Welcome to the Hooniverse News! As always, this is a weekly recap of some of the biggest stories in the automotive industry without the fluff or bull. I just throw in a little opinion of mine because I can. This week:
Ford’s new Super Duty is ready to work harder and park in front of barns
Nissan Altima gets an extensive refresh for 2016
Breaking news from Volkswagen – it’s the 2016 Passat!
Buick prices the Cascada convertible
Buick Avenir styling cues headed to production with 2017 LaCrosse
Aston Martin’s next sports car will be the DB11
What’s your automotive news?
2017 Ford Super Duty
The Ford Super Duty can partake in various truck-like activities, such as parking in front of an old warehouse.
Ford is continuing to roll out updates to their hugely successful truck lineup by shifting focus to the Super Duty. All-new for 2017, the Super Duty is designed to be more advanced in both construction and available tech, more powerful, and tougher than ever (just like every new truck is).
Available as the F-250, F-350, and F-450, the new Super Duty doesn’t adopt the F-150’s aluminum frame just yet, but it does still have a new backbone that’s 24 times stiffer than the last one. The fully boxed frame comprised of more than 95% high-strength steel is central to its toughness. The new four-wheel drive components, driveline, axles, and towing hardware are also reinforced to be stronger than before. Lightness is still introduced through “military grade” aluminum alloy used for its body which helps contribute to a weight loss of up to 350 pounds depending on the model. In the steel frame for the cab, they included an open-C-channel design to enable easy aftermarket body upfit and modification.
Fun fact: there is a red barn or some other symbol of agriculture in nearly every Super Duty press photo…
All of that plus a new suite of technology (including sixteen new features that are firsts for the segment) makes towing easier for buyers. As many as seven cameras give drivers a full view of everything around the behemoth they’re driving. Those cameras are also used to provide coaching when hooking up to a trailer and one of them can even be attached to the back of a trailer for added visibility and safety.
Other new tech includes trailer tire pressure monitoring from the cabin, full LED lighting, adaptive cruise control, blind spot detection (that thing must be busy), and adaptive steering which can reduce the amount of inputs required to maneuver in tight spaces – expect that adaptive steering on more Ford products in the near future.
Ford has not yet released numbers for towing capacity or maximum payload, but expect it to be higher than before by a considerable margin. With the new steel chassis and aluminum body providing extra strength and less weight, the available 6.2-liter gas V8, 6.7-liter Power Stroke diesel V8, and 6.8-liter gas V10 engines will have a much easier time carrying more weight.
The Ford Super Duty trucks will be available in a variety of models and with five trim levels. All will go on sale late next year.
2016 Nissan Altima
Nissan is really excited about this one. I could tell because they have no less than four press releases which all cover different areas of the car. Four. Not one release, which was what Ford needed to introduce the entire Super Duty lineup. Wars have even been won with less than four press releases. I’m guessing NASA didn’t even need four press releases to announce the moon landing; I tried to verify but ended up being distracted by this awesome 252 page press kit of the entire Apollo 11 mission.
Anyway, the 2016 Nissan Altima is a well needed redesign for the mid-size sedan that’s seen growing sales for the last five years consecutively. Along with the new looks inside and out, they’ve also enhanced performance, greatly improved fuel efficiency, and added a new SR model for those that want a more sporty drive every day. It’s not actually an all-new car, rather an extensive mid-cycle refresh. But even the slightest refreshing can go a long way in extending the life of a car on dealership lots.
The new styling on the Altima embraces Nissan’s “Energetic Flow” design language already seen on the new Murano and Maxima. The face in particular is completely new with a lower front fascia and a “V-motion” front grille and bumper. New LED boomerang headlights and wider tail lights also make a noticeable difference. The hood is new and its sides have more exaggerated lines to make it look more interesting. Apart from making it look more unique (for its segment), the styling also helps reduce drag by 10%.
Beneath the new body panels are updates to the structure which reduce weight, add rigidity, and provide for a more refined ride. The cabin is quieter now thanks to an acoustic (laminated glass) windshield and a larger muffler. New engine mounts also aim to reduce vibrations in the cabin.
A majority of the interior updates were made to the center console with simplified controls and new available tech. Most models come standard with a five-inch color audio display that can also be used for the backup camera and NissanConnect. The latter allows drivers and passengers to stay connected to the digital world when on the move so they can do a Google search to see if they’re allowed to text and drive in their state. What’s the worst that could happen? Besides the infotainment options, the Altima is packed with plenty of other new tech that can keep all occupants busy.
Engine options continue to include the 2.5-liter inline-four with 182 horsepower and the 3.5-liter V6 with 270 horsepower. The four-banger sees a dramatic one mpg increase on the highway which brings it to 39 mpg, the highest of its kind (not including optional engine packages). The Xtronic CVT is the only transmission mentioned in their releases. The four-wheel independent suspension has also been enhanced to offer better driving dynamics and ride quality.
On top of everything mentioned above, Nissan will also offer the 2016 Altima with a new SR grade which offers more style and more fun at a reasonable price. It’s not like other sport models which go over the top with extra equipment, rather it’s found a sweet spot where high end options are replaced by ones that add an extra kick. Both engines are available on this model and it comes with unique suspension components such as revised dampers and much stiffer front and rear stabilizer bars. Another unique feature is the 18″ machine-finished aluminum-alloy wheel/tire combo. A few subtle exterior touches like smoked headlight housings and a rear decklid spoiler make this one a bit different from the others. Occupants will notice blue stitching on the seats, steering wheel, and shift knob. And yes, it does still have those paddles which can make the CVT imitate gear shifts…
Basically, this as close to an all-new Altima as we’ll get for at least a few more years. The only pricing info I could find in their FOUR SEPARATE PRESS RELEASES was the $22,500 MSRP and $825 destination charge. The 2016 Nissan Altima will go on sale in the US this November.
2016 Volkswagen Passat
We’ve got some groundbreaking news from Volkswagen this week… it’s the new 2016 Passat! Boasting revised styling and new tech, VW’s Chattanooga-built mid-size car aims to raise the bar again with a car that looks a little less like a larger Jetta than before.
The media launch took place in New York earlier this week which gave VW the chance to also address certain widespread rumors with esteemed members of the media in attendance. It was being reported that the German automaker had been hiding something from the US for far too long. It’s true: the R-Line trim never used to be available on US-bound Passats, but that changes now with confirmation that the long-awaited R-Line Passat is coming stateside.
VW finally came clean to admit that the 2016 Passat features more aggressive styling from a new front and rear bumper, grille, hood, front fenders, trunklid(!!!), and available LED lighting. Internal investigations will also reveal an extensively upgraded interior with a more sophisticated look and feel. A new gauge cluster and center stack show clear and accurate vehicle and entertainment information as well. Seating surfaces are upgraded and trim pieces are more premium as well. Central to the new interior and its tech is the upgraded modular infotainment platform which supports Apple CarPlay, Android Auto, and MirrorLink.
On top of that industry-shaking redesign is the available R-Line trim which adds a stylized front bumper, new rocker panels, modified rear diffuser, and nineteen-inch anthracite Salvador aluminum-alloy wheels.
Of course the big news is the wide selection of engines available on the 2016 Passat. These include a 1.8-liter turbocharged four-cylinder TSI (gas) motor, a clean 2.0-liter TDI (diesel) motor, and a powerful 3.6-liter VR6 (gas) power plant.
When equipped with the 1.8 TSI motor and a six-speed automatic transmission, the 2016 Passat starts at $22,440; full pricing info will be available later in the year.
They also may have mentioned something about admitting to cheating on diesel emissions with up to 11 million TDI engines worldwide since 2009, facing a potential fine of up to $18 billion, issuing a stop sale on all remaining 2015 TDI models, likely losing the ability to sell any TDI models next year (accounting for 20-25% of their annual sales) until some agreement is reached, their CEO resigning, and their stock values plummeting by about $20 billion. That thing.
Buick is ready to launch the Cascada convertible starting early next year. The car’s spec sheet has already been detailed but the only thing missing was its price. Not anymore. MSRP for the 2016 Cascada is $33,990 and that includes many standard features and enough comfort to live up to the Buick name. It’s the first Buick convertible in 25 years and it looks promising enough to be a worthy successor to the legendary Reatta Convertible.
For more Buick news that might interest you, there’s an all-new LaCrosse coming this November to the Los Angeles Auto Show. We’ve got a teaser shot so far as well as confirmation that it’s sporting many of the design cues from the stunning Avenir concept. The new grille alone is evidence that Buick designers liked the Avenir as much as we did. More information as we get it…
Now to the other side of the pond, Aston Martin has confirmed that their next sports car will be called the DB11. As the name indicates, this will take the spot of the DB9 at the heart of the company’s lineup. It will also serve as the first major product of their new Second Century Plan. That all makes it seem like a groundbreaking car, but we won’t know for sure until it’s shown sometime in 2016.
[Source: Aston Martin]
What’s your automotive news?
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Last Monday was beautiful. By that I don’t mean the weather (which wasn’t too great), but rather it was because I had a day off from work and four tires on my car that were scheduled to be replaced a few days later. So naturally, mountains. All four made the kind of noises I’d normally try to avoid, but in that moment I didn’t care as long as they didn’t explode. I followed those ribbons of tarmac for hours and explored one of the most beautiful areas of Georgia (might not be saying too much). It was a successful day and I now have four shiny new Bridgestone DriveGuards. They make a world of difference compared to the type of Continentals my car came with.
So what about you? If you saw anything, drove something, broke everything, or otherwise did anything newsworthy that you want to share with your fellow hoon, sound off in the comments.
[Image © 2015 Hooniverse/Greg Kachadurian]