November 2009 Archives

2011 Audi A8 Unveiled in Miami


Audi has officially unveiled the all-new 2011 A8 at Miami's Design Week.

The 2011 Audi A8 gets all-new styling that draws cues from many of its other siblings in the Audi lineup. It features Audi's first application of full led headlights that can adjust their lighting direction based on the navigation system.

"The new Audi A8 is the sportiest sedan in its segment," says Rupert Stadler, Chairman of the Board of Management of AUDI AG. "It combines numerous functions in a new and intelligent way. And it's unmatched in the stylistic elements and impression of the interior."

Audi claims that the 2011 A8 is longer and wider than its competitors and it also sits lower.

The new A8, which arrives in US dealerships in late 2010, is powered by a 4.2 FSI V8 that puts out 372 horsepower and is now 15 percent more fuel efficient. The V8 is mated to an eight-speed automatic transmission.

GM has unveiled the Excelle XT in Buick's biggest market, China. The Excelle XT is basically a rebadged version of the new Opel Astra.

The Excelle XT will be available with three engine choices, a 181-hp 1.6L turbocharged four-cyl, 116-hp 1.6L and a 138-hp 1.8L engine. The Excelle is based on the same platform as the Chevy Cruze.

"The Excelle XT carries the same self-confident air as its sibling, the popular Buick New Regal sedan," said Shanghai GM Vice President Terry Johnsson. "When people see this car, they'll notice its presence, stance and proportions. When they get inside, they'll recognize its craftsmanship and attention to detail. And when they get behind the wheel, they'll appreciate its responsiveness and excellent handling."

The US is expected to get a sedan version of the Excelle XT, but it is not known if the Excelle name will be on the model sold here.

2011 Ford Mustang Gets New 305-HP V6


As expected the 2011 Ford Mustang is going to get some changes under the hood to make it more competitive. Ford has announced the changes to the base Mustang, which for 2011 will be powered by a 3.7L V6.

Currently the base Mustang is powered by a 4.0L V6. The 2011 Mustang gets a new 3.7L V6 that puts out 305 horsepower and 280 lb-ft. of torque. The V6 can be mated to either a six speed automatic or six speed manual transmission. According to Ford, the V6 mated to the six-speed automatic gets 30 mpg on the highway.

"Mustang is completely transformed with this new engine," said Derrick Kuzak, group vice president, Global Product Development. "Everything people love about the car is still there and now under the hood is a V-6 engine that uses premium technology to deliver the power, the feel, the fuel efficiency, even the sound of the best sports coupes in the world."

Since this new V6 easily outguns the current 4.6L V8, it's no surprise that Ford is also going to announce a new V8 for the Mustang.

LA 2009 Preview: 2011 Chevy Cruze US-Spec Officially Unveiled


GM has officially unveiled the US-spec version of the 2011 Chevy Cruze, which is going to debut at the LA Auto Show this week.

The Chevy Cruze was unveiled more than a year ago and has already been on sale overseas. The US-Spec version will be powered by a choice of two engines, a 1.4L turbocharged four cylinder with 138 horsepower and 148 lb-ft. of torque or a non-turbo 1.8L. Both engines can be mated to either a six-speed automatic or six-speed manual transmission. GM hasn't released official fuel economy numbers, but the 1.4L is expected to have a cruising range of more than 500 miles. It's also expected that the 1.4L will achieve 40 mpg on the highway.

The 2011 Chevy Cruze is larger than the outgoing Cobalt and features a more spacious interior than the current Honda Civic and Toyota Corolla.

"The amenities, quietness and roominess you expect in larger cars are what the Cruze delivers," said Margaret Brooks, Chevrolet product marketing manager. "This is a car that will shake up the compact segment, with a more spacious interior and more cargo room than the Honda Civic and Toyota Corolla."

The 2011 Chevy Cruze will go on sale in the third quarter of 2010.

CARandDRIVER Announces 2010's 10-Best Cars


For the 28th year in a row, CARandDRIVER has picked the 10 best cars. This year's list consists of a few returning models like the BMW 3 Series and Honda Accord, which have both been on the list 19 and 24 times, respectively.

The publication tested 58 models worth $2.5 million total and logged a total of 12,000 test miles. New to the list this year is the Ford Fusion Hybrid, note that the gas only version isn't though. The Chevrolet Corvette, Infiniti G37, and the Jaguar XF are all off this year's list.

Check out the complete list after the jump.

Koenigsegg Backs out of the Saab Purchase!


GM has announced today that Koenigsegg has terminated the agreement to buy Saab.

GM released a very short press release about the termination and president and CEO Fritz Henderson stated "We're obviously very disappointed with the decision to pull out of the Saab purchase."

This announcement obviously puts Saab's future in jeopardy. GM stated, "we will take the next several days to assess the situation and will advise on the next steps next week."

2011 BMW 5 Series Officially Unveiled


BMW has officially unveiled the 2011 5 Series. We've already seen the Gran Turismo body style of the new 5 Series, which is already on sale, but this is our first look at the sedan.

The 2011 5 Series now shares its platform with the larger 7 Series and the upcoming Rolls-Royce Ghost. Overall the styling of the new 5 Series, looks very similar to the larger 7 Series. It now has the longest wheelbase in its class. At launch the 5 Series will be available with either a 400-hp 4.4L V8 (550i) or 300-hp 3.0L six-cylinder engine (535i). The engines can be mated to either a six-speed manual, eight-speed automatic or a new "Sport Automatic" 8-speed. The 528i will debut at a later date with a 240 horsepower six-cylinder.

Check out the very long press release for more details.

2011 Cadillac CTS Coupe Unveiled Ahead of Detroit

GM has officially taken the wraps off the much anticipated 2011 Cadillac CTS Coupe. The CTS coupe only shares everything in front of the A pillar with the sedan although the coupe two inches lower and two inches shorter overall than the sedan.

The CTS coupe will come standard with the 304-hp 3.6L V6 engine mated to either a six-speed manual or six-speed automatic transmission. A 556-hp CTS-V coupe will be available later in 2010.

The 2011 Cadillac CTS coupe will be available in spring of 2010.

Lexus Unveils the Second-Generation 2010 GX 460


Lexus has unveiled the second-generation 2010 GX 460, which gets a name change from GX 470. Although the last-generation had a bigger engine, note " GX 470", the new GX 460 has more power, putting out 301-hp and 329 lb-ft. of torque from its V8 engine. Even though there's more power the GX 470 is 13 percent more fuel efficient and gets 15/20 mpg. Lexus decided to not follow the trend that is moving away from body-on-frame SUVs with the new GX 460, which retains its body-on-frame design, but with a second-generation frame.

The 2010 GX 460 is available in two trims, base and premium. Some of the standard features are an eight-way power-adjustable, heated/ventilated front seats; automatic climate control; leather trimmed seats and surfaces; rain-sensing windshield wipers; power moonroof; a wood and leather-wrapped steering wheel and shift knob; memory system for the driver's seat, steering wheel position and outside mirrors; and an overhead console with integrated HomeLink® transmitter.

Check out the press release for all the details.

Lexus LF-CH Could be Released by 2012 or Maybe Earlier


Lexus unveiled the LF-CH Concept at the Frankfurt Motor Show and it previewed what a possible smaller Lexus could be like.

Mark Templin, the general manger of Lexus recently spoke with TheDetroitBureau about the possibility of a new smaller Lexus and if it would be sold in the US.

"There is a group of buyers growing up now who won't buy cars by the pound," said Templin. "We have already seen a structural shift" to the compact and more affordable models in the luxury market over the past couple of years.

So, said Templin, "Going forward, there may be a need for even smaller luxury cars," but they won't necessarily be targeting the budget-constrained "entry-luxury" buyer that today goes for such Lexus models as the ES and IS lines.

The LF-CH Concept will be at the LA Auto Show next month and at the Detroit show in January so that Lexus can gauge consumer reaction.

According to Templin if the response is possitive, the LF-CH could appear in Lexus showrooms by 2012 or possibly earlier.

2010 Acura ZDX Starts at $45,495


Acura has announced the pricing for the 2010 Acura ZDX that will be available on December 15th. The 2010 ZDX has a starting price of $45,495.

The ZDX will be available in three trim packages, ZDX; ZDX with Technology Package; and the ZDX with Advance Package. All versions are powered by the same 300 horsepower 3.7L V6 that is mated to a new six-speed automatic transmission and Acura's SH-AWD system.

Pricing ranges from $45,595 to $56,045. Check out the press release for more details.

2011 Cadillac CTS-V Coupe to Debut in Detroit


GM is set to debut the 2011 Cadillac CTS-V Coupe at the Detroit Auto Show this month.

Bob Lutz confirmed back in July that the CTS-V coupe was still on and he also recently revealed that GM is also going to release a CTS-V Sport Wagon. Both CTS-V versions of the Sport Wagon and Coupe will be powered by the same 556-hp 6.2L Supercharged V8 that powers the sedan.

2011 Buick Regal to Offer 6-Speed Manual Mated to a 2.0L Turbo


A Buick with a manual transmission? It's true. At a press event today in Michigan, GM's Jim Federico confirmed that the 2011 Buick Regal will have an available six-speed manual transmission.

The 2.0L turbocharged Regal, which will arrive shortly after the car's launch early next year, will indeed be offered with a six-speed manual.

Many of us have always thought of Buick as the old man's car. It looks like GM is trying to change that...

2010 BMW ActiveHybrid X6 Starts at $89,725


BMW has announced the pricing for the 2010 ActiveHybrid X6 that will be available starting on December 5th at a starting price of $89,725.

The ActiveHybrid X6 features BMW's dual-mode hybrid technology mated to a twin-turbo V8 and a seven-speed automatic transmission.

The $90k gets a list of things that aren't standard on the X6 xDrive50i including Nappa leather seats, 20-inch wheels, rear view camera, soft close doors, power tailgate, 4-zone climate control, etc. If you want even more, there are extras like the active ventilating seat package, cold weather package, Rear seat entertainment system, etc. All of which would push the price even closer to $100k.

For this price you could also get the 555-hp X6 M, but I guess it's not quite as "green."

All-New 2010 Audi A8 to be Unveiled in Miami on Dec 1st


Rather than unveil the all-new Audi A8 at the LA Auto Show next month, Audi has announced that its new flagship sedan will have its official debut at t the world's most important art and design fairs, Design Miami/ and Art Basel Miami Beach.

Audi will showcase the new Audi A8 at a Design Miami/ site-specific installation: a full-size car will turn into a miniature collectible on a coffee-table and be surrounded by supersized furniture.

Audi did not release any details about the new A8. Stay tuned...

Chrysler Seeks to be Quality Leader by 2012


For decades Chrysler has had problems with the quality of its vehicles. Chrysler is now seeking to become a quality leader by 2012 and it is doing so with a revamped and much larger quality team and tougher standards.

"It's different now," said Doug Betts, senior vice president in charge of quality at Chrysler. "People are talking openly about problems now and how to fix (them.)"

Betts was recruited from Nissan two years ago under Chrysler's former owner, Cerberus Capital Management LP. At that time Cerberus also pledged to improve Chrysler's quality issues, but then the Chrysler ran out of money.

Chrysler sales are down 38.9 percent this year, so there isn't a better time than now to fix Chrysler's issues. Chrysler, Jeep and Dodge vehicles continue to perform poorly in quality surveys, which has hurt the automaker's sales.

Chrysler CEO Sergio Marchionne has made quality a priority and Betts is hiring more than 200 quality engineers bringing the total to 1,700 from 200 when he started 2 years ago.

2010 BMW 550i Gran Turismo Starts at $64,725


BMW has announced the pricing for the 2010 550i Gran Turismo that will be available in US showrooms on December 5th. The V8 powered Gran Turismo starts at $64,725.

The 550i Gran Turismo is powered by a 400-hp 4.4L twin-turbo that is mated to BMW's first ever 8-speed transmission. It is capable of reaching 0-60 mph in 5.4 seconds. The twin-turbo 535i GT will also be available, but BMW has yet to release pricing on that model.

Toyota Launches European 2010 Land Cruiser


Toyota has unveiled the European version of the Toyota Land Cruiser that is very different and smaller than the version that we have here in the US.

The European Land Cruiser is powered by a 3.0L diesel with 171 horsepower and is mated to a five-speed automatic transmission. The body on frame design yields 8.5 inches of ground clearance and gives the SUV the ability to wade through 27.6 inches of water.

Toyota will offer the European Land Cruiser in three trim levels with prices ranging from £29,795 to £44,795. Of course we won't get this model in the US badged as a Toyota, but it could be a clue to what to expect from the Lexus GX 460.

Two-Thirds of All Camaros Sold Have Been V8 Powered


What is surprising to at least GM is that 2 out of 3 Chevy Camaros that drive off dealer lots do so with a V8 under the hood. GM had originally hoped that most of the Camaros sold would be the V6 model so that it would boost the automaker's Corporate Average Fuel Economy (CAFE). But according to Edmunds, approximately two-thirds of the 47,233 Camaros sold from April 2009 to October 2009 have been SS models.

The Camaro SS is powered by a 420-hp 6.2L V8 and is the most expensive Camaro in the lineup with a starting price of $31,595. In contrast the lowest priced V6 Camaro starts at $23,530. According to Bob Lutz, GM vice chairman, the V6 Camaros cost almost as much to build as the V8 models.

LA 2009 Preview: 2011 Mazda2 US-Spec. Set to Debut


Mazda has finally made it official that the small Mazda2 is going to be sold in the U.S. and Canada by the end of 2010. The 2011 Mazda2 will officially be unveiled at the Los Angeles Auto Show next month.

The Mazda2 shares its platform with the Ford Fiesta, which is also set to have its US debut at the show. Mazda has released one teaser of the subcompact, but didn't release any details about the engine lineup and what body styles we will receive. The preview shows the rear of the five-door hatchback model, so we can at least expect that model.

2010 Ford Fusion Captures Motor Trend's Car of the Year Award


Ford is definitely on a roll right now and the good news keeps coming in. Today Motor Trend announced that the 2010 Ford Fusion is the recipient of its Car of the Year award.

The 2010 Ford Fusion managed to beat out 23 other models for the award, which included the Toyota Prius, BMW 7 Series and Mercedes-Benz E-Class. Ford also had three models this year that were in the running for the award. The Taurus, Fusion and Mustang.

"The MOTOR TREND Car of the Year award is another testament of our commitment to delivering a world-class car lineup," said Derrick Kuzak, group vice president, Ford Global Product Development, who accepted the golden calipers on behalf of the Ford team. "Whether it is the best-in-class fuel economy or quality unsurpassed by Toyota or Honda, the Fusion and Fusion Hybrid are clear evidence that Ford is serious about our car lineup."

This announcement comes on the heels of Ford announcing that the Fusion is now the best-selling midsize domestic sedan in the US and that the model is now in the list of top ten selling vehicles.

Hyundai has officially unveiled its new direct-injected four-cylinder, which Hyundai claims delivers more power and a 10 percent improvement in fuel economy.

The 2.4L Theta II GDI four-cylinder took four years to develop and will debut in the 2011 Sonata. The engine officially puts out 198 horsepower and 184 lb-ft. of torque. The Theta II engine delivers 7-12 percent more torque across its rev range compared to a conventional engine. The engine is expected to see a 10 percent improvement in fuel economy, although final numbers have not been released. In addition to the direct-injection technology, the engine also gets variable valve timing on both camshafts.

When the 2011 Sonata debuts next year a V6 will not be offered.

Smart and Daimler Launch cars2go in Austin, Texas


Daimler has announced the start of a new pilot program in Austin, Texas, in which 200 Smart ForTwos will be available through its cars2go car sharing service.

The program will allow city employees to rent the cars for a few hours and then return them to a designated location. It's similar to Zipcar. Daimler also tested the program earlier this year in Ulm, Germany. If it's successful it will be expanded to other areas.

Lutz Confirms the Cadillac CTS-V Sport Wagon is on the Way


In addition to news about future of the Regal and Impala, GM's Bob Lutz has also confirmed that the Cadillac Sport Wagon is also going to be offered as a CTS-V Sport Wagon. This means that buyers will be able to get the CTS-V any way they want it, since the CTS-V will also be offered as a coupe.

Car and Driver recently got some alone time with Lutz, in which he stated, "You know what's really going to get you guys [on board with wagons] is the CTS-V wagon."

BMW Delays the Launch of the Next X3 in the U.S. to Mid-2011


BMW is going to delay the introduction of the next X3 by six months to launch a new system that will make it easier for buyers to custom order the X3.

This means that the next X3 will not arrive in US showrooms until mid-2011, a full six months after it launches in Europe. The delay will also allow BMW the ability to offer up to four different engines, which will lower the base price of the X3. According to Jim O'Donnell, president of BMW of North America, the X3 could be offered with a four-cylinder and a diesel in addition to the six-cylinder engines. BMW is going to decide by the end of the year if a four-cyl or six-cyl diesel will be offered. Production of the X3 is also going to X3 will shift from Magna Steyr in Austria to BMW's Spartanburg, S.C., factory.

Of course this delay is going to hurt sales of the X3. Its sales are off 67 percent this year.

Last week GM officially unveiled the 2011 Buick Regal, which many of you may easily recognize as the Opel Insignia with a Buick grille. Well it looks like GM has more in the works than just the front-wheel-drive four-cyl powered Regals that were unveiled.

Bob Lutz confirmed that GM is discussing the possibility of 335-hp all-wheel-drive model, which makes sense, since Opel offers the Insignia OPC with a 325-hp turbocharged engine and all-wheel-drive. In addition to a more powerful Regal, Lutz also stated that GM is considering a Regal Sport Wagon.

Now that the Pontiac G8 is officially dead there had been rumors of it living on as a Chevy. Many of us were hoping that GM would release a consumer version of its upcoming 2011 Chevy Caprice police patrol vehicle. Well those rumors were put to rest and now Bob Lutz has confirmed that the next generation Chevy Impala will keep its front-wheel-drive layout.

Lutz didn't provide much detail about the next Impala, only saying that it will be slightly larger. The next Impala will also be compatible with GM's hybrid technology, so an Impala hybrid is expected at some point.

2010 Lexus GX 460 to Debut at Guangzhou Auto Show


Lexus has confirmed that the 2010 Lexus GX 460 SUV will debut at the Guangzhou Auto Show on November 23.

Lexus did not provide any details about the redesigned SUV other than the fact that the name changes from GX 470 to GX 460, which means that it is expected to get the same 4.6L V8 that powers the Toyota Tundra and Sequoia. It puts out 310 horsepower in the Tundra. The Lexus GX 460 is based on the same body-on-frame platform as the new 2010 Toyota 4Runner.

The 2010 Lexus GX 460 is expected in showrooms this December.

2010 Lotus Evora to Start at $73,500


Lotus has announced the pricing for the 2010 Lotus Evora that will arrive in the U.S. in the first quarter of 2010. The 2010 Evora will start at $73,500.

The Evora features a 2+2 setup with a mid engine. The 3.5L V6 puts out 276 horsepower and 256 lb-ft. of torque. Thanks to its light weight It reaches 0-60 mph in 4.9 seconds and has a top speed over 162 mph. It also manages to get over 30 mpg on the highway.

Lotus has announced a 44 dealer Open House Tour of the US of the Evora for people that haven't seen the car in person.

Ford has announced that the automaker is working on a new Police Interceptor that will replace the aged Crown Victoria in 2011.

The new Police Interceptor will be offered in 2011, when the Crown Victoria is finally discontinued.

"We have heard the repeated requests from the law enforcement community to continue uninterrupted support of the law enforcement community," said Mark Fields, Ford's president of The Americas. "Ford is answering the call with the new Police Interceptor - engineered and built in America."

Ford currently holds 75 percent of the police pursuit vehicle business in the U.S. This announcement also follows GM's announcement to release a new Chevy Caprice sedan for police duty.

Each year Ford sells about 45,000 police vehicles.

Toyota Planning Larger Prius with a Lithium-Ion Battery


A new report is claiming that Toyota is planning a new larger Prius, that will be powered by a lithium-ion battery. The new larger version of the Prius will either be a wagon or SUV and it will supposedly launch by the end of next year.

According to the Japanese Yomiuri newspaper, the new version of the Prius will be Toyota's first hybrid with a lithium-ion battery. Toyota of course has declined to comment on the report.

Toyota is also reportedly working on a Prius coupe to go head to head with the upcoming Honda CR-Z hybrid.

The 2010 Ford Fusion has been quite the success for Ford. It's been a while since Ford has been competitive in the mid-size sedan market. The days of the best-selling Taurus are a distant memory, but after five years on the market and a successful redesign, the Fusion is picking up pace.

Sales of the 2010 Ford Fusion have already reached 151,137 units, which already eclipses the previous full-year sales high of 149,552 in 2007. In the first 10 months of 2009, Fusion sales have improved 15 percent.

"It's extraordinary that a car could set a sales record in an environment where overall industry sales are down 26 percent from a year ago," Ford sales analyst George Pipas said.

Of course Fusion sales are still way off from the Camry and Accord, but the Fusion is now the best selling domestic car.

2011 Buick Regal Officially Unveiled


GM has unveiled the model that signifies the return of the Buick Regal. The 2011 Buick Regal will officially return to the US in 2010. Most of you will recognize the Regal as the Opel Insignia that is sold in Europe, with a Buick grille. The Regal has also been on sale in China.

The 2011 Regal shares its platform with the new LaCrosse, but is over six inches shorter with a wheelbase that is also four inches shorter. The Regal is only going to be offered with four-cylinder engines. The standard engine is the same 182-hp 2.4L from the LaCrosse. The optional engine is a turbocharged 2.0L with 220 horsepower. Both engines are mated to a six-speed automatic transmission. The 2.4L Regal will be available in the first half of 2010 and the turbo will launch by late summer.

Volvo Unveils the 2011 S60 Ahead of Geneva


Volvo has released the first official photos of the 2011 S60 that is set to debut at the Geneva Motor Show in March.

The all-new S60 draws many styling cues from the S60 concept and features many of the same design elements as the rest of the Volvo models. Unfortunately the suicide doors from the concept didn't make it to production, but the coupe-like roofline remains.

Volvo claims that the new S60 will drive like no other Volvo and will be safer thanks to the Pedestrian Detection system.

The 2011 Volvo S60 will enter production in early summer 2010.

More Photos of the Bugatti 16C Galibier Concept Released


Bugatti unveiled the 16C Galibier Concept back in September and now the automaker has showed the car off at a special event in Los Angeles.

The concept is powered by a 8.0L W16 engine with twin-turbochargers that is expected to be mated to an eight-speed transmission. Bugatti hasn't released official specs for the all-wheel-drive Galibier, but it's been rumored that the W16 engine will put out around 800 horsepower and the car will have a top speed around 220 mph.

Bugatti claims that when it is officially released the Galibier will be the fastest and most powerful four-passenger sedan available.

GM to Build Cadillac Converj...Well According to One Source


The Detroit News is reporting that GM has finally decided to build the Cadillac Converj, which shares the same extended-range technology as the Chevy Volt.

GM originally unveiled the Cadillac Converj concept at the 2009 Detroit Auto Show. A production date has not been set, but it will likely be a few years before it hits the showroom. When it was unveiled Bob Lutz claimed that a production version would remain very close to the concept, just how GM did with the Camaro.

The Converj seems to make sense, since it would increase the number of electric vehicles offered by GM and it would help spread the cost of the technology that is shared with the Volt. GM would also be able to apply a higher sticker price to the Cadillac version, which would also help with costs.

The Volt is still on target for production at the end of 2010, we'll have to keep our fingers crossed that the Converj is going to actually be produced.

2011 Toyota Sienna to Debut in LA


Toyota has announced that the 2011 Toyota Sienna minivan will debut at the 2009 Los Angeles Auto Show.

Toyota didn't release any official details about the third generation Sienna...stay tuned.

2010 Suzuki Kizashi to Start Under $19K


Suzuki's much talked about new midsize sedan, the 2010 Kizashi is going to start at $18,999.

Even though the Kizashi S starts just under $19k, it still comes standard with power windows and locks, push-button start, dual-zone climate control and a nine speaker audio system. For $2,500 more buyers can get the Kizashi SE with a CVT, 17-inch alloy wheels and power driver's seat. The GTS model is available with either the CVT or a six-speed manual transmission. It also includes a 425- watt audio system, 18-inch wheels, Bluetooth and a moonroof. The top GTS model goes for $24,849. The top of the line SLS starts at $24,399 and includes leather seats, heated front seats, automatic headlights and wipers and rear parking sensors. The SLS tops out at $26,749. And of course all the prices are subject to a $735 destination and handling fee.

Ford Unveils New Car for Cash-Strapped Buyers for 2010


Ford Unveils Industry's First Inflatable Seat Belt


Ford has unveiled the auto industry's first ever inflatable seat belt, which is designed to add more protection for rear seat passengers.

The new inflatable seat belt is designed to inflate in a mere 40 milliseconds and when expanded the belts spread crash forces over five times more area of the body than conventional seat belts. The new seat belt inflates slower than a conventional air bag and uses cold compressed gas instead of a heat-generating chemical reaction.

"It's a very simple and logical system, but it required extensive trial and error and testing over several years to prove out the technology and ensure precise reliable performance in a crash situation," said Srini Sundararajan, safety technical leader for Ford research and advance engineering.

The new inflatable seat belt will debut first on the next-generation Ford Explorer in 2010 and then it will eventually be offered in vehicles globally.

2011 Porsche Boxster Spyder Becomes the Lightest Porsche


Porsche has unveiled the 2011 Boxster Spyder, which will become the lightest Porsche available. The third Boxster model will join the Boxster and Boxster S and debut at the 2009 LA Auto Show.

The Boxster Spyder features a low slung soft-top, extra low side windows and two bulges on the rear lid that make the Spyder reminiscent of the Carrera GT. The Spyder is powered by a 3.4-liter six-cylinder that puts out 320 horsepower, which is 10 more than the Boxster S. It also features an all-new sport suspension that lowers the Boxster Spyder 20 mm. The Boxster Spyder only weighs 2,811 pounds, which is 176 pounds lighter than the Boxster S.

When equipped with Porsche-Doppelkupplung (PDK) transmission the Boxster Spyder reaches 0-60 mph in 4.6 seconds and has a top speed of 166 mph with the roof open.

The 2011 Boxster Spyder goes on sale February 2010. U.S. pricing is $61,200.

Spy Shots: 2012 BMW 3 Series Shows up on a Flatbed


Here's our first look at what we can expect for the next BMW 3 Series, which is expected to debut in 2011 as a 2012 model. From these photos its clear that the proportions of the next 3 Series are not going to change much. The next-generation will also see the return of four-cylinder engines in the US market.

When Ford launched the F-150 SVT Raptor it was powered by Ford's 5.4L V8, but Ford promised that a new 6.2L V8 was in the works. Well Ford has announced the introduction of the 411-hp 6.2L V8, which is the most powerful engine available in a half-ton pickup.

The new 6.2L V8 puts out 411 horsepower and 434 lb-ft. of torque and according to Ford it has 1.5 seconds faster 0-60 mph time than the standard 5.4L.

Pricing for the 2010 Ford F-150 SVT Raptor with the 6.2L V8 starts at $41,995.

2010 Honda Accord Crosstour Starts at $29,670


Honda has released the pricing for its controversial new 2010 Accord Crosstour crossover.

The 2010 Accord Crosstour starts just under $30k at $29,670 for the base 2WD EX model. The fully optioned 4WD EX-L with navigation will set you back $36,220. The EPA numbers have also been released and the 2WD model gets a combined 18/27 mpg, while the 4WD model gets 17/25 mpg. The Accord Crosstour comes standard with Honda's 3.5L V6 with Variable Cylinder Management.

Lincoln to Downsize with its Own Version of the Ford Kuga


Lincoln is poised to downsize its current lineup with the addition of new smaller vehicles that are a huge departure from its other vehicles like the Navigator SUV.

Lincoln has shown off the possibility of small Lincolns with its recent concept cars and It's rumored that Lincoln could be working on a new compact car that would share its platform with the new global Focus. But it's not certain if Lincoln is ready to take a risk that its other luxury rivals have shied away from, fearing that the US market isn't ready for smaller cars.

But in the meantime a new compact crossover based on the European Ford Kuga is expected to be offered in late 2011. Redesigned versions of the Kuga will be released by Lincoln and Mercury. The Kuga is also expected to replace the Ford Escape.

Ford Reports Third Quarter Profit of $997 Million


Ford has reported a third quarter profit of $997 million compared to the $161 million net loss for the same period last year. The announcement represents Ford's first operating profit in nearly two years.

"Our third-quarter results clearly show that Ford is making tremendous progress despite the prolonged slump in the global economy," Ford CEO Alan Mulally stated. "Our solid product lineup is leading the way in all markets. While we still face a challenging road ahead, our One Ford transformation plan is working and our underlying business continues to grow stronger."

Ford expects its positive cash flow to continue into the fourth quarter.

Acura has been trying to change its portfolio to become more of a Tier 1 luxury brand, but it looks like those plans have changed. Acura had been working on developing new high-performance vehicles and its first V8 engine, but those plans have been canceled.

There is "a certain level of confusion" about Acura in the marketplace, Honda Motor Co. CEO Takanobu Ito told Automotive News at the Tokyo auto show. "We are in the midst of big changes. We've changed the direction of research and development."

Prior to the collapse of the economy Acura had plans to finally match the other top tier luxury brands with its first V8 engine and rear-wheel-drive, but those plans have been scrapped sending engineers back to the drawing board.

Instead of focusing on going head to head with brands like BMW, Honda CEO Takanobu Ito stated, "I see the future of Acura as a merger of BMW and Audi--something between high technology and high performance." Eighteen months ago Acura dealers were promised five new models, but as a result of the changes Acura will be in a "low-growth period of developing new products."

"We were thinking that we could come up with glamorous, gorgeous products that would sell. Now, our premium products will be expressed in advanced environmental technologies, rather than glamorous things attached to the product," Ito said.

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