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The AutoGuide News Blog is your source for breaking stories from the auto industry. Delivering news immediately, the AutoGuide Blog is constantly updated with the latest information, photos and video from manufacturers, auto shows, the aftermarket and professional racing.
 |  Jan 12 2010, 3:21 PM

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A brand desperately in search of a clear direction, Acura will soon deliver a hybrid model says Honda CEO Takanobu Ito.

The announcement was made by Ito just prior to introducing the latest hybrid in the Honda lineup, the CR-Z. Ito did not comment on if an Acura hybrid would use Honda’s IMA (Integrated Motor Assist) hybrid technology, which by all accounts is outdated compared to full-hybrid systems currently on the market from company’s like Toyota and Ford.

Acura has struggled to find itself in the luxury marketplace since it moved away from entry-level models like the RSX and decided not to offer competitive top-tier products to compete with vehicles like the Lexus LS. Plans to build a successor to the NSX have all but fallen apart, even though the company recently debuted what appears to be a very capable replacement (the HSV-010). Honda has said that model is only for racing.

In the past Ito has commented that Honda has no plans to deliver a V8 engine, meaning that Acura won’t be competing with Lexus in the premium flagship segment any time soon. Meanwhile, the Acura brand has launched the ZDX, a coupe-styled crossover, aimed at a very small segment of the market.

It’s likely the first hybrid from Acura will be based on the ucoming relacement for the RL, however, an entry-level hybrid model is also a possibility.

 |  Jan 12 2010, 3:07 PM

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With no official presence at the Detroit Auto Show, Nissan couldn’t resist showcasing its new Leaf electric car. On display alongside several other electric models in an area of the show dubbed Electric Avenue, Nissan claims that the Leaf is no concept, but an actual production model. It certainly looks the part, with a production quality exterior and interior, high-tech features and plenty of functionality.

The Leaf is powered by lithium-ion battery packs and is rated at 80kW/280Nm, (107-hp and 207 ft-lbs of torque), which should make this sub-compact a sporty little car.

Nissan says it will be able to drive 100 miles on a single charge. The batteries will be able to be charged up to 80 percent in less than 30 minutes with a special quick charger, or in roughly eight hours through a standard 200V outlet. Nissan says that through extensive research the 100 mile range will be suitable for 70 percent of car buyers

Next year 5,000 vehicles will be available in five U.S. markets: the Phoenix-Tucson region of Arizona, Oregon, San Diego, Seattle and Tennessee. Fleet sales will also be offered in 2010, while full retails sales are planned for 2012.

GALLERY: Nissan Leaf

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 |  Jan 12 2010, 2:36 PM

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Hyundai’s Hope on Wheels program donated $50,000 to the Detroit Medical Center Children’s Hopsital of Michigan. The Hyundai Hope on Wheels Tour traveled across the nation and raised more than $1.3 million for pediatric cancer research, and the DMC Children’s Hospital as the final stop.

The $50,000 donation will fund research by the hospital’s pediactric neuro-oncologist Dr. Maxim Y. Yankelevich in developing new immunotherapy programs for children with brain tumors.

“Hyundai and its dealers have been committed to supporting the children, families and doctors battling childhood cancer for more than ten years,” said John Krafcik, president and CEO of Hyundai Motor America. “Even in the face of tough economic times for our industry, we will not waver in our commitment to supporting the medical research and training that will produce better treatments, therapies, and one day, a cure.”

Cancer patients from the Children’s Hospital of Michigan had their handprints added to the Hyundai Hope on Wheels Santa Fe, joining the colorful handprints of children from across the country. Once the handprints were added, the car was moved to Hyundai’s display at the North American International Auto Show.

For more information on the Hyundai Hope on Wheels program, visit: www.hyundaihopeonwheels.org.

Gallery: Hyundai Hope on Wheels Santa Fe

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Official release after the jump:

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Detroit 2010: Maserati GranTurismo Convertible North American Debut

Sexy Maserati on display next to other Fiat-owned products from Ferrari to Dodge

 |  Jan 12 2010, 2:27 PM

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Originally unveiled at the Frankfurt Auto Show as the GranCabrio, Maserati has decided to give its convertible GranTurismo model a more self-explanatory name for North America: the GranTurismo Convertible.

This new drop-top expands the Maserati lineup to three models, including the Quattroporte sedan and the GranTurismo coupe.

The GranTurismo Convertible is powered by the company’s top-level 4.7-liter V8, making 433-hp. This seems to indicate that unlike Maserati’s other models, the 405-hp  4.2-liter V8 will not be offered. What this also may indicate is that a possible GranCabrio S model could make even more power. After all, with the added weight of the necessary chassis stiffening required in a drop-top, the 433-hp will deliver performance on par with the base-engine coupe.

On display at the Detroit Auto Show, the Maserati GranTurismo Convertible was part of a larger display by parent company Fiat’s in the Chrysler booth – yes, that is a Dodge Grand Caravan in the background. The display of high tech and exotic hardware from Fiat also included Ferrari’s 599XX development car, plus a Fiat 500 and Abarth 500 model.

GALLERY: Maserati GranTurismo Convertible

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Detroit 2010: 2011 Audi A8 Gets Grille-Licious

New A8 flagship gets more style, power and luxury

 |  Jan 12 2010, 2:08 PM

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Shown previously during the Design Week festivities in Miami, Audi’s new 2011 A8 flagship luxury sedan has now made its auto show debut in Detroit. Now you might not have believed that Audi’s massive front grille could get any more…. well… massive, but it has.

In addition to this new design cue, which is sure to make its way down through the rest of the Audi brand as new models roll out, the flagship A8 also takes some design elements from car’s like the A4 and A5 – including the sporty rear end.

Sporty is exactly where Audi wants to take the new A8. To aid in making the car a more nimble handler, it gets Audi’s light weight aluminum space frame. The car is both longer and wider than its competitors and yet has a lower overall height for a better center of gravity. Compared to the previous A8, Audi says it is 3-inches longer and 2-inches wider. Audi hasn’t released any specific info on the curb weight of the vehicle but says it will be 50 lbs less than an S-Class and 200-lbs less than a 7 Series. Those numbers jump to 200 and 400 lbs respectively, if you put the AWD Audi up against AWD versions from Mercedes and BMW.

Under the hood there’s an updated version of Audi’s 4.2-liter V8 engine with 372-hp and 328 ft-lbs of torque, for a 0-62 mph time of just 5.7 seconds. Thanks in part to a new eight-speed tiptronic gearbox, Audi claims an improvement in fuel-efficiency by 15 percent.

Technological highlights on the car include a new version of Audi’s Multi Media Interface (MMI) called MMI Touch, that can recognize handwriting for entering navigation instructions. There’s also adaptive cruise control, night vision assist, Audi lane assist and Audi side assist, Audi braking guard to notify a driver of an impact and automatic emergency braking to actually stop the car if the driver doesn’t react. Finally there are some stunning full-LED headlights, that will actually point into a corner in accordance with the navigation system. And as for the A8’s new body, it is incredibly aerodynamic, with a drag coefficient of just 0.26 cd – just one tick off the Prius’s.

The all-new 2011 Audi A8 will go on sale late in 2010, with an extended wheelbase model offered at the same time.

Audi CEO Rupert Stadler confirmed during Audi’s press conference in Detroit, that a hybrid version of the A8 is on its way and will debut at the Geneva Auto Show in march.

GALLERY: 2011 Audi A8

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 |  Jan 12 2010, 1:35 PM

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On display at the Detroit Auto Show, Lotus showed its new flagship sports car, the Evora, alongside another rare British auto, the Morgan AeroMax. The AeroMax sports a BMW sourced 4.8-liter V8 engine and can accelerate to 60 mph in 4.5 seconds. It retails for a whopping $180,000.

As for the Evora, it’s Lotus’ all-new 2+2 sports car, aimed at delivering the same Lotus driving experience with added functionality. Powered by a 3.5-liter V6 engine with 276-hp, it can hit 60 mph in 4.9 seconds and gets over 30 miles per gallon on the highway.

Options include items like a $1,990 Premium Package that includes a more extensive leather interior and lets the owner choose the leather color. There’s also a Sport Package for $1,275 that includes a new diffuser, titanium exhaust tips, black brake calipers and cross-drilled rotors as well as a Sports Mode with more aggressive throttle response, a higher RPM limit and a more limited level of interference by the traction and stability control programs. For $2,995, there’s a technology package with an upgraded audio system, a 7-inch LCD screen with navigation, all the iPod and USB connectivity you could want, as well as reverse parking sensors and steering wheel mounted cruise control.  And for $1,500 owners can opt for a close ratio six-speed manual transmission.

Currently on-sale in Europe, the Evora is set to hit dealerships later this year in the U.S., with a base price of $73,500.

In addition to the new Evora, Lotus had on display a new Exige S 260 model in a stunning red paint scheme, as well as an Elise with an equally impressive red Alcantara interior. The Exige S 260 is pwered by a supercharged 1.8-liter engine and makes 257-hp and 174 ft-lbs of torque. It weighs just 2,020 lbs. thanks to a carbon fiber front splitter, rear spoiler, roof, engine cover, side air intake ducts, sill covers and even the top of the dash. The weight savings is also due to the use of several other lighter parts including a lightweight “motorsports” battery, lighter 12-spoke forged alloy wheels, a revised rear engine subframe, a lightweight flywheel, alloy piping for the supercharger and intercooler and a composite panel that replaces the rear window. Exige 260 models retail for $74,995.

GALLERY: Lotus Evora, Exige S 260, Elise and Morgan AeroMax

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 |  Jan 12 2010, 1:12 PM

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With plenty of rumors and a few decision changes by the folks at GM, Chevy confirmed at the Detroit Auto Show that the tiny Spark model will be offered in the United States in 2011. Originally shown as the Beat concept at the New York Auto Show back in 2007, the car has evolved slowly and last year launched in Europe.

It’s not known what engine will power the Spark, but in Europe the largest engine offered is a 1.2-liter 4-cylinder with 81-hp and 82 ft-lbs of torque, which likely won’t be enough to satisfy North American consumers. Neither will the car’s 12.1 second 0-62 mph time. That engine does, however, get 46 mpg.

The Spark will join Chevy’s new small car offerings, the compact Cruze and sub-compact Aveo (due in 2011). The Spark itself is also expected to launch in the U.S. in 2011.

“The decision to add the Spark to Chevrolet’s portfolio reflects the brand’s commitment to being a fuel efficiency leader in the industry,” said Troy Clarke, president of GM North America. “Chevrolet Spark will bring great style, roominess and versatility to the segment of extremely fuel-efficient small cars in the U.S.”

GALLERY: Chevrolet Spark

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Official release after the jump:

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 |  Jan 12 2010, 11:50 AM

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Kia introduced a new special edition Soul dubbed the “Shadow Dragon” at the North American International Auto Show in Detroit.

From afar, the Shadow Dragon gives off a sinister impression with its black paint, but Kia kept its usual sense of fun at the car’s unveiling at the Detroit Auto Show. Kia’s press unveiling was presented like an infomercial, emcee’d by TV pitchman Anthony “Sully” Sullivan. With Sully calling the shots, models pulled the wrapping off the Shadow Dragon Soul, revealing a giant stuffed hamster sitting in the driver’s seat.

Featuring a matte black dragon design on the hood and rear, the Shadow Dragon Soul is based on the Soul+ like the other special editions the Denim and Ignation.

The black motif extends to the interior with black leather trimmed seats, the first leather seats on any Soul model.

The special edition Shadow Dragon Soul is now available in dealerships, priced at $18,195.

Gallery: 2010 Kia Shadow Dragon Soul

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Official release after the jump:

Continue Reading…

 |  Jan 12 2010, 11:11 AM

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The coupe variant of the high-powered Cadillac CTS-V has just launched at the Detroit Auto Show, with an incredible 556-hp at 6100 rpm and 551 ft-lbs of torque at 3800 rpm. That’s enough to propel the 2+2 seater to 60 mph in an incredible 3.9 seconds.

But the CTS-V Coupe is so much more than a straight line performer, following in the Michelin PS2 tire marks of the V sedan – the first production four-door to run a sub eight minute lap time at Germany’s famed Nürburgring. In fact, the V Coupe should lop off a few more seconds thanks to a rear track that is one-inch wider than the sedan. With the same wheelbase as the four-door, the V Coupe also gets a lower center of gravity thanks to an overall height that is roughly 2-inches (51mm to be precise) lower. The front and rear overhangs are even shortened, with an overall length that is also reduced by 51mm.

Other performance highlights include 19-inch wheels and some massive brakes with high-performance Brembo six-piston front calipers with 15-inch rotors and four-piston rear calipers with 14.7-inch rotors. And helping out in terms of delivering a performance oriented (or comfort oriented) ride are GM’s amazing Magnetic Ride Control shocks, which monitor the road every millisecond and adjust shock pressure. First used on Corvettes, this technology is now used by the likes of Ferrari. For the CTS-V Coupe, Cadillac offers the shocks with two pre-sets, Tour and Sport, so a driver can set the car for their preferred driving mode.

As for how the car looks, well, Cadillac certainly didn’t disappoint. The CTS Coupe’s sleek profile gets a very masculine V treatment including some impressive big grilles up front, as well as a massive bulge in the hood to make room for all that engine. The overall look of the car is undeniably like the CTS, however, Caddy designers only carried over the headlights, front fenders and grille from the sedan, along with the instrument panel and center console on the inside.

And speaking of the inside, this was our first chance to get a look at the V Coupe’s interior. Along with some expected items like an Alcantara coated steering wheel and shifter, some extra details were added including light colored Alcantara inserts for the highly-bolstered seats (Recaros optional), with the same color used for stitching on the dash.

The new 2011 Cadillac CTS-V Coupe will to go on sale in early Summer.

GALLERY: Cadillac CTS-V Coupe

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Detroit 2010: 5.0-Liter Ford Mustang GT Officially Debuts in Detroit

2011 Mustang GT brings back the 5.0-liter V8, with an impressive 412-hp

 |  Jan 12 2010, 10:48 AM

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With the all-new Focus taking center stage for Ford at the Detroit Auto Show, the American automaker also showed its new Mustang GT model for the first time. A mid-cycle refresh of sorts, the 2011 GT model marks the return of the 5.0-liter V8 with it 412-hp at 6500 rpm and 390 ft-lbs of torque at 4250 rpm.

The new engine is an all aluminum unit with four valves per cylinder and dual overhead cams and gets Ti-VCT variable independent timing on both the intake and exhaust cams. Along with all that power, the 2011 GT model also (finally) gets a six-speed manual transmission or six-speed automatic. This allows for both improved performance and fuel economy with Ford claiming a four to five percent increase in that department for an estimated 17 mpg city and 25 mpg highway, up from 17/23 mpg rating on the current GT automatic model. Manual transmission models will get 16/24 mpg rating (city/highway).

Additional vehicle highlights include electric power steering, 11.5-inch front and 11.8-inch rear brakes, as well as a grade-assist feature that will hold the car momentarily when accelerating away from a stop on a hill. Added improvements were made to the rear lower control arms for improved stiffness and more direct handling, a stiffer rear sway bar delivers better on-center steering, while the spring and shock rates have been adjusted for optimal performance.

A Performance Package will include 14-inch Brembo front brake disks from the Shelby GT500 as well as special 19-inch wheels and high performance summer tires.

GALLERY: 2011 Ford Mustang GT

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Detroit 2010: Cadillac XTS Platinum Concept World Premiere

Concept version of future XTS model powered by a 350-hp plug-in hybrid engine

 |  Jan 12 2010, 10:37 AM

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Designed to give a glimpse at what an upcoming Cadillac flagship model could look like the XTS Platinum Concept is also a showcase for the luxury brand’s premium Platinum series of vehicles.

Close in size to a Mercedes-Benz S-Class, it measures 203.5-inches (3.5-inches longer than an S-Class), however, the wheelbase is considerably less at 111.7-inches (about 8-inches less than an S-Class). It is also roughly one inch wider than an S-Class.

Sadly, the XTS isn’t rear drive, however, it does feature an all-wheel drive setup. Added handling and agility are provided thanks to 20-inch wheels, and GM’s Magnetic Ride Control (MRC) shocks that measure the road every millisecond and adjust just as fast.

The XTS Platinum Concept is also a plug-in hybrid system, using an electric motor, lithium-ion battery and a 3.6-liter direct-injection V6 gasoline engine to make 350-hp and 295 ft-lbs of torque. Capable of operating as a conventional hybrid, thanks to the plug-in capability, Cadillac claims it can achieve up to twice the efficiency of a conventional hybrid in city driving. The lithium-ion battery can be charged fully in just five hours using a conventional household outlet.

With an imposing look and a powerful and efficient engine, we’re possibly most impressed by the car’s interior. As a concept, it takes Caddy’s “Platinum” line philosophy to the extreme, using ultra high-grade materials and keeping with the Platinum mantra to hand cut and sew the interior leather. There’s also plenty of suede and we even have to admit the wood trim (which we typically hate) looks stunning.

The Cadillac XTS is scheduled to go into production in the near future and we’ll be sure to keep you updated on how close to the concept the production model will be.

At the press conference, Cadillac announced that it would expand its Platinum lineup with the more premium trim editions being offered for every vehicle model it sells.

GALLERY: Cadillac XTS Platinum Concept

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GALLERY: Cadillac XTS Platinum Concept Official Photos

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 |  Jan 12 2010, 10:06 AM

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Ford hasn’t released any details on the new 2011 Mustang GT California Special, but we stumbled across it tucked away in a back section of the Ford booth at the Detroit Auto Show. We have to say the new grille and logo up front look great, as does the California Special body kit, which includes a matte-black front splitter, as well as a rear spoiler and racecar-like rear diffuser. In addition, the California Special gets GT/CS decaling. The wheels appear to be a new design, included as part of the package as well, and we expect a few interior trim options to be included.

For 2011, the California Special gets Ford’s all-new 5.0-liter V8 with it 412-hp at 6500 rpm and 390 ft-lbs of torque at 4250 rpm. The new engine is an all aluminum unit with four valves per cylinder and dual overhead cams and gets Ti-VCT variable independent timing on both the intake and exhaust cams. Available with either a six-speed manual or six-speed automatic, the 2011 Mustang GT delivers improved performance and fuel economy, with Ford claiming a four to five percent increase in that department for an estimated 25 mpg on the highway and 17 mpg in the city, up from 23/17 on the current GT automatic model. Manual transmission models will get 24/16 mpg (highway/city)

GALLERY: 2011 Ford Mustang GT California Special

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 |  Jan 12 2010, 9:22 AM

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Subaru has announced two new option packages for the Forester compact crossover for 2010 as the Japanese automaker looks to expand its share of this highly competitive market segment further in 2010. For 2009, the Forrester was Subaru’s best selling model with a 28 percent increase over 2008.

First up is a new Special Edition Package for the Forester 2.5X, which adds 16-inch wheels and roof rails for a bargan price of just $400, on top of the model’s base price of $20,295.

A Navigation and Convenience Package is new for 2010 and is priced at $2,300. Costing $500 more than the standard Nav system, it included HID headlights, a tilt-telescopic steering wheel, one-touch folding rear seats and a cargo cover.

Additional added features for 2010 include a 10-way power driver’s seat for 2.5X Premium models and Bluetooth capability for Limited trim levels.

For 2010, the Forester is offer in five trim levels. The Forester 2.5X, gets a 170-hp 2.5-liter 4-cylinder boxer engine. The 2.5X Premium adds a 10-way power driver’s seat, a panoramic power moonroof . The Forester 2.5X Limited includes the All-Weather Package (heated front seats, heated side mirrors and windshield wiper de-icer). The top-trim 2.5XT Premium and 2.5XT Limited get a 224-hp turbocharged boxer engine.

Official release after the jump:

Continue Reading…

Detroit 2010: 2011 Lincoln MKX Gets Major Updates, Including First Application of MyLincoln Touch

New MyLincoln Touch interface uses a touch-screen LCD, five-way steering wheel control and voice commands to deliver optimum ease of use.

 |  Jan 12 2010, 8:58 AM

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Technically a mid-cycle refresh, Lincoln has decided to do more than just minor updates to its entry-level MKX crossover for 2011. An important model for Lincoln, the company says that more than half of MKX buyers are new to the brand and that seven in 10 of those buyers purchase another Lincoln.

Joining the rest of the Lincoln lineup, the 2011 MKX gets the new corporate (and controversially styled) oversized grille. Other major changes include a new 3.7-liter V6 engine that delivers best-in-class 305-hp and 280 ft-lbs of torque, an improvement of 15 and 12 percent respectively.

Offered exclusively with a new six-speed automatic transmission, the more powerful engine also offers improved fuel economy, with 25 mpg highway, which Lincoln claims is another best-in-class feature.

And while all this is good, the biggest innovation on the 2011 MKX is the application of MyLincoln Touch – the first use of MyLincoln Touch or MyFord Touch in a road car. Essentially the next generation of Ford’s SYNC technology, the MyLincoln Touch system is a complete user interface for all aspects of the car and can be operated via a touch screen LCD display, voice commands and a steering wheel-mounted five-way controller (much like an iPod). It includes two 4.2-inch LCD screens in the instrument cluster and an 8-way LCD screen on the center stack. Due to the three different modes of controlling the system, there are no longer any conventional knobs or switches on the center stack. Even the audio volume can be adjusted by sliding your hand across a smooth surface.

As for the screen itself, it’s separated into four areas: Entertainment, Phone, Navigation and Climate. Each section is color coded to distinguish it and to make it easy to find/remember. We’ve seen the system in action and it certainly is easy to use.

Lincoln and Ford are betting on the My Touch system and plan to offer it in 80 percent of Ford vehicles in the future, including on the new 2011 Ford Focus.

GALLERY: 2011 Lincoln MKX

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GALLERY: 2011 Lincoln MKX Official Pics

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Official release after the jump:

Continue Reading…

Detroit 2010: Cadillac XTS Platinum Concept is a 350-hp Plug-In Hybrid

New Cadillac XTS concept has the looks and the luxury of a true flagship

 |  Jan 12 2010, 12:01 AM

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Cadillac wasn’t secretive that it was showing a concept version of it’s upcoming XTS flagship, but GM’s luxury brand certainly did hide the fact that it was a plug-in hybrid. Until now.

Set to be unveiled at the Detroit Auto Show later today, the XTS Platinum Concept certainly looks like a true flagship for the premium brand. Finally, there’s a Cadillac that wouldn’t look out-of-sorts parked next to a Mercedes S-Class. Size wise, it’s definitely large measuring 203.5-inches (3.5-inches longer than an S-Class), however, the wheelbase is considerably less at 111.7-inches (about 8-inches less than an S-Class). It is also roughly one inch wider than an S-Class.

Sadly, the XTS isn’t rear drive, however, it does feature an all-wheel drive setup. Added handling and agility are provided thanks to 20-inch wheels, and GM’s Magnetic Ride Control (MRC) shocks that measure the road every millisecond and adjust just as fast.

As for the plug-in hybrid system, it uses an electric motor, lithium-ion battery and a 3.6-liter direct-injection V6 gasoline engine to make 350-hp and 295 ft-lbs of torque. Capable of operating as a conventional hybrid, thanks to the plug-in capability, Cadillac claims it can achieve up to twice the efficiency of a conventional hybrid in city driving. The lithium-ion battery can be charged fully in just five hours using a conventional household outlet.

With an imposing look and a powerful and efficient engine, we’re possibly most impressed by the car’s interior. As a concept, it takes Caddy’s “Platinum” line philosophy to the extreme, using ultra high-grade materials and keeping with the Platinum mantra to hand cut and sew the interior leather. There’s also plenty of suede and we even have to admit the wood trim (which we typically hate) looks stunning.

The Cadillac XTS is scheduled to go into production in the near future and we’ll be sure to keep you updated on how close to the concept the production model will be.

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GALLERY: Cadillac XTS Platinum Concept

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Official release after the jump:

Continue Reading…

 |  Jan 11 2010, 6:54 PM

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With no pomp and circumstance, Ford chose the Detroit Auto Show as the first venue to show the new 2011 Mustang GT Coupe and Convertible. With the majority of the news on the 2011 Mustang GT already available, this is actually the first time the convertible model has been shown at all.

As with the coupe, the convertible is powered by Ford’s impressive new 5.0-liter V8, producing 412-hp at 6500 rpm and 390 ft-lbs of torque at 4250 rpm.

The new engine is an all aluminum unit with four valves per cylinder and dual overhead cams and gets Ti-VCT variable independent timing on both the intake and exhaust cams. Along with all that power, the 2011 GT model also (finally) gets a six-speed manual transmission or six-speed automatic. Not only does this allow for improved performance, but also fuel economy. No specifics are available yet for the convertible, but the coupe model gets an estimated 25 mpg on the highway and 17 mpg in the city, up from 23/17 mpg on the current GT automatic model. Manual transmission models will get 24/16 mpg (highway/city).

Helping to achieve that improved fuel economy is an electric power steering setup. New 11.5-inch front and 11.8-inch rear brakes give added stopping power, while a grade-assist feature will hold the car momentarily when accelerating away from a stop on a hill. Added improvements were made to the rear lower control arms for improved stiffness and more direct handling, a stiffer rear sway bar delivers better on-center steering, while the spring and shock rates have been adjusted for optimal performance.

GALLERY: 2011 Ford Mustang GT Convertible

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Detroit 2010: BMW 740i Brings 7-Series to a Slightly More Affordable Level

New six-cylinder BMW 740i to start from $71,025

 |  Jan 11 2010, 6:36 PM

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BMW has officially unveiled a new entry-level version of its flagship 7 series sedan at the Detroit Auto Show. Priced from $71,025, it undercuts the current 750i by roughly $11,000 bringing the 7-Series into a slightly more affordable bracket.

Using BMW’s twin-turbo inline-six cylinder engine, the 740i (and extended-wheelbase 740Li) make 315-hp at 5800 rpm and 330 ft-lbs of torque from 1600-4500 rpm. That’s V8 power from a six-cylinder. No fuel-economy numbers have yet to be released, but expected the 740i to undercut the 750 by a considerable margin.

Both the BMW 740i and BMW 740Li will be available with all 7 Series options including the M Sport, driver assistance, luxury seating, rear entertainment and BMW Individual Composition packages. The 740Li is priced from $75,425.

The 740i and 740Li join the V8 750i/750Li and V12 760Li in BMW’s flagship line in North America.

GALLERY: BMW 740i

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Official release after the jump:

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Detroit 2010: 2010 Hyundai Santa Fe Mild Update Includes Big Changes

More efficient range-topping V6 plus all-new four-cylinder

 |  Jan 11 2010, 6:31 PM

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Hyundai officially introduced the 2010 Santa Fe with two new engine options, a more efficient 3.5L v6 and a 2.4L inline-four.

Mated with a six-speed automatic “Shiftronic” transmission, the four-cylinder claims better fuel economy than the 2009 2.7L V6 Santa Fe. With 175 hp and 169 ft-lbs of torque, less power than the old 2.7L, Hyundai says the new engine provides quicker 0 to 60 acceleration than its predecessor.

The new 3.5L V6 replaces last year’s 3.3L V6. According to Hyundai, the new engine provides 276 hp (compared to the 3.3L’s 242 hp) and 248 ft-lb. of torque (versus 226 ft-lb.) The new engine is also more fuel efficient, rating 20 mpg in the city, 26 mpg on the highway.

The 2010 Hyundai Santa Fe will be available in three trim levels, the GLS, SE and Limited.

The GLS model comes with the four-cylinder engine, six-speed manual transmission (automatic is optional) and 17-inch aluminum alloy wheels. The sportier SE version comes with the V6 and a six-speed automatic transmission and 18-inch aluminum alloy wheels.

The Santa Fe Limited (seen in the photo above) offers a choice of the I4 and the V6. It also offers features from the SE plus leather seating, heated front seats, chrome accents, metal scuff plates and the SE’s optional power tilt-and-slide sunroof .

Gallery: 2010 Hyundai Santa Fe

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More efficient range-topping V6 plus all-new four-cylinder
 |  Jan 11 2010, 6:14 PM

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With the Jeep Grand Cherokee set to launch later this year as a 2011 model, Chrysler’s Jeep brand is adding a new Liberty trim level as well as two new option packages for the Wrangler. Officially debuting at the Detroit Auto Show are the Jeep Liberty Renegade, Jeep Wrangler Mountain Edition and Jeep Wrangler Islander Edition.

Positioned between the Sport and Limited models, the Renegade trim level is offered in Natural Green Pearl, Deep Water Blue Pearl, Bright Silver Metallic, Brilliant Black Crystal Pearl, Stone White and in a Renegade-exclusive Salsa Red Pearl.

Highlights include Mineral Gray 16-inch wheels with all-terrain 235/70/16 tires, hood graphics, fog lamps, skid plated, tow hooks, a silver-painted roof rack, as well as dark metallic painted fender flares, side sills, front and rear fascias and side moldings. Inside are new cloth seats, a leather-wrapped steering wheel and shift knob, drifwood accented bezels and a leather wrapped center console. A 210-hp 3.7-liter V6 comes standard with Selec-Trac II active four-wheel-drive and will be available stating the first quarter of 2010.

The first of two new packages offered for the Wrangler is the Islander Edition, which returns to the Jeep lineup after 20 years. Islander Editions are based on the Wrangler Sport model and are offered in one of four colors: Surf Blue Pearl, Stone White, Bright Sliver Metallic and Brilliant Black Crystal.

Highlights include a “Tiki Bob” decal on the hood, along with latitude and longitude coordinates, black side stes and 17-inch wheels with 32-inch tires. Inside Islander Edition models get dark gray seats with surf blue inserts, blue stitching and Tiki Bob logos embroidered on the seats. Also included is blue stitching on the steering wheel and Mopar floor mats.

As for the Mounted Edition, it’s based on the Wrangler Sport S package and comes with “Mountain” decaling as well as latitude and longitude coordinates. It’s available in Rescue Green Metallic, Brilliant Black Crystal Pearl and Deep Water Blue Pearl, with high-gloss Mineral Gray 17-inch Moab wheels, as well as high gloss paint for the bumper and grille. Also included are side steps and 32-inch tires, plus special seat inserts on the inside with the “Mountain” logo.

The Island Edition package retails for $1,120, and the Mountain Edition goes for $1,820. Both option packs are available on the two-door Jeep Wrangler and four-door Jeep Wrangler Unlimited 4×4 models.

GALLERY: Jeep Wrangler Islander Edition

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GALLERY: Jeep Wrangler Mountain Edition

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GALLERY: Jeep Liberty Renegade

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Detroit 2010: BMW Z4 sDrive35is Debuts With 335-hp

New, sportier Z4 model sprints to 60 in 4.7 seconds

 |  Jan 11 2010, 5:55 PM

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BMW has just released an all-new high-performance version of the Z4 at the Detroit Auto Show. Called the Z4 sDrive35is, this roadster’s twin-turbo 3.0-liter inline-six gets a new air intake system and higher boost pressure to produce a bump in power. With an extra 35-hp and 32 ft-lbs of torque, the new model makes 335-hp and 332 ft-lbs in total. An overboost function will deliver an added boost of torque, bringing the total torque number to 369 ft-lbs. That’s just 11 ft-lbs shy of the M5’s V10 motor.

The added power make the Z4 sDrive35is noticeably faster with a 0-60 mph time of just 4.7 seconds, thanks in part to BMW’s impressive new 7-speed dual-clutch transmission.

In addition to the engine upgrades, this new model gets M Aerodynamics and an adaptive M Suspension that uses electronically controlled shock absorbers as well as a ride height which has been lowered by 10mm. A set of 18-inch wheels come standard with light-weight 19s optional.

GALLERY: BMW Z4 sDrive35is

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Detroit 2010: Chevy Aveo RS Concept Previews 2011 Aveo

Chevy looks to beef-up styling and size of new Aveo

 |  Jan 11 2010, 5:21 PM

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The Aveo RS Concept, which Chevy has just debuted at the Detroit Auto Show, is intended to give a glimpse at what the future Aveo small car will be like. If the production model is close, we’ll be impressed.

As it stands the Aveo RS is a mean-looking sub-compact with a Mitsubishi EVO-styled front fascia and a wide stance with flared fenders. To give the car a sleek look, the rear door handles are integrated into the rear pillar. In addition, out back there’s a tuner-inspired dual-port central exhaust outlet.

Inside, there’s more room thanks to the larger platform and we love the motorcycle-inspired gauge display and tachometer. There’s plenty of dark black leather, as well, with blue stitching to go with the Aveo’s Boracay Blue exterior paint.

The Aveo RS concept is powered by the same 1.4-liter turbocharged Ecotec motor as found in the new Chevy Cruze. That being said, it makes 138-hp (plenty for a sub-compact and far more than any current production sub-compact offers). GM hasn’t released fuel economy numbers, but with the Cruze capable of 40 mpg on the highway, the Aveo RS concept should be able to match that. Better still, enthusiasts will appreciate the six-speed manual transmission.

All this sounds wonderful, but this is a concept and not the real thing. Besides, a 138-hp motor is way above what the competition are offering in the sub-compact segment. When it does launch as a 2011 model it certainly wont come with the 1.4-liter turbocharged motor as standard, but we can hold out hope that an RS model will be offered.

Introduced by North American Exterior Design boss Michael Simcoe at the Detroit Auto Show, Simcoe said that the Aveo RS Concept gives an idea of what the production Aveo will be like, saying that it will be, “a bit roomier, more refined and, frankly, have a lot more attitude.”

That being said, we have high-hopes for the design of the production model.

GALLERY: Chevy Aveo RS Concept

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 |  Jan 11 2010, 3:47 PM

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Essentially a foregone conclusion at this point, MINI has confirmed that both the MINI Coupe Concept and MINI Convertible Concept will see production in the near future. Officially unveiled at the Frankfurt Auto Show last year, sales and marketing boss Ian Robertson confirmed the production plans at the Detroit Auto Show, while unveiling the company’s latest concept, the Beachcomber Concept.

Robertson had previously confirmed that the Coupe would see production, but this is the first official word that the convertible model will also be produced.

Doing away with the hatchback style, the Coupe and Roadster are aimed at expanding the MINI lineup, which will be grow early next year with a new crossover model.

There are no official word on powertrains for the models, but in concept form both vehicles boast the same engines found in the John Cooper Works models, a turbocharged 1.6-liter four-cylinder making 211hp and 192 ft-lbs of torque, with a bump to 206 ft-lbs possible thanks to an overboost function.

 |  Jan 11 2010, 3:19 PM

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MINI’s new Countryman crossover hasn’t even officially debuted and yet the creative minds at the fun British car company have already turned the platform into a new concept: the MINI Beachcomber Concept.

Based on the Countryman’s platform, the MINI Beachcomber Concept takes the crossover’s capable ALL4 all-wheel drive system and sets it free on the sand-dunes with a dune-buggy style, plus the open air Jeep-like feeling of no doors or roof.

The concept also takes cues from the original MINI Moke, especially the lack of sheetmetal and the radiator style grille.

MINI won’t comment on production possibilities, but even if it does make it to market, it won’t be for a while. The Countryman crossover is set to debut first. MINI has promised more news on that new model in a month’s time, with the vehicle’s official on-sale date set for late 2010 in Europe and early 2011 in the U.S.

GALLERY: MINI Beachcomber Concept Debut in Detroit

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Detroit 2010: Honda CR-Z World Premiere

New hybrid Honda hatch gets 36-mpg city, 38-mpg highway

 |  Jan 11 2010, 2:23 PM

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Honda has just unveiled the production version of the CR-Z hybrid, looking like and taking after the original CRX. The CRX, after all, was introduced as a fuel efficient model, that quickly became a favorite of enthusiasts and tuners alike due to its sporty driving dynamics.

“The CR-Z is a personal sport hybrid coupe for people with a spirit of adventure and an elevated sense of responsibility toward the environment,” said John Mendel, VP of sales for American Honda. “It’s the first hybrid designed to maximize style and fun, in addition to efficiency and economy.”

The CR-Z uses a 1.5-liter gasoline engine and an electric motor to make 122-hp at 6000 rpm and 128 ft-lbs of torque at 1000 to 1500 rm when mated to a slick-shifting six-speed manual transmission or 122-hp and 123 ft-lbs of torque with a CVT automatic (which features paddle shifters by the way). As for fuel-economy, it’s rated at 36-mpg city and 38-mpg highway.

The CR-Z comes with a three-mode driving system, with buttons on the steering wheel to choose Sport, Normal and Economy driving. Sport mode delivers a more responsive throttle, with tighter steering and the tachometer lights up bright red when in Sport model. Econ mode delivers optimum fuel efficiency with reduced pedal feel. The air conditioning system will also reduce its lag on the engine in Econ mode. Normal mode delivers standard settings, and in both Normal and Econ mode, the tachometer display will light up blue or green depending on how the vehicle is driven – with a green display representing the most fuel-efficient driving.

Like the Insight, the CR-Z offers and Eco Guide to help driver’s keep track of fuel economy.

Two trim levels will be offered in the U.S., a base CR-Z and well-equipped EX model. The six-speed manual is standard, as is Vehicle Stability Assist, an AM/FM/CD/USB audio system with six speakers, automatic climate control, power windows and door locks, remote entry and cruise control. The CR-Z EX includes HID Headlights fog lights, a 360-Watt AM/FM/CD premium audio system with seven speakers including subwoofer, Bluetooth and a leather-wrapped steering wheel. EX models will get the option for navigation.

GALLERY: Honda CR-Z Word Premiere

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GALLERY: Honda CR-Z Official Images

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Read more on the 2011 Honda CR-Z after the jump:

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