Scant Details About the Lincoln Continental Concept


Ford Motor officially unveils the Lincoln Continental Concept in New York. This five-passenger, luxury sedan elevates the Lincoln brand. A production version is expected to be presented in the coming months.

Jewel-like headlights adorn this Lincoln Continental Concept.

Jewel-like headlights adorn this Lincoln Continental Concept.

Media folk anticipating more information about the Lincoln Continental Concept were disappointed when those details were withheld at a press conference this morning in New York. Lincoln was the fourth brand to present its offerings at the Javits Center and the first one where the star attraction was a concept.

Unlike some other concepts, the Ford Motor Company intends to build the Lincoln Continental, a full-size sedan that likely will replace the current MKS. A production version of this five-passenger sedan will probably be introduced at the Los Angeles Auto Show this November or at the North American International Auto Show in Detroit this January.

Customized front seats will be big on specialized comfort for each leg.

Customized front seats will be big on specialized comfort for each leg.

Mark Fields, Kumar Galthora

Mark Fields, president and chief executive officer for the Ford Motor Company, led off the remarks. He was followed by Kumar Galhotra, president of the Lincoln Motor Company.

Fields explained Ford’s vision for the Lincoln brand, once the best-selling luxury marque in America. The company is investing $2.5 billion to revive Lincoln, with plans to add the Continental in the near term and two new (and additional) nameplates by 2020. Over the coming years, Ford Motor wants to raise Lincoln global sales to 300,000 units annually, with China and the United States providing the bulk of those sales.

As for the Continental, Fields pointed to the sedan’s visage and the “quiet luxury” mantra of the brand. That generalized term could be taken as a number of things, but as Galthora articulated, it represents — doors that open with only the slightest of touches, a driver’s seat that forms to maximize right and left leg comfort individually, and a sound experience in the optional Revel audio system that is comparable to sitting in a concert hall.

Mark Fields

The Continental’s wild wheel design was chosen by Mark Fields himself.

Turbocharged Lincoln Exclusive Engine

What we do know about the Continental is that it will be powered by a 3.0-liter turbocharged V-6 engine. This Ecoboost motor will be exclusive to Lincoln and is based on technologies Ford Motor uses elsewhere. Specifically, the Lincoln power plant will offer a pair of turbochargers, direct injection and variable valve technologies. Together, the Lincoln engine will squeeze more power out of a smaller footprint and optimize fuel economy. An eight-speed automatic transmission will also be standard.

However, the Lincoln Continental will offer standard front-wheel drive and available all-wheel drive. In this segment, standard rear-wheel drive is preferred by driving enthusiasts, but when equipped with all-wheel drive the Continental would match what comparable Audi vehicles offer.

Mark Fields and  Kumar Galhotra immediately followed the news conference.

Mark Fields and Kumar Galhotra immediately followed the news conference.

Toward a Production Plan

A crowded post-conference floor made it difficult to take photographs, but this writer did manage to capture a few and include those herein. Of course, Auto Trends will continue to follow the Lincoln Continental’s progress from its dazzling show floor concept to a production reality, as well as the overall push by Ford Motor to make this brand relevant again.

Lincoln Continental Concept

The elegant profile of the Lincoln Continental Concept.

See Also Chevrolet Malibu is Larger, More Efficient

Photos copyright Matthew C. Keegan and Auto Trends Magazine.

Chevrolet Malibu is Larger, More Efficient

Chevrolet Malibu

In desperate need of a segment winner, GM has replaced the Chevrolet Malibu for the 2016 model year. The new sedan will give Chevrolet a competitor in a segment led by Japanese competitors.

Chevrolet Malibu

An all-new Chevrolet Malibu should be more competitive in the midsize segment.

So how to you repair a “broken” design? You don’t: you replace it. And that is precisely what General Motors has done with the next generation Chevrolet Malibu, a midsize sedan that is longer, lighter and more efficient that the vehicle it will replace for the 2016 model year.

2016 Chevrolet Malibu

Just in advance of the start of the 2016 New York International Auto Show, Chevrolet unveiled the Malibu, a vehicle that is four inches longer and 300 pounds lighter than the one it replaces. Indeed, the extra inches will solve a main problem — lack of rear passenger room — and address another one — fuel efficiency.

Specifically, the 2016 edition, powered by a standard 1.5-liter, turbocharged four-cylinder engine is expected to achieve 37 mpg on the highway. Furthermore, a hybrid variant will make an estimated 48 mpg combined (city/highway), beating such segment contenders as the Hyundai Sonata Hybrid, Ford Fusion Hybrid and the Toyota Camry Hybrid.

“Midsize customers tell us they want great fuel economy, connected technologies, wrapped in a gorgeous exterior. This is exactly what the 2016 Malibu was engineered to do,” said Jesse Ortega, Malibu chief engineer.

Advanced Technologies and Hybrid Availability

The new sedan goes on sale in the fourth quarter of this year. It will offer a number of technologies to include OnStar 4G LTE connectivity, wireless phone technology, a teen driver alert that allows parents to monitor teen behavior while on the road.

Under the hood is an all-new, 1.5-liter Ecotec turbocharged engine. Making an estimated 160 horsepower and 184 foot-pounds of torque, it will be come with stop/start technology, a fuel saving measure. An optional 2.0-liter turbocharged four-cylinder should achieve 250 horsepower. Moreover, it will be paired with an eight-speed automatic transmission.

Chevrolet will offer the 2016 Malibu in L, LS, LT and Premier trims for both the gasoline and the hybrid models. Speaking about the hybrid, that car borrows technologies used in the Chevrolet Volt, including a two-motor drive unit. That unit will offer expanded pull to help the engine while accelerating and make a combined 182 horsepower.

Key Safety Features

Safety features will be composed of 10 standard airbags, including front-seat knee airbags. Other safety features available include: front pedestrian alert, lane keep assist with lane departure warning, side blind zone alert with lane changer, rear cross traffic alert, front and rear park assist, automatic headlamps, adaptive cruise control with front automatic braking, and automatic parking assist.

Chevrolet says that the Malibu received its styling influence from the full-size Impala sedan, itself extensively redone in 2014. The move to a fresh platform is a quick one for the Malibu, following an abbreviated three-model-year run, including a refresh.

The Chevrolet Malibu has struggled in a segment led by the Toyota Camry and also dominated by the Honda Accord, Nissan Altima and Ford Fusion. The new model should help Chevrolet move past other sedans, such as the Hyundai Sonata and Kia Optima. The Volkswagen Passat, Chrysler 200, Subaru Legacy and Mazda 6 also compete.

Updated to add torque number for the base engine as well as the fuel economy for the hybrid.

Christina Hendricks and a Jaguar XF Flatiron Reveal

The rear fascia of the 2016 Jaguar XF is exposed in advance of a public reveal across the street from the historic Flatiron Building.

The New York International Auto Show begins this week. A series of special media reveals will precede the public show.

The rear fascia of the 2016 Jaguar XF is exposed in advance of a public reveal across the street from the historic Flatiron Building.

The rear fascia of the 2016 Jaguar XF is exposed in advance of a public reveal
across the street from the historic Flatiron Building.

Not a single person should ever accuse Jaguar for not having a flair for the dramatic. Last week, the British automaker provided a very public reveal of the all new XF sedan, sending it across the River Thames as part of a splashy high-wire introduction.

This morning, one day before the start of the media days for the 2015 New York International Auto Show, Jaguar revealed the sedan in the city’s Flatiron District. The company tapped Mad Men’s Christina Hendricks to help pull the wraps off of the 2016 Jaguar XF.

Christina Hendricks

Christina Hendricks and helpers make quick work of taking the cover off of the Jaguar XF.

The all-aluminum 2016 Jaguar XF sat under cover immediately across the street from the landmark triangular Flatiron Building. Despite clouds moving in and the wind picking up, the draped five-passenger sedan stayed hidden, with not a little help from magnets strategically placed across the lower body.

Shortly after 11 a.m., Stuart Schorr, Vice President, Communications, Jaguar Land Rover N.A., picked up a microphone and stood in front of the sedan. After a brief mention of the earlier London reveal, he introduced the stunning Ms. Hendricks, who came attired in a vibrant red pant suit and also sported a pair of flowery stilettos.

Realizing that moving around the vehicle to unmask the sedan might result in a personal accident or what could provide the wrong news story for the moment, Ms. Hendricks summoned a pair of assistants who helped uncover the jet black Jaguar XF within 10 seconds.

The briefest of all public unveilings revealed a stunning 2016 Jaguar XF.

The briefest of all public unveilings revealed a stunning 2016 Jaguar XF.

The display model, an S Line edition adorned with fancy wheels and red brake caliper covers, was mounted on a stand, but not available for in-cabin media inspection. That vehicle will stay at its Flatiron District location until 7 p.m. Wednesday.

The Jaguar LandRover press conference begins at 10:15 on April 1 at the Javits Center. This writer plans to attend and will update this article with technical specifications once that information has been made known.

A reporter interviews Emmy-nominated Christina Hendricks following the XF's reveal.

A reporter interviews Emmy-nominated Christina Hendricks following the XF’s reveal.

Photos copyright Matthew C. Keegan and Auto Trends Magazine.

7 Headliners at the 2015 New York Auto Show

Cadillac CT6

The 2015 edition of the New York International Auto Show (NYIAS) begins this week, with the public show running from April 3 through 12. This writer is on his way to the Big Apple to attend dozens of news conferences and related events, and will share his findings here as well through Twitter (@theautowriter) and Facebook.

The New York show promises to have its fair share of hoopla to conclude the North American portion of the auto show circuit for the season. To that end, Auto Trends has identified seven headliners that will most likely be major newsmakers this week.

Cadillac CT6

The top end of the Cadillac CT6 grille.

1. Cadillac CT6 Unveiled

Over the past few years, Cadillac has teased us with a pair of concepts — Ciel and Elmiraj — that have strongly hinted at the direction GM’s luxury brand might take. Long rumored that a six-figure, range-topping model was in the mix, confirmation of same only came last year.

The all-new Cadillac CT6 is *the* news story of the 2015 NYIAS. It is a five-passenger rear- or all-wheel drive model, designed specifically to do battle with the BMW 7 Series, Mercedes-Benz S-Class, Audi A8 and the Lexus LS. Built on an all-new Omega platform, it will be the most advanced model to come from GM, replete with leading-edge technologies and new or updated engines.

2. Scion is Back

Scion iM Teaser

Scion iM Teaser.

Never did this writer think that Scion would be a news story again. Scion, introduced for the 2004 model year, is a Toyota sub-brand aimed at young, first-time buyers. The brand got off to a strong start, but within six years, it faded and has largely become irrelevant. Indeed, a few years back Toyota Motors gave Toyota dealers an option to not sell Scion vehicles. That’s a sure sign your marque is doomed.

Well, Scion is not doomed, at least not in the short term. New York will feature a pair of new models, including a subcompact IA hatchback based on the Mazda2 and a compact IM sedan. These two models plus the FR-S coupe may very well rescue Scion from oblivion.

3. Chevrolet Malibu is Now Relevant

Chevrolet Malibu

2016 Chevrolet Malibu under the wrap.

The latest generation Chevrolet Malibu has struggled in an unforgiving segment and after three years, including a rushed second-year refresh, a new model debuts. GM simply could not wait the usual six years to turn this model over and will present a longer and more stylish Malibu in New York.

We have been told that the current model’s biggest problem will be resolved. Specifically, the wheelbase will be stretched by four inches to better accommodate rear-seating passengers. Furthermore, a legitimate hybrid contender will roll out in spring 2016, a full-on hybrid that taps Chevrolet Volt technologies.

4. Lexus RX and Closely-Held Secrets

2016 Lexus RX

2016 Lexus RX teaser.

The best-selling midsize luxury utility vehicle is the Lexus RX. A new model will debut in New York, but not much is known about it. Lexus is determined to maintain its leadership in a segment where Mercedes-Benz, Acura, BMW, Infiniti and Audi are fighting back. Further, an all-new Lincoln MKX is also being readied.

Some content that Lexus has played it safe with the RX and needs to make a bold statement with the new model. We have heard about new powertrains and technologies, but until the cover drops in New York, we really cannot say what those changes will be.

Nissan Maxima

A new look for the Nissan Maxima.

5. Nissan Maxima Already Revealed

Full-size sedans are not what they used to be. Certainly, if customers are shopping for cars, they are more likely to go with a midsize offering. Without doubt, the Nissan Altima has been a strong seller, while the brand’s full-size Maxima is long in the tooth and nearly forgotten.

Well, Nissan hasn’t given up on the Maxima and has been showing us a concept that points to this sedan’s styling direction. Moreover, the sedan’s final look has been shown since the Super Bowl, thus the New York unveil will be rather anticlimactic. However, a few things about the 2016 edition remain unanswered. Will a new engine be offered? Is all-wheel drive an option?

6. Jaguar XF Goes to Flatiron

2016 Jaguar XF

The second generation Jaguar XF.

The Jaguar XF has already been seen, thanks to a cleverly arranged water crossing in London last week. The second generation of this midsize, luxury saloon comes in longer, but lighter than the original. That’s a trend competing models have also been embracing.

Although the Jaguar XF will have its official news conference at the auto show, this model will also be on display in the city’s Flatiron district (23rd and Broadway) on Tuesday, beginning at 11 a.m. As for all the technical specification details, you’ll have to wait until April 1 for that news.

7. New Hyundai Tucson Debuts

Hyundai Tucson

The Euro-spec Hyundai Tucson.

Okay, the 2016 Hyundai Tucson was already revealed in Geneva. Further, photos of the North American spec model have been out since February. So, there is not much more to say about this model, at least for right now.

What will be interesting to watch is how well the new Tucson will compete in a segment dominated by the Honda CR-Z, itself all-new for 2016. Moreover, Toyota will debut a RAV4 Hybrid, what should coincide with a major mid cycle refresh for this compact SUV.

New York, New York

Yes, there will be many other news stories in New York, including a handful of surprises. Mitsubishi will show us a new Outlander, Kia will reveal a refreshed Optima and the Aston Martin Vulcan will make its US debut. For this purpose, Auto Trends will share those findings throughout the week.

Godzilla Untamed: 2015 Nissan GT-R

Every once in a while I hit the Mother Lode with my weekly drivers. That bonanza comes chiefly in the form of a sports car, a prized model that turns heads and snaps necks. A BMW M6, Porsche Cayman, Porsche 911 4S, Corvette Stingray and a Jaguar F-TYPE have each landed in my driveway over the past two years. But it wasn’t until a Nissan GT-R arrived was I able to fully appreciate the historic significance and full-blown power of this iconic model.

Nissan GT-R

Supercar Supremacy

The Nissan GT-R’s reputation is well known and has earned it the “Godzilla” appellation from fans everywhere. It is a model that has been around since 2007, the spiritual successor to the Nissan Skyline GT-R. Although the Honda/Acura NSX and the Lexus LFA have both achieved super car status, only the GT-R has remained consistently in production and on everyone’s performance radar.

The stateside version showed up in 2009 and immediately placed a halo over the entire Nissan range. Where US Nissan fans already knew that the brand had performance aspirations, it was only when the model finally manifested itself that those claims were clarified.

Now in its ninth model year, this high performance Nissan sport coupe has managed to stay relevant through a constant stream of improvements. From the onset, launch control has been an ever-present and a much desired feature, one that was tweaked early on to reduce transaxle stress, a potential warranty issue. Indeed, a software change fixed that problem and in the process the GT-R immediately benefited from improved acceleration.

Changes across the intervening years upped both the horsepower and torque quotients, enhanced the suspension system and upgraded the brakes, as well as the steering and tires. LED headlights and a quieter cabin followed.

Nissan GT-R

2015 Nissan GT-R

The 2015 Nissan GT-R retails from $101,770 and is rated at 545 horsepower and 463 foot-pounds of torque thanks to a hand-built 3.8-liter twin turbo V-6 engine. [As a side note, Cadillac recently discussed its own power dense 3.0-liter twin turbo V-6 engine, claiming that it will be “…one of the most power-dense V-6 DOHC engines in the world, developing 133 horsepower (99 kW) per liter.” That’s a full 9 horsepower per liter below the Nissan twin turbo, by the way].

The Black Edition, replete with a dry carbon-fiber rear spoiler, 20-inch dark finished RAYS wheels and Black/Red Recaro front seats is priced from $111,510. From there, you would make a leap to the GT-R NISMO, a “limited availability” model priced from $149,990. Notably, that price premium raises horsepower to a jaw-dropping 600-hp, and brings in NISMO features to the suspension system as well as to the wheels.

NISMO is, by the way, an abbreviation for Nissan Motorsport International Limited. NISMO has been applied to other Nissan models, including JUKE, 370Z and soon the compact Sentra sedan. Let’s just say that the touch elsewhere is comparatively light to the strong-handed, open fisted attention NISMO engineers give to the GT-R.

Nissan GT-R

My test model was the base edition with a final price tag of $106,650. Besides the $285 GT-R floor mats, the other option was the $3,000 Regal Red paint scheme. Certainly, that finish “earns” its lofty price as it is embedded with 24-carat gold flakes to provide an incomparable look.

Naturally, you did not come to this article to learn how many cup holders are present or gloss over dozens of other features that typify the modern American sedan. Suffice to say, this 2+2 coupe has an almost useless back seat, although I did find it does a good job of holding my brief case in place as I navigated various circuitous routes. Further, an 8.8 cubic-foot trunk was a surprise, offering more than enough room to store luggage for an extended weekend away from home.

Beastly, Provocative Exterior

Nissan GT-RFrom the exterior, the Nissan GT-R offers nothing less than an imposing presence. From bumper to bumper, this model advances its muscular persona, one amplified by its large, gaping grille augmented by oversized headlamp assemblies punctuated by a lighting bolt lighting accent. The broad hood is marked by a pair of intercooler vents.

The GT-R’s profile is dominated by the large wheel wells, fender vents, and skirting. Yes, the roof line falls dramatically from front to rear pillars, then eases into a raised rear deck.

Everyone (or at least the people I talked to about the GT-R) has a standout feature they like best about the exterior. Personally, its rear visage is the most enchanting as it is dominated by quad brake and turn signal lights. The rear diffuser is offset by quad exhaust finishers, easily some of the largest stock versions you will ever see.

Comfortable, Luxurious Interior

Inside, the GT-R’s cabin is quite comfortable. At least for two people. Both the driver and front passenger have access to form-fitting seats that are firm, supportive and precisely what you need as you take on twisty roads at breakneck speeds.

No flat-bottomed steering wheel here — the GT-R’s sporting credentials are well known — and the instrument panel is dominated by an oversized tachometer, placed directly in the center. To the left is a 220-mph gauge speedometer; to the right are three dials for parking mode, oil temperature and a gas gauge.

The center stack is your usual color display with a highly unusual performance center to display cornering, acceleration and g-force data. If you take your GT-R to the track, it keeps tabs on lap times too.

Exquisitely stitched leather door inlays, carbon-fiber and charcoal-brushed metal trim, and a smattering of other high-end, but not easily identifiable materials grace the cabin. Chances are you won’t pay all that much attention to the feel of things, rather to what they do for you. And in the GT-R, that “doing” is everything when it comes to your satisfaction.

Nissan GT-R

2015 Nissan GT-R

View manufacturer details and pricing

Nissan GT-R

Monster Under the Hood

The signature point of this model is, of course, the powertrain. The twin-turbo engine is paired with a dual-clutch six-speed automatic transmission, what can be operated in manual mode. Kudos again to Nissan for placing the paddle shifters on the steering column and not on the wheel itself. I don’t know why most other manufacturers have yet to get this point, a highly sensible way to promote engaged driving.

Sadly, there is no manual transmission offered with the GT-R. But I must admit that I didn’t miss it. If reaching your performance thresholds are important to you, then only the automatic can get you there faster.

Nissan places the start/stop button in the console located between the front seats. It is a bright red button, aptly colored to amplify the “hotness” of this model. Put your foot on the brake, press the button and Godzilla awakens. His moan is subdued and stays that way throughout the drive — I take it that Nissan didn’t amplify the exhaust system to create false notes — it sounds authentic and without the attendant back burst drama.

Nissan GT-R

The Nissan GT-R wants to go fast and around town this sport coupe seems as if has been restrained, with tightened steering and wheels that plod along. Once you get to highway speeds, the beast within emerges and is ready to play.

And play you will: the GT-R makes even the novice driver look like a professional, with its balanced all-wheel drive system, adjustable suspension with Bilstein dampers and ultra-nimble steering making it all seem like child’s play. The engine booms and delivers copious amounts of power on demand, with turbo lag virtually indiscernible. And that’s good, because with a 0-to-60 mph rating of under three seconds, this potent beast has Gigan and Megalon eating his dust.

From Local Driving to Oblivion

To get the full benefit of the Nissan GT-R, track time is a necessity. I cannot underscore this point enough — even if you have access to a long stretch of un-policed roadways, you’re not able to fully appreciate everything that this car can do. Nevertheless, even in short spurts Godzilla displays much of its renowned power and does so with little effort. Clearly, the GT-R was the quickest car I have ever driven.

As for Godzilla’s future, we have heard rumblings about a next generation model, including a possible mid-engine replacement with seating for two. We are not likely to see that model before 2018, but in whatever permutation it takes, the GT-R’s reputation demands nothing short of Nissan’s finest effort.

Nissan GT-R

2015 Nissan GT-R

  • Sticker price from $101,770
  • Price as tested: $106,650
  • Seats 4 occupants
  • 3.8-liter 24-valve Twin Turbo V-6 gasoline engine
  • 545 horsepower @ 6,400 rpm
  • 463 foot-pounds of torque @ 3,200 to 5,800 rpm
  • 3.74 inches bore by 3.46 inches stroke
  • Engine compression ratio: 10-to-1
  • 6-speed automatic transmission
  • Wheelbase: 109.4 inches
  • Length: 183.8 inches
  • Width: 74.6 inches
  • Height: 53.9 inches
  • Passenger volume: 79 cubic feet
  • Storage volume: 8.8 cubic feet
  • Towing capacity: N/A
  • EPA: 16 mpg city, 23 mpg highway
  • Premium grade gasoline
  • Fuel tank: 19.5 gallons
  • Curb weight: From 3,851 pounds
  • IIHS safety rating: NR
  • Limited vehicle warranty: 3 years/36,000 miles
  • Powertrain warranty: 5 years/60,000 miles
  • Corrosion warranty: 5 years/unlimited miles
  • Vehicle assembly: Kaminokawa, Tochigi Japan

Additional Car Reviews

On the Road With the Family Toyota Camry

Premium SUV: 2015 Hyundai Santa Fe Limited

Out and About With the Toyota Highlander

Subaru Outback: Where Value and Safety Intersect

Nissan GT-R photos copyright Auto Trends Magazine.

This Time, GM Aims to Get the Chevrolet Malibu Hybrid Right

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GM’s hybrid participation has included plug-in and mild hybrid models. To date, no strong hybrid model has been developed for the market. Beginning in 2016, the Chevrolet Malibu Hybrid will change that, a vehicle GM claims will provide optimum fuel efficiency.

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You are to be forgiven if you were not even aware that a Chevrolet Malibu hybrid variant once existed. After all, in a segment where the Ford Fusion Hybrid, Toyota Camry Hybrid, Honda Accord Hybrid, Hyundai Sonata Hybrid and Kia Optima Hybrid are better known, the hybrid Malibu seems forgotten.

That model, officially known as the Chevrolet Malibu Eco, never really caught on and was cancelled following the 2013 model year. The reason? The standard gasoline model matched the fuel economy of what essentially was a part-time or a mild hybrid system, an arrangement that delivered only a modest advantage to customers.

2016 Chevrolet Malibu Hybrid

GM, however, is not giving up on a Chevrolet Malibu Hybrid. Indeed, when the next generation Malibu model debuts at the 2015 New York International Auto Show next week, we will learn a lot about a new gas-electric model that will join this midsize sedan line.

Specifically, the new model will draw from technologies currently used in the Chevrolet Volt, a more advanced plug-in hybrid model prized for its near 38-mile electric-only range. GM estimates that the combined city and highway fuel economy of the Malibu Hybrid will exceed 45 mpg, beating all competitors save for the Accord Hybrid.

“The 2016 Malibu Hybrid will offer impressive fuel economy, exceptional driving characteristics and gorgeous styling,” said Jesse Ortega, Chevrolet Malibu chief engineer.

Toyota Camry Hybrid

GM expects to take on the likes of this Toyota Camry Hybrid when the
Chevrolet Malibu Hybrid is introduced in 2016.

Enhanced Aerodynamics and Engine Technologies

Chevrolet promises that the new hybrid will offer features unique to this model in a bid to enhance aerodynamics. Particularly, the Malibu Hybrid will have upper and lower grille air shutters ameliorate airflow. Furthermore, the Malibu Hybrid will have a lower ride height to reduce fuel consumption.

Under the hood, the 2016 Chevrolet Malibu Hybrid will be powered by a 1.8-liter four-cylinder engine and it will incorporate a two-motor drive unit modified somewhat from the next generation Chevrolet Volt due out this year. The modified engine combined with the electric motors will produce 182 horsepower of net system power.

GM is not stopping with the hybrid system to squeeze out more fuel. The automaker has modified the engine to include an exhaust gas heat recovery system to warm the engine and the cabin. Moreover, exhaust gas recirculation will also help improve fuel economy.

The hybrid’s lithium-ion battery pack is an 80-cell, 1.5-kilowatt unit that will enable the Malibu Hybrid to run on electric power only for speeds of up to 55 mph. Furthermore, if greater demand is needed or when higher road speeds are attained, the gasoline engine will automatically take over.

Regenerative Braking Power Harnessed

There is another similarity between the Malibu Hybrid and 2016 Chevrolet Volt worth noting. Notably, the regenerative braking system that harnesses kinetic energy during braking will be stored in the battery system to maintain its charge. Regenerative braking plays an important role in helping hybrids reach optimum efficiencies.

Like the Chevrolet Volt, the Malibu Hybrid will be built in the United States. The Volt is built at the Detroit-Hamtramck facility and the Malibu Hybrid will be built at GM’s Fairfax Assembly plant in Kansas City, Kansas. Expect the Malibu Hybrid to arrive in Chevrolet showrooms in spring 2016.

To sum up, GM appears serious about advancing its place in the hybrid spectrum. Although gas prices are currently low, the company is looking further out when higher prices make a return. If successful, the Malibu Hybrid might lead to other hybrid models, perhaps with GMC, Buick and Cadillac each getting into the mix.

Chevrolet Malibu Hybrid picture courtesy of GM.

Jaguar XF Makes London Aerial Debut

2016 Jaguar XF

Jaguar introduces the 2016 XF sedan in London, just ahead of its official reveal next month in the United States. After seven years, the first generation model is set to retire. The latest iteration is longer between the wheels, lighter and is replete with new technologies and a higher level of comfort.

2016 Jaguar XF

A stunt driver carefully navigates a Jaguar XF on a high wire as Londoners watch below.

It seemed fitting that Londoners would catch the first glimpse of the 2016 Jaguar XF, a British-built sedan set to make its official global appearance at the New York International Auto Show next month. That the XF did so by completing a high-wire journey above the city’s Canary Wharf business district as it transversed a pair of 1.34-inch wide cables located 59 feet above ground and crossing water in the process, helped to draw attention to this alluring sedan.

Certainly, the 787-foot long, three-minute journey captivated Londoners on Tuesday morning as it showcased the second generation sedan’s lighter proportions in a highly provocative way. Indeed, the aluminum-intensive 2016 Jaguar XF weighs 132 pounds less than the outgoing rear-wheel drive model. Moreover, the all-wheel drive edition has shed 265 pounds.

From Hollywood to London Town

Jaguar tapped British stunt man Jim Dowdell to deftly navigate the XF across the thinnest of surfaces. Dowdell has appeared in a number of Hollywood blockbusters, including Indiana Jones and various James Bond and Bourne series movies.

Said Dowdell about the precision, balance and control required to pull off the stunt, “Over my 35 years in the industry I’ve driven Jaguar vehicles on many Hollywood movie sets. However, the biggest test for me on this stunt was the unpredictability of the elements. Potential oscillation in the high-wires from wind speeds meant it added a real challenge.”

A team of experts — composed of meteorologists and structural engineers — were on hand to ensure that conditions were ideal for the crossing. In any event, if a slip up were to occur, Dowdell was rigged with abseil equipment. Furthermore, a cherry picker crane and a rigid-hulled inflatable safety speedboat were positioned nearby. The stunt man was prepared to rappel his way to safety if fortune made an unfavorable turn.

To the Flatiron District

The next stop for the Jaguar XF is in New York, where it will make an 11 a.m. debut on March 31 in the city’s Flatiron District. Its official global presentation comes the next day in the Jacob K. Javits Center, home of the 2015 New York International Auto Show.

Specifications about the 2016 Jaguar XF will be released at the auto show. What we do know is that the wheelbase measures two inches longer, coming in at 116.5 inches. However, its overall dimensions have been reduced ever so slightly by 0.3 inches. The XF also sits 0.1 inches closer to the ground. Jaguar says that the new design provides more room for rear seating passengers, freeing up additional head, knee and leg room.

Jaguar XF: Potent Engines, Stiffer Body Structure

The US-bound model will offer a pair of 3.0-liter, supercharged V-6 engines. The standard engine is rated at 340 horsepower and 332 foot-pounds of torque. The enhanced engine maintains its torque rating, but gains a 40-hp boost to 380 horsepower.

Jaguar says that the new model features a lighter and stiffer body structure with an attenuated front double wishbone and rear integral link suspension. The automaker also claims a near-ideal 50-50 weight distribution for enhanced agility, improved comfort and exceptional refinement.

The Ian Callum-led design team explained that Jaguar XF’s lines were carefully placed with nothing “superfluous” present. Inside, this five-passenger sedan emphasizes comfort and technology. An available, neoteric 10.2-inch touchscreen is surrounded by materials that pamper and inspire, to create an environment that is serene, yet robust. That screen, an upgrade from the standard 8-inch unit, features a quad-core processor and relies on an Ethernet connection. A reconfigurable 12.3-inch TFT instrument cluster is also present.

New and Updated Jaguar Models

Along with updates to the F-TYPE, the coming XE sedan and the soon-to-be-released F-PACE crossover, Jaguar is making a concerted effort to advance this quintessential British brand. Tethered at the hip with Land Rover, Jaguar sales have lagged its utility-vehicle consort, but the new models should give the marque the impetus required to move forward.

Photo courtesy of Jaguar & Land Rover.

See AlsoExquisitely Emotive: 2015 Jaguar F-TYPE

Honda Fit EV Lease Reduced to $199 Month

The EV market is overloaded with models as demand is, at best, tepid. Shoppers looking for a deal may not have to look far as manufacturer incentives roll out.

Automotive manufacturers sometimes must resort to taking extraordinary measures to move slow selling models. Price cuts, larger rebates and zero percent financing are among the incentives automakers employ to move less desired models.

Among the slow sellers are those vehicles that fall under the broad electric vehicle (EV) umbrella: hybrid electric vehicles, plug-in hybrid electric vehicles and pure electric vehicles, among others. Car companies build some vehicles, particularly hybrids, to meet niche consumer demand.

Honda Fit EVIn the case of many pure electric vehicles, a token product is built to meet stringent California Air Resources Board requirements. Specifically, those models are manufactured in small numbers, but even with limited production, demand is quite low as high prices and limited range annul interest.

Honda Fit EV

The Honda Fit EV is one such model that a manufacturer has difficulty selling even in small numbers. Indeed, for the first two months of 2015, Honda has sold just 63 copies of its only all-electric vehicle, a model introduced last year. Nevertheless, Honda has seen much higher interest in its hybrid offerings — its hybrid-only CR-Z and hybrid variants of its Accord and Civic models are selling in far greater numbers.

To stoke sales of the Fit EV, Honda has introduced new lease options that lower the monthly cost of “ownership” to just $199 per month. Moreover, that lowered amount will be applied to current Fit EV leases as well as to shoppers of used models. In other words, holders of two-year Fit EV leases now paying $259 per month for this vehicle will have the option to extend their lease terms and pay just $199 per month. The lower rate also applies to anyone shopping for a used Fit EV.

Besides the lowered lease rate, Honda will also maintain several perks with its sole pure EV entry to include: unlimited mileage, routine maintenance and collision insurance coverage. Although Honda is not giving the Fit EV away, it is doing everything that it can to lower the cost of vehicle ownership (or management) for shoppers.

Range and Recharging

Honda Fit EVLike the standard Fit, a subcompact model that slots below the Civic in Honda hierarchy, the Fit EV seats five people. It has an 82-mile electric range and when connected to a 240-volt outlet, the Fit EV battery can be recharged in under three hours. In the odd world of EPA fuel economy measuring, the Fit EV is rated at 118 MPGe for combined city and highway driving. Furthermore, the EPA says that the Fit EV consumes $500 worth of “fuel” per year, in this case electricity. Likely, vehicle owners have far lower energy costs as they take advantage of free public charging stations at work and elsewhere.

Honda is not the only manufacturer to resort to extraordinary measures in a bid to move slow moving EV models. In 2014, the Ford C-Max Energi, Ford Focus Electric and the Nissan Lease S were being offered for $199 per month lease deals. And in a bid to lead the market, at least in pricing, Mitsubishi lowered the price of its i-MiEV to just $189 per month. Those deals surfaced in October 2014 and were ended in early November.

Savvy Shoppers Find Great Deals

Granted, the broad EV segment still has limited appeal and prospective customers are not likely to beat down dealer doors in a bid to secure special deals. Seeing that demand is even lower as gas prices have fallen, additional offers from other manufacturers also seem likely. Thus, savvy shoppers can buy or lease an EV from a position of strength and should inform themselves of the options available to them.

Fit EV photos courtesy of Honda Motors.

See AlsoTechnical Specifications of a Honda Fit

Cadillac Unveils New Power Dense V-6 Engine

Cadillac twin turbo V-6 engine.

The 2016 Cadillac CT6 ushers in a new era for GM’s preeminent marque, a full-size sedan outfitted with leading-edge technologies. The new model debuts in New York at month’s end, a five-passenger vehicle set to take on Audi, BMW and Mercedes-Benz.

Cadillac twin turbo V-6 engine.

Power density marks this all-new V-6 Cadillac engine.

In the chronology of Cadillac brand history, an 8.2-liter (500 cubic inch) V-8 engine once powered a handful of models, including Eldorado, Fleetwood and deVille. With an output of upwards of 400 horsepower, gargantuan engines once moved some of the largest cars ever built. Furthermore, this particular engine and others like it were built exclusively for the Cadillac brand.

In more recent times, Cadillac has been using engines built by parent GM for its other brands. Cadillac’s once heralded Northstar series were the last proprietary engines used by GM’s luxury brand, although select Buick, Oldsmobile and Pontiac models also used them. In 2010, Cadillac retired Northstar, ending a 17-year tenure and ushering in a new era of complete powertrain sharing with GM’s other brands.

Twin Turbo V-6 Engine

A new, proprietary engine for the Cadillac brand will debut in the fourth quarter of 2015 and power the Cadillac CT6, itself an all-new flagship sedan for the marque. Last week, Cadillac shared details about this 3.0-liter twin turbo V-6 engine, carrying an estimated rating of 400 horsepower and 400 foot-pounds of torque. At 133 horsepower per liter, the new engine will be one of the most power dense engines in the world. It will also come paired with an 8-speed automatic transmission.

Cadillac says that the packed power plant is the only six-cylinder engine to combine cylinder deactivation and stop/start technologies with turbocharging. This coalescence of scientific componentry will conserve fuel — to what degree has not yet been made known.

“Cadillac’s elevation on the world stage is driven in great part by its advanced powertrain technology and the all-new 3.0L Twin Turbo powers past the traditional segment leaders with higher degrees of the performance and refinement their reputations were built on,” said Rich Bartlett, assistant chief engineer.

The Cadillac CT6 will make its world debut in New York on March 31 in advance of the 2015 New York International Auto Show. This writer plans to attend that show.

A Broad Power Curve

The small-block V-6 makes use of turbochargers with “with lightweight, low-inertia titanium-aluminide turbine wheels and an efficient, patented low-volume charge-air cooler, which contribute to optimal boost production and more immediate power delivery.” Peak torque will be sustained across a broad torque curve ranging from 2,500 rpm to 5,000 rpm, something Cadillac alleges will be delivered with “smoothness and progression.”

Cadillac is quick to point out that the new engine will outperform BMW’s 315-horsepower rated 3.0-liter V-6 as well as Audi’s 310-horsepower rated engine of the same displacement. These two German brands as well as the Mercedes-Benz marque are in Cadillac’s crosshairs, serving customers that GM desperately wants to poach.

Additional Engine Choices

The twin turbo V-6 will not be the only engine offered in the Cadillac CT6. A new version of GM’s 3.6-liter, naturally-aspirated V-6 will also be employed, delivering an estimated 335 horsepower and 284 foot-pounds of torque. It, too, will feature cylinder deactivation and stop/start technologies and will include various noise-reducing features, including an all-new cam drive system, an upgraded cooling system, a stronger and stiffer aluminum block, and new high-flow cylinder heads. The benchmark engine for these upgrades is the Infiniti 3.7-liter V-6.

Other engines available in the 2016 Cadillac CT6 will include the turbocharged 2.0-liter in-line four-cylinder motor used in the Cadillac CTS. A V-8 engine is also planned and Cadillac has hinted that at least one other engine will follow. Auto Trends believes that the unidentified engine will be a turbocharged six-cylinder diesel, available for the European market initially, then to its North American customers.

Advancing the Cadillac Brand

The Cadillac CT6 represents a bold step forward for this iconic luxury brand as it seeks to recover its once lofty position amongst premium marques. Moreover, it introduces a new naming convention, one that will roll out gradually over the next few years. Specifically, that nomenclature will pair two letters with one number in sequential fashion based on a model’s size and importance to the Cadillac brand.

See AlsoUpcoming Cadillac CT6 Will Feature Streaming Video

Photo courtesy of the General Motors Company.

On the Road With the Family Toyota Camry

America’s best selling car model holds tight to its lead. A V-6 option adds performance, although it lacks the handling characteristics of a sports sedan. The 2015 Toyota Camry has an appealing visage and offers a model for a variety of shoppers, including an available hybrid edition.

2015 Toyota Camry

2015 Toyota XSE with a V-6 package.

Back in the 1990s, Toyota marketed its midsize sedan as the “Family Camry.” The automaker featured spots about people who owned not just one, not two, but usually three or four of these models, passing older copies to their children when they reached driving age. A number of those older models had high mileage, but seemed new, attesting to the sedan’s durability. Or so it went.

That marketing plan may have helped Toyota move to the top rung amongst passenger cars, a position it has held nearly every year this millennium. And just when Toyota seems as if they may lose ground to arch rivals such as the Honda Accord, Nissan Altima and the Ford Fusion, the company introduces a new model.

2015 Toyota Camry

Seventh Generation Toyota Camry

Indeed, the current iteration made its debut in 2012, marking the start of the seventh generation of this five-passenger, front-wheel drive sedan. And to ensure that it holds the top spot for at least the short term, Toyota rushed a mid cycle refresh to the market just two years later to counter updates made to some of its chief competitors. Never fear, the Toyota Camry has tightened its lock on the top spot and seems assured to hold on until the next generation model appears, probably in 2018.

It is true that some people hate the Camry and probably a host of other Toyota products. Much of that antipathy has to do with austere styling, something Toyota has been moving away from in recent years. Granted, the haters aren’t likely to be impressed by the Camry’s reliability and high residual values — they want newfangled styling above all else.

2015 Toyota Camry

2015 Toyota Camry

View manufacturer details and pricing

2015 Toyota Camry

Flair and Distinction Added

Well, the current Camry has a certain flair to it that was not available previously. Indeed, Toyota now incorporates its own version of the Lexus spindle grille with a distinctive front fascia featuring a piano black grille, wraparound headlamps and crescent LED daytime running lights set within deep grooves. It is a more daring design, something you would expect to find in a Ford Fusion or a Hyundai Sonata.

From front to back the current Camry has an athletic stance punctuated by wrap around tail lamps and LED lights to the rear and dual exhaust ports. Looks wise, this sedan is a significant improvement over the previous generation model and the choice of colors and wheels simply enhances that vibe.

What has not changed for the Toyota Camry is its powertrain offerings. Yes, in recent years the manual transmission was dropped and the automatic transmission now has six forward gears. But the 2.5-liter four-cylinder engine making 178-horsepower returns as well as the optional 3.5-liter V-6 rated at 268 horsepower.

2015 Toyota Camry

V-6 With Torque Steer

The four-cylinder engine is standard across the model line and is the only engine available in the LE and SE editions. Both the XLE and the XSE provide a V-6 option, a $5,200 upgrade that brings in a host of other features. My test model was a 2015 Toyota Camry XSE with the V-6 engine.

I have driven Toyotas equipped with either the four-cylinder or the V-6, and can say that there is a world of difference between the two. That Toyota continues to offer a V-6 in a segment that is largely dominated by naturally-aspirated and turbocharged in-line four-cylinder engines is important to note. That this same engine is rated at 21 mpg in the city and 31 mpg on the highway may appeal to people who place an emphasis on performance, but still want good fuel economy.

When you start the V-6 Camry and shift the transmission into gear — hold on tight. Torque steer (understeer) is evident with the front wheels wanting to shift to the left or to the right as copious amounts of power is suddenly delivered. Certainly, if torque vectoring control is present, I didn’t sense it — I knew that a sudden press on the accelerator would cause the tires to squeal, signaling me to tighten my grip on the steering wheel.

Once you are on the road, you can shift the transmission into manual mode and work the stick or the paddle shifters. That is, if clutchless shifting is your desire. In the Camry, you don’t operate the paddles, rather the buttons located on the back of the steering wheel adjacent to those paddles. Initially, I sensed that the paddles were disconnected as I pressed on each one — I finally figured out that there were buttons present and made my adjustment.

If you have a need for speed, the V-6 Camry will not disappoint. In fact, be prepared to travel from 0 to 60 mph in just under six seconds. The sport suspension ups the handling quotient, but steering seems sluggish with little feedback. As for the “sport” in sport suspension, let’s just say that Toyota hardly strayed from the comfort mode there.

2015 Toyota Camry

Cabin by Lexus?

Inside, its seems as if Lexus’ designers were all over the cabin. The Camry XSE is dressed in black leather with red stitching across the seats, around the steering wheel, on door inlays, across the dashboard and on the center console. The seats are supportive and I incurred no fatigue, even following hours of driving. Between the 8-way power adjustment and lumbar support as well as the tilt and telescoping steering wheel column, you can find the ideal driving position.

The rest of the cabin is covered in soft touch materials, aluminum trim and wherever plastic is used it is of the hardened variety. That’s what you obtain in a Camry priced in the mid-30s. Yes, at that price point you may begin to look at the rear-wheel drive Lexus IS. If you do, go with the larger V-6 and you won’t be disappointed. Just saying.

If you are a rear seated passenger in the 2015 Toyota Camry, be encouraged: there is ample room for three adults. Then again, the 60-40 split folding bench seat offers a tempting middle arm rest that provides the requisite two cup holders. Here, you might want to convince one passenger to ride with elsewhere.

Standard across the Camry line is air conditioning, power accessories, Bluetooth connectivity, an illuminated glove box, an overhead console with sunglasses holder, two 12-volt auxiliary power outlets, four cup holders and four in-door drink holders. The XSE V-6 edition upgrades the instrument panel, adds in the sporty front seats, and also provides an automatic dimming rearview mirror, a Homeline transceiver, and dual-zone climate control.

The Toyota Camry offers a fairly soft ride, but interior noise is average — I kept hearing wind noise intruding — it seemed to come in at the front of the driver and front passenger windows.

Thankfully, Toyota’s Entune infotainment system is one of the preferable ones on the market. You can synch your phone, access the available App Suite and plug in navigation commands without much drama. As tested, the Camry XSE has several upgrades that enhance the ownership experience, including remote start ($499), a technology package with lane departure warning and dynamic radar cruise control ($750), an upgraded Entune audio package with JBL audio ($805), blind spot monitor ($500) and illuminated door sills ($299). Special floor mats ($325) and a unique paint finish ($395) were also included.

2015 Toyota Camry

Toyota Camry Considerations

Although the latest iteration of the Toyota Camry offers a styling improvement, likely the sedan won’t conquest sport sedan drivers from different brands. Instead, it should keep loyal Camry owners in the fold, especially those who may have been looking at competing eye candy and were considering making the jump.

Besides improving the handling, there are two changes on my Camry wish list, both not likely to be adopted any time soon. First, let’s stick a turbocharged engine under the hood. Toyota Motors has been a laggard in that department, but now has a 2.0-liter twin-scroll turbo powering the all-new Lexus NX. Second, an all-wheel drive variant would be ideal — the Subaru Legacy is all-wheel drive only; the Ford Fusion and Chrysler 200 offer that option.

To sum up, I believe that a turbo has a much greater chance of appearing down the road, but all-wheel drive isn’t likely. After all, when people are already pleased with the product you deliver, certain engineering changes and options are not likely to bring in the additional customers.

2015 Toyota Camry

2015 Toyota Camry

  • Sticker price from $22,970 (base model)
  • Sticker price from $31,370 (XSE model)
  • Price as tested: from $35,768 (XSE model)
  • Seats 5 occupants
  • 3.5-liter 24-valve V-6 gasoline engine
  • 268 horsepower @ 6,200 rpm
  • 248 foot-pounds of torque @ 4,700 rpm
  • 3.70 inches bore by 3.27 inches stroke
  • Engine compression ratio: 10.8-to-1
  • Six-speed automatic transmission
  • Wheelbase: 109.3 inches
  • Length: 190.9 inches
  • Width: 71.7 inches
  • Height: 57.9 inches
  • Passenger volume: 102.7 cubic feet
  • Storage volume: 15.4 cubic feet
  • Towing capacity: NA
  • EPA: 21 mpg city, 31 mpg highway (AWD)
  • Regular grade gasoline required
  • Fuel tank: 17 gallons
  • Curb weight: From 3,480 pounds
  • IIHS safety rating: Top Safety Pick+
  • Limited vehicle warranty: 3 years/36,000 miles
  • Powertrain warranty: 5 years/60,000 miles
  • Corrosion warranty: 5 years/Unlimited
  • Vehicle assembly: Georgetown, Kentucky

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Turbo CUV: 2015 Audi Q5 TDI Quattro

2015 Toyota Camry photos copyright Auto Trends Magazine.