Ford prices 2008 Taurus X from $27,365

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click above image for the complete high-res gallery of the 2008 Ford Taurus X

Ford has announced that the new 2008 Taurus X crossover will carrry a $27,364 base price, including destination charges, when it arrives on dealer lots this summer. The new price a bit more than the $26,670 base price of the current 2007 Freestyle SEL FWD, also including destination charges. While the Taurus X may cost more, it at least comes with a few upgrades to make the additional dineros worth it. For one, you get a shiny chrome badge that says "Taurus" on the back to replace the fugly "Freestyle" badge on current models. If that's not worth the extra cost of admission, Ford has also added its new 263-hp 3.5L V6 to the Taurus X, replacing the underpowered 3.0L V6 in the Freestyle its replacing. Plus, the Taurus X has dropped the Freestyle's CVT transmission, instead gaining a six-speed automatic to handle the new engine's extra ponies. Finally, the new Taurus X just looks more interesting than the current Freestyle with the corporate three-bar grille, new taillights and an updated interior. Honestly, we feel the Taurus X is a better bargain than the current Freestyle, and expect its sales number to either hold steady or grow depending on whether or not Ford decides to actually back up the vehicle with some marketing this time.

[Source: Automotive News]

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[via] Autoblog

Peterbilt delivers hybrid rig to Wal-Mart

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click above image to view more high-res pics of Wal-Mart's green machine

Wal-Mart has embarked on a wide-ranging environmental campaign it calls "Sustainability 360," and one of the program goals is to increase overall fleet efficiency by 25% over the next several years. To that end, the retail giant has taken delivery of its first Peterbilt Model 386 Hybrid. The 386 Hybrid is the truckmaker's (and the industry's) first Class 8 hybrid rig, and if projections are correct, using one could help drive down owner/operators' fuel costs by $9,000 a year (based on a diesel fuel price of $2.50/gallon), which is some serious green.

The hybrid system was developed by Eaton, and it works as you'd expect it to. Braking energy is captured and stored in the system's batteries, which provide juice to the truck's main electrical system, accessory systems, and a generator/motor that gives the vehicle extra torque and helps extend its overall range. When conditions allow, the rig can even run on batteries alone. While it serves in Wal-Mart's fleet, the truck will continue to be tested, evaluated and tweaked by Peterbilt ahead of the model's full production debut in 2009.

[Source: AutoblogGreen]

 

[via] Autoblog

More from Lutz: Maximum Bob pays his blogging dues



Whenever we add another blogger to the Autoblog team, I always warn him or her to grow a thicker skin. Part of blogging is exposing your words to a wide audience and having the fortitude to weather whatever is said in the comments. Blogging is all about that interactive relationship the comments allow, which is something Bob Lutz has learned lately. After having neglected posting on his GM FastLane Blog for a few weeks, Lutz was greeted with comments suggesting that he's bored with blogging, that the FastLane blog is a failure and that GM is done with this whole blogging fad. (Many can be read here on the site's last update post.)

In Lutz's newest blog post, which we referenced earlier in our post about his appearance on NPR, Lutz explains that none of this is true, and his absence in the blogosphere lately can be directly attributed to the demands of his "day job". Bob, we feel you, brother. Most bloggers on our team hold down a full-time job in addition to blogging and doing other things like raising a family. We'd be more than happy to meet with Lutz again and impart some blogging advice to help him juggle his day job as GM's car czar with the demands of blogging.

As for dealing with commenters posting "ridiculous" comments, we applaud Lutz for addressing and brushing them off his thickly skinned back. Remember Bob, they comment because they care so much.

[Source: GM FastLane Blog]

 

[via] Autoblog

Mercedes relents: Will go it alone like BMW

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It seems obvious now, but the sale of Chrysler leaves Mercedes Benz in a similar position as it's cross-country rival, BMW. Back when BMW bought the ailing MG-Rover marque, the results, to say the least, were less than positive. When the dust finally settled after the sale of Rover in 2000, the automaker had dropped billions of dollars into the company with little to show for the expenditure.

According to an article in Welt am Sonntag, Daimler CEO Dieter Zetsche was quoted as saying that, "there are no acquisition targets I can recognize that could strengthen Mercedes." Obviously, Dr. Z has learned from his own company's past missteps, and will lead Mercedes into the future without the help of new brands to bolster its catalogue of cars.

In the end, the acquisition of Chrysler did little to enhance either automaker's image. Whether it was quality, engineering prowess or long-term growth, the consolidation glut of the past 10 years may have finally come to an abrupt, if not entirely predictable, end. No surprise, as bigger has often proven to be not necessarily better when it comes to the automotive industry.

[Source: Reuters]

 

[via] Autoblog

Spy Shots: 2009/10 Acura NSX

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The return of the NSX to Acura's lineup has been an off-and-on again affair, but the latest intel has a new NSX with a 500-horsepower V10 on schedule for an arrival sometime in late 2008 or 2009. While our only indication of what the new NSX may look like up to this point has been the Acura Advanced Sports Car Concept, we do know work is well under way on the car's mechanicals. Thus, we submit these spy photos as Exhibit A, evidence that Acura is currently testing its new NSX. They were taken at the Nurburgring in Germany and show a heavily modified Honda S2000 with quad tailpipes located in the middle of the rear bumper and what appears to be a heavy-duty double wishbone suspension below. The test car also features big wheels and a hardtop of sorts. The S2000 body on this NSX mule suggests that Acura is still far from finalizing a design for the car, but that doesn't appear to have stopped engineers from working on the brand's follow up to the world renowned "everyday supercar" that was the original NSX.

[Source: Straighline Blog]

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[via] Autoblog

Astra Ruminations

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Click image for an Astra TwinTop Gallery

GM has released the Vauxhall Astra TwinTop Exclusiv Black edition (above) in the UK. It's essentially a loaded-up TwinTop with a few optional goodies thrown in as standard equipment. The extras include the pictured 18" alloys, leather, heated seats and cruise control, and the full package comes in at a lower cost than the Astra TwinTop Design trim upon which the Exclusiv Black is based.

For our overseas friends (in the UK, in this case), this is all well and good. For us, the TwinTop is just a tease of what the future could hold for us in Saturn stores. With the Astra hatchbacks set to arrive later this year following their big debut at the Chicago Auto Show, we can't help but speculate on what other tricks the General has up its sleeve regarding the model. Of all the existing variants, including wagon, sedan and panorama roof editions, the TwinTop is high on the list of ones we want to see in Saturn duds. The Saturn Sky is sexy and great fun, but incredibly impractical at the same time -- much more a 3rd car than a primary or secondary vehicle. If Saturn were to field the TwinTop in addition, however, we think it'd connect with buyers right away. A stylish, usable all-season 4-place coupe/convertible would fit the brand nicely and could easily be marketed as a legit everyday vehicle, assuming it was priced right. Part of us wonders whether GM would worry about it taking sales away from the Pontiac G6 convertible, but since the General doesn't shy from overlap (see Lambda crossovers), we think the two could and should coexist.

We feel that a strong Astra Red Line should be the first expansion of that model's range here in the States, but the Twin Top would make a great round two. What do you think?

[Source: GM]

Continue reading Astra Ruminations

 

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Watch the Transformers toys transform

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It's one thing to design a Transformer in CGI and have it magically transform from a car to a 40-foot-tall robot in 24 frames of animation. It's entirely different to produce a toy that actually does transform with moving parts that have to work together in total harmony. HASBRO is in charge of producing the full gamet of Transformers toys this time around and has a website up that shows us exactly how Optimus Prime will go from big rig to big robot. Click here, skip the intro and, unless you have a pair of cardboard 3D glasses handy, click on the 2D link. Here you'll find animations that show how Optimus Prime, Scorponok, Ratchet and Ironhide will actually transform when pulled from their plastic packaging.

The site also has 360 degree views of each Transformer toy, as well as some extra items like a wearable Optimus Prime helmet. Our search for a Halloween costume this year is officially over.

[Source: 3Dtransformers.com via tfw2005]

 

[via] Autoblog

Spy Photos: 2009 Mercedes-Benz SL

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Nepotism has its benefits. Particularly in the case of clandestine photogs looking for the newest hotness to come from the Benz Boyz. It seems that one Ms. Christa Lehmann, likely a relative of the ace shooter Hans Lehmann, was able to catch a glimpse of the Merc SL550's new schnaz.

Per usual, the camo obscures the minor tweaks that the '09 model will sport, but the more obvious changes include new rectangular headlamps, drawing cues from the new C-class, along with a single blade of trim spanning the front grille. Thicker and wider than the three slats it replaces, the new SL fascia seems to also sport a few more creases and angles, particularly the lower lip.

Aside from the nip and tuck out front, there's not too much new to report. The rear seems to be a carryover, as is the 5.4-liter V8 putting 380 HP down to the rear wheels. We'd expect a quiet launch of the new SL about this time next year.

[Source: Straightline]

 

[via] Autoblog

Take two: John Schneider's General Lee returns to eBay

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This is one summer sequel we saw coming from a mile away. After it was revealed that the incredible winning bid of $9,900,500 for John Schneider's original 1969 Dodge Charger "General Lee" was a dud, "Bo Duke" himself has relisted the car on eBay with a $1,000,000 starting bid. This time, bidders have to preregister with Auction Wire, an online auction agency, before they can make a play for the car.

Amidst the media buzz surrounding Schneider's first failed auction for his General Lee, we learned that auctionistas actually valued the car somewhere around $200,000 to $300,000. Aside from being a completely kick-ass car with many aftermarket mods, the Charger's association with Schneider and the TV show make it more valuable than a normal 1969 Charger. Still, with all the faking bidding out of the way, Schneider may have a hard time finding anyone willing to forego a brand new Veyron for his General.

Thanks for the tip, Keith!

[Source: eBay Motors]

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[via] Autoblog

Dyno-tastic! Infiniti G37 on the rollers

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Infiniti hasn't announced its official peak power numbers for the 2008 G37 coupe, so the impatient folks at Automobile threw one on a chassis dyno to see how the power it puts down at the rear wheels compares to the 330 hp and 270 ft-lbs. of torque the Japanese automaker estimates the car will make. It turns out Infiniti wasn't exaggerating about how powerful the G37's new 3.7L VQ37VHR with infinitely variable valve timing is, and the new engine blows away the previous 3.5L motor in every way.

According to Automobile's dyno graphs, the new 3.7L produces 287 hp and 236 ft-lbs. of torque at the rear wheels, which means friction in the drivetrain accounts for about a 13% loss in power from the flywheel. The previous 3.5L VQ V6 used in the 2007 G35 coupe produces 236 hp and 218 ft-lbs. of torque at the wheels. This means that although the new engine is only 5.6 percent larger in displacement, it produces almost 22 percent more power than the engine it replaces. Automobile does note that it can't be sure if such a large increase in power is due to the new engine or reduced friction in the drivetrain, but suspects that since the drivetrains of the 2007 and 2008 model are similar that the gains are mostly from the motor.

You can check out all the dyno graphs from Automobile by clicking on the Read link and videos of the new Infiniti G37 being dyno tested after the jump.

[Source: Automobile]

Continue reading Dyno-tastic! Infiniti G37 on the rollers

 

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Chrysler small car on hold: Chery wants to renegotiate with new owners

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While Chrysler Corp. and its new owner Cerberus Capital Management are still enjoying the Honeymoon phase of their courtship, Chinese automaker Chery is reconsidering its deal with the U.S. automaker to build Chrysler-branded small cars. It seems no one from the soon-to-be defunct DaimlerChrysler alerted Chery to the impending deal, which came as a "total surprise". Chery's general manager Zhang Li told a financial daily that his company has halted the Chrysler small car project until such time as both automakers can renegotiate their agreement.

One wonders if Chery hopes to renegotiate the deal in their favor now that Chrysler Corp. has new owners at the helm, potentially with more money to spend on a Chinese-built small car. Chery may have the upper hand here, as it knows Chrysler desperately needs a B-class small car to sell around the world and, as far as we know, has no plan B in the works if the deal with Chery falls through.

[Source: just-auto.com, sub. req'd]

 

[via] Autoblog

AutoblogGreen for 05.21.07

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If you think ethanol = green, consider the possibility of an ethanol plant in Iowa (that uses potatoes or sugar beets as a feedstock) that's powered by excess heat from a nuclear power plant. It's supposed to be cheap, and it does reuse energy that might otherwise be wasted, but nuclear ethanol can't be a popular thing in some green circles, can it?

Read this and more in the weekend round-up from AutoblogGreen:

 

[via] Autoblog

Production take on BMW CS Concept likely

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Click image for a high-res gallery of the BMW CS Concept

BMW's surprising CS concept car is likely to beget a new flagship sedan for the Munich-based automaker. This news comes from the mouth of BMW North America honcho Tom Purvie, who told Automotive News, "We have a reasonable number of examples where we have built a concept car and relatively small examples where we have not built a concept car."

Additionally, Purves noted that his US dealer network is already very excited about the concept. If the post-Shanghai market research brings positive news, it's pretty likely that a production 4-seater based on the CS would get the green light. The new car would be positioned above the 7-series in the automaker's lineup.

[Source: Automotive News - sub. req'd]

 

[via] Autoblog

VIDEO: Cadillac advertising in China

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Advertising a product on television can be a very complicated exercise, as each demographic and market get its own specialized message. Many people who travel overseas notice that commercials are peculiar outside their native market, and anybody that sees GM's new Cadillac commercial for the Chinese market has to be scratching his or her head.

In the commercial, a large group of 18th century Englishmen (or American colonists?) are trying to wrangle a wild horse, when a Cadillac SLS comes in to tame the beast while the wig-wearing gentlemen in puffy Seinfeld shirts and petticoats run for cover. We think the premise of the commercial is that the beauty of the SLS tames the savage horse, but with all those makeup-wearing colonists running around, we're too distracted to know for sure. Hey, here in the States we have Abe Lincoln pitching insomnia medication, so anything is fair game. Hit the jump to view this bizarre pitch, and chime in to let us know what you think.

[Source: YouTube via GM Inside News]

Continue reading VIDEO: Cadillac advertising in China

 

[via] Autoblog

Mazda2 production kickoff celebrated

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Click image for Mazda2 gallery

The executive-laden ceremonial kickoff of Mazda2 production has taken place at the automaker's Ujina Plant No. 1 in Hiroshima. The Mazda2 was one of our favorites at the Geneva Motor Show, where it made its worldwide debut at the beginning of March. The small car is destined for Japan, Europe, Australia, China, and other markets, none of which uses the initials "U.S." Its architecture will also spawn the next Ford Fiesta, which we actually should see in late '09. Thank God for timeliness.

Mazda will back up Ujina 1 by starting production of the car at the Ujina No. 2 facility in June, as well, and the Mazda2 will arrive in Japanese dealers later this summer badged as the Demio. Exports to Europe and the others will follow, and the Chinese-market edition will be built in Nanjing. That the spiffy little ride isn't expected here at all sucks, frankly. But what do we know. Who wants/needs another stylish, economical, and practical little hatchback today, anyway?

[Source: Mazda]

Gallery: 2007 Mazda2

Continue reading Mazda2 production kickoff celebrated

 

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Vegas council orders American flag down at Towbin Hummer

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A Las Vegas HUMMER dealer, Dan Towbin of Towbin HUMMER, has been ordered to take down a 30' x 60' American flag he's flown 100 feet above his dealership for a year because his neighbors have complained about the sound of the flag flapping and the obtrusiveness of its looming pole.

While Towbin claims the the flag is an expression of his patriotism, the dealer's neighbors and other concerned citizens in Las Vegas assert that his intentions are mostly commercial, accusing Towbin of exploiting veterans for his own financial gain. One point of controversy is a war memorial Towbin planned to build at the base of the pole. Towbin, who is an honorary commander at Nellis Air Force Base, said he has not built the memorial because the flag was only approved tentatively pending a six-month review. The six months came and went without the city following up on the matter.

Whatever the circumstances, an interesting component of the battle over the flag is the fact that both sides claim the other is anti-American -- critics of those who wish that the flag be removed say that taking down a flag is unpatriotic, while others say keeping the flag up allows Towbin to commercialize a patriotic symbol. Only Towbin knows for sure his intentions, of course.

Factoid: Dan Towbin is owner of Towbin Auto Group, and his son is Josh Towbin, a.k.a. Chopper from King of Cars.

[Source: Las Vegas Review Journal]

 

[via] Autoblog

Midlife crisis? VW thinks the Passat's just the ticket

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The hilarious new "Midlife Crisis Retreat" advertising campaign lampoons the often loony behavior of men in their 40s trying to hang on to their 20s via two-decade-old slang, iconography and pop culture. We don't agree that the Passat is any kind of cure for the midlife crisis; it's pretty much just the car you'd expect a 45-year-old to be driving as he checks his porcelain veneers in the rearview and says "Yes, you've still got it" out loud to himself.

Disguised as a website for a midlife-crisis treatment center, the campaign itself is clever, with a chuckle-inducing list of worrying statistics, and a self-evaluation test at the website. Apparently, the spots attached to this effort have been airing with a high frequency in the UK, so they're likely now the TV equivalent of middle aged. Since we haven't seen them yet in the US, they're still fresh as a daisy, and it's comfoting to know that midlife crises are pretty much the same across the Atlantic.

Thanks for the tip, Christian

[Source: VW via German Car Blog]

 

[via] Autoblog

Wait, wait. Bob Lutz said what?

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National Public Radio has a quirky quiz show called "Wait, Wait, Don't Tell Me." GM Vice chair Bob Lutz was a guest on Saturday's show. And he said something interesting... in the spirit of the show, we're not going to tell you. Instead you have three choices:
  • A. His own personal transportation will be the next car featured on "Pimp My Ride"
  • B. He secretly likes the break room at Chrysler more than GM's
  • C. He ranks the soon-to-be Volt over the legendary Viper he helped create. Not only does he like it better, it's his dream car.
According to Lutz's blog, the show was "an absolute hoot to do."

Give it a listen for yourself here.

Thanks, Christina, for the tip!

 

[via] Autoblog

VIDEO: Porsche 959 takes the Paris-Dakar Rally

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In the early '80s, the FIA devised a new set of rules for production based race cars that could be used for both track racing and rallying. The Group B rules spawned some of the wildest homologation specials devised at that time. Under the rules, a minimum of 200 production models had to be built (not necessarilly sold) and then evolution specials could be derived from those. Some of the products of Group B were the MG Metro 6R4, Ford RS200, Peugeot 205 Ti16, Ferrari 288 GTO and the Porsche 959.

Only a couple of GTO Evoluzione models were built and they eventually spawned the legendary F40. Most of the Group B cars ended up competing in rallies around the world and were the ancestors of the later World Rally Cars like the Subaru WRX and Mitsubishi Evo. Many of the production models remained unsold for years and ended up going at fire sale prices, especially after a spate of rally accidents with the high powered Group B cars that prompted the FIA to cancel the whole category.

There's more after the jump including two incredible videos of the 959 in action.

[Source: Jalopnik]

Continue reading VIDEO: Porsche 959 takes the Paris-Dakar Rally

 

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Honda UK releases e-zine version of 'dream' customer rag

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Honda has released an electronic version of its popular customer rag, dream. The pretty pictures and interesting articles are still there, but the fun begins when one delves into the interactive sidebars, chock-full of formula one cars, British scientific expeditions to Antarctica, and even a special appearance by an ASIMO. Thanks to the online functionality of the magazine, interactive features, including movies, sound bytes and virtual tours, abound.

The pilot of the magazine went out in January 2007, and Honda reports that readership was high, and a whopping 25 percent of readers provided feedback.

Features of this edition include:
  • Living at -80°C with the British Antarctic Survey and Honda's All Terrain Vehicles
  • Jenson Button's test drive of the new Civic Type-R
  • Review of the FR-V in Copenhagen
  • Built to Move - getting from A to B with innovation in the 21st century.
360 degree photorealistic views of the Honda Family as it is available in the UK brightens up the standard vehicle lineup page, as well. Check out the full press release after the jump.

[Source: Honda]

Continue reading Honda UK releases e-zine version of 'dream' customer rag

 

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