The Automotive Revolution Has Begun


We are in the midst of a technological revolution in the auto industry. The amount of change in the last five years has probably outpaced what we’ve seen in the last 50. The next five years could change it all again.

Remember when seat belts and air conditioning were considered big developments in the car world? Then came cruise control and heated seats. I, for one, lost my marbles when I finally owned a car that could unlock with the push of a button.

Now I don’t even need keys to unlock, or start, my car. Heck, I don’t even need gasoline any more. My Nissan Leaf, though, hasn’t even begun to crack the surface of what’s coming.

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New Nissan Titan: Finally a Worthy Full-Size Competitor


The Nissan Titan has been all but forgotten in the minds of full-size truck shoppers. Last month, the Titan placed dead last in truck sales, if we don’t include the extinct Chevy Avalanche and Cadillac Escalade EXT.

Almost 234,000 trucks were sold in the U.S. in July. The Titan accounted for just 1,143 of those sales, which amounts to a fairly average month when looking at the last six years of Titan sales data.

The 2015 version of the truck was widely panned as an outdated and underpowered entry in the market. Nissan overhauled the truck for 2016 and included a Cummins turbodiesel V8 engine in its Titan XD model, making it the only “light-duty” truck capable of towing more than 11,000 pounds.

So far sales numbers haven’t improved much.

For 2017, though, Nissan will make the standard half-ton Titan available. It won’t knock the Ford F-150 off its perch, but Nissan hopes it will at least move the Titan out of last place.

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Coming Soon: A Ford Without a Steering Wheel


Fully autonomous cars were once the pipe dream of a utopian future.

Ten years ago, self-driving cars seemed so far-fetched that it wasn’t even worth bringing them up in conversation. We might as well have discussed the feasibility of bubble-powered fighter jets.

Today the reality of an autonomous future is closer than most of us realize.

Many major automakers, led by Tesla, have recently boasted about their autonomous plans and showed off early versions of their technology. Ford has quietly sat on the sidelines. So quietly, in fact, that it’s been criticized for not announcing plans for a self-driving future.

Ford shook things up recently, though, when it finally broke its silence and said it hopes for fully autonomous cars in just five years. The company’s vision brings up some new possibilities that could change transportation as we know it.

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Lotus Prepares New Elise for U.S. Market


For about eight glorious years, U.S. buyers had the privilege of being able to purchase the lightweight Lotus Elise sports car. The car, fully assembled and ready to take on America’s highways and race tracks, was a hit with buyers thirsty for true driving thrills.

The car first became available in the United States in 2004 and offered a unique combination of speed, efficiency, and striking looks at a reasonable price. The Lotus dream in America lasted until 2011, when the British company had to pull the Elise out of the market due to non-compliant airbags.

Today Lotus is preparing for re-entry into the market with a new Elise and, potentially, an SUV.

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What Was That? Some New Model Names for 2017

2017 Porsche 718 Cayman and 718 Boxster

In 2015 Americans bought more new cars than in any previous year, but those numbers can’t hide one of the auto business’s dirty little secrets: even when shoppers buy lots of cars, not every model sells well. We’re now winding down the 2016 model year, so we know which models won’t return for 2017. There are a few we won’t miss too much (take care, CR-Z!), but happily, a number of good models that won’t come back for 2017 have already been replaced or will move on under new names. Here are some vehicles we’re glad will return, even if they’ve had to adopt an alias to do so.

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Look Toward Genesis for Your V8 RWD Driving Pleasure


Once upon a time, America was chock full of rear-wheel-drive (RWD) cars with beefy engines. They comfortably cruised Interstate highways and transported an entire generation of families. Most of those cars today have been replaced by front-wheel-drive sedans with turbocharged engines or all-wheel-drive car-based crossovers.

The Chrysler 300 and Dodge Charger are perhaps the only remaining RWD American sedans that can be had with a V8 engine. Even the all-new Lincoln Continental, once the epitome of rear-drive land yachts, will return with V6 power and either front- or all-wheel drive.

Buyers who long for a V8 RWD luxury sedan will have another option, though. They’ll just have to look toward the newest South Korean brand to get it.

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Ford Surprises Itself with New 3.5-Liter EcoBoost


Ford’s EcoBoost technology has been a wild success in everything from the Mustang to the F-150.

EcoBoost is, of course, Ford’s name for a direct-injected turbocharged gasoline engine. While the EcoBoost name is specific to Ford, nearly every automaker sells an EcoBoost engine. They just call it a direct-injected turbocharged engine.

Regardless, buyers of the Expedition, Explorer, Taurus, Fusion, Focus, and Fiesta have also had the EcoBoost experience. Owners love them because they offer similar power to larger-displacement engines, but with better fuel economy and lower emissions.

Automakers love them because they get to charge a premium for the privilege of driving one.

Now there’s an additional benefit to driving an EcoBoost. Ford’s second-generation 3.5-liter EcoBoost engine has even more power than the automaker originally thought it would.

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New Ford F-150 Turbo Diesel Could Take Mileage Crown


Oil-burning engines have been dominating the auto headlines in recent weeks.

From the newly announced Volkswagen TDI settlement to diesel’s apparent fall from grace, the fuel has been cast in a mostly negative light since the Dieselgate story broke in September 2015.

Americans have lost a lot of faith in diesel-powered vehicles, but one truck could have the potential to turn around diesel’s fate in America.

Diesel’s savior in America just might be an all-new Ford F-150.

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A Beginner’s Guide to Digital Instrumentation

Courtesy Mercedes-Benz

Mercedes-Benz Head-Up Display

Chances are, anyone reading this post learned to drive a car with some sort of traditional gauge setup. Speedometer, tachometer, engine temperature, gas level, maybe a warning that someone needs to fasten their seatbelt. But is it possible the near future will leave such an interior feeling old-fashioned, obsolete, better suited for classic cars and car shows? We all know how fondly our zealously up-to-date culture likes to deride (or sometimes obsess over) old technological “breakthroughs” like cassette tapes or first-generation iPods, computing devices that look and feel like bricks in comparison to the sleek devices of today. With their growing computing power and ever-more-sophisticated interiors, why would cars be exempt from this double-time march of progress?

Surely we’ve seen this coming. Nothing moves as quickly as technology or has quite the same way of spreading across all parts of a particular product or experience. We have our award-winning infotainment systems; how long could it have been before some of the operating philosophy behind fighter-jet cockpits or the crisp graphics and formidable computing power of smartphones began showing up right in front of drivers’ noses? Not long, apparently: just take a look at the new display setups appearing in consumer vehicles, from the head-up displays (yes, like fighter jets, sort of) to fully computerized dashboards. But if you haven’t necessarily been keeping an enthusiast’s eye on the automotive market, you might not quite know what these new features are all about. They are, after all, still pretty new. So here’s a quick rundown of a few of the more important (or common) among them.

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A New Pacifica and the Future of Chrysler

2017 Chrysler Pacifica

Once a mainstay on American highways, Chrysler is now driving toward an uncertain future. Its partnership with Daimler-Benz has been replaced by one with Fiat, and while Fiat Chrysler Automobiles (FCA) has kept its head above water (thanks to America’s obsession with pickup trucks and the unyielding power of Jeep brand loyalty), the rest of the business raises more than a few questions. What is Fiat’s true future in the U.S. market? Will Alfa Romeo and its Giulia succeed today after a reputation for unreliability sunk them in 1995? And with only a midsize sedan with a questionable future, a full-size stalwart in a shrinking segment, and the 2017 Pacifica in a crossover-crazy era, can Chrysler stay afloat?

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