EPA Announces New Fuel-Economy Test Guidelines

EPA

Automakers will have a new set of EPA guidelines for conducting fuel-economy tests, the agency announced Monday. The move is in response to some automakers — Ford and Hyundai/Kia — that have had to lower fuel-economy ratings on their cars during the past several years because of testing errors.

Related: Loopholes and Fuzzy Math: The Tangled Science of MPG Ratings

These guidelines cover vehicle preparation for the fuel-economy testing such as tire wear levels and breaking in a new car beforehand. They also cover the impact of aerodynamic drag and tire rolling resistance on a car’s fuel economy.

“Without question, [the] industry is paying more attention — and that’s a good thing,” Chris Grundler, EPA’s director of the Office of Transportation and Air Quality, told the Detroit News.

Read the Detroit News’ full story here.

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Written by: Jennifer Newman

2016 Land Rover Range Rover Evoque: First Look

Evoque_FirstLook

Competes with: BMW X3, Lexus RX, Mercedes-Benz GLK-Class

Looks like: The Evoque gets a revised front bumper design and more LEDs

Drivetrain: 240-hp, turbocharged 2.0-liter four-cylinder with nine-speed automatic transmission; four-wheel drive

Hits dealerships: Fall 2015

The smallest of Land Rover’s Range Rover derivatives, the Range Rover Evoque gets a few updates for 2016. It will make its global debut at the Geneva International Motor Show in March and will hit Land Rover dealerships this fall.

Related: 2013 Land Rover Range Rover Evoque: Family Checklist

The five-seat Evoque still comes in two- or four-door SUV body styles, though both cars are roughly the same size. Revised trim levels are now the SE, HSE, HSE Dynamic and Autobiography.

Exterior

Land Rover says the 2016 Range Rover Evoque is its first model to have full LED headlights. The effect makes for more-aggressive light pipes that wrap up into the Evoque’s overlapping hood. The front and rear bumpers are also new, and the changes up front are easiest to notice as the bumper has much deeper outboard openings than before.

The Evoque’s grille now has two-bar or hexagonal inserts. Upper trim levels of the four-door model get new hood vents, which were previously limited to the two-door Evoque, and the tail has a redesigned spoiler.

Like a few other SUVs, the Range Rover Evoque now offers a motion-activated power tailgate with a sensor underneath the bumper that detects movement from your foot, provided the key fob is in range.

Interior

Inside, the Evoque’s doors have more stitched trim. Other changes for 2016 include new seats and an updated multimedia system with carryover 8-inch dimensions. The cabin otherwise retains the same cascading architecture.

Eight-way power front seats and leather upholstery are standard; massaging, 14-way power front seats are optional. Land Rover says its multimedia system now has “a more intuitive experience” with smartphone-style swiping capabilities and app integration. The system is standard on all trim levels.

Two navigation systems are available. Optional on the SE is navigation that uses an SD card, while upgraded, hard-drive navigation is standard on the HSE and up. Those models also get one of two Meridian premium audio systems and a rear-seat entertainment system with twin 8-inch screens.

Under the Hood

The Range Rover Evoque carries over its 240-horsepower, turbocharged 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine and nine-speed automatic transmission. The standard four-wheel-drive system now includes All-Terrain Progress Control — effectively low-speed cruise control in off-road situations that ensures driver-selectable speeds between 1 mph and 19 mph.

Safety

The Evoque gets two semi-autonomous safety features for 2016: a lane keeping feature with course-corrective steering and a forward collision warning system with automatic braking. Drowsy-driver detection is also new.

2016 Land Rover Range Rover Evoque

2016 Land Rover Range Rover Evoque

2016 Land Rover Range Rover Evoque

2016 Land Rover Range Rover Evoque

2016 Land Rover Range Rover Evoque

2016 Land Rover Range Rover Evoque

2016 Land Rover Range Rover Evoque

2016 Land Rover Range Rover Evoque

2016 Land Rover Range Rover Evoque

2016 Land Rover Range Rover Evoque

2016 Land Rover Range Rover Evoque

2016 Land Rover Range Rover Evoque

2016 Land Rover Range Rover Evoque

2016 Land Rover Range Rover Evoque

2016 Land Rover Range Rover Evoque

2016 Land Rover Range Rover Evoque

2016 Land Rover Range Rover Evoque

2016 Land Rover Range Rover Evoque

2016 Land Rover Range Rover Evoque

2016 Land Rover Range Rover Evoque

2016 Land Rover Range Rover Evoque

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Written by: Kelsey Mays

2015 Dodge Dart Review

Dart-review_4000

“The 2015 Dodge Dart has user-friendly technology and impressive quality, particularly among top trim levels, but several drawbacks will send compact-car shoppers elsewhere in this highly competitive field,” says Cars.com reviewer Kelsey Mays.

2015 Dodge Dart Expert Review

Cars.com photo by Kelsey Mays

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Written by: Jennifer Geiger

2016 Lotus Evora 400 Is Fastest Lotus Yet

Lotus-1

The 2016 Lotus Evora 400 is the fastest street car Lotus has ever produced thanks to new weight-reducing measures, newly added horsepower and aerodynamic downforce and other performance-enhancing tweaks. The Evora 400 is two-thirds all-new with chassis improvements reducing its weight by nearly 50 pounds, while horsepower is up 55 hp to 400 hp.

Related: More Lotus Evora News

Lotus says the Evora 400 laps its test track a blistering six seconds faster than the previous Evora S; it hits 60 mph in 4.1 seconds. Not all the changes are go-fast enhancements; Lotus also tweaked the chassis to improve comfort and updated the interior.

Lotus-2

The Evora 400’s midmounted 3.5-liter V-6 uses a larger displacement supercharger to huff those 55 extra ponies into the engine, and air exhales out of the engine through a new multimode, switch-activated exhaust system with mild-to-wild settings. The engine’s manual and automatic transmissions are both revised, and Lotus claims to have improved shift quality on the manual transmission, while the automatic transmissions have new shift programming. Manual-transmission cars come with a limited-slip differential.

Lightening key chassis areas has reduced weight and improved both entry and exit of the cockpit through modifying the door sills, which are 1.7 inches narrower and 2.2 inches lower than before. The Evora shed a total of 48 pounds; in 400 trim the car now weighs 3,119 pounds. Lotus says cockpit ingress and egress are improved, while the optional backseat is wider than the previous Evora. The backseat will have to be significantly improved to fit an average-size adult back there given how tiny the current car’s seat is.

Lotus-3

The 400’s lighter, roomier chassis features revised suspension tuning as well as larger brakes and lighter-weight wheels. Outside, the Evora 400’s new front and rear styling feature new cooling openings and lightweight composite materials plus a rear diffuser and wing contributing to the increased downforce. The Evora 400’s reworked interior includes a new climate system for improved airflow, controlled by new switchgear on a redesigned dashboard.

Lotus says the 2016 Lotus Evora 400 will go on sale in fall 2015; pricing will be available closer to the car’s on-sale date.

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Written by: Joe Bruzek

Cadillac Teases 2016 CT6 in Academy Awards Ad

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No, that wasn’t a big CTS in Cadillac’s Oscars commercial – it was the brand’s all-new flagship. Cadillac showed off a sneak peek of the 2016 CT6 during its “The Daring: No Regrets” ad.

Related: Cadillac to Reveal CT6 at the 2015 New York Auto Show

What we know so far is that the rear-wheel-drive sedan will be positioned above the XTS in Cadillac’s lineup and will be the first to use Cadillac’s new alphanumeric naming structure. It will also use an industry-first digital rearview mirror that offers a streaming video view of what’s behind the car.

We’ll know more when Cadillac unveils the new CT6 sedan on March 31, the eve of the 2015 New York International Auto Show.

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Written by: Jennifer Geiger

NHTSA Fines Airbag Maker $14,000 a Day

Takata

Airbag-manufacturer Takata will be fined $14,000 a day by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration because it has not cooperated with a probe of its faulty airbags, Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx announced today.

Related: NHTSA Urges Quick Fix of Defective Airbags

NHTSA says that the Japan-based company refuses to recall cars with the defective airbags, some of which have ruptured, injuring occupants with shrapnel. Takata also has stalled when responding to U.S. government requests for information, NHTSA said.

“Takata’s failure to fully cooperate with our investigation is unacceptable and will not be tolerated,” Foxx said. “For each day that Takata fails to fully cooperate with our demands, we will hit them with another fine.”

Visit USA Today for more on this story.

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Written by: Jennifer Newman

More Details Emerge on Possible Apple Car

AppleElectricCarStock

Another day, another development in the news that took the industry by storm this week — the possibility of a car from tech giant Apple. Sources told Bloomberg News that Apple’s car will be electric and could see production as soon as 2020.

Related: Will Apple Build its Own Car? 

That suggests current development is still in its early stages, given it often takes five years or longer for an automaker to bring an all-new car to market. But Apple has already hired experts from a broad range of battery and electronics manufacturers, prompting a battery maker to sue the company.

The eventual Apple car (can we just call it an iCar already?) would have to compete with the expected next wave of mass-market electric vehicles — cars that can go 200 miles on a full charge and cost less than $40,000. GM confirmed its plans this month in the forthcoming Chevrolet Bolt, though an exact timeframe remains elusive. Tesla’s plans for an affordable EV that slots under the Model S, meanwhile, are well underway.

Unlike many other would-be automakers, Apple’s retail network could allow it to sell cars in Tesla-style factory stores. The Silicon Valley automaker has courted plenty of controversy with its dealer-free model, however, and several states have even banned Tesla sales under dealer franchise laws. There would also need to be a whole new type of “genius” to service the vehicles. If Apple went that route, expect a few bumps along the way.

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Written by: Kelsey Mays

Honda Trims Civic Production Amid Dealer Glut

Honda_dealer

Shopping for a Honda Civic? You might have fewer cars to choose from over the next few weeks. Supply disruptions prompted Honda to announce production cuts at two plants — one in Indiana, another in Canada — by 5,000 cars next week, the Associated Press reports via U.S. News & World Reports. It comes on the heels of Honda cutting production by 20,000 cars at five North American plants this past week. Most of the cuts were Civic compacts, a Honda spokesman told AP.

Related: 2015 Honda Civic: What’s Changed

Cutting 25,000 cars is significant when you consider that Honda’s U.S. and Canadian plants built 35,802 Civics in January, according to Automotive News. The good news for car shoppers, however, is that dealers have more Civics than they know what to do with right now.

Low gas prices sapped demand for the fuel-efficient compact, and sales fell 14.3 percent in January. Honda began February with a 118-day supply of Civics on dealer lots or in the pipeline — way more than the industry’s 82-day average. The glut continues today: Cars.com lists some 62,000 new Civics on dealer lots, or about as much inventory as the Toyota Corolla and Ford Focus combined.

Production cuts should trim Honda’s current oversupply, and if shortages occur, the automaker can make it up later this year. After all, Honda’s North American factories churned out 418,315 Civics in 2014, according to Automotive News.

The delay stems from a labor dispute at more than two dozen West Coast ports, which has snarled supplies for retailers and manufacturers of all types. Imports from West Coast ports fell by a third in January, Bloomberg News reports. Some companies have shifted supply lanes to other ports of entry. Honda is reportedly shipping some parts by air, the AP reports, but the automaker says the disruption of electronics and larger parts — such as transmissions — forced the production curtailments, according to USA Today.

Cars.com photo by Kelsey Mays

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Infiniti Teases QX30 Concept

Infiniti_QX30_concept

Compact luxury SUVs have multiplied like “Lord of the Rings” installments, but the Infiniti EX-turned-QX50 is a place holder in the segment. It hit dealerships in December 2007, so it’s older than Gandalf. Enter the QX30 Concept, a low-slung compact SUV that heralds a “future premium compact vehicle,” according to the luxury brand.

Related: Infiniti Cancels Electric Car Plans

Infiniti released the first image of the QX30 Concept — a rear-quarter shot with bulging fenders, converging character lines and bumper-integrated tailpipes — ahead of a full debut at the 2015 Geneva International Motor Show in March.

The QX30 Concept has aluminum bumper trim up front, with 21-inch wheels and carbon fiber in the roof rails and lower cladding, Infiniti says. The rails themselves merge toward the center of the vehicle, which passengers can see through glass roof panels.

The QX30 does not necessarily signal the demise of the QX50, even as the latter car’s sales have slowed to a crawl — just 188 cars in January 2015, a fraction of the similarly priced Acura RDX or Lexus NX. Still, it’s a good bet Infiniti will build the small SUV, and it could share underpinnings (or replace entirely) with the Q30 hatchback concept, which Infiniti showed in 2013. Infiniti says the QX30 is about an inch taller than the Q30.

Stay tuned for more photos from the Geneva show.

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Written by: Kelsey Mays