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Mopar Delivering Jeep JK-8 Pickup Kit Early

On: Sat, Dec 17, 2011 at 9:38AM | By: Chris Weiss

Mopar Delivering Jeep JK-8 Pickup Kit Early test 2

The minute I saw the Jeep Nukizer 715 staring at me under the crimson cliffs of Moab was the minute I knew: If I ever own a Jeep Wrangler, I really hope it can be a pickup. Besides the fact that the little bed in back delivers some utility space for hauling gear, there are few pieces of metal and rubber on earth that look tougher than a jeep with a pickup bed.

So far, Chrysler isn't granting my wish. The company has no public plans to build a new Jeep pickup, though speculation has indicated that it is considering it. What the Chrysler group has done, though, is offer an aftermarket kit that lets Wrangler owners convert their Jeep into a pickup. It's the JK-8 and it's coming early.

Jeep began delivering the JK-8 kit to dealers this week, pushing it out a little early. That's good, because if you're a hardcore Jeep enthusiast, a JK-8 kit could certainly be the ultimate Christmas gift.

The End Is Nigh: Google Patents Autonomous Driving

On: Fri, Dec 16, 2011 at 5:11PM | By: Chris Salamone

Google Autonomous Car Team test 2

Motoring fans everywhere have witnessed a slow degradation of the driving experience for years. 6-speed manual transmissions have shifted to something entirely less exciting, the CVT, and the road-feel of yesterday’s vehicles has become a mere afterthought on the pillow-top suspensions of today. And yet, the savvy tycoons at Google have claimed yet another aspect of the automotive industry – this time chipping away at the very essence of what makes driving fun.

Originally filed May 11 of this year, the USPTO just recently awarded Google patent #8,078,349 which specifically claims ownership of certain events where a mixed-mode car can transition from a human driver to an autonomous mode.

Luxury Leg Race: Audi Set To Pass Mercedes For First Time

On: Fri, Dec 16, 2011 at 3:33PM | By: Chris Weiss

Luxury Leg Race: Audi Set To Pass Mercedes For First Time test 2

Growing up, I recall the major European luxury race always appeared to be between BMW and Mercedes. You'd see plenty of these cars around and each brand had clearly won its fair share of loyal customers in the US.

Audi, on the other hand, always seemed like a distant brand. To be honest, I thought it was a Swedish brand for the longest time because it was about as obscure as Saab. The only reason I knew it was a luxury car is because the only person that I knew that drove one was my friend's father who happened to be a doctor. Other than that, it just seemed like a somewhat boring European car.

Granted that's just one person's impression, but Audi has long been the third German luxury automaker, lagging behind BMW and Mercedes in terms of global sales. But not for long.

NTSB Calls For Nationwide Ban On Cell Phone Use Of Any Kind Behind The Wheel

On: Fri, Dec 16, 2011 at 2:14PM | By: Lou Ruggieri

NTSB Calls For Nationwide Ban On Cell Phone Use Of Any Kind Behind The Whee test 2

In a meeting Tuesday, the National Transportation Safety Board concluded that they are going to advocate a national ban on all non-emergency cell phone use. In their press release, the NTSB shared the results of an investigation in which they cited several examples of instances where cell phone distraction caused fatal accidents. In those examples, there is little anyone can do to argue the frightening nature of the carelessness displayed in those examples.

Given the nature of the current economy, it isn't hard to imagine that local government support of this ban should be extremely high (as will be their willingness to dole out a few more tickets for violations of said ban). But besides the obviously money-making potential, the NTSB does have a strong case.

Consider this -- just over 10,000 people lost their lives due to alcohol related accidents in 2010, while the number of distraction-related fatalities was just over 3,000. Using DUI related deaths as a benchmark, cell phones do indeed represent a significant threat to motorists everywhere. If there is still any doubt, read on for the full press release from the NTSB ...


2013 Ford Fusion Super Tease Via 'Augmented Reality'

On: Fri, Dec 16, 2011 at 12:27PM | By: Chris Salamone

2013 Ford Fusion App test 2

Up until now, fans would have had to actually download Ford’s latest Fusion app to glimpse into the vehicle’s future. But for those of us without an Android or iOS device or the motivation to download a teaser app, ahem, this might have been a challenging task. Ford has thought through the dilemma and produced a promotional video for the Fusion’s promotional launch – or a teaser video for a teaser app. Regardless of how you might feel, Ford’s new Fusion reveal app allows excited fans to slowly worship the upcoming 2013 Fusion day-by-day up until the car’s official unveiling in January and Ford’s video does a great job of making something, which sounds entirely hokey, actually exciting.

Interestingly, Ford has opted to label the experience ‘augmented reality’ – as if apps were anything else. Snide commentary aside, the Fusion app launches by the grit and determination of the app’s consumer. Players must find and capture a Ford logo with their respective device’s camera. Then, the logo initiates a Pokémon-reminiscent startup featuring virtual images, music choices, and a series of unlocking worlds which reveal various stages of the Fusion itself. Gotta catch ‘em all.

2013 Viper Won't Be A Dodge

On: Fri, Dec 16, 2011 at 11:13AM | By: Chris Weiss

2013 Viper Won't Be A Dodge test 2

It's been a tumultuous couple of years at Chrysler. The company was in some deep trouble about two years ago, pulled out of the depths with the help of US government and Fiat investment, and has been on a mission to get things right in its second life. One of the major moves that Chrysler has done under Fiat rule is better delineate and define its individual brands. Now that strategy takes a drastic turn.

If you really think about it, Chrysler has been the most poorly defined auto group in the US, possibly the world.

World's Ugliest Supercar Now On Sale

On: Fri, Dec 16, 2011 at 9:14AM | By: Chris Weiss

World's Ugliest Supercar Now On Sale test 2

There are ostentatious, excessive and gaudy cars and then there are cars that are just plain 'WTF were they thinking'. The Anliker "999 Red Gold Dream" Mercedes SLR McLaren is 100 percent in the latter category. It's one thing to cover a hot supercar like the SLR in weird aerodynamic parts and expensive accents, but it's another thing to pretty much destroy the car's styling with a lip gloss-red paint and gaudy gold. This is one of the most heinous pieces of tunage I've ever seen. And if you're wealthy, you now have a chance at owning it.

The car was modified by Swiss designer Ueli Anliker several years ago. The car's modifications are primarily cosmetic with tasteless things like 24-karat gold-plated wheels, ruby-encrusted lug nuts, gold-trimmed interior and ruby-covered drive components. It even has 11 lbs. of gold dust mixed in with its paint. All in all, the 999 Red Gold Dream cost about $5.4 million in parts alone.

Anliker still plans some engine modifications that will push the SLR's twin-turbo V-8 up around the '999' mark. A garish number for an unbelievably garish car.

A Carbon Fiber Aveo? GM Aims To Put Carbon Fiber To Use

On: Thu, Dec 15, 2011 at 5:08PM | By: Chris Weiss

A Carbon Fiber Aveo? GM Aims To Put Carbon Fiber To Use test 2

Carbon fiber is nothing new in the auto industry. Its specific blend of superior strength and ultralight weight has made it the darling of the motorsports and exotic car industries. As with anything else, as time goes on and manufacturing processes get cheaper, carbon fiber should foreseeably get integrated into more everyday vehicles, first premium vehicles and then standard vehicles.

GM has decided to help push that reality a little faster. It announced that it will team up with carbon fiber/composite manufacturer Teijin Limited. The companies will work together with a goal of implenting the wunder-composite into mainstream cars and trucks.

2012 Mazda 3 With Skyactiv Technology: The End Of Cars As We Know Them?

On: Thu, Dec 15, 2011 at 2:49PM | By: Lou Ruggieri

2012 Mazda 3 With Skyactiv Technology test 2

Skyactiv Technology. When I first heard the term, I immediately thought that Google had finally invented the modern-day version of Skynet and we were all going to be privy to the short-term benefits of artificial intelligence... That is until it realized we were too dangerous to be in charge of our own lives and tried to take over the world. Upon further investigation, that is apparently not what Skyactiv technology is. Nope, as it turns out Skyactiv is just kind of an umbrella marketing term that doesn't actually describe too much about the 2012 Mazda 3. Make no mistake either, it's not 'Mazda 3 Skyactiv' or 'Skyactiv Mazda 3', no, it's just Mazda 3 with Skyactiv technology.  

So what exactly is this Skyactiv stuff? Well, strangely enough this quirky term actually refers not to some gimmicky tunes-itself-to-a-station-it-likes radio junk, but to advancements in engine technology. The 2.0-liter four cylinder in the new Mazda 3 is quite the phenom. Although it looks tiny, this mighty-mini-motor uses direct-injection and has a mind-blowing 12:1 compression ratio -- a number that only race motors were running not too many years ago. Both horsepower and torque have gone up from last year, though not to racecar numbers at 155 ponies and 148 lb.-ft., because both low and mid-range torque numbers are up too combine with the fact that the 3 only weighs in at 2,872 pounds, the Mazda 3 feels extremely quick and nimble through the corners and off the line.

Ford Employees To Begin Beta Testing MyFord Touch Updates

On: Thu, Dec 15, 2011 at 1:37PM | By: Chris Weiss

Ford Employees To Begin Beta Testing MyFord Touch Updates test 2

Ford is taking complaints about its MyFord Touch system pretty seriously. We don't blame them since the advanced infotainment system was a great headline when it first debuted, but has proven less attractive in actual everyday use. 

Ford announced last month that it will soon release MyFord Touch updates that it believes addresses the main consumer complaints and makes the system more user friendly. Before releasing those updates to consumers, Ford is sending a group of 1,000 employees out to test them.

Acura's Three Detroit Concepts Include NSX

On: Thu, Dec 15, 2011 at 12:28PM | By: Chris Weiss

Acura's Three Detroit Concepts Include NSX test 2

Well, there have been years of rumors about two separate cars, but it's finally official: an Acura NSX successor is here. Or at least close to here--Acura confirmed rumors that it will debut an NSX successor at the 2012 Detroit Auto Show in January.

From what Acura has said, the rumors have been pretty spot on. In addition to confirming the Detroit debut, Acura told Inside Line that the NSX successor will use a mid-engined, V-6-based hybrid powertrain. Given that other information from previous reports has been quite accurate, we're pretty comfortable with the idea that the NSX will have a V-6 engine in the range of 3.5 liters along with two electric motors.