Honda Odyssey gets top safety ratings in insurance, government crash tests

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Honda’s redesigned 2018 Odyssey minivan picked up a Top Safety Pick+ from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety and a five-star Overall Vehicle Score from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. The Odyssey joins the Chrysler Pacifica as the only minivans to receive the IIHS’s coveted award.

Honda won the Top Safety Pick+ designation via the addition of its Sensing braking system and improved LED headlights to the 2018 model, its fifth generation. The Odyssey won “good” ratings across the five crashworthiness tests, including small overlap front, moderate overlap front and side impact. It also won a superior rating for front crash prevention and an acceptable rating for the LED reflector headlights that feature on Elite and Touring trim lines, which automatically switch between high and low beams, depending on the presence of other vehicles.

Honda has been integrating its Sensing advanced safety and driver-assist technologies, part of its quest to develop highly autonomous vehicles, into many of its new models. In IIHS track tests at 12 mph and 25 mph, the system helped the vehicle avoid collisions. The 2017 Odyssey earned a basic rating for front crash prevention because it came only with an optional forward collision warning.

The Odyssey also notched a 5-star Overall Vehicle Score in NHTSA’s New Car Assessment Program by getting 5 stars in the frontal crash test for driver and passenger, 5 stars for side crash tests for both front and rear seats and pole, and 4 stars in the rollover test.

The IIHS also awarded a Top Safety Pick to the 2017 Kia Sedona, which missed out on the top award because of its “poor” headlights rating. The Sedona got a 5-star crash rating from NHTSA.

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2018 Jeep Grand Cherokee Trackhawk Drivers’ Notes | Haulin’ the groceries

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Powered by the same supercharged Hemi at the heart of Dodge’s Hellcat cars, the 2018 Jeep Grand Cherokee Trackhawk is the sort of vehicle that comes from a “Why not?” attitude from the maniacs at SRT. It’s not for the faint of heart, nor for the cash-strapped. With 707 horsepower and 645 pound-feet of torque, it’s capable of a 0-60 sprint of just 3.5 seconds. Its base price, however, is $86,995, though our tester’s sticker totaled just a few bucks shy of $100,000.

Senior Editor, Green, John Beltz Snyder: “What business does a Jeep have going 0-60 in 3.5 seconds?” This was my thought as I merged into rainy rush-hour traffic on Woodward Avenue in the 2018 Jeep Grand Cherokee Trackhawk. “Why does an SUV need to have ‘Track’ in the name?” I thought as I unintentionally broke the tires loose pulling away from a stoplight. I hit the “Eco” button, but the Jeep still roared with every toe-tap, and still managed to gulp down nearly a quarter of a tank of gas on my ride home.

That sound, though, is amazing, and surely more unsettling to other drivers coming from such a big beast of a ute.

Anyway, this Jeep feels more grown-up than other Hemi-powered vehicles I’ve driven. The fit and finish in this $99,000 Jeep is far nicer than, say, the Dodge Durango SRT (though at a much higher cost). If another driver didn’t pay close attention to the badging, they might see this and think it just another Jeep. The sound, though, will give it away every time.

Associate Editor Joel Stocksdale: If Fiat-Chrysler knows how to do anything, it’s making fast SUVs, and the Grand Cherokee Trackhawk is further proof of that. And by that I mean, they know how to make them fast, and they know how to make them pleasant to drive.

The Trackhawk definitely handles the fast part better than its SRT Durango and SRT Grand Cherokee cousins, what with its extra 230-odd horsepower. This big beast seriously rockets when you punch the throttle. The nose rises up, the supercharger screams, the exhaust rumbles and the speedometer ticks up much faster than you’d ever think. And it feels strong at all revs. Also impressive is that you don’t have to really think when flooring it. The all-wheel-drive and fat tires offer so much grip the Jeep simply goes.

The pleasant to drive part comes in the fact that the Trackhawk is very comfortable. The suspension has plenty of give, providing a good ride over pockmarked Motown roads. But it still handles well, if perhaps not quite up to the standards of European super SUVs. But the thing is, no SUV is going to have sports car handling, so the tradeoff toward a bit more comfort is welcomed. Adding to the good suspension are wide, bolstered, well-padded seats that should be excellent for long-trips. The UConnect is easy to use, and there’s plenty of space inside. It’s a great all-around SUV, and it just happens to go extremely fast.

Editor-in-Chief Greg Migliore: I was psyched to drive the Trackhawk. It’s one of the most anticipated Jeeps ever — and it totally lived up to the hype. Obviously, the Hellcat engine is the spotlight feature, and it’s well-suited to the Grand Cherokee. That was the part I was curious about. It didn’t seem like a logical fit, but everything is well-tuned and sorted. It sounds good, yet not overdone. It’s also a sleeper vehicle. Yes, something is up with this Jeep. You can tell that at first glance. But Hellcat power isn’t immediately obvious. I like that. It’s also pretty chill when you’re cruising at steady speeds.

Inside, I wasn’t a fan of this maroon leather. Otherwise, the FCA U.S. controls and infotainment remain among the best in the industry. The touchscreens work, and the knobs and buttons are intuitive. Can’t ask for more. Also, many years into its lifecycle, the Grand Cherokee remains a strong, attractive player in its segment. Giving it the Trackhawk treatment wasn’t necessary, but I’m sure glad FCA did.

2019 Hyundai Santa Fe unveiled

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Hyundai has unveiled its next-generation, 2019 Santa Fe. First, to clarify, the Santa Fe nameplate will take the place of the current five-passenger Santa Fe Sport. This new generation features a new design, new technology, and a new diesel engine option.

The Hyundai Santa Fe has a new look that comes off less crossover and more SUV than before. It looks wider, more muscular and bigger than the vehicle it replaces, with Hyundai’s large cascading grille and available 19-inch wheels. Inside, it has a horizontal layout to provide a sense of width. Large window openings provide improved visibility, despite the rising beltline. It features a new instrument panel with a three-dimensional look, and the infotainment screen has been repositioned to reduce glare. A new head-up display will also be available.

The 2019 Santa Fe will offer a 2.4-liter four-cylinder engine good for 185 horsepower, or a turbo 2.0-liter four-cylinder offering 232 hp. A 2.2-liter diesel engine will be available providing about 200 hp and 320 pound-feet of torque. The diesel model will be the only one to offer optional third-row seating. Each will be connected to a new eight-speed automatic transmission.

For comfort’s sake, Hyundai has revised the suspension, particularly in the rear, to provide a smoother ride. Hyundai also offers an optional load-leveling suspension to maintain a consistent ride height, even when loaded with cargo or towing. Its all-wheel-drive system provides capability in crummy weather, and features different modes to distribute torque for improved performance.

To improve safety and convenience, Hyundai includes a number of driver assistance aids in the new Santa Fe. This includes lane-keep assist, stop-and-go adaptive cruise control and an around-view monitor. Additionally, it offers a Rear Seat Occupant Alert using an ultrasonic sensor to detect motion of kids or pets in the back. It also offers Safe Exit Assist, which prevents you from opening the door when a motorcycle, bicycle or other vehicle approaches from behind.

We’ll have more on the next-generation Hyundai Santa Fe soon, once we get a turn behind the wheel.

[Source: Autoblog]

Ford will sell 1,000 people the chance to have completely custom Mustang badges

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In addition to the many ways a real Ford Mustang can be modified, Ford is now giving fans the opportunity to customize the car’s badge. It has launched a Facebook app called “Personalize Your Pony” and can be visited at this link. It allows you to select from some preset patterns inspired by Shelby, Bullitt, Roush and RTR Vehicles, and then shift and manipulate them within a Mustang logo with a very simple tool. One of the other color settings that lets you play with different pairings of Mustang colors to create a custom design.

Now, the tool is more interesting than a brief five-minute time waster. Whatever design you end up liking the best, you can submit with your name and city. Afterward, you can buy shirts, mugs, phone cases and stickers with the logo. But the coolest product is the actual Mustang badges that feature your design that you can buy for your 2015 and later pony car. But you’ll need to act quickly, because Ford will only make 1,000 of them.

There’s one other nifty aspect to this program. When you submit your design with your name an city, you’re also entered to have that design featured on a billboard. Exactly where wasn’t given except to say that the locations are “major cities across the U.S.”

Happy Hellcat Halloween

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Happy Halloween, everybody. There’s no real Hellcat news in this post. No growl of the second-scariest Dodge Challenger SRT’s 707-horsepower engine, no shriek of its supercharger. Just a Hellcat on a photo shoot. A little eye candy on Halloween. In a graveyard. With a black cat. (No cats were doomed to hell in the making of this feature.)

But a Hellcat is a good kind of scary, so here are some of our previous galleries. And may a Hellcat cross your path soon.

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[Source: Autoblog]

Hyundai gives 3 millionth Elantra in America to hurricane hero near Houston

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Hyundai has just crossed a significant milestone in its history. Since the company’s Elantra compact sedan was introduced to the American market back in 1991, the company has now sold the 3 millionth example here. The 3 millionth car is a normal Elantra sedan, a handsome, competent car that we don’t find to be terribly exciting unless it’s the Sport model with the turbo engine.

But we’re certain the owners of this new Elantra are pretty excited regardless. See, Hyundai didn’t exactly sell the 3 millionth American Elantra. It donated it to Henry Rogers, a paramedic field supervisor in Baytown, Texas, near Houston. His town was pummeled by Hurricane Harvey, and he was out helping people for two days straight.

Unfortunately, while he was out helping the citizens of Baytown, his family’s home was being swallowed up by water. Neighbors came by to rescue his wife, three adopted kids, and three dogs. Everyone came out all right, but the house and its contents were lost. So for Rogers’ contribution to the town, and for everything his family lost, Hyundai saw fit to get them started on the right foot with a fresh car, and a fairly historic one no less.

Here are the latest renderings of the new JL Jeep Wrangler

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Our friends at JL Wrangler Forums have been very kind to us. While we’ve seen plenty of spy shots of the new Jeep Wrangler, until recently these renderings from JL Wrangler Forums provided our best look at the new model. Today, we have a new batch of the traditional short-wheelbase, two-door Wrangler. We just hope the full production model doesn’t stray too far from this.

The design, like every new Wrangler, is simply an adaptation of what came before it. These new renderings pull some new cues seen on the most recent set of Wrangler spy shots. The new model packs LED headlights, taillights and running lights. The Rubicon model looks to have fog lights embedded into the bumper. The vented Rubicon hood looks like it carries over. The Sport model is the entry level Wrangler. As such the renderings ditch some things like body-color fenders and roof and alloy wheels.

The JL Wrangler has been in development for years, so expect to see the full production model sometime in the next few months.

[Source: Autoblog]