Jeep three-row SUV caught on public roads — Grand Wagoneer, perhaps?

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For years, it’s been rumored that Jeep is working on a full-size three-row crossover. The Grand Cherokee sells well, but it doesn’t match the space of its platform sibling, the Dodge Durango. At this year’s Shanghai Auto Show, Jeep revealed the Yuntu Concept, a plug-in three-row crossover designed for the Chinese market. While the automaker was adamant that this was just a concept, our spy photographers have seen a prototype running around near FCA’s headquarters in Auburn Hills, Michigan.

Though this is still heavily camouflaged, we can see a few details that show this is indeed a version of the Yuntu. The headlights, taillights and windows are the biggest tells, as they’re nothing like what’s currently on any production Jeep. The long wheelbase gives away the SUV’s three-row nature. We can’t make out much else, but expect the final version to look like a Durango-sized version of the new Jeep Compass with a black roof and clear lighting.

We don’t know what rests under the hood, but the Yuntu concept is a plug-in hybrid. FCA really needs some electrified vehicles in its lineup if it’s going to compete with other mainstream automakers. If the Yuntu makes it to production, expect it to wear a name like Grand Wagoneer. We just hope for wood panels.

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Ram Laramie Longhorn becomes the most luxurious Ram around

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This year’s Texas State Fair was all about the deluxe trucks. Ford introduced its super-plush Limited trim for the Super Duty trucks. Ram did the same with its new Laramie Longhorn Southfork trim level. It’s the new top-level luxury option for Ram, and it’s available on heavy-duty 2500 and 3500 Rams as well as the light-duty 1500.

The Southfork builds upon the flashy Longhorn trim level, which we aren’t particularly fond of, mainly due to the tacky leather filigree pattern stickers, the plastic, barbed wire accents, and strange rose gold finish. Those elements are all still present on the Southfork. It does retain good points, like leather everywhere. Ram touts the leather’s presence on the fronts, backs, and sides of the seats, as well as on the door panels.

Southfork-exclusive features include a new pale ivory leather called Light Frost Beige, which is accented by a dark brown leather. The roof and pillars are also now covered in suede, which certainly upgrades the feel of the interior. There’s real walnut and ash wood trim on the steering wheel and elsewhere in the cabin.

Since the Southfork is the top of the line Ram trim, it carries a high price. The 1500 model starts at $52,615, and the 2500 starts at $57,015. The trim is only available on crew cab and Mega Cab trucks, but can be had with two-wheel drive or four-wheel drive and with short or long beds.

[Source: Autoblog]

Ford GT glows in the Land of the Midnight Sun

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Ford’s marketing department has been producing a series of videos called “Europe’s Greatest Driving Roads,” starring, to date, a Focus ST, Focus RS, a pair of Mustangs, and a Fiesta ST chewing up the beautiful scenery. Now the Ford GT is ready for its close-up, close to the Arctic Circle in Norway.

Ford took a Triple Yellow GT, the color of the sun, to the Land of the Midnight Sun to drive the Atlantic Ocean Road, a road and series of dramatic bridges that connect the towns of Kårvåg and Vevang.

The trip to Norway is the seventh installment of the video series, and it puts a gorgeous, nearly unattainable supercar in a gorgeous, remote place.

“The Atlantic Ocean Road has to be driven to be believed. Only the most hardened cynic could fail to be unmoved by a journey across scenery of such unimaginable beauty,” said automotive journalist Steve Sutcliffe, who hosts each travelogue. “I had to break our rating system on this occasion, and score the road 11/10 for scenery. What else can you do on a route where you can actually see whales when you are driving along?”

The trip was also an occasion for Ford Chip Ganassi Racing driver and Le Mans veteran Stefan Mücke to set a new lap record at the Arctic Circle Raceway. The 655 PS Ford GT he drove has a top speed of 216 mph.

[Source: Autoblog]

Ford goes super luxe with F-Series Super Duty Limited

 

Ford, sensing rising demand for high-end trucks, on Thursday unveiled its new Super Duty Limited trim for its F-Series trucks, marrying luxury-segment features such as heated two-tone leather seats and finished wood trim to its workingman line of heavy-duty pickups.

Ford says its new F-450 Limited can tow more than 30,000 pounds, near the weight of an Air Force F-35 fighter plane or a motor home RV, yet it “delivers technology and comfort previously reserved only in premium flagship sedans.” The company said more than half of retail sales of its Super Duty lineup so far in 2017 have been high-end model like the Lariat, King Ranch and Platinum series.

“There are heavy-duty truck customers who need Super Duty-level capability and want true luxury,” said Todd Eckert, Ford Truck group marketing manager. “We created this new truck to answer the call for even more premium choices in the Super Duty range as we see more and more truck customers trending to more premium models.”

Inside the cab, Super Duty Limited gets you custom Camelback two-tone leather seats, stitched leather-wrapped steering wheel, armrests and instrument panel, a suede headliner and hand-finished dark ash trim. The exterior brings a twin-bar satin grille with chrome accents, quad-beam LED lights and satin-finished tailgate appliqué. A further perk is the VIN number laser-etched on the center console armrest. Standard features include high-definition 360-degree camera, SYNC 3 entertainment system and adaptive cruise control and steering.

Prices for the Super Duty Limited start at around $80,000 for the F-250 4×4 and top out around $94,455 for full options. Ford says a crew cab version fitted with a 6.7-liter Power Stroke diesel V8 will arrive this winter. You can read our first-drive review of the 2017 Super Duty pickup here.

[Source: Autoblog]

Junkyard Gem: 1982 Honda Prelude

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The first-generation Honda Prelude never sold in huge quantities in the United States, though I do find them in wrecking yards from time to time. Most Japanese cars of the Malaise Era turned into barely recognizable heaps of reddish powder after several years in the Upper Midwest, but somehow this Preludemanaged to survive 35 years without rusting (much) before arriving at this Wisconsin self-service wrecking yard.

Just barely over 100,000 miles on the clock. Perhaps it spent many years in someone’s garage, awaiting a head-gasket repair.

At some point, this car lived in New Jersey.

These were not powerful cars, but 75 horsepower in a car weighing about a ton wasn’t considered intolerable in 1982.

If you think the vacuum-hose tangle in a 1982 Honda CVCC engine is intimidating, just fast-forward a few years for the real nightmare.

Chrysler and Nissan had some pretty vivid Whorehouse Red interiors during the 1980s and 1990s, but this car was the pinnacle of Unnecessary Redness.

Ford, Lyft will partner to deploy self-driving cars

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Ford Motor Co said on Wednesday it will collaborate with Lyft to deploy Ford self-driving vehicles on the ride services company’s network in large numbers by 2021.

Ford and Lyft teams will begin working together to design software to allow Ford vehicles to communicate with Lyft’s smartphone apps.

Ford self-driving test vehicles will be connected to Lyft’s network, but at first, customers will not be able to use them, Sherif Marakby, Ford’s vice president for autonomous vehicles and electrification, told Reuters. Ford will put human-driven vehicles on Lyft’s network.

He did not say when Ford and Lyft expect to offer the first rides in self-driving cars.

“We’re not building prototypes for the sake of building prototypes,” Marakby said, adding Ford intends to ultimately put thousands of self-driving vehicles in use.

Ford’s new Chief Executive Jim Hackett is scheduled to meet with investors on Tuesday to outline the Dearborn, Mich. automaker’s strategy for boosting profitability. Ford shares are down 1.65 percent so far this year, while Detroit rival General Motors Co’s shares have risen 15.6 percent, and Fiat Chrysler Automobiles NV shares are up 71 percent.

Hackett’s plans to compete for revenue from mobility services, which include car sharing and ride-hailing, will be one area of focus for investors. The Lyft partnership fills in a piece of the puzzle.

Ford also is testing delivery services using self-driving vehicles and a van shuttle service. The self-driving vehicles Ford will deploy through Lyft will use software developed by Argo AI, a company in which Ford is investing $1 billion over the next five years.

The company has said it will invest $700 million in a factory in Flat Rock, Michigan, to make it capable of building electric and self driving vehicles.

Lyft has said it will offer an open platform for companies to deploy self-driving vehicles on its network, and has partnerships with self driving vehicle technology startup Drive.ai and Alphabet Inc’s Waymo self driving car unit.

GM has a 9 percent stake in Lyft, acquired for $500 million in January 2016. “Our relationship with GM has always been a non-exclusive relationship,” Raj Kapoor, Lyft’s chief strategy officer, told Reuters.

GM is also assembling the assets necessary to launch its own ride services using self-driving cars, building its Maven car-sharing unit and preparing to launch mass production of autonomous Chevrolet Bolt electric cars at a factory in suburban Detroit.

[Soure: Autoblog]

Man gets 2 distracted driving tickets in 8 minutes in Vancouver

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The Vancouver Police Department is clearly very serious about keeping people off their phones while driving. Well, as the CBC first reported, the VPD posted on Twitter a pair of citations issued to a driver for using a cell phone while driving.

Each ticket cost $368 for an eye-popping total of $736 Canadian (or $596 American). That’s bad enough, but the real amazing thing is that the second ticket was issued just eight minutes after the first, and according to the VPD’s Twitter, they were issued within six blocks of each other.

The citations specifically say the driver was using an “electronic device.” The distracted driving law in British Columbia describes this violation as using a smartphone in just about any way, from texting to simply talking to someone on the other end. Talking while parked, when contacting police or emergency services, or using a hands-free system are the only exceptions to the rule.

On top of that, the tickets came with eight points on the driver’s license, four points for each offense. Those points also come with fines in addition to the basic citations’ costs. According to the Insurance Corporation of British Columbia and the British Columbia government, a first offense of the distracted driving law in British Colombia comes with a $175 fine for those first four points accrued. Having a second offense in 12 months, as in this driver’s case, adds another four points, and the fine jumps to $520. So the driver in question will be paying more than $1,200 for his few minutes of phone use. These penalties are higher than they used to be. In addition, the British Columbia government notes that two or more violations come with an automatic review of the driver’s record with the possibility of a 3- to 12-month license suspension.

[Source: Autoblog]