SUVs auto news

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Hyundai recalls over 419k vehicles in three campaigns

08/02/2014   [Original: Autoblog]
Category: Sedans/Saloons, SUVs, Recalls/TSBs, Crossovers/CUVs, Hyundai

Hyundai Sonata

Hyundai VeracruzGeneral Motors is the undisputed king of recalls for 2014. No one is going to contest this point. The American company is far from the only one with vehicles that need fixing, though, as Hyundai has announced another recall totaling 419,000 vehicles in three separate campaigns.

The majority of the vehicles affected come from the Santa Fe family, where 225,000 of the model year 2001 to 2006 CUVs will need their front springs replaced. It seems that the early Santa Fe's coils can rust and crack when subjected to frosty temperatures and the road salt that so often accompanies them. Should they fracture, it's possible that a crash would be the end result.

As this is an issue linked to road salt, only Santa Fes sold in 20 states - from Maine to Iowa and Wisconsin to West Virginia - are affected. Vehicles sold in Washington, D.C. are also covered in the recall.

Meanwhile, the Sonata sedan is getting dinged with another recall, the nameplate's third in less than three weeks. This time, the 2011 model is at fault, with 133,075 vehicles that could be leaking brake fluid, thanks to a bad seal between brake hose and the brake-line fitting.

Finally, the Veracruz is facing a recall, with 61,122 of the SUVs suffering from potential alternator failure. This issue is caused by a bad valve cover gasket in the front cylinder bank, which could cause oil to leak on the alternator causing the vehicle to stall or refuse to start.

None of these issues have lead to any crashes or injuries, although the Santa Fe's spring issue has resulted in 1,200 warranty claims and 90 cases of the spring contacting the tire, according to the Associated Press. As is usually the case, repairs on each vehicle will be conducted free of charge, while Hyundai plans to have notified owners of all affected cars and SUVs by the end of September.

Scroll down for the trio of bulletins from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.

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Toyota prices TRD Pro Tacoma, 4Runner

08/01/2014   [Original: Autoblog]
Category: SUVs, Trucks/Pickups, Toyota, Off-Road

Toyota TRD Pro Series Family

Toyota is finally all set to drop more details about the upcoming off-road ready TRD Pro Series models of the 4Runner, Tacoma and Tundra after first revealing them in February. These trucks and SUV might not get the big engine and other mods that desert-stormers like the Ford F-150 Raptor have, but they are still a nice step up over the stock versions. All of the TRD Pro vehicles come as 4x4 models with Bilstein shocks with remote reservoirs in the rear, TRD front springs, skid plates, black wheels, retro-inspired "TOYOTA" badging and TRD-branded floor mats and shift knobs on the inside. They're available in three colors: Inferno, Attitude Black Metallic and Super White.

The Tacoma hits the market first in early August with prices starting at $35,525, plus $885 for delivery, processing, and handling, for an Access Cab V6 with a six-speed manual. Opting for a five-speed automatic brings things up to $37,390 after the destination fee. A Double Cab with a manual goes for $37,320, or $38,300 for the automatic, after the delivery charges. The 4Runner follows in September with just a single trim priced at $41,110 - $41,995 after the charge - for the V6 and five-speed auto.

Toyota is holding off on revealing more about the Tundra for now. It's coming in the fall, but the company isn't announcing prices yet. We don't have to wait long, though. "Within the next month we'll reveal that," said Toyota spokesperson Sam Butto to Autoblog about the TRD Pro Tundra's price.

Each model gets its own individual upgrades, as well. The Tacoma gets a 1.75-inches of additional wheel travel up front with softer springs, 16-inch wheels and a TRD exhaust with polished tips. The 4Runner gets 17-inch wheels and an inch of additional wheel travel in the front. Finally, the Tundra has two more inches of travel up front and 1.25 inches in the rear thanks in part to different Bilstein Zone Control three-stage shocks from the other models, plus a TRD dual exhaust. Scroll down to read even more details about these off-roaders.

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NLRB says Mercedes violated Alabama worker rights

08/01/2014   [Original: Autoblog]
Category: Sedans/Saloons, SUVs, Government/Legal, Mercedes Benz, UAW/Unions, Luxury

Mercedes-Benz US International Inc.

Mercedes-Benz has run afoul of the National Labor Relations Board after an administrative judge ruled that the company violated organizing rights of workers at the company's Vance, AL factory, which builds the M-Class, GL-Class and the new C-Class.

Judge Keltner Locke upheld the charge that MB told employees they couldn't distribute pro-union literature in the factory's common areas during off-work hours, according to Automotive News. The other charges in the September 3 complaint, meanwhile, were dismissed, with Locke saying the company took "prompt remedial action."

While Locke's ruling comes without penalties, the factory, which is formally known as Mercedes-Benz US International Inc., must tweak its rules to allow off-duty workers to solicit other off-duty workers in certain parts of the factory (parking lots, break rooms, etc.), a right provided by the National Labor Relations Act.

The decision by Locke still isn't sitting well with some of the plant's employees, though. Don White, a 19-year veteran of the facility and one of the parties to the NLRB complaint, is one such worker.

"We're allowed to talk about church, football, anything else," White told AN. "There has been a lot of intimidation to keep us from trying to organize."

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Range Rover Sport SVR sets 'Ring record for SUVs [w/video]

07/31/2014   [Original: Autoblog]
Category: Sports/GTs, SUVs

Land Rover Range Rover Sport SVR at the Nurburgring

Nürburgring lap times, it should come as no surprise, have become the ultimate bragging rights for performance automakers. So much so, in fact, that the records have been categorized. The Porsche 956 has held the outright record at 6:11 since 1983, the Pagani Zonda R is the fastest production-based track car at 6:47, the Radical SR8 LM the fastest (albeit barely) street-legal vehicle at 6:48 and the Porsche 918 Spyder the fastest fully street-legal series production vehicle at 6:57. But beyond that, automakers have begun to stake their claims for individual vehicle types, like the Renaultsport Mégane 275 Trophy-R that set the record for the fastest front-drive hot hatch at 7:54.36 just last month. And now Land Rover has claimed the record for the fastest SUV ever to lap the Nordschleife.

The record-setting SUV, of course, is not a rough-and-tumble Defender or a stretched-out Range Rover L, but the brand's upcoming new performance flagship, the Range Rover Sport SVR. The vehicle was previewed recently at Goodwood where it showcased the might of JLR's ubiquitous 5.0-liter supercharged V8 in the same 542-horsepower spec as the Jaguar XFR-S Sportbrake we recently drove at the Nürburgring as well.

The Range Rover Sport SVR managed a hugely impressive lap time of 8 minutes 14 seconds, which puts it well ahead of the previous Range Rover Sport Supercharged that lapped the track in 8:55 back in 2009 and the Holden VF SS V Redline that claimed the record last year for the fastest utility vehicle at 8:19. Not bad for a vehicle with a 2.8-foot wading depth and a two-speed transfer case.

Of course with so many GT-Rs, Lambos and Porsche Turbos lapping the track, it couldn't claim the fastest AWD lap, but it is nearly three seconds faster than the Renaultsport Mégane R26.R that held the previous front-drive record before Renault and Seat started going at it earlier this year. And in the same spirit of competition, maybe we'll see Porsche bring its new Cayenne Turbo or Mercedes one of its AMG sport-utes to the Ring in an effort to take Land Rover's crown. After all, if we don't pay attention to this kind of irrelevant one-upmanship here in the blogosphere, who will? Scope out the footage and statement below, as well as the additional images we've uploaded to the gallery above.

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Land Rover previews new seven-seat Discovery Sport

07/31/2014   [Original: Autoblog]
Category: SUVs, Land Rover, Luxury, Off-Road

2015 Land Rover Discovery Sport

Every automaker has its own way of revealing its new models. Some just pull the veil off the thing when it's ready, while others release hints and teasers leading up to the full reveal. Jaguar Land Rover seems to be taking a different approach, purposely releasing images of its new products wearing camouflaging body wraps before taking those wraps off at long last. That's the tactic it seems to be taking with the new XE sports sedan, as it is with the Range Rover Sport SVR, and now it's following a similar path with the upcoming new Discovery Sport.

Previewed by the Discovery Vision concept at the New York Auto Show a few months ago, the new Discovery Sport is slated to join the Discovery (known in North America as the LR4) in the Land Rover lineup next year, and appears to carry over the concept's styling: compared to the boxier existing model, the Discovery Sport (like the Discovery Vision) has a higher beltline, more swept-back greenhouse and forward-swept C-pillar, but a roofline that appears to taper off where the concept's was straight.

Land Rover has confirmed that the Discovery Sport will - like the LR4, Discovery Vision and Range Rover Sport - offer a third row of seats for seven-passenger capacity, as revealed by the "peeled-back" camo. The Discovery Sport will be manufactured at the Halewood plant where the Freelander and Evoque are made. Scroll down below for official details from the automaker.

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Nissan recalls 226k vehicles over airbag inflators

07/30/2014   [Original: Autoblog]
Category: Sedans/Saloons, SUVs, Recalls/TSBs, Safety, Crossovers/CUVs, Infiniti, Nissan, Luxury

2002 Nissan Maxima

Nissan and Infiniti are the latest automakers to issue recalls involving faulty airbag inflators from Takata. The Japanese automakers have announced campaigns covering about 226,326 units from seven models built in the early 2000s because they contain the bad part in the passenger-side, front airbag. The affected vehicles include the 2002-2004 Nissan Sentra, 2002-2003 Pathfinder and 2002-2003 Maxima, and it also covers the 2002-2003 Infiniti QX4, 2002-2003 I35, 2003 FX45 and 2003 FX35.

Like the other vehicles with the faulty inflators, it's possible for the part to rupture during airbag deployment and spray metal shrapnel at occupants. Nissan and Infiniti have even included vehicles with replacement airbags in this campaign because those parts also could have been defective. Both companies were also part of the earlier regional campaign to fix cars in high-humidity climates where the problem has been found to be the worst.

As is the usual response, Nissan and Infiniti will notify owners of the affected vehicles and will make the repair at no charge. According to the filing with the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, these fixes will commence around August 11. Scroll down to read the report from NHTSA, or read the full defect notice as a PDF, here.

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Ford Australia reveals updated Territory, Falcon via Twitter

07/28/2014   [Original: Autoblog]
Category: Sedans/Saloons, SUVs, Ford, Australia

2015 Ford Territory

Ford may have tied together much of its global lineup under the One Ford campaign, but one market where it still offers unique products is Australia. That will soon draw to a close as well, but before it does, the Blue Oval's Aussie operations are rolling out refreshed versions of its two unique products. For the moment, Ford isn't revealing much in the way of powertrain details, but it has shown off a couple of snaps of the revised products on its in-market Twitter feed.

First up is the new Territory. The SUV is neither based on a front-drive crossover platform nor on a truck frame, but shares its rear-drive underpinnings with the Falcon, taking it a step beyond the Falcon wagon alongside which it sits in Ford's Aussie range. Like the outgoing third-generation SZ Territory, the facelifted version is dominated by a narrow grille and larger front air dam, but further punctuates its big-chinned look with more rugged lower cladding and other metallic inserts that bring its look up to date.

And there's the Falcon, which Ford revealed in XR8 trim just last week and is now presenting in G6E 2015 Ford Falcon G6Espec. If the XR8 is the performance model, the G6E is the luxury version, swapping in more refined trim like a chrome-slat grille (instead of a black honeycomb), chrome foglamp surrounds, less-aggressive multi-spoke wheels (instead of five-spokes) and a flatter hood (instead of a power bulge). Otherwise, it looks essentially the same as the one we saw last week, its facelift bringing it more in line with the smaller, front-drive Mondeo (which we know here as the Fusion) and other members of the Ford family.

These updates, expected to launch later this year, will have to keep the Territory and Falcon fresh until they're both discontinued with the closing of Ford's manufacturing operations Down Under, a move that will put a period on an 88-year history. After that, a version of the Mondeo/Fusion will have to take the Falcon's role as Ford's large sedan while the Mustang assumes its role as performance flagship, and Territory buyers will have to look towards models like the Edge crossover and Everest SUV to meet their high-riding needs.

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Audi SQ7 coming, will have electric turbo

07/28/2014   [Original: Autoblog]
Category: Hybrids/Alternative, Sports/GTs, SUVs, Audi

Audi Q7 Spy Shot

Formula 1 and endurance racing are already harvesting energy from turbos on the track, and now it's apparently time for a similar idea of boosting the efficiency of forced induction to hit the streets in a high-performance, diesel SUV.

In a recent interview with the UK's Autocar, Audi technical boss Dr. Ulrich Hackenberg let the big news slip. "The new Q7 will be available in the market next year but the electric turbo will come a bit later in the Audi SQ7 available in 2016," he said. The e-turbo system was already rumored for the premium SUV but for the standard model, not this just-announced performance version.

Audi has been experimenting with the e-turbo system for a little while, as an electrically driven supercharger. It showed up on the RS5 TDI concept that used a 3.0-liter, twin-turbocharged diesel V6 plus the electric system to diminish turbo lag. In that application, it provided an impressive 385 horsepower and 553 pound-feet of torque and an alleged sprint to 62 miles per hour in 4 seconds. Although, Dr. Hackenberg didn't make it clear if this was the exact layout for the SQ7.

According to Autocar, the sophisticated system is powered by its own, separate 48-volt electrical system that drives a 7-kilowatt (9.4 horsepower) motor to spin the supercharger. When the internal combustion engine is at low revs, it provides the needed boost but shuts off as engine revs rise to let the turbos take over.

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Lexus GX has quietly more than doubled its sales this year

07/27/2014   [Original: Autoblog]
Category: SUVs, Lexus, Luxury

2014 Lexus GX460

There are some things in this industry that we're perplexed by, like the infotainment system on our long-term Subaru WRX or why the Mitsubishi Mirage is allowed to exist, among other things. Let's add one more to that group, with the Lexus GX. It's not a particularly bad vehicle for a big, body-on-frame brute, remaining one of the only true SUVs in the mid-size luxury class, alongside the equally old fashioned Land Rover LR4.

Considering these things, then, what we're about to tell you makes very little sense - sales are up 135 percent through last month. The Japanese luxury marque has moved over 5,300 during the first six months of 2014, owing in no small part to a significant price drop over the 2013 model. Today, a GX starts at $49,085, while a year ago, it was $53,445.

Don't mistake this price decrease for charity, though. Lexus specifically built a lower-cost GX to lure in customers. According to WardsAuto, faux leather covers the cabin rather than the real stuff, while the overall package is decontented relative to what you might find in a typical Lexus.

"That was our target in terms of positioning, to bring a true SUV down to a (CUV) price point," Brian Smith, VP of marketing for the brand, told Wards.

While the price cut has helped drive customers into showrooms, Lexus isn't selling many sub-$50,000 GXs.

"We've been successful with that [base grade], however it's not the biggest chunk of our volume," Smith said.

Base sales only constitute a fifth of the GX's totals, with customers generally flocking to the better outfitted GX Premium, which coincidentally starts at just a few hundred dollars more than last year's base model.

Despite this big increase in sales, the GX's future is far from certain, Smith said. Lexus is allegedly, according to AN, looking at swapping the GX from its truck-based roots to a proper unibody platform, in order to better compete dynamically with CUVs like the Acura MDX. Smith doesn't want that, though, citing the SUV's 6,500-pound towing capacity.

"I think there's a need for towing capability, without having to go all the way to an LX," Smith said. "So we're doing everything we can to continue to keep Toyota focused on the need for GX."

What are your thoughts? Should Lexus retain the GX as a body-on-frame vehicle, or should it just leave towing duties to American brands? Are you surprised to hear the GX still exists? Let us know in Comments.

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Mercedes updated M-Class spotted stripping camo

07/23/2014   [Original: Autoblog]
Category: Spy Photos, SUVs, Mercedes Benz, Luxury

Mercedes-Benz M-Class Spy Shots

Following a spate of images in early April, Mercedes has removed some of the camouflage on the facelifted M-Class SUV in preparation for its eventual debut, probably at the 2014 Paris Motor Show.

Gone is the swirly, psychedelic camo that featured so heavily on our last round of photos. In its place sits simple, unpatterned vinyl, which is limited to the front and rear of the mid-level luxury SUV. The vinyl looks to be hiding new headlights, which appear to borrow inspiration from the new S-Class and C-Class. Unlike the previous example we spotted, this new model has its taillights concealed, indicating there could be minor changes in store. The rear bumper is also slightly different, with more visible exhaust outlets, indicating that this could be the ML550 that we're seeing.

There remains a fair amount of camouflage over the front grille and lower intakes, through which we can spot a tweaked grille, which should, again, borrow inspiration from the brand's newer sedans.

We'll keep our eyes open for additional info and images of the facelifted Mercedes M-Class as its debut date continues to approach.

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