2018 Los Angeles Auto Show

  • 2020 Jeep Gladiator debuts in LA – best of both worlds

    The Jeep Gladiator has made its debut at the ongoing 2018 Los Angeles Auto Show, bringing back a classic nameplate that existed in the American carmaker’s history books. If you’ve always wanted a Wrangler but wished it had a more utilitarian focus, this is the vehicle to have.

    In terms of design, the Gladiator looks pretty much like the current four-door Wrangler, albeit with a truck bed at the back. To accommodate this, Jeep made the pick-up’s frame 787 mm longer and the wheelbase gains 492 mm as well.

    Other changes involve the seven-slot grille, as the grille slots have been slightly widened for additional air intake to assist with the truck’s increased towing capacity (more on that later). Around back, square taillights provide a connection to the Wrangler, while a wide tailgate allows for unobstructed loading of cargo into the bed.

    The bed itself has its own nifty features like under-rail lighting, a covered external power source (400-watt, 115-volt, three-prong), strong integrated tie-downs and a Trail Rail Cargo Management System to better organise and secure cargo.

    Depending on the chosen trim configuration, of which there are four (Sport, Sport S, Overland and Rubicon), the bed can also be specified with a spray-in bed liner, bed divider, tonneau cover, protective cab and cargo bed rock rails.

    Just like the Wrangler, many of the Gladiator’s body panels can be removed easily using just a tool kit with the necessary Torx bits. With some elbow grease, the windshield, doors and roof can be taken off the vehicle, allowing for a truly open-air motoring experience. On the mention of roofs, Jeep offers a premium Sunrider soft top if the conventional hardtop isn’t up to your taste.

    From the driver’s seat, there’s not much that’s new with the Gladiator’s dashboard, which is nigh identical to the Wrangler. Familiar items include a 3.5- or 7-inch multi-info instrument display, 5-, 7- or 8.4-inch main touchscreen, auxiliary switches for added accessories, leather upholstery and the Uconnect infotainment system.

    However, it is a different story in the back, as the base of the rear seats can be tilted up to reveal lockable storage bins underneath. You’ll still be able to fold the seatbacks down if needed, whereby you’ll be greeted by LED lights on the quarter trim panels and two storage nets on the cab-back wall.

    Safety-wise, Jeep offers more than 80 active and passive safety systems, including Blind-spot Monitoring, Rear Cross Path detection, a forward-facing off-road camera, a reverse camera with dynamic grid lines, Adaptive Cruise Control and electronic stability control (ESC) with electronic roll mitigation.

    For engines, buyers will to choose between a 3.6 litre Pentastar V6 petrol unit or a 3.0 litre EcoDiesel V6. The former offers 285 hp and 352 Nm of torque, and can be paired with either a six-speed manual or eight-speed automatic transmission. Meanwhile, the oil burner makes 260 hp and 599 Nm, with just an eight-speed auto as company when it is available in 2020.

    To make sure the Gladiator delivers on Jeep’s legendary off-road capability claims, it gets two four-wheel drive (4×4) systems. On the Sport and Overland, there is the Command-Trac 4×4 that features a two-speed transfer case with a 2.72:1 low-range gear ratio, as well as heavy-duty third-generation Dana 44 front and rear axles with a 3.73 rear axle ratio.

    As for the range-topping Rubicon, a Rock-Trac 4×4 system is fitted, which also comes with the Dana 44 axles, along with with a “4LO” ratio of 4:1. Gladiator Rubicon models also offer improved articulation and total suspension travel thanks to an electronic sway-bar disconnect.

    All variants come with a 4.10 front and rear axle ratio and Tru-Lok locking differentials as standard but only the Rubicon has the advantage of a Trac-Lok limited-slip rear differential – this is optional for the Sport and Overlord variants.

    Jeep says the Gladiator in all trims are worthy of a Trail Rated badge thanks to not only its powertrains, but also a range of other equipment. These include skid plates, front and rear tow hooks, heavy-duty, winch-ready steel bumpers (Rubicon only) and 33-inch off-road tyres on up to 17-inch wheels.

    Other important off-roading statistics include an approach angle of 43.6 degrees, breakover angle of 20.3 degrees, departure angle of 26 degrees and ground clearance of 281 mm. As a pick-up truck, the Gladiator has a towing capacity of up to 3,470 kg and can carry a payload of up to 725 kg.

    If you desperately need to modify your Gladiator, Mopar will offer more than 200 parts and accessories so you can personalise to your heart’s content. The Gladiator will be built in Toledo, Ohio, where Jeep vehicles have rolled off the assembly line since 1941.

  • 2019 Nissan Maxima facelift gets expanded safety kit

    Nissan has released full details of the facelifted Maxima, which made its world premiere at the 2018 Los Angeles Auto Show. The “four-door sports car” gets a stylistic revamp inside and out and receives a few added functional and safety features to boot.

    On the outside, the Maxima gets a larger front grille with a deeper “V-motion” chrome insert, plus a shapelier front bumper design with more prominent fog light inserts. The headlights are now full LED as standard, while at the back there are quad tailpipes and a rear spoiler on the SR model.

    Meanwhile, wheel options have also been overhauled with a new 19-inch Hyper Silver option with the Premium Reserve Package, and a new Sunset Drift colour has been added to the palette. The rest of the Maxima’s distinctive swooping design, complete with the trendy “floating roof” look, remains unchanged.

    Step inside and you’ll find upgraded materials and trim finishes, with the dashboard, door panels, steering wheel, headlining and even speaker grilles featuring a more premium look and feel. The SR models now get orange stitching, “Dynamic Diamond” quilting, orange Alcantara accents and dark satin chrome finishers, while the Platinum Reserve Package adds Rakuda Tan semi-aniline leather, just like the GT-R.

    Various other features include the now standard Rear Door Alert (RDA) that warns the driver if they have potentially left a child in the back seat, as well as revised SiriusXM satellite radio and Nissan Door to Door Navigation system, the last of which is standard on all except the base S model.

    The Maxima is also now available with Safety Shield 360 assists, such as Automatic Emergency Braking with Pedestrian Detection, Blind Spot Warning, Rear Cross Traffic Alert, Lane Departure Warning, High Beam Assist and Rear Automatic Braking. Intelligent Driver Alertness (I-DA) is now standard, while Intelligent Cruise Control (ICC), High Beam Assist (HBA) and Traffic Sign Recognition (TSR) are offered on more models.

    Mechanically, the Maxima remains unchanged, so power comes from the same venerable 3.5 litre naturally-aspirated VQ V6 as before, making 300 hp and 353 Nm of torque. It is paired to a “performance-oriented” version of Nissan’s Xtronic CVT, and drive is sent to the front wheels.

  • 2020 Kia Soul debuts with 201 hp turbo and EV models

    Kia has cornered the boxy compact car market in the United States and made it its own with the Soul, as competitors like the Scion xB and Nissan Cube have fallen by the wayside. Now in its third generation, the quirky offering gets an even more distinctive design.

    Seen from the front, the Soul adopts the split headlight design that’s all the rage these days, and with the optional full-LED headlights, the slimline upper units are the main lamps, joined together by a connecting trim piece to emphasis the car’s width. The horizontal daytime running lights and indicators are down below, flanking the huge “tiger nose” grille.

    The side view is cleaner without the fake air vents aft of the front wheels; there’s now just a arrow-shaped character line on the fenders. The upswept beltline is now complemented by a blacked-out C-pillar garnish with the Soul script for that all-important “floating roof” look, while the roof gets new mounting points for roof racks and the like.

    Around the back, the previously vertical tail lights are now boomerang-shaped and extend into the tailgate, while the upright rear windscreen and body-coloured “island” remain. New for the 2020 model year is the GT-Line variant that adds a more aggressive front and rear fascia, red exterior accents, gloss black life mirrors and 18-inch alloy wheels, while the new X-Line throws in body cladding, overfenders and roof rails for a more off-road-ready look – similar to the Picanto X-Line.

    Kia says the Soul has been inspired by music ever since the 2009 original, and this time the designers drew inspiration from the “emotional visualisation of sound”, with acoustic-inspired elements on everywhere from the seats to the door panels. There’s also an ambient lighting system with customisable colours and “moods” including the painfully crass “Hey! Yo!”, “Party Time” and “Romance”.

    Other features include prominent tweeter speakers on the dashboard, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto functionality as well as optional features like a 10.25-inch centre touchscreen, eight-inch head-up display, 10-speaker, 640-watt Harman Kardon sound system, dual-zone automatic climate control, Qi wireless smartphone charging. The GT-Line variant sets itself apart here as well with a flat-bottomed steering wheel.

    Being slightly longer than before, the Soul is said to be better packaged to improve accessibility to the interior, with larger front door openings, a wider and lower tailgate for easier cargo loading and unloading, an “easy grip” tailgate handle and a dual-level boot floor to accommodate taller items.

    Safety is another area that has been improved with the increased use of Advanced High Strength Steel (AHSS), hot-stamped components and structural adhesive for a more rigid body structure. Kia expects the Soul to achieve the highest ratings from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) and National Traffic Highway Safety Administration (NHTSA) in the US.

    Additionally, the Soul is also available with a range of Kia Drive Wise safety assistance systems, including Forward Collision Avoidance (FCA) with pedestrian detection, Lane Keeping Assist (LKA), Lane Changing Assist (LCA), Driver Attention Warning (DAW), Blind-spot Collision Warning (BCW), Rear Cross Collision Warning (RCW), Smart Cruise Control (SCC) and High Beam Assist (HBA).

    Under the bonnet, the Soul has graduated to the 2.0 litre Nu naturally-aspirated four-cylinder engine from the new Cerato making 147 hp and 179 Nm of torque, paired to either a six-speed manual transmission or a CVT that Kia calls an Intelligent Variable Transmission (IVT) – another item nicked from the Cerato.

    The GT-Line is also available with a 1.6 litre turbocharged and direct-injected mill producing 201 hp and 264 Nm, mated to a seven-speed dual-clutch transmission. Models equipped with this engine are also blessed with larger brakes, a sport-tuned suspension setup and twin centre-exit exhausts.

    Last but not least is the Soul EV, which features a 201 hp/395 Nm electric motor and an all-new 64 kWh liquid-cooled lithium-ion polymer battery, with standard Combined Charging System (CCS) DC fast charging. It also comes with a smart regenerative braking system, which is adjustable via steering wheel paddles and can automatically adjust the braking force based on a vehicle being detected in front.

    GALLERY: 2020 Kia Soul

    GALLERY: 2020 Kia Soul EV

  • Porsche 911 GT2 RS Clubsport debuts at 2018 LA Auto Show – 700 PS, only 200 units, solely for track use

    Aside from the new 992-gen Porsche 911, Porsche also unveiled another 911 model at the 2018 Los Angeles Auto Show, and this one is based on the now-old 991-gen 911. Confused? Don’t be, because the 911 GT2 RS Clubsport is essentially a track-only version of the current 911 GT2 RS.

    That’s right, Porsche’s most powerful 911 has been turned into something you can’t legally use on the road but is more than ready to be brought to track days as well as international motor racing events.

    Mechanically, the race car from the road shares the same 3.8 litre twin-turbo flat-six engine (700 PS and 750 Nm of torque) and seven-speed PDK with a regular 911 GT2 RS and the exquisite 935. Power goes to the rear wheels, which on the Clubsport are 310 mm-wide slicks because race car.

    In terms of braking, the Clubsport gets six-piston aluminium monobloc racing callipers on the front axle and four-piston callipers at the rear, similar to the GT2 RS However, unlike the road car, the brake discs are steel rather than ceramic, and smaller in this application, measuring 390 mm at the front and 380 mm at the rear.

    While you may lament at the downgraded brakes, keep in mind that the Clubsport weighs just 1,390 kg, which is about 80 kg less than the road car. Porsche made sure to strip as much as the interior as possible while introducing racing-related items like a full roll cage, a racing steering wheel from the 911 GT3 R, a solitary bucket seat with a six-point safety harness, Cosworth ICD and a 115-litre FT3 safety fuel cell.

    Thankfully, Porsche has decided not to omit certain features that its customers might enjoy, like the air-conditioning system because it gets hot at race tracks sometimes. The PSM (Porsche Stability Management) system, traction control and anti-lock braking system (ABS) are also retained but can be switched off completely by those who have total faith in their driving ability.

    More changes are found on the exterior, with that oversized carbon-fibre reinforced polymer (CFRP) rear wing being the most obvious. Other CFRP parts include the roof with escape hatches, front and rear hoods with quick release catches and an air jack system.

    The price of ownership isn’t cheap, as the Clubsport goes for 405,000 euros (RM1,924,053) and just 200 units will be made. Deliveries are slated to start from May 2019, so you may want to get your order in as soon as possible.

  • 2020 Hyundai Palisade debuts – flagship eight-seat SUV, 3.8L V6, 8-speed auto, flush with safety tech

    It’s official. Hyundai has finally unveiled its flagship premium three-row SUV, the Palisade, at the ongoing Los Angeles Auto Show. The huge SUV’s design doesn’t appear to veer too far off from the original Grandmaster concept, and it offers seating for up to eight individuals. The Palisade will be produced in Ulsan, Korea and will go on sale in the US from June 2019.

    First, let’s talk design. The bulky SUV features a bold and powerful front fascia, thanks largely to the Cascading Grille that’s accented with thick surrounds. In sticking with its latest design language, the projector headlights (positioned below; LED lighting is optional) and slim, upper LED DRLs are separated.

    It’s only when you view the side profile of the car that the Palisade’s actual size can be visually digested. Here, the large windows give a sense of space and panorama, and the near-flat roof tapers ever so slightly to a steeply-raked rear windscreen. Again, the D-pillars are well masked that they look almost nonexistent, placing more emphasis on the car’s overall size and spaciousness.

    While we’re on the subject, the Palisade measures 4,981 mm in overall length, 1,976 mm wide, 1,750 mm tall and has a wheelbase of 2,900 mm. To put that into perspective, that’s nearly the size of the Audi Q7, except the German SUV has a longer overall length and wheelbase (+71 mm and +94 mm respectively).

    At the back, things are kept fairly neat with slim vertical LED tail lights and tasteful application of chrome garnishes. Besides the Hyundai badge and model name spelled out, there’s nothing much to distract the eyes. The SUV sits on 18-inch alloys shod with 245/60 tyres as standard, but owners can choose to upsize to 20-inch (245/50 rubbers) items.

    The boxy design results in a coefficient drag of 0.33 (Cd), and this is achieved with a rear spoiler side garnish, an optimised front cooling area with extended internal air guide, aero underside panels (full front and centre underbody covers), and rear wheel aero deflectors.

    Inside, the driver is greeted with a three-spoke leather-wrapped steering wheel and a fully digital 12.3-inch TFT instrument cluster. Over in the centre, an eight-inch Display Audio system is standard, but you’d want the optional 10.25-inch widescreen display that supports two Bluetooth devices simultaneously – one for mobile phone connection and the other for audio streaming. Apple CarPlay and Android Auto functionalities are standard across the board, though the larger display gets GPS navigation with traffic flow updates.

    Further down the dash are the usual controls for media and HVAC functions, as well as access to Hyundai’s HTRAC all-wheel drive (AWD) system (more on this later). If you find the centre tunnel to be neater than usual, that probably has to do with the shift-by-wire ‘gearstick’ with automatic park logic that shifts the car into ‘P’ when the engine is off. This layout also frees up the centre tunnel, allowing for convenient storage space underneath.

    Fabric seats are offered as standard, and the more premium quilted Nappa leather is optional. The second row seat features a one-touch tumble operation, allowing easy ingress and egress to the third-row seat. For added convenience, the third row can be had with power-folding/unfolding and reclining seats. Seven-seat models get captain seats with heating and ventilation for the second row.

    Every Palisade gets seven USB charging outlets for convenience for all passengers, as well as 16 cupholders and seatbelt notification for all seats. What’s more, a conversation mirror allows the driver to clearly see passengers in the rear, and there’s also a sophisticated Driver Talk in-car intercom system that allows the driver to communicate separately with passengers in the second or third row.

    Another unique feature is the Rear Sleep Mode that lets the driver and front passenger listen to their own audio, without having it transmitted through the speakers in the second and third rows.

    Speaking of speakers, the Palisade can be had with the premium 12-speaker, 630-watt Infinity audio system with Clari-Fi and QuantumLogic Surround Sound technology. The former works in real-time to rebuild audio details lost in digitally-compressed music, while QuantumLogic extracts signals from the original recording and redistributes them into a multidimensional soundstage for playback that is clear, refined and full of detail.

    Besides that, the large SUV features an industry-first vent diffuser design to provide a focused, partially diffused or fully-diffused air to rear passengers. Optional equipment include Qi wireless charging tray for mobile phones, sun visors with illumination, Blue Link connected car system, surround view monitor and powered sunroof.

    Now, the Palisade is available with the sole direct-injected 3.8 litre Atkinson-cycle petrol V6 engine. It produces 291 horsepower at 6,000 rpm and 355 Nm of torque at 5,000 rpm. According to the automaker, the Palisade offers more power than its closest rivals, namely the Toyota Highlander, Honda Pilot, Nissan Pathfinder and Ford Explorer.

    A good reason to buy a vehicle such as this is for its carrying capacity, and with all seat rows up, there is 510 litres of space available, which beats a lot of the Palisade’s competitors aside from the Explorer (595 litres) – behind the second row seats, there is 1,297 litres of space.

    Power is put down to the ground via an eight-speed automatic transmission with a multi-plate torque converter. The Palisade can be had in both two-wheel and HTRAC AWD configurations, the latter developed as a multi-mode system with electronic variable-torque-split clutch with active torque control between the front and rear axles.

    The three drive modes – Normal, Sport and Smart – are said to provide a wider range of torque distribution variability than many competitive systems and have been tuned to conditions such as straight-line acceleration, medium- or high-speed cornering, and hill starts.

    AWD models get the newly-developed Snow Mode with special traction tuning for winter driving. This optimises traction by adjusting front and rear torque distribution, left and right wheel slip control, engine torque and shift patterns according to available traction levels. The AWD HTRAC system also includes an AWD locking-differential function for grip-demanding situations.

    For safety, the Palisade gets Hyundai’s SmartSense technology as standard, which bundles forward collision-avoidance assist with pedestrian detection, blind spot collision-avoidance assist, lane following assist, rear cross-traffic collision avoidance assist, safe exit assist, high beam assist, driver attention warning and smart cruise control with stop and go. The Palisade also gets a class-exclusive Blind View Monitor, which complements blind spot collision-avoidance assist to provide easy-to-see side views whenever the turn signal is activated.

    Additionally, there’s Rear Occupant Alert (ROA) that employs an ultrasonic sensor in the cabin to detect the movements of children and pets. If movement is detected after the driver leaves the vehicle and locks the doors, it will honk the horn and send an alert to the driver’s smartphone via Hyundai’s Blue Link connected car system. The system is designed to prevent children and pets from being forgotten in the car, but it also helps in case children accidentally lock themselves in.

    Standard on all models is Safe Exit Assist system – this uses radar to detect cars approaching from the rear and provides visual and acoustic warning when a passenger attempts to open the door. Even with electronic child safety lock deactivated, the system is capable of overriding it, and ensures that the rear doors remain locked until the approaching vehicle has passed.

    Finally, the SUV can be had in Beckets Black, White Cream, Lagoon Silver, Steel Graphite, Sierra Burgundy, Moonlight Cloud and Forest Rain. Interior combinations include unique molding accent colours tailored to match the exterior combination. So, does the Palisade whet your appetite for huge SUVs?

  • Mercedes-AMG GT range updated with new looks and technology – limited-edition GT R Pro model added

    For this year’s Los Angeles Auto Show, Mercedes-AMG has updated its entire GT range, which includes the addition of a new, limited-edition GT R Pro model. The new range-topper draws upon the company’s experience from the AMG GT3 and AMG GT4, with improvements made to the car’s suspension, lightweight construction, aerodynamics and looks.

    The GT R Pro, like the normal GT R, comes with adjustable coilover suspension as standard, allowing owners to adjust the spring preload length, as well as the compression and rebound of the dampers for a particular track. Thankfully, you won’t need to bring a comprehensive toolkit along as adjustments are made via a click system with an integral adjustment dial on the damper.

    For further tinkering, both axles get an adjustable torsion bar, with the one at the front being made of carbon-fibre, while the rear unit is a hollow steel tube design. Other changes include Uniball spherical bearings for both the upper and lower wishbones of the rear axle, a retuning of the dynamic engine and transmission mounts, plus a carbon-fibre shear panel in the underbody to stiffen the rear-end structure further.

    In markets outside the United States, Canada and China, the GT R Pro gets a Track Package by default, which includes a bolted steel roll cage, four-point safety harnesses and a fire extinguisher. Cars that don’t come with the Track Package will be fitted with matte carbon-fibre trim elements and a boot brace instead.

    On a related note, a ceramic high-performance compound braking system with black painted brake callipers and clear-coated carbon fibre AMG bucket seats are for everyone else except for those in the above-mentioned countries – they get normal AMG Performance seats.

    For more motorsport-inspired cues, the Carbon Package comes as standard and you can opt for racing stripes on the body. Elsewhere, there are AMG Performance five-double-spoke forged alloy wheels finished exclusively in titanium grey with a high-sheen finish for the rim flange, and the there’s a chequered flag around the ‘R’ badging for good measure.

    Look closely and you’ll spot the aerodynamic changes from the regular GT R like the two carbon-fibre flics on either side of the front bumper. The front lip is held in place by small metal braces, while the new louvres in the front wings more effectively vent the wheel arches to reduce front-axle lift. This is further improved with the aero elements on the wheel arches. As for the rear, the the aerofoil gains gurney for more downforce, and now sits on milled aluminium brackets.

    These changes work, as the GT R Pro is quicker around the Nürburgring than the GT R, setting a time of 7 minutes 4.632 seconds with AMG brand ambassador and AMG GT3 racing driver Maro Engel at the wheel.

    With the GT R Pro out of the way, let’s look at the less extreme GT models that have been given a refresh. Most of the changes, as you’ll soon realise, are derived from the GT’s four-door sibling, the affectionately-named GT 4-Door Coupe that debuted in Geneva earlier this year.

    On the exterior, the LED headlamps have been restyled to feature a new light guides and a three-chamber reflector system. Meanwhile, the LED taillights have been lightly enhanced to appear even deeper set thanks to the clusters’ dark background.

    The rear ends of the GT, GT S and GT C also gain a new black diffuser insert, and there’s new tailpipe setups as well. In the case of the regular GT, there are two round twin tailpipe covers, but the GT C cars have trapezoidal-shaped twin outlets instead. The GT R retains its distinctive arrangement with a centrally positioned exhaust that is accompanied by two smaller ones on the diffuser.

    More minor changes involve the GT and GT S, which gain a new black grained sill cover on the bottom section, along with new light Y-spoke alloy wheel in soft black with a finely polished surface. Available as an option (also for the GT C) are 10-double-spoked forged wheels in titanium grey with finely polished surfaces, or in soft black with finely polished rim flange.

    Moving inside, you’ll find the the 12.3-inch instrument cluster from the GT 4-Door Coupe, and a new 10.25-inch centre infotainment display from the latest C-Class. For better interface with the new screens, there’s a new AMG performance steering wheel from the updated C 63 with Touch Control – upholstery (black nappa leather/Dinamica microfibre) depends on the chosen model.

    Track enthusiasts will enjoy the new AMG Track Pace data logger that is standard for the COMAND Online infotainment system in all GT models. With it, more than 80 vehicle-specific sets of data are recorded ten times per second, along with lap and sector times so you can analyse your performance on track.

    While the updates are plenty, they don’t affect what’s under the bonnet, with AMG’s handbuilt 4.0 litre V8 biturbo M178 engine continuing to be of service. On GT models, the V8 makes 476 PS and 630 Nm of torque, while the GT S and GT C cars make do with 522 PS/670 Nm and 557 PS/680 Nm, respectively. As for the GT R and GT R Pro, both share the same output of 585 PS and 700 Nm. The AMG Speedshift DCT seven-speed transaxle dual-clutch transmission is retained.

    The GT’s AMG Dynamic Select programmes are the same as before – Slippery, Comfort, Sport, Sport Plus, Race and Individual – but with the addition of something called AMG Dynamics. The company says the system better manages the ESP (electronic stability programme) to distribute power and manage steering characteristics depending on one of four modes chosen – Basic, Advanced, Pro and Master (only available for the GT C, GT S and GT R).

    2019 Mercedes-AMG GT R Pro

    2019 Mercedes-AMG GT R

    2019 Mercedes-AMG GT C Roadster

    2019 Mercedes-AMG GT

  • 2019 Nissan Murano facelift – updated looks and tech

    Nissan has unveiled the 2019 Murano facelift at the Los Angeles Motor Show, refreshing the third-generation model with mild revisions to its exterior as well as updated technology inside and out.

    The Murano’s front end has been revised to wear a set of triangular air intakes and a more pronounced V-motion grille, bookended by a set of updated LED headlights. Meanwhile, there are updated tail lights feature at the rear end, new LED fog lights, and rolling stock comprises 18-inch or 20-inch wheels.

    Colour-wise, the Murano palette is joined by three new additions – Sunset Drift Chromaflair, Mocha Almond Pearl and Deep Blue Pearl for its exterior. The aesthetic changes continue inside the Murano, where the range-topping Platinum trim gets semi-aniline leather seats with diamond-quilted inserts. This trim level also gains dark wood trim and contrast piping on the seats, centre console and armrests.

    Further along the range, the Murano’s S, SV and SL trim variants come specified with either metallic or light wood trim. Trim levels SL and above gain the NissanConnect infotainment setup with Door-to-Door navigation, which now offers three-dimensional building graphics and satellite imagery, along with premium traffic information and points-of-interest online search abilities. Apple CarPlay and Android Auto is standard across all trim levels.

    Safety equipment on the 2019 Murano now includes Rear Door Alert and Intelligent Driver Alertness systems, plus standard 2nd row supplemental side air bags and front passenger supplemental knee air bag. The Safety Shield 360 Suite of driver assistance can be added, and comprises autonomous emergency braking, pedestrian detection, blind spot warning rear cross traffic alert, lane departure warning, high beam assist and rear automatic braking.

    Additionally, two trim options are available for the 2019 Murano; the SV Premium Package, which comes with a powered panoramic moonroof, intelligent Around View monitor, a Bose premium 11-speaker sound system and more, as well as the SL Technology package with the aforementioned Safety Shield 360 pack, traffic sign recognition and powered panoramic moonroof.

    The facelifted SUV continues to be powered the firm’s 3.5 litre naturally-aspirated V6 petrol engine, producing 263 PS and 325 Nm of torque here in the 2019 Murano, channeled to an Xtronic continuously variable transmission and an optional all-wheel drive system. The 2019 Nissan Murano is slated to reach American showrooms in December 2019.

  • Audi e-tron GT concept debuts at Los Angeles Auto Show – 582 hp EV, production version due by end 2020

    Audi has made it clear that e-tron vehicles are an important part of its future, with the first being the e-tron SUV that made its global debut in September. This will be followed by a Sportback version of the e-tron, which is nice but we’re here today to talk about something even more exciting, the e-tron GT concept.

    The show car is celebrating its premiere at the 2018 Los Angeles Auto Show, and it’s certainly a very striking vehicle to look at. If you like what you see, there’s more good news because Audi plans to put the e-tron GT into production by 2020, which is a lot less waiting time than that new Toyota Supra.

    Anyway, the e-tron GT is described as a four-door coupe that measures 4.96 metres long, 1.96 metres wide, 1.38 metres tall and with a wheelbase of 2.9 metres. Beyond the classic gran turismo proportions, the concept features a sloping roofline that gently leads into the sportback rear.

    Other exterior highlights include Audi’s trademark Singleframe grille, muscular fenders over the wheel arches, 22-inch five twin-spoke wheels with 285/30 profile tyres, as well as a unique paint finish called ‘kinetic dust’, which provides significant contrast between the body surfaces depending on the lighting.

    This design is also influenced by aerodynamic requirements. For starters, you’ll find air vents on the wheel arches, while at the rear, there’s a solid diffuser. Those large air inlets at the front also serve to cool various system, and the vented hood is a nod to previous concepts like the Aicon and PB18 e-tron.

    As for the lighting units, the sleek-looking front clusters feature matrix LED technology with laser high beam. Meanwhile, the rear looks to the e-tron SUV with a light strip that runs across the entire width of the rear, ending at individual wedge-shaped LED segments. This visual signature is also animated here to welcome the driver with a short sequence.

    Audi says the “technology for this automobile was developed in close collaboration with Porsche,” which is just another way of saying it uses the J1 platform also found on the upcoming Taycan. The body utilises several materials, with carbon for the roof, while aluminium is used for other components and supporting elements made from high-strength steel.

    Moving inside, the clean and minimalist cabin is distinctively Audi, and is clear statement of contemporary automotive design. It also looks very much production ready, although we’ll only find out if there will be any revisions in 2020.

    Greeting the driver is a hexagonal-shaped steering wheel, which has “engine” start/stop and drive mode buttons located on it. Audi’s affinity for digital displays is on show as well, as you’ll find one in the instrument binnacle, another on the main dashboard for the infotainment system, and a third for the climate control system. There’s no conventional gear lever here, with buttons handling the duty of putting the car in park, reverse, neutral and drive.

    Audi adds that this is a vegan interior, in that no animal-based products are used at all. In fact, a majority of the materials used are Earth-friendly, including the synthetic leather for the seats and trim; fabrics made from recycled fibres; microfibre headliner; and carpets that are made from Econyl yarn, a recycled fibre made from used fishing nets.

    Despite the sporty outlook, the German carmaker says the e-tron GT “provides a large dose of everyday usability” with four seats and two luggage compartments – the one at the front offers 100 litres, while there is 450 litres in the rear.

    Powertrain-wise, the e-tron GT has electric motors on the front and back axles provide quattro traction and torque vectoring. These motors provide 582 hp (434 kW), which is good for a 0-100 km/h time of 3.5 seconds, or 0-200 km/h in just over 12 seconds.

    The top speed is limited to 240 km/h in the interest of range, which is about 400 km following the WLTP standard. The motors draw power from a 90 kWh lithium-ion battery that is mounted on the vehicle floor for a low centre of gravity that is comparable to the R8.

    Recharging the battery can be done via regenerative braking, with the car’s recuperation system said to help increase range by up to 30% depending on the mode of operation. Up to 0.3 g, the vehicle recuperates energy solely via the electric motors, without using the conventional brake – covering for over 90% of all decelerations.

    Of course, plugging the car in is the fastest way to juice up, and with an 800-volt charging system, it’ll take around 20 minutes to recharge the battery to 80% of its capacity, or a range of more than 320 km. You can still use charging points with lower voltages, or go wireless with induction charging – the latter will see a full charge overnight with a 11 kW charging output.

    By 2025 Audi plans to launch 20 new models, with 12 of them featuring all-electric powertrains. Three e-tron models, including the e-tron GT, have been confirmed, and Audi says there will be a range of models with classic body layout such as Avant and Sportback on the way.

  • Honda Passport – five-seater Pilot makes LA debut

    In most markets, Honda’s largest SUV is the CR-V, but Americans have long had another option in the form of the massive seven-seater Pilot. If you live in the US but don’t want something quite so big, the Japanese carmaker has just the vehicle for you – the new Passport.

    Resurrecting a name last used on a rebadged Isuzu Rodeo, the Passport is essentially a five-seat Pilot, measuring 152 mm shorter at 4,839 mm long. In light of the shorter rear overhang, Honda has positioned the car as a more off-road-capable SUV, with a 28 mm increase in ride height (15 mm on front-wheel drive models) said to improve approach, departure and breakover angles.

    Other differences from the Pilot include a scratch-resistant matte black grille, black headlight graphics, standard 20-inch wheels (available in a black finish) and a cut in the D-pillar for an in-vogue “floating roof” look. Inside, Honda claims class-leading space, including 3,289 litres in passenger volume and a total interior volume of 4,449 litres.

    The boot, meanwhile, measures 1,167 litres and is expandable to 2,206 litres with the rear seats folded. Under the boot floor, which is reversible with carpeted and washable hard plastic surfaces, sits 71 litres of extra storage, with separate, removable and washable bins available in the accessories section.

    Power comes from the Pilot’s 3.5 litre naturally-aspirated i-VTEC V6 producing 280 hp at 6,000 rpm and 355 Nm of torque at 4,700 rpm, paired to a nine-speed automatic transmission.

    Customers get a choice of either front-wheel drive or an Intelligent Variable Torque Management four-wheel drive (i-VTM4) system with active torque vectoring. Suspension is handled by MacPherson struts at the front and a multilink setup at the rear, and Honda quotes a 1,588 kg towing capacity for front-wheel drive models and 2,268 kg for models with all-wheel drive.

    Available amenities a seven-inch instrument display, an available eight-inch Display Audio touchscreen system with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, a 10-speaker, 590-watt premium sound system and 4G LTE in-car WiFi hotspot. A multi-angle reverse camera and a seven-inch instrument display are standard-fit.

    Safety-wise, all Passport models come with the Honda Sensing suite of driver assists, including Collision Mitigation Braking System (CMBS) with Forward Collison Warning (FCW), Road Departure Mitigation (RDM) with Lane Departure Warning (LDW), Lane Keeping Assistance System (LKAS) and Adaptive Cruise Control (ACC). A Blind Spot Information System with Rear Cross-Traffic Detection is optional.

  • 2019 Toyota Prius facelift gets electric AWD system

    Time has been kind on the fourth-generation Toyota Prius, as the extroverted styling means it still stands out. However, it doesn’t change the fact that it is now three years old, so Toyota has given its bread-and-butter hybrid a timely facelift.

    On the outside at least, the tweaks have made the new car slightly less polarising than before. Gone are the shapely arrow-shaped headlights, replaced by sleeker, slimmer units, while the nose has been raised for a more dynamic profile from the side. The tail lights no longer stretch so far down; instead, they are now wider and encroach into the tailgate. The rear number plate recess also gets a trapezoidal shape.

    Inside, the changes are more minor and consists of the optional Tesla-style 11.2-inch vertical centre touchscreen from the plug-in hybrid, as well as small revisions to the centre console layout and dashboard controls. There are also new cloth upholstery options, turn-by-turn navigation directions on the head-up display and a larger wireless charging tray to match the increasingly larger smartphones we use today.

    The single biggest change, however, is mechanical in nature – the Prius is now available with an electric all-wheel drive system that features a separate high-output motor to drive the rear wheels. It engages automatically when pulling away up to 10 km/h, and in low-grip conditions will operate at speeds of up to 70 km/h. If you’re thinking it’s identical to the E-Four system found in Japan then you’re right on the money.

    On the AWD variants, the battery is nickel-metal hydride; the standard front-wheel drive Prius, meanwhile, gets the existing lithium-ion battery as standard across the board (European models previously used a Ni-MH battery). The rest of the powertrain remains the same – a 97 hp/142 Nm 1.8 litre Atkinson-cycle VVT-i petrol engine paired to a 71 hp/163 Nm pair of electric motors delivers a total system output of 121 hp.


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Last Updated 22 Sep 2022