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The News for January 15th, 2016

Greg Kachadurian January 15, 2016 Detroit Auto Show, The News! 42 Comments

2017 Lincoln Continental

Welcome to the Hooniverse News – 2016 North American International Auto Show (Detroit) Edition! As always, this is a weekly recap of some of the biggest stories in the automotive industry which all comes from the year’s first big show. Lots of shiny new hardware was on display at this week’s show but I’ll focus on the half-a-dozen or so debuts that I found most interesting. Some are covered in more detail than others because there’s only so much a single hoon with a day job can do… Nevertheless, there’s no fluff, no bull, and just a little opinion of mine thrown in because I can. This week:

  • Lexus brings a true concept car to life with the LC 500

  • Infiniti finally debuts their all-new premium sports coupe

  • Lincoln Continental is a production-bound, seriously attractive luxury sedan

  • Honda brings back the Ridgeline for the smart, modest pickup buyer

  • The Chrysler Pacifica is the new Town & Country

  • Ford sort-of updates the Fusion but adds serious power

  • What’s your automotive news?

2017 Lexus LC 500

2016_NAIAS_Lexus_LC_500_010_384D6FC1836E6E64479891AFFA7DD02D3BD83C64

I’ll start with this one because I believe it was the biggest surprise of the show. The idea of the 2017 Lexus LC 500 has been seen before plenty of times already, but the big news here relates to the model year designation. The car you’re looking at now (with or without shielded eyes) is actually going to production exactly as it sits. This isn’t another LF-LC concept; this is a car you can actually buy and drive on the street within the next year or so.

The 2017 Lexus LC 500 is their new flagship coupe and is meant to be the strongest statement yet about the future of Lexus. It’s also the result of increased collaboration between Lexus’ design and engineering groups which helped the project overcome obstacles that would have otherwise turned it into something not nearly as exciting – in other words, it would have ended up like the last flagship coupe they made…

2016_NAIAS_Lexus_LC_500_015_127C1367B252C467C788C5F8FF57239B22C93829

But nevertheless, it looks stunning for a production-ready car. It’s sure to make jaws drop when it hits the streets; ironic given the fact that the car looks like it’s also dropped its jaw. Its athletic profile is equal parts style and wind-slicing efficiency. It’s undeniably Lexus but still looks wildly different from anything else on the road. A glass roof is standard but buyers can also opt for an exposed carbon fiber roof which helps lower the center of gravity.

Lexus engineers crafted a majority of the chassis from lightweight high-strength steel and worked overtime to give it sharper and more refined handling characteristics. This platform will become the blueprint for future front-engine, rear-wheel-drive luxury/sport coupes (maybe even a new Toyota Supra?) so no pressure. The all-new platform also focuses on optimal weight distribution by moving the engine and occupants as close to center as possible. All in all, this platform should spawn off some very interesting cars.

2016_NAIAS_Lexus_LC_500_041_EDF24DCBA00C12B286B0E695516F9E43AA08821E

To prove how much Lexus focused on driver engagement, they’ve engineered the seating position to move the driver’s hips as close to the vehicle’s center of gravity where feedback from the car is most communicative. That might be total bullshit but at least they cared enough about the joy of driving to think of it. The rest of the interior strives to be supremely comfortable and well thought out for driving pleasure. It’s also well-equipped with Lexus’ newest multimedia system, Mark Levinson or Pioneer audio, and various driver assistance systems.

Power is generated from a naturally aspirated 5.0-liter V8  – the same one found in the RC F and GS F. 467 horsepower and 389 lb.-ft. of torque is sent to the rear wheels through a quick-shifting ten-speed automatic gearbox. 0-60 mph should take about 4.5 seconds.

Pricing and availability info were not disclosed.

[Source: Lexus]

2017 Infiniti Q60

2017 Infiniti Q60

It’s been years about eight years since Infiniti unveiled an actually new sports coupe. The well-known G37 coupe first went on sale as a 2008 model and has since been face lifted and renamed, but there hasn’t been a real substantial change until now. Say hello to the actually new 2017 Infiniti Q60 set to go on sale later in 2016.

The third-generation of Infiniti’s premium sports coupe is lower, wider, and more visually expressive. With now signature Infiniti design cues and new aggressive proportions, designers aimed to make the Q60 look as fast as it [probably] is. It looks pretty similar to the concept show car they had a while back which is a good thing as far as I can tell. Besides looking… unique, the Q60 is also more aerodynamic than the models before it with a 0.28 drag coefficient.

2017 Infiniti Q60

Infiniti also thoroughly reworked the interior with high-end accents and modern-looking materials while maintaining its driver-centric layout. Infiniti modeled the interior around the concept of a “driver’s glove”, meaning the interior is always comfortable and tailored for them.

Perhaps the most exciting thing about the new Q60 is the availability of Infiniti’s bangin’ new VR30 engine. The VR30 is a 3.0-liter twin-turbocharged V6 available in 300 horsepower/295 lb.-ft. or 400 horsepower/350 lb.-ft. flavors. For those that like greater efficiency and less of that scary power thing named after a horse, there’s also a 2.0-liter turbo four option with 208 horsepower and 258 lb.-ft. of torque. Sadly, there’s no manual transmission option anymore, just a seven-speed automatic. Rear-wheel and all-wheel drive configurations are available.

2017 Infiniti Q60

Q60s equipped with the VR30 come available with the newly tuned Direct Adaptive Steering (electric). The new steering system reacts quicker and reduces “unwanted steering feel typically generated by a conventional steering system.” So, in other words, you’re intentionally getting rid of the thing actual sports car buyers want in a sports car and justify it by calling it unwanted? They say it’s tuned to provide more feedback about road surface and chassis behavior, so maybe it’s just meant to filter out the harder vibrations and give you only the ones you “want”, but I don’t like the sound of that at all coming from someone trying to sell you a sports car. I’d be more than willing to give it a try though… I’m sure at least one hoon will. Anyway, there’s also some digital suspension that probably filters out unwanted road harshness less effectively than the muted steering does it.

No pricing info has been given yet but we’ll know closer to the car’s launch later in the year. In the meantime, watch out for unwanted steering feel…. sigh.

[Source: Infiniti]

2017 Lincoln Continental

17LincolnContinental_06_HR

You were probably wondering if Lincoln was going to ride off of the critical acclaim of the concept and actually build the Lincoln Continental. It was the first gorgeous car Lincoln’s had in years and it gave us hope for the return of one of their most iconic nameplates. Well guess what? They’re building it.

Not to be outdone by other manufacturers building production cars which closely resemble the concepts, Lincoln unveiled the production-ready 2017 Continental, a proper full-sized American luxury sedan assembled in Michigan and on sale this fall. And to Lincoln’s credit, it looks like they’ve pulled out all the stops for this one.

2017 Lincoln Continental

Starting with the exterior design, you’d have to look closely to spot the differences between concept and production. It retains most of the styling cues and its general shape as well as its rather unique door handles mounted up high and disguised as some artistic trim along the lower window trim. Up front, its new signature grille is no longer split like a sad ripoff of the kidney grilles but rather one nicely detailed piece. It also features a full panoramic roof with the ability to open the front half for a sort of open top experience. The cabin is intended to help occupants rejuvenate. With private jet-inspired, 30-way adjustable, heated and cooled, massaging seats for all occupants, that sounds about right.

2017 Lincoln Continental

Effortless power comes courtesy of the Lincoln-exclusive 3.0-liter twin-turbo V6 which produces 400 horsepower and 400 lb.-ft. of torque. This isn’t just a boulevard cruiser, either; it’s available with all-wheel drive and dynamic torque vectoring so it can actually take corners with at least some degree of confidence. Driver assistance systems like 360-degree surround view, pedestrian detection, and advanced cruise control which can control speed through stop-and-go traffic.

For years Lincoln has been begging to be taken seriously as a luxury car manufacturer. With the 2017 Continental, I think they’ve earned that right.

[Source: Lincoln]

BLIPS

2017-honda-ridgeline-004-1

Honda brought out their all-new 2017 Ridgeline, a perfectly practical pickup for the casual buyer. That’s what Honda claims will differentiate the Ridgeline from other trucks on the market which focus on off-road ability and mighty towing numbers. It’s classified as a mid-sized truck and takes advantage of Honda’s packaging magic to still give it plenty of capability while keeping it to a more manageable size. It features rigid and light unibody construction and a 3.5-liter VTEC V6 with a six-speed automatic gearbox to get things moving.  It’s available with front-wheel and all-wheel drive which should be plenty to get you where you need to go. Some of its party tricks include an In-Bed trunk which can be used for storage or an industry-first In-Bed audio system for tailgating. In a nutshell, the 2017 Honda Ridgeline seems like a good, modest, intelligent pickup for people who are smart enough to know they don’t need a six-wheeled behemoth.

[Source: Honda]

002-chrysler-pacifica-1

Chrysler’s big debut was the all-new Town & Country… which they’re now calling the Pacifica. The company that invented the minivan is using their old less-than beloved SUV nameplate on one of their most important vehicles now. Interesting strategy, but perhaps more surprisingly, interesting design for once. It features new fluid-like styling all around and the new face of Chrysler, the latter of which sounds like a fancy way to say “it looks like a taller Chrysler 200”. Other big changes include a new optional Pentastar 3.6-liter V6 and a class-exclusive hybrid option with up to 30 miles of range on batteries alone. Otherwise, it’s a bigger, more comfortable, and more usable family hauler. You’re going to see a lot of them starting Q3 2016.

[Source: Chrysler]

17FusionSport_06_HR

You can probably count the changes made on the 2017 Ford Fusion on one hand, but some of those changes are pretty big. For starters, the fascia has been so subtly tweaked you’ll barely notice! And the gear selector has been replaced by a dial! And the tail lights look different! And… and… you can now get it with 325 horsepower, 350 lb.-ft. of torque, and all-wheel-drive! Yes, Ford has finally added a proper Sport line to the Fusion and it comes with an Ecoboost V6 and AWD to bring back some of the excitement. Some other notable features include adaptive sport suspension which can reduce harshness over individual bumps and the availability of a conventional hybrid and a plug-in hybrid model. The 2017 Ford Fusion goes on sale this May.

[Source: Ford]

What’s your automotive news?

whatsyourautomotivenaws

*Breathes*

That’s all I’ve got for you this week. Now it’s your turn: if you saw anything, fixed something, broke everything, or otherwise did anything even remotely car related that you want to share with your fellow hoon, sound off in the comments.

Have a good weekend.

[Image © 2016 Hooniverse/Greg Kachadurian]

 

  • Muthalovin

    Should be interesting when that VR30 from Infiniti makes it into the Z-car.

  • Greg Kachadurian

    In my news, a friend told me there was a Ferrari F40 for sale at the dealer near my office and he wasn’t lying. Holy crap this thing looks amazing! My first time seeing one.

    • Sjalabais

      If a casual “Can I take it for a spin?” yields a negative answer, “I’m writing for Hooniverse!” should do the trick.

      /in a better world

  • GTXcellent

    If Lexus was really, truly concerned with driver engagement, that LC500 would have a clutch pedal

    • The Real Number_Six

      If it weighs the same 4,000lbs as the RC, it might as well have a CVT.

  • 0A5599

    “The company that invented the minivan is using their old less-than beloved SUV nameplate on one of their most important vehicles now.”

    It’s the same marketing braintrust that thought SRT ought to be its own make, and that Rams were not Dodges anymore. I think they must have hired the ex-Ford geniuses who thought the then-new Taurus should be called the Five Hundred.

  • ramLlama

    I’m surprised that Lexus didn’t call it the SC500 (I think the SC line from the ’90s has aged remarkably well and still looks good today)

    • Rover 1

      Except perhaps, for the ‘inspired by a small motor launch’ SC430
      http://img2.netcarshow.com/Lexus-SC430_2002_800x600_wallpaper_05.jpg

      • bigredcavetroll

        I think I may have accidentally down-voted you whilst my mouse was hovering over the link. I apologize, as I didn’t mean to do that, and I’ve given you an up-vote instead.

      • Do you mean the styling or the handling. Oh, actually there’s no need to be so specific.

      • Isn’t that the car Clarkson named the worst car of all time
        “because Lexus should know better”?

  • CraigSu

    Now let’s see if Lincoln has the smarts to add a 6-inch stretch to the Continental to expand the available options in the livery (chauffeur) market.

    Hmmm…apparently not. From the Detroit Free Press: “While the car was clearly designed with the China market in mind,
    Lincoln did not create a longer-wheelbase version for the country where
    luxury buyers have a driver and the amenities are in the second row. But
    the one-size-fits-all sedan has a deliberately large
    backseat. [Mike Celentino, chief program engineer], said the car may have the footprint of a BMW
    5-Series but offers the interior space of a 7-Series.”

    Sounds like they’ve copied parts of the original Hyundai Genesis mantra: The size of a 5-series with the interior of a 7-series at the price of a 3-series. Except this puppy is estimated to sell for $75,000.

    That future low-mileage, well-cared for 2006-2008 Jaguar Vanden Plas or Super V8 I’m looking for will cost me less than 1/3 of that and has 80% or more of the same amenities.

    • Sjalabais

      …and all the Continental-engineers couldn’t sleep tonight.

      It’s strange that they don’t offer a version with the “L” on the rear lid. It’s not only about actual, measurable interior space. People that are chauffeured, and their companies, look for the distinguishing effect of a longer wheel version as well as for the actual space.

      US stretch versions (the truly long ones): Do these tend to be factorymade or coach build?

      • CraigSu

        Generally at the livery conventions/trade shows the stretch versions are displayed in the manufacturer’s space. Sometimes the stretch conversion is contracted out to a 3rd-party coach builder but the original manufacturer certainly wants the credit and its still their warranty. For example, Toyota introduced a dedicated livery version of the Avalon at the Limo Show in Las Vegas the same year that Ford announced the retirement of the Panther platform (2010?).

        Stretches that are 6-9″ in length tend to be factory. Anything beyond that is typically coach build.

  • In a departure from recent years, that new Lexus looks fantastic, except for the little bit of goofiness between the A pillar and the front wheel arch. What’s going on there?

  • Mark Jordan

    @Salguod: I think there’s a lot more wrong with the Lexus than that little bit of goofiness between the A pillar and the front wheel arch. I still can’t warm up to the current corporate “grouper” grille, the cowl is too high, and the rear 3/4 is a disaster – nothing matches (or flows) at the back end, and then they go and cover the B pillar and rear window surround with all that frit (that’s the black shit car makers use around glass – I learned that from Robert Cumberford). And chrome wheels? Really? Didn’t they go out in the 1980s? It’s like the new Corvette – all hyped up and be-spoilered, slatted and winged, a lot of “look how fast I look” styling cues, but it won’t age well. This is nowhere near as pure as the original SC400.

    • Agree that it could use a cleanup especially on the rear 3/4, but I actually like the proportions. There is something interesting about a cowl so high that it makes the roofline look impossibly low. I don’t know if it’s been done before – can’t think of any other examples.

  • Maymar

    http://media.caranddriver.com/images/media/600087/2015-mercedes-benz-c300-bluetec-hybrid-wagon-euro-spec-photo-600151-s-986×603.jpg

    It’s brown, it’s diesel, it’s a wagon, it’s AWD (from a RWD base), and here is where I gloat because we’re going to get it in Canada soon! Granted, automatic only (not so surprising from Benz), and I’m less excited about diesel than it’s something that just sort of goes along with the brand. Also, AWD’s probably superfluous, but I can deal with it. Now, I just need money. Although, at least since so many of our MB dealers are corporate-owned, if I manage to buy used somewhere down the line, it still benefits them.

  • ptschett

    Something I didn’t expect to see: the Japanese luxo coupes have more of a ‘Continental hump’ going on with their rumps than the actual Continental.
    I don’t think their overall look will age as well as the last Lincoln 2-door that had the hump:
    https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/3/3d/1996_Lincoln_Mark_VIII.jpg

    • I think those curved bits on the trunk are supposed to hint at sportiness, like little ducktail spoilers. But now that you mention it… I see how they could be interpreted as Continental humps.

    • Greg Kachadurian

      My roommate had one of those in blue. He had to sell it as a rolling chassis after something broke in the engine or the ECU.. all I remember is the engine wouldn’t stay on more than a few seconds because of fuel starvation and the replacement was on a massive back order.

  • wunno sev

    whoa how come the world isn’t ablaze about this fast Fusion? this is exactly what the Fusion has needed to be extra-dope to the nth degree. a stick shift is too much to ask in 2015, but at least make it fast, y’know? 325hp in the handsomest sedan on the market sounds pretty damn icky.

  • The LC 500 fascinates me. I like its looks way better than the LFA. If it had the latter’s unique engine and construction, I’d buy a poster.

    I like the Ridgeline, but the gap between the bed and the cab bothers me. It’s only a matter of time until I have to tell someone that the thing only LOOKS like it’s become a proper truck with a frame.

    I would have liked to see Lincoln emphasize the Continental’s hips a bit more – I think they’ve shrunk from the concept. Still, it’s a very successful design IMO. The car has enough presence to make Chrysler 300 owners jealous, but it’s still conservative enough that it should appeal to those who can afford it.

    My automotive news: I’m about to do the timing belt on my Prelude. It will be the most involved, don’t-screw-this-up thing I’ve ever done to car. It’s just a DOHC Honda, but looking back at how I’d never touched the greasy bits of a car before about 2010, I’m amazed that I’m now about to tackle one of the bigger common maintenance tasks. Hope I don’t screw this up.

    • wunno sev

      i’m in the middle of a timing belt / water pump job on my Miata. mark the belt and the cam sprockets with a paint pen, then transfer the marks to the new belt, then make sure everything’s lined up on the other end. if you turn the engine over by hand and valves don’t meet pistons, you have nothing to worry about.

      on the miata (and i bet on the prelude too), it’s not a hard job, but it is tedious. lots of stuff to unbolt and re-bolt.

      • From what I’ve read it’s a bit tricky getting the tension just right, but I’m going to bet that the main source of frustration for me will be doing all the unbolting and re-bolting in such cramped quarters. It’s tight enough that squeezing a new accessory belt between the crank pulley and the wheel well is actually tricky. Of course that pulley will be removed, but there just isn’t much space in there.

        http://i194.photobucket.com/albums/z313/ndrwhrnr/DSC_2386_zpsd8d0a52b.jpg

        • wunno sev

          it’ll seem like a lot more with the pulleys and that flying saucer out of the way.

          • Cruise control will be known from now on as The Flying Saucer.

      • I tried turning my son’s Audi 2.8 after putting on the new timing belt. I was 1 tooth off and bent the valves.. I couldn’t believe how thin the valve stems were. I was too cheap to buy the tool to hold the camshafts in place, so I tried to make one….bad idea. $400 bad.

        • PaulE

          I just finished that job (and a bunch more) on a project A6 2.7T last night. The bar to hold the cams in line with engine at TDC is really critical. I had the extra fun task of replacing the front crank seal (PCV blockage popped the front seal = massive oil leak = soaked belts = extra fun). Now to chase down CEL codes…

          I consider this practice for the day I have to replace the timing belt on my A6 Avant. Then again, doing the timing belt on my old LS400 was practice for the Audi…

  • jeepjeff

    News for today: it just turned into Saturday as I type this, and it’s raining in the Bay Area. I just rode home from San Jose, and I can confidently say my latest piece of motorcycle gear is fantastic: http://www.rei.com/product/789718/buff-wool-buff

    Even just folded over once, it’s super warm and it’s thin enough to tuck into my helmet around my chin. You can fold it into a beanie to hide your helmet hair when you park. It kept me cozy in a rain storm for an hour just now. Totally worth it.

  • You know, I’m totally down with the Lexus in every respect aside from the detailing.

    It’s as if they have a totally visionary designer; able to think in 3D with complete clarity, who has sculpted a wonderful form, and then reluctantly had to bolt a bunch of silly stylistic tat onto it to bring it into line with the corporate identity.

    Such a shame. Without the fussy front and rear lamps and the Hannibal Lectar grille, it would be sublime.

    • rovingardener

      Agreed. The LC would seem to be the polar opposite of the Continental I saw at the Utah Auto Show. Using outrageous styling tropes to emphasise a corporately decided “style” is hackery of the first order when done on a so-called flagship.

      By comparison the Continental has a very serious presence and yet remains serene and subdued. The door handles are very purposeful things and yet aren’t merely frippery and are made of real metal; they seem to be a welcoming gesture to come aboard your land yacht. The rest of the car is American style, which is to say, BOLD, but not in an overt fashion. If anything it reminds me of a Mark II in its lack of tacked on “drama”.

    • nanoop

      When I get mine I’ll have Foose fixing the front for me. I hear he’s great with old cars, all I’m hoping for is that he’s still in the shop in 30 years.

      • Nice set of recessed Camaro headlamps will sort it right out.

  • Un-mentioned Jeep news: supposedly the Wrangler-based pickup is (finally) a definite go! Should be a great option for those who don’t want a Colorado/Canyon/Taco/Frontier, or want a bed with Wrangler off-road ability. If they make a diesel Rubicon version I’ll be the first person with their name on the wait list.

  • Krautwursten

    How’s the reception of the Pacifica on the east coast? Will they get a special rebadge called the Atlantica?

    • Sjalabais

      Town and Country did at least cover a more significant demographic.

      • PaulE

        And Voyagers got people from town to country….

        • Krautwursten

          Wait, I thought Voyagers get people from the Delta Quadrant back to Earth.