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2018 Audi A8

Audi redesigns its iconic grille for the new Audi A8

It was just a month ago that Audi confirmed that a new Audi A8 would grace showrooms for the 2018 model year. Now, the brand with four rings has been caught testing that next-gen A8 at the Nürburgring, and it looks like there is going to be at least one dramatic change. The car itself looks to retain the same size and overall shape of the current model, but the new model will have an emphasis on its look of overall width – especially with the evolution of Audi’s “Singleframe” grille that is now much wider and stretched out compared to anything we’ve seen in Audi’s current lineup. At first, it seems kind of goofy, but after taking a closer look, a wider, more pronounced grille is actually beneficial to the A8.

The new A8 is still sports some pretty heavy camo, so there is only so much we can make out of these spy shots. We do know that the new A8 will ride on the new MLB Evo platform that also underpins the Audi Q7, so there should be a significant drop in weight to go with the potential for alternative powertrains, including a plug-in hybrid model. With that said, I still think Audi has some suspension tuning to do, as the A8 in these pictures seems to be experiencing excessive body roll on the corners as it maneuvers around the Nürburgring.

Now that we’ve talked a little about it, let’s grab the wheel and take a closer look at what the next A8 might bring to the table when it makes its debut later this year.

Updated 04/11/2017: Our spy photographers caught the upcoming Audi A8 out for a new testing session and wearing less camouflage than previous times. The new A8 will be making its official debut in July.

Continue reading to learn more about the upcoming Audi A8.

The 2017 Kia Cadenza is Impressively Swanky

Kia ups the ante with its newest luxury sedan

Kia isn’t known for its luxury sedans, but that might be changing soon. The automaker’s new-for-2017, second-generation Cadenza moves the bar well beyond anything previously found in its lineup. Even the range-topping K900 lacks some of the niceties found inside this BMW 5 Series competitor. Just look at that quilted leather!

I’ve been driving the 2017 Cadenza for the last week. The car has not only impressed my cynical, jaded journalist self, but also everyone who’s sat inside. Aside from the quilted bolsters, the leather seats are butter soft, not to mention heated and cooled up front. Rear passengers enjoy tons of legroom, while a padded center armrest makes elbows happy. A suede headliner frames the massive panoramic moonroof. Even the detailing around the switches and trim work is outstandingly posh. Sure, its no S-Class Maybach, but you’d be forgiven to mistake its fit and finish for a standard E-Class.

Real metal accents are placed where it counts – at high-touch areas like the gearshifter and steering wheel controls. These contrast well with the leather-wrapped shift knob and steering wheel, too. Oh, and that steering wheel is heated as well.

Now the Cadenza isn’t perfect. The piano black plastic along the center console shows the smallest specks of dust and even signs of scratches, despite the car’s young odometer reading. This might be the telltale wear point for pre-owned Cadenza shoppers. Nevertheless, the interior – as a whole – is genuinely striking. Even more so considering the price. Kia charges right at $45,000 for the range-topping Limited trim, like my tester. You’d pay $6,000 more just to have a base-trimmed 5 Series. A highly equipped Lexus ES costs nearly $49,000. So needless to say, the Kia represents value.

Of course, what the Cadenza provides in luxury, the Kia name still represents bargain vehicles. That will continue to change, just as it has over the last 15 years. I wouldn’t be surprised to see Kia finally shake its econobox stigma by the decade’s end.

2017 Chevrolet Traverse Redline Edition

Yet another Chevy with black wheels and red hash marks

Unveiled for the 2018 model year, the second-generation Chevrolet Traverse is as fresh as it gets in 2017. Built around the new C1XX platform, which is shared with the Cadillac XT5 and replaces the old GM Lambda underpinnings, the redesigned Traverse is actually a tad shorter than its predecessor but, at the same time, it’s slightly wider and has a longer wheelbase. The new, fresh design is backed by a roomier interior with state-of-the-art technology, while the 2.0-liter four-cylinder makes the entry-level version an attractive proposition to those concerned about fuel economy. At the 2017 Chicago Auto Show, the Traverse gained its first-ever special edition, called the Redline Edition.

Part of a bigger effort that includes Redline Edition versions of the Cruze, Malibu, Camaro, Trax, Equinox, Colorado, and Silverado, the limited-edition Traverse stands out by means of blacked-out exterior features. It’s also based on the range-topping Premium model, which means it comes with plenty of standard equipment. On the flipside, it’s also the most expensive model in the lineup.

The Redline Edition is based on a couple of concepts that Chevy unveiled at SEMA Show events in 2015 and 2016 and will go on sale by the end of 2017.

“Redline is another example of Chevrolet bringing SEMA concepts to showrooms,” said Brian Sweeney, U.S. vice president of Chevrolet. “The SEMA show has proven to be a great way to identify customization trends in the industry, and quickly apply those trends to our most popular Chevrolet models. Based on the strong interest Redline attracted at the show, we believe they will be very popular with customers looking for standout cars, trucks, and crossovers.

Continue reading to learn more about the Chevrolet Traverse Redline Edition.

2017 Infiniti QX80 Signature Edition

The Signature Edition returns for 2017

The second-generation QX80 came to be in 2010, when it still had its original name, the QX56. The company’s largest crossover yet was renamed in 2013, when it also gained a significant facelift. Seven years old as of 2017, the QX80 is living its final years on the market, but Infiniti is putting a great deal of effort into keeping it relevant against the competition. At the 2017 Chicago Auto Show, the luxury brand launched a new special-edition model, called the Signature Edition.

Essentially a reheated soup – a Signature Edition version was also offered in 2016 – the limited-edition model aims to offer a blend of "popular equipment and unique design features." While there aren’t many unique design features to talk about, the Signature Edition is indeed equipped with many tech features that are optional on most QX80 trims. The reasons why Infiniti brought it back are very simple. Not only the Signature Edition was a big success in 2016, it also helped the QX80 set an all-time U.S. sales record of more than 16,700 units last year.

“Infiniti’s Signature Editions signify something special for our customers and deliver on our promise to provide an unparalleled level of sophistication with exclusive new content,” said Randy Parker, vice president of Infiniti Americas. “This year, these unique models feature the most sought-after selections to enhance the driver’s experience for our ever-popular Q50 sport sedan and QX80 full-size luxury SUV.

Milking it for all it’s worth is the way to go in today’s industry and I can’t really blame Infiniti for doing this. Let’s see what this "new" Signature Edition is all about.

Continue reading to learn more about the Infiniti QX80 Signature Edition.

2018 Ford Expedition

Ford brings F-150-style technology to its full-size SUV

Ford worked tirelessly to improve the current F-150 by reducing mass and adding efficient turbocharged engines all mounted on a high-strength steel frame. It’s now those same advancements will make their way onto the all-new 2018 Expedition SUV. Ford pulled the covers off the new three-row crossover ahead of the 2017 Chicago Auto Show, and boy, does its F-150 roots shine through.

The 2018 Expedition rides on a modified version of the F-150’s fully boxed steel frame, but uses a four-wheel independent suspension system for a smooth ride. Both the standard-length and long wheelbase version are making the generational jump. The new sheet metal is stamped from aluminum, of course, which Ford says helps save more than 300 pound over the outgoing model. The interior also features the same dashboard and steering wheel as the F-150 and Super Duty. The Expedition does get plenty of bespoke bits inside, including a rotary gear knob, terrain selector controls, and newly redesigned second and third row seats.

Technology improvements are vast, as well, including all the modern active safety equipment like adaptive cruise control, lane keep assist, and automatic emergency braking. The in-dash tech also sees a big improvement, with Ford’s Sync 3 system, Apple CarPlay, Android Auto, and a Wi-Fi hotspot for 10 devices in a 50-foot perimeter around the SUV.

As expected, the Expedition is powered by Ford’s updated 3.5-liter EcoBoost V-6, which mates to the new 10-speed automatic transmission. Ford has not, however, released horsepower and torque specs, but we’re betting it will match the F-150’s 375 horsepower and 470 pound-feet of torque. If so, the Expedition will solidify itself as one of the most powerful of the domestic three-row SUVs – not counting the outrageous SRT 392 Durango Dodge just debuted, of course.

So without further summarizing, let’s jump into all the details Ford has released.

Update 02/07/2017: Ford has debuted the all-new 2018 Expedition ahead of the 2017 Chicago Auto Show. The three-row SUV features a host of F-150-based updates, along with a slew of safety upgrades. And as expected, the body is aluminum.

2017 Volvo S90 Inscription – Driven

Luxury from the land of Sweden

Volvo has been around for 90 years and made some pretty impressive vehicles. I’d dare to say the S90 Inscription has eclipsed them all. Let me back up. Volvo’s new quest for dominance in the luxury segment has yielded two very impressive results – the second-generation XC90 SUV that debuted for the 2015 model year and the new-for-2017 S90 sedan. They both share a number on components, from the T5 and T6 four-cylinder engines to the chassis architecture. Best of all, they both share a similar design style that exudes a sense of reserved affluence.

I recently spent a week with the 2017 Volvo S90 fitted with the range-topping Inscription package and several high-end options. Though the S90 carries a base price in the mid $40,000 range, my tester felt like it cost double that, though somehow it didn’t. A rich interior is key in this positive deception, with padded leather, open pour wood accents, and aluminum trim pieces covering every inch of touchable space inside the cabin. What little plastic remains is high-quality and coated in a piano black finish.

Technology also abounds in this machine. An impressive infotainment system and digital gauge cluster further perpetuate the feeling of luxury and its merger with technology. The T6 powertrain is a marvel of modern internal-combustion engine design. And of course, a slew of active and passive safety systems continue proving Volvo remains a leader in vehicle safety.

So what’s it like to live with the S90? Keep reading for the full details.

Continue reading for the full driven review.

2018 Chevrolet Traverse

The next-gen Traverse is primed for its reveal at the Detroit Auto Show!

The venerable and humble Chevrolet Traverse is borrowing upscale design cues from its Tahoe and Suburban big brothers. The change happens for the 2018 model year as the Traverse moves into its second generation with little more than an engine option and the name carrying over. This unibody, three-row crossover is new from the lug nuts up. It rides on an elongated C1XX platform shared with the Cadillac XT5 and new-for-2017 GMC Acadia. Chevy expects the Traverse to lead the segment in interior volume and third-row legroom, making it a decent alternative to a minivan. It might still be a crossover, but its humility has gone missing.

The Traverse has been around since 2009 and has been Chevy’s version of the Lambda-based GMC Acadia and Buick Enclave. With GM’s movement away from the aging Lambda platform, these vehicles migrated (save yet for the Enclave) to the new CX11 chassis. The 2017 Acadia was first out of the gate, but the Traverse now follows. However, the two are not badge-engineered twin anymore. The Traverse has a longer wheelbase that brings more interior volume and a more stately side profile appearance.

The 2018 Traverse now has two available engines – a 2.0-liter turbocharged four-cylinder and the reworked 3.6-liter V-6. Both come mated to a new nine-speed automatic transmission. The Traverse retains its transverse engine mounting and standard front-wheel drive configuration. GM’s new part-time AWD system is optional.

Inside, the Traverse can hold eight people in a 2+3+3 configuration. A seven-seater configuration can be had thanks to optional second-row captain’s chairs. New folding mechanisms in the second row allow for easier folding and third-row entry. With both rows stored flat, the Traverse can swallow 98.5 cubic feet of cargo – nearly four cubic-feet more than the Chevy Tahoe.

Of course, there is more to the 2018 Traverse, so keep reading for the full run-down.

The Impeccable Interior of the 2017 Volvo S90

Volvo rivals the best in luxury car refinements

It might not come as a surprise, but Volvo has been producing some of the finest automotive interiors in the last couple of years. Both the new XC90 SUV and S90 sedan have astoundingly beautiful cabins with the impressive levels of craftsmanship and quality. Well, this week I’ve gotten to experience the S90 Inscription’s interior first hand.

My tester comes decked out with hoards of features and passenger comforts thanks to the optional Inscription package. The Blonde Perforated Nappa Leather seating with charcoal accents throughout the cabin, along with the Linear Walnut wood trim give the Volvo a highbrow, yet not ostentatious feel that’s not often replicated in the industry. What’s more, the impressive fit and finish of the cabin is impeccable. The detailing and tight panel gaps greatly further the feeling of futuristic artisanry. The metallic trim work covering the Bowers & Wilkins premium sound system’s speakers and following the curvature of the Walnut is purely tasteful. It perfectly fits within the dash and door panels as if the entire assembly was machined from a single piece. In reality, the metal piece that spans from the steering wheel to the passenger’s door is a single piece, bent to curve under the infotainment system.

Everything is covered in soft-touch leather, and what isn’t is Walnut or metal. Barely any plastics make it to the driver’s fingertips. The leather along the armrests is padded for extra comfort. And speaking of padding, the front seats are incredibly well designed with adjustable side bolsters, lumbar, and front leg support. Of course, the standard fore and aft, height, and backrest are power-adjustable, as well. All the leather bits are stitched together with the contrasting thread for a savory appearance.

Adding to the air of luxury and refinement are the in-dash electronics. The driver’s gauge cluster is fully digital and allows for personalization of visible information. It also features an analog and digital style speedometer. The head-up display also gives a speed reading. Then there is the center infotainment system. It appears that Volvo simply installed an Apple iPad into the dash. That’s not a bad thing, of course, as the screen boasts a high resolution and responds to all the usual fingertip commands – and with a familiar light touch of an iPad or iPhone. Normally I don’t like HVAC controls included within the infotainment system, but Volvo’s dedicated placement of the dual-zone climate controls across the bottom of the screen makes for a good user experience.

The rear seats aren’t quite Mercedes-Maybach in comfort, but they are close. More than ample legroom lets even NBA-sized folks get comfy. A center armrest provides a padded platform on par with those up front. Manual window shades help keep the sun and paparazzi away from those riding in back.

All told, the 2017 Volvo S90 is incredibly comfortable and outstandingly well put together. This new chapter in Volvo’s illustrious history is sure to be fondly remembered.

Stick around for more on the 2017 Volvo S90 in the days to come.

2018 Chevy Traverse Goes Upscale in All-New Generation

Tahoe looks combine with crossover functionality making Traverse a solid choice

General Motors is slaying the 2017 Detroit Auto Show with new metal, including the all-new 2018 Chevrolet Traverse. This three-row crossover continues the Traverse’s reign of family-friendly utility, but adds a high-class exterior and upper middle-class interior to the mix, finally reliving the Traverse’s ageing design that’s been around since 2009.

Although a mid-cycle refresh for the 2014 model year kept the hot-selling Traverse moving off Chevy showrooms, the 2018 Traverse marks the first generational change in the nameplate’s history. This new second-generation Traverse now has a far more upscale exterior that shares design cues with the Tahoe and Suburban, along with Chevy’s smaller crossovers and sedans.

The 2018 Traverse rides on GM’s new C1XX platform. Though this is the same platform that underpins the 2017 GMC Acadia, the Traverse’s footprint is larger, allowing for more interior space. Its eight-passenger seating remains, making it one of the segment’s most versatile contenders. Optional second-row captain’s chairs reduce seating to seven, but provide an easier third-row entrance while giving second-row passengers more personal space. Chevy says it has 98.5 cubic feet of cargo room and 33.7-inches of third-row legroom. Both figures are expected to be best-in-class for 2018.

Chevy is introducing a new engine inside the 2018 Traverse. Acting as the standard engine, a 2.0-liter turbocharged four-cylinder comes mated to a nine-speed automatic transmission. The engine makes 255 horsepower and 295 pound-feet of torque, which is more twist than the Traverse’s optional 3.6-liter V-6 produces.

Speaking of the V-6, it’s the same carryover 3.6-liter as before. It does get a power boost to 305 horsepower, but torque remains at 260 pound-feet. It comes mated to the same nine-speed automatic as the four-cylinder.

Two new trim levels arrive for 2018. A new RS trim acts as the entry-level model and is exclusively paired with the 2.0-liter turbo-four. At the opposite end of the spectrum, the Traverse gets Chevy’s High Country trim with the same saddle-leather style seating found in the Silverado High Country. Suede accents in the seats, 20-inch wheels, D-Optic LED headlights, and a trim-exclusive dual-clutch AWD system set the High Country apart.

Chevy expects the 2018 Traverse to hit showrooms in the fall of 2017. Assembly will happen at GM’s Lansing Delta Township plant.

Continue reading for more information.

The Affordable Audi: Volkswagen’s 2016 Passat

Comfortable, roomy, and rather upscale

I’ve been driving the 2016 Volkswagen Passat for the last week as a press loaner. I didn’t think much about the car when I heard it was arriving. After all, I had attended the press launch back last year and basically knew what to expect. But my appreciation for the Passat definitely grew the longer I spent with it.

The four-door sedan has a surprisingly long wheelbase that affords tons of interior room. Rear seat passengers have more than ample legroom, so long as anyone shorter than an NBA player is sitting up front. Headroom for all positions is equally large. Even the trunk is massive, seemingly rivaling that of the old-school Lincoln Town Car.

But it’s not just the roomy space that makes the interior attractive. The Passat has plenty of high-end touches that bring a certain level of luxury to the car. Though the materials might not be up to Audi’s quality, the appearance and overall feel of the cabin is rather upscale, giving the Passat a much richer vibe than its price tag should allow.

Behind the wheel, the same German-ness holds true. The leather-wrapped steering wheel with its thin rim and plethora of controls feels very Audi-ish. The floor-mounted accelerator pedal controls the silky smooth 1.8-liter turbocharged four-cylinder and the shifts from the six-speed automatic are just as amicable. Highway speeds feel leisurely thanks to the quiet cabin and compliant suspension. The Passat just has this air of German flair and an ode to the Volkswagen Group’s pricier divisions.

The Passat might not be a true substitute for an Audi, but with an as-tested price of just $29,230, it’s easy to forgive the few nit-picky cost-saving parts when you’re saving 10 grand.

We have a full driven review of the refreshed 2016 Volkswagen Passat coming soon.

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