NYC: Audi Launches Sport Brand

The 2018 Audi RS 5 Coupe. Image courtesy of Audi of America


In the past decade Audi has more than established itself within the sport and luxury categories.   They have gone from being a little recognized brand at the end of the 90’s to one of the most desired car brands on the market today.

This Wednesday at the New York Auto Show, Audi of America further stepped up its game and launched the all new Audi Sport brand.  Joining Audi R and RS models will be corporate motorsports, customer racing, the Audi Sport collection and performance parts.  

New vehicles to the Sport brand line-up include the 2017 R8 V10 Spyder, the all-new 2018 TT RS, the 2017 and 2018 RS 3 (available for this first time stateside this summer), and the all-new RS 5 coupe (coming during the first half of 2018).

Entering the customer racing program will be the all-new Audi R8 LMS GT4.  Modeled after the production R8 V10, the R8 LMS GT4 will make its racing debut this spring at the Nurburgring 24-Hour.  This new race car is ideal for the amateur sect as it has a comfortable purchasing price and overall ownship cost for the segment.

Audi Exclusive and Audi Collection will feature a myriad of ways to integrate the brand into the consumer lifestyle.  Customization options for interior and exterior, as well as a full apparel, office good and replicas line will be made available to Audi enthusiasts everywhere.

As of now, more than half of Audi dealerships have taken the leap to become Audi Sport dealers.  For more information on the exciting new offerings, visit http://www.audiusa.com.

In the meantime, I’ve included some drool worthy photos of the 2018 RS 5 Coupe to keep you satisfied until the new Audi Sport makes it way to a dealership near you.

The 2018 Audi RS 5 Coupe. Image courtesy of Audi of America

The 2018 Audi RS 5 Coupe. Image courtesy of Audi of America

The 2018 Audi RS 5 Coupe Interior. Image courtesy of Audi of America


SUV Spotlight: 2017 Acura MDX

2017_Acura_MDX

2017 Acura MDX ©Honda Motor Company

Hot off the presses!  Acura announced today they will unveil the all-new 2017 MDX at the New York International Auto Show on March 23.

The new model will come with loads of design enhancements, more features and new, advanced powertrain technology.  “We are sharpening our focus on the Precision Crafted Performance DNA of the Acura brand and the 2017 MDX will integrate new styling elements and powertrain technology that takes us another step in that direction,” said John Mendel, executive vice president of American Honda Motor Co., Inc.

With the MDX owning the title of the best-selling three-row luxury SUV of all time, it’s not hard to imagine a new and improved model not continuing to hold the record. A good friend of mine drives a 2015 MDX and I loved it when she took me for a spin.  It’s size and functionality is very suitable to young families.  I personally can’t wait to see the latest generation when it debuts in late March.

The 2017 model was designed by the Acura Design Studio in Torrance, California.  The vehicle will be produced at the company’s Lincoln, Alabama auto plant.

 

SUV Spotlight: 2016 Honda Pilot

2016 Honda Pilot 5

2016 Honda Pilot ©Honda Motor Company

The all-new 2016 Honda Pilot is the third generation to be designed and manufactured in America since the Pilot’s debut in 2003, as the first three-row mainstream SUV developed on a car-like unit-body platform.  Year over year the Pilot has set the industry standard for fuel efficiency, spacious interior, safety performance and dynamic handling performance within the mid-size SUV segment.  With the debut of this latest model, Honda is poised to set the bar even higher.

2016 Honda Pilot 6

2016 Honda Pilot ©Honda Motor Company

Honda has completely redesigned the Pilot from the ground up for 2016.  It’s goal: to better accommodate the needs of it’s passengers by providing more family-friendly utility, advanced technology and a wealth of premium amenities unavailable until now.  Major upgrades have been made to the interior quality with more standard features available on each trim, along with the arrival of the new top end Elite version, offering many Honda-first features including 20 inch wheels, ventilated front seats, headed second-row seats, a heated steering wheel, and a panoramic glass moonroof.

2016 Honda Pilot 4

2016 Honda Pilot Interior ©Honda Motor Company

 

Honda has also equipped its new family-friendly SUV with many new tech features.  Each Pilot comes equipped with up to five USB ports, four of which provide enough power to charge iPads or smartphones while they are in use.  An auxiliary jack, HDMI port for game consoles, 2 headphone jacks and up to three 12-volt power outlets are also included.  While all of these features provide for keeping the kids entertained in the back seat, the upsized 8-inch touchscreen Display Audio interface with available Honda Satellite-Linked Navigation System™ will keep adults on the right path in the front.  The new system comes with updated graphics and capabilities including 3D renderings of your surroundings.

2016 Honda Pilot 9

2016 Honda Pilot Engine ©Honda Motor Company

Under the hood you’ll find an all-new engine from Honda’s EarthDreams Technology powertrain series.  The direct-injected 3.5 liter SOHC i-VTEC® V-6 engine, along with two all-new 6-speed and 9-speed transmissions, and intelligent variable torque management system (VTM4™), turns out 280 hp and 262 lb-ft of torque.  With a 19.5 gallon gas tank on each model, combined city and highway gas mileage ranges from 21-23 mpg.

2016 Honda Pilot 7

2016 Honda Pilot Interior ©Honda Motor Company

Finally, the new Pilot boasts additional cargo space in the form of 3.5 inches of added  length.  This allows for an inch more of tandem seating space and 1.3 additional inches in the cargo area.  Accessibility to the 3rd row has also been made easier with the inclusion of the one-touch second-row seat available on EX-L and above models.

2016 Honda Pilot 8

2016 Honda Pilot Cargo Space ©Honda Motor Company

From an exterior and interior perspective, the redesigned Pilot is a win for Honda.  The look of the vehicle is more streamlined and looks much sportier than the previous boxy models.  The interior looks much more comfortable and many more features are available.  The fact that there are so many trims available makes the Pilot a versatile choice for families looking at all price ranges in the mid-size SUV segment.  In truth I’ve never been a huge fan of Honda.  I’ve often found the engines sluggish and the finishes lacking.  However, my husband and I recently moved and borrowed a friend’s Pilot to help transport some of our larger items.  My husband found the engine to be quite exceptional, given the size of the vehicle.  He also said it felt roomy on the inside, but he didn’t feel he was driving a massive car.  He said it handled well, particularly given its size and the amount of cargo we loaded it with.  And when we went to the pump to refill the gas tank and return the car to our friend, we received no sticker shock.  It got great gas mileage, especially given its size.

I would have to drive the new 2016 to give the engine and handling a proper review, but based on our experience with a slightly older model, I would say I would be pleasantly surprised.  In a time when costs seem to be going up everywhere and quality seems to be going down, with the 2016 Pilot, Honda is delivering a quality product at a very competitive price. MSRP on the 2016 Pilot ranges from $30,145-$46,570.

SUV Spotlight: Mercedes GLS

The new Mercedes-Benz GLS

The new 2017 Mercedes-Benz GLS ©Mercedes-Benz

Mercedes has been busy redesigning its popular G-Class SUV into the new Mercedes GLS.  Like its predecessor, the GL, the GLS is poised to become the “S-Class among SUVs” according to the German automaker.  The only full seven-seater within the premium European SUV segment, the GLS has an ample interior which provides the magic combination of luxury, comfortability, and safety.

The new 2017 Mercedes-Benz GLS

The new 2017 Mercedes-Benz GLS ©Mercedes-Benz

Mercedes-Benz hasn’t missed a step in the GLS design.  Offering 4 trims, the GLS d 350 4M, GLS 450 4M, GLS 550 4M, and AMG GLS 63, there seems to be something for every Mercedes SUV consumer.  Each GLS boasts a new dynamic exterior and luxurious interior.  The designers have placed the focus on redesigning the front end of the car, while modernizing the rear.  Inside the car, consumers will find a brand new instrument panel which includes a media display, new 3-spoke steering wheel configuration and a center console complete with  touchpad.  This new generation also includes more efficiencies, an additional DYNAMIC SELECT transmission mode, an improved air suspension system, a nine-speed 9G-TRONIC auto transmission, state of the art assistance system and the most recent telematics, including internet access and remote start capability.

The new 2017 Mercedes-Benz GLS

The new 2017 Mercedes-Benz GLS ©Mercedes-Benz

If all of that isn’t enough to get you going, look no further than under the hood.  The AMG GLS 63 boasts a 577 hp 5.5 liter AMG V8 which delivers a whopping 561 lb.-ft. of torque, perfect for drag racing fellow suburbanites, or that urgent soccer mom grocery run.  The Sport+ mode will definitely help you feel the need for speed while the OFF-ROAD mode will help navigate the vacation wilds.

The new 2017 Mercedes-Benz GLS

The new 2017 Mercedes-Benz GLS Interior ©Mercedes-Benz

And how can one take advantage of all that power without accounting for proper safety?  Mercedes has taken care of that as well.  The standard driver assistance systems include COLLISION PREVENTION ASSIST PLUS, Crosswind Assist and ATTENTION ASSIST.  Also available, are the PRE-SAFE® Brake with pedestrian detection, BAS PLUS with Cross-Traffic Assist, Active Blind Spot Assist, Active Lane Keeping Assist and sadly, Speed Limit Assist.  This SUV will practically drive for you with all the safety features.  As a member of the Mercedes family you also have access to Standard Services including automatic emergency call, Accident Recovery and breakdown assistance.  There’s a reason you pay more to drive a Benz and features like these are it, but they are worth every penny in my opinion.

The new 2017 Mercedes-Benz GLS

The new 2017 Mercedes-Benz GLS Interior ©Mercedes-Benz

Finally, there is not a roomier SUV available in the European SUV class.  There is ample elbow and head room available in all three of the seat rows inside the vehicle.  With many adjustment options, the center row makes the interior configuration flexible by way of a cargo position for optimum use of space.

With all of its sporty and luxurious finishings, the 2017 Mercedes GLS is certainly a force to be reckoned with in the SUV class, but only for those with deep pockets.  While MSRP was not available at press time, one can only assume it will be quite high, which begs the question: How much is a sporty exterior, a luxurious, spacious interior, and a badass engine under the hood worth?  For some the answer would be it’s priceless.  For those, the Mercedes GLS is the perfect fit.

SUV Spotlight: Ford Explorer

2017 Ford E XLT Sport

2017 Ford Explorer XLT Sport Appearance Package ©Ford Motor Company

As promised, February is the month of SUVs on Automobheels.com.  I will be reviewing all types of SUVs. Everything from the practical and affordable to the super luxurious and pricey.

First up, Ford Explorer, the best selling SUV in the world over the past 25 years.  That’s quite a claim, and quite a bit of time in the world spotlight, however, with the new 2017 Explorer XLT Sport Appearance package, they prove why they deserve it.

2017 Ford E XLT Sport Rear

2017 Ford Explorer XLT Sport Appearance Package ©Ford Motor Company

With SUV sales expected to grow over the next decade, Ford is ramping up options for the 160 million boomers and millennials who will be lining up to buy this type of vehicle.  “As members of the 80-million-strong millennial age group enter their prime child-rearing years, a leading indicator of more SUV sales, nearly 80 million aging baby boomers continue to prefer their SUVs,” said Mark LaNeve, Ford Motor Company vice president of Marketing, Sales and Service. “It’s a demographic double whammy and it all points to one thing – more SUVs for the foreseeable future.”  Along with that growing demand, Ford has also tapped in to the fact that SUV consumers want unique and customized, which is why they are offering the new trim for 2017.  They want their consumers to have more choice and more options when buying their new vehicle.  “In the market right now, across all our SUVs, customers are looking for unique colors, wheels and interior appointments,” said Omar Odeh, Explorer brand marketing manager. “We’ve worked closely with Ford Design to deliver a unique look that will resonate with customers.”

2017 Ford E XLT Sport Interior

2017 Ford Explorer XLT Sport Appearance Package Interior ©Ford Motor Company

Enter the new Explorer XLT Sport Appearance, with multiple updates to the both the interior and exterior including:

  • 20-inch Magnetic Gray wheels
  • Magnetic Gray grille
  • Magnetic Gray mirror caps
  • Magnetic Gray rear appliqué
  • Ebony Black body side cladding
  • Black roof rack
  • Explorer hood badge
  • Dark Earth Gray leather for front seats, including outer bolsters by premium leather maker Salerno; Dark Earth Gray Miko® suede for seat back uppers and inserts with Umber scrim, and door trim inserts; Umber contrast stitching
  • Explorer logo floor mats

The new trim also comes equipped with the stellar standard features expected from Ford, including a 3.5L V6 engine, Intelligent Access with push-button start, 10-way power driver’s seat with lumbar support, Sync®3, LED fog lamps and more.

2017 Ford E XLT Sport Rim

2017 Ford Explorer XLT Sport Appearance Package 20-inch Magnetic Gray Wheels ©Ford Motor Company

“Our Sport Appearance philosophy is rooted in the fact that we know exterior appearance is the No. 1 consideration in SUV purchase decisions,” said Odeh. “The XLT Sport Appearance Package is a dramatic offering that gives customers another attractive option.”  Add to the sporty appearance the EcoBoost® engine available in every nameplate at Ford, and consumers not only decrease fuel emissions, but look good while doing it.

With the introduction of the XLT Sport Appearance Package option, Ford has positioned itself well to capture the growing SUV market in the next year.  They are actively taking into consideration consumer trends and demands and making it available to their customers.  The new XLT Sport Appearance Package model looks to have it all: a stylish and sporty interior, some decent power under the hood, and one mean looking exterior.  I can’t wait to take this baby for spin when it’s available.

 

 

 

FCA Partners with The Hunger Games: Mockingjay- Part 2

This past week Fiat Chrysler Automobiles announced that on Sunday November 1, they would release four custom television spots featuring Chrysler, Dodge and Ram brands in partnership with Lionsgate and the latest installment of The Hunger Games, The Hunger Games: Mockingly-Part 2.  The new commercials will span television, radio, digital and social media platforms.

“At FCA, we do not like to go traditional. We challenge the status quo, so we also questioned the well-established tradition of the end-of-the-year Tier 2 commercial. Tier 2 communication nearly plays on the ‘why buys,’ the most rational part of the purchase process. It is almost never relevant and rarely branded,” said Olivier Francois, Chief Marketing Officer – FCA Global. “Our collaboration with ‘The Hunger Games’ and Lionsgate is a great example of what can be done that’s unexpected. The association with such an anticipated and popular movie provides an exceptional relevance to our message. And the values shared with our three brands – the ‘rebellious’ Dodge, the ‘hard working’ Ram and the resilience of Chrysler – bring the branding element.”

Check out the first spot to air, the Chrysler brand ad, above.  The three remaining spots, “Whistle”, “Playing With Fire”, and “The Official Truck of Heroes” are all available for viewing on YouTube.

FCA will also be one of the presenting sponsors of the film’s red carpet premiere in Los Angeles on November 16th.  The Hunger Games: Mockingly-Part 2 hits theatres on Friday November 20th.

“May the odds ever be in your favor.”

2016 Chevy Camaro is on Its Way

The 2016 Camaro SS © General Motors

The 2016 Camaro SS
© General Motors

This past Monday, Chevrolet made an announcement that is sure to bring a tear of joy to Camaro enthusiasts’ eyes.  They will begin shipments of the all-new 2016 Camaro to dealerships later this week, and the new models should arrive for customer delivery by mid-November, just in time for the holidays.  “It is an exciting day for everyone involved in bringing the new Camaro from a concept to the assembly line,” said Mike Trevorrow, Lansing regional plant manager.  “As the transporters head out to dealerships across the country, the hard work and pride of everyone at Lansing Grand River Assembly goes with them.”  Understandably so.  The assembly facility in Lansing recently received a $175 million upgrade in tooling and equipment to support this model’s production.

The 2015 Camaro SS © General Motors

The 2016 Camaro SS
© General Motors

Just what can consumers expect from the all new Camaro?  For starters, higher levels of performance, technology and refinement. The 2016 Camaro offers six all-new powertrain combinations including a standard 2.0L Turbo, an available 3.6L V-6 in LT models, and a 455-hp LT1 6.2L V-8 in the SS, making it the most powerful SS ever made.  Each engine is available in a six-speed manual or eight-speed auto.

The 2016 Camaro SS © General Motors

The 2016 Camaro SS
© General Motors

The Gen Six also provides a faster, more nimble driving experience due to its lighter frame and larger range of powertrain options.  The vehicle mass has been reduced by 200 pounds or more, depending on the model, providing not only better handling, but better efficiency as well.  The new 2.0L Turbo will get more than 30mpg on the highway, while still delivering a 0-60 mph that comes in well under six seconds.   Magnetic Ride Control active suspension is also available for the first time on the SS.

© General Motors

© General Motors

Under the hood isn’t the only place this model has gotten an upgrade.  Chevy also took great care with the exterior and interior design details.  The exterior was given a more athletic, sculptured look, complimenting the leaner architecture.  More emphasis was also put on customer personalization including 10 exterior colors, five interior color combinations, new lighting options and many dealer available accessories, including wheels and striping packages.

2016 Camaro Interior © General Motors

2016 Camaro Interior
© General Motors

The interior receives an upgrade with a new shifter-focused center console, intuitive controls, flat-bottom steering wheel and the use of higher quality materials in general throughout.  Also missing are the conventional temperature and fan speed controls.  In their place, unique control rings around the air vents, giving it a cool futuristic vibe.  The tech gets an upgrade with standard connectivity features including Chevrolet MyLink with Apple CarPlay capability and an OnStar 4G LTE wifi hotspot.

2016 Camaro Interior © General Motors

2016 Camaro Interior
© General Motors

After checking out photos online, I have to say I wholeheartedly approve of the changes that have been made to the body and interior.  Add into the mix the six all-new powertrain combinations, and 2016 is looking like a sweet year for the Camaro consumer.  This new Gen Six looks to be best we’ve seen since the original burst onto the scene on September 29th, 1966.   It is also still heavily tied to its American roots, which I find refreshing.  “There has been a lot of excitement and anticipation around our community and throughout the world for the next-generation Camaro,” said UAW Local 652 President Mike Green. “We have received great products here because of the quality of work always performed by the Lansing autoworker, active and retired.”

If you’re looking to buy, the SS and LT models with the 3.6L V-6 will be the first to arrive at dealers, followed by the convertible and the 2.0L Turbo, which will begin shipping in early 2016.

Happy Driving.

*Information courtesy of the Chevrolet Pressroom*