2019 Jeep Renegade Limited and Trailhawk revealed with updated styling


A few weeks back, we got our first glimpse of the refreshed 2019 Jeep Renegade. The Italian-built compact crossover is currently the smallest model in Jeep’s lineup. Details were scarce, but we now have some new info on the European-spec model as well as a whole batch of photos of both the Renegade Limited and Renegade Trailhawk.

Visually, both the Limited and Trailhawk models get revised front fascias with dark LED and Xenon lighting that mimics the new Jeep Wrangler JL. The Limited’s bumper includes more body-color panels with new turn signals, fog lights and a lower air intake. Outside of the new lighting, the only real change to the front of the Trailhawk is the lack of a bright red front tow hook. In the rear, both models get new taillights, though the bumpers appear to be the same. The Renegade Limited now comes with 19-inch wheels.

The Renegade now has new gasoline and diesel engines, though it’s unclear which — if any — will make it to the U.S. market. There’s a 1.0-liter turbo inline-three that makes 120 horsepower, a 1.3-liter turbo inline-four that makes either 150 or 180 horsepower. That makes it as powerful as the 2.4-liter naturally-aspirated inline-four that’s currently available. The 1.6-liter and 2.0-liter turbo diesel engines — not available in the U.S. — both get updated European emissions equipment. There are three transmissions: a six-speed manual, a six-speed dry dual-clutch and a nine-speed auto.

The Renegade is still available with both front- and four-wheel drive. There are two four-wheel drive systems, with one slightly more sophisticated system reserved for the Trailhawk. Other carryovers include the removable My Skyroof panels and most of the interior. The Renegade also gets the latest version of FCA’s UConnect infotainment system that is compatible with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto.

Pricing hasn’t been announced, but look for U.S.-specific details sometime later this summer.

[Source: Autoblog]


Genesis nabs top initial quality ranking from J.D. Power


Luxury nameplate Genesis has won the top spot in a new J.D. Power survey of overall initial quality, continuing an impressive string of third-party reviews for the two-year-old Hyundai spinoff brand as it prepares to launch its third model, another luxury sedan.

Genesis ranked highest in J.D. Power’s overall initial quality study with a score of 68 problems experienced per 100 vehicles during the first 90 days of ownership. The luxury brand’s parent Hyundai Motor Group fared well, with Kia coming in second and Hyundai third. It was the first time that three Korean brands topped the J.D. Power study and the fourth straight year that Kia was the highest-ranked mass-market brand.

(We should also point out that Autoblog has raised concerns with the way J.D. Power weighs reliability issues; this year’s rankings, for example, put well-respected brands Subaru and Volvo in the bottom four of all car brands.)

Earlier this, Genesis year also topped Consumer Reports’ list of top 10 brand rankings based on road testing, reliability, safety and owner satisfaction scores.

Elsewhere, both the 2018 Genesis G80 sedan and its flagship G90 four-door won a coveted Top Safety Pick+award from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration also gives the G80 five-star reviews across the board in its own crash-test ratings, though it hasn’t yet issued ratings for the G90.

Despite these wins, the brand has stumbled in its rollout, and sales haven’t exactly ignited. First, it said it would launch a limited, exclusive network of showrooms in a few dozen select markets and then reversing itself this spring by saying all existing Hyundai dealers would have the opportunity to sell the luxury brand. Meanwhile its U.S. sales in May fell 39 percent from May 2017 to 1,076 units. Year-to-date, Genesis had sold 8,288 cars, which is 18 fewer cars than it had moved from the same period in 2017.

It will be hoping for a sales boost when it launches the G70 sports sedan this summer, the third of six new models Genesis plans to introduce by 2021 and the final sedan in the lineup.

[Source: Autoblog]

2019 Chrysler Pacifica Hybrid minivan gets sinister S package


If you prefer shuttling your kids and their juice boxes to soccer practices and piano recitals with a smaller carbon footprint, but you wanna look gangsta doing it, then has Chrysler got a minivan for you. Starting in July, the automaker will offer the murdered-out S Appearance Package on the Pacifica Hybrid, too, following its “wildly successful” debut in the gasoline combustion version last fall.

The details appear to be mostly the same as on the gas versions. Buyers will get lots of exterior gloss black accents, including grille surrounds, eyebrow headlamp accents, and window and rear valance moldings. The front and rear Chrysler wing badges are likewise done in black, but the Hybrid version comes with a special teal insert to highlight its green bonafides. The “Pacifica,” “S” and “eHybrid” badges also get the “Black Noise” finish. A black roof rack and 18-inch wheels with “Black Noise” finish are now standard.

Inside, the S Appearance brings black seats with gray accents and the “S” logo, light gray stitching and black accents on the wheel, and light gray stitching and the imaginatively named Anodized Ice Cave bezels on the instrument panel and door trim. Everything else in the interior is as blacked-out as your hard-as-nails, tree-hugging soul.

You can order the S Appearance Package on the 2019 Pacifica Hybrid models with any exterior paint color, not just black, starting next month, for $595. It’ll arrive in showrooms in the fall.

[Source: Autoblog]

2020 Hyundai Sonata shows fresh shape among competitors


The Hyundai Sonata received a refresh for the 2018 model year, but it seems that version won’t be around for long, because a 2020 Hyundai Sonata midsize family sedan has been spied testing. The new car was spotted in Las Vegas testing alongside the competition. This new Sonata also appears to be a complete redesign, since nothing appears to be shared with the current model.

Up front, the new Sonata looks much wider than the current model. Part of this is due to the headlights being moved to sit inline with the top of the grille, as opposed to slightly above on the current model. And while we can’t see it clearly, the grille will likely have a similar shape to that of the current model and other Hyundais. The fenders also wrap around the top of the car more, further contributing to the car’s wide stance.

The profile of this new Sonata is different, too. It’s a bit more traditional in how the engine compartment area doesn’t blend into windshield as much. The current Sonata blends the engine, passenger and trunk compartments more. There’s also a curve to the bottom of the greenhouse on the new car that lends the car a more graceful, less upright appearance. There is still a fastback look to the rear of the Sonata, but it’s stretched out more, again helping the car look less upright.

This is the first time we’ve seen the next-generation Hyundai Sonata, but it does look as though it’s pretty far in development. What we can see of it appears to be production ready. As such, we probably won’t have long to wait to see the car revealed. It will probably show up sometime next year in time for the 2020 model year.

Source: Autoblog

Clock stolen from Detroit train depot returned to Ford


In purchasing Michigan Central Station after three decades of abandonment and vandalism, Ford inherits a former train depot that is missing many of its once-grand architectural flourishes. But thanks to a charitable thief, it’s just re-acquired a stolen antique clock that hung for decades above an entryway.

The Detroit Free Press reports that The Henry Ford museum in neighboring Dearborn got a call late last week saying that the depot clock wanted to “go home,” and immediately notified contacts at Ford Land and The Ford Archives. Ford officials then contacted the donor, who told them the clock had been missing for more than 20 years “and is ready to go home.” He told them to send a truck and two men to load it, and shared its location, saying he left the clock leaning against a burned-out building about 2 miles from the train station.

Ford maintenance workers offered to stop and grab it in their truck on their way home from work, the Freepreports. They found it carefully wrapped in moving blankets and tape in an overgrown lot. Ford later confirmed the clock’s authenticity through photos and chemistry examination.

The clock’s future is uncertain; it could be returned to the wall and used as a working clock, or displayed as an building artifact as part of a display about the building’s history.

The story illustrates the profound emotional pull of the building, which first opened in 1913, welcomed waves of overseas immigrants to then-booming Detroit, sent soldiers to two world wars and survived the Great Depression. The presumed thief who returned the clock later texted Ford officials, saying “Thank you so much. I loved that clock and I loved that station.”

Ford Chairman Bill Ford Jr. says the automaker plans to renovate the soaring lobby area and the 18-story tower in an environmentally friendly way, and he’s gone to great pains to say Ford wants to be seen as a good neighbor in the rapidly gentrifying Corktown neighborhood. Dave Dubensky, chairman and CEO of Ford Land, tells the Freepthe company is encouraging others who might have pieces of the train station’s history who want to return them to the company to contact Ford, no questions asked.

[Source: Autoblog]

Watch as Honda Civic Type R sets lap record at Spa-Francorchamps

In February, we reported on Honda’s plans to set front-wheel-drive production lap records this year on several European circuits, using the current generation Civic Type R. Last month, the first of five planned lap records was set at Magny Cours, with WTCR driver Esteban Guerrieri lapping the French track in just 2:01.51. Now, LMP2 class world champion and NSX-GT driver Bertrand Baguette has set a record time at the Spa-Francorchamps track in Belgium.

The just over seven-kilometer (4.35 miles) long, legendary Belgian track was lapped in two minutes, 53.72 seconds, and the Type R used was again a standard production vehicle with road tires. The earlier production front-wheel-drive record time was set in a previous-generation Type R in 2016. Honda says the Spa record is the third one set with the current generation Type R, after the Magny Cours record and a 7 minute, 43.8 second Nürburgring Nordschleife lap time set in April 2017.

This summer, there are three tracks left for the Type R campaign to visit, and they are Silverstone in the UK, Estoril in Portugal and Hungaroring in, well, Hungary. The drivers for those will be F1 champion Jenson Button, WTCR driver Tiago Monteiro and BTCC driver Matt Neal.

[Source: Autoblog]

Ford previews plans for Michigan Central Station, won’t only be for Ford


Ford has announced that it has indeed purchased the long-abandoned Michigan Central Station, and it will have full details on its plans for the building coming this week. In the meantime, the company released a few basic details, as well as some concept renderings, about what will happen with the structure. As it turns out, it won’t solely be a Ford facility.

Ford revealed that the former train station will be a mixed-use facility. Space will be available for other companies to use as office space or even to open shops. Based on the renderings, it looks like Ford wants parts of the building to be a sort of marketplace or mini shopping mall. Apparently there will even be residential space in the completed building. We suspect that will be some pretty pricey real estate.

Of course the station will house Ford employees, too. Ford says that 2,500 employees will be moved to the new facility by 2022, and most of them will be from mobility departments. This makes some sense, since the company already relocated an electric and autonomous vehicle team to an office just down the street from the old station. Odds are these various teams will work together at least occasionally, so it would make sense to have them located close to each other.

These are just broad details about the facility. The company will have more specifics this week, so stay tuned.