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Seat Time: 2015 Mercedes-Benz Sprinter

November 6th, 2014 at 3:00pm

2015 Mercedes-Benz Sprinter

Seat Time is a chance for us to share our impressions of vehicles being tested in the Autoline Garage and at media previews from around the globe.

Reviewer: Chip Drake
Manufacturer: Daimler
Make: Mercedes-Benz
Model: Sprinter
Type: Van (Cargo, Crew, Cab Chassis, MiniBus & Passenger)
Competitors: Ford, Chevy, GMC, Nissan
Price: Ranges from (on the low end) 3500 Cab Chassis $35,310 to (high end) Sprinter 2500 Passenger Van $46,180 (options: V6–$985; High Roof $2495) D&D: $995
Made in: Dusseldorf, Germany (vans manufactured, disassembled & shipped); Ladson, South Carolina (U.S. assembly plant)
Drivetrain: Standard Engine: 4-cylinder Turbodiesel (161 hp/266 lb-ft); Optional Engine: 3-liter V6 Turbodiesel (188hp/325 lb-ft)
EPA Ratings: Mercedes Estimates: 4-cylinder Highway– 28-29; V6 Highway–24.9

Final Impression:
2015 Mercedes-Benz Sprinter InteriorI remember being enthralled with the lunar rover. You know, that dune buggy on steroids that our Apollo astronauts drove around the moon. Just imagine what it would be like to get behind the wheel of that thing: no roof, oversized wheels and the original satellite system that would take you anywhere… well, anywhere – that is — you could go on the moon. At that time in my young life, that was that darnedest
thing I’d even seen a vehicle do.

Well, last week Mercedes-Benz went ahead and practically destroyed those memories when it showed off its 2015 Sprinter. Ouch! Did I really just write that? Indeed I did.

Now I don’t want to claim that this oversized Lego on wheels is the second coming of those ultra-cool lunar rovers, but what I saw these vans do at a media drive last week was uncommon to say the least.

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Seat Time: 2015 Ford Expedition Limited 4×4

November 4th, 2014 at 3:00pm

2015 Ford Expedition

Seat Time is a chance for us to share our impressions of vehicles being tested in the Autoline Garage and at media previews from around the globe.

Reviewer: John McElroy
Manufacturer: Ford Motor Company
Make: Ford
Model: Expedition Limited 4×4
Type: Full-size SUV
Competitors: Chevrolet Suburban, Toyota Sequoia, Nissan Armada
Price: $53995
Made in: Louisville, Kentucky
Drivetrain: 3.5 L V-6; 6-speed automatic
EPA Ratings: 15 city/20 highway/17 combined. Observed: 17.4 mpg

Final Impression:
2015 Ford ExpeditionFord did a pretty good refresh of the Expedition, just in time to compete with the all-new redesign of the Chevrolet Suburban. Though Ford’s changes are far more modest than the clean-sheet approach that Chevrolet took, it got a lot of bang for its buck.

Returning buyers will be very pleased with the way the new Expedition drives. The Ecoboost 3.5 liter V-6 easily outperforms the bigger 5.4 liter V-8 that it replaces. And it’s not just that the new engine is faster, it feels better. You’ll find that accelerating onto highways, passing on two-lane roads, or simply tipping into the accelerator to pick up speed seems to happen effortlessly. It just makes dealing with traffic that much easier, which truly improves your driving enjoyment. Better still, the 2015 Expedition is quieter than before. Even at 80 mph the cabin is reasonably quiet, though obviously that depends on the quality of the road surface. Nontheless, this is a vehicle that is very comfortable on long trips.

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Seat Time: 2015 Dodge Charger

November 3rd, 2014 at 3:00pm

2015 Dodge Charger R/T

Seat Time is a chance for us to share our impressions of vehicles being tested in the Autoline Garage and at media previews from around the globe.

Reviewer: Seamus McElroy
Manufacturer: Fiat-Chrysler
Make: Dodge
Model: Charger
Type: 4-door sedan
Competitors: Ford Taurus, Chevy Impala, Nissan Maxima
Price: Base price – $28,990, SRT Hellcat – $64,990
Made in: Brampton, Ontario, Canada
Drivetrain: 3.6L V6, 5.7L HEMI V8, 6.4L HEMI V8, 6.2L HEMI V8. All engines mated to 8-speed automatic transmission
EPA Ratings: 3.6L V6 – 19 city/ 31 hwy. (RWD) 18 city/ 27 hwy. (AWD). 5.7L, 6.4L, 6.2L – N/A.

Final Impression:
2015 Dodge Charger R/TThe first thing you’ll notice about the 2015 Charger is its new design. Most notably, the familiar Dodge crosshair is not as prominent as it was on the previous car or it’s been eliminated depending on the model. And it also features new headlights that are pushed to the corners to help give the car a wider look. Pretty much everything on the exterior is new, the roof and the rear door are the only carry over body parts from the previous Charger. And the high performance models all come with unique front and rear fascias and side sills specific to the model.

The interior also features new styling, including a 7-inch customizable driver info display, a new center stack and a new steering wheel that’s available with paddle shifters. Speaking of the shifter, that’s all new too, thanks to the new 8-speed auto transmission. Overall, I liked the interior thanks to its simple layout. It can be overwhelming sometimes with all the buttons in new cars but the Charger’s are kept to a minimum which makes it easier to locate the button you are looking for.

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AAH #264 – An Update on Achates’ Revolutionary Engine

October 31st, 2014 at 4:25pm

Audio-only version:

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UP FOR DISCUSSION:
- What to expect from Chevy’s Next-Gen Volt.
- Tales from Racing Legend Dan Gurney.
- Gary drives VW’s e-Golf in Deutschland.
- One truck brand’s promo goes viral — in a very bad way.

SPECIAL GUEST: David Johnson, Achates Power

All that and much more with John McElroy, Autoline.tv; Gary Vasilash, Automotive Design & Production; Lindsay Brooke, SAE.

Thanks to our sponsor who makes Autoline After Hours possible: Bridgestone

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Seat Time: 2015 Honda CR-V

October 29th, 2014 at 3:00pm

2015 Honda CR-V

Seat Time is a chance for us to share our impressions of vehicles being tested in the Autoline Garage and at media previews from around the globe.

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Reviewer: Sean McElroy
Manufacturer: Honda
Make: Honda
Model: CR-V
Type: Mid-Size CUV
Competitors: Ford Escape, Toyota RAV4, Jeep Cherokee
Price: $24,150 (base FWD LX model); $32,350 (FWD Touring model), includes destination charges
Made in: Ohio
Drivetrain: 2.4L 4-cylinder mated to new CVT transmission
EPA Ratings: 27 city/34 hwy/ 29 combined

Final Impression:
2015 Honda CR-V InteriorThe Honda CR-V is a mid-size SUV that competes against the Ford Escape, Toyota RAV4 and Jeep Cherokee. Base price starts just over $24,000, while the new Touring model, which I drove starts a bit over $32,000. It’s powered by a 2.4L 4-cylinder engine mated to a new CVT transmission. Fuel economy is 27 MPG in the city, 34 on the highway and 29 combined. You can subtract 1 mile-per-gallon for all those numbers for all-wheel-drive models.

Honda is on pace to increase sales of the CR-V this year by 5% compared to last year, once again topping 300,000 units and with 60 all-new or improved components on the 2015 model I don’t see it missing that mark. While most of the front fascia was massaged, you’d be hard pressed to tell the new model from the old at a quick glance. The most noticeable change comes in the form of new headlights that feature LED daytime running lights on trim levels above the base LX model. Two new sets of wheels are also available and the rear fascia did see some minor tweaks as well.

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Seat Time: 2015 Toyota Camry

October 28th, 2014 at 3:00pm

2015 Toyota Camry

Seat Time is a chance for us to share our impressions of vehicles being tested in the Autoline Garage and at media previews from around the globe.

Reviewer: Chip Drake
Manufacturer: Toyota
Make: Toyota
Model: Camry
Type: 4-door midsize sedan
Competitors: Honda Accord; Mazda6; Hyundai Sonata; KIA Optima; Chevy Malibu
Price: (4-cyl) LE-$22,970; SE-$23,840; XLE & XSE-$26,150; (V6) XSE & XLE-$31,370; (Hybrid) LE-$26,790; SE-$27,995; XLE-$29,980 (Delivery fee — $825)
Made in: Georgetown, Kentucky
Drivetrain: 2.5-liter 4-cylinder with 178 horsepower; 3.5-liter 6-cylinder with 268 horsepower
EPA Ratings: (4-cylinder) 25city, 35highway, 28combined; (6-cylinder) 21city, 31highway, 25combined

Final Impression:
2015 Toyota Camry InteriorIt started with nearly 2,000 new parts, new sheet metal everywhere — but the roof — and a totally upgraded interior. Add to that the claim that you spent $2 Billion (yes, that’s with a “B”) dollars and you have what Toyota is calling its “mid-cycle refresh” of its best-selling Camry.

When the latest generation came out in 2011, many of the auto meritocracy said “THAT’S the new Camry?” In other words, they were surprised that there weren’t many surprises. So even though Camry continues to sell over 400,000 units a year in the USA alone, obviously Toyota decided to go back to the drawing board to give the car the kind of “oompf” it needs to compete in that bare-knuckled midsize category.

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AAH #263 – Pony Up: Mr. Mustang Pays a Visit

October 24th, 2014 at 7:44pm

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UP FOR DISCUSSION:
- Takata air bag recalls out of control.
- Are plastic windows the next big lightweighting revolution?

SPECIAL GUEST: Dave Pericak, Mustang Chief Engineer
- Will this finally be the ‘Stang that outsells Camaro?

All that and much more with John McElroy, Autoline.tv; Henry Payne, The Detroit News; Chris Paukert, Autoblog.

Thanks to our sponsors who make Autoline After Hours possible: Bridgestone and Hyundai

Subscribe to the free podcast version of Autoline After Hours:

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Seat Time: 2014 Infiniti Q50S Hybrid

October 22nd, 2014 at 3:00pm

2014 Infiniti Q50 Hybrid Sport

Seat Time is a chance for us to share our impressions of vehicles being tested in the Autoline Garage and at media previews from around the globe.

Reviewer: Chip Drake
Manufacturer: Nissan-Renault
Make: Infiniti
Model: Q50S Hybrid
Type: 4-door sedan
Competitors: BMW 3-Series; Mercedes-Benz C-Class; Lexus IS; Audi A4
Price: MSRP-$46,350; As Tested-$53,655 ($905 Destination Charges)
Made in: Tochigi, Japan
Drivetrain: 3.5-liter HEV engine with 360 Horsepower
EPA Ratings: 28city; 34highway; 30combined

Final Impression:

2014 Infiniti Q50When Tom Wolfe first brought the story to life followed by Phillip Kaufman’s movie masterpiece, I’d always wondered what it would’ve been like to be one of those early astronauts in “The Right Stuff.” Being that I lacked a certain scientific background, among other things, I knew those dreams would never come to fruition. That is until I got behind the wheel of Infiniti’s Q50S Hybrid.

Now please don’t get me wrong; I’m not equating this Infiniti with riding the classic Saturn V or even the newer Enterprise Shuttle, but this car does have a certain “je ne sais quoi” that gives you a rocket ship experience, and it really starts with those beautiful 8-way power sport seats. The leather and lumbar wrap around you giving you a comfort quotient that prepares you for take off. And that’s just what you’re thinking when you look at the tastefully-appointed IP and information screens above the center stack. Colorful yet refined, that’s where you’re going to find all the technology and safety features this car comes equipped with. From the Infiniti entitled “In Touch Apps” to “In Tuition” which stores your preferences when you use the Intelligent Key and voice recognition to name a few, the screens are pleasing to look at and easier to use than most.

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Seat Time: 2015 KIA Sedona

October 21st, 2014 at 2:26pm

2015 Kia Sedona

Seat Time is a chance for us to share our impressions of vehicles being tested in the Autoline Garage and at media previews from around the globe.

Reviewer: Chip Drake
Manufacturer: KIA
Make: KIA
Model: Sedona
Type: Multi-Purpose Vehicle (see: Minivan)
Competitors: Honda Odyssey, Toyota Sienna; Nissan Quest
Price: L-$25,900; LX-$32,100; EX-$36,100; SX-$39,700 ($895-destination charge)
Made in: Sohari Plant; Soha-dong,Gwangmyeong, South Korea
Drivetrain: 3.3-liter V6 Lambda GDI with 276-horsepower
EPA Ratings: 18city, 24highway, 20combined

Final Impression:

2015 Kia Sedona interior“Please don’t call this a minivan!”

If we heard this once we heard it countless times during the KIA Sedona media drive launching its all-new Multi-Purpose Vehicle. Of course the KIA team wasn’t so much excoriating the media as it was making a point: that even though it looks like a minivan — with a touch more styling — and acts like a minivan with the kind of room you’re used to — this vehicle is so much more than the aforementioned family hauler. And I do have to say that after spending an afternoon driving the MPV every which way you could — freeways, neighborhoods, hilly terrain and more — this “UN-minivan” was actually fun to drive. Its new 3.3-liter V6 had more than enough power to get me anywhere I needed to and fast, with a ride that was as smooth as the SoCal surf that we passed by.

Now moving from the outside in, there’s an overabundance of soft materials surrounding the cabin — and I do mean soft. Plus, KIA has added a nicely designed and roomy center stack as well as the perfectly layed out Multi Media Interface. All this makes the front cabin more than comfortable.

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AAH #262 – Acura’s Game-Changing TLX

October 17th, 2014 at 3:00pm

Audio-only version:

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UP FOR DISCUSSION:
- Will cheap gas wreck CAFE?
- Suddenly Tesla’s Elon Musk likes dealers.
- Test drives… FROM HELL!

SPECIAL GUEST: Mat Hargett, Vice President of Acura Development & Chief Engineer, Acura TLX
- Inside the engineering of Acura’s game-changing TLX

All that and much more with John McElroy, Autoline.tv; Gary Vasilash, Automotive Design & Production; Michelle Krebs, AutoTrader Group.

Thanks to our sponsors who make Autoline After Hours possible: Bridgestone and Hyundai

Subscribe to the free podcast version of Autoline After Hours:

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Thanks to our partners and friends AutoFieldGuide.com and WardsAuto.com for embedding AAH!