Rolls-Royce SUV Development Confirmed

Rolls-Royce Ghost Series II, London Photograph: James Lipman +44 7803 885275

Rolls-Royce top brass are giving the green light to develop the a much-anticipated ultra luxury SUV.

Speculation and reports for the past several months suggested that Rolls-Royce is considering an SUV that would compete with if not stand above the upcoming Bentley Bentayga SUV. In an open letter, company chairman Peter Schwarzenbauer and CEO Torsten Mueller-Oetvoes confirmed that the yet unnamed product will be designed to “cross any terrain.”

I am proud to confirm that Rolls-Royce Motor Cars is developing an all-new, high-bodied Rolls-Royce designed to satisfy the contemporary, highly mobile lifestyles of our discerning clients around the world,” CEO Torsten Mueller-Oetvoes said.

The letter confirms that Rolls-Royce will base its upcoming product on an all-new aluminum architecture. That is expected to be the same platform BMW will use to underpin the upcoming X7 large SUV and the next-generation 7 Series.

Rolls-Royce didn’t outline when a concept preview or production will begin, only that development is underway. A variety of engines from the BMW stable could wind up powering it when it arrives including the 4.4-liter twin turbo V8 or 6.0-liter twin-turbo V12 from BMW or even the derivative 6.6-liter V12 that Rolls-Royce uses to power the Ghost. A plug-in hybrid variant is also expected at some point.

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Live Axles to Remain in Next Jeep Wrangler

Jeep Wrangler Solid Axles Main Art

Fiat/Chrysler engineers are hard at work on the next-generation Jeep Wrangler, the alpha off-roader from this rough-and-tumble brand.

Rumors are swirling that it could feature a lightweight aluminum body, among other enhancements. It’s unclear how die-hard enthusiasts would react to this change but one thing they’re sure to love is the new model’s chassis. It’s reported the SUV will retain its solid axles, an archaic feature but one that’s beneficial out on the trail.

SEE ALSO: Jeep Mulls Aluminum and Turbos for Next-Gen Wrangler

The upcoming Jeep Wrangler will likely go on sale in 2017, sporting an improved ride, better fuel economy and probably a more comfortable interior. Solid axles allow the body to be lifted with relative ease, something that can improve the vehicle’s ground clearance and thus make it even more of an off-road beast.

In addition to these changes the new Wrangler will likely feature a lineup of smaller, turbocharged engines, a range that should improve both performance and fuel economy. Today’s version of this SUV features a 3.6-liter Pentastar V6 that puts out 285 hp and 260 lb-ft of torque.

GALLERY: 2014 Jeep Wrangler Sport S


[Source: Automotive News]

Discuss this story on our Jeep Forum.

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2016 Honda Pilot Makes Chicago Auto Show Debut



Honda just took the wrapper off its latest Pilot SUV. This 2016 model is the nameplate’s third generation and it’s significantly improved, offering more cargo space, greater performance and improved fuel economy.

The first thing most drivers will notice about this crossover is the exterior. Honda is not typically known for its lusty styling and the current Pilot is about as boxy as the crate your refrigerator came in. But no more! The 2016 model is sleek and pleasantly attractive, with a smoothly flowing front end and plenty of tasteful design elements.

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Of course that candy coating conceals a lot of wholesomeness within. The vehicle is about three inches longer than today’s pilot, something that allowed for more storage space, particularly behind the third-row seat. Engineers also made it easier to get into and out of that rear-most bench.

2016 Honda Pilot 01

Remarkably the 2016 Pilot is up to 300 pounds lighter than today’s version. Engineers scrutinized and optimized everything they could in a bid to trim unwanted mass and it appears as though they’ve succeeded. Despite the weight loss it’s still expected to be a safety leader. Honda estimates it will ace both NHTSA and IIHS crash tests.

Adding some glitz are optional LED projector headlamps with automatic high beams as well as available 20-inch wheels. Other premium items on the menu include a panoramic roof, heated and ventilated front seats and, in upper-level models, second-row captain’s chairs.

Overall the cockpit is much improved. Materials are noticeably more premium and there’s a host of new features. Honda has installed a ton of different ports to serve the needs of today’s connected families. There are five USB outlets, an auxiliary jack, an HDMI port and more. Also, the vehicle sports a new Android-based infotainment system.

Complete 2015 Chicago Auto Show Coverage

Drivers can  also get a whole range of advanced assistance technologies including things like lane-departure warning, collision mitigation braking, blind-spot monitoring and much more — pretty much all of the latest and greatest safety and convenience features.

Power is provided by a 3.5-liter V6 engine that’s pumped up with direct fuel injection. Neither horsepower nor torque are available at this time but they will be greater than what’s offered in today’s Pilot. For reference its port-injected bent-six delivers 250 ponies and 253 lb-ft of peak twist.

2016 Honda Pilot  02

Variable Cylinder Management shuts half of the engine’s pots down when full power is not required in a bid to goose efficiency. Start/stop technology will also help slash consumption, though official economy figures are not available at this time.

Honda is offering two transmissions in the 2016 Pilot. Mercifully the base unit features six forward gears, replacing the outdated five-speed unit found in today’s model. Higher trim variants benefit from an all-new nine-speed gearbox sourced from German supplier ZF. Both of these transmissions will improve fuel economy and performance. Customers can opt for either front- or all-wheel drive.

The 2016 Honda Pilot is scheduled to arrive at dealerships across the country this summer. Not surprisingly pricing information is not available at this time.

GALLERY: 2016 Honda Pilot Live Photos



GALLERY: 2016 Honda Pilot Official Photos



Discuss this on our Honda Pilot Forum

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Ford Interceptor Utility Gets Facelift, New Features


Ford’s Interceptor Utility is being refreshed with new style and a handful of added features.

The Interceptor utility vehicle went on sale in 2012 and since then has captured 55 percent of the U.S. police vehicle market, Ford said today. The Dearborn-based manufacturer is the only company that offers a pursuit rated mid-size crossover.

Updates to the model include a more robust electrical system than can better distribute loads from the equipment police rely on along with a new instrument panel. Ford also updated the exterior design with a new front fascia and different headlights.

Ford also added a liftgate release switch that front seat occupants can reach. It unlocks the cargo area, allowing officers the ability to open the rear before timing out after 45 seconds and locking again.

As you might remember, Ford also offers a surveillance mode that will alert the driver if someone is approaching the car from behind, locking the doors and rolling up the driver side window.

“From the heavy-duty suspension and powertrain offerings, to the unique steering and transmission calibrations, Ford Police Interceptor Utility is built to provide any law enforcement agency a vehicle ready to meet extremely demanding needs,” said Arie Groeneveld, chief engineer for the new Police Interceptor Utility.

As was the case with the previous model, all-wheel drive is standard and there are two engines available: a naturally aspirated 3.7-liter V6 producing 304 hp and 279 lb-ft of torque and a 3.5-liter EcoBoost V6 with 365 hp and 350 lb-ft of torque.

GALLERY: Ford Interceptor Utility Live Photos


GALLERY: Ford Interceptor Utility


Discuss this story at our Ford forum

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2015 Mitsubishi Outlander Sport Gains 2.4L Engine

2015 Mitsubishi Outlander Sport

Mitsubishi is pumping up its Outlander Sport crossover vehicle. The 2015 model will now offer a 2.4-liter four-cylinder engine that delivers 20 extra horses compared to the standard 2.0-liter unit.

All told this larger MIVEC four-banger cranks out 168 hp, which is a welcome bump. The new 2.4-liter engine should address one our major gripes with this vehicle, the fact that it feels pretty unresponsive.

This powerplant will be offered in two different trim levels, the 2.4 ES and 2.4 GT. The former starts at $21,295 and features a black bumper for visual differentiation. The higher-level GT version kicks off at $23,595 and comes with welcome extras like a power driver’s seat, aluminum pedals and side-view mirrors with LED turn indicators.

SEE ALSO: 2014 Mitsubishi Outlander Sport Review

The 2.4 GT model can also be equipped with an optional premium package that adds a kickin’ nine-speaker Rockford Fostage sound system, a panoramic glass roof and an auto-dimming rear-view mirror.

The GT touring package adds leather seating surfaces, a navigation system with a seven-inch display screen and other goodies.

Every Outlander Sport is backed by Mitsubishi’s five-year/60,000 mile fully transferrable limited warranty and 10 years/100,000 mile powertrain protection.

GALLERY: 2014 Mitsubishi Outlander Sport



Discuss this story on our Mitsubishi Forum.

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Small Cadillac SUV At Least Four Years Away


One of the key vehicles in Cadillac’s future product strategy is at least four years away.

At the Washington Auto Show last week, Cadillac boss Johan de Nysschen said that he doesn’t have a firm date in mind yet for the new small SUV, but that he doesn’t expect it to arrive for at least another four years. The plan to launch a new utility vehicle underneath the Escalade is part of the brand’s plan to launch eight new models over the next five years.

Before de Nysschen’s installation as the current Cadillac chief, former brand boss Bob Ferguson said the company would consider introducing another utility vehicle under the Escalade name. Last August Cadillac chief engineer Dave Leone confirmed that the plan was still under consideration despite Ferguson’s departure as CEO.

Cadillac plans to invest $12 billion in order to execute its eight-model future product offensive.

Discuss this story at our Cadillac forum

[Source: Reuters]

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Five-Point Inspection: 2015 Lexus LX 570

2015 Lexus LX 570 Main Art

The 2015 Lexus LX 570 is a large luxury SUV that’s designed to tackle just about anything mother nature can throw its way, but is this machine ready for life in suburbia?

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Bentley Ponders Sub-Bentayga SUV


Bentley is thinking seriously about building a smaller SUV to sit below the upcoming Bentayga.

The Volkswagen Group owned ultra luxury brand plans to unveil its first SUV later this year before a launch toward the end of 2015 as a 2016 model year. Bentley competes directly with Rolls-Royce on product, unlike that company it is also actively engaged in chasing sales volume.

“We are keeping a close eye on what Land Rover has done with the Range Rover, Range Rover Sport and even the Evoque,” Bentley sales and marketing boss Kevin Rose said in an interview with Auto Express.

Bentley sales increased nine percent in 2014 to 11,020 vehicles.

[Source: Auto Express]

Discuss this story at our luxury lifestyle forum

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Alfa Romeo Sedan, SUV Planned for US


Alfa Romeo is planning two more models for the U.S. market.

At the 2015 Detroit Auto Show, the Italian automaker unveiled its 4C Spider but the company has more in the works. Later this year, Alfa Romeo is expected to unveil a midsize sedan that will be followed by a compact SUV in 2016. Both models will be based on rear-wheel drive “Giorgio” platform developed by an engineering team led by former Ferrari managers.

2015 Detroit Auto Show Coverage

The SUV is reportedly similar in size to the Audi Q5 and BMW X3 and will be the first model to come equipped with a V6 diesel engine from the brand. Alfa Romeo is expected to unveil the sedan on June 24 to celebrate its 105-year anniversary.

GALLERY: Alfa Romeo 4C Spider


[Source: Automotive News]

Discuss this story at our Alfa Romeo forum

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2015 Mazda CX-5 Consumer Review


It’s no secret that the Mazda CX-5 is a favorite among the staff.

Last year we embarked on a long-term test of Mazda’s first entrant into the growing small CUV segment and for the most part we came away impressed. Furthermore, the CX-5 finished a close second place in an eight vehicle compact crossover shootout last summer.

2015-Mazda-CX-5-08.JPGBut that was then and this is now. Over a year later, how does the CX-5 stack up in everyday life? Some have said that the praise heaped on the CX-5 has as much to do with its sporty drive characteristics that appeal to our auto-obsessed staff, as it does its practicality. What would someone who isn’t particularly concerned with sporty driving dynamics think of the crossover?

This sounds like a job for Amanda. Quickly becoming a semi-regular feature on AutoGuide, our general consumer reviews put my wife Amanda into a mainstream car to garner her impressions as someone who appreciates automobiles from a purely practical standpoint. On one of her previous reviews, an AutoGuide commentator requested her impressions on the Mazda CX-5 so here we are.


The Specs

Unlike most compact CUVs, the CX-5 is available with a choice of two different four-cylinder engines. Sport models come equipped with a 155 HP 2.0-liter four cylinder engine, while Touring and Grand Touring versions get the more powerful 184 HP 2.5-liter unit. Both engines are available with either front- or all-wheel drive. 2015-Mazda-CX-5-10.JPGBase, front-wheel drive CX-5s can be had with a six-speed manual transmission while all other versions come exclusively with a six-speed automatic.

At a weight of 3,560 lbs., the CX-5 is lighter than a Ford Escape and right on par with the Toyota RAV4 and Honda CR-V. Amanda’s all-wheel drive, automatic CX-5 with the larger engine is officially rated at 24 MPG city and 30 MPG highway. During a snowy week behind the wheel, she averaged 22.6 MPG thanks to endless commutes in thick traffic caused by foul weather.

SEE ALSO: 2014 Mazda CX-5 vs 2013 Toyota RAV4

Rear seat room in the CX-5 is generous offering up 39.3 inches of rear legroom. Behind the seats resides 34.1 cubic feet of cargo space; again, class competitive. Pricing for the Mazda CX-5 begins at $22,375 after destination charges for base Sport models. Amanda’s Grand Touring AWD with the technology package came in at $31,475.


How does it Drive?

Amanda found power delivery to be good in both city and highway driving. The CX-5 drove very smooth and she found it easy to maneuver. Parking in tight spaces wasn’t an issue thanks to a good turning radius and easy to see back-up camera.

The Grand Touring CX-5 comes equipped with larger 19-inch wheels wrapped in winter tires. Although winter tires do hurt fuel economy to a degree, the tradeoff for sure footed traction during an unexpected, sizable snow storm was worth it. Never getting upset or sliding around, Amanda appreciated the capability of Mazda’s all-wheel drive system, but didn’t quite feel the same confidence in it as she did with Subaru’s system in similar conditions last year.


The View from Inside

The seat and mirrors were easy to adjust for Amanda and she found initial comfort and sightlines to be quite good. Although the CX-5 is still relatively new, the interior design looks plain and outdated to her. Same goes for the GPS. The display to her looks like an old video game.

From a usability perspective, all of the CX-5’s controls were easy to find and simple to operate. There’s enough space in the backseat to accommodate all but the tallest passengers and seat comfort for rear passengers is good for this class as well.


What She Liked

Amanda still really likes the looks of the CX5, just not in the Blue Reflex Mica paint like her test vehicle. The overall proportions and clean lines work for her as she finds it to the right size for her needs.

The GPS system drew praise for how easy it is to use. She especially likes that it remembers the last cities it visited, which saves time the next time she had to use by not needing to retype the whole word again. It also recalculates quickly when off route. Her only issue with it, aside from the graphics, is the fact it lost signal quite a few times during the week.

SEE ALSO: 2014 Mazda CX-5 Review

The CX-5 is also glove friendly which was a big plus for Amanda during the cold week she had the CUV for evaluation. The steering wheel buttons and infotainment unit are both easy to operate without bare hands.


What She Didn’t Like

Like the Mazda3 she drove last year, the front seats are her biggest issue with the CX-5. She found the backrest of the seat bothered her the longer she drove the vehicle. Over the week she found it increasingly uncomfortable and would complain of neck and back pains when arriving home from work. The seat doesn’t fit her petite frame right and no amount of fidgeting with the adjustments would get it in an acceptable position.

She also wasn’t a fan of the gauge cluster’s menu setup. Although it may seem like a small detail, the digital speedometer and clock both can’t be shown in the gauge cluster at the same time. Her final small gripe has to do with the push-button keyless entry on the CX-5s door handle. There is a significant delay from pushing the button to the doors actually unlocking.


The Verdict

Overall, Amanda is still impressed with the CX5 as it’s attractive, easy to drive and easy to operate. But, there’s one issue that would be a deal breaker for her: the driver seat. Her advice for anyone thinking of buying a CX-5 is to go spend some time behind the wheel of the vehicle and see if seat comfort is an issue. If it’s not, then she recommends the CX-5 as a solid purchase in the growing compact crossover segment.


  • Engine: 2.5 L four-cylinder engine, 184 HP, 185 lb-ft.
  • Transmission: Six-speed automatic
  • Fuel economy (US): 24 MPG city, 30 MPG highway, 22.6 MPG observed
  • Fuel economy (CDN): 9.9 L/100 km city, 7.9 L/100 km highway, 10.4 L/100 km observed
  • Price (US): Starts at $22,375 after destination charges for base Sport. Grand Touring AWD with the technology package came in at $31,475 as tested.
  • Price (CDN): Starts at $24,890 after destination charges for base GX. GT AWD with the technology package came in at $37,185 as tested.

Discuss this story on our Mazda CX-5 forum.

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