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Honda CR-V Arrives at Dealers



TORRANCE, California - The refreshed 2015 Honda CR-V compact SUV starts at $24,150, including an $830 destination charge, reflecting a $200 price increase over the 2014 model.

The midlevel 2015 CR-V EX starts at $26,250, including shipping.

Honda's new top-of-the-line CR-V Touring with front-wheel drive starts at $32,350, including shipping. The 2015 Honda CR-V Touring with all-wheel drive starts at $33,600.

This is the "most significant mid-model cycle refresh" in the CR-V's history, according to Honda. It is designed to position the best-selling CR-V against increasing competition from such vehicles as the Ford Escape, Hyundai Santa Fe Sport, Jeep Cherokee, Mazda CX-5, Nissan Rogue and Toyota RAV4.

Compact SUVs are the hottest segment in the auto market, according to a new Key Insights report from Edmunds.

The stalwart CR-V built a reputation on value-oriented packaging and cabin usability, as opposed to a flashy exterior design. But Honda deviates from that time-tested formula for the 2015 model year with a CR-V makeover that includes a radical new exterior.

Details include a new front end with narrow headlights and a sportier look.

Other major changes include a new Touring model with new driver-assist technologies. A Collision Mitigation Braking System and Lane Keeping Assist System and the first CR-V use of adaptive cruise control are part of the package. The Touring model also features a power tailgate.

The cabin upgrades across the board include a new configurable center console and rear ventilation ducts.

Beneath the hood, the CR-V has a new 185-horsepower 2.4-liter four-cylinder direct-injected engine and continuously variable transmission. Torque gets an 11-percent increase to 181 pound-feet.

Fuel economy has improved 4 percent. The 2015 CR-V with front-wheel drive delivers 27 mpg in city driving and 34 mpg on the highway. The all-wheel-drive CR-V delivers 26 mpg on the highway and 33 mpg in city driving, according to Honda.



Toyota Sold More Than 400k Camrys Last Year



The Toyota Camry is this century's brightest car star. More than 400,000 were sold in the U.S. last year, a volume topped only by Ford and Chevrolet pickups. This begs the question: Why would Toyota call for a Camry pit stop only halfway to the seventh-generation car's checkered flag?

The pat answer is because it can. With an R&D budget claimed to be $1 million per hour, the world's largest car company can afford to shower its mid-size family sedan with financial love, following CEO Akio Toyoda's guileless directive to "build better cars." There are six other reasons. Ford, Honda, Hyundai, Mazda, Nissan, and Volkswagen all offer excellent mid-size alternatives to the compulsively introverted Camry. In August, Honda loaded its shotgun with excess inventory and generous incentives to blast out 51,075 Accords, beating Camry sales by 7032 units.

Toyota Wants to Buff . . . It Up

So only three years after the last full redesign, Toyota has substantially fluffed and buffed the Camry to renew the interest of faithful customers and to (hopefully) draw fresh recruits. The 2015 edition we drove on the Big Island of Hawaii lives halfway between a normal midcycle facelift and a clean-sheet overhaul. Every exterior panel is new except the roof. Adding 22 spot welds in the cowl and around the door apertures improves the stiffness of the unibody. The previous base L model is dead, and there are more versions with an "S" in their name to celebrate Toyota's discovery that even Camry buyers may be entertained by more assertive driving dynamics. Cost-conscious interiors have been upgraded with more soft surfaces, nicer detailing, and contemporary electronic gear. Chassis systems - steering, brakes, suspension - receive minor changes aimed at better ride and feel. The one area receiving no attention is powertrains: The Camry's 2.5-liter four-cylinder, 3.5-liter V-6, and hybrid propulsion system - all of which are dependable and proven, if not exciting - carry on without alteration.



California Accounts For 40 Percent of US Plug-In Sales



Thanks to stricter emissions laws than the rest of the country, California alone accounts for nearly half of plug-in vehicle sales in the US.

46rom December of 2010 to last month, 102,440 plug-in hybrid vehicles have been sold in California, while over the same time frame 250,000 plug-ins were sold throughout the country. That makes up roughly 40 percent of the domestic market when it comes to selling plug-in vehicles, which includes battery-only cars like the Tesla Model S or range-extended cars like the Chevy Volt.

California has set a goal of having 1.5 million plug-in cars on the road by 2025, and passing the 100,000 vehicle mark was big milestone according to Gov. Jerry Brown, but the State still has a long way to go.

The Obama administration also has goals set, hoping for 1 million plug-in cars on the road by 2015. That goal seems much less attainable, as by the end of this year there is only likely to be 300,000 of these vehicles on the road.



Lexus GS F Spied Training to Take on BMW M5



Now that the Lexus RC F is heading to dealerships, the Japanese automaker is working on a high-performance version of its GS luxury sedan.

The stylish RC F coupe was built to compete against the BMW M4 and the next addition to the Japanese automaker's F lineup will be the GS F sedan, which will target the BMW M5 and Mercedes-AMG E63. The GS F takes styling cues from the RC F with a more pronounced front end, sportier wheels and larger brakes.

In the rear, expect a quad-tip exhaust setup and a subtle lip spoiler on the trunk while power will likely come from the same powerplantas the RC F, a 5.0-liter V8 with around 500 to 550 hp.



Toyota of Orange Sponsors Chapman University 5K Run/Walk



Toyota of Orange proudly sponsors the Chapman University 5K Run/Walk. The course takes you through the Old Towne Orange Historic District, including neighborhoods listed on the National Register of Historic Places, finishing on Chapman University's picturesque campus. The Flattest, Fastest and "Funnest" 5K in the World!



2015 Volkswagen Jetta Earns Top Safety Pick + Award



Thanks to structural changes made on the 2015 model, the Volkswagen Jetta has earned a Top Safety Pick + rating from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety.

Volkswagen strengthened the Jetta's A-pillars and door sills, which bumped up its score on the small overlap test. For 2015, the Jetta ranked "Good," up from last year's score of "Marginal." In the tests, the IIHS noted that the side airbag deployed and protected the dummy's head from the vehicle and the outside elements, although the head managed to slide off the airbag and move forward. The 2015 Volkswagen Jetta also scored top marks in other areas, including moderate overlap front crashes, side crashes, roof strength tests, and head restraints and seats. The Jetta's optional forward collision warning system allowed the car to earn the "+" designation after the Top Safety Pick label.

To qualify for the IIHS' highest distinction, vehicles must offer some kind of front crash protection and must earn "Good" ratings in all tests except the small overlap test, which they must score at least "Acceptable." The 2015 Volkswagen Golf and GTI models have also earned TSP+ ratings from the IIHS. Some of the Jetta's competitors have also scored the honor, including the 2014 Honda Civic and 2014 Mazda3.



2015 Ford Mustang Production Begins



Production has officially commenced on the sixth-generation 2015 Mustang at the company's Flat Rock, MI factory. As production ramps up, sales should kick off in the coming months.

The production news isn't just a big deal for American fans. With the new Mustang getting a bespoke right-hand-drive variant, the pony car's worldwide availability has swollen to include 120 different countries, including its home nation.

"Mustang is and will continue to be an automotive icon," Joe Hinrichs, Ford's president of the Americas, said in a statement. "Expanding its availability globally affords our customers around the world the opportunity to have a true firsthand Mustang experience - one unlike any other."

Ford's Flat Rock facility has built the Mustang since the fifth-generation car debuted in 2005. For the 2015 model, the facility was subject to a massive $555-million investment that saw it add a new flexible body shop among other enhancements. Alongside the Mustang, Ford also builds its Fusion sedan.

"What an honor it is for the hardworking and dedicated UAW Local 3000 workers of Flat Rock Assembly Plant to build the next-generation Mustang," Jimmy Settles, a UAW vice president, said. "I don't think there is any place in the world where this vehicle is not known. To build it right here in Michigan is something to be proud of."



Toyota Debuts Its C-HR Concept Hybrid Crossover



Last month, Toyota provided us with some teaser renderings of its C-HR hybrid crossover concept. At the time, although we got a quick look at its outward appearance, it was a little difficult to really get a sense of the thing. Well, now we've had a chance to see it for ourselves at its Paris Motor Show world debut, and can tell you a bit more about it.

The C-HR combines aspects of three of Toyota's other vehicles. According to the company, "The C-HR Concept recaptures the design and packaging ingenuity that spawned the first RAV4, introduces a new version of the sophisticated, full hybrid powertrain technology first realized in the Prius and, inspired by the GT86, targets new levels of dynamism and agility."

For those people who might not immediately recognize the GT86 name, it's essentially the same 2+2 sports car as the Subaru BRZ and the Scion FR-S.

Although inspired by those other vehicles, the C-HR is built around an entirely new platform, designed for what is described as state-of-the-art handling and controllability. It measures 4,350 mm long, 1,850 mm wide, 1,500 mm high, and has a wheelbase of 2,640 mm.

Its new hybrid powertrain is likewise optimized to deliver "a uniquely engaging driving experience matched to 21st century traffic conditions, whilst delivering outstanding efficiency" - although no actual specs have been provided.

The vehicle's lower bodywork is intended to represent the facetted surfaces of a precision-cut gemstone. This includes the shaving off of the corners of the bodyshell, which not only adds to its sculpted look, but also reduces its mass.

Overall, its look is said to be "a further development of Toyota'= s Under Priority and Keen Look design identity." Although there's no word on commercial production of the C-HR, the automaker has at least stated that its styling themes hint at a future design direction for Toyota vehicles.



Villa Ford Teams With LifeStream To Host Blood Drive



General Manager Scott Wade of Villa Ford in Orange, CA was asked why the dealership is partnering with LifeStream to support their blood bank donation program. He pulled out the letter from LifeStream confirming their scheduled date and read the first lines, "Thank you for your continued commitment to savings lives; as a result of our efforts, many patients will see another tomorrow." Wade went on to make a compelling point about the need, "LifeStream must receive at least 500 donations daily in order to support 175,000 transfusions annually - that is a community obligation we are proud to support."

A member of the Wilson Automotive Group, Villa Ford is hosting the Blood Drive on Monday, October 20th, from 11:00am until 4:00pm. LifeStream is an independent, non-profit local blood bank providing blood products and services to more than 50 medical facilities in Southern California. To participate, donors must be over 15 years of age and meet certain criteria set by LifeStream. "The need is pressing," Wade added, "this effort will ultimately meet the need for surgery and trauma patients as well as transplant recipients, burn victims, cancer patients and premature infants."

Another benefit for the local community as well as world-wide is that blood donors will be given the chance to join the Be The Match Registry®. This organization, the largest and most diverse registry in the world, provides a unique opportunity to give life-saving marrow transplants to people in need, including thousands of patients with leukemia.

For more information on the scope of LifeStream and their service to the community, log on to www.LifeStream.org. The October 20th blood drive is at Villa Ford located on 2550 N Tustin Street in Orange County and directions can be found at VillaFord.com.



Lexus NX Nominated For 2015 North American Truck/Utility of the Year.



The Lexus NX has made the short list for the 2015 North American Truck/Utility of the Year, joining 11 other vehicles including the Chevrolet Tahoe, Ford F-150, Porsche Macan, and Toyota Highlander.

Next up, the award judges will choose three finalists from the group before naming a winner at the 2015 North American International Auto Show in Detroit.



2015 Honda HR-V To Be Released This Winter



Hello HR-V. Honda Motor Co. confirmed the name of and released the first official images of the newest addition to its vehicle lineup. Its compact sport-utility vehicle will indeed be called the HR-V, which had been rumored, and it will be on sale this winter at a to-be announced price.20=



2016 Mazda MX-5 Miata Is Unveiled



The wait is finally over for sports car enthusiasts because the 2016 Mazda MX-5 Miata just made its debut in Monterey, Calif.

The highly anticipated, next-generation sports car was unveiled at a live event tonight while simultaneous global reveals were also done in Tokyo and Barcelona. Earlier this year, the popular convertible celebrated its 25th anniversary and now the Japanese automaker looks to the future with its new MX-5 Miata, as it continues to strive on as the best-selling two-seat roadster of all time.

During its unveiling, the Japanese automaker described the new MX-5 Miata as a labor of love with its engineers striving to combine the classic roadster with a totally modern design and state-of-the-art technology. Wider and lower than today's Miata, the new sleek body and design is the Miata's biggest jump in terms of styling from generation to generation. Inside, the company wanted to give the Miata a much higher quality feel to the interior while remaining driver focused.

The 2016 Mazda MX-5 Miata adopts both the company's Skyactiv Technology and Kodo design language and will be rolled out to global markets starting in 2015. Overall, the new Miata is the most compact of any generation MX-5 and is over 220 lbs lighter than the current model.

Unfortunately, the Japanese automaker didn't reveal the juiciest of detailsE2=80=93 that is, what's hiding under the hood and the power it makes. For now, you will have to be satisfied with its striking exterior while we all wait for more detailed information.



Right Toyota Sponsors Relay For Life of North Scottsdale's First Annual Casino Night



Right Toyota recently sponsored a Casino Night at Maggiano's of Scottsdale to help raise money for cancer research, programs and services for patients, survivors, and caregivers through North Scottsdale Relay for Life and American Cancer Society Relay For Life. Their efforts helped raise three times more money than the goal they had set.



2016 Honda Civic Type R to Outperform Even the NSX



The 2016 Honda Civic Type R will usher in a new performance era for the brand.

The Japanese automaker has announced that it'll be bringing a new Honda Civic Type R Concept II to this year's Paris Motor Show wearing a bright blue finish while detailing what will be under the hood.

The 2016 Civic Type R will be powered by a 2.0-liter i-VTEC engine from the company's Earth Dreams Technology family and will produce over 275 hp (280 PS) thanks to a turbocharger helping boost low-end power delivery. But more importantly, Honda is calling the Civic Type-R and its powerplant "unrivalled against" all previous Type R models including the Civic, Integra, Accord and NSX.

According to the car's chief engineer Suehiro Hasshi, the model's appeal will be far greater than just a new high-performance engine lurking under the hood. The 2016 Civic Type R boasts numerous engineering innovations and enhancements that will make it a "true driver's car, worthy of wearing the famous red 'H' badge."

The company also revealed that the Civic Type R will feature a +R button, similar to the BMW's M button. Once activated, the +R mode will heighten engine response while torque-mapping will be changed to a more aggressive and performance-focused setting. In addition, steering will become more responsive and along with the Adaptive Damping System, the Civic Type R transforms to offer the ultimate handling experience.

"In default standard mode, the Civic Type R is exceptionally agile, an everyday sports car with an enjoyable and fluid acceleration," said Hasshi. "The '+R' button brings out a more dynamic and athletic car for the driver, to set pulses racing. The difference in character is immense. The '+R' mode is extreme; the car is ideal for track use and will be appreciated by the genuine sports-driving enthusiast."

The all-new Civic Type R has been developed and engineered for European driving tastes and will go on sale in Europe. No word yet if it'll be heading to the U.S.



Scion FR-S Release Series 1.0 Hits Dealers



If you're familiar with Scion, you likely know all about the Release Series special editions, and back in April, the automaker showed us the first RS example of its FR-S coupe. At that time, we knew the price would come in somewhere "under $30,000," and while that's technically true, the final number is a whopping ten bucks below that $30k mark. Yep, the yellowest Scion can be yours for $29,990, not including $770 for destination.

Only 1,500 of the FR-S RS 1.0 coupes will be made, all fitted with TRD lowering springs, a quad exhaust system, TRD steering wheel, HID headlamps with LED running lights, a TRD shift knob, pushbutton start, black seats and, of course, that aero kit. The $29,990 price applies to cars that use the six-speed manual transmission. If you want the automatic, be prepared to shell out $31,090.



Mazdaspeed3 Release Date Pushed Up a Year



Ever since the hairy-chested Mazdaspeed 3 left the automaker's lineup after the 2013 model year, we've been pining for its return. Adding to our anticipation is the great platform that underpins the all-around-excellent Mazda 3, a car that landed on our most recent 10Best list and handily swept the fine Ford Focus under the rug in a recent comparo.

On a product tear that began with the CX-5 crossover , Mazda has since dished the wholly redone 3 and 6, we're about to experience the great-looking new B-segment Mazda 2, and, of course, the much-anticipated fourth-generation Miata is nigh.

With so much in the pipe, has Mazda forgotten to warm up the 3 for its high-performance partisans? Not exactly. In our "25 Cars Worth Waiting For" issue, we predicted that the next Mazdaspeed 3 wouldn't see the light of day until the 2018 model year. A new, comprehensive report from Automotive News suggests that the timeline has been pushed up a year.

AN reports that the 3 is due for a late-cycle re-engineering in mid-2016, at which time we'll likely see the return of the Mazdaspeed 3 as a 2017 model. Just a year later, a new 3 is due, which means that this iteration of the Speed 3 could be short-lived, not unlike the second-generation Mazdaspeed Miata, which ran for only two years.

Officially, Mazda will comment on none of this, but the new car will almost certainly be turbocharged, offering output somewhere in the neighborhood of 300 horsepower. All-wheel drive is a possibility. The starting price should be somewhere around $30,000, suggesting Volkswagen Golf R levels of performance for loaded - GTI money. You know how when you really have to make use of the restroom and with every step toward the facilities, the urge to relieve yourself intensifies? Yeah, it's like that. Finding out that the new 3 is even closer just makes our anticipatory pangs that much worse.



Ford to Release the 2015 Mustang with the All-New EcoBoost Engine



The 2015 Ford Mustang EcoBoost is the answer to a question that was asked during the last oil crisis. Which, if you were born later than 1979, was blessedly over by the time you arrived. In the aftermath, Ford took a whack at the challenge of creating a sporty fuel-sipper with the turbocharged four-cylinder Mustang SVO, which was available from 1984 through 1986. The market yawned. Fuel prices crashed, and anyway, we don't buy pony cars for their efficiency. A four-cylinder, no matter what its output on paper, is nothing short of the downright emasculation of the American dream.

And yet there's not much to complain about this EcoBoost Mustang other than it's more expensive than the base V-6 while offering very similar performance. Also, it drones like, well, like a four-cylinder. Ford has tried to punch up the exhaust note via the stereo system, but it's no use. This turbo four speaks with no more verve than any Audi turbo four. And that's a high compliment, because the engine, as well as the car it's installed in, is quite refined.

Just a few minutes behind the new Mustang's wheel convince you that Ford was aiming high with this car. The cabin isolation, the structural stiffness, the body control, and the finish quality are huge improvements over the last model. Is it all down to the independent rear suspension? Sure, some of it is. Over cracked pavement the car doesn=E2=80= =99t shudder or clomp as hard as it did before. And a midcorner pavement heave isn't going to have you fighting the steering wheel as you once did, because such things are now digested without complaint by the unsprung bits.

Ah, but what about the four's acceleration? On the track, it lays down numbers almost identical to the last V-6 model , which was more than 100 pounds lighter than our Premium-trim automatic-transmission 2015 Mustang EcoBoost. The 60-mph mark comes in 5.2 seconds, the quarter-mile covered in 13.9 seconds at 98 mph. This is about what pre-Coyote-engine Mustang GTs once ran. So the EcoBoost is no EcoDud.

As with any turbo, there's some hesitation as the turbo boils up. But this a high-tech aluminum engine , fitted with direct injection and cam phasing (it even takes regular gas!), and it doesn't make you wait long. Nor are its power lumps especially pronounced. The torque flows in a pretty even rush to the transmission, and in most situations you have to be looking for the turbo lag to really notice it. As we said, refined!

Ford tuned the six-speed automatic to be a willing partner, meaning it downshifts quickly and gets the 2.3-liter spinning when you want a rapid departure. No, it's not as neck-bending as the V-8, nor is it quite as instantaneous as the V-6, but when the power comes, it comes big enough to break the rear loose.

The EcoBoost drives similarly to the new GT , in that the basic suspension tune is forgiving and bumpy roads produce not a slamming but only a light rocking in the body. Around corners, this highly optioned car's hefty mass - it weighed 3663 pounds - pulls the body into a noticeable lean, but the car doesn't wallow or flop. It lets the weight set and then cuts a clean path through the corner.

Everything about this Mustang is upgraded, from the dashboard trimmings, which now include the optional full-zoot MyFord Touch system, to the way its stretched sheetmetal and slip of a roofline look modern going down the road. Ford's job was to update its icon, and we'd say the mission was accomplished with aplomb.



2015 Toyota Tundra Goes V8 Only



To stay relevant in a quickly changing segment, Toyota is updating its half-ton pickup truck for 2015.

Buyers will no longer be able to buy a V6 engine in the Tundra, making it a V8-only truck. That means the standard engine becomes a 4.6-liter V8 that pumps out 310 hp and 327 lb-ft of torque, while the top-dog 5.7-liter V8 with 381 hp and 401 lb-ft of torque remains as the most powerful option.

Playing catch up to every other half-ton, Toyota will now offer an integrated trailer brake controller on trucks equipped with the 5.7-liter V8 and optional tow package. Up until now, Tundra owners had to install an aftermarket unit if they wanted a controller for the trailer brakes, though that remains the norm on any Tundra with the 4.6-liter V8.

To round out the upgrades, buyers can now get a spray-in bedliner straight from the factory and a new under seat storage tray on certain double cab models.

Also new for 2015 is the Tundra TRD Pro, an purpose built off-road truck that is meant for desert running. The TRD Pro gets upgraded suspension and style to set it apart from the lineup.



2015 Ford F-150 Payload, Tow Ratings Announced



Ford announced official towing and payload ratings for the 2015 F-150 pickup truck today, boasting best-in-class status on both counts.

The company said its new half-ton can carry up to 3,300 lbs and is able to tow a maximum 12,200 lbs thanks in large part to weight savings tied directly to weight savings realized through aluminum body panels. In all configurations, the company said its new truck is 700 lbs lighter than the model it replaces, which will also help it to be at least five percent more fuel efficient than the old model and up to 20 percent more efficient.

Models equipped with the 3.5-liter EcoBoost V6E2=80=93 by far the engine with the greatest market penetrationE2=80=93 comes with a maximum payload rating of 3,180 lbs and is rated to tow the maximum 12,200 lbs that Ford announced today. V8-equipped models can handle the 3,300 max payload rating Ford announced today and come with a lower max tow rating of 11,100 lbs, which is still an improvement of 1,100 lbs over the previous model.

Ford said the trucks will begin arriving at dealers later in the year following a preview event being held with the media this week.

When it arrives in showrooms, Ford will not only be pitching the new pickup as a more efficient and capable competitor in the half-ton class, but as a truck with particularly sophisticated available technology. An optional 360-degree camera will make it easier for drivers to fit the truck into tight spaces in much the same way that Nissan offers its "AroundView" monitoring system on its cars and SUVs. The camera equipment is also designed to make navigating tight sections in off-road courses easier and to simplify connecting the hitch to a trailer.



Toyota Fuel Cell Vehicle to be Named 'Mirai'


Toyota has a name for its new hydrogen fuel cell vehicle.

Citing an unnamed source, a Bloomberg report reports that the new car will be called the Mirai, although the company hasn’t made an official announcement confirming that yet. Despite that, Toyota trademarked the name in the U.S. and is expected to make an official announcement about the nameplate closer to when the car goes on sale.

So far, Toyota is only referring to the vehicle as the FCV (concept car picture above) and is expected to begin selling it in fall, 2015 to customers in California. The Mirai will cost roughly $69,000 when it goes on sale and Toyota hopes that the car will woo people who might otherwise consider an electric car. The primary advantage hydrogen-powered vehicles have over EVs is that they are able to refuel in about the same time as a conventional gasoline-burning vehicle.

Trouble is, it’s tricky to find a station that sells hydrogen fuel. According to the U.S. Department of Energy, there are currently only 12 station in the U.S., of which 10 are in California. Toyota and Honda are gearing up to launch new hydrogen-powered vehicles in California and Hyundai began delivering its hydrogen-powered Tucson last month.

More stations are on the way in California and in 2013 Gov. Jerry Brown signed a new law that provides $20 million per year toward a targeted 100 hydrogen stations in the state by 2024.



Record Number of Reveals Expected at L.A. Auto Show


Like it or now summer is rapidly winding down. Before long students will be heading back to school and auto-show season will begin once again. Getting ready for the fall, a record number of global vehicles are expected to debut at this year’s Los Angeles Auto Show.

Press days for the event run from November 18 to the 20, which is just a couple months away. Twenty-five global premieres are expected from 13 different car companies including Acura, Chrysler, General Motors, Scion and Volvo to name just a handful. Beyond these verified reveals several other manufacturers have yet to confirm their plans.

The models on display promise to span the length and breadth of this industry, from flagship SUVs and high-end sedans to fuel-sipping models and zero-emissions vehicles.

Beyond the auto show proper there’s also the Connected Car Expo, which runs in conjunction with press days. This event focuses on the latest trends in mobility and connectivity. Companies including Garmin, Continental and Verizon will participate.



Ford Announces Lifetime Brake Pad Guarantee


Ford has launched a Lifetime Brake Pad Guarantee program.

The American automaker has announced a new point-of-sale program that will be available at Ford andLincoln dealerships as well as Quick Lane Tire & Auto Centers that provides Ford owners with no-cost replacement Motorcraft brake pads purchased as of July 1, 2014. According to a release from Ford, Motorcraft brake pads that wear down to less than three millimeters will be replaced for free as long as the customer owns the vehicle.

"This program reflects our commitment to providing customers with an excellent ownership experience regardless of the age of their vehicle," said Ford customer service boss Frederiek Toney. "Plus, when you purchase Motorcraft parts at a Ford or Lincoln dealer, or a Quick Lane Tire & Auto Center, you know you’re getting the right parts installed by the right people. Motorcraft parts are the officially recommended parts for Ford, Lincoln and Mercury vehicles, and these technicians are factory-trained and certified to service our products."

Customers will still have to pay for labor and installation costs for replacing the pads, as well as the cost of other parts needed to return the brake system to originaloperating condition, but the pads themselves will be free. The program applies to Motorcraft brakes replaced on any Ford, Lincoln or Mercurypassenger vehicle and certain commercial vehicles.



Toyota TRD Pro Pricing Announced


The pricing of the Toyota Tacoma TRD Pro and 4Runner TRD Pro were announced today, with the Tacoma emerging as the most affordable off-road ready Toyota pickup truck you can get.

The starting price of $36,410 (including destination) is for a Access Cab Tacoma with a V6 and six-speed manual transmission. Double Cab models cost $37,320 including destination, while adding a five-speed automatic will cost you $980.

The Tacoma TRD Pro comes with 16-inch black beadlock-style TRD alloy wheels with BFGoodrich LT265/70R16 A/T tires. The Taco also comes with TRD-tuned springs that feature a 1.75-inch lift for the front, and a decreased spring rate. Helping to improve the performance credentials of the Tacoma, it also comes with a TRD Exhaust.

The 4Runner TRD Pro comes in at $41,995 including destination and sports 17-inch matte black TRD alloy wheels with Nitto Terra Grappler P265/70R17 A/T tires.The suspension is also revised with TRD-tuned front springs, which increases the front height by 1-inch. The 4Runner also features quarter-inch thick aluminum front skid plate with “TRD” stamped in large font.

Expect the Tacoma TRD Pro to go on sale in early August, while the 4Runner hits dealerships in September. No pricing has been announced yet for the Tundra, which is expected to go on sale in the fall.



Lexus RC F Spotted in the Wild Once More


The Lexus RC F originally made its debut at the Detroit Auto Show earlier this year as the brand’s latest sports coupe. Powered by a 5.0-liter V8 that will sport over 450 hp according to the Japanese automaker, the RC F is poised to compete with other luxury sports cars such as the BMW M4.

Recently, the company held a contest and asked its fans to help name the new orange paint shade that was added to the RC F’s palette, with Solar Flare winning the vote.

Along with at least 450 hp, the RC F is expected to have at least 383 lb-ft of torque and the powerplant will be mated to an eight-speed automatic transmission. The newest Lexus model is expected to arrive dealerships later this year and expect pricing to be announced closer to its launch.



2015 Ford Mustang specs revealed, GT to pack 435 HP


The 2015 Ford Mustang sounds great so far – at least on paper. Ford has just announced specs for the latest version of the iconic pony car in Dearborn, telling Autoblog that it will pump out as much as 435 horsepower and 400 pound-feet of torque from its 5.0-liter V8.

Those gaudy figures power the naturally aspirated GT model, and they easily eclipse the "more than" 420 hp and 390 lb-ft that Ford originally estimated.

The 2.3-liter turbocharged EcoBoost four-cylinder makes 310 hp and 320 lb-ft, and it's the first turbo Mustang since the 1986 SVO.

The 3.7-liter V6, which has by default become the entry-level model, is rated at 300 hp and 280 lb-ft. Power is down slightly from 2014's output of 305 hp to slot the naturally aspirated six-cylinder below the EcoBoost four banger.

The Mustang will start at $24,425, including destination charges, when it goes on sale later this year.

Ford significantly redesigned the Mustang for 2015. It has a new suspension featuring an independent rear setup, beefier brakes, an upgraded infotainment system with MyFord Touch and more interior space. It's all wrapped in sleeker styling that accentuates its fastback silhouette and improves aerodynamics while still channeling the appearance of the original 1960s pony car.

Meanwhile, fears that the Mustang's new technologies would result in a significant weight gain were overstated. According to a Ford slide shown at the Dearborn presentation, the lightest model is the EcoBoost four-cylinder with an automatic transmission, which checks in with a base curb weight of 3,524 pounds. That's only 28 pounds heavier than last year's lightest model, the V6 with a manual.

The rest of the lineup is similarly trim. The base curb weight of the 2015 V6 fastback with a six-speed manual transmission is 3,526 pounds, a 30-pound increase from the 2014 model. A V6 with an automatic is 3,530 pounds (up just 12 pounds), followed by the EcoBoost with a manual (3,532 pounds).

The GT packed on 87 pounds, and now weighs 3,705, and the GT with an automatic gained 54 pounds to now weigh 3,729 pounds.

Ford product chief Raj Nair said the focus was on the power-to-weight-ratio (11.36 pounds per hp for the lightest EcoBoost, 8.52 pounds per hp for the GT) and called the new generation "the greatest, most advanced performing Mustang we've ever done."

As we've noted, these performance figures are even better than Ford (albeit conservatively) projected. But if they aren't enough to quicken your pulse, sit tight. Ford's Special Vehicles Team is hard at work on something that promises to be still more menacing. Stay tuned.



New Mazda RX-7 May Get Turbo Rotary


Mazda isn’t only working on a next-generation rotary engine, but a turbocharged one at that.

According to a recent report from Motoring, the new RX-7 will make its debut in 2017 and the Japanese automaker is currently focusing its development on a twin-scroll turbocharged rotary engine with a rumored output of around 450 hp. The 2017 launch will also coincide with the rotary’s 50th anniversary.

An earlier prototype of the next-generation RX-7 was believed to be powered by a naturally-aspirated rotary based on a 16X configuration and with "laser ignition. "The test mule was said to produce around 300 hp. Since then, Mazda has decided that the next-gen sports car needs more power, adding on a turbo and going back to testing.

The first prototype was based on a reinforced variant of the next-generation MX-5 platform, but with more power on the horizon the company has opted to significantly rebuild a former RX-8 platform to test with.

As for the upcoming model's name, it is believed that Mazda is still on the fence whether to call it an RX-7 or RX-9. Both have been registered with Japan's trademark office.



Ford F-150 Pickup Tops List For 'American-Made'


As Americans struggle despite a reviving economy, a tough pickup truck straight out of Detroit was named Monday as the leader on Cars.com's American-Made Index.

Second place may come as a surprise: Toyota Camry. Although it's made by a Japanese company — and the profits are shipped across the Pacific — the car is made at U.S. plants with mostly U.S. parts.

The American-Made Index, in its ninth year, rates cars based on two key pieces of information that can be found on the window stickers of every new car: final assembly point and the vehicle's domestic-parts content. The labels show the percentage of U.S. and Canadian parts. (By congressional mandate, the American Automobile Labeling Act lumps Canada into the same "domestic" pool.) In addition to showing where the car was built, the label will tell you where its engine and transmission were made, as well.

It doesn't hurt that Ford's F-150 and its heavy-duty variants are, together, the nation's top-selling vehicle of any sort. Toyota Camry is the top-selling car in the USA.

After F-150 and Camry come GM's Michigan-built three-row crossover siblings, Buick Enclave, Chevrolet Traverse and GMC Acadia. Dodge Avenger sedan, meanwhile, placed third last year but faces immediate discontinuation without a clear successor and is disqualified.

The 2014 list has four newcomers: the Chevrolet Corvette, Honda Ridgeline, Honda Crosstour and Dodge SRT Viper. This is the first year any of those have made the list.

That's because only these 10 cars were eligible for the index, the fewest in the study's nine-year history. For the 2014 model year, just 13 models assembled in the USA have domestic-parts content of 75% or higher, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. Three of those, including the Avenger, were disqualified because they're being discontinued.

In the 2013 model year, 14 cars met that threshold. Twenty cars met the threshold in the 2012 model year, and 30 cars met it a year before that.

Here's the 2014 list by model and where it is manufactured:

1. Ford F-150; Dearborn, Mich., and Claycomo, Mo.
2. Toyota Camry; Georgetown, Ky., and Lafayette, Ind.
3. Honda Odyssey; Lincoln, Ala.
4. Toyota Sienna; Princeton, Ind.
5. Toyota Tundra; San Antonio
6. Toyota Avalon; Georgetown, Ky.
7. Chevrolet Corvette Stingray; Bowling Green, Ky.
8. Honda Ridgeline; Lincoln, Ala.
9. Honda Crosstour; East Liberty, Ohio
10. Dodge SRT Viper; Detroit



New Volkswagen Crossover to be Built in Chattanooga


We know that a new seven-seat crossover is on its way from Volkswagen, and now it seems that the mystery of where it will be built has been solved.

According to Reuters, VW is nearing a decision to choose its plant in Chattanooga, Tennessee to build the crossover, rather than the company's new facility in Puebla, Mexico.

Tennessee is offering a lot of incentives to make sure that VW chooses the state, including tax breaks, free land and infrastructure upgrades worth up to $300 million.

An attempt to save falling sales in North America, the new crossover should launch sometime next year as a 2016 model. The brand has already offered us a glimpse of the new crossover with the CrossBlue Concept (picture above), which was motivated by a plug-in hybrid diesel power train.

Volkswagen's U.S. deliveries fell by seven percent in 2013 as a push into the midsize car market didn't pay off. The new crossover, which may be only be sold in North America, is showing VW's commitment to the North American market.



2015 Toyota Sienna Makes Debut


Toyota has improved its Sienna minivan bumper to bumper for the 2015 model year.

The Japanese automaker unveiled the 2015 Sienna online today through the eyes of three social media-savvy parents. Along with minor changes to the Sienna's exterior, Toyota improved the van’s handling and added a more upscale interior with better materials and more technology. One of those technologies is the Drive Easy Speak feature, which utilizes the vehicle’s built-in microphone to amplify the driver's voice through the rear speakers. That's right, parents will no longer have to shout to the passengers in the back.

The 2015 Toyota Sienna will make its first public appearance at Artscape in Baltimore from July 18 to July 20. Attendees will be able to check out the 2015 Sienna's new features including the optional 4.2-inch, color multi-information display, available LED daytime running lights, capacitive switches on the optional seven-inch touchscreen, the optional pull-down conversation mirror and the available black leather interior with white stitching. While minor, Toyota has also updated the Sienna's gauges in the instrument panel with a modern look.

Remaining one of the safest minivans on the market, the 2015 Toyota Sienna comes standard with eight airbags, the most in its class. A panaromic back-up camera is now standard and has virtual guidelines to help navigate. Lastly, the Japanese automaker noted that it’s now easier to securely install children's car seats with four LATCH locations.

"Today's parents are embracing their life stage and those relatable family moments that make us laugh and feel connected," said Jack Hollis, vice president of Toyota Division marketing at Toyota Motor Sales, U.S.A., Inc. "The 2015 Toyota Sienna seizes that same spirit of fun, everyday experiences with family and fits into the modern family dynamic. That is why Toyota chose to introduce the newest 'Swagger Wagon' to the world through a creative lens."



Lexus Fans Name New RC F Color 'Solar Flare'

A competition was held on social media to name one of the eye-catching colors that will be available on the new Lexus RC F, and the brand has chosen a winner.

This bright orange will be called "Solar Flare," a name that was submitted by five different commenters on Lexus' Facebook page. The final list was comprised of 10 different choices, which were presented to Lexus UK Director Richard Balshaw, who selected the overall winner.

The RC F will hit dealerships sometime in very late 2014, sporting the most powerful V8 Lexus has ever stuffed in a production car. Exact numbers are still not available, but Lexus says the car will have more than 450 hp.



Toyota Fuel Cell Vehicles to Arrive by End of 2014

Toyota is pushing forward ahead of schedule with its plan to launch a hydrogen fuel cell vehicle.

The Japanese automaker is expected to enter production by mid-December before arriving in showrooms by year end according to a report by Japan Times. Toyota, Honda and Hyundai are all working quickly to launch new hydrogen fuel cell vehicles. Previously, Toyota planned to roll out its hydrogen car in 2015.

Hyundai's hydrogen-powered Tucson crossovers began arriving in California late last month.

Toyota previewed its hydrogen car with the FCV Concept (pictured) during the Tokyo Motor Show last November. Hydrogen-powered vehicles use an electric powertrain that extracts energy from hydrogen. One of the biggest advantages they hold over plug-in electric vehicles is their ability to refuel in roughly the same amount of time as one with an internal combustion engine.



Toyota Announces Best Sales Month In Six Years

Toyota's May tally of 243,236 sales was the automaker's highest monthly result in six years in the U.S. and up 12.6% from year-ago on a daily-selling-rate basis, WardsAutodata shows.

Toyota sold 257,404 vehicles in May 2008, an any-month record.

"May was just one of those months where everything came together for the industry," Bill Fay, group vice president-Toyota Div., tells media today during a conference call, citing the five weekends in the month and rising consumer confidence as motivators.

Not surprisingly, Toyota's highest-volume models drove the automaker's gains. But unique in recent months, cars outsold the brand's light-truck offerings.

The Corolla saw its biggest increase yet since the 11th generation went on sale in September, up 27.0% to 36,611 units, while sales of the non-hybrid Camry rose 22.3%, to 44,385.

Counting Camry Hybrid's 5,199 deliveries, May 2014 was the biggest month for the Toyota midsize car since August 2009, when 54,396 were sold.



25th Anniversary Mazda Mx-5 Miata Sold Out In 10 Minutes

The Mazda MX-5 Miata is not known for its speed, but there is one thing that the new special edition MX-5 did quite quickly: Sell.

The 25th anniversary edition of the car, of which just 100 units were produced, managed to all sell out in just 10 minutes. Mazda had anticipated the order program would stay open from May 20 to May 31 or until 250 customers had signed up, the latter of which happened in just 10 minutes.

Out of the 250 customers, Mazda North America will give top priority to the first 100, who will be contacted directly. Once purchase intent and transmission selection is confirmed, the car will be shipped to the customer's local dealer beginning in late summer.

The car costs $33,000 when equipped with the manual, or bumps up to $33,450 with the automatic.

It only comes coated in Soul Red Metallic paint with black for the A-pillars, window surround, mirrors and Power-Retractable Hard Top (PRHT). Mazda also says that only the best engine components, meeting the highest tolerances were selected for the pistons, connecting rods and flywheel to ensure that the engine revs more freely.



Honda Accord Dethrones Toyota Prius as Best-Selling Car in California

The Honda Accord bested the Toyota Prius as the top selling vehicle in California during the first quarter of 2014. Toyota's hybrid has been the bestselling vehicle in California for two consecutive years, and could still take the top spot when 2014 is over. But for now, the Accord sold 15,611 units during the first quarter while Toyota sold 15,318 Prius hybrids.

The trend continued in third and fourth place, as the Honda Civic sold 14,627 units and the Camry was fourth in California with 14,389 cars sold. Fifth place went to the Toyota Corolla, which had sales of 13,350 units.

As for the fastest-growing brand in California for the first quarter, Chrysler surprised with registration of new Jeep vehicles rising almost 57 percent compared to last year. Ram truck sales were up 49 percent to 5,286 while Fiat was up 78 percent to 3,514.



Honda Rumored to Bring Back the S2000

Honda will reportedly bring to market a spiritual successor to the S2000.

The mid-level sports car is part of a three car plan reports AutoExpress and will sit below the upcoming NSX halo model and an entry-level S660 model. All three models will feature a mid-engine layout.

A coupe, rather than a roadster, the reborn S2000 will supposedly make use of both turbocharging and hybrid technology in order to deliver both fuel economy and real performance.

The engine will be donated from the upcoming Civic Type-R, which will utilize a 2.0-liter 4-cylinder and deliver make at least 280 hp. It's believed that engine output could be increased to up to 350 hp for the new S2000.

Reportedly, it will also make use of hybrid technology developed in conjunction with the McLaren F1 team through some sort of all-wheel drive system – though AutoGuide has reported in the past that McLaren doesn't foresee its hybrid technology being used on anything other than the million-dollar P1.

The latest rumor of an S2000 successor, even if this report of a mid-engined, AWD, turbocharged hybrid coupe does prove to be true, it's hard to see how it would have anything in common with the naturally aspirated rear-wheel drive roadster the brand discontinued in 2009.



2015 Acura TLX Unveiled at New York Auto Show

Generally, a concept car is a distant precursor to the production model, but Acura didn't take that tack with the TLX.

You see, the production model, which debuted today at the 2014 New York Auto Show, looks and sounds almost identical to the concept that we saw at the 2014 Detroit Auto Show. The Acura 'Beak' design is still present, along with the jewel-eye headlights which have become a staple for the brand.

Acura has discontinued the TL and TSX, so the TLX will replace both cars. Despite being 3.8-inches shorter than the 2014 TL, the car maintains the same wheelbase and front to rear passenger seating distance. All in, the TLX two-wheel drive with the V6 engine is expected to weigh in just under 3,600 pounds.

Two engines are available with the TLX, either a 2.4-liter four-cylinder engine pumping out 206 hp and 182 lb-ft of torque, or a 3.5-liter V6 that makes 290 hp and 267 lb-ft of torque. Each engine is matched exclusively to its own transmission, with the four-banger hooked up to an eight-speed dual clutch with a torque converter while the V6 is mated to a nine-speed automatic.

Fuel economy ratings for the 2.4-liter two-wheel drive model is anticipated to be 24 mpg city, 35 highway and 28 mpg combined. For the two-wheel drive six-cylinder model, Acura expects 21 mpg city, 34 highway and 25 combined. At the top of the line, the all-wheel drive TLX model, which is the only model with stop/start, is rated at 21 mpg city, 31 highway and 25 mpg combined.



Lexus IS Next to Get Turbocharged 4-Cylinder Engine

The IS sports sedan will be the next product in the Lexus lineup to gain a turbocharged engine.

Speaking to AutoGuide today at the New York Auto Show a company representative confirmed that the new turbocharged 2.0-liter 4-cylinder announced for the NX crossover will soon be offered in the IS.

Currently the base IS250 model makes use of an antiquated 2.5-liter V6 engine. Rated at 204 hp it's not only down on power compared to turbocharged 4-cylinder rivals but it also offers inferior fuel economy.

The company rep who wished to remain anonymous said that the upcoming NX200t model will make 237 hp in production trim, while that number could be increased to closer to 250 for the IS.

The new NX will also debut with a hybrid engine similar to that offered in the ES300h, making roughly 200 hp and delivering approximately 40 MPG combined. While an IS300h model is available overseas, Lexus has not said if it will be offered in North America.



California DMV Announces New Self-Driving Car Rules

Self-driving vehicles are creeping toward public adoption at a not-so-slow pace and the California DMV just announced rules that bring them closer to the mass market.

New regulations governing how manufacturers can test autonomous vehicles on public roads in the state have been announced and will take effect on September 16. Current regulations only deal with testing requirements for manufacturers and not the operation of self-driving vehicles by the public.

The rules that come into place in September deal with manufacturers testing vehicles, but the California DMV said it expects to release regulations for the public to "drive" autonomous cars on public roads by January 1, 2015.

Under the new rules, manufacturers are required to file an application the costs $150. Assuming the application is accepted, manufacturers will be allowed to have up to 10 vehicles on the road with up to 20 people licensed to operate them.

Manufacturers will be required under the new regulations to register the vehicles with the DMV and to use qualified test drivers who must complete a training program. Any accidents or incidents where the autonomous driving function needs to be overridden must be reported to the DMV and a $5 million insurance policy is compulsory. Any manufacturer applying for the public road permit also needs to have completed testing under closed course conditions before venturing onto roads with other drivers.



VW Plug-In Hybrid Golf Wagon Spied in US

It looks like Volkswagen is getting ready to release a wagon version of the plug-in hybrid Golf GTE, and it might even be sold in the U.S.

These photos, snapped near the San Francisco airport, show a VW Golf GTE Wagon completely undisguised. Full specifications on the GTE have already been released, though up until now we have only seen the GTE badge on the shorter Golf hatchback. Hybrid and diesel-powered wagons are usually reserved for Europe, so spotting this vehicle in the US is a surprise.

Automakers regularly bring Europe-only vehicles to the U.S. for testing, so this doesn't mean that the Golf GTE Wagon is coming. Volkswagen is planning to sell both the GTE hatchback and Golf SportWagen here in the States, so it isn't a stretch to think that the brand would offer an electrified wagon.

The GTE offers 201 hp and 258 lb-ft of torque with up to 31 miles of range in all-electric mode. Total driving range is said to be 584 miles. Power comes from a 1.4-liter turbocharged engine combined with an electric motor, and VW says the battery will take on a full charge in about 3.5 hours.

Details regarding this wagon are sparse, as it was posted on a forum with no details. We reached out to Volkswagen USA for an official response and have yet to hear back.



Honda Marks 20 Million Vehicles Made In The USA

Japanese automakers manufacturing in the United States is nothing new. But it was in November of 1982 when the first Honda Accord rolled off the assembly line in Marysville, OH. It was the first Japanese vehicle assembled in the US, and in the nearly 32 years since, Honda has made 10 million Accords here for a total of 20 million cars manufactured in America - enough to span from New York to San Francisco twenty times. It's that double landmark which Honda is now celebrating.

Honda has come a long way in those three decades, keeping that original plant in Marysville on line while expanding to three more - in East Liberty, OH; Lincoln, AL; and Greensburg, IN - with a fifth plant (the Performance Manufacturing Center) opening on the same site in Marysville to build the Acura NSX next year. It also builds engines in Lincoln and in Anna, OH, and automatic transmissions at Russells Point, OH, and Tallapoosa, GA.

Between those seven sites, Honda produces 11 different models, including the Accord, Civic, Crosstour, CR-V, Pilot, Odyssey and Ridgeline as well as the Acura ILX, TL,RDX and MDX. Production keeps on ramping up as Honda produced a record 1.3 million vehicles in the US last year, 95 percent of which are sold in the US.



Toyota Tops Consumer Reports Best, Worst Used Car Values

We often mock Toyota for building boring, soulless cars, but a new study by Consumer Reports suggests that regardless of whether that's true, the company has some of the best used cars on the market. In its report on used cars from 2004-2013, the Japanese automaker had 11 vehicles among its brands on the list - more than any other automaker.

CR breaks the list down by cost and vehicle size, and Toyota has at least one entry at every price point and in nearly every segment. To score a recommendation, a vehicle had to perform well in the magazine's initial tests and score above-average reliability results. It also tried to only suggest cars with electronic stability control. Of the 28 recommended vehicles, Honda/Acura had the second most mentions at six, and Ford Hyundai and Subarumanaged two each.

The Detroit brands also made it to the list, but not in a positive way. Consumer Reportscompiled a list of 22 vehicles it wouldn't recommend because "they have multiple years of much-worse-than-average overall reliability." General Motors had the most unrecommended models on the list at six, but Chrysler and Ford weren't far behind, with five cars each from their brands not making the grade. The full list of recommendations is available on CR's website.



2015 Lexus NX Revealed With Turbo and Hybrid Engines

The newest addition to the Lexus family has been officially revealed.

Say hello to the Lexus NX crossover, the real-world version of the LF-NX concept that debuted at last year's Frankfurt Motor Show. The latest model to join the growing Lexus family of vehicles will make its official debut at the 2014 Beijing Motor Show, but AutoGuidehad a chance to get up-close and personal with the NX ahead of time. (Check out the fully gallery of exclusive images below).

SEE ALSO: Lexus RC F GT3 Racecar Revealed

Set to compete with other premium compact crossovers such as the BMW X1, Audi Q3 and the upcoming Mercedes-Benz GLA-Class, the Lexus NX joins a growing segment that is likely to see even more competition in the coming years.

Compared to the LF-NX concept, the production NX has been toned down significantly, which was expected given how wild the LF-NX concept was. It is, however, still aggressive-looking for a crossover sporting the brand's signature spindle grille, IS-inspired headlights and matte silver accents.

The entry into the luxury compact crossover segment will be available with three powertrains: a gasoline turbocharged NX 200t, a naturally aspirated NX 200 and a hybrid NX 300h. In addition, those looking for a sportier crossover can opt for the NX 200t F Sport (pictured).

The North American market will be spared the NX 200, as it's expected that the power output won't satisfy U.S. drivers. Instead, the base model available will be the NX 200t that is powered by a 2.0-liter turbocharged engine with the choice of front or all-wheel drive. Unfortunately, exact specifications haven't been released yet on the NX 200t, but a Lexus spokesman estimates that power output will be around 220 to 230 hp.

As for the NX 300h, expect it to make use of the same 2.5-liter 4-cylinder hybrid as found in the ES 300h, making roughly 200 hp and achieving an average of 40 MPG.

According to the Japanese automaker, the NX was "developed to have more agility than a SUV plus a bold, eye-catching exterior with its low profile and unique roofline." The crossover will come standard with 17-inch wheels, though 18-inch rollers will be available as an option. Subtle luxury details on the exterior include the innovative Lexus-first door handle with a hidden key barrel and integrated lighting.

SEE ALSO: 2015 Lexus RC F First Look Video

What's inside is what counts and the NX's cabin doesn't disappoint. The standard luxury amenities you would expect in a Lexus product are all on point in the NX. This is also the first model from the automaker to feature the brand's Lexus Remote Touch Interface with a touch pad. There is also an available comprehensive Multi-Information Display that includes a Lexus-first G sensor and boost meter, a heads-up display, adaptive cruise control, blind spot monitoring and rear cross-traffic alert. Finally, the NX will even offer a wireless charging tray for your electronic devices.

Positioned below the popular Lexus RX SUV, the NX will be a fierce competitor in the compact crossover segment given the company's prowess in the automotive market. Expect more details on the powertrains as well as pricing and availability closer to the vehicle's launch.



Honda, Mercedes Top KBB Brand Image Awards

Kelley Blue Book has announced the winners of its 2014 Brand Image Awards, which look at brands with "attributes that capture the attention and enthusiasm" of customers in the market for a new car.

The award is divided up into luxury brands and everyone else non-luxury brands, with a number of sub-awards in each group. There's also a single award for truck brands. Taking the crown for the best everyman brand (for the second year in a row) is Honda, while Mercedes-Benz was the king of the luxury brackets. Ford, meanwhile, had the best image among pickup buyers.

Honda was also named the most trusted brand among shoppers, while Kia, GMC, Mini and Chevrolet also snagged awards for value, refinement, performance and styling, respectively. Secondary winners in the luxury ranks include Lexus, Buick, Porsche and Jaguar. Mercedes was also named the most refined luxury brand.

"The classic saying 'perception is reality' falls true with the Kelley Blue Book Brand Image Awards, as more than 12,000 in-market new-car shoppers have voiced their opinions about today's automakers," said Hwei-Lin Oetken, vice president of market intelligence for KBB. "With strong marketing communications coming from auto manufacturers and dealers, and the increased importance of peer reviews and ratings, consumers today are more influenced than ever to take interest in a brand, ultimately affecting their vehicle purchase decisions."



2015 Ford Focus Heading To NY Auto Show

Ford's worldwide bread-and-butter vehicle will debut in sedan form next week at the New York Auto Show.

This year, New York Auto Show atendees will get their first look at the car with the comapny's new corporate design. Ford already showed the refreshed Focus as a three-door hatchback and five-door wagon during the Geneva Motor Show in March. But the new look isn't the only change U.S. customers can look forward to.

Ford will also begin offering its 1.0-liter turbocharged three-cylinder EcoBoost engine. That's the same powerplant also currently offered in the Fiesta and several other vehicles worldwide including the Mondeo (essentially the Fusion here). Late last year, a Ford spokesman hinted that its global product strategy for the 1.0-liter mill could probably be applied to future plans for the U.S., but declined to elaborate. Fuel economy figures are still unreleased, and the company is understandably being cautious about claiming specific numbers after being ridiculed for its C-Max and Fusion hybrid consumption claims. Still, it "expects the 1.0-liter EcoBoost Focus to raise the bar in fuel efficiency among non-hybrid compact vehicles."

Other key changes for the car include a new "SE" sport package that will offer a revised suspension, 17-inch alloy wheels, new body treatments and paddle shifters for models with an automatic transmission. Presumably, the new cladding will include the spoiler pictured.

The company will also begin offering a heated steering wheel and 10 varieties of wheels from the factory. Ford's MyKey system will be offered as standard equipment on all models.

Long before government mandates come into effect, the Focus will enter 2015 with a standard rearview camera. Other available safety systems include blind spot monitoring and a lane-keeping feature that will prevent the car from drifting out of its current lane. Pricing is still unannounced.



New Mazda MX-5 Chassis Heading To New York Auto Show

It's not quite the full car reveal, but Mazda will be bringing something from its new MX-5 Miata to the 2014 New York Auto Show.

The highly anticipated debut of the next-generation MX-5 Miata isn't expected until the 2015 Chicago Auto Show, but New York Auto Show attendees this year will at least get to check out upcoming sports car's chassis. The new vehicle will be built on a shared-platform with Fiat, though the Italian automaker hasn't made it clear whether it'll be a Fiat or Alfa Romeo model. Mazda however, will be in charge of producing both vehicles.

SEE ALSO: Next Mazda MX-5 Miata to Debut at 2015 Chicago Auto Show

Being displayed alongside the new chassis will be iconic MX-5 models from the past, 15 in total, many of which comes from Mazda's facility in Irvine, California. Since the MX-5 Miata debuted at the 1989 Chicago Auto Show, over 900,000 units have been built and sold.



2015 VW Jetta Gets Official Just Ahead Of NYC Reveal

Volkswagen has offered up the lightest of refreshes on its Jetta for 2015, making subtle styling tweaks to the front, rear and interior while adding a few doses of new equipment. One of the biggest tweaks is the new, 2.0-liter TDI engine, which is now more efficient, returning 45 miles per gallon on the freeway (compared to 42 mpg on the 2014 model) while retaining the previous engine's 236 pound-feet of torque.

Normally, we'd run through visual changes first, but really, the tweaks made are so minor that only the staunchest of VW enthusiast is going to notice them. The new, optional xenon headlights and their 15 LED running lights are the most obvious changes, while the LED taillights of the GLI and Hybrid should stick out a bit. VW's primary focus, it seems, was on the exterior's aerodynamics, rather than aesthetics.

The trunklid is slightly more aerodynamic, as is the front fascia and the rain gutters along the A-pillars. Sill covers, wheel spoilers and an underbody panel on the rear axle are less noticeable aero tweaks. Both the Jetta 1.8T and TDI include an active grille shutter on the radiator, to further reduce drag at speed.

Volkswagen has made some mild tweaks to the interior, with a color multi-function display and some new chrome trim on "mid and high-level trims." The big changes on the interior are the wealth of new driver assistance features. Blind spot monitoring comes to the Jetta, along with cross-traffic alert and frontal collision warning. It's unclear if these will be options or part of a pre-determined package or trim level.



2015 Acura TLX Confirmed For NY Auto Show Debut

Acura has announced that the 2014 New York Auto Show will see the arrival of the production TLX - the sedan that will replace both the TL and TSX in the company's lineup. The TLX was already previewed at the 2014 Detroit Auto Show as a near-production concept model, meaning we already have a very solid idea of what the 2015 model will look like.

What we didn't know, was that Acura has finally gotten on board with some advanced powertrains, rather than just plucking stuff from the Honda parts bin. Okay, that's kind of a lie. We've seen both of the TLX's engines in previous Honda products - a 2.4-liter, VTEC four-cylinder and a 3.5-liter VTEC V6 from the Civic Si and Accord, respectively - but the transmissions will be totally new.

First, an eight-speed, dual-clutch automatic will be paired with the base four-pot. The V6, meanwhile, will get a nine-speed automatic. Unfortunately, there's no mention of a manual gearbox. Acura's Precision All-Wheel Steer will be standard on the front-drive variants for both engines, while the 3.5-liter V6 will also be available with the brand's Super Handling All-Wheel Drive.

While we'll likely have to wait until April 16 for all the details on the TLX to arrive, we'll admit that it sounds like Acura is screwing together a competent sedan, based on the powertrains alone. We'll have much more on the TLX and all the other vehicles debuting in New York, as we get closer to the show.



Lexus USA Dealerships To Get Modern Makeover

Lexus dealerships in the USA will be undergoing a makeover, beginning with a signage color switch from the old gold to a more modern platinum — Edmunds has more:

The appearance change calls on dealers to renovate their dealerships in order to create what Lexus spokeswoman Allison Takahashi called "a new progressive luxury exterior design." Lexus has been using the platinum color logo on its Web site.

Dealers can select one of three templates for the exterior design. By contrast, the Toyota brand uses a cookie-cutter approach, essentially one architectural template for all its dealerships.

Takahashi would not provide a list of changes that are planned for Lexus' dealer body. However, she said the luxury brand's design team is working one-on-one with each dealership.

This move by Lexus USA is part of a larger international push to modernize dealerships with consistent design elements worldwide — Regency Lexus in Vancouver, Canada, was one of the first dealerships to feature the new look:



2015 Toyota Camry Promises To Be A Big Deal

America's best-selling car is getting a makeover set to be seen for the first time at this year's New York Auto Show.

Having been on the market in its current form since late 2011, Camry sales are slowing and Toyotaknows that it's high time to give its bread-and-butter sedan a boost if it wants to keep the coveted top spot. That's exactly what the Japanese giant has planned if an ambiguous and unattributed quote cited by Automotive News proves to be true. According to the trade journal, Toyota says the revised Camry "will challenge conventional expectations of a mid-cycle model change" without elaborating further.

Like being a Sports Illustrated swimsuit photographer or professional chocolate sampler, the line of eager replacements is ever-present. The Camry still enjoyed a big lead last year over the runner-up Accord, but sales slowed this year through February. Through the first two months of this year, other mid-size sedans gained ground on the popular beige-mobile, underscoring how sorely it needs an update.

The New York Auto Show press preview kicks off on April 16, so there isn't long until Toyota explains itself.



Auto Dealers Honor Wilson

David Wilson, owner and chief executive of Wilson Automotive Group in Orange, received the 2014 David F. Mungenast Lifetime Achievement Award from the American International Automobile Dealers Association, Monday during their 44th Annual Meeting and Luncheon in New Orleans.

"I can think of no one more deserving of this year's Lifetime Achievement Award than David Wilson," Cody Lusk, association's president said in a news release. "Along with building a successful dealership group, he has also invested considerable time and resources to better the lives of his employees and those in Orange County. His commitment to the industry as well as his community is truly an example everyone in our industry can look up to."

Wilson was lauded for building one of the ten largest automotive groups in the country. His company has more than 2,000 employees working at 17 dealerships—seven under the Toyota brand, three Lexus and Honda dealerships each, and one dealership per brand for Acura, Ford, Mazda and Volkswagen.

Wilson has been a board member of Orange County Automobile Dealers Association and the Orange County Council of the Boy Scouts of America's Board of Directors. He currently serves on the Chapman University's Board of Trustees.

Toyota of Orange, one of Wilson's dealerships, is the originating sponsor of the "Round Orange Race," which has raised $250,000 for the Orangewood Children's Foundation, and also fundraises for scholarship for Chapman University students.



Mazda Skyactiv 2 Engines to Bring 30 Percent MPG Boost





Already hailed for their efficiency, Mazda's "Skyactiv" engines are bound for a second and third generation aimed at further improving fuel economy.

The company began rolling its line of high compression ratio gasoline engines out in North America in 2011 before proliferating across much of the Mazda portfolio. But the brand is already looking ahead to increasingly stringent emissions standards for 2020 and 2025 in Europe, the first of which will require 95 grand of carbon dioxide per kilometer before battening that figure down to 65 grams five years later.

Mazda hasn't provided a timeline for introducing the new engines, but powertrain development executive Mitsuo Hitomi said the changing standard slated for 2020 will be "the next step."

Part of the plan for improved fuel economy will include an even higher 18:1 compared to the already high 14:1 ratio used in current "Skyactiv-G" gasoline engines. Engines with higher compression ratios can be more efficient by running on a leaner mixture of fuel.

The engines will use something called homogeneous charge compression ignition (HCCI) to ignite the air-fuel mixture within the combustion chamber without using a spark plug similarly to how diesel engines operate. Mazda isn't the only company working on such a technology, either. Hyundai is also currently working on its own line of HCCI engines as well.

Last month, the U.S. EPA named Mazda the most fuel efficient automaker with a fleetwide adjusted fuel economy of 27.1 mpg for the 2012 model year.

For SkyActiv3, Mazda will look at limiting heat fluctuation in the combustion chamber to reduce losses from exhaust and cooling to make more energy available for powering the wheels. The company is aiming for well-to-wheel carbon emissions on par with electric vehicles.



Honda S660 Concept Pays Tribute to a Classic



Honda has released new photos of its S660 concept side-by-side with its inspiration, the classic Sports 360.

The S660 concept, which made its debut at the 2013 Tokyo Motor Show, is a midship rear-wheel-drive model that retains the Sports 360′s original design philosophy while sporting an as-large-as-possible wheelbase and tread. The result is a sports car giving us a glimpse of Honda's new Design Philosophy.

Though Honda has not hinted as to whether the S660 concept will become reality, one thing is for sure: the Japanese automaker is going back to its roots to find inspiration for what will likely be its next sports car.



VW says it has sold over 100,000 TDI diesels in America this year





Volkswagen Group of America has lit oil-burning fireworks to celebrate the sales of more than 100,000 TDI Clean Diesel vehicles in the US between its VW and Audi brands this year. According to VW, that means it is responsible for more than 75 percent of diesel-engined cars and SUVs sold here – perhaps not surprising when the two brands offer a total of 12 diesel models.

What might be surprising is that the number of diesels isn't far off the estimated sales of 90,000 battery electric vehicles and PHEVs, with 15,000 of those accounted for by the Tesla Model S, another 12,000 or so being the Toyota Prius PHEV.

VW's keen to play up the ease of making diesel part of your life, stressing that it doesn't need any change to the refueling infrastructure and that "this is a technology delivering real answers to society's concerns about fuel consumption and greenhouse gas emissions without compromises."



Are you the 2015 Lexus RC F?





With less than two weeks before the start of the 2014 Detroit Auto Show, we're starting to get a better idea of what some of the hot debuts are for this year's installment of America's premiere auto show.

The latest leaked image to hit the internet is what purports to be the Lexus RC F, the Japanese premium brand's long-awaited return to the coupe market and the latest challenger for the upcoming BMW M4, a model that will also be arriving in Detroit. This image was reportedly originally leaked by a Chinese magazine, and was then picked up by our friends at AutoExpress.

The image fits with the teasers and spy shots we've seen of the car so far, meaning that this could very well be the real deal. As we've previously reported, Lexus is expected to offer the RC F with a 460-horsepower V8, while a lower-power RC 350 with two fewer cylinders will also be available. We'll have the full set of details on the RC F when it hits the stage in Detroit.



Ford Expects to be US Best-Selling Brand in 2013





Ford is calling it a little early, predicting that it will be the best-selling brand in the United States in 2013.

It is a pretty safe assumption considering the American brand is currently ahead of Toyota, the second most popular US brand, by 396,041 vehicles sold through November.

Ford has had a successful year, with brand retail sales up 15 percent year-to-date. The company expects to sell more than 2.4 million vehicles in 2013, spurred by growth in just about every segment that Ford sells in.

The Ford Fiesta has already broken its all-time high sales record for 2013 with Ford predicting that 70,000 of the small cars will be sold this year. The Escape is also set for a banner year, with Ford predicting that over 300,000 units will be sold, making this the most successful year for Escape ever.

Hybrid sales have been blowing up at Ford as well, with 2013 sales expected to exceed 80,000 units, nearly triple the amount of hybrids that Ford sold in 2012.



VW Jetta GLI turns 30, celebrates with special edition model





It was 1984 when the Volkswagen GTI powertrain was combined with a trunk in the form of the Jetta GLI. To mark the 30th anniversary, starting next year Volkswagen will only be offering the GLI Edition 30, distinct from the current 2014 on sale by details like 18-inch "Laguna" wheels, a decklid spoiler and Edition 30 badging outside, red accents on the V-Tex leatherette seats, steering wheel and shifter inside.

Power has moved up a skosh in 30 years, the original model's 90-horsepower, 1.8-liter engine supplanted by a 201-horsepower, 2.0-liter turbo unit shifted through six close-ratio gears instead of five. The trim options will drop from three to two, the GLI Edition 30 coming in either standard spec or with navigation.



Lexus Vision Gran Turismo Concept Teased in Sketch





Quite a few automakers are taking part in the "Vision Gran Turismo" project by designing impressive looking concept vehicles and making them available to drive in the Playstation 3 driving simulation game.

Lexus is looking to take part too, teasing us with this sketch of its Vision Gran Turismo vehicle. While it's difficult to make the vehicle out definitively, it does look inspired by the LF-LC concept that Lexus has been showcasing at recent auto shows.

The giveaway features, like the LED headlights and unique shape of the windows help us identify this as a LF-LC, but there are some new features in the sketch that hint at this concept car's customer nature.



2015 Acura TLX to Debut at Detroit Auto Show; Replacing TL, TSX





Acura will complete its lineup refresh with a new model called the TLX, which will debut at the Detroit Auto Show in January.

While technically a concept, keeping true to Acura tradition, it will very closely resemble the production car that will arrive shortly after. The new TLX will replace not only the TL, but also the TSX, which will officially end production in 2014.

"This all-new Acura TLX is the perfect blend of style and muscle with its elegant, well-proportioned exterior that cloaks the true sport sedan chassis and powertrain beneath," said Mike Accavitti, senior vice president, American Honda Motor, Co., Inc. "The sporty characteristics that customers found appealing in the TSX are even more pronounced in this aggressive new TLX."



AutoGuide.com 2014 Car of the Year Award Winner – 2014 Mazda3





Diversity was the name of the game this year as our five finalists represent five different market segments and hail from three different continents. As a recap, the compact 2014 Mazda3, the mid-size 2014 Mazda6, the full-size 2014 Chevrolet Impala, the luxurious Cadillac CTS and the segment busting Mercedes-Benz CLA all made the cut into the final five. But there can only be one winner.

For days we evaluated the finalists, had heated discussions and finally came to a consensus. The 2014 AutoGuide.com Car of the Year is the 2014 Mazda3.



New Toyota Supra Teased in Gran Turismo 6





Talk of a Supra successor from Toyota has been getting louder lately, and now the brand is releasing a concept car that foreshadows what we will see when that car arrives, albeit in digital form.

The new concept will be available as downloadable content in Gran Turismo 6, the popular auto racing video game. It is part of the "Vision Gran Turismo program," which is giving automakers a chance to show off upcoming design ideas through stunning in-game concept cars.

Without expressly saying that this a concept version of the upcoming Supra successor, Toyota coyly announced on its UK blog that, "this is the only image available at the moment but any talk of Toyota and new sports cars always leads to speculation on the introduction of a spiritual successor to the Supra."

There are no details on the car currently, but it is a popular belief that the new Supra will be the result of a collaboration between BMW and Toyota.

"We never comment on speculation but it's clear that there are familiar proportions in the shape of the silhouette," Toyota finished, all but confirming that this a new Supra concept.



Honda, Acura Lead Industry with Six Top Safety Pick+ Models





Honda and Acura leads all automakers with six vehicles in their lineup receiving the highest possible safety rating of Top Safety Pick+ from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS).

The 2014 Honda Accord Sedan and Coupe, Civic Sedan and Odyssey were all named Top Safety Pick+ choices while the Acura MDX and RLX also achieved the highest possible safety rating. The Honda Odyssey is the only minivan to have earned the designation.

Meanwhile, the 2014 Civic Coupe was named a Top Safety Pick along with the Acura TL.

Top Safety Pick+ vehicles not only excelled in crash tests, but are also equipped with technologies to help prevent or mitigate front-to-rear collisions.

"As the industry leader in Top Safety Pick+ ratings for 2013 and now 2014, it's clear that our commitment to offer advanced safety technologies on mainstream products continues to pay dividends to Honda and Acura customers," said Art St. Cyr, vice president of product planning and logistics at American Honda. "Honda and Acura vehicles should be at the top of the shopping list for those who value safety ratings and the engineering prowess required to achieve them."



Mustang Diesel, Hybrid Variants Under Consideration





Considering the 2015 Ford Mustang can be had with a four-liter, turbocharged engine, it shouldn't come as a surprise that hybrid and diesel variants are under consideration.

"We're not looking at diesel at the moment, but given where we need to go with fuel consumption we are looking at all our options," said Ford global powertrain chief Bob Fascetti. "And diesel is one of those options, along with hybrids and electric."

According to Fascetti, the 2015 Mustang could be a platform for Ford to continue seeking ways to maximize fuel efficiency across its fleet. As a way to meet that goal, the new Mustang could see a diesel powerplant under its hood, as well as electrified variants of the popular car.

And considering the 2015 Mustang is now a global product, it's not a surprise that diesel is a consideration thanks to their popularity in Europe. As for the 5.0-liter V8, it's here to stay according to Ford. In fact, the American automaker is able to meet strict emissions requirements with the V8.





Toyota Prius Family May Gain Hydrogen Fuel Cell Model





Toyota is committed to bringing its hydrogen fuel cell vehicle to the U.S. market by 2015 and when it does there's a chance that car will be a member of the Prius family.

Speaking to AutoGuide.com during the 2013 LA Auto Show, Toyota marketing executive Bill Fay said the company understands that the Prius name has considerable clout in the world of car buyers, especially when it comes to alternate-fuel vehicles.

"We haven't totally decided on a name, but it'll be interesting to see if we can leverage the Prius name or not," Fay said. "We've been debating that a lot within the company."

He also mentioned that the Prius brand name means a lot to consumers and the fuel-cell vehicle could fit right in.

"People equate Prius to a lot of things, it has a positive name out there regarding technology, innovative products and environmental friendliness," he said. " Fuel Cell is a little different, but we've done some work to see if we can leverage the Prius brand and use it with fuel cell technology, or if the car will have a different name."

Fay also made some connections between the importance of the new fuel cell vehicle and the original Prius hybrid.

"Potentially it really has a lot of positives similar to the Prius. When we launched the Prius over ten years ago, everyone was like 'what is this thing?' and now we've sold five million hybrids."

"We're very positive about the potential of the vehicle, primarily because it has zero emissions, it has outstanding range and takes only a couple of minutes to fill up the hydrogen tank," he added.

The company unveiled its hydrogen powered FCV concept in Tokyo earlier this week and re-iterated its plan to launch the vehicle in 2015. While other automakers may be able to beat them to the market, very few will be able to compete with the marketability of the Prius name.



Honda already working on NSX roadster




Honda doesn't do many convertibles. There was the original Sports 360, the Civic del Sol, the S2000 and the Beat. But so far, that's pretty much it. The previous NSX was offered with a targa-style top, but the latest reports indicate that the Japanese automaker is already working on a proper convertible version of the new NSX, to be sold once again as an Acura in North America and a Honda in other markets.

Although it's not yet known whether the NSX roadster will offer a hard or soft top, sources indicate that it won't be a mere removable roof panel. Whatever form it does take, however, expect it to arrive a good couple of years after the tin-top version launches in 2015 with a similar form to the concept but with different underpinnings and a radical interior.



Volkswagen Golf Goes Electric in Los Angeles



The Volkswagene-Golf has made its North American debut at the 2013 Los Angeles Auto Show.

As Volkswagen's first fully-electric vehicle to be offered in the U.S., the e-Golf will be an attractive choice to shoppers when it goes on sale in select states at the end of 2014. The e-Golf features a 115 hp electric motor while delivering 199 lb-ft of torque, allowing it to accelerate to 60 mph in 10.4 seconds.

Depending on how it's priced, the e-Golf could be the most affordable and reasonable electric vehicle on the market next year. According to the German automaker, the e-Golf will offer between 70 to 80 miles depending on driving conditions while a completely empty battery can be recharged in less than four hours with a 220-volt wallbox. Those that don't want to have a 220-volt wallbox installed at their household can get a standard 110/120-volt full charge in 20 hours.

On the exterior, the e-Golf is set apart with its LED headlights, 16-inch wheels, a C-shaped LED DRL signature in the front bumper and the lack of exhaust pipes.



Shelby GT name returns for 2014 Mustang with up to 624 hp



Earlier in the year, Shelby American unveiled the 1,200-horsepower Shelby 1000 wearing a price tag of $154,995. Now, the Las Vegas-based company is looking to meet the needs of budget-minded performance enthusiasts with the rebirth of the Shelby GT, which made its debut at the LA Auto Show.

"Budget-minded" is obviously very relative here, but the three levels of upgrades available on the 2014 Shelby GT do represent decent bang for the buck. After purchasing a stock 2014 Ford Mustang GT, which retails for $30,900, Shelby has three packages to improve the Mustang's performance and handling, with the all-in base price coming in at around $45,000.

For $14,995, Shelby will tune your Mustang to 430 horsepower (up from 420 hp) while adding a Borla exhaust, Panhard suspension bar and 20-inch wheels. Shelby also adds its own style with a fiberglass hood, billet grille, unique front fascia and "Shelby" badging on the trunk and seat head rests. If more power is what you're looking for, the Shelby GT/SC adds a Whipple supercharger, Wilwood brakes and performance Michelin tires – for the sum of $27,995. The GT/SC offers a considerable jump in horsepower with the choice of either 525 hp or 624 hp, the latter of which is claimed to give the car a 0-60 time of just 3.7 seconds.



2015 Ford Mustang to Make Official Debut on December 5




The wait is almost over. Ford will officially debut its 2015 Mustang on December 5, the American automaker has announced.

The sixth-generation Mustang will make its debut in six cities on four continents with reveal events taking place in Dearborn, Michigan; New York; Los Angeles; Barcelona; Shanghai and Sydney. Leading up to its official unveiling, Ford has released a new teaser image (seen above) of the iconic Mustang emblem and will be teaming up with Facebook and Instagram to showcase what the Mustang has meant to its millions of fans over the last 50 years. In fact, Ford will be using Instagram to release the first official image of the 2015 Mustang.

An earlier leak revealed that the 2015 Ford Mustang will launch with the 3.7-liter V6 (305 hp) and 5.0-liter V8 (420 hp) carried over from the current generation but will add a 2.3-liter turbocharged four-cylinder engine to the lineup with 310 hp.

"Mustang has come to be much more than just a car for its legions of fans spanning the globe from New Zealand to Iceland and Shanghai to Berlin," said Jim Farley, executive vice president of Ford global marketing, sales and service and Lincoln. "When you experience Mustang, it ignites a sense of optimism and independence that inspires us all."



Honda S660 Concept Proves Small can be Awesome



Hummer H2 owners may disagree, but there's absolutely nothing wrong with driving a small car. Injecting some excitement into this part of the market Hondaunleashed a sporty open-top mini model here in Tokyo.

Called the S660 Concept this unusually stylish little two-door is pretty appealing, though some golf carts are probably bigger. In Japan vehicles of this size are referred to as kei cars and they have special restrictions on size, engine displacement and output; suffice to say they're absolutely tiny.



2015 Lexus RC 300h is a hardcore hybrid cherry coupe



Lexus is tag-teaming back into the hardcore coupe ring with this, the red rum RC 300h that's jumping off the top rope to "[inject] emotional appeal into the Lexus DNA." It's the hybrid version of the twin, powered by a 2.5-liter V6 aided by a 105-kW electric motor, the pair putting out 217 total horsepower and 280 pound-feet of torque through a continuously variable transmission. The RC's other, more conventional half will come with a 3.5-liter V6 with 314 hp and 380 lb-ft shifted with an eight-speed sequential transmission.

The brand doesn't want you to take this RC Coupe for a two-door version of the IS. It's based on the GS platform but its dimensions are unique, being wider, lower and shorter in wheelbase than the IS. Concept-car headlights flank the most extreme version of the spindle grille yet seen on a production car, and the lighting novelty continuing in the cabin with illumination that is aimed up instead of down. The package will ride on either 18- or 19-inch wheels.

The "high contrast," dual-zone cabin is graced with shimamoku wood and Lexus' Remote Touch Interface, and Lexus says the seats have been conceived via an "integrated foaming construction method" like racing seats – we think they look spectacular stitched up in this carmel-colored leather.

It's all about the driving eventually, though, the promise of the RC backed by a body made more rigid through supplemental adhesive in its construction, thicker rocker panels, underbody aerodynamics, double wishbones in front and a multi-link suspension in back. We're told the RC will exhilarate drivers instead of overwhelm. Rear-wheel drive will be standard, all-wheel drive will be offered in select markets.



2014 Lexus CT shows new face



Lexus officially took the wraps off its 2014 CT 200h at the Guangzhou Motor Show, and now we've gotten a chance to inspect the updated hybrid hatchback right here at the LA Auto Show.

As expected, the most prominent change made to the CT's styling is the addition of Lexus' signature spindle grille. Additional changes include new wheel options and revised front and rear fascias, but our favorite update to the car is to the headlights, where there is no longer a gap in the middle of the LED running lights. The luxury hatchback has also received some changes to the cabin, including an updated instrument gauge cluster, a new fixed nav screen that replaces the previous folding unit and a freshened combination of cabin materials.

No changes have been made to the CT's hybrid powertrain, meaning the model will carry on with a 134-horsepower 1.8-liter Atkinson-cycle four-cylinder paired with a drive motor and an electronic continuously variable transmission. Fuel economy ratings likely won't stray too much from the 2013 model's 43 miles per gallon city and 40 mpg highway ratings.

The motivational force may not have change, but Lexus has stiffened up the CT's chassis and fine-tuned its suspension and aerodynamics in the name of reducing noise, vibration and harshness (NVH) levels. As with the current model, there will still be an F Sport offering, and in addition a more aggressive look, it will also maintain its firmer suspension. There is still no indication as to when the 2014 CT will go on sale or how much it will cost – the current car starts at around $32k –.



2014 Mazda6 earns Popular Mechanics' 'Car of the Year'



Ring one up for Mazda. The Japanese brand's midsize offering, the Mazda6, has been named Popular Mechanics' Car of the Year. The 6 received a comprehensive reworking for the 2014 model year that saw it adopt sleek, sexy sheet metal; a clean, logical interior; and powertrain technologies that allow it to net some of the best fuel economy available in a gas-powered, non-hybrid sedan.

Popular Mechanics praised the 6's Skyactiv 2.5-liter, 184-horsepower engine, as well as its agility and responsiveness during testing. It also remarked on the functional, but well designed cabin, and the degree of available technology.

"The Mazda6 really impressed us with how well it delivers so many things modern car owners want: great mileage, fun road-handling, upscale features and looks - and remarkable value," said Jim Meigs, Editor-in-Chief of Popular Mechanics.

"To be named Car of the Year by a publication as esteemed as Popular Mechanics is as flattering as it is humbling," said Mazda's president and CEO, Jim O'Sullivan.



Toyota, Lexus dominate KBB's Best Resale Value Awards



Toyota and Lexus stormed the 2014 Kelley Blue Book Best Resale Value Awards, winning a combined 18 categories including best brand and best luxury brand. This marks the third year in a row that both automakers have won the Brand and Luxury Brand resale value awards. In all, Toyota won 11 categories and Lexus won seven.

Honda made a good showing, as well, winning two segments (Accord Plug-In Hybrid and Civic Si) and putting one car on the top-10 Best Resale Value list (CR-V). Chevrolet did even better, winning two segments (with the V6 Camaro and the Corvette) and placing three cars on the top-10-overall list (again, the Camaro and Corvette, plus the Silverado 1500).

The other winners came from Jeep, Dodge, Infiniti, Subaru and Audi. To give you a clearer picture of the Toyota and Lexus domination, their 18 mentions represents more than half of the 34 awards (including the top-10-overall list).


Here's the Top 10 Cars list:


Toyota Donates $500K of Relief Money for Philippines




Toyota has pledged $500,000 in donations to support relief efforts in the Phillipines.

Residents of the Phillipines have barely begun the recovery process from the devastating typhoon that hit their shores, but relief aid has been pouring in from all around the world. Toyota will donate $250,000 to theAmerican Red Crossto support relief efforts along with a previous donation of 10-million Phillipines pesos.

"On behalf of Toyota, we express our sincere condolences to the families affected by Typhoon Haiyan in the Philippines and surrounding areas," said Jim Lentz, CEO of Toyota North America. "Thanks to the generosity of our associates and team members, Toyota's giving will go even further to help families in need."

Combined, the donation is nearly $500,000 but the Japanese automaker will also be matching employee contributions to the American Red Crossand other non-profits doing relief and recovery work in the region.



2014 Acura MDX and RDX Earn Top NHTSA Crash Scores



While other automakers are struggling to meet standards set by new crash tests, Honda and Acura are putting out winners, at least according to the latest round of NHTSA crash testing.

Acura proudly announced today that its two crossovers scored a 5-star overall vehicle score by NHTSA, thanks to impressive performance in both front and side impact tests. While both impact tests resulted in a five-star rating, the cars also scored an acceptable four-star rating for rollover resistance.

With these top scores from NHTSA, Acura expects its cars to get the top "good" rating from the IIHS in the recently introduced frontal overlap crash test, a score that few automakers are seeing. As a result the brand also believes the MDX will earn the prized "Top Safety Pick+" rating from the IIHS and thinks the RDX is good for a "Top Safety Pick" as well.

This marks a bit of a streak for the Japanese automaker, as its Civic compact and Odyssey minivan both scored top marks recently for crash safety. This recent success should help Honda and Acura win marks with consumers especially after 400,000 vehicles were recalled for faulty air-bag sensors.



Honda flaunts freshened 2014 Civic Coupe at SEMA



Honda took the wraps off its 2014 Civic Coupe (red car pictured above) and 2014 Civic Si (gray car in thegallery below) at SEMA today, revealing a mid-cycle refresh for each model. The standard Civic coupe benefits from several cosmetic enhancements, while the Civic Si gets the bulk of its improvements under the hood – precisely where the enthusiasts want them.

The best-selling Civic Coupe sports a new front fascia that is "fun and sporty," says the automaker. The more aggressive snout is a step in the proper direction, as its new shape and exclusive grille design gives the two-door a distinctive appearance that sets it apart from its sedan sibling. The rear end follows the same design language, as the lower portion of the urethane bumper gains some character – its smooth surface has been resculpted and recontoured. Newly available 18-inch wheels complete the exterior transformation.

The 2014 Civic Si benefits from a larger spoiler and new wheels, but the big news is in the powertrain. Honda has massaged the 2.4-liter i-VTEC engine and opened up the exhaust system. As a result, output climbs to 205 horsepower (up from 201) and torque increases to 174 pound-feet (up from 170). The power gains aren't extraordinary, but they should allow the coupe to hit 60 miles per hour from a standstill in about six seconds flat and still return over 30 mpg on the open road. Scroll down for the official release.



Lexus & BMW Working Together on a Hybrid Supercar?



Peter Lyon from Motoring Australia is reporting that BMW & Lexus are working on a next-generation LFA supercar:

It's been nearly two years since Toyota and BMW announced an agreement to co-develop sports cars using state-of-the-art hybrid technologies, and now a source close to the two companies says the pair has decided on its first joint-venture.

In all their wisdom, executives citing the high cost of developing a high-performance sports car with lightweight materials have opted for a $300,000-plus Lexus LFA-style package, but with a hybrid twist.

Lyon speculates that this new supercar would be powered by the BMW M5′s 4.4-liter turbo V8 and the Lexus hybrid system, with the chassis developed using carbon fiber techniques from both the Lexus LFA & the BMW i8 — if correct, this would certainly make for a potent mixture of speed and performance.

This rumor seemed outlandish when it was first mentioned in Best Car magazine last week, as the partnership between the companies was expected to focus on BMW & Toyota — I'm lukewarm on BMW engines in Lexus vehicles, but it's far too early to say what the end result will be. A very interesting turn-of-events, to be sure.



2015 Honda Fit Hybrid Gets 35% Bump in Fuel Economy





Honda has announced that its all-new Fit Hybrid will boast a 35 percent bump in fuel economy compared to its current lineup of 1.5-liter 4-cylinder hybrid powertains offered in cars like the CR-Z and Civic Hybrid.

The new Fit, which is the first model to be equipped with the automaker's new Sport Hybrid Intelligent Dual Clutch Drive (i-DCD), will go on sale in Japan this September before heading to the U.S. as a 2015 model. According to a report by Automotive News, the subcompact hatchback won't offer the hybrid system in the US, though a crossover based on the same platform will.

The i-DCD is Honda's lightweight and compact one-motor hybrid system built for small vehicles and is part of its Earth Dreams lineup of next-generation powertrains.

The 2015 Honda Fit Hybrid will be powered by a 1.5-liter Atkinson cycle four-cylinder engine with the Sport Hybrid i-DCD consisting of a seven-speed dual-clutch system. According to the Japanese automaker, the system automatically changes to three driving modes by engaging and disengaging the engine depending on driving situations. The three modes on the Fit Hybrid are the EV Drive Mode for motor-only driving, the Hybrid Drive Mode for both engine and motor driving, and the Engine Drive Mode for engine-only driving. The Fit Hybrid will generate 135 horsepower and 125 lb-ft of torque and is expected to achieve at least 55 mpg in the U.S.

Honda is also boasting that the 2015 Honda Fit Hybrid will feature the highest fuel economy among all hybrid models in Japan.

In Japan the 2015 Honda Fit will also be available in an RS model with a 1.5-liter engine and six-speed manual transmission, while a 1.3-liter Atkinson cycle four-cylinder will also be available with 98 horsepower and 88 lb-ft of torque with a new CVT.

It's not clear which versions will be offered in North America, though the the 2015 Fit will be manufactured in North America at the automaker's new plant in Mexico.



2015 Mustang to Kick Off with 1,000 Limited Edition 2014.5 Models





When the next-generation Ford Mustang arrives, it'll be kicked off with a special edition run as a 2014.5 model year, limited to 1,000 units.

The limited 1,000 units will be the first Mustangs based on the new S550 platform and will undoubtedly become an instant collectors' item, with each one sporting a special VIN and build number. As for hoping that it'll be a high-performance variant, prepare to be disappointed. According to reports, the 2014.5 Mustang won't feature any additional upgrades compared to the standard 2015 Mustang, but there's a possibility of some special badging to commemorate the car's 50th anniversary.

The next-generation Mustang is expected to come with several engine choices: a 2.3-liter, EcoBoost four-cylinder with around 350 horsepower, the base-model V6, and a 5.0-liter Coyote V8 with upwards of 450 horsepower. The 2015 Ford Mustang will feature an independent rear and we should be seeing a glimpse of it before the end of the year.



2015 Lexus RC F Caught Testing on the Nürburgring





After being uncovered yesterday, the LexusRC-F coupe is strutting its stuff today, hitting the Nürburgring for some testing, and AutoGuide's spy photographers were on hand to capture it in action.

The Lexus RC will be replacing the IS coupe, and its high-performance RC-F model is essentially a next-generation IS-F in coupe form. As first glance, some would say that its front-end changes reflect a baby LFA model, with its aggressive air intakes on the front corners and wider rear fenders.

The powerplant for the RC-F is being kept under wraps, but it's believed that it'll have around 450 horsepower when it debuts, whether it's in a turbocharged six-cylinder or a more fuel- and emission-efficient V8. The RC-F is expected to make its debut at the 2014 Detroit Auto Show, while the standard RC coupe will be unveiled at the 2013 Tokyo Motor Show.



Third Annual Toyota 100 Cars For Good Program Continues to Impact



TORRANCE, Calif. (July 15, 2013) - For the third year in a row, Toyota's 100 Cars for Goodphilanthropic program will invite the public to select another 100 worthy organizations nationwide that will receive a Toyota vehicle. Beginning July 22, registered 501(c)(3) nonprofit organizations can apply online at www.100carsforgood.com explaining how a new vehicle would support their work. Based on individuals' votes, Toyota will give away two cars per day for 50 days to selected organizations.

Since 2011, 100 Cars for Good has put 200 cars on the road to benefit organizations and causes that touch real lives – from transporting disabled adults and taking zoo animals to schools, to restoring homes flooded by Superstorm Sandy.



Toyota Saves Trees…by the Billions





How do you save a few billion trees and a billion bucks? Boot the box. Kick the carton. Punt the packaging.

More than a decade ago, Toyota began using returnable containers for shipping parts and accessories. The environmental impact so far: saving 220 million pounds of wood and 145 million pounds of cardboard, the equivalent of 2.7 billion trees. It also adds up to $1 billion in cost savings for the company...and that's no pulp fiction.



Toyota Donates $50,000 to Help Victims and Families Affected by Arizona Fire



NEW YORK (July 10, 2013) - Toyota today announced a $50,000 donation, to be divided between the 100 Club of Arizona and the Yarnell (Ariz.) Community Center, to aid and support families of the 19 firefighters who lost their lives and the families who lost their homes in the recent Arizona fire.

"On behalf of Toyota, we express our sincere condolences to the families that have lost loved ones and homes in this tragic event," said Latondra Newton, group vice president, national philanthropy and the Toyota USA Foundation. "Our thoughts go out to everyone in the community."

Toyota has operations and offices near the affected areas, with the Toyota Arizona Proving Ground (TAPG), Toyota's largest vehicle evaluation investment in the United States, being located in Wittmann and Toyota Financial Services customer and dealer service centers near Phoenix.

Since 2001, Toyota and its North American employees have donated nearly $15 million in charitable funds and vehicles, as well as the skill-based volunteerism of Toyota's employees to support disaster relief efforts across the United States.



Honda, Lexus Top Best CPO Value Awards





Honda, Lexus and GMC are your best bets when shopping for a Certified Pre-Owned car, claiming top spots in their respective classes in the first ever Vincentric Best CPO Value in America Awards.

Top marks went to Honda for the best value passenger car brand while Lexus took home the award for the best luxury brand. GMC was awarded the best CPO value in the truck class.

Awards are determined based on which vehicles have a lower than expected ownership cost based on their market segment and price. Cost of ownership is based on eight criteria: depreciation, fees and taxes, financing, fuel, insurance, maintenance, opportunity cost and repairs.

"The Vincentric Best CPO Value in America awards recognizes the efforts manufacturers have put into quality improvements," says David Wurster, President of Vincentric. "These improvements, supported by strong CPO warranties, provide value to buyers of certified pre-owned vehicles. When a great vehicle is combined with a great CPO program, more and more consumers will consider a certified pre-owned vehicle."



2014 Mazda3 Sedan Fully Revealed in Leaked Images





The first photos of the 2014 Mazda3 sedan has leaked onto the Internet, ahead of the car's official debut.

Looking very much like the hatchback counterpart that was revealed last month, the 2014 Mazda3 sedan almost looks like a baby Mazda6. A longer roofline streaks down to a cleanly designed rear end with a large trunk.

As expected, the interior of the sedan is identical to the hatchback and powerplant choices are expected to be the same as well in America: a 2.0-liter with 155 hp and an option 2.5-liter with 184 hp.

The 2014 Mazda3 sedan is expected to go on sale towards the end of this year.



Toyota Prius Passes 3 Million Global Sales Mark



Toyota has announced that its Prius vehicle has passed the three million unit mark in global sales.

Originally launched in 1997 as the world's first mass-produced hybrid passenger car, the Prius got a boom when its second-generation model debuted in 2003. But it was the third-generation Prius in 2009 that helped make the model's sales soar, helping spawn the Prius v, Prius c, and Prius plug-in hybrid variants.

Arguably, the Prius paved the way to the market success of hybrid vehicles, and the Japanese automaker will continue investing heavily into its Prius model and hybrid technology. Toyota has announced that it will pour over $7.9 billion into environmental technology development which will include a new research and development facility. The money will also go toward expanding its powertrain Development and production engineering building, as well as its aerodynamics laboratory.



Ford builds USAF Thunderbirds Edition Mustang for charity



Each year since 2008, Ford has created a one-off Mustang to celebrate military aviation, and the cars have been auctioned off at the Experimental Aircraft Association (EAA) Gathering of Eagles charity event to raise money to inspire the next generation of aviators. This year's charity car is the 2014 Ford Mustang GT US Air Force Thunderbirds Edition, which also helps celebrate 60 years of Thunderbirds air show excellence.

Of all the EAA charity cars, this Thunderbirds Edition is the most in depth. Painted to match the F-16 Falcon fighter jets used by Thunderbirds, this Mustang also gets a widebody kit and 22-inch Forgiato wheels to go with the cockpit's Recaro bucket seats, rear-seat delete and modified navigation screen and gauge cluster. Even the Mustang's projector puddle lights have been changed to show an aircraft silhouette - rather than the Mustang's galloping horse logo – when the doors are open.

Themes for previous EAA charity cars include the Blue Angels, SR-71 Blackbird and the Red Tails as well as the F-22 Raptor-inspired AV8R and AV-X10 "Dearborn Doll" models.



Toyota Motor Sales No. 1 Retail Manufacturer in May 2013



TMS Remains Hybrid Leader with Double-Digit Gains; Lexus Luxury Sedans Up Nearly 30 Percent May 2013 Sales Chart

TORRANCE, Calif. (June 3, 2013) - Toyota Motor Sales (TMS), U.S.A., Inc., today reported May 2013 sales results of 207,952 units, an increase of 2.5 percent over May 2012 on both a volume and daily selling rate (DSR) basis.

Toyota Division posted May 2013 sales of 185,723 units, up 2.3 percent year-over-year on both a volume and DSR basis.

"New vehicle sales are heating up along with the weather, and solid May results coupled with an excellent Memorial Day weekend provide great momentum as we move into the summer selling season," said Bill Fay, Toyota Division group vice president and general manager. "The five-year high in consumer confidence translated into especially strong retail sales and as the industry leader last month, we're well-positioned to provide the vehicles customers want."

Lexus reported May 2013 sales of 22,229 units, up 3.6 percent on both a volume and DSR basis compared to the same period last year.

"Luxury vehicle sales are benefitting from the rise in consumer confidence," said Jeff Bracken, Lexus group vice president and general manager. "The ES and LS are two of the hottest models in the luxury industry with sales doubling in May, and we expect this momentum to carry through the summer months."

Other Highlights:

  • TMS retail sales up 7.5 percent
  • TMS hybrids increased 16.7 percent
  • Toyota Division No. 1 retail brand for third consecutive month
  • Camry is best-selling car in America, with sales of 39,216 units
  • Prius family records best month in a year, increasing nearly 10 percent
  • All-new Avalon increased more than 260 percent, with sales of 7,099 units
  • All-new RAV4 posted best-ever May sales of 20,780 units, up 8 percent
  • Tacoma continued to lead segment with sales of 14,727 units, up 20 percent
  • Tundra recorded sales of 9,950 units, up 13.5 percent
  • Scion FR-S led Scion Division with sales of 1,937 units
  • Lexus LS increased 117 percent, with sales of 996 units
  • Lexus ES reported sales of 5,890 units, up 100.5 percent

*Note: Unless otherwise stated, all figures reflect unadjusted raw sales volume



2014 Acura MDX priced from $42,290*





The fully redesigned 2014 MDX goes on sale in July, and Acura has now confirmed that its largest crossover will be priced at $42,290 (*plus $895 for destination). Unlike previous MDX models, Acura will offer the 2014 model with both front- and all-wheel drive (the automaker's fantastic Super-Handling All-Wheel Drive, at that), and this base price is for the standard, two-wheel-drive MDX model. At the base level, this new pricing represents a $990 decrease over the outgoing, AWD-only 2013 model.

Four trim levels will be offered across the range, all of which use Acura's direct-injected 3.5-liter V6 engine good for 290 horsepower and 267 pound-feet of torque, mated to a six-speed automatic transmission. Standard features include things like push-button start, Acura's fancy new Jewel Eye LED headlights, the next-generation AcuraLink system, an eight-inch multi-function display screen, blind spot monitoring and a premium sound system.

Moving up from there, the Technology package ($46,565) gains 19-inch wheels (18s are standard), forward collision warning, lane departure warning, a color TFT display, rain-sensing wipers and more. The Entertainment Package (bundled into one $48,565 model) adds rear seat entertainment to all of that. At the top end, the MDX Advance model gets unique wheels, remote engine start, 12-speaker ELS premium audio, adaptive cruise control and more. Adding Super-Handling All-Wheel Drive to any of these models results in a $2,000 price jump.

We'll be posting our full First Drive of the MDX later today, so stay tuned for even more details and impressions at that time. In the meantime, click through our massive high-res gallery above to see plenty of pretty new MDX photos.



New Mazda3 Hatchback Revealed in Magazine?





A picture taken from the pages of a Japanese magazine might have prematurely revealed the new Mazda3 hatchback

The new hatchback will run on Mazda's SkyActiv platform with the company's KODO "soul of motion" design language first seen on the CX-5 small crossover. While Mazda hasn't officially announced when it will begin delivering the new compact car, past reports suggest some dealers expect to start receiving them late this year.

Mazda is aiming to increase its sales beyond 300,000 units per year in North America for 2013. Given that the Mazda3 is its top seller, offering it this year could make sense.





Joe Bacal & Lexus LX 570 Win Stock Full Class in Baja 500 Race





Joe Bacal and the JTGrey team have won the Stock Full class with their Lexus LX 570 in this weekend's Baja 500 race. The team finished the race with an (unofficial) time of 20 hours & 15 minutes.

Driver Joe Bacal 'ironmanned' the entire 500 miles, driving without relief. Motocross racer Kalani Inez was the co-driver the first 230 miles, and Lexus International's Paul Williamsen took over for the remaining 270 miles.

Congratulations to Joe & the entire team on the victory!



Volkswagen of San Bernardino



The newest addition to the Wilson Automotive Group family!

April 4 was an exciting day for the Wilson Automotive Group – and for the City of San Bernardino. That was the day we broke ground for our 17th dealership: Volkswagen of San Bernardino.

The Mayor, City Council members, VW executives and Wilson corporate employees took turns with shovels and hard hats to celebrate this exciting addition to the San Bernardino Auto Center. Casey Griffin, of Logan Asset Management, who orchestrated the acquisition and worked with city officials to bring this project to fruition, commented: "The Wilson Group is very excited about opening their first Volkswagen dealership and becoming a part of the community of San Bernardino."

Situated on 3.5 acres in the San Bernardino Auto Center and fronting the 215 Freeway, the dealership will cover about 34,000 square feet and house 17 service bays. Projected sales of 60 new and 40 used vehicles per month will support 50 full-time employees.

Derrick Van Nieulande has been tapped to be the new general manager. Derrick has been with the Wilson Group for 15 years, most recently as the general sales manager of Newport Lexus, and says he is excited about his transition to Volkswagen. "I am proud to represent the quality Volkswagen product; and I know our store and our employees will add a positive synergy to the auto center and the community."

The dealership plans to open for business November 15. For more information, or to apply for employment, go to the corporate website, www.DavidWilsonAutoGroup.com, or Email: derrickvannieulande@newportlexus.com.



2013 Honda Civic Receives Five-Star Safety Rating



The 2013 Honda Civic sedan has been awarded a five-star safety rating from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA).

The Civic sedan scored four stars on the frontal crash test, five stars on the side impact test, and four stars for rollover protection, giving it a five-star overall rating. The coupe on the other hand, while it had the same scores on each individual test, was awarded a four-star rating since crash dummies received more significant injuries in side-impact crash tests.

The 2013 Honda Civic sedan was also named a Top Safety Pick+ from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) and was the first small, compact car to meet the new standard.

Pricing for the Honda Civic sedan starts at $18,955 including a $790 destination charge.



Lexus LF-LC Production Model in 2016?



Car & Driver is reporting that a production model based on the Lexus LF-LC concept could be released in 2016:

A two-plus-two sports coupe concept from Toyota's California design studio that could be Lexus's answer to the Aston Martin DB9 if, of course, it reaches production. More expensive and more driver-oriented than the defunct SC430 convertible, this “poor man's LFA” (it'll cost about half as much) will squeeze at least 500 horsepower from its hybrid powertrain.

A 2016 release date lines up with previous rumors - the magazine also suggests that the production LF-LC will be powered by a hybrid V8 power train and priced just below $200,000.



Ford Fusion Energi Earns Five-Star Safety Rating



The 2013 FordFusion Energi has been awarded a five-star Overall Vehicle Score in the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration's (NHTSA) New Car Assessment Program (NCAP).

The Energi plug-in hybrid's five-star rating is no real surprise considering the other Fusion models also received five-star safety ratings. NHTSA, however, has chosen to test plug-in vehicles separately since the market share of electrified vehicles continues to grow.

The 2013 Ford Fusion was also named a Top Safety Pick+ from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) and is rated at 108 MPGe.

“The Fusion Energi combines the highest possible safety ratings from NHTSA and great fuel economy, two things we know customers are looking for in their vehicles,” said Steve Kenner, Global Director of the Ford Automotive Safety Office. “Our strategy is to provide our customers with a range of powertrain options in our vehicles, while still leading in fuel economy in every segment that we compete.”



BMW-Toyota sports car heading towards Tokyo debut



Earlier this year, BMW and Toyota confirmed a four-part joint venture mostly focusing on increasing improving vehicle efficiency using fuel cells, lightweight materials and better battery technology. Also tucked into the announcement was a "feasibility study" for a shared platform to underpin a future midsize "sports vehicle."

In terms of the latter, it seems that things have stepped up from the feasibility stage to the conceptual stage, as Motor Trend reports we could see a pair of new sports car concepts debut later this year in at the Tokyo Motor Show. There isn't much information about the new program, but the article suggests the sports cars could be all-wheel drive hybrids, with electric motors powering the front wheels and a gas engine powering the rear wheels. While a partnership between Toyota and BMW might not lend itself to a catchy portmanteau like "Toyobaru," here's hoping it will bear fruit that is as exciting as the ones produced by the Toyota/Subaru tie up.



2015 Mazda3 spied for the first time



In terms of exterior appearance, not much has changed from the last time we spotted the next-generation Mazda3 out testing. Oh, sure - we can see plenty of details that clearly show the new Kodo design influence (that front end reminds us a whole lot of the sleek new Mazda6), but these latest round of spy shots don't really show us anything we haven't seen before. Oh, wait, yes they do - the interior.

2015 Mazda3 interiorFeast your eyes on the Mazda3's insides, showing a vastly reworked interior that also takes cues from the automaker's most recently refreshed products. We can see that there's a simple, clean center stack with a slim row of heating and cooling functions, and up top there's a large, presumably touchscreen display, with redundant controls found just aft of the shifter.

We expect that the 2015 Mazda3 will debut at the Frankfurt Motor Show this September, packing both petrol and diesel engines. A sedan variant is also in the works, and should debut shortly after the hatchback.



Lexus Japan Releases Very First 2014 IS Commercial






Lexus Planning to Build Small Two-Seat Roadster?



According to Motor Trend, Lexus may be building a small two-seat roadster as a result of the recent BMW/Toyota partnership - here's a quote from the latest issue of the magazine:

Sources in Japan say Toyota's version (of the joint BMW/Toyota sports car) will actually underpin an all-new Lexus sports car, a suggestion that makes all the sense in the world given Akio Toyoda's ambition to make Lexus a genuine global rival to the German lux-meisters. Whisper is the new Lexus will be positioned to compete with the Mercedes SLK, BMW Z4, and entry-level Porsche Boxster.

If I understand this correctly, this would be an additional vehicle beyond the rumored RC mid-size coupe - if true, this could be a major shift in the way Lexus approaches mass production vehicles, as niche market models have never been a priority with the brand.

The strategy reminds me of this Akio Toyoda quote from Automotive News:

"When we have a design screening, my role is to simply talk with the right side of the brain," Toyoda said. "There are already enough people at Toyota who use the left side of the brain. You need to be able to say, 'Wow! I want that!'"



2015 Acura NSX to be Produced at New Performance Manufacturing Center in Ohio

Acura has announced that the all-new NSX will be produced at Honda's new Performance Manufacturing Center in Ohio.

The production facility will cost the Japanese automaker $70 million and will encompass 184,000 square feet housed inside Honda's former North American Logistics facility. It will also be in the midst of Honda's existing R&D and production engineering operations.

The new production facility will be Honda's third plant in Ohio and is merely a few miles away from Honda R&D Americas, Inc. Ohio Center that is also engineering the supercar for production. Approximately 100 manufacturing associates will be employed at the site while associates from Honda's engine plant in Anna, Ohio will assemble the NSX's powertrain.

The automaker also announced today that Honda R&D chief engineer Ted Klaus is leading the global team developing the new NSX while Clement D'Souza, associate chief engineer at Honda of America, is leading the production team for the NSX.

"We have a very clear understanding of the high customer expectations luxury buyers around the world have for a supercar, and our challenge is to exceed them and create new value for the customer," said Klaus. "This new Performance Manufacturing Center will be key to this challenge."



Toyota Overtakes BMW as Most Valuable Global Car Brand



Automotive News reports that Toyota has overtaken BMW as the most valuable automotive brand, an annual ranking of the world's top brands shows. The value of the Toyota, Mercedes-Benz, Audi, and Hyundai brands improved by double-digit percentages compared with 2012, largely because of strong demand in China and the United States, according to the BrandZ Top 100 Most Valuable Global Brands study released by market research company Millward Brown on Monday. Toyota's 2013 brand value rose 12 percent to $24.5 billion largely because of its significant inroads in the hybrid market, according to the study. "Toyota is carving out a very big position in hybrids across its range, which is tapping into the consumer need for value by saving fuel cost," Peter Walshe, Millward Brown global brand director, told Automotive News. BMW's brand value dipped by 2 percent to $24 billion, according to the study, because of the German automaker's lack of new product launches compared with past years. "The automotive brands that grew the most were the ones that launched the most models," Walshe said. "BMW remains a very powerful and distinctive brand." Read more about the most valuable global car brands here.



Toyota Donates $1 Million to Support Hurricane Sandy Relief Efforts; Reports No Significant Hurricane-Related Impact on its North American Operations

Toyota today announced a $1 million contribution to the American Red Cross and other nonprofit organizations to support relief efforts for victims of Hurricane Sandy in the regions worst-hit by the storm. In addition, Toyota will match employee contributions to the American Red Cross and other non-profits doing relief and recovery work in affected communities.

Commenting on the donation, Shigeki Terashi, president and chief operating officer of Toyota Motor North America, Inc., said, "On behalf of Toyota, we express our sincere condolences to the families affected by Hurricane Sandy. Since we have operations and many dealerships in the affected regions, we felt a special responsibility to lend a hand. In addition to this contribution, many Toyota employees are already involved in volunteer activities to support those in need. We very much appreciate their support."

Beginning Nov. 1, Toyota Financial Services (TFS) and Lexus Financial Services (LFS) will launch a "Customer Outreach" calling campaign to lease and retail customers who are delinquent, or become delinquent, due to circumstances related to the storm and who reside in the 13 states directly impacted by the hurricane (CT, DC, DE, MA, MD, ME, NH, NJ, NY, PA, RI, VA, VT and WV) and in the District of Columbia. This campaign will determine if these customers may be eligible to take advantage of payment relief options, some of which include:



  • extensions and lease deferred payments;
  • redirecting billing statements;
  • and arranging phone or on-line payments


Toyota Financial customers with questions about their account should call (800) 874-8822. Lexus Financial customers with questions about their account should call (800) 874-7050. Qualified residents residing in FEMA-designated areas (of the above-mentioned states and the District) needing to purchase a vehicle may also take advantage of a 90 Day Deferred First Payment Program designed to assist customers with their transportation needs as they work through the recovery process. This program is for a limited time and only available through participating Toyota and Lexus dealers and TFS/LFS.

Toyota Operations Toyota continues to assess the damage caused by Hurricane Sandy to its operations on the East Coast and reports no known injuries to associates, family members and dealer employees. The storm had the biggest impact on company operations and dealerships in the New Jersey area. Some regional/branch offices, as well as Toyota, Lexus and Scion dealerships, were affected by flooding and power outages. Toyota Logistics Services operations at the Port of Newark (N.J.) sustained water damage to its buildings and a number of vehicles.



Toyota Assembles 25 Millionth Vehicle in North America

Toyota celebrated the 25 millionth vehicle manufactured in North America today at a ceremony at its Georgetown, Ky., plant coinciding with the start of production for the all-new 2013 Avalon. The milestone vehicle - a Classic Silver Hybrid Avalon - represents 26 years of manufacturing, a direct investment of nearly $24 billion in North American operations and 365,000 jobs created in the United States.

Speaking at a line-off ceremony in Georgetown today, Toyota Motor Manufacturing, Kentucky President Wil James said, "This is a pivotal time in Toyota's history. What better way to cap off 26 years of manufacturing excellence than with the all-new Kentucky-assembled Avalon, a shining example of what our customers have to look forward to in the future."

To learn more, please click on www.toyotanewsroom.com



Toyota Prius is California's Best Selling Car

If you live in California, this won't come as a surprise to you at all. The Toyota Prius is the best-selling car in the state - sort of.

In fact, it's not the traditional Prius model by itself that has tallied more sales than rivals like the Honda Civic, Accord and the Toyota Camry, but rather the Prius family of cars.

Nine months into 2012, Toyota has sold 46,380 Prius models to California drivers according to the California New Cars Dealers Association in its California Auto Outlook report. With gas prices continuing to rise in California, it's no surprise that demand for the fuel-efficient Prius has also risen.

In total, 1.25 million new cars have been sold in California through September this year, which is 11 percent of the total nationwide sales of 10.9 million. The Prius however, has sold 183,340 nationwide, which means California drivers have accounted for 25 percent of the total Prius sales.

To learn more, please click on http://www.autoguide.com/auto-news/2012/10/toyota-prius-is-californias-best-selling-car.html



Honda, Ohio State Co-Develop Driving Simulator

The new Driving Simulator Laboratory will be designed to conduct advanced research into distracted driving and other issues that affect driver behavior and road safety. It will be co-developed by Honda R&D Americas and the Ohio State University Office of Research.

"This new simulator will help us further strengthen our local research capabilities to gain an even deeper understanding of our customers and to advance our ability to create even more safe, smart and intuitive Honda and Acura products," said Frank Paluch, senior vice president of Honda R&D America's Inc.

The main simulator will feature a full cab, mounted to a six-degrees-of-freedom motion platform with a 240-degree wraparound projection screen. High-resolution, edge-blended visuals will display a wide variety of driving situations to simulate real-world scenarios. A second simulator will also be developed to optimize the testing for production vehicles.

To read the article, go to: http://www.autoguide.com/auto-news/2012/10/honda-ohio-state-co-develop-driving-simulator.html.



Lexus LF-LC Blue Concept is a 500 HP Hybrid

Following up on the Lexus LF-LC concept that debuted earlier this year at the Detroit Auto Show, the Japanese automaker just unveiled its LF-LC Blue concept in Australia.

The LF-LC Blue concept uses carbon fiber technology from the brand's LFA supercar and also features the next-generation Lexus Hybrid Drive system with a high-energy battery pack. Finished in a unique Opal Blue that's been inspired by the country's precious stone, the LF-LC Blue concept looks right at home in Australia.

The Advanced Lexus Hybrid Drive system features a powerful and efficient Atkinson cycle combustion engine mated to an advanced high-energy battery pack. Combined, the LF-LC Blue concept has an output of 500 hp, which is the most of any Lexus hybrid.

The LF-LC Blue concept is also packed with state-of-the-art technology, previewing the direction that Lexus is heading with its interior electronics. A pair of 12.3-inch LCD screens provide information and navigation, while inputs come from a touchscreen interface in the center console. The interior is treated with a variety of smooth leather, suede, brushed metal trim and wood accents. To read the article, go to: http://www.autoguide.com/auto-news/2012/10/lexus-lf-lc-blue-concept-is-a-500-hp-hybrid.html#more-161241



Toyota Tundra Successfully Tows the Space Shuttle - Video

A stock Toyota Tundra hauled the nearly 300,000 lbs. space shuttle and towing rig a total of 12 miles this past Friday, delivering the ship to its final resting place at the California Science Center.

Toyota and the California science center have had a partnership that spans back 20 years that has helped raise awareness of the space program. "We've partnered with the California Science Center since the early '90s as part of our ongoing commitment to inspiring youth in the fields of engineering, innovation and future technology, and we are honored to lend our support for this historic event," said Michael Rouse, vice president of community affairs and philanthropy for Toyota.

To read the full article click here



Honda Civic Natural Gas Buyers Getting $3,000 Gas Card

Those looking for ways to fight against the recent rise in gas prices might want to consider a 2012 Honda Civic, the Natural Gas model to be more specific. The Japanese automaker has teamed up with Clean Energy to give $3,000 fuel cards to new buyers.

Compressed natural gas is currently $2 cheaper than gasoline, and since the Honda Civic Natural Gas gets a combined EPA fuel economy rating of 31, up to 40 percent can be saved compared to a traditional gasoline car. The 2012 Civic Natural Gas also qualifies for a single-occupant HOV carpool decal in California and other states.

Read the full article at http://www.autoguide.com/auto-news/2012/10/honda-civic-natural-gas-buyers-getting-3000-gas-card.html#more-159994.



Lexus LFA Nurburgring Beats Executive Jet in Race

Unconventional to say the least, Lexus pitted its LFA Nurburgring Edition supercar against an Eclipse 500 jet in a race yesterday.

The event took place in Longmont, Colo. and involved running both vessels down a 4,800-foot runway before pulling a u-turn to cover the same distance. Exciting as the idea of a car racing a jet might be, it shouldn't come as a surprise that the LFA won ⿿ by two seconds.

It ran like this: the jet crossed the starting line already travelling 150 knots (about 173 mph) at which point Scott Pruett, who drive the LFA, hammered on the gas. Both the car and plane would travel the runway's distance before making the aforementioned u-turn to repeat the same distance.

To read the full article Click Here



Ford Shows Off Composite Tech With Carbon Fiber Hood

Carbon fiber, typically used in race cars and high-end sports cars, is now making its way on conventional vehicles as automakers find a more efficient way in cutting costs on the lightweight material.

Ford showed off its newest carbon fiber technology that could be used to help improve fuel economy on its hybrid and electric vehicles. The prototype carbon fiber hood is the American automaker's first step in manufacturing an affordable version of the material that could help cut the weight of its vehicles by up to 749 lbs by the end of this decade.

The automaker has teamed up with Dow Automotive Systems to develop a more affordable way of manufacturing automotive-grade carbon fiber for high-volume applications.

To read the full article Click Here



Scion FR-S the First of Three Sports Cars Says Chief Engineer

The Toyota GT86 or Scion FR-S as it's known on our shores may just be the best new sports car in a generation, but it certainly won't be the last of its kind. According to chief engineer Tetsuya Tada, the FR-S is just the first of three planned sports cars by the world's largest automaker.

Speaking to Top Gear in the Philippines, Tada not only confirmed that two more cars are coming, but let slip details about where they will fit in in the Toyota lineup.

Surprisingly, as impressive a performance bargain as the FR-S is, it will fill the middle slot in the brand's new sports car lineup.

"The first is more mass-market and cheaper than the 86," Tada said. And the third, well, it's, "more upmarket than the 86."

To read the full article Click Here



Ford Claims Best Fuel Economy at Montreal Green Rally

Vehicles don't try to race around the course as quickly as possible at the Montreal Green Rally.

Part of the FIA Alternative Energies Cup, participants drive their vehicle on a predefined course at normal speeds to determine fuel and energy consumption.

"It was a terrific race and the Ford Focus Electric was a definite asset in terms of getting best energy economy. Ford got it right when they developed this vehicle, the brake regeneration system is incredibly efficient," said Sylvain Juteau, who recently made automotive history by being the first to drive to the top of Mount Washington in his own Ford Focus Electric.

This year, Sylvain Juteau and Bruno Guglielminetti claimed a podium finish for Ford of Canada with a 2012 Ford Focus Electric at the event. The Focus Electric came in first place in the energy consumption standings and second place overall in the all-electric standings at the two-day event.

To read the full article Click Here



Accord Hybrid Might be US-Built in 2015

Anyone interested in buying a hybrid Honda Accord had better not hold their breath - there won't be many making it to the U.S.

That's because the strong yen is forcing Honda's export costs high enough to seriously squeeze profit margins, something the conservative company might soon change by relocating some of its production to the U.S.

Honda chief engineer Chitoshi Yokota told Japanese newspaper Nikkei Sangyo business daily that those changes might be coming soon.

"We won't be able to expand the business unless we come to be able to procure and make the battery and the motor locally, maybe around 2015," he said.

But when that happens, customers can expect to see more Accord hybrids in North American showrooms although it still isn't clear where Honda will move Accord production when that shift takes place.

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Toyota Named Top Auto Brand for 9th Year Running

Toyota has once again claimed the top spot in Interbrand's annual ranking for the world's best automotive brands, while placing 10th overall.

In the just released Best Global Brands report, Toyota is credited for its customer service, it's lineup of green cars (including the Prius) and its growing appeal with younger customers. This marks the 9th straight year Toyota has placed first in the automotive category.

Toyota ranks just ahead of Mercedes in 11th spot and BMW in 12th. Rounding out the top five are Honda in 21st and Volkswagen in 39th. Other automakers to make the Top 100 include Ford, Audi, Porsche, Kia, Ferrari and Hyundai.

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