2014 Chevrolet Malibu Redesigned With New Features

Ryan ZumMallen on

Only one year after debuting the brand new 2013 Chevrolet Malibu, designers went back to the drawing board and have emerged with a restyled 2014 Malibu that boasts new lines and more standard features. It's also gained 1.7 inches of much-needed backseat leg room. Do you like big grilles and 35 MPG? This may be for you.

Right off the bat, it’s clear the Malibu has had a little work done. The front fascia has been molded to look more dynamic, and maybe even aggressive, with a wider front grille and slimmer opening above the bowtie logo. Accent lines running down to the front lip only make the widemouth grille more prominent. Chevrolet apparently wanted a fresh face, and this one certainly isn’t boring. Now, about those changes under the body. more

Quick-Spin Test Drive: 2012 Chrysler 300S

Ben Lewis on

Chrysler redid their full-size 300 sedan last year, and we really loved the updated style and nicer interior, but frankly our six-cylinder model was a little on the sleepy side to drive. We knew a new eight-speed automatic was in the works—and hoped that would perk things up—but we weren’t prepared for what a huge difference it made with the 2012 Chrysler 300S sedan.

In fact, the combination of the eight-speed transmission and Chrysler Pentastar V6, with 31-mpg highway performance, makes this the optimal choice over the available eight-cylinder engine. That’s right: We coulda had a V8—and we’re glad we didn’t!

Our Chrysler 300S test model wowed us from the start. The S model’s black headlamp bezels and black chrome bars in the grille set off its Tungsten Metallic paint beautifully. Crouched over unique 20-inch aluminum wheels, the 300S looked “bad to the bone.”

Thankfully, our 2012 300S had the muscle to back up the looks. While the 292-hp 3.6-liter V6 is unchanged, the new eight-speed automatic (the 300 base model still gets last year’s five-speed) makes sure the engine is always in the sweet spot, and it flies. more

World’s Sexiest Car App: Lexus Tori 500 Featuring Swimsuit Model Tori Pravers

Jeff Prescott on

Automakers go to extremes to create brand awareness and to get consumers to interact with their products, both literally and virtually. Well, Lexus has gone way beyond television commercials featuring champagne glasses stacked on a smooth-running car to creating an app showcasing Sports Illustrated Swimsuit model Tori Praver. Oh, and the redesigned Lexus GS sedan.

Part of a new marketing campaign, the free iPhone app invites players to race a 2013 Lexus GS on a track designed around the curves of Tori’s scantily clad body. Right from the start, it is clear Lexus isn’t shy about using sex-appeal as a lure. The opening screen features Tori in a bikini and high heels. Click in and the player faces a choice, learn more about the GS or select the button underneath Tori to start playing. Uh, Tori it is. more

Sneak Peek: Kia Rear-Drive KH Sedan

Jeff Prescott on

Kia has release images teasing its upcoming rear-drive, large sedan. Based on a platform shared with the luxurious Hyundai Equus, the car code-named “KH” will be the new range-topping model for the Kia line up.

Kia officials are still accessing if they will bring the KH to America, though it remains a real possibility. Given the scale of the U.S. market, even nominal sales can help make a stronger business case for building the car at all. (The Equus sold a little over 3,000 models last year.)  Plus, having such a flagship car could help raise the brand’s perception. more

Ford Unveils Redesigned 2013 Ford Fusion, Including Hybrid and Plug-In Hybrid Models
James M. Flammang on

At the North American International Auto Show in Detroit, Ford is introducing its “all-new” midsize Fusion sedan. Fusion first hit the market as a 2010 model, and has been available with a conventional powertrain or as a hybrid. In its new form, the 2013 Ford Fusion claims to be the first sedan to offer a choice of gasoline, hybrid, or plug-in hybrid powertrains.

Ford also claims seven “must-have” technologies for the 2013 Fusion, including a Lane Keeping System, adaptive cruise control, active park assist, and MyFord Touch interaction with vehicle systems. Promising a “sleek silhouette and fresh face,” Fusion signals the next-generation Ford Mondeo for global markets.

Two EcoBoost four-cylinder gasoline engines will be available, plus a normally-aspirated four-cylinder. Depending on model, either an automatic or a manually-shifted six-speed transmission may be installed. As before, Fusions will have either front-drive or all-wheel drive. Three trim levels will be offered: S, SE, and top-of-the-line Titanium.

The 2013 Ford Fusion promises “ground-breaking design and jaw-dropping fuel economy,” says Derrick Kuzak, group vice-president of Global Product Development. The 1.6-liter EcoBoost engine is expected to deliver best-in-class fuel economy of 26 mpg city/37 mpg highway. Ford’s 2.0-liter EcoBoost, working with a paddle-shifted six-speed SelectShift automatic transmission and all-wheel drive, is the performance option. more

BMW Debuts Redesigned 3 Series Ahead of 2012 Detroit Auto Show
James M. Flammang on

Making its world auto show premiere at Detroit’s North American International Auto Show (NAIAS) is the 2012 BMW 3 Series sport sedan. Fully redesigned for its sixth generation, the 2012 model was first unveiled in Munich, Germany.

Also appearing at Detroit in early January are BMW’s ActiveHybrid 3 (seen for the first time at any auto show), and the ActiveHybrid 5, making its North American debut. Detroit’s show also will include the first two concept cars from BMW’s new “i” brand: the BMW i3 Concept Megacity Vehicle, and the i8 Concept.

In what’s called a “fresh interpretation” of “traditional BMW design cues,” the new front face features elongated headlights that reach the traditional “kidney” grille, emphasizing a sense of greater width. Dimensions have grown modestly. Front track width is nearly 1.5 inches greater than before, while rear track is 1.85 inches wider. Overall, the 2012 BMW 3 Series is 3.7 inches longer than the prior generation, on a wheelbase that’s gained almost two inches.

BMW continues to call its 3 Series the “benchmark by which all sport sedans are measured.” As before, 3 Series sedans will come with a choice of engines, but one of them will have four cylinders—harking back to the original 3 Series that debuted in 1975.

Specifically, the 2012 BMW 328i sedan holds a new 2.0-liter TwinPower Turbo four-cylinder engine, which develops 240 horsepower at 5000 rpm, and 260 pound-feet of torque. A TwinPower Turbo 3.0-liter inline six-cylinder engine goes into the 335i sedan, generating 300 horsepower and 300 pound-feet. Three trim/equipment variants will be offered: Sport Line, Luxury Line, and Modern Line. An M Sport package also will be available. more

Quick-Spin Test Drive: 2012 Mercedes-Benz C-Class
Gary Witzenburg on

Mercedes-Benz offers smaller cars in Europe and elsewhere—and probably will soon in North America as federal CAFE (corporate average fuel economy) mandates ramp up relentlessly down the road—but the compact C-Class remains its “entry-level” line here for now. “It’s the gateway to our brand,” says Bernie Glaser, product manager for Mercedes-Benz USA. “It attracts new customers, has the highest conquest rate and is our major volume driver.”

For starters, 2012 Mercedes-Benz C-Class gets extensive upgrades, a new interior and a choice of engines ranging from M-B’s first U.S.-market four-cylinder in nearly a decade to a muscular 457-hp 6.2-liter V-8 in high-performance C63 AMG models. The new C250 sedan’s 1.8-liter four is direct-injected and turbocharged to a healthy 201 horses, while the mid-range C350 sedan boasts a 302-hp direct-injected 3.5-liter V-6. The previously base 228-hp 3.0-liter V-6 is available only in a 300C 4MATIC all-wheel drive sedan.

But the biggest 2012 Mercedes-Benz C-Class news is the line’s new sport coupes—the first ever offered in North America. Even more than the sport-model sedans, which account for roughly 90 percent of U.S. C-Class sales, these are aggressively styled with bold AMG performance graphics, and they will make M-B’s C-Class line more competitive with rival BMW’s compact 3 Series (which offers sedan, coupe, convertible and even wagon body styles) and Audi’s A4 sedan and A5 coupe. more

Chevrolet Malibu is the Auto Industry’s Longest-Running Midsize Nameplate
Jerry Smith on

Technology moves pretty fast these days, so fast that many of today’s young adults have never lived in a world without the Internet. But if you were born in 1964 or later, you’ve never lived in a world without the Chevrolet Malibu.

In the same year the Beatles performed on The Ed Sullivan Show, Cassius Clay beat Sonny Liston for the World Heavyweight championship, and bubble wrap was invented, Chevrolet debuted the Malibu. More than 200,000 Malibus were sold that first year, and four years later, after a significant redesign, sales increased to 260,000.

Among the first Malibus offered were the now legendary 300-horsepower, 327-cubic-inch V8 Malibu SS coupe and convertible. The Malibu SS Z16 package, available only in the hardtop model, featured Malibu’s first big block engine, a 396-cubic-inch 375-horsepower powerplant.

The Malibu continued its tradition of performance in NASCAR. The 1973-1977 body was aerodynamic and amassed 25 winner’s circle appearances for Chevrolet drivers Cale Yarborough, Bobby Allison, Darrell Waltrip and Benny Parsons.

In the following years the Malibu went through many changes, and today is in its eighth generation. The 2013 Malibu is the Chevrolet’s first global midsize, sold in nearly 100 markets on six continents. It’s a true world car, and will be built in China, Korea and two locations in the United States. more

First Look: 2012 Toyota Camry - Video
Jerry Smith on

The Toyota Camry has been America’s best-selling car for nine years running and 13 of the past 14 years. So when you make one of the best-selling cars in history, what do you do for an encore? You throw a clean sheet of paper on the drawing board and come up with the 2012 Toyota Camry.

The seventh-generation Camry recognizes that competiton in the midsize sedan segment has never been tougher. To help it keep the high ground, the Camry again offers three powertrain choices, all of which have been enhanced for 2012 to provide better fuel economy and more responsive performance. There’s a revised 2.5-liter four-cylinder engine that puts out 178 horsepower, nine more than  before, and 170 lb.-ft. of peak torque; a DOHC 3.5-liter V-6 (268 horsepower/248 lb.-ft. of torque); and an all new Camry hybrid, a revised version of Toyota’s Hybrid Synergy Drive powertrain, including a new 2.5-liter four-cylinder engine. 

Exterior changes for the 2012 Toyota Camry include a lower, wider stance and a pronounced curvature of the main-beam unit merging into the bumper cover. The Camry LE and XLE feature additional exterior chrome trim, and the SE grade debuts its own lower-body design and exclusive fine-mesh upper grille section. The SE also features a three-part lower grille section housing fog lamps, along with black sport trim headlamp bezels. The more prominent rocker panel moldings on the SE cleanly link to integrated front and rear underbody spoilers, emphasizing width, and the trunk lid carries an integrated spoiler. more

IIHS Crash Tests 13 Small Cars, 6 Earn Top Safety Pick Status
Jeff Prescott on

As car shoppers gravitate toward smaller vehicles, the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety has put the latest group through its smashing battery of tests. Think of their lab as the ultimate cage match. In this case, 13 entered, all were crushed, but six emerged with the coveted Top Safety Pick designation.

Despite that ratio, IIHS signals this as a significant improvement, noting that a few years ago, small cars struggled to earn Top Safety Pick status—and now the accolade is even harder to earn. more

Pricing: Kia Optima Hybrids Starts At $26,500
Jeff Prescott on

Kia has announced its first-ever hybrid, the Optima sedan, will start at $26,500. On sale early June, the Optima Hybrid promises 35 mpg city, 40 mpg highway—the same as the Hyundai Sonata Hybrid. (The base four-cylinder Optima is rated at 24 mpg city, 34 mpg highway.)

Built in Georgia, the Optima Hybrid uses a full parallel hybrid system with a lithium-polymer battery pack, and it can be driven in full-electric drive mode at speeds up to 62 miles per hour or in blended gas-electric mode at any speed. When the car comes to a stop and the electrical load is low, the engine shuts off to completely eliminate idle fuel consumption and emissions. In electric-only mode, the car plays a pre-recorded engine sound to help notify people outside the vehicle that it is approaching. No word if it sounds like George Jetson’s car. more

Saab Scores Funding, Chinese Partnership
Jeff Prescott on

Spyker Cars has secured essential short-term funding to continue business and today, the announced that it has formalized a partnership with Chinese-company Hawtai Motor Group Company Limited (Hawtai). This latter agreement bring more funding and opens the Great Wall for a strategic alliance that includes manufacturing and distribution in China.

Hawtai will take a 29.9 percent stake in Spyker, as well as provide much-needed capital.

Victor Muller, CEO of Spyker and Chairman of Saab Automobile, said: “The partnership with Hawtai allows Saab Automobile on the one hand to continue executing its business plan since we secured the required mid-term financing subject to meeting certain conditions, whilst on the other hand it allows Saab Automobile to enter the Chinese car market and establish a technology partnership with a strong Chinese manufacturer.” more

NY Auto Show: 2013 Ford Taurus, Taurus SHO
Jeff Prescott on

Ford has announced its intentions to update the Taurus sedan for the 2013 model year, improving horsepower and fuel efficiency. It seems like the Ford just introduced the Taurus, but in this competitive market, ongoing refinements is key to attracting new buyers.

With gasoline prices rising past $4 gallon in many parts of the country, the New York auto show will be overflowing with high-octane speeches about commitment to efficiency. Ford is taking a significant step by introducing a 2.0-liter four-cylinder EcoBoost engine to the Taurus line up. The EcoBoost promise is that it will deliver V-6 power on a four-cylinder petrol diet. more

NY Auto Show Preview Video: 2012 Dodge Avenger R/T – Son Of Charger
Jeff Prescott on

Chrysler has been putting its recast Sebring into the spotlight as the transformed 200, representing the brand and the centerpiece for its “Imported from Detroit” marketing campaign. But now, Dodge will grab some spotlight at the New York auto show for its equally updated Avenger, to be revealed in the Big Apple in Avenger R/T form. Think of it as the son of the Dodge Charger, and you’re in the right mindset.

While the sheetmetal may look familiar, the Avenger was significantly overhauled for the 2011 model year, with a revised suspension, new Pentastar V-6 engine, and updated interior. The combined affect is a car that was thrust into the 21st century, from what was decidedly a dated, less-than-competitive model. But that is now all be behind Chrysler. History, as it were. more