Saturday, June 23, 2018

Ford & VW Eye Strategic Partnership To Boost Competitiveness, Customer Service

Ford Motor Company and Volkswagen AG have signed a Memorandum of Understanding as each explore a mutually beneficial strategic alliance. The companies say the association would help them remain competitive while increasing their ability to serve customers.

“Ford is committed to improving our fitness as a business and leveraging adaptive business models – which include working with partners to improve our effectiveness and efficiency,” explained Jim Farley, President of Global Markets, Ford Motor Company. “This potential alliance with the Volkswagen Group is another example of how we can become more fit as a business, while creating a winning global product portfolio and extending our capabilities.”

Commercial Vehicle Applications

While the potential alliance would not involve equity arrangements or cross ownership stakes, the automakers will consider what collaboration would look like in various areas, including the development of commercial vehicles.

“Markets and customer demand are changing at an incredible speed. Both companies have strong and complementary positions in different commercial vehicle segments already,” said Dr. Thomas Sedran, Head of Volkswagen Group Strategy. “To adapt to the challenging environment, it is of utmost importance to gain flexibility through alliances. This is a core element of our Volkswagen Group Strategy 2025.”

Upward Movement

Both Ford and VW are expanding their individual operations to meet an evolving automotive market. Ford recently purchased an iconic Michigan landmark that will serve as an innovation hub, while VW is conducting advanced scientific research that aims to improve battery technology. Now both companies are testing the waters with this possible strategic alliance in the hopes they can find common ground.

“We look forward to exploring with the Volkswagen team in the days ahead how we might work together to better serve the evolving needs of commercial vehicle customers, and much more,” Farley said.

“The potential industrial cooperation with Ford is seen as an opportunity to improve competitiveness of both companies globally,” Dr. Sedran added.

The talks between both companies are expected to progress in the coming weeks.

The Automoblog Staff contributed to this report and can be reached anytime.

Source: Ford Motor Company, Volkswagen Group.



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Friday, June 22, 2018

2019 Chrysler Pacifica Hybrid: New Appearance Package Proves Minivans Are Cool

Who says minivans can’t be cool?! The Chrysler Pacifica Hybrid will still haul the family, but it’s a bit edgier now with the new S Appearance Package. The addition gives the Pacifica Hybrid a shaded and blacked-out look, a design that is becoming quite popular today. The package is – and has been for awhile – available for the gas Pacifica.

“The factory custom look of the S Appearance model is really resonating with our Pacifica buyers, so much so that we are now making it available on the Pacifica Hybrid model,” explained Steve Beahm, Head of Passenger Car Brands – Dodge, SRT, Chrysler and Fiat, FCA – North America.

Styling Treatments

The styling deets have gloss black elements running the length of the exterior: grille surrounds, eyebrow accents on the headlamps, daylight opening moldings, roof rack, and rear valance moldings all see gloss black treatment.

The 18-inch wheels and the Pacifica’s badging come in a “Black Noise” finish.

The S Appearance Package fills the interior with a combination of black and “Light Diesel Gray” accents.

2019 Chrysler Pacifica Hybrid with the S Appearance Package. Photo: FCA US LLC.

Storied Past

35 years ago, Chrysler changed the automotive landscape with the minivan. Both Lee Iacocca and Hal Sperlich, fresh off a rejection from Ford Motor Company for a minivan concept, landed at cross town rivals Chrysler. They were the architects of the Mustang, which proved wildly successful for Ford, but the Blue Oval was hesitant to combine the words “mini” and “van” together.

The Dodge Caravan and Plymouth Voyager would later surface, arguably to the bewilderment of not only Ford, but other automakers as well. That first generation paved the way for the Pacifica Hybrid, which provides 566 miles of total range and more than 100 available safety and security features. The cassette tape players of the early minivans are now replaced by the Uconnect 4 system of the Pacifica, complete with Apple CarPlay, Android Auto, navigation, and 4G LTE connectivity.

In essence, Chrysler’s minivan has aged well, boasting 115 specific innovations in the segment.

“With 84 miles per gallon equivalent (MPGe) in electric-only mode and 33 miles of all-electric range, this package makes the industry’s only hybrid minivan even more unique,” Beahm added.

Pricing & Availability

The S Appearance Package for the 2019 Pacifica Hybrid is available for $595.00, and can be ordered as soon as next month. Expect S Appearance-themed Pacifica Hybrids at FCA dealerships this fall.

Carl Anthony is Managing Editor of Automoblog and resides in Detroit, Michigan. He studies mechanical engineering at Wayne State University, serves on the Board of Directors for the Ally Jolie Baldwin Foundation, and is a loyal Detroit Lions fan.

Photos & Source: FCA US LLC.



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2018 Toyota Land Cruiser Review

If you live in a snowy climate, the Toyota Land Cruiser is highly capable, and is aimed at the family who needs guaranteed control on an icy road leading to a ski area, or safe traction on the dirt road leading to a mountain house, or headed into those mountains for a weekend biking or hiking trip.

Need to pull something for recreational use? The Land Cruiser can even tow boats or horse trailers up to 8,100 lbs.

What’s New For 2018

Following a substantial freshening for 2016, the Land Cruiser is little-changed for the 2018 model year. The rear-seat entertainment system, formerly standard, is now an option. Outside mirrors now fold inward as the vehicle is locked.

What hasn’t changed is the Land Cruiser’s ability to handle big loads, haul heavy cargo, and transport people and gear in comfort. It comes with a heavy-duty architecture for handling bigger jobs.

Features & Options

The 2018 Toyota Land Cruiser ($83,665) comes with four-wheel drive, eight-passenger seating, four-zone automatic climate control, semi-aniline perforated leather seat trim, heated/ventilated power front seats, a cooler box, push-button start, LED headlights, and 18-inch wheels. Infotainment features include a 14-speaker JBL audio system, a nine-inch touchscreen, and an optional rear-seat entertainment system with a DVD player and dual 11.6-inch screens.

Total MSRP including destination: $84,960.

Interior Highlights

At first glance, the Land Cruiser almost resembles a luxury sedan. There is abundant interior space and plenty of leg and headroom in both the first and second rows. Front seats are wide and well-padded, helping to provide excellent views and room for taller drivers. Row two isn’t far behind in comfort, with room for three average-size adults. The semi-aniline leather upholstery feels luxurious, and there is some hard plastic trim likely for ease of cleaning after a long camping or hunting trip.

At the center console, controls for the transfer case and four-wheel drive system sit alongside a conventional gearshift lever. Land Cruiser’s upright, symmetrical dashboard is packed with large buttons and knobs, yet most controls are accessed through the infotainment screen.

The third row is ideal for kids, with a truck-based configuration with two removable seat halves that can fold upward when not in use for more cargo carrying ability. Cargo volume totals 16.1 cubic feet behind the third row, expanding to 43 cubic feet when those seats are folded away. Removing the third-row seats and folding the second-row seats boosts space close to 82 cubic feet.

Engine & Fuel Mileage Specs

Toyota offers just one engine for the Land Cruiser: a long-proven, 5.7-liter V8 generating 381 horsepower and 401 lb-ft. of torque, mated with an eight-speed automatic. Every Land Cruiser has full-time four-wheel drive, with a locking center differential and a two-speed transfer case that permits low-range operation.

EPA fuel mileage ratings come in at 13/18 city/highway and 15 combined mpg.

Driving Dynamics

Out on the road, the Toyota Land Cruiser is smooth, quiet, and comfortable for long trips. The high seating position gives the driver and passengers a commanding view of the road ahead. It left us with a feeling of superiority over the rest of the crowd on the highway. And the big 5.7-liter V8 with its massive torque rating helped with that superior feeling.

We were able to power by anyone who was going too slow by pushing the gas pedal to the floor. The big V8 responded well and took us anywhere we wanted to go quickly.

We didn’t have a snow storm this week, but the all-wheel drive SUV powered through the off-road course near Morrison, Colorado. The Land Cruiser’s four-wheel drive system has four modes, actuated by a toggle switch on the center console. It can be operated by locking the center differential in high or low-range. We encountered patches of ice on the road, and locking the center differential helped maintain grip as individual wheels encountered the slippery surfaces.

The Land Cruiser is a big vehicle and the only downside is parking and maneuvering it in the city, which can be challenging. But parking is made easier with its low-effort steering at slow speeds. Visibility was an issue as we headed over the crest of a hill in the mountains because the hood is tall. We lost sight of the road as we approached another car.

But on the open road, it works.

Conclusion

The 2018 Land Cruiser offers plenty of utility, exceptional capability off-road, towing power, and Toyota’s reputation for build quality. The big vehicle is relaxing to drive on long trips, gliding down the open highway with ease. For those who live in the country or a rural setting, the Land Cruiser will handle big loads, haul heavy cargo, and transport people and gear in comfort.

Denis Flierl has invested over 25 years in the automotive industry in a variety of roles. Follow his work on Twitter: @CarReviewGuy

2018 Toyota Land Cruiser Gallery

2018 Toyota Land Cruiser Official Site.

Photos: Toyota Motor Sales, U.S.A., Inc.



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Thursday, June 21, 2018

2019 Genesis G70: Korean Sport Sedan Goes Head-to-Head with Established German Marquees

Many people say the sport sedan is dead but Hyundai’s luxury subsidiary Genesis thinks otherwise. The 2019 Genesis G70 is the third and final sedan in the Genesis lineup, yet the third of six brand new models that are slated to debut by 2021.

But unlike the flagship G90 and midsize G80, the 2019 Genesis G70 is bred and engineered to deliver a sportier and more athletic driving feel. I found this interesting since the 2019 Genesis G70 has a longer wheelbase (111.6-inches) than the BMW 3-Series, Audi A4, and Mercedes-Benz C-Class.

Overall length is also on the larger end of the scale compared to the German marquees at 184.5-inches. This tells me the 2019 Genesis G70 will offer driver-focused performance without ruffling your tail feathers.

The Proof is in the Pudding

The new Genesis G70 was engineered by design and is equipped with the stiffest body structures in its class, according to the automaker.

“The foundation for any kind of car that performs well dynamically is an incredibly rigid platform,” said Albert Biermann, President and Head of Vehicle Performance, Hyundai Motor Group. “That translates not only to performance, but how it feels down the road as well as safety achievement levels.”

The strategic use of aluminum for the hood and strut tower reinforcement bars enables the G70 to have a lower center of gravity. The car also benefits from an integrated frame that drastically reduces the number of physical parts needed to reinforce the chassis.

“The proof is in how G70 handles on a spirited drive, whether that’s early on a Sunday morning on a hilly, country road or on a daily commute to the office,” Biermann continued. “We used high-strength steel, aerospace-grade adhesives, and strategic lightening with aluminum to create the ideal balance of stiffness and competitiveness.”

The result of all this is telepathic steering, sportier handling, and better driving dynamics. The rigid body structure and longer wheelbase also equates to a smoother ride.

Photo: Genesis Motor America, LLC.

Exterior Design

Genesis designed the 2019 G70 under the company’s Athletic Elegance ethos. The new saloon has the widest overall stance and lowest overall height in the segment. The kinetic form factor of the exterior panels was enough to return a sleek and aerodynamic 0.28 coefficient of drag. If you slap on the more aggressive 19-inch wheels and Michelin Pilot Sport 4 summer tires, the coefficient of drag is still a slippery 0.29.

So far, it seems Genesis created a recipe for a truly scintillating dish. Stiff and rigid chassis? Check. Aerodynamic body design? Check. So, what’s next?

Power to the People

The 2019 Genesis G70 can be configured with a 2.0-liter turbocharged and direct-injected 4-cylinder gasoline motor with 252 horsepower and 260 lb-ft. of torque. This engine benefits from a smaller turbine wheel, motor-driven intake variable valve timing system, and a two-stage relief oil pump to improve low end torque and engine power.

The crème of the crop is the 3.3-liter twin-turbocharged and direct-injected V6 motor that churns out 365 horsepower and 376 lb-ft. of torque. Curiously enough, both motors can be found in the Kia Stinger. The V6 motor is equipped with a single scroll, twin turbo system, integrated exhaust manifold cylinder head, a dual-stage variable oil pump, and the Mid Position Lock Continuously Variable Valve Train system (MPL CVVT) to improve engine response and efficiency.

Photo: Genesis Motor America, LLC.

Transmission Tech

Transferring power to the rear wheels is the standard eight-speed automatic with rev-matching and gear-holding technology. All-wheel drive is an option for either engine. A mechanical limited-slip differential is standard on the 3.3 (rear-wheel drive) and optional on the 2.0 (also rear-wheel drive).

What’s interesting is the availability of a six-speed manual transmission on the 2.0 turbo, rear-wheel drive. If you choose the manual, your G70 will also come with high-performance Brembo brakes, higher horsepower output (255 versus 252 for the automatic variant), a special exhaust, and additional weight reduction features.

Other go-fast and performance-enhancing goodies include launch control, a rack-mounted and motor-driven power steering system, and Dynamic Torque Vectoring Control so you can attack corners like Mika Hakkinen on steroids.

Availability

What we have here is an exciting and equally luxurious sports saloon that will give the Alfa Romeo Giulia, BMW 3-Series, and Audi A4 a serious run for the money. You can expect the 2019 Genesis G70 to arrive at U.S. dealerships this summer.

Alvin Reyes is the Associate Editor of Automoblog. He studied civil aviation, aeronautics, and accountancy in his younger years and is still very much smitten to his former Lancer GSR and Galant SS. He also likes fried chicken, music, and herbal medicine. 

2019 Genesis G70 Gallery

Photos & Source: Genesis Motor America, LLC.



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