Posts by Justin Hyde

  • 2016 Audi R8 ups the supercar ante with 610 hp, all-electric edition

    Justin Hyde at Motoramic 1 day ago

    In the annals of supercars, the Audi R8 has always suffered from the curse of the tweener. While successful in racing, it's overshadowed by the Le Mans-dominating Audi diesel race cars; inside the Volkswagen empire, the shadow comes from the Lamborghinis that use the same V-10. With Porsche assimilated into VW, there's even more potential for internecine thunder-stealing.

    So Audi decided to ensure the new R8 has thunder to spare.

    The 2016 model that will be shown live for the first time in Geneva next week hones the R8 into more of a pure sportscar. The V-8 editions are cast out (for now); the only power source is the V-10, either in 540 hp or 610 hp states of tune, equal to what's granted those flashy Italian models. Power runs through a refreshed seven-speed automatic transmission and a bolstered Quattro all-wheel-drive system which will route all of it to either the front or rear axles as called for. And the revised aluminum-and-carbon fiber chassis sheds 110 lbs. from the first generation R8 — a necessary move, as it's the basis for the GT3 race-car edition.

  • Lexus, Buick top J.D. Power reliability survey, but tech bugs still common

    Justin Hyde at Motoramic 2 days ago

    The J.D. Power Vehicle Dependability Study, a two-decade look at the problems in cars and trucks after three years of ownership, has been a glass half-full/half-empty exercise for a few years now. If you're an optimist, you'd say the list of most-reported faults — led by bad Bluetooth connections and poor understanding of voice commands — are the very definition of #firstworldproblems.

    But this year survey contends those problems are becoming a defining part of owning a vehicle in the 21st century, and will be the difference between a car owner who comes back for more and one who decides to pair their smartphones with another brand.

    “At the three-year point, many owners are thinking about replacing their vehicles, and we find that how they feel about their current vehicle’s quality and dependability impacts their intent to consider purchasing the same brand again,” said Renee Stephens, vice president of U.S. automotive at J.D. Power.

  • Tesla tops Consumer Reports rankings again, but Buick, Subaru gain

    Justin Hyde at Motoramic 3 days ago

    For years, the annual rankings of new cars and trucks by Consumer Reports have been a boon to import brands and trouble for American ones. Last year, that trend broke when the magazine named the Tesla Model S the best overall new vehicle, although Detroit was still under-represented in the top of the charts. This year, one Detroit brand has broken through, surging past Honda and BMW in the overall rankings and claiming the prize for best sports sedan: Buick.

    Yes, that Buick.

    GM's oldest brand ranked seventh out of 28 graded by Consumer Reports' surveys of 1.1 million vehicles owned by its subscribers and the magazine's own testing. Buick's improving reliability made it the top-ranked domestic brand, while Lexus, Mazda and Toyota held the top three spots overall.

  • Cadillac's CT6 flagship revealed in Oscars ad, sort of

    Justin Hyde at Motoramic 4 days ago

     If you stepped away from the TV during last night's Academy Awards and thought "Hey, how strange that they're doing a long bit about 'Inception' this year," you may have missed the reveal of Cadillac's newest flagship. To launch its new "Dare Greatly" tagline, Cadillac bought many minutes of ad space, much of it set to Edith Piaf's "Non, Je Ne Regrette Rien," featuring various innovative people shot in darkly innovative fashion, like Steve Wozniak and the guy who directed "Bernie."

  • The most popular new vehicle in each state? Not what you might expect

    Justin Hyde at Motoramic 7 days ago

    Sales races in the auto industry tend not to matter much beyond the desks of those who might get a free golf vacation for winning one. With nearly 300 new models of cars and trucks on the market, there's always a close competition somewhere. But rarely, if ever, do we get some geographic insight into what people are buying state by state. Do Texans really differ in their preferences that much from Colorado, or New Yorkers from New Jersey? The answer turns out to be yes.

    We asked IHS Automotive to share their count of the most popular vehicles of 2014 broken down by state. IHS Automotive's tracking differs from what automakers report in two important ways; it counts what new vehicles are registered in each state, rather than just national totals as sold by dealers, and it can separate vehicles registered by businesses from those registered to individuals. This list excludes those vehicles sold to large fleet buyers, like rental-car agencies and governments — leaving only those sold and used by individual retail customers.

  • Volvo vows to put first self-driving cars in customers' hands by 2017

    Justin Hyde at Motoramic 8 days ago

    If self-driving technology has seemed more like science fiction than fact so far, it's because of not just the limits of the software, but the legal rules as well. All trials of self-driving vehicles in the United States so far have involved a handful of corporate employees in just a few states, and even then the results look like a new form of cruise control rather than something that could change how we live.

    Today, Volvo announced a real, on-the-streets test of 100 of its self-driving cars — a first in the world, and one that will put regular owners in the seats of what it says are production-ready autonomous vehicles, by 2017.

    Doing so requires far more than the 28 cameras, sensors and lasers Volvo says its system uses, along with a complex set of software rules, to tackle nearly 100 percent of all driving situations. It also required the approval of lawmakers in Sweden and Gotheberg, the city which will allow owners of these Volvos to legally cruise the streets while reading or chatting away on their phones from behind the wheel.

  • Mercedes reveals the 2016 Maybach Pullman, the hip dictator's ride

    Justin Hyde at Motoramic 10 days ago

    What can you say about a vehicle that was the ride of choice for everyone from the Pope to Emperor Hirohito? For three decades, no car in the world signified power more than the Mercedes-Benz 600 Pullman. Whether you were a James Bond villain or a real-life evildoer, the stretched Mercedes was the only ride that could properly convey your importance and malice.

    Today, Mercedes revealed the modern-day version of its historic roller, the Mercedes-Maybach Pullman — a 21-foot-long tribute to the 21st century's masters of excess.

    Built from the already generous S-Class, the Maybach Pullman gains an extra 3.5 feet of length over the regular Maybach, with a 14-foot wheelbase — longer than most Ford Super Duty pickups. Inside, Mercedes promises a level of interior comfort that will make Rolls-Royce owners spit-take their Chandon, from the finest quilted leathers to electrically opaqueing glass partitions between the rear-facing seats and the front chauffeur's compartment. Power comes from a 523-hp V-12, because 16 cylinders would seem copycat-ish.

  • How Apple could change cars forever — or fail trying

    Justin Hyde at Motoramic 10 days ago

    The news Friday that Apple has up to 1,000 employees actively working on some kind of car— a kind of "electric minivan," not just software in the dashboard — set off a nuclear bomb of speculation, jokes and lukewarm takes. At one extreme came the Detroit-centric reaction, the "oh, this carbuilding business is sooo hard and costly" view, which felt dated when it was deployed against Preston Tucker. From the left coast came the Silicon Valley excitement at impending disruption and the potential profits, epitomized by investor Jason Calacanis predicting Apple will buy Tesla for $75 billion in 18 months.

  • "Mama Bear" who stopped carjacking surprised with a free Kia

    Justin Hyde at Motoramic 14 days ago

    It's one of those stories that could have taken a far more tragic turn: An armed carjacker being chased by police Wednesday outside Dallas slamed into a minivan with a mother and 13-year-old son inside. The driver, Jessica Leismann, took matters into her own hands, throwing the suspect to the ground until police made an arrest

    The story, captured on video, made Leismann an instant folk hero, aided by the local police officer who dubbed her a "mama bear," a reaction spurred in part by Leismann's recent loss of her 4-year-old son to epilepsy. Which is nice and heartwarming, but Leismann still had a rear-ended Nissan Quest and a life to manage, requiring a trip on Thursday to SouthWest Kia to put her minivan in the shop.

    What awaited her was another surprise — a free car.

    Instead of a loaner, dealer Bill Dickason offered her the keys to one of three Kias, free up to and including taxes. Leismann, a bit overwhelmed, chose the Kia Sedona minivan, worth about $35,000.


  • 2016 Honda Pilot puts some style into the three-row family SUV

    Justin Hyde at Motoramic 15 days ago

    Call them the big box SUVs — those haulers that clog the Costco lots on weekends and school drop-off lanes on weekdays. This year, the boxiest of those sheds its edges for a more refined look, and Honda hopes that in doing so, the 2016 Pilot finds some new driveways.

    The Pilot has long been one of the most popular three-row SUVs, although until last month it was outsold by the Honda Odyssey minivan, and it trails the Ford Explorer and Toyota Highlander. Massive by Honda standards, the Pilot grows slightly for 2016, but Honda says it cut some 300 lbs. from the new SUVs frame in the name of efficiency. While the engine choices is limited to an updated version of Honda's 3.5-liter V-6 — the only mill Honda has large enough to move the Pilot — it can now come paired with a 9-speed automatic, along with the standard 6-speed. Honda didn't reveal power or efficiency specs, only promising top grades among competitors in both.