First Drive: 2018 Chevrolet Traverse

Room and refinement help second-generation midsize SUV stand out.

by on Aug.16, 2017

The 2018 Chevrolet Traverse will hit showrooms later this year with a slew of upgrades and a new transmission.

We’ve all used the term, “dog years,” to talk about how fast some things age. Nowhere does that better apply than an automobile. And these days, new vehicles seem to age faster and faster because there’s more and more competition. So, it’s a surprise that General Motors let its Chevrolet Traverse grow so old.

First introduced in late 2009 as a 2010 model, it’s as old as anything in the midsize SUV segment, not exactly a these days. But if we had to wait, it’s good to see what Chevy is finally bringing to market for 2018. The second-generation Traverse is bigger and roomier, yet lighter and more fuel-efficient, quick and reasonable nimble, and it offers a lot of appealing new features and a level of overall refinement missing from the original version.

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Or so we found out during a family getaway earlier this month making the five-hour run to Michigan’s favorite summer resort, the lakeside Traverse City, and back. The drive wasn’t perfect. We did experience one annoying problem – a rattle – in our late prototype along the way, though one that Chevy engineers already knew about and promise to have fixed before the ’18 models roll into showrooms. Read the rest of this entry »

BMW Teases Z4 Concept Ahead of Pebble Beach Unveiling

Bavarian marque teases one of two new reveals for Concours.

by on Aug.15, 2017

The new BMW Z4 Concept teases a roadster developed as part of a partnership with Toyota.

There were more than a few tears shed when BMW announced that its long-in-the-tooth Z4 Roadster was going away. And what might follow was clouded in some confusion considering all the upcoming changes to the maker’s line-up.

But was got a hint that an all-new version of the Z4 was in the works last month and now, the Bavarian maker says it will give us more details later this week during the unveiling of the new BMW Z4 Concept at the Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance over the weekend.

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A new teaser image gives us a good look at both the front end and side of the roadster show car, the concept expected to hew closely to what the production model will look like when revealed in the near future. Among the details we’re hoping to confirm is speculation that the new model will share the same platform as the next-generation Toyota Supra.

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The Flying DeLorean is Back — For the First Time

Autonomous flying car is set to debut in late 2018.

by on Aug.15, 2017

The DeLorean DR-7 is the latest entry into the flying car segment, or it will be when it arrives in late 2018.

Reminisce about the ’80s and it won’t take long for memories to move to flying DeLoreans, 1.21 jigawatts and hitting 88 mph.

Fast forward a few decades and there is still talk of flying DeLoreans. Only now, they don’t travel through time, but they do fly autonomously. At least, that the goal of DeLorean Aerospace, which is just the latest company to enter the flying car market.

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The company, which was founded in 2012, is run by Paul DeLorean, nephew of the iconic car’s namesake and well-known auto executive John DeLorean. And it’s working what it calls “vertical takeoff and landing personal transports.” Read the rest of this entry »

Fiat Chrysler Moves Excite Speculation

Automaker attracting interest from Chinese companies.

by on Aug.15, 2017

Sergio Marchionne's continuing search for a partner for Fiat Chrysler has attracted interest from potential buyers and investors.

Even when he fails to consummate a transaction, as he did two years ago, Fiat Chrysler chief Sergio Marchionne still enjoys a reputation as an astute deal maker.

So it’s not exactly a surprise that shares of Fiat Chrysler Automobiles N.V. climbed to a record high following reports that FCA was dickering with Chinese companies about a possible deal. Fiat Chrysler’s U.S.-listed shares surged 8.5% to $12.60, the highest close since trading began in October 2014. The stock has risen 38% this year.

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In an e-mail, FCA declined to comment on the rampant speculation of a potential alliance or sale of the company. Read the rest of this entry »

Germany, Home of the Autobahn, Could Be Next to Begin Phase-Out of Internal Combustion Engine

“The approach is the right one,” says Chancellor Angela Merkel.

by on Aug.15, 2017

German Chancellor Angela Merkel, center, with several former Opel executives.

It’s the home of the Autobahn, super-smooth highways where German motorists can generally drive as fast as their gas and diesel-powered cars will allow. But Chancellor Angela Merkel signaled that Germany’s drivers may soon have to switch to battery-electric and other zero-emissions vehicles.

In an interview with the country’s Super Illu weekly, Merkel expressed support for new plans to phase out the internal combustion engine in countries including Norway and the United Kingdom.

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“The approach is the right one,” she said, though the Chancellor hesitated about offering a precise timetable for such a move in Germany, saying, “I can’t give you a precise year yet.”

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Traffic Fatalities in US Decline 1 Percent in First Half of 2017

Second half of year typically sees typically numbers rise.

by on Aug.15, 2017

The National Safety Council reports that motor vehicle deaths decline 1% in the first half of 2017.

For the first time in two years, motor vehicle deaths are on the decline, albeit only slightly.

The National Safety Council estimates reveal that traffic fatalities through the first six months of 2017 are down 1% from the same period last year. Totals have steadily risen since the end of 2014, making the organization cautious.

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The NSC notes the increase has been the “steepest estimated two-year increase in motor vehicle deaths since 1964, and it is too early to conclude whether the upward trend is over.” The totals are still 8% higher than the results from the first half of 2015. Read the rest of this entry »

Teamsters Sets Up Road Blocks to Autonomous Semi-Trucks

Union works with politicians to limit self-driving trucks testing.

by on Aug.15, 2017

A pair of autonomous Otto trucks carrying prototype autonomous Volvos being tested by Uber. The Teamsters are watching autonomous laws carefully.

Tesla, Daimler, Uber and other companies are pushing ahead with the development of self-driving semi-trucks, but the International Brotherhood of Teamsters are determined to put up road blocks in an effort that could eventually eliminate the jobs of thousands of truck drivers and union members.

The Teamsters, which has 1.3 million members, has lobbied lawmakers to exclude commercial trucks from a bill that would allow more autonomous vehicles on the roads and limit the ability of individual states to regulate automated vehicles.

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The union also praised Congress for recognizing that a starting point for any discussion on this subject was that no legislation should impact commercial motor vehicles or traditional commercial drivers. Read the rest of this entry »

Pushing the Limits in the 2018 Ford F-150 Limited

Review: We put Ford's work and luxury truck through its paces.

by on Aug.14, 2017

It can be a dirty job, but someone has to do it.

It’s confession time: few things scare me more than having to back up a trailer – like the one carrying the big boat I was to drive down the ramp and load into Portage Lake last Friday.

It takes confidence, patience and skill to avoid doing some serious damage, or at least embarrassingly yourself in front of the folks watching as you slip into reverse. Alternatively, it helps to have a Ford F-150 pickup equipped with the maker’s Pro Trailer Backup Assist system, something that makes the process about as simple as playing a videogame.

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Pro Trailer Assist was one of a handful of features I got to try this past week while checking out the newly updated 2018 Ford F-150. My mule for the day: a fully loaded 4×4 version of the 3.5-liter Limited Crew Cab edition, at $64,440 – $1,295 in destination fees – one of the most lavishly equipped and expensive half-ton pickups on the market.

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More Power, Better Mileage, More Features – Ford Wants to Expand F-Series’ Lead

Add some subtle design tweaks for 2018.

by on Aug.14, 2017

The 2018 Ford F-150 gets a slew up updates under the hood and on the outside.

If you’re a fan of Ford’s F-150 you’ll quickly spot some changes for 2018, starting with the new “C-Clamp” headlights and updated grille and taillamps.

But that’s just where things start for the upcoming model-year, according to the Detroit automaker. The new F-Series line-up will get a big boost in power on two of its five powertrain options, while increasing fuel economy across the board. There are also an array of new and updated features that, Ford is betting, will help keep momentum building as it gains market share at the expense of key competitors Chevrolet and Ram.

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“The 2018 F-Series is even tougher, even smart, even more capable,” boasted Todd Eckert, Ford’s truck marketing manager, during a background media briefing on the updates to what has been, for four decades, the best-selling pickup on the U.S. market. Read the rest of this entry »

Automakers Wary of Trump’s Plans for NAFTA Talks

President's plans contradict auto industry interests.

by on Aug.14, 2017

Negotiating points outlines by the Trump Administration have U.S. automakers concerned.

Despite continued promises to bring back automotive manufacturing jobs to the U.S. through a renegotiation of the North American Free Trade Agreement, the Trump Administration’s efforts are likely to harm to the auto industry.

The NAFTA talks are nearly set to begin and a few of the major sticking points outlined by U.S. negotiators have auto industry officials wringing their hands over the anticipated negative impact they’ll have.

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In attempt to increase the number of auto jobs, U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer wants to strengthen the rules of origin to block more parts from Asia as well as set a U.S.-specific content requirement for vehicles coming into the U.S. from Mexico. Read the rest of this entry »