Wagons/Estates auto news

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Honda Civic Tourer sports forbidden facelift

07/29/2014   [Original: Autoblog]
Category: Spy Photos, Wagons/Estates, Euro, Honda

Honda Civic Tourer: Spy Shots

Following up on a sextet of spy photos from June, we now have another batch of images of the facelifted Euro-spec Honda Civic undergoing testing in the United Kingdom. There's a bit more sheetmetal to this particular prototype, though, as our spy photographers have caught the upcoming Tourer model (pronounced "wagon" among us Yanks).

Like the hatchback we showed you last month, the new Tourer benefits from the same set of styling tweaks inspired by the Civic Type R Concept from March's Geneva Motor Show. That means it boasts a revised front fascia, albeit with a more heavily camouflaged version of the grille shown in last month's photos. It's a similar story below, where the intakes on this long-roof model wear more disguise, yet look to be virtually identical to what we've already seen.

While the headlights still look to be a straight lift from last month's car, the more upright nature of the Tourer's tailgate demands a more subdued character. Gone are the thin, curvy LED taillights, and in their place sit significantly more substantial units (with conventional bulbs), although they boast none of the design chutzpah shown on our last round of spy photos. Our spies claim LED taillights will be available, noting that they simply aren't fitted to this particular prototype, a distinction that suggests this is a lower-end model.

Look for the new European Civic family to make their grand entrance in early October, at the 2014 Paris Motor Show.

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40+ cars that barely avoid the gas guzzler tax

07/24/2014   [Original: Autoblog]
Category: Convertibles, Coupes, Sedans/Saloons, Sports/GTs, Wagons/Estates, Government/Legal, Audi, Bentley, Cadillac, Chevrolet, Chrysler, Dodge, Ford, Hyundai, Jaguar, Lexus, Maserati, Mercedes Benz, Porsche, Luxury

The Gas Guzzler schedule, with mpg ratings and charges that haven't changed since 1991, lays out which fuel-swillers owe what to Uncle Sam.

I started thinking about the "Gas Guzzler Tax" - considerably less well known as The Energy Tax Act of 1978 - when I was driving Dodge's new Challenger SRT Hellcat last week. Unsurprisingly for a car that can burn 1.5 gallons of gas per minute at max tilt, theoretically able to empty a full tank of premium in about 13 minutes, the Hellcat will be subject to the Gas Guzzler Tax schedule when it goes on sale.

Beyond knowing that it existed, and occasionally seeing a surcharge for it listed on the specification sheet for a press car I'd been loaned, I didn't really understand how the GGT worked or was calculated.

Thankfully, the Environmental Protection Agency makes learning about the GGT (and a lot of other stuff) pretty simple. EPA.gov has a clearly written explanation of the tax and the tax schedule. That schedule, operating with miles-per-gallon ratings and charges that haven't changed since 1991, clearly lays out which fuel-swillers owe what to Uncle Sam. Basically, if a car's combined fuel economy rating is 22.5 mpg or higher it's off the hook ­- trucks, minivans and SUVs are all exempt from the GGT - if the rating is lower, per vehicle taxes range from $1,000 to $7,700 for the very thirstiest.

Simple, right?

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BMW 5 Series wagon makes incognito grocery run by way of the 'Ring [UPDATE]

07/23/2014   [Original: Autoblog]
Category: Spy Photos, Sports/GTs, Wagons/Estates, BMW, Luxury

BMW 5 Series Wagon: Spy Shots

UPDATE: The 5 Series prototype seen in these photos is previewing a new generation of wagon for the model, not simply a mid-cycle refresh. The text has been updated to reflect this.

With a debut in 2009, it's high time that BMW delivered the world with the next generation of its popular 5 Series. While we aren't expecting to see it here in the United States, that changeover will include the vehicle shown above, the 5 Series wagon.

This is only the second time we've spotted the camo'd, long-roof 5er in the past year, and while it was chained to a flat-bed in those snaps, today, we can see it lapping the Nürburgring. In addition to the images from the track, we also have our first look at the cabin of the 5 Series, although even it is covered in camouflage, making it quite difficult to spot anything of substance.

As for the exterior, expect modest changes for the new 5er, with typical tweaks like new headlights and taillights, and perhaps a freshened front fascia. Considering we last saw the upcoming 5 Series just over a year ago, we'd expect an auto show debut for this smoothed-over model in the not-so-distant future, with Paris a leading candidate.

Take a look up top for our full gallery of spy photos.

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Subaru facing class-action suit over excess oil use

07/23/2014   [Original: Autoblog]
Category: Sedans/Saloons, Wagons/Estates, Government/Legal, Crossovers/CUVs, Hatchbacks, Subaru

2013 Subaru Outback

A recently filed lawsuit in federal court against Subaru of America and its parent Fuji Heavy Industries claims that several recent models burn an excessive amount of oil. The case, which is seeking class-action status, covers examples of the 2011-2014 Forester, 2013 Legacy and 2013 Outback with the 2.5-liter four-cylinder engine and the 2012-2013 Impreza and 2013 XV Crosstrek with the 2.0-liter four-cylinder.

The suit alleges that Subaru knew about the excessive oil consumption but didn't fix the problem, according to USA Today. It contends that owners have to spend an unreasonable amount of money to keep these models topped up with Texas tea, and that the people represented wouldn't have bought the vehicle if they had known that this could happen.

As proof of Subaru's knowledge of excessive oil use, the lawsuit cites four technical service bulletins from the company telling dealers about the issue, although, that would seem to partially invalidate the claim that the automaker hasn't attempted to fix things. The case was filed on behalf of two men, one with a 2014 Forester and the other with a 2013 Outback. "Following an extensive investigation, we now look forward to litigating the case," said Matthew Schelkopf, an attorney for the plaintiffs, to USA Today.

Autoblog reached out to Subaru of America for its response. "We're aware of the suit. We believe the oil use in our vehicles is in acceptable levels. We have worked with customers on this issue," said company spokesperson Michael McHale.

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BMW 5 Series wagon makes incognito grocery run by way of the 'Ring

07/22/2014   [Original: Autoblog]
Category: Spy Photos, Sports/GTs, Wagons/Estates, BMW, Luxury

BMW 5 Series Wagon: Spy Shots

With a debut in 2009, it's high time that BMW delivered the world with the standard mid-cycle refresh of its popular 5 Series. While we aren't expecting to see it here in the United States, that freshening will include the vehicle shown above, the 5 Series wagon.

This is only the second time we've spotted the camo'd, long-roof 5er in the past year, and while it was chained to a flat-bed in those snaps, today, we can see it lapping the Nürburgring. In addition to the images from the track, we also have our first look at the cabin of the freshened 5 Series, although even it is covered in camouflage, making it quite difficult to spot anything of substance.

As for the exterior, expect modest changes for the second-half of the F10 5er's life, with typical tweaks like new headlights and taillights, and perhaps a freshened front fascia. Considering we last saw the upcoming 5 Series just over a year ago, we'd expect an auto show debut for this smoothed-over model in the not-so-distant future, with Paris a leading candidate.

Take a look up top for our full gallery of spy photos.

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Cadillac issues stop-sale on recalled CTS, SRX

07/22/2014   [Original: Autoblog]
Category: Coupes, Sedans/Saloons, Wagons/Estates, Recalls/TSBs, Safety, Crossovers/CUVs, Cadillac, GM, Luxury

Cadillac CTS

General Motors has issued a stop-sale order on the Cadillac CTS and SRX, both of which were recalled late last month. Why the stop-sale after all this time? Well, um, GM apparently doesn't know how to fix them.

The stop-sale covers all used Cadillac CTS sedans, coupes and wagons from model years 2003 to 2013, as well as new 2014 coupes and wagons. The SRX crossover stop-sale, meanwhile, only covers used vehicles from model years 2004 to 2006.

Automotive News reached out to GM spokesperson Alan Adler, who told the news pub that the company's engineers were "looking at one common solution" for the affected vehicles, although "they don't have it yet."

GM recalled the Cadillacs as part of an enormous 8.4-million-unit recall on June 30. The CTS and SRX were - like the overwhelming majority of vehicles (some 8.2 million units) - recalled due an issue with the ignition. The key in affected vehicles can rotate out of the run position if jostled, much like an earlier recall for the Chevrolet Camaro.

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Kia recalls over 50k new Soul compacts over steering issue

07/18/2014   [Original: Autoblog]
Category: Economy, Wagons/Estates, Recalls/TSBs, Safety, Hatchbacks, Kia

2014 Kia Soul

Kia is recalling certain 2014 models of its adorable Soul due to a bad adhesive used in the steering system. According to the bulletin from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, the "thread-locking adhesive" that attaches the plug between the pinion gear and steering gear assembly could come loose.

Should that happen, the condition could lead to a "loss of steering," which, of course increases the likelihood of a crash. The 51,641 affected cars were built between July 21, 2013 and January 17, 2014. There have been no reported accidents, let alone injuries or deaths due to this issue.

Kia is in the process of notifying owners of the affected vehicles as well as dealers in possession of the faulty Souls.

Scroll down for the official bulletin from NHTSA.

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BMW working on 'FAST' CUV to slot between X1 and 2 Series

07/11/2014   [Original: Autoblog]
Category: Spy Photos, Wagons/Estates, Crossovers/CUVs, BMW

BMW FAST Family Active Sports Tourer

Our spy shooters have caught a new FAST BMW testing that's rumored to hit the market in late 2015. Sadly, the word fast in that last sentence isn't describing the car's performance; instead it's an acronym that stands for Family Active Sports Tourer. Talk about a case of false advertising.

Despite it's speedy name, the FAST doesn't look ready to set any Nürburgring lap records. It rides on BMW's modular, front-wheel drive UKL platform that underpins the current generation Mini Cooper, upcoming 2 Series Active Tourer and next X1. According to our spies, its design is supposed to blend the looks of a wagon and a CUV on the outside with a large, useful interior. Conceivably, it could be offered with the hybrid system from the 2 Series, as well.

The new prototype definitely shares the styling of its front-wheel-drive BMW siblings. Up to the A-pillar, it looks pretty similar to what we know about the future X1. But the FAST has a more arched profile and lower ride height compared to the crossover's chunkier, more conventional design.

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Skoda releases rugged new Octavia Scout soft-roader [w/video]

07/09/2014   [Original: Autoblog]
Category: Wagons/Estates, Euro, Skoda, Off-Road

2014 Skoda Octavia Scout

Automakers may be paying a lot of attention these days to making their crossovers and SUVs drive more like cars, but at the same time, they're also making cars that feel more like SUVs. We're talking about models like the Subaru Outback, Audi Allroad and Volvo XC70. These soft-road (if not quite off-road) wagons have a particularly keen following overseas, and that point is not lost on Volkswagen. In fact the German auto giant has soft-road models under each of its mainstream brands: Volkswagen calls it Alltrack, Audi has Allroad, Seat recently introduced the X-Perience version of its Leon wagon and Škoda offers higher-riding, more rugged versions of its wagons which it calls Scout. And here is the latest one.

The new Škoda Octavia Scout is based on the same MQB platform that underpins the VW Golf, Audi A3 and Seat Leon. Starting with the Octavia Combi wagon, the Scout adds a Haldex-5 all-wheel drive system with an locking electronic differential and more rugged lower body cladding including a new front bumper with metallic insert, fog lights, black lower door panels and wheel arches. It rides on 17-inch alloys mounted on a suspension jacked up an extra inch, and the interior has been redone to match the more rugged outwards appearance.

Although the Octavia Scout, like the rest of the Škoda range, will not be sold in North America, around 8 percent of Octavia wagon buyers overseas opt for the Scout version - totaling around 53,600 units sold between its introduction in 2007 and the end of 2013. With the new model, customers will be able to choose between three engines, including a 1.8-liter turbo four with 180 horsepower or a 2.0-liter TDI with either 135 or 184 hp. Scope out the full details in the press release and the b-roll footage below.

Continue reading Skoda releases rugged new Octavia Scout soft-roader [w/video]

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Subaru recalling over 8,000 cars for Takata airbag inflators

07/09/2014   [Original: Autoblog]
Category: Sedans/Saloons, Trucks/Pickups, Wagons/Estates, Safety, Subaru

NAIAS Detroit : New Subaru WRX sti at the North American Internatioonal Auto Show. Jan 7 2003

We have one more automaker to chalk up recalling Takata airbag inflators. Subaru is now throwing its hat in the ring by repairing 8,557 vehicles nationwide for faulty front passenger inflators. According to the Defect Notice from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, the problem affects 3,151 examples of the Legacy, Outback and Baja from the 2003 and 2004 model years and 5,406 units of the Impreza, including the WRX and STI (pictured above), from the 2004 model year.

As we all know by now, it's possible for the inflators to explode during airbag deployment possibly affecting not only the bag's inflation but also potentially spraying metal shrapnel at occupants. All of the affected vehicles will receive new passenger side inflators at no charge to the owner.

Seven automakers in the US announced recalls for the problem in late June affecting an estimated 2.1 million vehicles. Unlike some of the companies, Subaru is repairing all of the affected models in the US, rather just in certain warm-weather states. According to company spokesperson Michael McHale to Autoblog the reason is that "it was simpler to get everybody in there and make sure it was done." The replacement inflators should be in by the end of July, he said. Scroll down to read the recall report from NHTSA or download the full defect notice as a PDF, here.

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