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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.
 |  Dec 10 2011, 2:54 PM

Amp Electric Vehicles announced that they’ll be heading to the 2012 Detroit Auto Show with a new electric vehicle based on an iconic American SUV. What SUV Amp has electrified this time around is not known, but recently they debuted their Mercedes-Benz ML, so it might not be a far reach to anticipate a Jeep Grand Cherokee EV.

In a recent interview, Amp CEO Jim Taylor expressed his wishes to produce another SUV that would be more affordable and use a domestic platform since they scrapped their plans for a Chevrolet Equinox EV. Amp did announce that the production EV SUV would offer 100-miles of electric range or more, while offering the same appearance and capabilities as the platform that it’s based on. Even cooler, those attending the 2012 Detroit Auto Show will be able to not only check it out in person, but go for a ride at the show’s Ride & Drive track.

 |  Nov 01 2011, 12:50 AM

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Rumored for months and perhaps even years, Hyundai has confirmed it will offer a Veloster Turbo model. Announced by Hyundai Motor America CEO John Krafcik at a media dinner in Las Vegas on the eve of the SEMA Show, the car will officially debut at the Detroit Auto Show this January. Krafcik was mum on Details regarding the engine output but did say it will be a turbocharged direct injection 1.6-liter 4-cylinder. Past reports have indicated the engine will make 204-hp and 195 lb-ft of torque.

At the SEMA Show Hyundai does have plans to unveil a turbocharged Veloster, but it won’t be a production car. Far from it. Built by ARK Performance, the race-inspired tuner car (above) will, however, sport a 210-hp twin-scroll turbocharged 1.6-liter.

When the Veloster Turbo is finally unveiled it won’t be along with Krafcik also promising the debut of the 2013 Genesis Coupe in the Motor City.

Discuss this story at Veloster.org

 |  Jan 15 2011, 10:30 PM

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Previous to its unveiling at the 2011 Detroit Auto Show, Hyundai had already announced some of the most important details about the new Veloster. We were told it would be powered by a 1.6-liter 4-cylinder engine that makes 138-hp and 123 ft-lbs of torque and offered with either a 6-speed manual or a dual-clutch 6-speed automatic. Hyundai also said it would get 40-mpg on the highway.

What we didn’t know is what it would look like, and in a vehicle targeted at young Gen-Y customers, looks are very, very important.

Being given our first look at the car in Detroit, it’s interesting to see how the unique design of the car works, with two doors on the passenger side and one on the driver’s side. 17-inch wheels are standard with 18s are optional and chunky flared fenders sit at each corner.

Another big selling feature is certain to be the standard 7-inch LCD touch-screen, as well as Hyundai’s new Blue Link telematics system – essentially Hyundai’s version of OnStar. Blue Link will offer safety features like Automatic Crash Notification and roadside assistance, while it also enables voice text messaging, remote vehicle start, remote door opening, and plenty of other features.

Aiding in the overall driving dynamics is a notably low curb weight, with the manual transmission models just 2,584 lbs, while dual-clutch automatics weigh 2,657 lbs.

Available options include leather seats and a 450-watt 8-speaker audio system. Set to go on sale soon, the Veloster will be available in an array of brilliant colors, including Century White, Ironman Silver, Triathlon Gray, Ultra Black, Marathon Blue, Electrolyte Green, 26.2 Yellow, Vitamin C (Orange), or Boston Red.

 |  Jan 15 2011, 10:03 AM

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After a buildup that lasted a year, BMW finally revealed it’s new 1 Series M Coupe at the 2011 Detroit Auto Show, giving us our first chance for an up-close look at the latest M machine.

Using the company’s twin-turbo 3.0-liter straight-six, the 1M Coupe makes 340-hp and 332 ft-lbs of torque, plus an overboost function helps deliver an extra 37 ft-lbs. Using a six-speed manual transmission (the only one available), the 1M Coupe can hit 60-mph in just 4.7 seconds – meaning that if BMW does decide to also offer the car with a dual-clutch transmission, that number would easily be 4.5.

Pushing the M Drive button improves throttle response, while the M Dynamic Mode button limits the traction and stability control.

And while the engine numbers aren’t astonishing, there’s far more to the 1M Coupe than straight power, with the car weighing 77 lbs less than a 135i and several hundred pounds less than an M3. Handling is also improved with wider fenders to house the new 19-inch wheels with 245/35/19 tires up front and 265/35/19 tires in the rear. The actual track of the car has also been widened considerably, with the rear track 1.8-inches wider than stock and the front track 2.8-inches wider that stock.

Outside the sports coupe does take the M3 style a step further with a more edgy design and quad exhaust pipes, while the interior is typical M with sports seats, a thick steering wheel with M colored stitching and a few other accent pieces.

There is one down side to this new model, however, and that’s the price with BMW stickering the sports car with a hefty $47,010 tag.

 |  Jan 14 2011, 8:49 PM

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Debuting at the Detroit Auto Show in both hatchback and sedan forms, the Sonic will compete against established rivals in the sub-compact segment like the Honda Fit and Toyota Yaris, not to mention newcomers like the Ford Fiesta. Aiming to attract younger buyers with sporty styling, the Sonic also has power on tap with a standard 135-hp 1.8L 4-cylinder, as well as an optional 138-hp 1.4-liter turbocharged 4-cylinder – both of which are borrowed from the Chevy Cruze.

No fuel economy numbers have been released but expect close to if not over 40-mpg highway from the 1.4T engine. Helping get what will no doubt be excellent fuel economy is a 6-speed automatic transmission, with the option of a 6-speed stick shift on 1.4T models.

The interior looks to be a massive leap forward from the Aveo, taking inspiration from the Cruze and using higher-grade materials. And like the Aveo RS concept from last year’s Detroit show, it retains the motorcycle-inspired instrumentation with a large, circular analog tachometer and a digital speedometer.

Designed for functionality, the Sonic hatchback gets 19 cubic feet of cargo room behind the rear seats, which expands to 37 cu-ft with the seats folded flat. Chevy claims that’s better than the Fiesta, although in terms of roominess, the Fiesta is hardly a benchmark in the segment. The Sonic sedan does, however, get 15 cubic feet of space, which is roughly the same size as you might expect in a mid-size sedan.

As for features, all models will come equipped with stability control and 10 airbags, while optional goodies include remote start and heated front seats.

Pricing for the Sonic sedan and hatch will be released closer to the car’s on sale date later this year.

See video of the Sonic Z-Spec concept after the jump:

Continue Reading…

 |  Jan 14 2011, 12:06 PM

Crime is something often associated with Detroit, though the many who’ve been there will tell you the Motor City doesn’t deserve the bad wrap it frequently seems to get in the press.

However, an incident this week during the North American International Auto Show festivities did nothing to quell such notions.

BMW, like many other major manufacturers, besides having a prominent display of new vehicles on the floor at Cobo Hall, also brings in cars to shuttle executives and other guests, from the show to hotels and functions. However, one of these cars suffered at the hands of thieves.

Having finished its shuttle duties, a BMW 750iX was due to be loaded on the transporter and shipped back to the company’s New Jersey headquarters. However after a valet had pulled it out in front of the Westin Book Cadillac hotel, ready for loading, two thieves jumped in the idling car and drove off.

As of this morning, police were still looking for the vehicle. “It’s an unfortunate incident,” said BMW spokeswoman Stacy Morris.

However despite this irritating setback, BMW stated that it is still firmly committed to the North American International Auto Show.

[Source: MSNBC]

 |  Jan 12 2011, 11:25 PM

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With the 2011 North American International Auto Show having come to a close, its time for a look back at the biggest reveals and wildest concepts. Thanks to the AutoGuide video crew we have an extensive selection of vehicle overviews, as well as full video of the live reveals – so you can see what we do.

At a show dominated by new hybrids, not all were joyless green machines. In fact, some were quite the opposite – like the 767-hp Porsche 918 RSR.

On the more conventional hybrid side, Toyota rolled out the Prius V and Prius C Concept, expanding the name of the most popular hybrid into a brand. Ford then announced its plans to hit back against Toyota, introducing the C-Max Hybrid. Based on the C-Max MPV (another Detroit debut), the Hybrid version will get better fuel economy than the Fusion Hybrid and will be able to operate on pure electric power above 47-mpg. In addition to the C-Max Hybrid was the C-Max Energi, a plug-in hybrid that promises even better fuel economy and a total range of 500 miles.

Some of the more important mainstream vehicles included the Honda Civic Concept, as well as the official introduction of the 2012 Volkswagen Passat, which is based on an all new, larger platform for the American market and will be built in America too. At Chrysler, the redesigned 300 was unveiled, while Ford showed the Vertrek Concept, which previews the next iteration of the Escape. Chevy rolled out its latest small car, the Sonic, while Buick introduced its first ever compact car, the Verano.

As for the important North American Car and Truck of the Year Awards, it was a no-contest bout with the Chevrolet Volt taking the prize in the car category, while the all new Ford Explorer takes home bragging rights in the truck list.

See AutoGuide’s video coverage below and for more extensive news see our landing page here.

Continue Reading…

 |  Jan 11 2011, 7:54 PM

The biggest debut at this year’s North American International Auto Show may have been a hybrid, but that doesn’t mean it’s not exciting. On the contrary, the Porsche 918 RSR is 767-hp of proof that hybrids can most certainly be cool. Based on the 918 Spider which also stole the show in Geneva last year, it’s a clear sign that Porsche is serious about hybrids, not just for its road cars, but also for its future in motorsports.

A very long list of other hybrids also made their debut in Detroit, including one surprisingly stylish one from Toyota. While it’s no surprise to see Toyota release a hybrid, the Prius c Concept defies the Toyota corporate mandate to be boring with great styling. As a concept, details are scarce, but Toyota says it will hit the market in 2012. The car is part of a larger effort by Toyota to grow the Prius name; with the Japanese automaker also unveiling a new Prius v wagon that will hit dealers this Summer.

Yet another hybrid on display came from Ford in the form of the C-Max Hybrid. Based on the C-Max MPV (another Detroit debut), the Hybrid version will get better fuel economy than the Fusion Hybrid and will be able to operate on pure electric power above 47-mpg. In addition to the C-Max Hybrid was the C-Max Energi, a plug-in hybrid that promises even better fuel economy and a total range of 500 miles. And let’s not forget the Audi A6 Hybrid, that can travel up to 62-mph on electric power.

Some of the more important mainstream vehicles included the Honda Civic Concept, as well as the official introduction of the 2012 Volkswagen Passat, which is based on an all new, larger platform for the American market and will be built in America too. At Chrysler, the redesigned 300 was unveiled, while Ford showed the Vertrek Concept, which previews the next iteration of the Escape. Chevy rolled out its latest small car, the Sonic, while Buick introduced its first ever compact car, the Verano.

As for the important North American Car and Truck of the Year Awards, it was a no-contest bout with the Chevrolet Volt taking the prize in the car category, while the all new Ford Explorer takes home bragging rights in the truck list.

For the complete 2011 Detroit Auto Show breakdown, hit the jump or see our landing page here.

Continue Reading…

 |  Jan 11 2011, 5:33 PM

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Announcing the launch of the Prius family of vehicles at the Detroit Auto Show, Toyota unveiled the new Prius v hybrid, as well as a new smaller Prius concept. Called the Prius c Concept, the vehicle is an obvious evolution of the FT-CH concept that debuted at the Detroit show just a year ago.

Designed as a stylish take on the Prius, Toyota is aiming this model at young urban singles who are interested in driving green, but who also want a vehicle that looks good.

No details about a drivetrain were provided, but Bob Carter, Toyota Division VP and General Manager did comment at the car’s reveal that it will get better fuel economy than the Prius – so look for something above 50-mpg. As more of an entry level model, it’s also slated to get a more attractive price.

We won’t have to wait too long for the production model either with Carter confirming that it will be in production in 2012.

GALLERY: Toyota Prius c Concept

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GALLERY: Toyota Prius C Concept Debut

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 |  Jan 11 2011, 3:04 PM

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Speaking just a day after Toyota officially announced the expansion of the Prius hybrid into a whole lineup of vehicles at the Detroit Auto Show, General Motors CEO Daniel Akerson has confirmed the Chevy Volt will follow a similar path.

Speaking at the Automotive News World Congress, Akerson said both a hatchback and MPV version of the Volt will come to market in “the next few years.”

GM had been rumored to show off the Volt MPV5 concept in Detroit; a car that first debuted at the Beijing Auto Show last year. Based on the same platform as the Chevrolet Orlando, the MPV5 concept shows how the Volt’s powertrain can be adapted to a more family-friendly platform.

The Volt hatchback would likely be similar to the Prius v in size, but of course use the Volt’s extended range engine to deliver superior fuel economy.

[Source: Automotive News]

 |  Jan 11 2011, 2:01 PM

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Compared to the Ford Raptor, the GMC Sierra All Terrain HD Concept is a T-Rex. Based on GM’s new Heavy Duty platform, this truck is in a whole other segment than the Raptor and was never meant to be a Baja machine.

Unfortunately, this is just a concept and GMC execs aren’t commenting on production possibilities. What’s more likely is that some of the design cues featured here will trickle down to the standard truck. With tight budgets during the recession, GMC opted to spend all their cash on a new frame and new engine. As a result, the truck is a dud in the looks department. It certainly won’t be, however, once some of this truck’s styling has been adapted.

Combining the standard Crew Cab with the 5′ 8″ box currently not offered on HD models, the All Terrain concept then gets a special front end with a massive front grille, custom matte-chrome accenting and LED lighting. A two-inch lift is also part of the package, with Fox Shox and custom control arms. To help the truck’s off-road capability, it has sculpted front end to deliver a maximum approach angle and the side steps that are retractable as well. In addition, the entire undercarriage is coated in a special hard composite for maximum durability.

Custom 20-inch 8-lug wheels give a real rig look to the diesel monster, as do flared fenders that house a two-inch wider track. Those 20s also help give excellent AWD capability when matched with a set of 35-inch-tall BFGoodrich KM2 “mud terrain” tires.

Under the hood continues to be GMC’s new 6.6-liter Duramax diesel V8 making 397-hp and 765 ft-lbs of torque.

Check out all the pics in the gallery below and see more 2011 Detroit Auto Show coverage here.

GALLERY: GMC Sierra All Terrain HD Concept Debut

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Read AutoGuide’s Review of the 2011 GMC Sierra HD Here

 |  Jan 11 2011, 12:25 AM

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Having already released full details and photos of the Sonic Hatchback and Sedan earlier in the day, when it came time for the big reveal at the Detroit Auto Show, Chevrolet rolled out a third model as well – the Z-Spec. While only a concept, it does give a glimpse at a possible in-house tuning arm for the bowtie brand’s small car line.

While GM does offer plenty of go-fast parts for its sports cars, the Z-Spec line would be more designed towards aesthetic modifications for small cars. While no one at Chevy will confirm as much, Margaret Brooks, director of marketing for small cars at Chevy told AutoGuide that “we would love to offer more personalization.” If successful, such a program could be extremely lucrative, she added.

This is no doubt the reason to keep up interest in the Z-Spec, rolling out this new model in front of a large audience of journalists after having debuted several other Z-spec models at the SEMA Show last year.

As for the Sonic itself, this new sub-compact looks to compete in an increasingly crowded segment alongside cars like the Honda Fit and Toyota Yaris, not to mention the Ford Fiesta.

Aiming to attract younger buyers with sporty styling, the Sonic also has power on tap with a standard 135-hp 1.8L 4-cylinder, as well as an optional 138-hp 1.4-liter turbocharged 4-cylinder – both of which are borrowed from the Chevy Cruze.

No fuel economy numbers have been released but expect close to 40-mpg highway from the 1.4T engine, which in a special Cruze Eco model actually manages 42-mpg. Helping get what will no doubt be excellent fuel economy is a 6-speed automatic transmission, with the option of a 6-speed stick shift on 1.4T models.

The interior is a massive leap forward from the Aveo, taking inspiration from the Cruze and using higher-grade materials. And like the Aveo RS concept from last year’s Detroit show, it retains the motorcycle-inspired instrumentation with a large, circular analog tachometer and a digital speedometer.

Designed for functionality the Sonic hatchback gets 19 cubic feet of cargo room behind the rear seats, which expands to 37 cu-ft with the seats folded flat. Chevy claims that’s better than the Fiesta, although in terms of roominess, the Fiesta is hardly a benchmark in the segment. The Sonic sedan does, however, get 15 cubic feet of space, which is roughly the same size as you might expect in a mid-size sedan.

As for features, all models will come equipped with stability control and 10 airbags, while optional goodies include remote start and heated front seats.

GALLERY: Chevy Sonic Z-Spec

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GALLERY: Chevy Sonic Hatchback and Sedan Debut

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GALLERY: Chevy Sonic Hatchback

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 |  Jan 10 2011, 8:37 PM

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If any other automaker announced they wanted to bring back the van, we would have expected something practical and utilitarian. We’d picture a family-friendly minivan or perhaps a commercial vehicle for small businesses. But when a company like Kia says it, we expect something entirely different. After all, this is the company that gave us giant hamsters.

So when Kia said they wanted to bring back the van, they weren’t thinking soccer mom. No, they wanted to re-imagine the fun, ’70s-style “activity vehicle” for today’s consumers. Picture what a 21st century Scooby-Doo and the gang would drive.

Enter the KV7, a new concept unveiled at the 2011 Detroit Auto Show. On first glance, the KV7 looks like a slightly larger Soul. Kia decided to embrace the idea of a van as a box on wheels. The A-pillar and windshield design are more vertical than what we find on most mini-vans, emphasizing the KV7′s box-like shape. Adding to the box motif are the vertical LED headlights and horizontal rear brake light.

The KV7′s dimensions aren’t that far off from traditional mini-van designs. The KV7 stretches out 191.85 inches long and 80 inches wide with a 122-inch wheelbase. Under the hood is Kia’s Theta II 2.0 GDI turbocharged engine and an automatic six-speed transmission. Kia claims 285 hp and estimated 30 mpg.

The gullwing side door opens to reveal an interior that’s even quirkier than the exterior. Rotating banana-yellow seats? Check. Teak wood flooring? Check. Floating table-top touchscreen computer? Check. Retractable dash board? Check.

Again, if this were any other company, we’d expect an eventual production model would have very little in common with the concept. But once more, this is Kia. As Kia proudly reminds us, its production models like the Soul, Forte Koup and Sportage didn’t venture too far from their original concepts. We’ll have to wait and see what the production version of the KV7 will look like.

Until then, we’ll just have to start stocking up on the Scooby Snacks.

GALLERY: Kia KV7 Concept

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GALLERY: Official Kia KV7 Images

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 |  Jan 10 2011, 8:27 PM

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BMW‘s long list of Detroit Auto Show debuts included the new X3, the refreshed 1 Series and the high-performance 1 Series M Coupe. But the vehicle BMW chose to put the real focus on was the newly redesigned 6 Series Convertible.

While a turbocharged inline-six model is expected, the 6er will hit the market as the 650i, priced at $91,375. It gets a twin-turbo 4.4-liter V8 making 400-hp and 450 ft-lbs of torque. Available with either a six-speed manual or 8-speed automatic, BMW claims a 0-60 mph time of 4.9 seconds.

Using a soft top to reduce weight gain, the canvas can be opened in 19 seconds or closed in 24 seconds and can be operated at speed of up to 25 mph. Other highlights include a stunning new interior, with an optional color heads-up display (complete with 3D graphics no less), as well as a massive new 10.2-inch LCD screen for the Navigation and iDrive systems.

If you’re on a budget, wait for the 640i that’s sure to be coming and with 300-hp it won’t be a top-speed machine, but it’s certain to deliver more than enough for most drivers.

GALLERY: 2012 BMW 650i Convertible Debut

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 |  Jan 10 2011, 6:44 PM

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Having just been unveiled at the Detroit Auto Show, the MINI Paceman Concept is production ready, according to a MINI source, who told AutoGuide that 2013 is the target date for the Paceman’s launch. Before the new two-door crossover, MINI will launch the upcoming Coupe and Roadster, sportier, stripped down versions of the base car with distinctive styling.

The Paceman will ape the upcoming Range Rover Evoque with its two-door crossover bodystyle. A MINI rep said that minor changes will be carried out, but the production car will remain faithful to the concept, including the characteristic roofline. As far as tech details go, we don’t have much – there wasn’t even an interior to take pictures of – but we bet that MINIs wonderful 4-cylinders will make an appearance, alongside the All4 all-wheel-drive system.

GALLERY: MINI Paceman Concept

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 |  Jan 10 2011, 4:37 PM

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A car designed by and for Generation Y, the Hyundai Veloster has finally been revealed at the Detroit Auto Show. Powered by a 1.6-liter 4-cylinder engine that makes 138-hp and 123 ft-lbs of torque, Hyundai will offer the car with either a 6-speed manual or a dual-clutch 6-speed automatic. Designed to deliver sporty performance, Hyundai is also claiming a 40-mpg highway rating, putting it ahead of all competitors in this segment.

In the looks department, Hyundai continues to deliver, with the Veloster the latest attractive package that will have no problem drawing younger buyers into showrooms – thanks in part to accentuated fenders and standard 17-inch wheels (18s are optional). Defying any categorization, the Veloster is neither a hatchback nor is it a coupe, with two doors on the passenger side, but only one on the driver’s side.

Another big selling feature is certain to be the standard 7-inch LCD touch-screen, as well as Hyundai’s new Blue Link telematics system – essentially Hyundai’s version of OnStar. Blue Link will offer safety features like Automatic Crash Notification and roadside assistance, while it also enables voice text messaging, remote vehicle start, remote door opening, and plenty of other features.

Aiding in the overall driving dynamics is a notably low curb weight, with the manual transmission models just 2,584 lbs, while dual-clutch automatics weigh 2,657 lbs. That’s less than a Honda CR-Z and only slight more than a MINI Cooper. The Veloster does, however, use a torsion beam suspension. Normally not ideal when building a sporty package, Honda has defied that notion with the Fit and CR-Z.

Available options include leather seats and a 450-watt 8-speaker audio system. Set to go on sale soon, the Veloster will be available in an array of brilliant colors, including Century White, Ironman Silver, Triathlon Gray, Ultra Black, Marathon Blue, Electrolyte Green, 26.2 Yellow, Vitamin C (Orange), or Boston Red.

GALLERY: 2012 Hyundai Veloster

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GALLERY: Hyundai Veloster Debut

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For all the details, including how the Veloster stacks up against some of its key rivals, see after the jump:

Plus, get more Hyundai Veloster news and info at Veloster.org

Continue Reading…

 |  Jan 10 2011, 4:27 PM

Hyundai has finally released details on their new CURB crossover Urban Activity Vehicle, described as  a vehicle for “Generation Y living an urban lifestyle with an active night life.” The wild sport-cross concept shared the stage with the new Veloster during its debut at the Detroit Auto Show.

Despite the nebulous marketing spin, the CURB seems to be a conventional-looking rival for the Nissan Juke. Aside from a more spacious cargo area, the CURB also comes with a touch-screen that’s hooked up to Hyundai’s BlueLink telematic system (think OnStar), an integrated bike rack and 22-inch wheels.

Motivation comes from a direct-injection turbocharged 1.6L 4-cylinder making 175 horsepower and a dual clutch gearbox, which we’ll also see on the Veloster sports coupe. Fuel economy is estimated and 30 city mpg and 40 on the highway. In-car electronics, like touchscreens and heads-up displays feature prominently, as a concession to Gen Y’s apparent love of technology, while the bike rack is touted as allowing the driver to park the car and ride a “fixie” (Hyundai’s wording, not ours) which sounds like it’s aimed at the Brooklyn hipster crowd.

Maybe an ironic plaid interior will be optional, with a special cupholder for your Pabst Blue Ribbon.

GALLERY: Hyundai Curb Concept Debut

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GALLERY: Hyundai Curb Concept

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 |  Jan 10 2011, 3:11 PM

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Audi pulled the wraps off its redesigned executive class A6 and its hybrid variant at the 2011 Detroit Auto Show.

The Audi A6 will be available in a choice of two gasoline and three TDI engines with power output said to range from 177 hp to 300 hp. Meanwhile, Audi engineers managed to make the new A6 lighter than the previous version, with weight savings of up to 175 pounds depending on the powertrain. Fuel consumption was also decreased, with improvements up to 19%.

All new A6 models will come standard with alloy wheels, two-zone automatic air conditioning, adaptive brake light and MMI radio with a 6.5 inch monitor.

Audi also unveiled a hybrid version of the A6 featuring a 211 hp 2.0 TFSi engine and an electric motor claiming 45 hp and 155.63 ft-lb. The A6 Hybrid can reach speeds up to 62.14 mph on pure electric mode, and a range of about 2 miles on electric mode at a constant speed of 37.28 mph.

The Audi A6 will be available in early 2011, the A6 Hybrid won’t be available until the second half of 2011.

GALLERY: 2012 Audi A6

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GALLERY: 2012 Audi A6 Hybrid

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 |  Jan 10 2011, 2:41 PM

Fulfilling a promise from a year ago Toyota has expanded the Prius badge into a brand, unveiling a family of vehicles at the North American International Auto Show in Detroit. Along with the third-gen Prius and Prius Plug-in Hybrid, is the Prius v (a mid-size hatchback/wagon) as well as the Prius c Concept, which takes badge down-market to a more affordable segment with even better fuel economy.

Set to go on sale this summer, the Prius v offers 60 percent more cargo room than the current Prius, but has roughly the same footprint. The ‘v’ says Toyota, stands for versatility.

As for the all-important fuel economy numbers, the Prius v will get 42-mpg city and 38-mpg highway for a combined total of 40-mpg. Power will come from the same Hybrid Synergy Drive hybrid system as in the current Prius model with 134-hp.

One notable update to the information screen on the dash is the use of added colors. While seemingly a trivial change, the Prius uses a monotone pea-green display that’s reminiscent of an ’80s computer monitor.

As for the Prius c, it is very much a mild evolution of the FT-CH concept that debuted at the Detroit show last year. No details have been given, but Bob Carter, Toyota VP and General Manager, commented that it will get even better fuel economy than the Prius and that it will head to production, going on sale in the first half of 2012.

GALLERY: Toyota Prius v Debut

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GALLERY: Prius c Concept Debut

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GALLERY: Toyota Prius Concept

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GALLERY: Toyota Prius v

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 |  Jan 10 2011, 1:54 PM

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Forget the Chevy Volt; the BMW 1 Series M Coupe is easily the most highly anticipated car of the past 12 months. With details previously announced, BMW today drew back the covers on its turbocharged baby M3 at the Detroit Auto Show for our first look at the car in its curvy sheetmetal.

Using the company’s twin-turbo 3.0-liter straight-six, the 1M Coupe makes 340-hp and 332 ft-lbs of torque, plus an overboost function helps deliver an extra 37 ft-lbs. Using a six-speed manual transmission (the only one available), the 1M Coupe can hit 60-mph in just 4.7 seconds – meaning that if BMW were to offer a DCT that number would easily be 4.5.

Revving up the engine for all to hear, BMW sales and marketing boss Ian Robertson remarked that, “There’s no denying that is the engine of a true M.”

For maximum fun, hit the M Drive button, which improves throttle response, as well as the M Dynamic Mode button that limits the traction and stability control.

And while the engine numbers aren’t astonishing, there’s for more to the 1M Coupe than straight power, with the car weighing 77 lbs less than a 135i. Handling is also improved with wider fenders to house the new 19-inch wheels with 245/35/19 tires up front and 265/35/19 tires in the rear. The actual track of the car has also been widened considerably, with the rear track 1.8-inches wider than stock and the front track 2.8-inches wider that stock.

Outside the sports coupe does take the M3 style a step further with a more edgy design and quad exhaust pipes, while the interior is typical M with sports seats, a thick steering wheel with M colored stitching and a few other accent pieces.

There is one down side to this new model, however, and that’s the price with BMW stickering the sports car with a hefty $47,010 tag.

GALLERY: BMW 1 Series M Coupe Debut

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GALLERY: BMW 1 Series M Coupe

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 |  Jan 10 2011, 12:42 PM

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Chrysler President and CEO Olivier Francois cast his company as the underdog about to fight back after being knocked down. Francois opened Chrysler’s 2011 Detroit Auto Show press conference by reciting lyrics from Eminem’s “Lose Yourself”. After not introducing anything new last year, Chrysler is bouncing back, unveiling the final piece of its completely revamped 2011 lineup, the re-designed Chrysler 300c.

Chrysler’s flagship 300C sedan has been completely revamped. The interior has been revised with a new iPad-like 8.4-inch touch screen infotainment center a major focal point. Other optional luxury upgrades include heated and coolest seats, a dual-pane sunroof, and 20-inch wheels.

Up front, the 300C gets Chrysler’s new front grille design with the horizontal blades, though Mopar will offer mesh grilles for people who prefer the old look. At the back, the 300C’s trunk slopes directly into the rear bumper.

As previously revealed, the 300 gets the new Pentastar V6 as standard with 292-hp and 260 ft-lbs of torque. A Hemi V8 is optional with 5.7-liters of displacement and Chrysler’s new Fuel Saver Technology that shuts down cylinders when not in need to conserve fuel (Chrysler claims fuel economy of 30 mpg). Output is rated at 360-hp and 390 ft-lbs of torque.

GALLERY: 2011 Chrysler 300C Debut

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GALLERY: 2011 Chrysler 300C

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 |  Jan 10 2011, 12:25 PM

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As part of Ford‘s “One World” plan, a single platform will be used across all markets worldwide. While we reap the benefits with the all-new Focus and C-Max, there can be trade-offs when different markets require different attributes in a vehicle. With the Ford Vertrek Concept, unveiled today at the Detroit Auto Show, the Blue Oval is hoping to synchronize the very American Escape SUV, and the equally European Kuga compact crossover.

Styling-wise, the Vertrek takes after the Kuga, as it abandons the Escapes boxy sheet metal for a fluid look that utilizes Ford’s new design language. Cargo room is comparable to the Escape, suggesting a bigger footprint than the Kuga, while a 1.6L Ecoboost 4-cylinder and a Ford TDCi diesel will be offered (with the latter likely for Europe only).

A start-stop system as well as a mild regenerative braking system will also be offered, with Ford touting as much as 10 percent less C02 emissions, and an equivalent bump in fuel economy thanks to the new technologies. While the Vertek is officially billed as a concept, expect to see the production version to look nearly identical to what was seen at Detroit.

GALLERY: Ford Vertrek Debut

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GALLERY: Ford Vertrek

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 |  Jan 10 2011, 11:18 AM

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Laughed at for decades as a poseur luxury brand, the folks at Buick might be the ones chucking now. And that little smirk might turn into an all out bellow as Buick is poised to begin threatening seriously established luxury automakers from Germany and Japan – at least when it comes to the sales race.

At the unveiling of the all new 2012 Verano compact luxury sedan at the Detroit Auto Show, Buick announced that it is now the fastest growing luxury brand in the U.S. with sales spiking 52 percent in 2010. That puts Buick ahead of established brands like Acura, Infiniti, Lincoln and even Audi.

Better yet, 40 percent of Buick sales are conquest, not just from other automakers, but from brands outside General Motors.

Leading the charge for Buick is the LaCrosse, with sales up 120 percent in 2010. Buick aims to grow that further in 2011 with a new eAssist hybrid system that will give the car 37-mph on the highway – way ahead of any competitor. Don’t want a hybrid? No problem: Buick will toss in the V6 as a no charge option.

Another hugely successful model for Buick in 2010 is the Enclave SUV. On sale for 4 years now, 2010 proved to be its best year, up 50 percent in sales.

Certain to help grow Buick further, the new Verano is based on the same platform as the Chevy Cruze and shares many of the same suspension parts including the Watts Z-link rear end that was designed to offer the best attributes of an independent rear suspension (namely, handling and ride comfort) with the best parts of a torsion beam setup (being lighter, less expensive and taking up less space).

Under the hood, the Verano will get GM’s 2.4-liter Ecotec 4-cylinder, delivering a sizable step up in performance over the Cruze. Power is rated at 177-hp and 170 ft-lbs of torque and when matched to a six-speed automatic will achieve 31-mpg on the highway. Buick is also planning to offer a version of its turbocharged 2.0-liter 4-cylinder engine, which makes 220-hp and 258 ft-lbs of torque in the Regal Turbo. A 0-60 mph time of 8.0 seconds is promised for the base engine, so look for a turbo model that might dip into the 6s.

Inside Buick promises true luxury, although don’t expect too much with a rumored starting price of around $20,000. Still, standard and optional features include a pretty impressive list of goodies like a push-button ignition, dual-zone climate control, heated leather seats and a heated steering wheel.

Perhaps more important is the overall refinement with soft-touch materials throughout, ambient lighting and minimal gaps between panels. Although if Buick is looking for a younger demographic they might have wanted to pass on the woodgrain accenting that’s certain to look as genuine as a made-in-Taiwan Louis Vuitton bag.

Outside the Verano is styled more like the large LaCrosse than the Regal, with a prominent waterfall grille. Standard rolling hardware includes 17-inch wheels, although 18s are optional.

Pricing for the 2012 Buick Verano will be revealed closer to its on-sale date later this year.

Please visit our Buick Verano forums for more news and information at: http://www.veranotalk.com/

GALLERY: 2012 Buick Verano Debut

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GALLERY: 2012 Buick Verano

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 |  Jan 10 2011, 11:00 AM

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A dramatic departure from the current model, Ford‘s new Vertrek Concept previews the next generation Escape crossover. Unveiled at the North American International Auto Show in Detroit, the Vertrek trades the current model’s boxy SUV look for more stylish, though still aggressive, lines.

Based on the same architecture as the 2012 Ford Focus, the Vertrek will be a global vehicle, and is also set to replace the Kuga crossover in Europe. Overseas customers won’t be nearly so shocked with it’s design, as it more of an evolutionary change from the current Kuga.

But there’s more to this story than a new shape, with the Vertrek also sporting one of Ford’s new EcoBoost engines. Under the hood is a turbocharged 1.6-liter 4-cylinder. This same engine has also just been revealed in the 2011 Ford C-Max, making 168-hp and 173 ft-lbs of torque. If Ford follows the same strategy as with the C-Max, look for a production model to get an equally-powerful 168-hp 2.5-liter 4-cylinder standard, with the EcoBoost version selling for a premium.

Helping to further improve fuel economy is Ford’s Auto Start-Stop system, that shuts off the engine at idle (like at a red light) and then starts it again when the driver lifts off the brake and goes to accelerate away. Ford claims this technology alone can improve fuel economy from 5 to 10 percent depending on the type of driving you do.

Yet another fuel-saving technology employed on the Vertrek is what Ford calls Smart Regenerative Charging, which works by only recharging the battery under braking, thereby reducing the drag on the engine (freeing up both horsepower and improving fuel economy) under acceleration. Both Auto Start-Stop and Smart Regenerative Charging will be offered on the next generation Ford Escape, as well as numerous other Blue Oval models starting in 2012.

While Ford hasn’t confirmed as much, the Vertrek will get some slight styling revisions and then head to market in the not-too-distant future as yet another model derived from the same platform as the Focus. In total, Ford is planning as many as 10 models for the U.S. that will ride on this shared structure.

The use of new ‘green’ technology and engines is a given and will help Ford attract plenty of customers, although unlike with many of Ford’s other products, the Vertrek represents a much larger gamble, moving away from the Escape that continues to be a top seller in the important and fast-growing compact crossover segment.

GALLERY: Ford Vertrek Concept

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