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The News for January 15th, 2016

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]  

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