• 2015 Buick Verano loses manual option, adds appearance package

    June 6, 2014

    Buick has announced a handful of model year updates to its compact premium sedan, the Verano.

    Finding few takers for the Verano Turbo’s six-speed manual option, the tri-shield brand has deep-sixed the stick shift. Both Verano engines, including the standard model’s 180 horsepower 2.4-liter four-cylinder and the Turbo’s 250 horsepower turbocharged 2.0-liter four, will be available exclusively with the six speed automatic.

    New to the Verano for 2015 is OnStar with 4G LTE and a standard built-in WiFi hotspot. Activated when the car is fired up, the hotspot comes with a three-month data trial.

    Additionally, Veranos equipped with the Convenience and Leather trim groups gain the option of a new appearance package, which includes a rear spoiler, chrome grille and exclusive Desert Dusk Metallic paint color.

    All Verano models continue to come standard with a rearview camera, dual-zone automatic climate control, 18-inch wheels and 10 airbags. Upper-level trims add niceties like a heated steering wheel, heated seats and a Bose audio system, along with safety features such as side blind zone alert, rear cross-traffic alert, forward collision alert and lane Departure Warning.

    Pricing information for the 2015 Buick Verano has not yet been released.

  • Subaru WRX Concept to influence next Impreza, WRX?

    June 6, 2014

    Subaru has settled into something of a predictable cycle in recent years: the brand will roll out a sleek, attractive concept that wows media and showgoers, but follow up with a significantly more conservative production vehicle.

    Though we saw that pattern play out with the shapely WRX Concept and toned-down 2015 WRX, Subaru’s WRX Project General Manager, Masuo Takatsu, has suggested that things may change when the next-generation Impreza family arrives.

    Speaking with Motoring, Takatsu said that design elements from the WRX Concept could well make their way into the redesigned Impreza and WRX, including the show car’s wide, athletic stance and tapered roof.

    The past being what it is, we’ll take those comments with a grain of salt, but they’re encouraging to hear nonetheless.

    Much more certain than the next Impreza’s styling is its platform, which will be derived from a new modular architecture that will eventually form the basis of most Subaru models.

    The new Impreza is expected to launch in 2016, at which time production may shift to Subaru’s plant in Lafayette, Indiana.

  • Mercedes-Benz debuts Airstream Autobahn passenger van for VIPs

    June 6, 2014
    Mercedes-Benz has introduced the Airstream Autobahn, the latest special-edition Sprinter to be co-developed by the silver-bullet RV specialist.

    The Autobahn is unassuming from the outside, though its Airstream badge and power sliding door hint at the luxury experience hidden behind the tinted windows. Within, the roomy cabin takes cues from private jets with plush seating for eight passengers.

    The handcrafted furnishings provide a choice between black or oyster Ultraleather upholstery for the heated seats, with matching ebony or ivory trim themes throughout. Each seating position includes a power footrest, 120V and USB outlets and an individual stowable desk.

    Seats are arranged for theater-style viewing of a 32-inch television connected to a Blu-ray player and Apple TV box, while dual refrigerators keep refreshments chilled for the VIP occupants.

    The Sprinter 3500 platform is outfitted with a 3.0-liter turbo-diesel engine, achieving 18+ mpg on the highway and producing 188 horsepower and 325 lb-ft of torque. Drivers are treated to a full range of Mercedes-Benz technology, including collision prevention, lane keeping assist and blind spot alerts.

    The Autobahn is available immediately from Sprinter dealerships nationwide, though pricing details have not been published.

  • Subaru Outback gets $1,400 price bump for 2015 redesign

    June 6, 2014
    Subaru has announced pricing details for its new Outback, which brings a slight price jump for the 2015 redesign.

    The base model now fetches $25,745 (including $850 freight), a $1,400 increase over the 2014 model, though all trim levels now come standard with the automatic CVT that was previously offered as a $1,000 upgrade.

    Following on the heels of the all-new 2015 Legacy, the Outback has received a thorough revamp with a more upscale interior, modernized infotainment system and a streamlined exterior.

    Power for the lower trim levels is provided by a 2.5-liter flat-four engine that produces 175 horsepower and 174 lb-ft of torque. Output specs are generally maintained from the outgoing model, though peak torque is available at a lower rpm and efficiency has been bumped by 3 mpg to reach an EPA estimated 25 mpg city and 33 mpg highway.

    The upgraded 3.6R Limited edition, which fetches $33,845, steps up to a 3.6-liter six-cylinder boxer engine with 256 ponies and 247 lb-ft of twist. The package also includes HID self-leveling headlights and dual stainless exhaust tips, among other upgrades.

    The 2015 Outback is scheduled to arrive in showrooms this summer.

  • BMW 2-Series gains AWD option for 2015

    June 6, 2014

    In a move that should serve to the bolster the 2-Series’ appeal in northern states, BMW has confirmed that it will introduce an xDrive all-wheel-drive option on the coupe range for the 2015 model year.

    Available for both the 240-horsepower 228i and 322-horsepower M235i models, xDrive will add $1,800 to the bottom line. In addition to providing more surefooted dynamics in inclement weather, the system also hastens acceleration slightly, cutting the M235i’s zero-to-60 mph sprint from 4.8 to 4.6 seconds.

    Although BMW has not provided transmission details, it’s expected that xDrive will only be available with the eight-speed automatic. Fuel economy figures are likewise a mystery at this time, but a slight drop compared with the rear-wheel-drive variants is likely.

    As previously reported, the 2015 model year will also bring a new Track Handling Package for the 228i. Offered on both RWD and AWD coupes, it includes a 10mm lower ride height, an adaptive M Suspension, variable sport steering, M sport brakes and Michelin Pilot Super Sport tires on 18-inch wheels. Alone, the package costs $2,200, but the price falls to $1,600 when it is ordered in conjunction with the Sport Line or M Sport Line.

    The 2015 2-Series will arrive this summer, with pricing starting at $33,050 for the 228i and $44,050 for the M235i (MSRPs include destination).