Been away from your computer this week and missed all the automotive news? We’ve gathered a few of the top stories of the past week for your convenience.
Toyota's Corolla compact sedan is a strong seller, yet the Japanese automaker is currently working on an all-new version. As seen in photos from our spy shooters, the 2014 Corolla will adopt the angular headlights of the 2012 Toyota Camry, a new grille similar to that of the 2013 Avalon, and a Camry-style rear end with boomerang-shaped clear taillights. The new Corolla appears to move upmarket with more chrome trim and projector headlights. Inside, a new steering wheel and instrument cluster are almost identical to those in the 2012 Camry. We expect the 2014 Corolla will debut next year, with production starting in the second quarter of 2013.
The 2013 Ram 1500 pickup truck costs $23,585 (including destination), an increase of just $500 compared to the 2012 version. That's impressive, given that the truck receives a bevy of improvements for the new model year. Among those changes is the addition of a new eight-speed automatic transmission and engine stop-start technology, as well as a new Ram 1500 HFE model that returns as much as 25 mpg on the highway. We recently drove the new truck; scroll down to read what we thought.
Three Ford Motor Company vehicles won five-star ratings in NHTSA's New Car Assessment Program: the 2013 Ford Taurus, Explorer, and Lincoln MKS. It stands to reason that all three would get the same score, as the models are all based on Ford's D3 platform. They're the only Ford vehicles to score five stars on the NHTSA NCAP test thus far. For the 2013 model year, Ford tweaked the airbag and seatbelt systems on all three cars to improve safety, even going so far as to add a knee airbag on the Explorer. The NCAP rating factors in front- and side-impact results, and how well the vehicle resists rolling over. Moreover, the cars offer safety tech like forward collision warning, blind spot monitoring, and rear inflatable seatbelts (Explorer only).
Kia is getting ready to launch a new car here -- the Cadenza, which was originally born as the K7 in its South-Korean home market. The new model fits in beneath the new Quoris luxury sedan, which marks its higher rank with a K9 name in Korea. The Cadenza, however, is a large front-wheel-drive sedan that our spy photographers saw testing alongside a Toyota Avalon and an Acura TL. If the American-market Cadenza follows suit with its Korean forbear, expect a 3.5-liter V-6 making about 290 hp, a six-speed automatic transmission, and gadgets like push-button start and an electric parking brake. Inside, we spy a big touch-screen infotainment system, an LCD screen in the instrument cluster, and an analog clock. Expect the Kia Cadenza to go on sale in America next summer.
To determine whether vehicle-to-vehicle (V2V) communications technologies are the next big step in automotive safety, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration has launched a $22 million test project in Ann Arbor, Michigan. With the program, 73 miles of road in the town and about 3000 vehicles have been outfitted with V2V equipment that can warn drivers of potential collisions. Hopefully, the systems alert drivers in enough time to avert accidents. It could also warn of cars running red lights, traffic stopped behind a blind curve, and more. NHTSA, the Department of Transport, and the University of Michigan will study the results of the project to see whether these systems should be rolled out more broadly.
The 2013 Land Rover LR2 arrives with the same 2.0-liter turbo-four engine as the Range Rover Evoque, providing more power and improved fuel economy over the LR2's outgoing 3.2-liter inline-six. The new turbo mill makes 240 hp and 250 lb-ft, up from the old engine's 230 hp and 234 lb-ft. Better still, Land Rover says fuel economy improves from 15/22 mpg (city/highway) to 18/28 mpg. Other changes for the 2013 LR2 include new head- and taillights, a new center stack with a seven-inch touch screen, and a new instrument cluster cribbed from the Range Rover Evoque. Leather and a backup camera become standard equipment.
Driven: Mercedes-Benz A45 AMG Prototype, 2013 Ford C-Max Hybrid, 2013 Audi RS5, 2013 BMW M6 Coupe, 2013 Ram 1500
The Mercedes-Benz A45 AMG prototype shows how the German automaker will downsize its powerful AMG components to a smaller vehicle. It previews the CLA45 AMG swoopy compact sedan that should hit the U.S. by 2014. We found the A45 prototype fast, poised, and just as engaging as larger sports cars. The 2013 Ford C-Max Hybrid serves as the Blue Oval's counterpart to the Toyota Prius V -- a tall hatchback powered exclusively by hybrid drivetrains. The C-Max Hybrid is extremely efficient and attractive, but its weight and mediocre acceleration will disappoint some drivers. Everyone, however, will be impressed by the claimed 570-mile driving range and 47-mpg economy.
With the 2013 Audi RS5, Audi is showing that it can bring muscle to fight the BMW M3 and Mercedes C63 AMG. The 4.2-liter V-8 engine revs to 8000-rpm in a supremely linear fashion, and is coupled to the fastest and smoothest dual-clutch transmission Audi has ever sold. Driving the RS5 teaches us that Audi might just be ready to take on -- and beat -- the competition. The 2013 BMW M6 coupe is even better than before, in part because it is faster, and also because it is more livable. A jerky single-clutch automated transmission gives way to a dual-clutch that offers lightning-fast shifts for sporty driving, and smooth gear changes in regular driving. We're not surprised the M6 is a fast, powerful car, but now it has the grace and comfort necessary for real-world driving. Finally, the 2013 Ram 1500 proves that not all pickup trucks must be rough-and-tumble machines. With gadgets like air suspension, engine stop-start, and an eight-speed automatic transmission, the new Ram 1500 remains one of the most tech-savvy pickups you can buy. Inside, too, high-end materials make the 1500 one of the most comfortable and stylish trucks on the market.