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Seat Time: 2015 KIA K900

April 21st, 2015 at 3:39pm

KIA K900

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: K900
Model: Luxury
Type: Large Sedan Segment
Competitors: Lexus LS 460, Mercedes-Benz S550, Audi A8, BMW 740 LI
Price: MSRP  $59,500 + VIP Package $6,000 + F&H $900  =   $66,400 (as tested)
Made in: Sohari Plant, South Korea
Drivetrain: 5.0L Gas Direct Engine V8 Engine, 8-Speed Automatic Transmission
EPA Ratings: 15mpg City, 23mpg Highway, 18mpg Combined

Final Impression:
KIA K900
Over the past week I’ve been dealing with a lot of LSE, or the Lazy Susan Effect, as I call it. That’s when I see pedestrians, passengers or fellow drivers transfixed by the car I’m driving. Heads automatically roll right or left as they attempt to get a better look at it.

Now to be honest, it doesn’t happen very often, so when it does it’s sort of unique. So which so-called super car caused the latest version of LSE this past week? Something British, Italian or German perhaps? Amazingly enough, the answer is none of the above. This car was all Asian: the South Korean KIA K900.

This rear-wheel-drive car is the brand’s first foray into the luxury segment and for whatever reason the car seems to have struck a nerve.

Now maybe it’s drawing so many eyeballs on the street because some see its luxury competitors in the design; A little Jaguar on the nose perhaps, maybe a bit of Mercedes peeking out from the inside and then how about a look of Cadillac on the rear.

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Seat Time: 2015 BMW i8

April 20th, 2015 at 8:00am

BMW i8

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: BMW AG
Make: BMW
Model: i8
Type: Plug-in hybrid sports car
Competitors: Tesla Model S P85D, Porsche Panamera Plug-In
Price: $137,450
Made in: Leipzig, Germany
Drivetrain: Rear: Twin-turbo 1.5 L 3-cyl. Front: 96 kw electric motor
EPA Ratings: Gasoline: 28 mpg combined; Gas + Electric 76 MPGe

Final Impression:

BMW i8 InteriorThis is one of the most beautiful cars I’ve ever seen and one of the weirdest I’ve ever driven. If not for its super-model good looks and rocket science technology, the i8 could win medals for being one of the quirkiest car on the planet.

It starts with getting into the car. You have to duck under the flip-up doors and figure out a way to flop into the seats. The door sill is actually higher than the seats, so the easiest way is to squat down on the sill, then slide backwards and down into the seat at the same time you swivel your legs into place.

2015-BMW-i8-ingress-and-egress

If that doesn’t sound very elegant, getting out is even worse. You have to lift your legs up and over the sill, hoist your butt off the seat and onto the sill, and then duck out from under the door. I hope you’re in good shape because most people physically struggle to get out of the car. And I defy you to find a woman who will do this in a skirt.

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AAH #283 – No Love Lost Between Me & My EV

April 17th, 2015 at 3:04pm

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UP FOR DISCUSSION:
- The CT6 is NOT the vehicle Cadillac needs
- Will Fiat Chrysler find a third partner or a buyer?
- Volt production pauses and the price of the Spark EV drops
- Furious 7 is the highest-grossing film in that franchise

All that and much more with Gary Vasilash, Automotive Design & Production; Aaron Gold, About.com; Mark Phelan, Detroit Free Press; Chris Paukert, Automotive Freelancer.

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

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Auto Tune: “In My Gremlin” by the Rave-Ups

April 15th, 2015 at 3:00pm

Driving, riding, roads and of course cars themselves have all been immortalized by writers, composers and musicians around the world. Auto Tune is our way to spotlight a unique transportation song to celebrate these “ridden” gems along with the artists or composers who crafted them. Some you may know, many we’re sure you don’t.

The Rave-UpsYou may remember the band from its angst-ridden ‘80s hit “Positively Lost Me.” You might recognize the band from its brief appearance in the John Hughes blockbuster “Pretty in Pink.” Then again, perhaps you’ve heard the founder and lead singer, Jimmer Podrasky, is the cousin to our Chief Justice of the Supreme Court John Roberts.

However, you may or may not know The Rave-Ups, this “alt country” or “punkabilly” band which only put out three albums before its demise, did craft one of the greatest “Auto Tunes” dedicated to arguably one of the worst cars of all time entitled “In My Gremlin.” Yes, it was sort of an ‘80s anti-version of one of those epic 1960s Cali cars songs complete with the rather rough harmonies (on purpose) and even a nod to the Beach Boys’ 409, though that song never asked “Do you have a buck for gas?”

Like the car itself, this band and this song isn’t for everyone, but if you’re nostalgic for a 1970-78 Gremlin, this song may just put that hankering on ice.

- Chip Drake, Executive Producer, Autoline

Seat Time: 2015 Mercedes-Benz G550

April 13th, 2015 at 9:00am

2013 Mercedes-Benz G550.

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-Benz
Make: Mercedes-Benz
Model: G550
Type: Sport Utility Vehicle
Competitors: Lexus LX, Land Rover Range Rover, Toyota Land Cruiser, Cadillac Escalade, Lincoln Navigator
Price: $115,400 (Suggested Retail Price); $116,525 (As Tested w/ Optional Packages)
Made in: Graz, Austria (by hand)
Drivetrain: 5.5 Liter V-8 (382 Horsepower, 391 lb-ft Torque)
EPA Ratings: 12city, 15highway, 13combined

Final Impression:
2013 Mercedes-Benz G550.I’ve loved the look of the G-Wagon since I first spied one in 1986 parked in the Hollywood Hills. Now, since Mercedes didn’t start selling the SUV in America until 2002 (as an ’03 model), you might be wondering what a G was doing in LA some 16 years early. Well, since it was Steven Spielberg’s personal vehicle, and he had just finished raking in all that cash from the first two installments of the Indiana Jones series, importing one straight from the factory in Graz, Austria didn’t seem to be a problem.

And as far as I’m concerned, whether it was Hollywood 1986 or Detroit 2015, the Mercedes-Benz G-Class is a work of art. Its striking boxy structure continues to stand out on the road differentiating itself from every other SUV out there. From the grill to the trim to the rear door mounted spare, it’s as beautiful as a Sinatra standard.

2013 Mercedes-Benz G550

But as any aging super model will attest, beauty only gets you so far. And that’s kind of the way I now feel about the G550 after recently having my first opportunity to drive it; sometimes, as they say, it’s better to love from afar.

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AAH #282 – Rini, Steve & the Safety Strut

April 10th, 2015 at 3:05pm

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UP FOR DISCUSSION:
- NY Auto Show one week later: Who were YOUR winners and losers?
- Tesla Q1 Sales: How does a company get so much attention with zero advertising?
- And the 2015 World Car of the Year is… definitely not American.
- Who’s insulting Mary Barra with this poster?

SPECIAL GUEST: Rini Sherony, Sr. Principal Engineer, Toyota
- Inside Toyota pedestrian safety with its walking dummies, “Steve” and “Steve Jr.”

All that and much more with John McElroy, Autoline.tv; Gary Vasilash, Automotive Design & Production; Jeff Gilbert, WWJ.

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

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!

Seat Time: 2015 Volkswagen Golf Sportwagen

April 9th, 2015 at 9:00am

Volkswagen Golf Sportwagen

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: Volkswagen
Make: Volkswagen
Model: Golf Sportwagen
Type: Station Wagon
Competitors: Subaru Outback, Subaru XV Crosstrek, Toyota Prius v
Price: Gasoline model starts at $22,215; Diesel model starts at $25,415
Made in: Puebla, Mexico
Drivetrain: 1.8L turbocharged four-cylinder gasoline engine with direct injection mated to five-speed manual transmission or six-speed automatic transmission. 2.0L turbocharged diesel engine with direct injection mated to six-speed manual transmission or six-speed dual clutch transmission.
EPA Ratings: 1.8L w/ manual, 25 MPG city, 36 MPG highway, 29 MPG combined; 1.8L w/ automatic, 25 MPG city, 35 MPG highway, 29 MPG combined. 2.0L w/ manual, 31 MPG city, 43 MPG highway, 35 MPG combined; 2.0L w/ automatic 31 MPG city, 42 MPG highway, 35 MPG combined.

Final Impression:
Volkswagen Golf SportwagenLast year Volkswagen introduced the all-new Golf family whose line-up includes a gasoline powered version, a diesel model, an electric version plus two performance variants, the GTI and R. And now the Golf family is about to get bigger. Starting this month, the new Golf Sportwagen hits dealerships in the U.S. The new wagon, which replaces the Jetta Sportwagen, is built on the same MQB architecture as the Golf.

Not surprisingly it looks pretty much the same as the hatchback version except bigger. There’s plenty of room up front for the driver and passenger but taller occupants will feel cramped in the back seat. There is plenty of trunk space and if more room is needed the rear seats fold flat.
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Auto Tune: “Be Thankful For What You’ve Got” by William DeVaughn

April 8th, 2015 at 3:00pm

Driving, riding, roads and of course cars themselves have all been immortalized by writers, composers and musicians around the world. Auto Tune is our way to spotlight a unique transportation song to celebrate these “ridden” gems along with the artists or composers who crafted them. Some you may know, many we’re sure you don’t.

william_devaughnIn the early ‘70s, government worker William DeVaughn had a dream. As a singer, songwriter and guitarist, he hoped to move from the office to the studio and record music for a living. His first effort, which he wrote in 1972 while still pushing papers, was entitled “A Cadillac Don’t Come Easy.” His Philly producers, members of the soon to be famous MSFB session musicians – remember TSOP you Soul Train fans – had him change the title, gave the song a tasty groove and when it was released in 1974 William DeVaughn had a hit on his hands. The song, now called “Be Thankful For What You Got” became known as the Curtis Mayfield song that had nothing to do with the great artist. “Thankful” was so similar to his style many thought it was written and performed by Mayfield which may have contributed to DeVaughn’s inability to stay in music.

Shoot 40 years into the future and if Cadillac wants to be relevant with the hipsters as well as the hip-hop crowd, it probably wouldn’t hurt it to reach back to 1974 and use “Be Thankful For What You’ve Got” in a campaign or two. If you’ve never heard it just click on the link to check it out.

- Chip Drake, Executive Producer, Autoline

Full Coverage of the 2015 New York International Auto Show

April 6th, 2015 at 2:37pm

Get our full roster of New York Auto Show coverage! With first looks ranging from Cadillac‘s headturning CT6 to Jaguar‘s deceptively familiar XF sports sedan to Lincoln‘s surprising, stunning and controversial Continental concept, there’s something for everybody.

Click the Play button above to watch all of Autoline’s coverage in one convenient spot. Or, jump to an individual interview below.

Lexus Group VP & GM Jeff Bracken with Lexus RX
Global Chevrolet Cars Exec. Dir. of Design John Cafaro with Chevrolet Malibu
Scion Division Group VP Doug Murtha with Scion iA & iM
JLRNA General Manager, Product Planning Rob Filipovic with Jaguar XF
Kia Motors America VP, Product Planning Orth Hedrick with Kia Optima
Cadillac Chief Engineer Dave Leone with Cadillac CT6
MBUSA General Mgr., Product Management, Bart Herring with Mercedes GLE
Lincoln Design Director David Woodhouse with Lincoln Continental Concept

AAH #281 – Maximum Luxury at the Big Apple Auto Show

April 3rd, 2015 at 12:06am

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UP FOR DISCUSSION: New York Auto Show Wrap-up
- Cadillac CT6: How does the much-awaited flagship stack up?
- Scion iA & iM: Is this the product the brand so dearly needs?
- Lexus RX: How will drivers take to the new styling of the CUV that started it all?

SPECIAL GUEST: Pierre Loing, Vice President, Product Planning, Nissan North America
- Inside the all-new Maxima and look behind the curtain of Nissan’s product strategy

All that and much more with John McElroy, Autoline.tv; Michelle Krebs, AutoTrader; Jamie Lincoln Kitman, Automobile; Joe Phillippi, AutoTrends Consulting.

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

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!