Automotive News


2014 Forest Mist Acura MDX AWD

When it comes to family activities, typically the more, the merrier is the rule of thumb.  Maybe you have a family of four, and the in-laws or cousins want to come along.  You’d rather not take two cars, so that’s where 7-passenger vehicles show their value.  But as you might be aware, all 7-passenger vehicles are not created equally.

Our test vehicle this time around is a 2014 Forest Mist Acura MDX all-wheel drive with Advance and Entertainment packages.  Now, just as its description fills your mouth, encompassed in these suites are loads of technology and safety features, bringing our tester’s total price to $57,400.00.

Under the hood is a 3.5L direct injected VTEC V6 engine that makes 290-hp and 267 lb-ft torque.  The engine is mated to a 6-speed automatic transmission with paddle shifters that powers all four wheels via Acura’s Super Handling All-Wheel Drive (SH-AWD).  Maximum towing capacity is 5000 lbs. on properly equipped all-wheel drive models.

2014 Acura MDX Jewel Eye LED headlightsFuel economy is rated at 18 mpg city / 27 mpg highway, with a combined rating of 21 mpg.  AutoAcademics saw an average of 18.5 mpg during testing.

The 2014 MDX has some notable changes that were made to its exterior, when compared to the outgoing model. Its grille maintains a less pronounced aves-class design, yet more prominently displayed are the Jewel Eye LED headlights, which are reportedly whiter, brighter, more efficient, and longer lasting than HID or halogen headlights.

On the opposite end of the vehicle, the dual exhaust outlets from last year’s model have been tucked underneath of the rear valence and stylish reflectors trimmed in chrome now reside nearby at each corner.

Opening the power liftgate provides access to 14.8 cu-ft. of cargo space behind the 3rd row.  Fold that row down and you increase 2014 Acura MDX cargousable space to 38.4 cu-ft.  With all of the rear seats stowed, 68.4 cu-ft. of maximum cargo space is available.  There is also extra cubby storage, and power points are present, too.

Inside, the layout is attractive, with soft plastics, woodgrain and real metal trim throughout.  The driver’s seat is 10-way power adjustable, 8-way for the front passenger, and both are covered in perforated leather with heating and cooling options.

Information is provided via dual screens in the center; with the lower having touch capabilities and the top providing other pertinent information, such as navigation, vehicle and entertainment functions.

In back, the rear seats are heated with integrated cupholders in the center armrests, and entry to the 3rd row is accessed via a push-button release.  While we were technically able to sit back there, we’d recommend limiting the 3rd row to smaller children if the drive is longer than a short commute.

While thinking about comfort levels in the rear-most passenger section, there are no air conditioning vents specifically for those seats.  The second row HVAC unit, however, was one of the best we’ve experienced and it blows cold air strong enough to eventually reach those passengers in the very back.

On the amusement side of things, the Entertainment package doesn’t just answer the age-old question “Are we there yet.”  It essentially eliminates it. Incorporated in the overhead console is a 16.2” widescreen dvd player with HDMI inputs, wireless headphone connections, and a 115V AC receptacle.  The screen can show wide-ratio movies or accommodate two separate video sources side-by-side.  Unfortunately, when in conjunction with a full-size booster seat, such features do affect rear visibility when driving, but I guess sometimes that’s a cross we all must bear.

On a positive note, the 2014 MDX is equipped with a 3 mode backup camera that shows various angles behind the vehicle.  The resolution is impressively clear both during the day and at night.

2014 Acura MDX rear

With the kids entertained, parents up front will be able to experience a sound possibly never before heard when travelling on a family vacation – the sound of quietness.  But this experience is not due solely to the first season of Sofia the First.

When you enter the cabin, you will notice the extra effort required to close the doors as they create a seal that no doubt aids in cabin isolation, blocking out most exterior noises.  This quietness extends itself, even while driving down the highway and this is an impressive feat considering the MDX’s standard 19” alloy wheel and all-weather tire configuration.

Driving the 2014 MDX was a pleasant affair and we feel as though that is where Acura (or Honda) focused much of its attention.2014 Acura MDX 19" wheel  The suspension is just firm enough for this 4300 lbs. vehicle to exhibit good handling without wearing you out at the end of the day.

The V6 engine is smooth and barely audible inside the cabin, unless you request more of its 290 horsepower, at which point you will hear more of a growl from up front.  And if you are really in the sporting mood, you can change the Integrated Dynamics System (IDS) to “Sport” to increase steering feel and quicken throttle response.  And if that is not enough, engaging the transmission into “Sport” initiates even more aggressive behaviors, allowing for higher engine revs before the transmission shifts into the next gear.

Fortunately, with all of this newfound peace and enjoyment, Acura includes active safety technologies in its Advance package to help cover drivers who may accidentally slip into a Zen-like mode.  In conjunction with blind-spot alerts and backup sensors, Lane Keeping Assist System (LKAS) will alert drivers when they drift out of their lane and even help steer them back if their turn signal was not in use.  Collision Mitigation Braking System (CMBS) uses radar to identify the closing speed of an object, sounding an alarm while tightening the seatbelts and eventually fully braking if a frontal collision is imminent.  It’s nice to know that this driver-oriented crossover is ready to assist in case you forget you were driving.

 

There are a lot of viable 7-passenger vehicles on the market today.  Many, of which, are in the premium segment with the MDX.  But all are not created equal and the style, driving characteristics, and technology of the 2014 Acura MDX don’t make it any fairer.

2014 Ford Fiesta ST

Onlookers must be careful not to mistake our Performance Blue 2014 Ford Fiesta ST tester for just any subcompact vehicle with red badging on it.  Cutting right to the chase, the 2014 Fiesta ST is as legit as they come.  Class-leading power, agile handling, and respectable fuel economy can all be checked off your list, as this car covers those and much more.  Dare we say it’s even kind of cool?

By comparison, the standard Fiesta is a fine car, ready and willing to assume commuter duty, day in and day out.  But the ST is capable of that and so much more.  And that’s what we aim to convey in this review.

For starters, under the hood is a 1.6L inline 4-cylinder engine that is similar in size to what is found in the standard Fiesta.  The powerplant in the ST, however, was blessed with Ford’s EcoBoost technology, where a direct injected, turbocharged and intercooled variant resides.  The engine makes 197-hp and 202 lb-ft torque and is mated to a standard 6-speed manual transmission (no automatic is offered) that powers the front wheels.  That’s 77-hp more than the standard 4-cylinder and 90 2014 Ford Fiesta ST front driver's sidemore lb-ft torque.  This combination is good for a 0-60 time of 6.4 seconds.  Fuel economy is rated at 26 mpg city / 35 mpg highway, with a combined rating of 29 mpg.

Now, those specs are a nice teaser, but we still need to share a little about what makes the Fiesta ST a practical daily driver.

Inside is pretty much standard fare, allowing pedestrian Fiesta owners to readily recognize the layout.  The instrumentation is large on the dash, and MyFord Touch with navigation is present.  However, there are some features that only the ST has.

Two of those features stood out during our testing.  First was the 6-speed manual transmission.  Stick shifts can play a number of roles in a sporty vehicle.  They can provide you total control over the transmission’s shift points.  They offer tactile feedback to the machine that you are piloting.  And they can make you (and the vehicle) feel really cool while driving, when implemented correctly.

The manual transmission on the Fiesta ST was easy to change from one gear to the next, with a direct, yet fairly effortless operation.  And clutch take-up was gradual and precise, with just enough weight to engage without stalling or over-revving the engine.  Overall, it made driving the Fiesta ST a lot of fun.

The other notable feature was the optional (and arguably mandatory, if you ask us) Recaro seats.  As you’d expect, they were very supportive, comfortable, and looked really cool in their black leather covering with light gray microfiber inserts, prominent 2014 Ford Fiesta ST Recaro seats“RECARO” branding, and large “ST” badging stitched in red.

Note:  Those with keen linguistic talents no doubt have become aware of the numerous times we’ve used the adjective “cool” so far in this review.

As a practical side note, we feel it important to mention that although they aren’t officially branded, the rear seats are comfortable enough, and functional enough.

While driving, the Fiesta ST truly does make you feel cool, and that is a term that should not be thrown around loosely when talking about a sub-compact vehicle.  Practical?  Yes.  Efficient?  Exactly.  But, cool?  Well, if you don’t typically drive a sports anything (and my personal daddy mobile is a sports wagon), this car is pretty cool.

The suspension is rather firm, but this is a by-product of the great handling characteristics.  Though most front-wheel drive cars tend to understeer (keep going straight when you want to turn), the Fiesta ST goes where you tell it.  Part of this is likely due to the car’s light front end, and the rest would be its Torque Vectoring Control, which basically works like an electronic limited-slip differential, using the brakes to adjust the speed between the two front wheels, aiding in cornering capabilities.

One other highlight that we were not expecting to appreciate is the Engine Sound Symposer.  Although the name sounds like a button selection on a Casio keyboard, the feature actually transmits intake frequencies into the cabin, allowing you to hear more of the engine.  And it works great!  Modern cars are much more refined and quiet than in the past, so manufacturers must now artificially introduce engine sounds into the passenger compartment so that occupants can hear it.

2014 Ford Fiesta ST rear

One final cool attribute is the price.  A 2014 Ford Fiesta ST has a starting M.S.R.P. of $21,400 and ours with the optional ST Recaro package, moonroof, MyFord Touch with navigation, and 17” alloy wheels with red calipers stickered for around $23,000.  That is rather accessible to anyone shopping a performance vehicle.

So, to wrap things up, as well as in case you missed the message in our intro paragraph, we liked the 2014 Ford Fiesta….a lot.  And we believe that anyone who is shopping a performance-focused sub-compact vehicle should seriously consider it.  There are not many vehicles that offer legit performance in this class, but the Fiesta ST does.  Not to mention, it’s pretty cool, too!

Contact www.autoacademics.net for more info or to schedule a test drive near you.

Check out AutoAcademics’ video review of the 2014 Ford Fiesta ST below.

 

Chrome Underground TV

by Stephen A. Lawrence

A car show is premiering on Discovery Channel tonight.  Sure, there are plenty of car shows on Discovery and several other cable stations, but this one is different. Really different. Like I-forgot-it-was-a-car-show-for-a-minute different. As a fan of both cars and thriller TV shows, I mean that in the best way possible.

On the surface, Chrome Underground may sound like your typical car restoration show: two guys travel around looking for cool cars to fix up and sell at a huge profit. But Yusuf Johnson and Antonio Brunet aren’t contacting original owners in Albuquerque or collectors in Rancho Cucamonga. They are tracking down extremely rare and expensive vehicles in Mexico and down into South America. And if the first episode is any indication, these cars aren’t found at all-inclusive resorts.

The premier follows Yusuf and Antonio from their Austin, TX classic car business to Mexico City as they attempt to track down a rare 1937 Type 57 Bugatti. Before you really get to know Yusuf and Antonio, their search takes an unexpected turn and the guysChrome Underground are forced into a backup plan. They decide they need to hire some muscle and a third player is introduced. Andrew McLaren (great name for a show about cars!) joins Yusuf and Antonio as a mercenary and apparently will travel with them in future episodes. “Why would anyone need a mercenary with them to buy a car?” you might ask. Because cars that cost as much as a house need to be protected. Whether or not that is a valid answer does not matter because it makes for good television.

Most of the episode plays out like an hour of Jack Bauer’s life. But things slow down about 15 minutes in when we leave Mexico City and find ourselves at Motoreum, Yusuf and Antonio’s classic car shop. The scene gives a glimpse into the normal day-to-day operation and even features rust, a much more common enemy to classic car collectors. However, as devastating as rust can be, rust never carries an automatic weapon. I’m sure the mechanic back at the shop was disgusted when he realized that the car he was working on was in really bad shape. Unfortunately, the transition from mercenaries and scammers to rusty floor pans is about as smooth as a crash test. On the plus side, the segment doesn’t last long at all and the action picks up immediately after.

Chrome Underground is a fun departure from the ever-expanding list of car-themed shows. It is fast-paced and exciting, yet informative and features some crazy cars. And there are thugs with automatic weapons (?!?). After one episode, I’m looking forward to more rare cars and dangerous scenarios. Hopefully the rest of the series will be as entertaining.

1951 General Motors Le Sabre XP-8

1951 General Motors Le Sabre XP-8

The High Museum in Atlanta, Georgia is offering a special opportunity to see creations from the likes of Harley J. Earl, Norman Timbs, Jean Bugatti, Pininfarina and more this spring and summer at a special exhibit appropriately called, Dream Cars.  I say appropriately, because, although “dream cars” was the term used for concept cars in the past, I personally remember staring at pictures and dreaming of a day when I might drive a car like the 1970 Pininfarina (Ferrari) Modulo or Lancia (Bertone) Stratos HF Zero as a young burgeoning car enthusiast.  And those cars were already a few years old by the time I was born.

1956 Buick Centurion XP-301

1956 Buick Centurion XP-301

More impressively, though, I recall conversations with elders about the futuristic “flying” turbine-engine cars that General Motors built, such as the 1953 Firebird XP-21 that was on display at the 1954 Motorama and the 1951 Le Sabre XP-8 that designer Harley Earl, himself, used as his personal car and featured rain sensors that would automatically close the power top, as well as electrically heated seats and 12-volt componentry.

These conversations from the past became present as AutoAcademics was invited to preview the exhibit where the previously mentioned cars, as well as others, are on display.  Truly a sight to see, as features that only became standard on modern vehicles a handful of years ago were conceptualized and implemented (to an extent) over 60 years prior.

And we mustn’t fail to mention the unrivaled design studies that each of these cars presented.  The panoramic views, wings and fins, and space-age materials used told of a not too distant future where commuters would be able to fly to work via their alternative-fueled turbine–powered engines or shuttle the extended family to a remote vacation spot while everyone aboard enjoys the comforts of home in a 1936 precursor to the modern minivan.

1936 Stout Scarab

1936 Stout Scarab

The vehicles in the Dream Cars exhibit are truly amazing, inspiring, and beautiful works of art.  And AutoAcademics recommends that if you have even the slightest interest in automobiles, be it a passion, hobby, or just plain mode of transportation, this exhibition is a rare experience that should not be missed.

Dream Cars will be on display at the High Museum in Atlanta, GA from May 21-September 7, 2014.  Tickets prices range from $12.00-$19.50.  Children under 6 are free.  Visit https://www.high.org/Art/Exhibitions/Dream-Cars.aspx for more info.

Watch an overview of the 1941 Chrysler Thunderbolt, as well as take a look at some of the other cars on exhibit in the video below.

 

 

2015 Lincoln MKC

Personalized luxury is how the 2015 Lincoln MKC aims to “Engage Your Senses.”  In collaboration with the Mandarin Oriental Atlanta Hotel and Spa, Lincoln displayed how customer service and luxury go hand-in-hand, no matter the product.

Identified as a reinvention for the company, The Lincoln Motor Company is using the launch of the 2015 MKC to continue its quest toward targeting younger, more diverse customers who are pursuing a more personal purchasing and ownership experience.

We, at AutoAcademics, say “Better late than never.”  Quite a few of Lincoln’s competitors began their rejuvenation a number of years ago and are now reaping the fruits of their labor.

According to Lincoln, “MKC gives Lincoln a compelling offering in the small premium utility vehicle segment, the fastest-growing part of the luxury market… The segment growth is being driven by new luxury buyers who are coming into affluence, as well as by current luxury owners who are moving from larger vehicles to smaller ones as their life desires change.”

2015 Lincoln MKC split-wing grilleThe 2015 Lincoln MKC definitely appears to be a good vehicle to accompany the updated in 2013 MKZ sedan in this movement.  Its exterior design is compact and athletic, with arguably a better proportioned split-wing grille, when compared to other Lincoln models, which is flanked by L.E.D. accent lighting on the front end.  Numerous wheel styles and sizes are available and creative convenience lighting anticipates your arrival, not unlike what staff members at the Mandarin Oriental do for their guests, by projecting Lincoln-logo “welcome mats” in front of the doors as you approach.  In back, the wrap-around liftgate accentuates the unique design of the 2015 MKC.

Inside, premium appointments, such as Bridge of Weir Deepsoft Leather, open-pore wood trim, and unique door-panel stitching offer luxurious levels of detail unforeseen in this class.

Under the hood, an all-new 2.3L 4-cylinder EcoBoost engine that makes a class-leading 285-hp / 304 lb.-ft. of torque is available alongside the standard 240-hp 2.0L EcoBoost that is currently in service in other Ford vehicles.  Both engines are mated to a 6-speed SelectShift automatic transmission with paddle shifting.

EPA estimated fuel economy is rated at 20 mpg city/29 mpg highway for the 2.0L FWD model, 19/26 for the 2.0L AWD version, and 18/26 for the 2.3L with AWD.

Other available features include Lincoln Drive Control, which is a continuously variable suspension, Enhanced THX II Certified Audio System, active noise control, adaptive cruise control and collision warning, lane-keeping system, cross-traffic alert, and SYNC with MyLincoln Touch.

A class-exclusive feature is the available park-out assist technology.  This feature takes the active park assist capabilities a step further by steering drivers out of tight parking spaces.

Finally, Lincoln has partnered with Les Clefs d’Or, the international association of professional hotel concierges, to provide 2015 Lincoln MKC interiorLincoln dealers with specialized personal-service training.  Dealers will also offer Lincoln Date Night, an extended test-drive that offers qualified buyers the opportunity to experience “ownership” of the vehicle for up to 48 hours, as well as Lincoln Concierge, an online-based assistant that guides visitors through the car-buying process.

At a starting price of $33,100 for the front-wheel drive 2.0L EcoBoost and $39,965 for the 2.3L EcoBoost with all-wheel drive, Lincoln anticipates that the 2015 MKC possesses the levels of personalized luxury and technology that might just pique enough buyers’ senses to help reinvent the brand.

 

Contact www.autoacademics.net for more info or to schedule a test drive near you.

Check out video of the 2015 Lincoln MKC below.

2014 GAAMA Family Choice Challenge Winners

By:  Nick Palermo

Greater Atlanta Automotive Media Association (GAAMA) named winners at its second-annual Family Choice Challenge event held last week at Lake Lanier Islands Resort north of Atlanta. Automotive and lifestyle journalists chose the 2015 Hyundai Genesis as Top Family Choice, while five other family-friendly models earned category awards.

Hyundai’s impressive Genesis sedan is completely redesigned for the 2015 model year. The Genesis earned high marks from judges thanks to its handsome styling, comfortable and spacious cabin, technology-rich features and strong overall value. An average score of 31.2 (out of a possible 35 points) outpaced nineteen competitors to earn top honors.

“A sport sedan like the 2015 Hyundai Genesis is attractive to drivers that want a family car but don’t want to sacrifice on style and performance,” said Nick Palermo, GAAMA president. “The Genesis earned its place as 2014 Top Family Choice by exceeding expectations. Although the previous-generation Genesis sedan is an impressive car, this new model again raises the bar for both Hyundai and its competitors. Families looking for accessible luxury should add the 2015 Genesis to their short lists.”

Adventure Choice: 2014 Honda Odyssey

When minivans first arrived decades ago, these spacious and efficient vehicles quickly became the go-to choice for families on the move. Although many drivers now choose SUVs and crossovers instead, minivans are still tough to beat for hauling your crew and its gear, whether around town or across the country. These capabilities helped the 2014 Honda Odyssey to victory in a category consisiting mostly of SUVs and crossovers.

The Adventure Choice category was the events most competitive, with seven entries. The Odyssey earned an average of 30.0 points to top the category. Indeed, Honda’s van has everything families need to make their next trip an adventure. A low floor makes climbing in and out easy for passengers young and old. Comfortable and flexible seating accommodates up to eight. And driving dynamics are excellent, both at highway speeds and when steering through a parking lot. Simply put, the Honda Odyssey makes family adventures simple and fun.

Value Choice: 2014 Volkswagen Jetta

With so many excellent new vehicles available today, finding a great family car is easy. But finding one that meets a family’s needs while remaining affordable can be more challenging. Fortunately, the 2014 Volkswagen Jetta is attractive and capable, with a refreshingly affordable price tag.

While the Jetta is an economical choice, the compact sedan neither looks nor feels cheap. That helped it earn an average score of 28.0, narrowly edging out the larger but pricier Nissan Altima. A starting price under $20,000 and commendable fuel economy from a standard turbocharged four-cylinder engine make the Volkswagen Jetta a smart choice for budget-minded families.

Technology Choice: 2015 Mazda6

Families will have to wait for cars that can fully drive themselves, leaving driver and passengers alike to relax and enjoy the ride. But the technology that will someday power such innovations is already available, even in affordable cars like the 2015 Mazda6. The striking midsize sedan offers such high-tech features as adaptive cruise control and forward collision warning, both of which can improve comfort and safety for families.

In addition to driver assistance systems, the Mazda6 i Grand Touring included in our challenge came equipped with Mazda’s i-ELOOP technology. The regenerative engine braking feature improves fuel economy by 2 mpg in both city and highway driving, helping the Mazda6 to earn an impressive overall average score of 28.1.

Green Choice: 2015 Ford Fusion Energi

Driving a vehicle powered by electricity rather than gasoline or diesel has both advantages and drawbacks. Electric vehicles (EVs) produce no tailpipe emissions. Plus, they are exceptionally quiet, and low fuel costs make them extraordinarily inexpensive to operate. But relatively short range and long charging times make EVs impractical for some drivers. For families, practicality is essential.

That’s why a plug-in hybrid vehicle (PHEV) like the 2015 Ford Fusion Energi is such a sensible choice for green-minded families on the go. Using electricity only, the Fusion Energi can travel 21 zero-emissions miles. When plug-in power is depleted, the sporty looking sedan operates like a gasoline-hybrid vehicle, achieving a still-commendable 43 mpg combined city/highway fuel economy rating. Long-range drives are no problem for the Fusion Energi: with a full tank of gas and a full charge, it can travel 620 miles before refueling. Those stats helped the midsize sedan earn an overall average score of 27.1.

Luxury Choice: 2015 Audi A3

Audi makes posh appointments and its upscale brand name accessible to more drivers with its new-for-2015 A3 sedan. Previously offered only as a wagon, the new Audi model squeezed past pricier players to score an average of 28.0 points. That’s an impressive feat, considering its price. The 2015 Audi A3 starts under $30,000, and the example Audi brought to the competition came in at just $32,395.

In fact, that’s half the price of the 2013 Luxury Choice winner, Audi’s flagship A8L sedan. But the A3 offers many of the same features, including an outstanding navigation system that uses Google Earth and Google Street View to offer superior functionality. Despite its affordable price, the A3 comes standard with leather seats, a turbocharged engine with a 6-speed automatic transmission and Audi’s exceptional interior build quality.

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GAAMA’s objective is to further the professionalism of the automotive media, provide a forum for newsworthy people and products connected with the automotive industry and to bring together people whose activities are related to the field of automotive journalism, public relations and related fields for the mutual benefit of all parties.

2015 Toyota Camry XSE

According to the makers of the best selling car in North America for the past 12 years, the Toyota Camry just got better.  During the reveal of the 2015 Toyota Camry at this year’s New York International Auto Show, Bill Fay, Group VP & General Manager of Toyota Division, stated “when you have a proven winner like Camry, why change it?”  But that’s just what Toyota did.  And they changed it a lot.

For 2015, the Toyota Camry receives a much updated and more aggressive exterior design, with LED low and high beams that surround a large grille.  It has a more athletic stance and a new XSE model takes the sporty design up another notch with 18″ alloy wheels and an enhanced suspension.

Inside, there are more soft-touch materials new tech features.  A 4.2″ multi-informational display is in the instrument cluster, and a segment-first wireless charging system for cell phones is now available.

Contact www.autoacademics.net for more info.

 

Check out Toyota’s press release below for more details.

April 16, 2014
NEW YORK (April 16, 2014) – So what do you do when you have the best-selling car in the industry for 12 straight years? You find ways to make it even better. That’s exactly what Toyota did with the introduction of the new 2015 Camry. After selling almost a million of the industry’s benchmark sedan since the current generation launched in 2011, Toyota stripped it down to its chassis and rebuilt it from the ground up, raising the bar yet again in the ultra-competitive mid-size sedan segment.“Customers today love the durability, quality and value that the Camry represents, but they are looking for a little more style, comfort and performance, and this 2015 Camry has all of the above,” said Bob Carter, senior vice president of automotive operations of Toyota Motor Sales, USA, Inc. “This is the new Camry, and it’s coming from the new Toyota.”Toyota designers and engineers re-imagined nearly every exterior surface of the car. Only the roof remains unchanged. The new, upscale interior features premium, soft-touch materials throughout the spacious cabin. Advanced instrumentation with intuitive controls helps keep the driver’s eyes safely on the road ahead.

Underneath the striking new exterior, the chassis and body structure are bolstered with additional spot welds, enhancing rigidity for better ride quality. A retuned suspension takes the Camry’s handling to a whole new level of responsiveness.

Two new grades, the sporty and luxurious XSE and the eco-fun Hybrid SE, join the well-equipped entry LE and the premium XLE grade, giving customers more choice than ever before.

An Expressive and Athletic Exterior

The 2015 Camry’s exterior is more expressive and athletic with prominent character lines. The new car is slightly longer (1.8 inches or 45 mm) and features a widened track (0.4 inches or 10 mm) that communicates a dynamic stance and presence.

A pronounced body line starts from the Camry’s muscular front fender and spans across the doors and rear quarter panel, conveying a sense of motion. The completely revised, more aggressive front bumper cover features a wider more prominent trapezoidal grille shape, expressing a lower center of gravity.

The 2015 Camry will be available in 10 colors, including the new Celestial Silver Metallic and Ruby Flare Pearl.

New Lighting Shines with Form and Function

The new sleek headlamps complement the aggressive front fascia, while the front turn signal indicators and LED DRL’s are integrated for an elegant appearance. The 2015 Camry will offer exterior lighting with available LED low and high-beams and auto static leveling. The Camry’s rear tail lamps sweep into the tapered sheet metal at the rear of the car. A decorative garnish connects
the tail lamps across the trunk lid and emphasizes its new sporty stance.

A Modern, Refined Interior

The interior of the new Camry is more refined than ever with premium materials, roomier feel and improved amenities. The center stack features a high-tech, upscale look that smoothly integrates with the console.

The center console tray has been redesigned to increase capacity while offering a convenient power source in the storage box. The new enclosed bin in front of the shifter now offers 12v, USB and a segment-first, available wireless charging system for select smart phones.

The 2015 Camry’s cockpit offers intuitive top-flight in-car electronics and displays that help reduce driver stress and distraction. The instrument panel features a new 4.2-inch TFT screen nestled between the three-dimensional Optitron gauges on the SE, XLE and XSE models. The screen’s color animation displays a wide range of vehicle functions and coordinates with the multimedia system to display audio, navigation, warnings and communications.

Detailed stitching and trim elements finished in satin chrome convey a sophisticated appearance. Varying by model, seat cover textures range from premium cloth all of the way to genuine leather and Ultrasuede with durable, high contrast French-stitching.

The Quietest Camry Ever

Toyota engineers focused on reducing unwanted wind and road noise to offer an even quieter cabin. Window and door seals were improved to keep noise outside. The carpet features 30 percent more insulating material.  Even the Camry’s side mirrors were redesigned to better control air flow reducing turbulence and noise.

Dialing Up Driving Dynamics

Additional spot welds were added to the door opening flanges to increase rigidity and enable spirited handling. A combination of Macpherson struts up front, a multi-link arrangement at the rear and a stiffer body structure allows for unique suspension tuning across trim levels.

The electric power steering on all Camry models is tuned for better on-center feel, better straight line stability and more direct-feeling steering inputs. In addition to improvements in steering feel, the new Camry’s hydraulic system has been revised with a two-stage brake booster to improve brake feel.

The Camry will continue to be available with 2.5-liter four-cylinder or 3.5-liter V6 gas engines paired with 6-speed automatic transmissions, or a 2.5-liter Atkinson Cycle engine with Hybrid Synergy drive matched to an E-CVT.

Making the Grade

In 2011, Toyota launched the sporty Camry SE grade, resulting in attracting buyers that were 12 years younger than the rest of the segment average. The SE model now accounts for 45 percent of the Camry sales mix, proving that drivers want sportier models.

Building on this success, the Camry XSE grade gives customers more of what they want with enthusiastic driving dynamics and luxurious amenities. The Camry SE and XSE are distinguished by a unique mesh grille and fascia treatment. The Camry XSE adds to its edgier look with model-specific 18-inch wheels, unique shock absorbers, firmer bushings, higher rate coil springs, and unique EPS tuning, making it the sportiest Camry yet.

Also for 2015, a Camry Hybrid SE has been added to the lineup with unique dynamic suspension tuning that delivers an eco-fun driving experience. Up front, a stabilizer bar, absorber valve structure, and control arm bushing components were enhanced to offer improved ride quality while sharpening steering feel. The Hybrid SE’s vehicle stability control system has been retuned for smoother intervention and a more natural driving feel.

Advanced Safety Features

All Toyota vehicles come standard with the STAR Safety System. In addition, Camry will offer safety-focused driver aids including Lane Departure Alert, Adaptive Cruise Control, Pre-Collision System with Auto High Beams, and Blind Spot Monitor with Rear Cross Traffic Alert.

Everybody’s All-American

Every Camry sold in North America is the product of over 7,000 skilled American team members. From design and engineering in Michigan, to assembly in Kentucky, a unique American touch goes into each Camry that rolls off of the line. The new 2015 Camry will arrive in dealerships this fall.

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About Toyota 
Toyota (NYSE:TM), the world’s top automaker and creator of the Prius, is committed to building vehicles for the way people live through our Toyota, Lexus and Scion brands.  Over the past 50 years, we’ve built more than 25 million cars and trucks in North America, where we operate 14 manufacturing plants (10 in the U.S.) and directly employ more than 40,000 people (more than 32,000 in the U.S.).  Our 1,800 North American dealerships (1,500 in the U.S.) sold more than 2.5 million cars and trucks (more than 2.2 million in the U.S.) in 2013 – and about 80 percent of all Toyota vehicles sold over the past 20 years are still on the road today.
2014 Dodge Challenger SRT

Courtesy – Chrysler Group LLC

Does the novelty of a new car wear off easily with you?  Would you like to have a new car two years in a row without any money down, yet keep the same payments?  Then this deal is for you.

Dodge is offering a new program called “Double Up,” which allows customers to lease a new 2014 Dodge Charger or Challenger for 12 months, then trade for a new 2015 Charger or Challenger for the same payment on a 36-month lease.  No questions asked.  But that’s not all.  If the customer decides to purchase the 2015 model, they will receive $1000 cash back on the purchase.

Contact http://www.autoacademics.net for more info or to schedule a test drive near you.

 

Check out the release below:

Dodge Brand Offers ‘Double-Up’ Program on 2014 Dodge Charger and Challenger

  • Get a 2014 Charger or Challenger now; trade to a 2015 Charger or Challenger and keep the same payment
  • Innovative, industry-exclusive lease program offered through end of August 2014
  • No additional down payment required on eligible 2015 models
  • Flexibility to choose a Charger or Challenger now and switch to the other model later
  • Augmented reality App coming in May; experience 2015 Charger and Challenger on tablets and mobile devices
April 14, 2014 , Auburn Hills, Mich. -
New 2015 Dodge Charger and Dodge Challenger muscle cars are coming later this year, but there is no need to wait to get into one of these performance icons.The Dodge brand has crafted the “Double-Up” program for Charger and Challenger enthusiasts. Eligible customers can lease a 2014 Charger or Challenger for 12 months, and leave the dealership with a guarantee that when they return in a year and follow program rules they will have the same lease payment on a new 2015 Charger or Challenger.

Customers can take advantage of this innovative program now through the end of August 2014.

“If you have your eye on a new Challenger or Charger, there’s no need to wait for the new models to arrive,” said Tim Kuniskis, Dodge Brand President and CEO, Chrysler Group LLC. “The Dodge Double-Up program lets you drive today’s Charger or Challenger and trade to the 2015 with no increase in payment. This is our way of thanking our loyal Charger and Challenger customers, and extending this offer to any new customers longing to get into one of these iconic muscle cars.”

Both the Charger and Challenger were strong sales performers during 2013. Last year, the Charger recorded its best annual sales since 2007, while the Challenger posted its best annual sales ever.

Under this new “Double-Up” program, eligible customers may enter into a 12-month lease for a 2014 Charger (excluding Charger SE and Charger SRT) or a 2014 Challenger (excluding Challenger SRT).

When their 12-month lease is up these eligible customers who follow program rules are guaranteed the same lease payment on a 36-month lease, with no additional down payment, on select all-new 2015 Charger or Challenger models. Customers may lease any 2015 Charger (excluding Charger SE and Charger SRT) and any 2015 Challenger (excluding Challenger SRT). If customers choose to purchase the 2015 model, they will receive $1,000 bonus cash toward the purchase of the vehicle.

Customers must use the same Dodge dealership for both transactions, lease through Chrysler Capital and follow program rules for eligibility. Customers interested in this offer should see their Dodge dealer for program terms and conditions and further information.

In addition to revealing the 2015 Dodge Charger and 2015 Dodge Challenger this week at the New York Auto Show (NYAS), the brand has created a “Dodge 2015 Experience,” which provides consumers a unique browser-based 360-degree sneak preview of the new vehicles before they are available in dealer showrooms.

Dodge enthusiasts attending the New York Auto Show, and those visiting Dodge dealerships afterwards, will have the opportunity to check out the “Dodge 2015 Experience” on iPads programmed with 2015 Charger and Challenger photos, videos and 360-degree exterior and interior views.

They will also get the first peek at the upcoming three-dimensional augmented reality App coming in May. The App will allow consumers to experience the 2015 vehicles through their own tablets or mobile devices. Users can change the vehicle color and wheels, take 360-degree tours of the inside and outside of the new vehicles and drive their Chargers or Challengers on a virtual track.

About Dodge Brand
The Dodge brand is tearing into its centennial year with a keen eye focused on the future and a desire to create vehicles customers want to drive and are proud to park in their driveways. With 100 years of history, Dodge is building on the technological advancements of the ’30s and ’40s, design evolution of the ’50s, the racing heritage of the ’60s, the horsepower of the ’70s, the efficiency of the ’80s and unbelievable styling of the ’90s as it paves the road to its future. New for 2014, Dodge is kind of a big deal with its new 2014 Dodge Durango with a new eight-speed transmission that delivers up to 25 miles per gallon (mpg) on the highway, a new 8.4-inch Uconnect infotainment center and best-in-class power, towing and driving range, in addition to its class-exclusive technology. The new Durango joins a stable that includes the new 2014 Dodge Dart, with its breakthrough 2.4-liter 184-horsepower Tigershark engine, and the celebrated 2014 Dodge Avenger. Both earned 2014 Top Safety Pick status from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS). Also new for 2014, Dodge is bringing back the legendary throwback Shaker hood and offering special 100th anniversary editions of the Charger and Challenger with unique exteriors and interiors to celebrate the centennial. Completing the 2014 Dodge lineup are the Journey with its new Crossroad model and the 30th Anniversary Grand Caravan. The Dodge lineup features five vehicles with best-in-class power, seven vehicles that deliver 25 mpg or higher, three vehicles that deliver 31 mpg or higher and three vehicles that offer seating for seven.

2014 Cadillac Escalade

© AutoAcademics

The 2014 Escalade is the final edition of the current generation full-size, truck-based SUV offered by Cadillac, prior to the arrival of an all-new from the ground up version soon to be available as a 2015 model.  In a time where many SUVs are being downsized in the name of fuel economy, luxury manufacturers continue to explore other ways to meet their green needs, while still giving affluent customers what they want.  Available in standard, ESV, Hybrid, and EXT body styles, Cadillac is offering its fair share of choices.

This time around, AutoAcademics was briefly given the keys to a 2014 Silver Coast Metallic Cadillac Escalade Luxury.  Cadillac throws in everything but the kitchen sink, as Magnetic Ride Control suspension, adaptive remote start, power sunroof, blind zone alert, heated steering wheel, heated and cooled front seats, rearview camera, and 22” 7-spoke aluminum wheels come standard on this base model.  M.S.R.P. for our luxury tester was $67,970 with top-level all-wheel drive Platinum versions starting at $83,070.

And since we mentioned it, there’s plenty of room to haul that kitchen sink.  A remote opening window resides in the power rear liftgate, providing access to a total of 108.9 cu.-ft. of cargo room when the 3rd row seating is removed.

2014 Cadillac Escalade Dash

© General Motors

Numerous features aside, the Escalade’s interior has definitely run its course, showing its age when compared to the rest of Cadillac’s youthful lineup.  On a positive note, perforated leather seating surfaces and real brushed aluminum plating with burled wood below, surround the 8” diagonal touch-screen and provide a nice contrast on the dash.  And an analog clock and wood trim on the heated steering wheel round out the luxury bullet points.

Power is provided by a 6.2L flex-fuel V8 engine that produces 403-hp, 417 lb-ft. of torque.  Mated to a 6-speed automatic transmission, this combination enables our 2WD Escalade to tow 8300 lbs.

EPA Estimated Fuel Economy is rated at 14 mpg city/18 mpg highway, with a combined rating of 16.  Mileage is drastically lower when running on E85, achieving only 10 mpg city/15 mpg highway, with a combined rating of 12 mpg.

Standard is Bose audio with navigation, consisting of a 10-speaker 5.1 surround sound system with integrated phone controls.  Introduction of Cadillac’s CUE interface has been postponed until the 2015 model.

Tri-zone automatic climate control with dials for driver and front passenger adjustment reside just below.  And individual buttons for heated and cooled front seats are present, as well.

As with many full-sized vehicles today, the 2014 Cadillac Escalade has electric pedal adjustment.  And the oversized, leather and wood adorned center armrest with dual compartments ensures that everything has a place when not in use.

Luxurious amenities are not exclusive to those up front.  Leather-lined, reclining Captain’s chairs with fold-down arm rests and heated seat cushions are standard appointments for the second row.  And plenty of head, shoulder, and legroom are as expected in a vehicle this size.  What isn’t typically expected is the minimal space in the 3rd row.

Separate rear passenger controls for the radio and other audio sources ensure that second row captains remain in control of their domain.  And adjustments for temperature are just a few button pushes away.  Footwell-located cupholders, might prove to be a risk, but thankfully 2nd row passengers each have another, with 2 more in the 3rd row.

Cadillac Escalade Cargo

© General Motors

While our driving time in the 2014 Cadillac Escalade was brief, it wasn’t our first time around the block in this vehicle.  Acceleration is brisk for an SUV weighing over 5500 lbs., and the Magnetic Ride Control suspension keeps all of that weight in check.  Not even the 22” wheel and tire combination could disturb the Escalade’s groove.  The soft brake pedal, however, does not inspire much confidence, whether driving fast or slow.

So as we wrap up our time with the 2014 Cadillac Escalade, we are reminded of all the successes this vehicle has garnered.  Big truck space and usability, wrapped up in a leather and wood adorned package, have made the Escalade an SUV of choice for many buyers.  It does now show its age, with many appointments downright outdated, but that just fills us with anticipation for what Cadillac has coming over the horizon.

Contact www.autoacademics.net for more info or to schedule a test drive near you.

2015 Ford Focus SE - front

The Ford Focus has been named the best-selling vehicle in the world for the second straight year, according to Polk, an automotive forecasting company. The 1,097,618 Focuses sold in 2013 account for an 8.1 percent increase over 2012.

Polk compiles its data from global vehicle registration data. Based on that data, the Focus edged out the Toyota Corolla each year. Larger vehicles that traditionally lead the United States in sales, like the Toyota Camry and the Ford F-150, are often much lower – or not ranked at all – on global lists.

The news couldn’t have been announced at a better time for Ford as the new Focus 4-door sedan will make its debut at the New York International Auto Show next week. The current-gen 2011-2014 Focus, designed under the company’s One Ford strategy, is a global platform that featured enhanced driving dynamics, affordable tech, and higher quality materials than previous vehicles in this class. For 2015, the Focus aims to continue this trend by offering a more upscale interior, class-leading technology, 2015 Ford Focus SE - interiorand the option of Ford’s award-winning 1.0-liter EcoBoost engine with a new 6-speed manual transmission, raising the bar in fuel efficiency among non-hybrid compact vehicles.

While the announcement of a new Focus for 2015 may not be as glamorous as the Mustang or F-150 reveals from earlier this year, it could be considered the most important of the bunch. The main reason is that we Americans are not the ones responsible for the Focus’ amazing sales numbers. More than one-third were sold in China. According to a December 2013 Forbes article, more than 80 percent of all Focuses are sold outside of the United States. By comparison, about half of all Camry and Honda Civic sales are IN the United States.

Also making news for Ford is the Fiesta, which was named the best-selling subcompact vehicle in the same Polk study. With 735,299 Fiestas registered, Ford sold more than 1.8 million small cars in 2013, a 4 percent increase over 2012.

Contact www.autoacademics.net for more info or to schedule a test drive near you.

2015 Ford Focus SE - rear

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