 lb-ft @ 1,600-4,500 rpm

Chassis and Suspension
The powertrain and chassis of the all-new A4 have been completely redeveloped, allowing for a sportier driving experience and more comfortable ride for long distances. The newly developed S tronic® dual clutch transmission melds efficiency with dynamic shifting characteristics to help optimize fuel consumption. New front five-link suspension allows for greater steering precision and excellent handling through optimized steering-rack placement direct at wheel centers. Handling and comfort enhancements have also improved through the reduced unsprung weight of lightweight aluminum control-arm components and revised elastokinematic attributes.

Chassis and suspension features include

  • New generation of the seven-speed S tronic® dual-clutch transmission for both the front-wheel drive and quattro all-wheel drive vehicles
  • Available quattro all-wheel drive with self-locking center differential and wheel-selective torque control (torque vectoring
  • Standard Audi drive select including four modes – comfort, auto, dynamic and individual which allows the driver to change gear shift points, steering, damper control and adaptive cruise control adjustments
  • Available sport suspension lowers ride height by approximately 23 mm
  • Available adaptive damping suspension (-10 mm ride height) enables various suspension and damping combinations which are adjustable via Audi drive select

Design and Body
The all-new A4 represents the latest refinements in Audi design, from the crisp, wrap-around lines emphasizing the vehicle’s length to the powerful wheel arches that accentuate the vehicle’s performance appeal. The front of the A4 boasts the signature Singleframe® grille which adds depth and sporty character and a newly designed clam-shell hood which flows seamlessly into the shoulder line, giving the A4 a dynamic stance. The available Audi LED headlights with progressive undercut design provide a focused look and give the A4 an unmistakable appearance. With the introduction of LED technology on the Audi R8 and A8, which was then brought to the mass market on the A4, LED headlights are an Audi signature and have become an industry standard.

Design and body highlights include:

  • Singleframe® grille with Aluminum-optic surround
  • Standard Audi xenon plus headlights with LED daytime running lights and dynamic LED taillights with dynamic turn signals, or optional LED headlights
  • Standard power-adjustable and heated exterior side mirrors
  • Standard 17” 5-parallel spoke design wheels with all-season tires, optional 18” 5-spoke dynamic design wheels with all-season tires or optional 19” Audi
  • Sport 10-V spoke design wheels with summer tires
  • Available special First Edition package includes front sport seats with seat ventilation, aluminum Trimarin inlays, three-spoke multifunction flat-bottom sport steering wheel and 18” Audi Sport® 5-arm pylon design Black/Silver-finish wheels with all-season tires

Interior
The refined interior of the A4, reminiscent of the award-winning interior in Audi’s flagship sedan, the A8, includes greater attention to detail through functional refinements and additional driver-focused technologies. The acoustic windshield was designed to help keep cabin-noise to an exceptionally low level and standard ambient LED interior lighting creates a positive sense of space and highlights the high-quality materials throughout the interior. In addition, the all-new A4 features improved interior space with increased shoulder and head clearance for the driver and front-seat passenger as well as increased rear legroom.

Interior features include:

  • Three-spoke multifunction steering wheel
  • Standard ambient LED lighting
  • Standard three-zone automatic climate control with wing-design wrap-around dashboard and diffuser air vent helps recreate natural airflow
  • 8-way power front seats with 4-way power lumbar support for driver
  • Standard power sunroof with tilt and sliding functionality
  • Split-folding rear seatback with 40/20/40 configuration including center armrest and cup holders

Technology
The Audi A4 offers benchmark infotainment features such as the available Audi virtual cockpit and for the first time, a full-color head-up display, both bring relevant driving information directly front and center for the driver.

Technology features include:

  • Available Audi virtual cockpit features a large, 12.3-inch display that delivers vibrant color at 60 frames per second with NVIDIA® quad core processing power. The virtual cockpit helps make viewing and navigating via the large Google Map images supported with 4G LTE (where available) easier on the drivers’ eyes. It also allows for a better view of the road ahead through full map display and a placement directly in front of the driver. A high mount 7-inch center MMI® display is standard or an available 8.3-inch with MMI Navigation Plus package.
  • Available full-color head-up display, projecting relevant driving information directly in the driver’s field of vision
  • The available Bang & Olufsen® 3D Advanced Sound System option creates a completely new in-car audio experience, specifics include:
    • 19 speakers, 755 watts
    • 16-channel Class D amplifier
    • Anodized aluminum speaker grille insert with “Dynamic Line” design
  • In addition to the traditional MMI® scroll wheel capabilities, the optional MMI all-in-touch (MMI® navigation plus package) features a completely redesigned menu structure and an all-new MMI search, which operates similar to an Internet search engine making text input simpler and quicker.

Audi connect
Audi connect packages together all applications that connect the A4 with the internet, the owner and the surrounding infrastructure. New and improved functions include online traffic info, weather updates, fuel prices, Apple Siri® Eyes Free integration, internet radio streaming as well as picture navigation, read-aloud personalized news headlines and Twitter® alerts, among other features.

Supported by 4G LTE (where available), newly available in-car Audi connect infotainment, security and service features include:

  • Vehicle services such as vehicle status report, online roadside assistance and service interval notification
  • Automatic Crash Notification (SOS)
  • Manual Emergency Call (SOS)
  • Stolen Vehicle Locator

The Audi connect mobile application has also been updated to support new remote services designed for the US market which including Curfew, Speed, and Valet Alerts, remote lock and unlock capability and online car finder.

Driver Assistance:
The all-new A4 incorporates many driver assistance features that are designed to help drivers navigating the road and traffic while making their driving experience more enjoyable.

Driver assistance features:

  • In the case of an impending collision, Audi pre sense® basic can intervene to prepare the vehicle for impact. This process includes beginning to close the side windows and panoramic sunroof, pretensioning the front safety belts, and preparing the brake system for a quicker response during an unexpected or emergency maneuver.
  • Standard Audi pre sense city detects cornering and stationary vehicles as well as pedestrians, at speeds of up to 52 mph and can initiate full braking when a potential collision is detected.
  • Available traffic sign recognition including vehicle speed warning detects speed limits and displays the information in the Audi virtual cockpit or driver information system. Additionally, the system evaluates various driving conditions, no passing zones and school and construction zones.
  • Audi pre sense rear (available on Premium Plus models and standard with Prestige trim) helps monitor the traffic following the vehicle and takes similar actions to Audi pre sense basic.
  • Vehicle exit assist (as part of Audi pre sense rear) can help prevent accidents with a side assist warning light, which blinks and notifies the driver when vehicles or cyclists are approaching from behind as the vehicle doors are opened.
  • Rear cross traffic alert (as part of Audi pre sense rear) supports the driver when reversing out of a perpendicular parking space. Indicator arrows in the MMI® display can inform the driver of approaching vehicles, and in critical situations, a warning tone and brake jolt can be applied, prompting the driver to stop the vehicle.
  • In the event that a sharp maneuver is needed to avoid a collision, collision avoidance assist supports the driver when turning into the adjacent lane.
  • Turn assist (as part of the Driver Assistance package) can detect the approach of oncoming traffic, when making a left-hand turn at an intersection (when the vehicle is stopped or under 7 mph and turn signal is activated).
  • Optional Adaptive cruise control with stop & go and traffic jam assist automatically maintains distance from the vehicle in front, including braking and accelerating to help maintain a set distance. Between 0-37 mph, traffic jam assist combines acceleration, braking and steering guidance, which can take the stress out of driving in congested traffic.

Pricing Detail
Model year 2017 A4 starting manufacturer suggested retail prices:

MODEL PREMIUM PREMIUM PLUS PRESTIGE
A4 2.0 TFSI® $37,300 $41,100 $45,900
A4 2.0 TFSI quattro® $39,400 $43,200 $48,000

*Prices above exclude destination charge ($950), taxes, title, options, and dealer charges.

The all-new entry A4 starts at $37,300* compared to $35,900 for the outgoing model. This ninth generation A4 is now equipped with significant powertrain improvements and an expanded list of standard equipment including keyless start/stop, rearview camera, Audi smartphone interface, LED interior lighting, digital 3-zone automatic climate control and Audi pre sense city.

For more information on the 2017 Audi A4, please visit http://www.audiusa.com.

Always pay careful attention to the road, and do not drive while distracted.

Driver assistance features are not substitutes for attentive driving. See Owner’s Manual for further details, and important limitations.

Audi connect should only be used when it is safe and appropriate. Audi connect services and features are optional, provided with the support of authorized affiliated and third party service providers, and may require additional subscriptions with separate terms and conditions. Available on select models. Certain services collect location information, see Terms of Service for information about how to disable and for other details.

Honda Civic wins North American car of the year award

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  • Ground-up redesign was developed and is built in North America
  • Second NACOTY win for the model after 2006 Civic win a decade ago

The all-new 2016 Honda Civic has earned the prestigious 2016 North American Car of the Year Award. This win for the Civic is the second for the model in the award’s history, following a win for the 2006 Civic a decade ago when it shared the stage with the 2006 Ridgeline, winner of that year’s Truck of the Year award. In total, eleven Honda models have been named “finalists” for NACOTY awards since their inception in 1994, the most of any brand outside of the Detroit Big 3 automakers.

“The all-new Civic was developed and is built in North America, making this North American Car of the Year win even sweeter,” said Jeff Conrad, Honda Division senior vice president and general manager. “Civic is a cornerstone of the Honda lineup, and we’re delighted that the automotive press has recognized the new levels of styling, performance, advanced technology, safety and value that characterize the new Civic.”

The North American Car of the Year Award is given by a group of 53 international automotive journalists. The award is unique because instead of being given by a single publication, radio or television station, it is given by automotive journalists from the United States and Canada. Presented each year at the opening of the North American International Auto Show in Detroit, it recognizes the most outstanding car of the year based on factors including innovation, design, safety performance, handling, driver satisfaction and value.

Truly all-new, the 2016 Civic features a new vehicle architecture; sporty and sophisticated new interior and exterior styling; a more spacious and high-quality cabin; two advanced new engines; and a host of new available premium features and technologies, including the first application of both Apple CarPlay®1 and Android Auto™2 in a compact car sold anywhere in the world. Further, with the addition of Honda Sensing™ safety and driver-assistive technologies and the first application of Honda turbo engine technology to Civic, the 2016 Civic offers buyers a wider range of options than ever before.

With vehicle development led by Honda R&D Americas, Inc. and Civic Sedan and Coupe production in Indiana and Ontario, Canada, the new 10th-generation Civic firmly has its roots in North America. The majority of Civics sold in the United States will be produced and assembled using domestic and globally sourced parts in the United States and Canada. The Civic 5-door, set to debut in the near future, will be produced at Honda’s Swindon Plant in the United Kingdom.