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  • Mercedes-Benz reveals production version of X-Class pickup truck


    The X-Class is the first-ever pickup truck for the Mercedes-Benz brand; derived from partner Nissan-Renault's Navara (Frontier) midsize pickup (all images: Daimler).

    2018 Mercedes X-Class rear 34.jpg

    First X-Class models to be built in late 2017 in Nissan's Barcelona, Spain, assembly plant.
    2018 Mercedes X-Class rear.jpg

    Mercedes stressed ruggedness of the X-Class underpinnings balanced by attention to on-road ride quality. A pair of 4-cyl. diesels and a small gasoline 4-cyl. comprise the engine lineup at launch, with a V6 diesel coming in 2018.
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    X-Class interior presents design cues from many current Mercedes-Benz models.

    Mercedes-Benz insists the X-Class is not intended for the North American market, but the company borrows from the U.S. pickup playbook by offering a variety of customization options and accessories.

    Daimler’s Mercedes-Benz luxury-vehicle unit this week unveiled the production version of its X-Class, the first pickup truck to wear the Mercedes-Benz star. The X-Class is a 4-door midsize pickup using the NP300 body-on-frame (BOF) architecture of the Nissan Navara, largely the same pickup sold in the U.S. as the Nissan Frontier.

    From the time it was confirmed in 2015 that Daimler and Nissan-Renault would partner to build the X-Class, Mercedes-Benz has insisted it does not intend to sell the pickup in North America. In announcing details of the production X-Class, Mercedes-Benz continues with the point, saying the X-Class will begin production at Nissan’s assembly plant in Barcelona, Spain by the end of this year for the Europe, South Africa and Australia markets. The Latin America market will be served in 2019 by X-Class pickups built at a Renault assembly plant in Cordoba, Argentina.

    “The X-Class is aimed at very different customer groups: land owners and farmers in Argentina, business owners and building contractors in Australia, families with an affinity for premium products in Brazil, trend-conscious individualists in South Africa and Great Britain as well as sporty adventurers in New Zealand and Germany,” Mercedes-Benz said in a release summarizing its current market intent for the new pickup. The company also stressed the new pickup is “attractively priced in the segment” in its launch markets.

    Rugged chassis, diesel-oriented powertrain

    What brand loyalists are likely to find most divergent from Mercedes-Benz’s famous technology focus is the X-Class pickup’s reliance on traditional chassis design, chiefly the BOF architecture and solid rear axle—although the rear axle apparently is located with multiple links and suspension comes not from pickup-standard leaf springs but coil springs. There are ventilated disc brakes at each corner.

    The more-utilitarian orientation extends to the drivetrain: the X-Class initially is fitted with a conventional transfer case that allows selection between rear-wheel drive or full-time engagement of the front axle. The company nonetheless is employing its well-established 4Matic moniker for the setup, despite the fact its engagement is not automatic.

    Later, Mercedes-Benz said, the X-Class’ optional gasoline V6 will be coupled with a permanent AWD system.

    At launch, there is a gasoline 2L 4-cyl. coupled only with RWD and left-hand drive for certain markets. The primary engine choices, however, are 2.3L turbodiesels of varying power ratings. The single-turbocharged variant develops 163 hp and 297 lb·ft (403 N·m). A twin-turbocharged version of the same engine generates 190 hp and 332 lb·ft (450 N·m).

    The standard transmission for either diesel is a 6-speed automatic; the higher-powered 2.3L turbodiesel also is available with a 7-speed automatic. Either engine can be coupled with the driver-actuated 4WD system.

    The V6 diesel, promised by mid-2018, generates 258 hp and 406 lb·ft (550 N·m), the company said.

    Midsize, not compact

    Mercedes-Benz said the overall length of the new X-Class pickup is 210.2 in (5340 mm) and wheelbase is 124 in (3150 mm). The most compact 4-door version of Ford’s F-150 fullsize pickup is 231.9 in (5890 mm) long, with a wheelbase of 145 in (3683 mm). The X-Class bed length is 62.5 in (1587 mm), similar to most U.S.-market midsize pickups. Maximum payload is 2297 lb (1042 kg).

  • GM aims to double brake rotor service life with new FNC treatment

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    GM brake engineer and materials expert Jim Webster spearheaded the FNC treatment process as applied to grey-iron brake rotors.

    General Motors is on a mission to banish corrosion from its brake rotors, while at the same time doubling rotor service life. By 2016 the automaker plans to have highly corrosion-resistant rotors on 80% of its U.S. market vehicles, a move that is enabled by GM’s adoption of a patented surface-treatment process.

    The GM-developed process is ferritic-nitro carburizing (FNC), a form of case hardening. FNC is a gaseous process that “diffuses nitrogen and carbon into the metallic part” following production machining of the rotor's friction surface, explained Jim Webster, a GM brake engineer who helped spearhead the program.

    The rotors are super-heated at 560°C (1040°F) for up to 24 hours within a nitrogen-rich atmosphere. The nitrogen atoms bond to the surface of the steel rotor, hardening it and increasing its strength.

    The FNC process lays down a 10-µm-thick transfer layer across the entire rotor surface, including the center “hat” section and inside the central cooling vanes of ventilated rotors. (Ten microns is roughly 1/10 the width of a human hair.) The resulting friction surface is significantly more durable than that of a rotor without the FNC treatment, while remaining virtually impervious to corrosion and rust.

    “We expect FNC will double rotor life from the current 40,000 miles, to 80,000 miles, before it needs to be ‘turned’ [machined to regain factory-spec lateral runout and surface finish],” Webster said. Other benefits include reduced brake dust accumulation on the road wheels and smoother brake-pedal feel over time.

    The FNC process, while somewhat similar to carburizing as used in powertrain gear hardening, differs in its nitrogen component, GM engineers said.

    Once a rotor is turned, its friction surface loses the FNC layer. But until that point, the FNC rotors are expected to delight various key constituencies. GM dealers and customers will like their aesthetic appeal, particularly due to the increased popularity of polished-aluminum and chromed multi-spoke road wheels that tend to show off the brakes behind them. Owners will appreciate the vastly extended service life and improved pedal feel as the miles rack up.

    And GM Design stylists can develop more “open architecture” wheels without worrying that rusty brake rotors will diminish their appeal.

    “My partner Ed Welburn [GM Vice President of Design] asked me to fix the rusty-rotor issue,” said John Calabrese, Vice President of Global Vehicle Engineering. He noted that customer surveys have shown that 40% of vehicle owners consider brake-rotor corrosion to be among the most bothersome issues.

    GM began investigating solutions for brake-rotor corrosion and extended service life in 2006. Engineers started with salt-bath nitriding, which was first used on the 2008 Cadillac DTS brake rotors. Gaseous FNC then evolved from the salt-bath process, Calabrese said, noting that FNC has helped reduce DTS brake-related warranty claims by over 70%.

    The FNC’s on-cost, compared with non-treated rotors, is “slight but manageable,” he said. GM outsources its production brake rotors.

    GM has increased its implementation of FNC rotor technology since its 2008 debut. Currently it’s used on the Buick Lacrosse and Regal and the Chevrolet Malibu, Impala, and Volt. Applications thus far are limited to North American and Chinese vehicles, due to those markets' preference (and regulations) for brake-pad materials that are less aggressive than higher-friction materials, particularly those using sintered-metal compositions preferred in Europe, noted Margaret Oswald, GM’s Director of Brake Systems Engineering.

    GM claims to be the only automaker currently using a nitriding process to address brake rotor wear and corrosion.

  • Bedding In Brake Rotors and Brake pads

    Bedding In Brake Rotors

    Anytime you install new brake rotors, brake pads, or both, it's advantageous to bed in your new brakes. Bedding in your brakes is just an industry term to explain breaking in your new brakes.  Bedding in your brakes helps transfer an even layer of brake pad material onto the brake rotor which assists in smoother brake operation and improved braking power.

    Having a uniform layer of pad material on the brake rotor is essential to minimizing brake squeal and vibration. For this procedure, you will need a good stretch of road and no traffic.

    Use common sense and take precaution as DBC does not take responsibility for erratic driving, accidents, or damages done.

    Note: When using DBC Zinc-Coated rotors, as soon as you start braking, the friction from the pads will strip the zinc from the pad surface, turning it Silver and leaving the holes, slots, and the rest of the rotor zinc coated in the color you selected.

    • Perform 3-4 medium stops from 45mph. Slightly more aggressive than normal braking. You don't need to come to a complete stop for each pass. This brings the brake rotors up to temperature so they are not exposed to sudden thermal shock.
    •  Make 8-10 aggressive stops from 60mph down to 15mph. For this set of semi-stops, you want to be firm and aggressive, but not to the point where ABS activates and the wheels lock up. It's important to note that you don't come to a complete stop but rather a semi-stop (~15mph). Accelerate back up to 60mph as soon as you slowed down to your semi-stop.
    • The brake pads and brake rotors are extremely hot at this point and sitting on one point will imprint the pad material onto the surface unevenly. This can cause vibration and uneven braking.
    •  You may notice that your brakes will start fading, and sometimes smoke, after the 6th or 7th pass. This fade will stabilize and will gradually recess once your brakes have cooled down to normal operating temperatures. Drive carefully as your brakes may feel softer for the next few minutes.
    • Try not to come to a complete stop and find a stretch of road where you can coast for 5-10 minutes, preferably without using your brakes.

    After the break-in procedure, there may be a light blue tint on your brake rotors as well as a gray film deposit. The blue tint shows that your rotor has reached the appropriate temperature during the bedding process, and the gray film is some of the pad transfer material.

    Some cars and trucks require two cycles of the bedding in procedure. This may be the case if you are using old brake rotors with new brake pads, or new brake rotors with old pads. This may also be the case if you don't think you fully heated up the brakes in the initial bedding procedure. In any case, it's required that you wait at least 10-15 minutes between each cycle as you don't want them to overlap.

  • The 10 Most Expensive Car Repairs

    The 10 Most Expensive Car Repairs Source:


    9. Brake Line – $1,000

    In terms of safety, nothing is more important than the brakes on your car. And while new brake pads are comparatively inexpensive, you could end up shelling out big bucks if the brake line that carries needed brake fluid blows or disintegrates. Most brake line repairs cost about $1,000. Mechanics will almost always push to replace the entire line in the vehicle rather than try to patch or fix a broken line. Unfortunately, this type of repair is absolutely necessary for safety reasons. Nobody can, or should, drive if the brake line in their car is damaged or not functioning properly. Source:

    8. Catalytic Converter – $1,500

    Motorists who live in a jurisdiction that requires vehicles to be emissions tested most likely have a catalytic converter installed. This device is used to convert the harmful chemicals produced in exhaust fumes into harmless ones that do not damage the environment or the air that people breathe. It is a very noble car component. But it is also an expensive one. Situated between the engine and the muffler, a catalytic converter is easy for a mechanic to find and replace. But the part is pretty expensive. Expect to pay at least $1,500 for this replacement. Catalytic converters can almost never be repaired when a problem arises. They almost always need to be replaced. However, you can feel good about helping the environment as you shell out money for this particular part. Source:

    7. Head Gasket – $2,000

    The saying “blowing a gasket” exists for a reason. It refers to people overheating and steam coming out of their ears. And that is exactly what happens to a car when it blows a head gasket. When a head gasket goes, it sprays coolant and oil, white smoke billows from the engine and exhaust, and the engine quickly overheats. Few things produce more of a mess on a car than a blown head gasket. This is because the head gasket seals the engine cylinders and stops coolant and oil from leaking out. Despite the mess and drama it produces, a head gasket is a relatively cheap car part. However, the labor involved to replace a head gasket is not cheap. Replacing a head gasket typically costs $2,000—possibly more depending on the damage done to the rest of the car when one blows. Source:

    6. Camshaft – $1,500 to $3,000

    A camshaft is an essential component in any vehicle. It controls how the engine takes in air. Over time, the camshaft can become quite dirty and get plugged up with dirt and debris. If not cleaned regularly through oil changes and valve cleanings, a camshaft will eventually break and the cost to replace one ranges from $1,500 to $3,000. Not cheap. The high cost is due to the fact that the repair requires a lot of labor. To avoid this expensive repair, people should be sure to keep up with maintenance such as oil changes and tune-ups. If the check engine light on the dashboard comes on, there could be a problem with the camshaft. Don’t ignore this indicator and instead get the car checked out before it’s too late. Source:

    5. Suspension – $2,500 to $3,500

    We rarely notice the suspension on our car. Yet a lot goes into the suspension and it is an integral part of any vehicle. After all, the suspension is what keeps us from feeling every bump and dip in the road. A proper working suspension system is comprised of the following parts: shocks, struts, springs, control arms and tie rods. If only one of these parts breaks, it is not too expensive to repair or replace. But a complete suspension overhaul can be super expensive in terms of parts and labor. And you can usually count on a mechanic saying that the whole suspension system needs to be replaced at a cost of about $3,500—even if only one component breaks. Do yourself a favor and get a second opinion when it comes to your car’s suspension. Source:

    4. Airbags – $2,500 to $4,000

    There is no question that airbags save lives. In fact, airbags are, arguably, the greatest safety invention in automotive history. However, once they deploy, airbags almost always have to be replaced—and this is costly. Also, the steering wheel and glove box in a car may also need to be replaced after airbags deploy. All tallied, people can spend anywhere from $2,500 to as much as $4,000 getting the front seat of their car back in proper working condition after the airbags have deployed. They save lives but really do make a mess of a car. Of course, if your airbags are deployed it is probably because you have been in an accident or collision, in which case new airbags may be the least of your worries. Source:

    3. Transmission – $4,000 to $5,000

    Transmission problems can stop any car dead in its tracks. Without a proper functioning transmission, the wheels on a vehicle are unable to turn. And replacing the transmission assembly on most cars runs between $4,000 and $5,000. It could cost more depending on the severity of the problem. The transmission is a complex system that controls the flow of power from the engine to the driveshaft. It experiences more wear and tear than most other parts of a vehicle due to the heat and friction produced by the many moving and interacting components. Signs that there could be problems with the transmission include the gears slipping, a dragging clutch, a burning smell and a humming noise when the car is parked. Be alert to these signs, as the sooner you take action to repair a transmission the less it will cost you.



    2. Hybrid Car Battery – $6,000

    Many people are dreaming of the day when they no longer have to buy gasoline and their electric car will operate on battery power alone. However, the batteries used in cars, notably hybrid vehicles, are hugely expensive. Replacing one faulty battery in a hybrid car can cost upwards of $6,000. Not cheap! Any type of rechargeable battery slowly loses its ability to hold a charge over time, including the batteries used in hybrid cars. Almost all hybrid car batteries on the market today will die before their owner gets 10 years of use out of the vehicle. And replacing this battery also means replacing the computer system for the car, which can quickly add up to $6,000 or more. While popular, hybrid cars have not caught on with more drivers mainly because of the massive hidden costs associated with the vehicles, notably the cost to replace their batteries. Source:


    1. Engine and Cylinders – $7,000 to $10,000

    “Major engine damage” are words nobody wants to hear. This means that your car is in big trouble. It’s practically kaput. And the worst, and most expensive, type of engine damage involves the vehicle’s cylinders. If the cylinders at the core of the engine breakdown, then the car will not be driveable and you could be on the hook for a repair in the area of $7,000 to $10,000. This is because a mechanic will have to remove the entire engine from the car to replace the cylinders. The best bet is usually to get a whole new engine installed rather than try to repair the old broken one. Or, better yet, ditch the car entirely and go buy a new one. For $7,000 to $10,000, you can get a pretty decent new car. And beware, the larger and more powerful a vehicle’s engine (such as those in trucks and sport utility vehicles) the more expensive they are to repair or replace. Source:

  • 10 Things You Probably Didn’t Know About Tesla Motors

    10 Things You Likely Didn’t Know About Tesla Motors Via


    9. Tesla is Building the World’s Largest Battery Factory

    Demand for Tesla’s vehicles is so great, and sales are forecast to be so robust, that the company is now making a huge investment to build the world’s largest battery factory, and one of the biggest buildings on the entire planet. Out in the California dessert, Tesla Motors is constructing a 5.8 million square foot factory to make batteries for its electric vehicles. Once completed, the factory will produce enough batteries to power 500,000 electric cars a year. In fact, the new Tesla battery plant will produce the equivalent of the world’s entire lithium ion battery production today under one roof. That is a massive and impressive undertaking.


    8. Despite the Hype, Tesla Motors is Still a Small Car Manufacturer

    Despite the current hype and daily reports about its progress as a company, Tesla Motors is still a relatively small player in the automotive sector. Over the past 10 years, Tesla Motors has shipped about 100,000 total cars to its customers. By comparison, the big three automakers in the U.S. shipped 17 million new cars in 2015 alone. BMW and Mercedes-Benz sold nearly 500,000 luxury cars in the U.S. last year. While Tesla Motors is clearly an innovator, influencer, and is pushing the automotive industry into the all electric vehicle market, they remain relatively small compared to the big players in the automotive space. Via

    7. Currently, Tesla is Primarily a Battery Manufacturer

    While they are known for the electric cars they produce, the reality is that Tesla is currently more of a battery manufacturer than it is an automotive manufacturer. Making long lasting, state-of-the-art batteries pay the bills at Tesla and drives investments into the company’s electric car technology. Tesla builds and sells high-tech batteries for use in commercial buildings, residential homes and municipal power grids. Some Tesla batteries are even being used to power wineries in northern California. The batteries are also used to help power solar panels and produce solar energy. Tesla takes the proceeds from sales of its batteries and pumps them into the car division, using the money to further development of its Model 3 and other electric vehicles.



    6. Tesla Has Been on the Verge of Bankruptcy Several Times

    Tesla Motors has followed the path of many start-up companies. It has burned through cash and come close to bankruptcy on several occasions. Tesla has also had to go out for new rounds of venture capital financing many times. In 2013, behind on development of its Model S electric car, Tesla found itself with only about two weeks’ cash left in the bank. Elon Musk admitted at a recent shareholders meeting that the company was on the brink of being insolvent in late 2013. However, each time it looked like the end was near, Tesla Motors found a way to raise needed cash and stay afloat. That is good news as the company has also been the target of takeovers from many other companies in recent years, including…



    5. Google Has Tried to Buy Tesla Motors Several Times

    Search engine giant Google is aggressively moving into the car space, notably with self-driving autonomous vehicles. The company is obsessively working on developing the world’s first completely autonomous self-driving automobile. Google co-founder Larry Page is reported to be obsessed with the notion of cars that drive themselves around. Also of interest are all electric cars. The advanced technology developed by Tesla Motors, especially its battery technology, is extremely enticing to Google, which is why the company has taken several runs at Tesla over the years. Larry Page and Elon Musk are friends, and it has been reported that Larry Page has, several times, tried to convince his pal to sell Tesla Motors to Google for very large sums. Yet, so far, Elon Musk has resisted these offers and kept Tesla Motors independent.



    4. Tesla Cars Are Designed to Require Almost No Maintenance

    With their electric engines and other advanced technology, not to mention the fact that Tesla Motors does not have a big presence outside California, the cars sold by the company are designed to require almost no maintenance. Tesla cars do not require oil changes, new air filters, spark plugs or fan belts. The batteries are so advanced and powerful that they too do not need to be changed during the life of the vehicle. And, the braking system is designed so that the brake pads on a Tesla also never need to be changed. Rather than using friction to stop, Tesla cars slowdown by reversing the motor – using the brake pads only sparingly. The only parts on a Tesla car that may need to be replaced are the windshield wiper blades and the tires. Beyond that, the car is pretty rock solid.



    3. Tesla Cars Have Been Declared the Safest Vehicles in History

    In addition to their high-tech parts and components, Tesla cars are super safe. How safe? Well, the Tesla Model S car received the highest safety rating of any car in history from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. Some of the equipment used to test cars broke on the Model S vehicle because it is so strong and resilient. During a test to see if the roof of the car could be crushed, the machine used broke after it reached its highest power setting. The roof of the Model S remained intact. Elon Musk and the engineers at Tesla Motors say they want to revolutionize the entire automotive industry – not just the use of electricity to power cars but the way cars are designed and their ability to protect occupants.



    2. The Company’s Name was Chosen at Disneyland

    Tesla Motors is named after a scientist and engineer from Serbia named Nikola Tesla, who died in 1946. He invented the first alternating current motor widely used in cars today. Arriving at this name was not easy. For months, company founders Martin Eberhard and Marc Tarpenning struggled to come up with a name. But then, Martin Eberhard took a trip to Disneyland with his girlfriend and inspiration struck. While eating at the Blue Bayou restaurant in Disneyland, Martin Eberhard suggested the name Tesla to his girlfriend. After explaining the significance of the name, Martin Eberhard’s girlfriend approved and the name Tesla Motors Inc. was incorporated on July 1, 2003. The rest, as they say, is history.



    1. Tesla’s Next Move is to Design and Build an Electric SUV

    Sport Utility Vehicles (SUVs) are known for being notorious gas guzzlers — the worst offenders when it comes to consuming precious fossil fuels. Tesla Motors is hoping to change that though, as the company’s next foray is to design and build and all electric SUV. The company has already developed an electric compact SUV prototype it calls Model X. The prototype would seat seven people, have gullwing doors and be completely electric – using only a battery to travel around. However, with a starting price of $70,000, the question remains: Who will be able to afford such an expensive vehicle. The challenge for Tesla Motors remains to develop vehicles that will be affordable to the masses and that can be purchased by a wide cross-section of society. Time will tell if this goal is achievable. In the meantime, the prospect of an electric SUV is intriguing. Via



  • 10 Cars That Won’t Exist After 2017

    10 Cars That Won’t Exist After 2017

    9. Volkswagen Eos

    Volkswagen has some iconic nameplates in its collection of cars – from the Beetle and the Golf to the Jetta and Passat. Sadly, the convertible Eos never entered the pantheon of well received Volkswagen cars. The convertible hardtop just never caught on with people. To be fair, sales of convertibles have dropped across the board over the past decade, so it’s not just Volkswagen that has had a tough time selling a convertible to the public. However, the Eos also suffered from poor reviews from critics, who claimed it was stiff and not much fun to drive. And, as Volkswagen continues to recover from the scandal that saw the company deliberately fake emission results for its diesel powered vehicles, the company decided to save money and discontinue the Eos. This car is so cancelled that they are not even getting a 2017 model. The 2016 Eos is the last model being produced by the German automaker. Via

    8. Honda CR-Z

    The Honda CR-Z is a gas-electric hybrid vehicle that got a lot of love from car critics over the years. Building on its popular predecessor, the CRX, the Honda CR-Z was notable for being a hybrid car that came with the option of a manual transmission. With great fuel efficiency and a decent price point, most analysts expected the Honda CR-Z to sell well. Unfortunately, like all hybrids, the market for the CR-Z proved to be limited. There just aren’t very many people out there looking to buy a gas-electric vehicle. Most people will still opt to stick with their pollution spewing gasoline powered car rather than take on what they perceive might be a hassle with a hybrid. As a result, sales of the CR-Z lagged and Honda has finally decided to pull the plug on the car. The 2017 model will be the last one for the CR-Z. Rest in peace. Via

    7. Lincoln MKS

    A lot of people will be surprised to see the Lincoln MKS on this list. A full sized luxury vehicle that was slightly cooler than your average old man car, the MKS has proven to be quite a popular ride among a certain demographic – old folks. Yet despite its popularity, the MKS has fallen victim to some internal politics at the Lincoln company. Turns out that executives at Lincoln want to discontinue the MKS so that they can focus on bringing back the Lincoln Continental, a classic brand and model for the company that they hope will connect with consumers and drive sales higher. The thinking is that the Lincoln Continental will evoke nostalgia and fond memories in people, and that the name recognition will be higher than with the MKS. Time will tell, of course. But the Lincoln Continental is synonymous with the massive old man cars of the 1970s and 1980s. You know, the big boats that were almost impossible to parallel park? Here’s hoping the new Continental will be a little smaller and a car that people can actually park in their garage. Via

    6. Volvo S80

    Swedish car maker Volvo doesn’t discontinue vehicles very often. The company tends to stand by its models through thick and thin, good sales and bad. So it is a little surprising to see that Volvo is stopping production on the S80, a full-sized premium sedan. After ten years of fairly decent sales, Volvo is bringing out an all new luxury sedan with the S90 and needs to clear space at its assembly line. So it is cancelling the S80 after the 2017 model and making room for production to ramp up on the all new S90. No guarantees that the S90 will sell better than its predecessor – especially since Volvo primarily sells smaller mid-sized cars and station wagons. But the engineers in Sweden seem reluctant to give up on the full-sized luxury car market just yet. Via

    5. Cadillac ELR

    Like the aforementioned Lincoln MKS, the Cadillac ELR was meant to be a hipper and more modern take on the classic grandpa ride, but with the added twist that it was also a hybrid gas-electric vehicle. Yet the two-door luxury coupe never caught on with consumers. This is likely due to the fact that the basic model Cadillac ELR sells for $75,000. That’s a lot of money for people on a pension to shell out for a car – a two-door one at that. A coupe with very limited driving range due to the electric engine, as many critics pointed out, the Cadillac ELR had about half the driving range of the Chevrolet Volt. Not cool. Cadillac tried to kick start sales of this hybrid car with robust advertising, incentives, tax breaks, and price slashing – but, alas, none of it worked. And so it is sayonara for the Cadillac ELR. The 2017 model will be the last for this car. Via

    4. Scion tC

    Scion was a division of Japanese car maker Toyota, which tried to position the vehicles as a more affordable option for cost-conscious consumers. Yet Scion never caught on and now the entire division is being shut down by Toyota. While a few Scion models are being moved into Toyota showrooms and will continue to be marketed, the tC coupe is not so lucky. This commuter car, which never sold very well, is being stopped all together. After January 1, 2017, no more Scion tCs will be manufactured – ending one of the worst chapters in the Toyota Motor Company’s history. Analysts claim that the Scion brand never had the full support of Toyota behind it, which doomed the division from the start. Others say that the tC never found a niche and had a difficult time competing in the coupe market, since it’s not viewed as a sporty compact car. Via

    3. Hyundai Genesis

    Many people will be shocked to see the Hyundai Genesis on this list. The car has been a popular and reliable seller for 20 years. But claims that the Genesis is being discontinued are a bit of misnomer, we have to admit. What Hyundai is actually doing is combining the Genesis and Equus models into a new branded nameplate known as the Genesis G80. And while the Genesis as we know it will cease to exist, Hyundai is putting a lot of resources behind the new G80 model and brand – launching a global marketing campaign and pushing the new car across its worldwide dealer network. Hyundai feels this is the best approach for driving its sales figures higher and reinvigorating both the Genesis and Equus brands, which have grown a little stale over the past few decades. Get ‘em while they’re hot. Via

    2. Dodge Viper

    Say it ain’t so! The Dodge Viper has been a popular supercar for more than 20 years. The powerful Viper has been the wet dream of teenage boys everywhere, with posters adorning bedroom walls across North America. But with a starting price of nearly $80,000, the Viper could never really compete with the much cheaper Corvette. Plus, the Viper never came with an optional automatic transmission, and who can drive a stick these days? For these reasons, sales of the Viper have long suffered and Dodge has finally decided to pull the plug on the masterful Viper brand. Interestingly, this is the second time that Dodge has tried to walk away from the Viper. The company canceled production of the car in 2010, only to bring it back in 2013 owing to demand from the public. Sales never took off though, and now Dodge says the 2017 model of the Viper will be the last. The car is history once again – this time for good (probably). Via

    1. Dodge Grand Caravan

    Are you kidding us? The Dodge Grand Caravan has been the top selling minivan in the U.S. and Canada since 1985. In fact, the Grand Caravan invented the minivan segment. It’s literally the original minivan. And families have loved it for generations. Sales have never declined. So what gives? Apparently, Chrysler-Dodge has decided to discontinue both the Dodge Grand Caravan and the Chrysler Town & Country after 2017, in favour of the all new Chrysler Pacifica, which replaces both minivans. Note to consumers: The Chrysler Pacifica will have a higher price point than the Dodge Grand Caravan, the plan being for the new minivan to compete more robustly with higher end and more expensive people movers such as the Honda Odyssey and the Toyota Sienna. We think it is only a matter of time before Chrysler-Dodge is forced to bring the Grand Caravan back to appease price sensitive suburbanites. Via

  • Audi vs. BMW vs. Mercedes-Benz in the Modern Era

    Audi vs. BMW vs. Mercedes-Benz in the Modern Era

    Once upon a time, it was easy to differentiate between the three German luxury brands. Audi was the lesser-known left-field choice, Mercedes was the long standing, old-school king of the market, and BMW was the up-and-coming player for the up-and-coming buyer. But that was the 1980s. How things change.
    BMW and Mercedes each sold more cars than Chrysler in the U.S. in 2014, and Audi is now a real player in the market, with sales up more than 15 percent in 2014 over 2013 (though still at roughly half of Mercedes volume). All three companies sell a wide range of models including an entry-level offering for about $30,000 (base price), various SUV models, and 12-cylinder luxury automobiles approaching or surpassing $150,000. Let’s take a look at where each brand sits today.


    I used to be an Audi nut. Quattro all-wheel drive was a valuable feature for enthusiasts in Michigan. Plus, the cars depreciated hard, so I could afford used examples. Then I had my first drive in a BMW E36 M3, which made me realize Audi’s lack of handling dynamics, even on the sportiest versions. Today, most Audi models still aren’t my choice dynamically. The R8 (above) is the only Audi that impresses me with its handling. But as BMW loses its edge in the sports sedan world, Audi keeps plugging along with gorgeous interiors. And there’s also the low-key image advantage of the four rings versus the roundel and three-pointed star. You don’t want a Mercedes or BMW parked in your driveway when the contractor visits to give you an estimate on a remodeling job. For many people, Audi is still viewed as just an upscale Volkswagen.


    This brand used to be King of the Castle, as far as I’m concerned. That first drive in the E36 M3 (above) led me to own several 3 and 5 Series models. I loved their combination of steering/handling prowess and impressive refinement. Their naturally aspirated inline-sixes sounded great and were smooth, smooth, smooth. I was willing to put up with the yuppie frat boy image because BMW offered a product that drove better than the comparable Audi or Mercedes. Now, I’m not so sure. The F30 3 Series isn’t as crisp as the old E90 and the 328i’s turbocharged inline-4 lacks the old 3.0-liter six’s character. Same story with the 5 Series. Yes, fuel economy is up and emissions are down, but at what cost? BMW simply doesn’t stand above and beyond the competition any longer.


    Mercedes always had depth. They didn’t blow you away during the test drive, but you grew to appreciate their cars the more you spent time in them. Other than some hiccups with quality (including some rather horrible rust issues) for roughly a decade starting about 1996, Mercedes has stayed quite true to its brand image and heritage. It has a history of building over-engineered automobiles with a sense of quality, above and beyond anything else. I also prefer the driving experience offered in most Mercedes models to most Audi models. Most Mercedes interiors aren’t quite as lovely as Audi’s, but the latest C-Class proves that cars with a three-pointed star can battle the four-ringed brand inside the cockpit. The CLA-Class (above), however, illustrates how Mercedes has to carefully grow its lineup. The Audi A3 is a nicer car to drive and spend time in. Mercedes’ smallest, cheapest car just doesn’t feel like a true Mercedes, but the A3 feels like a proper Audi.


    The brands have become more homogenous as they’ve grown their product lineups, and that’s not a good thing. Each had its own set of unique qualities designed to attract individual luxury customers. Audi was all about all-wheel drive. Now BMW and Mercedes offer all-wheel drive on most models, which is a necessity for rear-wheel-drive luxury cars sold in northern states. BMW led in driving dynamics. That’s no longer the case. The latest BMWs aren’t bad cars, but the brand can’t legitimately claim to be “The Ultimate Driving Machine” for each segment it’s in. Mercedes once offered a certain level of quality and workmanship not found in the other German luxury automobiles. That gap has substantially narrowed and in some cases, Mercedes has lost its advantage. Though I’d give the BMW 5 Series and the Mercedes E-Class a slight dynamic edge to the Audi A6, this is splitting hairs. They are now very similar, especially to the average buyer. Just run the numbers between all three on their configurators and pick the cheapest, which is a disappointing way to make a choice in the luxury segments.
    Each automaker used to build products that made sense to different buyers. Now, each brand is trying to have enough model breadth to please any luxury buyer, and they depend on marketing to differentiate their brands. That may be good for short- and medium-term sales, but what about the long run?

  • 2017 BMW 340 Reviews 2017

    2017 340


    The BMW 3 Series has grown and softened in recent years, but all the cars in the series have dynamics expected from a BMW. The rear-wheel-drive versions are the best. They also get excellent fuel mileage.

    There are a lot of 3 Series variants, with different powertrains and body styles, including wagon, sedan and hatchback Gran Turismo. There is also a coupe and a convertible, but they are labeled 4 Series.

    The 2016 BMW 3 Series gets some updates. The taillights and headlights have been given distinctive light signatures, air intakes are wider, and fascias and bumpers at both ends have been slightly reshaped, while the nose has been raised a bit to meet safety standards for pedestrians. It's a bit more aggressive looking.

    The BMW 320i sedan competes with the Mercedes-Benz CLA-Class and the Audi A3 sedan.

    The BMW 320i uses a 2.0-liter turbo four-cylinder engine that's tuned to make 180 horsepower and 200 pound-feet of torque. That same engine powers the BMW 328i, but it's tuned to make a spirited 240 horsepower and 255 pound-feet of torque in that car. If it's high mileage you want, the BMW 328d brings it, with a four-cylinder turbodiesel that makes 180 horsepower but more significantly a beefy 280 pound-feet of torque. At the top of the power heap there's the BMW 340i, using a new 3.0-liter turbocharged inline six-cylinder making 320 horsepower and 330 pound-feet of torque.

    The all-wheel-drive BMW 328i xDrive Sports Wagon uses the 240-horsepower version of the 2.0-liter, while the 328d xDrive Sports Wagon uses the turbodiesel.

    The 3 Series Gran Turismo is a five-door hatchback that's about eight inches longer and three inches taller, on a wheelbase that's four inches longer. All Gran Turismo models come with all-wheel drive. The BMW 328i Gran Turismo uses the 240-hp 2.0-liter, while the BMW 335i Gran Turismo uses the 3.0-liter inline-6 making 300 horsepower. The Gran Turismo is a relatively new invention, a BMW that's heavier and softer, and feels it. It trades away traditional BMW response for family values.

    Rear-wheel drive comes standard on all sedans, with xDrive all-wheel drive available. The standard transmission is an 8-speed automatic, but a 6-speed manual, just for fun, is available at the same price for the 320i, 328i, 340i, and 340i xDrive.


    The BMW 3 Series runs the gamut from 320i sedan ($33,150) to 340i xDrive sedan ($47,800).

    Standard equipment is sparse on the 320i. But option packages are abundant.


    The styling of the 3 Series is classic and sporty, never flashy. The sedan is long and sleek looking, with a rising tail that doesn't pinch the greenhouse. The beltline does not climb toward a wedge.

    The big hatchback Gran Turismo is part fastback, part wagon and part crossover, with an open greenhouse and rear spoiler.


    There's good room for front occupants and cargo, but it's a little tight for adults in the rear. The dashboard is horizontal and clean, featuring a free-standing display monitor. The trim can be understated aluminum or elegant wood, but be careful, unlike the exterior, the cabin can get flashy, or at least fussy, with certain trim combinations.

    BMW's iDrive control system remains complex, although it is more usable than before. The 3D maps with the available navigation are excellent.

    The following review is for a 2016 Model Year. There may be minor changes to current model you are looking at.


    The sedan and wagon handle like a BMW should. The Gran Turismo is about comfort, while being more sure-footed than a tall crossover.

    The 328i with its 2.0-liter turbo is our favorite; with the precise-shifting manual transmission it will reach 60 mph in 5.7 seconds. Its peak torque comes at a low 1250 rpm, and that sure gets you started fast. It is hard to tell it's a turbo because there's no lag.

    The 328i works well with the standard 8-speed automatic with a Sport mode that quickens the shifts. We got track time in a BMW 328i, and might actually prefer the automatic on the track. The M-DCT dual-clutch gearbox and Active M Differential make a difference on the track.

    The 340i is more potent, capable of accelerating from 0 to 60 mph in 4.5 seconds.

    The electric power steering in every 3 Series car steers and countersteers with the right amount of feedback. Available sport steering sharpens the handling by mechanically changing the steering ratio, skipping the electronics that can make electric power steering difficult.

    Driving Dynamics Control is standard, allowing the driver to choose a system: Eco Pro, Comfort (default), Sport, and Sport+ modes. Sport provides quicker steering and shifts, while Sport+ gives more traction and allows more slip from the stability control. It lets you get the tail out a bit.

    And if you really want to get the tail out, there's the M Sport package that lowers the sedan by nearly half an inch, stiffens the springs and dampers, and adds big anti-roll bars with 18- or 19-inch alloy wheels. Still beyond that, there's a new Track Handling package with the Adaptive M Sport suspension, variable sport steering and brakes with blue calipers.


    We like the 328i best, for its power, mileage, and price. But we also like the 340i for its sweet and powerful classic inline-6 engine, the 328d for its hyper mileage, the wagon for its stylish functionality, and the Gran Turismo for its crossover alternative. Our favorite might be the 328i xDrive Sports Wagon.

  • Tesla will pay for repairs after owner uses his Model S to save another driver's life

    Tesla will pay for repairs after owner uses his Model S to save another driver's life

    It's always nice to wake up to good news, even if it's not your own. A German Tesla Model S owner reportedly saved another driver's life using his car, choosing to help rather than eschewing any potential damage to his vehicle. Even better, Elon Musk said that Tesla will cover all repair costs to fix the damage to the owner's Model S, free of charge.

    According to German publication Muenchner Merkur via Mashable, Manfred Kick was traveling down the A9 Autobahn when he noticed another car swerving back and forth on the road. Upon getting closer, Kick noticed the other driver was unconscious, possibly due to a stroke. Kick decided to pull his Model S ahead of the other driver's Volkswagen and slowly brake in order slow both vehicles down. When stopped, he performed first aid while other motorists called emergency services.

  • The 2018 Audi SQ5 looks mean and switches to turbo power LICENSE

    The 2018 Audi SQ5 looks mean and switches to turbo power LICENSE

    Audi's huge Q8 wasn't the only crossover introduced by the German automaker at this year's Detroit Auto Show. Right alongside it came the 2018 SQ5, the brand's high-performance midsize crossover. This newest version ditches the previous generation's supercharger in favor of a turbo for its 3.0-liter V6. The powertrain is similar to the one used in the latest S4 and S5.

    Horsepower remains unchanged compared to the last SQ5 at 354, but torque sees a healthy increase to 369 pound-feet, and it's available anywhere from 1,370 to 4,500 rpm. The car itself weighs about 77 pounds less, too. It's a combination that should make the SQ5 pretty entertaining off the line.

    Coupled to the turbo engine is an eight-speed automatic and standard all-wheel drive. Power delivery and handling can be enhanced with a Quattro sport rear differential that can shuffle power left and right to aid cornering. Audi says the torque vectoring system can send almost all rearward power to one wheel as necessary. The differential is available as part of the S sport package, which comes with other upgrades including air suspension. The suspension gives the crossover a lower ride height by default. Both height and firmness can be adjusted, and it offers an "offroad" position that raises the car for maximum ground clearance.

    Inside, the SQ5 comes with a sportier interior than its Q5 counterpart. It comes with prerequisites such as a flat-bottomed steering wheel and more-bolstered seats. Audi also provides a Bang & Olufsen sound system and standard Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. The cabin experience can be further augmented with Audi's Virtual Cockpit LCD instrument panel, as well as driving assists such as a variable-ratio steering rack and adaptive cruise control that can handle stop-and-go traffic from 0 to 40 mph.

    Audi will begin selling the new 2018 SQ5 here in spring of 2017. Pricing for it and the Q5 has not yet been released.

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