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2017 Ford Explorer XLT Sport Appearance Package

Ford adds a new appearance package to the Explorer XLT to make a sixth trim level in the Explorer lineup

It wasn’t that long ago that that increasing gas prices almost killed off the SUV market. We traded in our Ford Explorers and Dodge Durangos for more fuel efficient cars like the Honda Civic or the Ford Focus. Just a few years later, the SUV market has rebounded with a vengeance. As the interest in SUVs continue to grow, manufacturers are starting to offer more and more variants of the SUVs in their lineups. Today, the manufacturer in the spotlight is Ford and its release of a new trim level for the Ford Explorer.

Currently, the Explorer is offered in five trims – Base, XLT, Limited, Sport, and Platinum. According to Ford, Explorer buyers are interesting in unique models, with the Explorer Sport and Explorer Platinum accounting for 30 percent of Explorer sales in the U.S. market. Due to that interest, Ford will now be offering the Ford Explorer Sport Appearance Package.

Ford’s Explorer brand marketing manager, Omar Odeh, says, “Our Sport Appearance philosophy is rooted in the fact that we know exterior appearance is the No. 1 consideration in SUV purchase decisions. The XLT Sport Appearance Package is a dramatic offering that gives customers another attractive option.”

The XLT Sport Appearance trim is set to join the Explorer lineup sometime this summer, with its little brother – the 2017 Ford Escape – also receiving a similar addition to its lineup. So, now that Ford has spilled the beans, let’s take a look at what the Explorer XLT Sport Appearance Package brings to the lineup.

Updated 02/12/2016: We added a series of new images of the new Explorer XLT Sport Appearance Package taken during its official unveiling at the 216 Chicago Auto Show. Check them out in the "Pictures" tab.

Continue reading to learn more about the Ford Explorer XLT Sport Appearance Package.

2016 Mercedes-AMG S63 Coupe Black Edition By Mansory

Swiss tuner turns the tables on the AMG S63 Coupe with another insane program

There are times when an aftermarket company reaches a level of importance that it transcends the genre. I’d like to think that Mansory reached that status a long time ago. The Swiss tuner is renowned for its aftermarket programs and over the years, we’ve seen some of the most incredible kits for some of the finest cars in the world, all of which share one thing in common in that they were all built by Mansory. Remember the Lamborghini Aventador Carbonado GT? How about the Ferrari F12 Stallone or the Bugatti Veyron Vivere?

Those are just a few examples of the many kits Mansory has built. Back at the 2015 Frankfurt Motor Show, it presented an equally dynamic program for the Mercedes-AMG S63 Coupe, called the Black Edition. As the name implies, the AMG S63 Coupe was completely blacked out and decked with a ridiculous amount of aerodynamic improvements that put to shame the AMG S63 Coupe Diamond Edition, another kit for the high-powered S-Class Mansory presented in May 2015.

Basically, the Black Edition was like an HGH-injected version of the Diamond Edition. In addition to rocking an otherworldly aero kit, it also had more wheel options and a more powerful engine modification that saw the car’s output break four digits in the horsepower scale. Think the offer of 887 horsepower in the Diamond Edition was over-the-top? You might start questioning your lot in life once you learn how much horses are under the hood of the AMG S63 Coupe Black Edition.

This is Mansory at its best and this kit is living proof of that.

Continue after the jump to read the full review.

2016 Subaru Crosstrek Special Edition

Subaru repeats history by releasing a Special Edition Crosstrek for the 2016 model year

The Subaru XV Crosstrek is essentially a raised and slightly bubbled version of the Subaru Impreza five-door hatchback. It initially debuted in 2011 at the Frankfurt Motor Show as the Subaru XV concept. Shortly after that, Subaru moved the XV concept into production. We didn’t see the XV Crosstrek in production form here in the U.S. until Subaru came to the New York Auto Show in 2012. The model quickly went on sale for the 2013 model year and has since become Subaru’s third-best selling model.

To celebrate the success of the Crosstrek, Subaru released the 2015 Subaru XV Crosstrek Special Edition last year. It had minor modifications here and there to differentiate it from the rest of the pack and was limited to just 1,000 units. Now, just a few days before the Chicago Auto Show kicks off, Subaru has announced that it will be bringing another special edition version of the Crosstrek to the windy city.

The 2016 Subaru XV Crosstrek Special Edition will be limited to 1,500 examples, and like last year’s special edition model, it will be based on the 2.0i Premium. Once the special edition officially debuts, expect to see it hit showrooms at the end of this spring. Before we get too far ahead of ourselves, though, we’ve only got a few days before we see the Special Edition Crosstrek in the metal, so let’s dive on in and preview what we’ll be seeing in Chicago.

Updated 02/12/2016: We added a series of new images (and one video) of the new Crosstrek Special Edition taken during its official unveiling at the 216 Chicago Auto Show. Check them out in the "Pictures" tab.

Continue reading to learn more about the Subaru Crosstrek Special Edition.

2017 Toyota Tacoma TRD Pro

Toyota reunites the TRD Pro trio

Toyota debuted its TRD Pro series in 2014 with versions for the Tundra, 4Runner, and Tacoma. While the Tundra and 4Runner have soldiered on unchanged since then, the Tacoma underwent a generational change for 2016, losing the TRD Pro option along the way. Now the option is back, and more ready to hit the high-speed off-road course with a vengeance.

Introduced for the 2017 model year, the TRD Pro package expands from the Tacoma’ s TRD Off-Road package on 4WD Double Cab Short Bed trucks. That means the TRD Pro series enjoys all the same off-road equipment as the already-rugged TRD Off-Road trim, while adding additional hardware for tackling terrain.

The Tacoma TRD Pro continues to use the new 3.5-liter V-6 developed for the 2016 Tacoma. Both a six-speed manual and six-speed automatic are offered here, making this one of the few vehicles to combine an off-road package with a manual transmission.

Hardware isn’t the only addition Toyota gave the Tacoma TRD Pro. Leather seats with embroidered headrests, the Entune infotainment system, TRD-branded floor mats and a shift knob, and the standard TRD Pro “TOYOTA” front grille, unique wheels, fender flairs, and TRD Pro badges.

Continue reading to learn more about the Toyota Tacoma TRD Pro.

2017 Chevrolet Trax

Chevy has updated the Trax for the 2017 model year with a new look on the outside and pleasant updates on the inside.

Chevy released the Trax to the worldwide market in late 2012, but it didn’t make it to the U.S. until its debut at the 2014 New York Auto Show. It went on sale here in the U.S. for the 2015 model year and was essentially a Buick Encore with some modifications and a different badge. Aimed at a younger audience, the Trax was pretty successful, with Chevy selling more than 63,000 units in the U.S. during 2015. Since its worldwide launch in 2012, Chevy has sold more than 400,000 examples of this small SUV.

Despite being updated in 2014 for the U.S. market, the Trax has gone through another facelift for the 2017 model year. The new Trax brings better looks and more functionality than the outgoing model and is definitely sportier on the outside. Along with its new look, the Trax will also hit the showrooms sporting a new trim level – Premier – sitting alongside the returning LS and LT trim levels.

More than 60 percent of Chevy’s customers that have purchased a Trax in the past are female, and of all the customer that purchase a Trax, more than half of them traded in something that wasn’t a Chevy. That just goes to show the popularity of this little SUV, even if it is a "girl’s car." With that said, let’s take a dive into the 2017 Trax and see what kind of updates Chevy is bringing for the new model year.

Updated 02/12/2016: We added a series of new images of the new Trax taken during its official unveiling at the 216 Chicago Auto Show. Check them out in the "Pictures" tab.

Continue reading to learn more about the 2017 Chevrolet Trax.

Posted on by jayk  

American performance is usually served with unmistakable flamboyance. For example, both the shark-nosed Corvette Z06 and Terminator-esque Shelby GT350 Mustang offer unambiguous speed cues front to back. But that’s a good thing; it’s an essential facet of their character. However, some people prefer the straight-to-jail speed in a package that flies comfortably under the radar. Folks looking for a combination like that usually turn to Europe, birthplace of cars like the Audi RS7 Sportback Performance. To the uninitiated, it’s just another AWD luxury sedan. But to those who know, it’s over 600 horsepower and a top speed of 190 mph.

Audi already offers U.S. customers the venerable RS 7, but now, according to a recent report from the fine folks at Autoblog, we’ll get the new Performance version as well. That means even more power, slightly tweaked styling, and all the refinement and comfort you’d expect from a range-topper with four rings on the grille.

So then – a high-output variant of an already overpowered luxury sedan. Sounds tempting. We won’t know exactly what the U.S.-spec RS 7 Sportback Performance will bring to the table until Audi provides us with the details, but for now, read on for the Euro-spec iteration and cross your fingers it’s unaltered by the time it hits our shores.

Updated 02/12/2016: Audi dropped a pretty cool commercial title "Tear Drop" for its latest RS 7 Sportback Performance. Hit "play" to watch it!

Continue reading to learn more about the Audi RS7 Sportback Performance.

2017 Chevrolet Camaro 1LE

Both V-6 and V-8 Camaros enjoy a hard-core handling package

Chevrolet has launched the first performance variant for the sixth-generation Camaro. Taking place at the 2016 Chicago Auto Show, the automaker has debuted the 2017 Camaro 1LE.

The sixth-generation 1LE departs from tradition, however, and is offered on both the Camaro SS and the V-6 model, rather than just the higher-output, V-8 Camaro. Like before, the 1LE package turns the Camaro into a handling car, focusing on suspension parts, fatter tires, and bigger brakes.

The 1LE package does use different parts between the V-6 and V-8 versions, with the V-8 obviously being the more track-ready of the two. That’s not to say the V-6 is a dud. In fact, Al Oppenheiser, the chief engineer for Camaro, says the V-6 1LE produces track times at the Willow Springs Raceway comparable with the fifth-generation 1LE – a car equipped with the 6.2-liter LS3 V-8. Impressive.

But before diving into the new 1LE’s details, let’s look at its background. The 1LE package was introduced in 1988 as a performance package option based on Chevy’s SCCA Showroom Stock racing program. The 1LE bundle was offered until 1999, but remained a low-volume specification that rarely sold more than 100 units per year. The 1LE returned in 2013 as a package offered on 1SS and 2SS trims of the fifth-generation car, and included various ZL1-sourced parts, a Tremec six-speed manual transmission, and many sporty features. The matt-black hood was its most recognizable visual trademark – something that returns for 2017.

Updated 02/12/2016: We added a series of new images of the new Camaro 1LE taken during its official unveiling at the 216 Chicago Auto Show. Check them out in the "Pictures" tab.

Continue reading to learn more about the 2017 Chevrolet Camaro 1LE.

Jaguar Land Rover Files "I" Trademarks, Could Lead To Electric Models

Could these names point to a future EV SUV and EV sports car?

Jaguar Land Rover’ s plan to offer electric vehicles took a big step after the company filed three new trademarks in Europe’s Office of Harmonization in the Internal Market (OHIM).

According to AutoGuide, the automaker has filed trademarks for the names “I-Pace,” “I-Type,” and “Velar.” At least two of those names appear to point to a pair of future EV versions of Jaguar’s existing F-Pace SUV and F-Type sports car. The third name, “Velar,” is likely tied to Land Rover as a reference to the original Range Rover pre-production prototypes built between 1969 and 1970 as a decoy for registering pre-production Range Rovers.

It’s still unclear if Land Rover is dusting off the Velar name for a future production model, but it does appear that Jaguar’s plans for an electric SUV and electric sports car will eventually give birth to EV models that will carry those names. Jag, after all, has previously hinted of its plans to have an electric SUV by 2017 to compete against the Tesla Model X. The automaker even went as far as demonstrating three new research demonstrators that incorporate electric power back in September 2015.

All roads do seem to lead down that path, so it’s likely JLR will have something planned for these trademarks. If it sticks to its promised timetable, the I-Pace SUV – if it does end up using that name – should arrive by 2017 with the I-Type sports car not expected until 2020. As for the Velar, well, only time will tell if Land Rover has any serious plans or if it’s just doing the same thing it did back then when it used that exact name to hide its true plans.

Continue after the jump to read the full story.

Source: Autoguide

Launched for the 2006 model year, the Mazda CX-9 has soldiered on relatively unchanged until now. The facelifts that Mazda rolled out in 2010 and 2013 brought only minor changes that included new front grilles, updated headlamps, and restyled bumpers. In 2008, Mazda Mazda ditched the 3.5-liter V-6 in favor of a 3.7-liter unit, but the larger engine, the only survivor of the brand’s partnership with Ford, has remained unchanged to this day. All told, the current CX-9 is long in the tooth and is long overdue for an overhaul. Fortunately, the much needed redesign has arrived at the 2015 Los Angeles Auto Show and will hit dealerships for the 2017 model year.

Previewed by the Mazda Koeru concept, the second-generation CX-9 received the company’s Kodo design language and a high-quality interior with premium materials. The engine under the SUV’ s long hood is also new. Horsepower is down compared to the previous model, but the new SkyActiv unit pumps significantly more torque to the wheels and returns better fuel economy.

Mazda says that the new CX-9 represents a "capstone for the new generation of Mazda cars and crossovers and a high-end model indicating what is to come." We’ll find out whether that’s true or not in the second quarter of 2016, when the SUV is scheduled to hit dealerships. U.S. sales will commence next spring. In the meantime, be sure to check the review below for all the important details about the new CX-9.

Updated 02/12/2016: The new Mazda CX-9 went into production at the Ujina Plant No. 1 in Hiroshima. The first units produced will be shipped to the North American market, which is expected to account for 80% of global sales forecast at 50,000 units annually. Sales will begin later in the spring of 2016.

Continue reading for my speculative review of the 2016 Mazda CX-9.

Launched in 2013, the current Mercedes-Benz S-Class has brought many innovations to the market, especially in the safety department. It also arrived in dealerships as a sportier, yet more comfortable proposition to the previous-gen S-Class, being praised for its fantastic ride, effortless acceleration, and the enormous amount of luxury and tech. In 2013, it had no rival, as both the BMW 7 Series and Audi A8 were more than three years old. Come 2016, and BMW has a new 7 Series in showrooms, while Cadillac just joined the full-size segment with a brand-new model called the CT6.

As a result, Mercedes-Benz is looking to update the S-Class for the 2017 model year and has already begun testing the facelift model.

Spotted on public roads by our paparazzi with very little camouflage on its body, the revised S-Class seems to be identical to the model it replaces on the outside. This could change by the time the sedan gets closer to production, but we don’t expect it to get a significant redesign. Instead, the Germans will focus on the interior, where the S-Class will get many of the technologies Mercedes introduced on other models over the last two years. The engines are also in for upgrades, but don’t expect more than just a few extra horses as the S-Class is powerful compared to its competitors.

Keep reading to find out more and make sure you stick around for updates on the upcoming S-Class facelift.

Updated 02/12/2016: Our spy photographers caught the upcoming S-Class out for a new testing session. This time, the prototype dropped part of its camouflage and we can easily see the new design on the head lights, while the interior reveals it will get a new touchpad on the center console and no buttons between the two screens.

Continue reading to learn more about the 2017 Mercedes S-Class.


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