Ford testing a Porsche 911 GT3 alongside the Shelby GT350

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The Shelby GT350 is a wonderful automobile. The 5.2-liter naturally aspirated V8 makes 526 horsepower and revs to high heaven thanks to a flat plane crank, making the GT350 feel like no other American car on the road. In the days of electrification and turbocharging, it’s a breath of fresh air. The GT350 debuted roughly two years ago, and since then the standard Ford Mustang has undergone a full refresh. We new have a few photos of the refreshed Shelby. These spy shots don’t reveal much about the car, but we can see Ford is benchmarking one hell of a competitor.

The track battle between a Shelby GT350 and a Porsche 911 GT3 would be something to behold. More importantly, the fact that Ford has a GT3 running around Dearborn shows that it’s serious about making the GT350 a real world-class driver’s car. Like the refreshed GT3, expect the GT350 to carry on with a naturally aspirated engine. Expect a slight bump in power, but the current car has plenty of grunt already. Expect the six-speed manual to carry over, but don’t rule out a 10-speed automatic or a version of the seven-speed dual clutch from the Ford GT.

It’s likely the design will carry some traits from the refreshed Mustang, including sharper headlights and taillights. Don’t look for any pony badging, as Shelby prefers a coiled cobra. This model doesn’t have a spoiler, meaning this could may be the regular model, not the GT350R. The later should get a tasteful wing and carbon fiber wheels. It looks like there’s an aggressive chin spoiler, too.

We don’t have any official word on the next GT350, but look for a full debut sometime as soon as the LA Auto Show in November.

[Source: Autoblog]

2018 Jeep Cherokee may lose its split headlights

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Now that the Jeep Cherokee is three model years old, it’s about due for a refresh, and it looks like Jeep has a major one in store. New spy shots show two prototype Cherokees testing. The heavily disguised prototype has the nose and tail completely covered, and an undisguised mule with the current body shows what appear to be new radar sensors. Based on these spy shots, it looks like the Cherokee’s current split headlight design could be disappearing.

We know there must be a significant redesign to the front considering how much camouflage is used. We can also just make out a revised accent light in a similar position as the current accent lights. This wouldn’t indicate unified headlights alone, but two of the exposed mule’s apparent radar sensors sit right where the square-shaped main headlamps are located on the current model. They’ll have to at least move those lights higher in the bumper for the sensors, and if they’re moved that far up, they might as well be merged with the accent lights.

Among the other details we can make out, the rear section will likely be substantially different. The license plate mounting point has been moved out of the rear bumper and into the rear hatch. This may also be related to radar sensors, since the line of sensors on the undisguised model are right in line with the license plate. But it should also serve to break up the large swath of sheet metal in the hatch. The middle section of the car still looks the same as the current model, which is further indication that this is a refresh.

 

New 2018 Jeep Wrangler is definitely a Jeep Wrangler

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Jeep is hiding details on the new Wrangler about as well as a colander holds water. The good people over at JL Wrangler Forums have managed to get ahold of some new images of the next-gen Wrangler. Surprise! It looks exactly how we expected it to look. These new images give us our best view yet, showing a number of details that we couldn’t even glean from spy photos. Enthusiasts can put down their pitchforks. The Wrangler can still go topless.

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The two images – one of the front and one of the rear – show off what appears to be a Wrangler Unlimited Rubicon. The second photo is notable since it finally confirms that the doors and roof are fully removable, a feature that some feared would disappear with the new model. It looks like a fixed roll cage will help strengthen the Wrangler and protect occupants in the case of an accident. Hinges up front mean the windshield is still able to fold forward as well.

The rest of the Wrangler, though all new, just updates the Jeep’s timeless design. Up front, the grille is canted rearward at the top, the fog lights move to the ends of the bumper, the turn signals move to the front of the fender, and the hood latches are pushed forward a bit. The windshield appears to be a bit more upright and less curved than the current model.

Around the side, we can see new vents behind the rear fenders. The door hinges looks smaller, and the mirrors have integrated side marker lights. There is a new line that cuts below the windows, flowing to the rear of the Wrangler.

At the back, we can see that the tail lights now wrap around to the Wrangler’s side, though they still look like the square lights we’ve always had. There is no sight of a rear-mounted spare, but plenty of spy shots have shown that it should carry over, new backup camera and all. It also looks like the new mounting points for the roll cage should provide a bit more cargo space.

Look for more news, images, and renders as the Wrangler’s development moves along.

[Source: Autoblog]

Next Jeep Wrangler spotted with 8-speed and EcoDiesel

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Although it may not look like it, there are big changes coming to the next-generation Wrangler. The 2018 model will use aluminum for weight savings, spawn a pickup version, and offer new engines. This latest set of spy images brings confirmation of two new powertrain items.

The spy photos below show a Wrangler mule with the current interior and an eight-speed automatic shifter fitted in place of the old five-speed unit. (There’s a comparison photo in the gallery.) The shifter design matches that of the refreshed Dodge Charger and Challenger; the final Jeep version is likely to differ, but this clearly indicates what kind of transmission is underneath. Chrysler builds eight-speed automatics from a ZF design and also uses some transmissions built by ZF.

[Source: Autoblog]

2018 Ford F-150 sheds more camo in latest spy shots

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A fresh batch of spy shots gives us an even better look at the refreshed 2018 Ford F-150. The truck in the previous photos wore a bra that hid the entire front end, but this time Ford sent a pickup out with just some light camouflage.

While this F-150 prototype has updates compared to the current truck, the tweaks don’t appear as significant as on the pickup with the bra. The hood looks smoother than the current F-150, and extra camouflage just behind the front wheels suggests the possibility of fender vents like on the latest F-Series Super Duty. However, the previous F-150 we saw seemed to have major changes to the grille and possibly new headlights. Neither of those tweaks were visible in the latest spy shots, but perhaps Ford has been evaluating different updates on multiple prototypes. This round of shots also has strange cutouts on the front fenders.

Under the hood, expect the 2018 Ford F-150 to be available with a diesel engine. A video already confirms that the powerplant is under evaluation for the truck. A rumor suggests the pickup might use Jaguar Land Rover’s 3.0-liter V6 with 254 horsepower and 443 pound-feet of torque. If the Blue Oval combines it with the 10-speed automatic from the Raptor, the result could be one of the more efficient pickups in the class. We don’t expect Ford to drop any official details about what’s up its sleeve until closer to the next model year.

[Source: Autoblog]

2017 Jeep Grand Cherokee, in Portland soon, spied looking refreshed

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Jeep is preparing another facelift for the Grand Cherokee. Spied here undergoing testing, the updates to the upscale SUV look like they’ll be fairly limited in scope.

The current WK2-generation Jeep Grand Cherokee was introduced in 2010 as a 2011 model, replacing the round-eyed WK model that had been around since 2005. It underwent a mild update last year and is now gearing up for another round. This refresh appears to have a new front fascia with wider-spaced grille slats, and though hidden from view, will likely incorporate a restyled bumper with new fog lights.

Expect some revisions inside the cabin to accompany the new face, and some updated engines, too. The current base model’s 3.6-liter Pentastar V6 is anticipated to offer more power and get better fuel economy, plus offer flex-fuel capability. Of course, the 5.7-liter Hemi V8 will also likely be offered, and if we’re lucky, an even more powerful SRT performance model, too.

The updated JGC is expected to arrive in the first quarter of the new year. Jeep will be marking its 75th anniversary then, so expect some special editions of this and other models in the portfolio to arrive in true Jeep style.

Next Chrysler minivan spied

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Chrysler isn’t supposed to unveil the next-generation Town & Country until the 2016 Detroit Auto Show, but FCA is hard at work getting the minivan ready for launch. Our spies recently caught prototypes on the road and took copious photos of the interior and exterior, giving us an early idea what to expect from the future family-hauler.

These shots make it pretty clear that FCA’s engineers aren’t done working on the next T&C yet, and all of the camouflage on the outside makes any styling changes very difficult to spot. However, the company is testing the future version with a current one, and the new design appears to have harder angles.

One intriguing picture clearly shows the Dodge logo on the back of the minivan. The Dodge Grand Caravan is supposed to be killed off for 2016, though. We’ve also heard the next-generation minivan will get a plug-in hybrid variant, which was reportedly confirmed last week.

The interior is slightly less concealed than the outside, but development is still ongoing in there, too. It’s easy to spot the familiar infotainment screen from other FCA products, and there’s just a peek at the T&C’s instrument cluster, including the design for the tachometer. A rotary dial gearshift also appears to be in the center console, similar to the Chrysler 200.

Even at this early stage, it appears that FCA is trying to take the next T&C a little more upmarket compared to the current iteration. The move fits well with earlier rumors of the price increasing for the future model.

[Source: Autoblog]