• NY: 2017 Mercedes-Benz CLA-Class

    March 16, 2016

    Mercedes-Benz has revealed its 2017 CLA-Class ahead of its debut in New York next week, highlighting some of the refreshed compact’s visual and equipment upgrades.

    Mechanically, the 2017 model is essentially unchanged. Like the CLA45, the basic CLA-Class doesn’t get a power bump, but it does get some updated looks and new equipment.

    For starters, standard equipment now includes a rear-view camera (ahead of its mandated inclusion in 2018). The base model also gets Active Brake Assist (the automated braking system previously known as Collision Prevention Assist) as standard equipment.

    Aesthetically, the interior gets some other upgrades. The infotainment screen is now a slim 8″ unit (previously a conventional 5.8″ display). The gauge cluster was also freshened up a bit, with new dials sporting red needles.

    Controls have been upgraded with a more premium silver chrome finish (the same can also be found on the storage compartment surround in the center console). Interior trim pieces are now available in either “sail,” matte black ash wood, black Dinamica microfiber and aluminum (Dinamica requires the Sport Package Plus).

    The optional equipment list has been update for 2017 as well. LED lighting is now available as part of a package that includes intensity-controlled LED tail lamps to reduce the impact on following traffic depending on time of day. A gesture-operated, hands-free trunk is also available with the Premium package.

    As another added bonus, ticking the box for the new Smartphone Integration package allows users access to Android Auto and Apple CarPlay.

    If you’re eager to make a deposit, start calling your favorite dealers. The 2017 model should land in U.S. showrooms some time in the third quarter of this year.

    Check back next week for live photos and any additional highlights when the 2017 CLA-Class makes its official debut at the New York International Auto Show.

  • NY: 2017 Mercedes-AMG CLA45

    March 16, 2016

    Like the base CLA-Class on which it is based, the Mercedes-AMG CLA45 is getting a modest refresh for the 2017 model year.

    A handful of exterior modifications are unique to the CLA45. For starters, LED headlamps are now standard, and they flank an updated grille finished in silver chrome. The front bumper is also new, featuring revised wings with new splitter inserts. The rear wing is also revised, as is the rear diffuser, which now features four vertical fins.

    A new aero package is also available for the CLA, and it replaces the front splitter and rear wing with new hardware. Like the base model, the new CLA45 also gets revised wheel designs.

    Inside, there’s new red contrast topstitching to set the CLA45 apart from the car on which it’s based. Interior trim has been upgraded to a matte painted finish with polished surfaces for the AMG logo. A Dinamica design package is now available, which includes an upgraded steering wheel.

    Look for additional details and live photos when the 2017 Mercedes-AMG CLA45 debuts in New York next week ahead of an on-sale date some time in the third quarter of this year.

  • New Ford F-150 Raptor finishes Mint 400 off-road race

    March 16, 2016

    Ford’s 2017 F-150 Raptor race truck has survived its first Best in the Desert Mint 400 off-road race.

    The pickup was the only entry competing in the factory stock class for full-size trucks, making it the first such vehicle to finish a race in the class. It was one of only 19 teams in the limited group to finish the 2016 race, out of a total of 68 entries.

    Piloted by Greg Foutz and Tim Casey, the Raptor finished 23rd overall in a field of nine different classes. The team completed two laps in just under nine hours and ten minutes. The unlimited-class winners all completed three laps in under five hours and 45 minutes, with heavily-modified Ford Trick Trucks taking all three podium positions.

    The 2017 Raptor takes advantage of a downsized but more powerful EcoBoost turbocharged V6 engine. Like the latest-generation standard F-150, the new Raptor is built with an aluminum body to shed hundreds of pounds. It also features improved suspension and 17-inch beadlock wheels with off-road tires.

    “The all-new F-150 Raptor race truck was strong throughout, and its new high-output EcoBoost® engine and transmission are seriously impressive,” said Foutz.

    The race truck did receive a list of modifications to compete in the race, including external-bypass front and rear Fox shocks, raised and stiffened springs, a roll cage, racing seats, a fuel cells and LED light bars.

  • Audi hints at A5 Sportback’s US arrival next year

    March 16, 2016

    Audi has dropped a hint pointing to the A5 Sportback’s imminent arrival in the US market.

    “I feel confident that there will be another variant of the A5 that will be a real home run,” Audi of America president Scott Keogh told Automotive News at a recent media event. “There’s one we don’t have.”

    The company already offers the two-door A5 Coupe and Cabriolet in the US, leaving the four-door Sportback as the only configuration missing from the market.

    The offering will serve as a smaller and more affordable alternative to the coupe-like A7 Sportback. A5 sales have been down this year, falling by 33 percent in the first two months of the year, while A7 deliveries soared by nearly 68 percent.

    The Sportback is expected to arrive in the US as part of the next-generation A5 family, borrowing the latest A4′s 2.0-liter turbocharged four-cylinder engine with 252 horsepower. Several other powertrains will presumably be available, though full details remain unclear.

    The new member of the A5 lineup is slated to arrive in US showrooms by the second quarter of next year.

  • ‘Accidents just happen,’ GM lawyer says in ignition-switch trial

    March 16, 2016

    General Motors is back in court for another ignition-switch trial, one of several test cases that could affect more than 1,000 pending cases.

    The first case was dismissed amid allegations of perjury, casting doubt on the plaintiffs’ damage claims. The court has now moved on to the second of six bellwether lawsuits.

    The current trial centers around a 2014 accident involving a 2007 Saturn Sky that wrecked on an icy bridge in New Orleans. Plaintiffs claim the defective ignition switch interfered with the driver’s attempts to avoid a multi-vehicle pileup, according to The Detroit News.

    GM attorney Mike Brock has argued that the accident was not caused by the ignition switch, and the vehicle was traveling too slow to deploy the airbags.

    “Sometimes, accidents just happen,” he told the jury, as quoted by Bloomberg. “This car is not the villain in this case.”

    Separate proceedings will attempt to determine if the ‘New GM’ is liable for wrongdoing committed by the pre-bankruptcy entity now known as the ‘Old GM.’ Courts ruled in GM’s favor last year, however plaintiffs’ attorneys are still attempting to overturn the decisions. If the legal challenges prove successful, the company could be exposed to billions of dollars in additional claims over deaths, injuries and lost value.