Ford Expedition Joins the SEMA Fleet


Ford is preparing for one of its biggest showings at SEMA yet.

Along with a pair of custom F-150s and five personalized Transit vans, Ford has now announced that a trio of EcoBoost Expedition SUVs will also be heading to Las Vegas next week. The new 2015 Ford Expedition will be customized by DUB Magazine, Tjin Edition and Vaccar, taking this full-size utility vehicle to a whole new level.

The DUB Magazine Ford Expedition (seen above) aims to add a new level of style and sophistication with custom mesh accents as well as a unique front grille and lights. Additionally it’ll roll on massive 26-inch rims from Dropstars Wheels. To lower the vehicle, DUB turned to a suspension kit from McGaughy’s Suspension Lift Kits while a Borla exhaust helps the EcoBoost engine breathe. Naturally the interior will feature a plethora of upgrades including a multimedia and sound system as well as multiple monitors in the rear-seating area.

SEE ALSO: 2014 SEMA Show Preview

Along with the custom widebody Honda Fit that we previewed before, Tjin Edition has also given the 2015 Expedition the widebody treatment with custom metal fender flares, dark gray paint job and new liftgate. Vortech Engineering helps boost the performance of the EcoBoost engine with a charge cooler kit while a Magnaflow exhaust helps bump performance to 405 hp. Supporting this Expedition on the show floor is an Accuair air management system with Air Lift struts while 24-inch Rotiform wheels wrapped with Falken tires adorn each corner.

Lastly there’s the 2015 Ford Expedition XLT by Vaccar that was built for driving through winter in style. Featured on the outside is a custom two-tone matte mountain gray paint scheme along with a Vaccar Grill Guardian brush guard, swivel hooks by Monster Hooks, spring steps and a hitch stop from Go Rhino!. The Vaccar Expedition will travel on 20-inch M15 wheels from Mamba Off-Road Wheels; they’re wrapped with Grabber AT2 tires from General Tire.

“The builders really outdid themselves with these one-of-a-kind versions of Ford’s full-size utility,” said Mike Nicopolis, of Ford’s SEMA aftermarket support group. “The 2015 Ford Expedition offers great space, performance and capability in an impressive package that is the perfect platform for creativity and customization.”

GALLERY: 2014 SEMA Show Ford Expeditions Preview


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10 Reasons to Buy a Crossover Instead of a Sedan

Reasons to Buy a Crosover

Crossovers have come to dominate the market. In a lot of ways they’re like an invasive, non-native species. Over the years they’ve silently displaced traditional cars, becoming the go-to vehicle for many families. But are they really tantamount to Asian carp, zebra mussels or nutria?

Some die-hard automotive enthusiasts may despise these elevated vehicles, but they’re actually not without their benefits. There are quite a few good reasons why you should consider a crossover instead of a sedan, at least 10 in fact. So limber up your clicking digits because we’re exploring this topic in the following pages.

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What Does a VIN Do?

Decoding VINs

Cars and trucks manufactured today receive a vehicle identification number (VIN). These complex alpha-numeric identifiers may seem completely random but in fact they contain a treasure trove of information.

These 17-character chains describe in surprising detail the vehicle they’re attached to, highlighting things like the manufacturer that built it, the engine that’s under the hood and even which plant it was assembled in. But things weren’t always this structured and orderly.

History Lesson

According to Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standard (FMVSS) 115 Part 565, since 1954 American manufacturers were required to use a VIN to identify each vehicle they built. But beyond this obligation there was no standardization and as a result the numbering schemes used by different automakers varied.

To alleviate this potentially confusing issue it was required beginning in 1969 that each passenger car have a VIN permanently “sunk or embossed” on a part of the vehicle that was clearly visible while standing at the driver’s side windshield pillar. The number used was not allowed to be repeated for 10 years.

Assembly Line

Of course this arrangement still left a lot to be desired so the rule-makers went at it again. Eventually they came up with the system we have today.

VINs were finally standardized across the industry starting in the 1981 model year, blossoming into the 17-character jumble many drivers are familiar with. Every passenger car, multi-purpose passenger vehicle, truck, bus, trailer, incomplete vehicle and motorcycle must contain a VIN. Under this system a manufacturer is forbidden to repeat a number for 30 years.

System VINdication

2015 Ford Expedition VIN Tag

With all of that background information out of the way let’s walk through what each number and letter represents. As an example let’s looks at a press vehicle I recently evaluated. Its VIN is pretty typical and at first glance confusing: 1FMJU2AT3FEF00187.

World Make Identifier

Breaking it down, the initial three characters form what’s called the World Manufacturer Identifier. The first digit shows where this car or truck was built. In this case a “1″ indicates it was made in the good ol’ US of A. The letter “F” reveals it’s a Ford and the third character, an “M,” points out that it’s a sport utility vehicle.

Restraints and Braking Systems

In this case the fourth character is the letter “J,” which depending on the vehicle type deals with restraint systems and braking technology. Our SUV has standard binders with a whole bunch of airbags and a Gross Vehicle Weight Rating (GVRW) between 6,001 and 10,000 pounds. Simple enough.

Expedition Limited Truck

And now with the fifth character, the letter “U,” we learn what kind of SUV this actually is. If you haven’t guessed it’s an Expedition. A number “2″ in the sixth spot shows that this rig is a high-falutin’ limited model. The letter “A” in this VIN’s seventh slot indicates it’s a truck (like we didn’t know that already).

EcoBoost Engine

The eighth character deals with a vehicle’s powertrain. Our Expedition has a “T” in this position, which in Ford parlance corresponds to a 3.5-liter EcoBoost V6 engine.

Check Digit

Next up in the ninth spot is something known as the check digit. Curiously this figure has nothing to do with the vehicle, it’s simply there to mathematically verify on the accuracy of the VIN. Moving on …

Model Year

The 10th spot reveals the model year a vehicle is. Here an “F” shows that the Expedition in question is a 2015, meaning it’s shiny and brand new.

Plant Code

The 11th character is the plant location code. A letter “E” in this slot corresponds to Ford’s Kentucky Truck facility, which is also home to their Super Duty lineup as well as the Lincoln Navigator.

Serial Number2

Wrapping things up the final six characters serve as a production-sequence figure, essentially representing the build number of the vehicle. With F00187 as its digits this seems to be one of the first 2015 Expeditions that came off the line.

Interestingly there are three things VIN numbers DO NOT contain. The letters “I,” “O” and “Q” are forbidden because they can easily be confused with the digits “0″ and “1.”

Keep in mind things vary from manufacturer to manufacturer. A Buick VIN for instance may not line up exactly with our Expedition’s, likewise this one probably varies slightly from Honda and BMW vehicle identification numbers. If you’re curious to find out precisely what your car or truck’s VIN means there are a variety of decoders on the internet.

GALLERY: 2015 Ford Expedition


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Tesla Mulling SUV, Wagon Versions of Model III


Tesla is considering derivative models based on its upcoming compact sedan in a strategy that could help it entice more customers.

Currently the Model III is expected to arrive sometime in 2017 following the next year’s arrival of the Model X crossover based on the Model S sedan. Tesla engineering boss Chris Porritt told Auto Express that the company wants the Model III to appeal to a wide range of customers and that it is entertaining the idea of an SUV or wagon.

Tesla is currently building its $5 billion “Gigafactory” battery facility that will produce batteries for its vehicles. The facility is meant to help the company reduce its battery costs and enable it to offer a higher volume of vehicles than it currently does. CEO Elon Musk said the company is aiming to product roughly 35,000 vehicles this year although deliveries of the Model S through the second quarter were only 14,036 according to the company’s quarterly report. The next major indicator for how the company is tracking toward its goal will arrive next week on Wednesday, November 5 when it announces third quarter results.

[Source: AutoExpress]


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Mercedes GLC AMG Caught Wearing Odd Socks

Mercedes GLC AMG

The upcoming Mercedes GLC AMG compact crossover was spotted frolicking in a black-and-white suit, but don’t think it’s doing a stint in prison.

This high-performance vehicle is running free out on the road, ostensibly to get some real-world miles, or kilometers as it were. This is the company’s replacement for the GLK utility vehicle. Mercedes is basically renaming this crossover to better fit in its lineup. The “C” at the end of its name connotes that it shares a basic architecture with the new C-Class sedan.

This vehicle will be offered as an AMG model, which we can see in the included spy shots. Motivation is expected to be provided by a twin-turbocharged 4.0-liter V8 engine, the latest powerplant in the AMG family. In the new C63 AMG it’s rated at 469 hp, or 503 in the up-level S variant. It’s unknown what the GLC’s engine will be rated at but we hope it’s even more!

SEE ALSO: Mercedes to Debut New Nomenclature at L.A. Auto Show

This sport-tuned crossover appears to have a nice, low stance, especially compared to the non-AMG version. It also rides on massive if mismatched wheels. Was somebody in a rush to get ready this morning? It’s safe to assume the brakes have been up-sized as well.

And that’s about all we know for now, but we’ll keep you abreast of any other Mercedes GLC AMG news we come across.

GALLERY: Mercedes GLC AMG Spy Photos

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Discuss this story on our Mercedes-Benz Forum.

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Get a Jeep Grand Cherokee SRT Before it’s too Late

Jeep Grand Cherokee SRT

Back in May Chrysler made some announcements about their enthusiast-focused SRT brand. They had spun it off as a separate division but that didn’t work out so well so they decided to reconsolidate it as part of Dodge.

But this move resulted in a lot of questions, chiefly what would happen to other high-performance vehicles in the company’s portfolio including SRT versions of the Jeep Grand Cherokee and Chrysler 300 sedan? Answering part of this query, it appears as though the big, bad Jeep is sticking around, for the time being at least.

SEE ALSO: 2014 Jeep Grand Cherokee SRT Review

Model year 2015 Grand Cherokee SRTs can be ordered by dealers, but for how long is anyone’s guess. A few months back the company filed to trademark the name “Trackhawk,” which is rumored to replace the SRT version and go on sale in 2016.

The introduction of this and other special-edition models could coincide with the Jeep brand’s 75th anniversary, which takes place in the same year. The SRT Jeep Grand Cherokee starts at around $65,000 and features a 475-hp, 6.4-liter V8 engine.

GALLERY: 2015 Jeep Grand Cherokee SRT


[Source: Automotive News]

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Chrysler Recalls 900,000 Vehicles for Fire Risk


Chrysler is recalling over 900,000 vehicles worldwide because of defects that could cause fires.

Vehicles from the 2011 to 2014 model year equipped with the company’s widely-used Pentastar 3.6-liter V6 and a 160 amp alternator account for roughly 470,000 of the products that are part of the announcement. In those vehicles, the alternator can suddenly fail and that could potentially cause the a fire or the engine to stall.

The company is still working on a solution to the problem, which affects the Chrysler 300 sedan, Dodge Challenger and Charger cars, and Dodge Durango and Jeep Grand Cherokee SUVs. An estimated 434,581 of the vehicles in that recall are in the U.S. Chrysler said today that it plans to begin notifying owners of the campaign on November 28.

SEE ALSO: Chrysler Speeds Up Jeep Recall Repairs

Chrysler also said today that it will recall 437,000 Jeep Wranglers worldwide from the 2011 to 2013 model year because they are also at risk for catching fire. Water seeping into the exterior power mirrors on those vehicles could cause and electrical short.

That campaign is expected to start on December 5 when Chrysler will instruct dealer service technicians to add a water shield and move the power mirror feed to a separate connector.

In that recall, an estimated 313,236 of the SUVs are in the United States, 39,627 in Canada, 5,685 in Mexico and 78,369 outside of North America, Chrysler said.

Read about more recalls here.

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Dartz Teases 1,500 HP Mercedes GL-Based SUV


Latvian coachbuilder Dartz is teasing a new product based on the Mercedes-Benz GL-Class SUV.

The company known for offering classy interior upholstery selections including whale penis (yes, whale penis) seats is back at it again. This time, they plan to offer a new utility vehicle called the Black Shark, named after the Russian attack helicopter. Dartz plans to announce complete details for the Black Shark on October 19 in conjunction with the 100th anniversary of a Russian infantry division.

SEE ALSO: Dartz Prombron Black Dragon Headed to China, Priced at $7 Million

Powertrains are being sourced from Mercedes-Benz in both V8 and V12 form and the company says the Black Shark will boast up to 1,500 hp. Along with the actual vehicle, customers will also get two Vertu luxury smartphones that work in conjunction with the car to offer extras like the ability to book a private airplane in two taps and access to Vertu’s concierge service.

All models come with standard bulletproofing and electrochromic windows that can switch between being transparent and opaque. It also has an electric shock device to stave off peasants paparazzi and is built to withstand mine blasts. It also offers a biometric security system that uses retina and fingerprint scanners.

Pricing hasn’t been announced for the Black Shark, but you can count on it numbering in the millions.

Discuss this story at our luxury lifestyle forum

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Bentley SUV Creeps Closer to Production in Spy Photos


Covered in less camouflage than before, our spy photographers snagged some shots of the upcoming Bentley SUV for the second time. 

Originally criticized for its design, Bentley has re-worked the SUV’s appearance into something that fits the automaker’s lineup a little better. It seems like they have decided on the style now too, as the vehicle in these photos is nearly identical to the prototype we previously caught testing.

EE ALSO: Bentley SUV Teased With New, Less Ugly Look

This SUV will share its platform with the Audi Q7, Volkswagen Touareg and Porsche Cayenne, but don’t expect it to share much else. Although specifications are still unknown, the company has said that its SUV will be among the fastest on the market with a top speed of about 200 MPH.

We should finally see the finished product in late 2015 before it debuts for the 2016 model year.

GALLERY: Bentley SUV Spy Photos

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Five-Point Inspection: 2015 Mercedes-Benz GLA 250 4MATIC


With the success of last year’s CLA-Class compact sedan coupe, Mercedes-Benz is unabashedly eager to expand its front-wheel drive line-up in America.

The CLA already shares a platform with the A-Class and the B-Class around the world, but neither of those small hatchbacks would probably work well here since Americans prefer crossovers. So to ensure success with the next vehicle, rather than import an existing one, Mercedes decided to create an all-new small vehicle: the GLA-Class crossover.

Slotting in at the low end of the Mercedes-Benz SUV and Crossover family, the GLA is powered by a small turbocharged engine driving either the front or all four wheels. Curious if this little tall-hatch is any good, I got the chance to spend some time behind the wheel of one in Vermont. Here are five key points about the new GLA-Class.

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