Portland gets a little less weird as it takes down Merge Simpson sign

Portland never disappoints. An anonymous someone recently took advantage of a growth of ivy on a pole at the top of an I-405 onramp, and added a sign beneath it that said “Merge Simpson.” As Nelson would say, ha-ha!

But The Oregonian reports that city officials, while surely tolerant of Portland’s inherent weirdness — this is the town that just renamed a nearby bridge Ned Flanders Crossing — couldn’t let this particular joke stand. Unfortunately, the likeness of Simpsons matriarch Marge covered up a pedestrian caution sign for the crosswalk at the freeway entrance. It’s funny, but you’d hate to see a pedestrian get mowed down over it. So a city transportation crew has since taken Marge down.

Fortunately, Merge Simpson will live forever on social media. And between this and the Flanders bridge, you have to wonder what’s next for “Simpsons” creator Matt Groening’s hometown. The Merge Simpson onramp is from Northwest Couch Street, so maybe somebody can do something with the couch from the show’s opening credits. Also, a lot of things in Portland could be considered Krusty.


Source: AutoBlog.com

2021 Acura TLX A-Spec vs. Type S, Polestar 2 and Genesis G70 | Autoblog Podcast #700

In this episode of the Autoblog Podcast, Editor-in-Chief Greg Migliore is joined by Associate Editor Byron Hurd for the 700th installment. It’s a premium-focused rundown as the two start off discussing Autoblog’s long-term Acura TLX A-Spec and the Type S that is currently standing in for it, followed by some impressions of the Polestar 2 (and how it feels relative to its Volvo cousins) and a look at the 2022 Genesis G70 Launch Edition. Then, in “Spend My Money,” they try to address a rather broad request for a pre-owned vehicle with only a handful of requirements.  

Send us your questions for the Mailbag and Spend My Money at: [email protected]

Autoblog Podcast #700

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  • What we’re driving:
    • 2021 Acura TLX A-Spec/Type S
    • 2021 Polestar 2
    • 2022 Genesis G70 Launch Edition
  • Spend My money


Autoblog is now live on your smart speakers and voice assistants with the audio Autoblog Daily Digest. Say “Hey Google, play the news from Autoblog” or “Alexa, open Autoblog” to get your favorite car website in audio form every day. A narrator will take you through the biggest stories or break down one of our comprehensive test drives.

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Hellcat heist: 4 hot Mopars stolen from Orlando airport

According to News 6 in Orlando, Fla., the Orlando International Airport was the site of a small Hellcat heist. The local news agency learned that four Hellcat-powered cars – two Chargers, a Challenger and a Grand Cherokee Trackhawk – were stolen from the airport’s two closest parking garages. Three of the cars were apparently taken on the same day, according to footage the garage recorded of the vehicles leaving.

Unfortunately for the owners, the parking garage only had footage of the vehicles leaving, and nothing that would have shown the cars actually being stolen. According to News 6, only the broken glass where the cars had been parked was evidence of the thefts. One of the victims talked with the newscast and revealed that his Challenger was a manual transmission model, which occasionally prevents thefts due to thieves not knowing how to drive stick, but not in this case.

It seems pretty clear the thieves were targeting the high-performance Mopars. After all, if you’re just trying to steal plain Chargers, Challengers and Grand Cherokees, you’ll be spoiled for choice in just about any parking lot, and not just an airport one. Plus they’re valuable as whole cars, or parted out. None of these models are among the top 10 most stolen cars in the nation, at least as of last year, but they’re still popular models depending on the state. Florida isn’t one of them, but in 3 states the Charger is one of the top 10, and in 34 states, the Cherokee and Grand Cherokee are in the top 10.

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Source: AutoBlog.com

Volvo P1800-based gasser is UK’s entry in the Hot Wheels Legends Tour

Hot Wheels has spent the past few months touring the United States in search of the next custom car it will add to its catalog of 1/64-scale diecast models. It’s not stopping there: It also headed to the United Kingdom to add a bit of international flair to the competition, and it selected a Volvo P1800 that has been heavily modified into a gasser as the winner that will move on to the semifinal round.

Owner Lee Johnstone explained he built his P1800 — which he nicknamed “Ain’t no Saint” — starting with a bare shell that had been stripped and that was too far gone to properly restore. Volvo’s 1960s four-cylinder engines are famously tunable, but Johnstone looked across the pond for an engine suitable to make his dream car a reality. He chose a 454-cubic-inch V8 sourced from the Chevrolet parts bin and supercharged to develop about 600 horsepower.

Ain’t no Saint reportedly runs a 10.01-second quarter mile at 133 mph.

Johnstone regularly races the P1800 with his three daughters. He consequently named his team Johnstone & Daughters (JD) Racing.

“This is a beautiful example of a gasser — a drag racer with street car form. Often with dragsters, the chassis is so important that the body gets overlooked, but this example is fabulous with great attention to detail,” explained former Jaguar design director Ian Callum, who was one of the judges that selected the P1800 as the United Kingdom’s finalist. “It completely hits the Hot Wheels brief.”

Hot Wheels has already released several gassers, including one based on a 1955 Chevrolet Bel Air. Time will tell if Johnstone’s P1800 will become the next addition to the series. Its next stop is the global semifinal round scheduled for November 4, 2021, where it will compete against some of the previous winners. There are two semifinal rounds taking place before the grand finale planned for November 13.

Source: AutoBlog.com

Porsche Taycan EV outselling the 911

The all-electric Porsche Taycan outsold the German automaker’s iconic internal combustion-powered 911 sports car in the first nine months of the year, a milestone for the EV that was introduced in late 2019.

The sales figures released Friday show that Porsche delivered 217,198 vehicles worldwide in the first three quarters, a 13% increase year over year. The results were driven by a nearly threefold increase in Taycan deliveries — as well as growth by its popular gas-powered Macan. Those figures show Porsche recovered from the 5% dip in sales it experienced in the nine-month period between 2019 and 2020.

While the gas-powered Porsche Cayenne led the portfolio with 62,451 vehicles delivered in the first nine months of the year, it actually represents a 2.8% decline from the same time period in 2020. Strong demand for the smaller Macan, which saw a 12% increase in deliveries to 61,944 vehicles, the Taycan and 911 helped fuel Porsche’s overall increase.

Porsche delivered 28,640 Taycans in the January-to-September period. Porsche 911 deliveries were 27,972, a 10% increase from the same period last year.

Porsche delivered 20,275 Panameras and 15,916 of its 718 Boxster and 718 Cayman vehicles, all of which rose about 1% from last year.

While the bulk of Porsche sales are represented by combustion vehicles, the success of the Taycan could bolster the company’s push into EVs. Porsche plans to introduce an all-electric version of the Macan in 2023.

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Source: AutoBlog.com

2022 Toyota Highlander adds Bronze Edition to hybrid model

Since it’s still a pretty new SUV all-around, the 2022 Toyota Highlander doesn’t change much from before. It’s only big update is the addition of a Bronze Edition to the Highlander Hybrid. Also, pricing has gone up a bit.

The Bronze Edition is pretty much what you’d expect: it adds bronze-colored accents all over the place. The wheels, stitching, door sills and other interior accents are all given the metallic finish. The seats themselves also feature leatherette and cloth with triangular motifs printed in the inserts. Rounding out the package are a variety of convenience features including automatic wipers, power hatchback, 1,500-watt outlets, ambient lighting, 10-way power and memory driver’s seat, digital rearview mirror and puddle lights. The passenger seat gets power tilt and height adjustments, too, but this is a new standard feature on all Highlanders. Pricing for the Bronze Edition starts at $45,095 with front-wheel drive, and $46,695 with all-wheel drive.

Speaking of pricing, the base price for the Toyota Highlander has increased both because of a higher MSRP and a higher $1,215 destination charge. The base L now starts at $36,420, a total increase of $700. Base prices for each main trim level is listed below.

  • L: $36,420
  • LE: $38,620
  • XLE: $41,620
  • XSE: $43,215
  • Limited: $45,575
  • Platinum: $48,775

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Bugatti’s EB110-inspired Centodieci is one hot step closer to production

Bugatti’s heritage-inspired Centodieci is related to the Chiron, but it’s different enough to require its own set of validation tests. After taking on the Nürburgring, the limited-edition hypercar was put through its paces in the scorching heat of the American Southwest’s deserts.

“Testing in the hot, dry desert is a huge help for us in the development process,” explained Stefan Schmidt, an engineer in Bugatti’s overall vehicle development department. “Every model has to run flawlessly in all weather and in all traffic conditions,” he added.

With no less than 27 engineers in tow, the Bugatti team started the hot-weather test in California and meandered east for about 500 miles until it reached Arizona, where temperatures sometimes climb to over 120 degrees. The convoy included eight cars: a Centodieci prototype, three examples of the Chiron Pur Sport, and four examples of the Chiron Super Sport. Each one was fitted with approximately 200 sensors that record various parameters that get sent to the engineers traveling with the convoy and to the development team in Wolfsburg, Germany.

Heat takes a toll on cars in normal driving conditions, but Bugatti went the extra mile to torture its prototypes. It subjected them to low-speed stop-and-go traffic, it reached nearly 200 mph (on a closed track, of course), and it left them sitting in the sun with the air conditioning on. The aim is to see how different components (ranging from the fuel delivery system to the materials used to build the cabin) hold up to extreme heat. The data gathered during the tests was compared to the numbers obtained through simulations to identify areas of concern.

Taking the Centodieci to the American desert was important; it’s notably fitted with an additional air intake near the oil cooler.

“The Centodieci’s newly-developed bodywork, airflow changes, and its engine bay cover manufactured from glass mean the temperature behavior is quite different, especially in such extreme heat conditions,” said André Kullig, the manager of few-off projects at Bugatti.

The firm notes that the Centodieci passed the hot-weather tests with flying colors. It has one final hurdle to clear before it enters production: nearly 20,000 miles of high-speed and endurance testing in Europe. When that’s over and everything checks out, the project will be signed off and production of the 10 examples planned will begin in Molsheim, France. Deliveries should start in 2022, and the model is sold out.

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Source: AutoBlog.com

Toyota is building a Tacoma ‘Tacozilla’ camper for SEMA

It’s almost SEMA time, and that means carmakers are concocting all sorts of wild builds for the aftermarket show. This year, Toyota is building a vehicle they’ve dubbed the Tacozilla. It’s an odd name, because while it should conjure images of a towering monster truck, the Tacozilla was inspired by a cute little camper from the 70s.

Back then, a partnership between Toyota and Chinook created a wildly popular motor home based on Toyota pickups of the era. A large camper shell was created by Chinook to sit where the bed would normally reside, and these mini-RVs were sold at Toyota dealers.

For the SEMA build, Toyota is using a Tacoma TRD Sport with a manual transmission as its foundation. While the initial video shows the truck still in its early development stages, illustrations appear to show a camper capable of sleeping two in an extension above the cab. There’s also a dining table, small kitchen and toilet.

Team Manager Marty Schwerter says in the video, “We really didn’t want it to look like a refrigerator on the back of a truck,” so unlike the original Chinooks, the camper unit will have a lot more ‘curve’ to its profile. Schwerter also says that the camper section is going to stick up four feet over any other car in the parking lot, but it does look more aerodynamic than the Chinooks of old.

And while the originals (there were several variants produced over the years) typically had a long rear overhang, Toyota’s new design minimizes the departure angle so the Tacozilla can go off-road. Some retro brown and orange stripes round out the old school look.

Space looks extremely limited, but usability is not typically the point of a SEMA build. They’re there to make observers think, “That’s cool!” and the Tacozilla seems like it will do that just fine.

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Source: AutoBlog.com

Subaru WRX Sportwagon confirmed for Australia

The good news is that the Subaru WRX Sportwagon is officially back. The bad news is that it’s only for the Australian market. Sadly, yearning for performance variants only available on the other side of the world is a feeling Subie enthusiasts know all too well.

Making it worse, the WRX Sportwagon is even better looking than the recently announced 2022 WRX sedan. That’s because the wagon is basically a rebadged Japan-market Levorg and thus lacks the controversial polygonal plastic cladding over the sedan’s wheel wells. Both are built on Subaru Global Platform that underpins every model apart from the BRZ.

However, until now the second-generation Levorg, which debuted in Japan late last year, has only been available with a 1.8-liter turbo boxer producing 174 horsepower. The WRX Sportwagon, on the other hand, is powered by the turbocharged 2.4-liter boxer found in the WRX sedan. Subaru didn’t reveal Aussie-market specs yet, but it’s probably safe to presume that it’ll generate something close to the 271 horsepower and 259 pound-feet of torque of the U.S. WRX (though some predictions have pegged it at 286 horses).

If you’re feeling burned about not being able to get a WRX Sportwagon stateside, here’s a salve: it’ll only be available with Subaru’s “8-speed” CVT. While Aussie (and U.S.) sedans have the option of a proper six-speed manual or the so-called Subaru Performance Transmission, the wagon only comes with the latter. Subaru reminds us that it has Variable Torque Distribution (to apportion twist to front or rear wheels) and Sports Shifting Control (an artificial downshift blip), but we suspect there will be many an Aussie undertaking a transmission swap down the road.

The auto-only option lets Subaru add its EyeSight Driver Assist technology, which includes adaptive cruise. Additionally, the wagon picks up the WRX sedan’s Drive Mode Select, allowing for custom damper and steering settings and 18-inch alloys (only available on non-base WRX sedans) come standard.

We wouldn’t be surprised if it appeared in Japan as well as a high-spec Levorg (the first-gen had base and performance engine options as well). Sadly, the wagon-adverse U.S. market us likely out of luck. The WRX Sportwagon lands on Australian shores in the second quarter of 2022. 

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Source: AutoBlog.com

Volvo reveals its first vehicle made of fossil-free steel

A few months ago, Volvo teamed up with Swedish steel producer SSAB to develop a type of steel it can use for its vehicles that doesn’t use fossil fuels. Now, the automaker has revealed what it says is the world’s first vehicle made of fossil-free steel: A four wheeled fully electric load carrier made for quarrying and mining. In addition to having no greenhouse gas emission, it’s also autonomous and can follow a pre-programmed route to transport materials at a job site.

SSAB produces fossil-free steel by replacing the coal used during the manufacturing process with hydrogen from electrolysis. As Forbes notes, though, the whole vehicle isn’t exactly fossil-free, since the steel used for its components provided by third-party suppliers, such as its electric motor, were made using traditional means. Still, Volvo Group CTO Lars Stenqvist told the publication that “majority of the steel” in the vehicle is fossil free. He said three tons of the carrier’s 8.2-ton weight is made of green steel from SSAB, and those eight tons include other heavy components like the vehicle’s tires.

Volvo plans to start a small-scale production for the vehicle next year and to scale up production, depending on the availability of steel from SSAB. The Swedish manufacturer is hoping to start mass-producing its fossil-free steel in 2026, so we may see more Volvo vehicles made using the material by that time.

Martin Lundstedt, President and CEO Volvo Group, said in a statement:

“This initiative with SSAB sets the benchmark for a fossil-free future. Just as the nations of the world come together at COP26 to address climate change, so too must organizations and industries work in collaboration to develop innovative new solutions for a greenhouse gas emission free future. Volvo Group is committed to pioneering partnerships such as this with SSAB to develop attractive, safe and efficient new vehicles and machines that pave the way for a more sustainable transport and infrastructure system adopted for the future.”

This article originally appeared on Engadget.

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Source: AutoBlog.com