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All Hatch All the Time: We Drive Buick’s 2018 Regal Sportback, TourX, and GS

2018 Buick Regal TourX, 2018 Buick Regal Sportback, and 2018 Bui

The new 2018 Buick Regal lineup throws the conventional sedan body style out the window in favor of a trio of more compelling options: the Regal Sportback and the Regal GS, both hatchbacks, and the Regal TourX wagon. Even though these Regals continue to share much with the Europe-market Opel Insignia, these redesigned versions aim for new territory and push Buick a bit further upscale. We got a chance to wring out pre-production examples of each of these new Regals on a ride-and-handling test loop. Here are our first impressions from the brief seat time C/D had in each version.

2018 Buick Regal Sportback

Regal Sportback: Middle of the Road

Don’t be misled by the swoopy lines or the word Sport in its name, because the standard 2018 Regal is not an overtly sporting machine. Its front-wheel-drive chassis is shared with the Chevrolet Malibu (all-wheel drive is optional), and it doesn’t feel all that different from the 2.0T-equipped Malibu. If anything, the Regal is tuned to be a bit softer than the Chevy, with light, overboosted steering and a compliant ride that verges on floatiness over larger bumps. At least the brake pedal is firm and confidence-inspiring. The front-wheel-drive version we drove accelerated strongly, with the 2.0-liter turbo four providing plenty of midrange grunt and the nine-speed automatic transmission shifting quickly and smoothly (an eight-speed automatic is standard in all-wheel-drive models).

2018 Buick Regal TourX

Regal TourX: Practical and Placid

Predictably, the longer and heavier TourX wagon feels a bit more ponderous than the Regal Sportback. But with even fewer sporting pretensions, the TourX has a calm demeanor that is fitting for this wagon that is chasing crossover shoppers. It should be a pleasant road-trip machine, thanks to a quiet cabin and a nicely settled ride. The somewhat plain interior with plenty of ordinary-looking plastic trim won’t worry Audi or Mercedes-Benz designers, but the controls are well laid out, and the seats are comfortable. The TourX is also remarkably spacious and versatile, with a capacious rear seat and tons of cargo space. The 40/20/40 split-folding rear seatbacks also fold easily and create a completely flat load floor. Wagons FTW!

Regal GS: That’s More Like It

While the Sportback name might not be the best descriptor for the base Regal, the GS’s numerous performance tweaks live up to its promise on paper. The 3.6-liter V-6 is eager to rev and sounds throaty, while the nine-speed automatic is programmed intelligently and always seems to be in the right gear. Paddle shifters are a notable omission, but at least the transmission won’t shift on its own in manual mode. The steering is weighted much more heavily than in the Sportback and offers better on-center feel and sharper turn-in. The standard adaptive dampers help the GS feel considerably more buttoned down through bumpy corners. Outright grip from the all-season rubber could be better; disappointingly, Buick says it won’t offer summer tires as an option, but, then again, the Regal isn’t a track car by any means.

Although we’ve only just gotten a taste of these new Buicks, we’ll have a chance to spend more time with the 2018 Regal lineup before they go on sale. The Regal Sportback will arrive at dealerships first, going on sale this fall with a starting price of $25,915; the $29,995 TourX and the $39,995 GS will follow it by a few months.


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Even more smuggled marijuana found in new Ford Fusions from Mexico

Update: Ford Motor Company provided an official statement regarding the marijuana found in Ford Fusions. It is as follows: “We’re aware of the situation and are taking it very seriously. We are working with the FBI and Customs on an extensive investigation. We have confirmed that this is not happening at our plant or at our internal shipping yards.”

Just a couple of months ago, we told you about how marijuana was being smuggled into the US via the trunks of fresh-off-the-assembly-line Ford Fusions. According to authorities, over $1.4 million worth of weed was found in Fusions that went to Minnesota. Now the exact same thing has happened, but this time in Ohio and Pennsylvania.

According to CNN, car dealers in both states were discovering packages of drugs stuffed into the spare-tire wells of new Ford Fusions. The total came to $1 million. So far, it doesn’t seem that any affected cars have ended up in the hands of a customer. Just like with the last marijuana discovery, though, the Fusions were shipped by rail from the cars’ assembly point of Hermosillo, Mexico. Police suspect the drugs were supposed to be picked up before they reached dealers, according to CNN. As we mentioned last time marijuana surfaced in Fusions, if you just recently purchased one, you might want to take a peak in the trunk and make sure there really is a tire in the back and not a brown package.

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2019 Audi e-tron Quattro: Tesla’s Nemesis Spied in Production Form


Audi’s e-tron Quattro was first shown in concept form at the 2015 Frankfurt auto show. Now, more than a year before its U.S. launch, we get our first glimpse of the all-electric production car, which is making its rounds at Audi’s Ingolstadt home base.Caught with moderate camouflage, we can now see that the e-tron Quattro does not deviate all that far from the 2015 concept.

Audi e-tron (spy photo)

But we can also see that it will look better. The concept car’s chiseled front grille has made way for a cleaner and more stately face, and both the front and rear are adorned with futuristic LED lights. The crossover proportions remain close to the concept. The roof is somewhat coupe-like, but not too much—Audi wants to leave room for the e-tron Sportback, which will hit the market about one year after this car.

Audi e-tron (spy photo)

We hear that the interior will be close to the new A8 in concept and execution, and that’s a good thing. It means horizontal lines, multiple touchscreens, and an ultra-futuristic ambience. With the new A8, Audi seeks to establish a leadership position in autonomous-driving technology, and we expect the e-tron Quattro to further expand on the technology.

Audi e-tron (spy photo)

We will see the final product sometime in 2018, with a U.S. market launch late that year. It will be priced around $80,000, and it won’t be called the Q6 as was initially thought: it will be badged e-tron Quattro. The first versions will be fitted with one electric motor in the front and two in the rear, which, in the concept, produced a total output of 429 horsepower. The concept boasted a range of over 310 miles on the optimistic European cycle. We expect the production e-tron Quattro to stick close to those numbers. Down the road, there will be an entry-level model with one front and one rear motor, as well as a more-powerful version.

It will be interesting to see the e-tron Quattro battle with the upcoming, fully electric models by Mercedes-EQ and Jaguar. And, of course, the various offerings by Tesla—which will have to fight to retain a leading position in a market they served to create.


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Delmar Loop Armed Robbery Suspects Seen on Surveillance Video

click to enlarge Suspects in a Delmar Loop robbery escaped in this Toyota Camry, police say. - IMAGE VIA ST. LOUIS METROPOLITAN POLICE

  • Image via St. Louis Metropolitan Police
  • Suspects in a Delmar Loop robbery escaped in this Toyota Camry, police say.

A violent armed robbery in the Delmar Loop has police searching for four suspects.

Three of the crooks, all young men in hooded sweatshirts, ambushed a 26-year-old woman shortly before 3 a.m. on July 11 as she walked just west of Skinker Boulevard on the 6200 block of Delmar, according to police.

Two of the attackers sneaked up on her from behind and held a gun to her head before trying to wrench her purse away. The woman held on, and the men dragged her briefly before they managed to kick her away.

The thieves then sprinted to a white sedan where a fourth suspect was waiting to drive them away.

Police are still looking for the robbers nearly a week after the brazen stickup. On Monday, they released still shots from a surveillance video that shows grainy images of three of the suspects outside the getaway car. Investigators have identified the sedan as a newer model four-door Toyota Corolla, believed to be from 2014 to 2017. The car was missing its front license plate.

The woman bruised her knee during the frightening encounter but didn’t suffer any other physical injuries, police say.

click to enlarge Suspects in a Delmar Loop robbery were recorded on surveillance video along with their getaway car. - IMAGE VIA ST. LOUIS METROPOLITAN POLICE

  • Image via St. Louis Metropolitan Police
  • Suspects in a Delmar Loop robbery were recorded on surveillance video along with their getaway car.

We welcome tips and feedback. Email the author at or follow on Twitter at @DoyleMurphy.

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Vintage cars to go on display at Preston hospice

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Benz with a Bed: The Mercedes-Benz X-class Pickup Truck Is Here

Conveniently forgetting the Lincoln Blackwood and Mark LT and the Cadillac Escalade EXT—or, more likely, throwing massive shade at those American automakers—Mercedes has declared that its new X-class is “the first pickup from a premium manufacturer.” The X-class is an offspring of the alliance between Daimler and Renault-Nissan. It will be built alongside the Europe-market Nissan Navara, a decidedly average mid-size pickup with which the Benz shares mechanicals. It indeed will be Mercedes-Benz’s first entry in the segment, but it won’t be coming here.

In countries with access to the X-class, there will be a number of powertrain options. A few select markets will get the rear-drive-only X200 with a 164-hp gasoline four-cylinder, but the diesel versions are expected to be far more popular. There will be the 161-hp X220d and the 188-hp X250d, both powered by a four-cylinder turbo-diesel. The X350d, coming later next year, will have the most desirable powertrain: a 255-hp diesel 3.0-liter V-6. This version will be the only X-class with permanent four-wheel drive; all others come with an electronically engaging four-wheel-drive system that offers a rear-drive mode. There are two transmission choices, a six-speed manual and a seven-speed automatic.

Mercedes-Benz X-Class (Euro-spec)Mercedes-Benz X-Class (Euro-spec)

The X-class is offered in three trim levels: Pure, Progressive (conservative customers are welcome), and Power. Power refers to the vehicle’s style; its actual powertrain is identical with the other iterations. You can get COMAND infotainment, and a version of that system with a touchpad for fingertip writing is optional. The interior materials are improved over those in its Nissan sister model, but details such as the transmission shifter reveal that the X-class’s interior is a far cry from those of other Mercedes-Benz passenger vehicles in terms of sumptuousness.

Daimler claims that the X-class is “the first pickup that offers not just excellent off-road but also superb on-road performance.” That’s a steep claim even against only Euro pickups, considering the fantastic on-road performance of the Volkswagen Amarok V-6 TDI.

Daimler has set itself a high bar; we look forward to driving the X-class to see whether it measures up to the boasts. The price certainly fits the aspirations: The X-class will set buyers back nearly $36,000 when it launches in Germany this fall—and that’s before the mandatory 19 percent sales tax.


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Suspicious vehicle crashes into police cruiser near Capitol

Capitol Police on Monday investigated an incident near the U.S. Capitol in which a vehicle crashed into a police cruiser on Independence Avenue SE, according to local reports.

One car almost struck the police vehicle, according to reports, while another car did crash into the cruiser.

Police told Fox 5 in Washington, D.C. that the individual operating the second vehicle was sent to the hospital while the officer inside the cruiser suffered minor injuries. Police closed multiple streets in the area.

An officer confirmed to The Hill that authorities planned to “disrupt” the trunk of the vehicle with a small explosion.

–This breaking news report was last updated at 3:15 p.m.

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Why Sports Cars Are Often the Most Reliable Used Cars

2011 BMW Z4 sDrive35is

Certain cars are reliability incarnate. Toyota Corolla. Honda Civic. BMW Z4 (pictured above)—wait, BMW Z4? Yes, because the long-term reliability of sports cars has experienced a paradigm shift over the past 25 years, thanks in part to automakers’ improvements in quality and reaching economies of scale with these products.

Sports cars typically are driven far less than most other types of used cars, too. According to data from this author’s own Long-Term Quality Index, which has recorded the mileage and condition of more than 1.4 million trade-ins from Connecticut to California, this low-mileage reality is as true for a Mazda MX-5 as it is for a Chevrolet Corvette or even a Mercedes CLK-class.

At the same time, owners usually invest more money into sports cars when it comes to regular maintenance. You’re far less likely to find any of these vehicles being given a paper-based oil filter at a 10-minute oil-change shop or fitted with low-quality tires that can accelerate the suspension’s deterioration. Today’s sports-car owners often are older, wiser, and more willing to invest. The result? A 15-year-old sports car in excellent shape is no longer uncommon.

In fact, when it comes to long-term quality, it’s the fast and the fun that often provide the best bang for the buck. This is true even for sports cars with the same engine foundations and transmissions that are installed in full-size SUVs. The owner gets the benefit of an engine and transmission engineered to handle the stress of super-size-vehicle duties. Often, those engines and transmissions can be made (with variations specific to the application) to withstand nearly twice the vehicle weight and far more towing and hauling than any sports car. Purchasers gets the benefit of that extreme testing standard and lack of heft when they buy the sports-car version.

Radu Theyyunni, director of engine analysis at GM Global Propulsion Systems, commented on this merging of multiple standards and its impact on powertrain longevity and reliability in sports cars and other vehicles that offer a higher level of horsepower and torque.

“A sports car has a much different duty cycle than a full-size SUV,” Theyyunni said. “For example, the lubrication and cooling systems can be different. However, the base engine design, such as the main bearings, the block, and the crank, are all designed [to be] robust enough to handle both types of applications.” That means engines for trucks can handle steep grades and heavy towing loads, while engines in sports cars are optimized for performance-related activities, he said.

Sometimes even the most unreliable sports-car brands of the distant past can eventually become enduring testaments to long-term quality. Take Jaguar, for instance. The long-term reliability of that automaker’s engines has gone from the atrocious nadir of the Jaguar XJS of a quarter-century ago to the pinnacle of reliability with the well-crafted, modern engines found in the Jaguar XK.

Modern versions of Jaguar engines serve as the foundation for a wide variety of vehicles in today’s used-car market, ranging from Lincoln luxury cars to Land Rover SUVs to Ford Thunderbirds. In today’s world, that decade-old used Jaguar can already handle nearly twice the power of the old V-12 while experiencing an infinitesimal fraction of the powertrain issues.

Nearly 80 percent of the sports cars, roadsters, and grand tourers that have been sold in the United States since 1993 have above-average reliability, according to the Long-Term Reliability Index. That’s a record that no other segment of today’s market can match.

It’s a quiet reality within the used-car market: Modern sports cars usually are driven less, maintained better, and designed to handle far more abuse than their automotive ancestors. So if you want a used car that’s worth keeping, don’t be afraid to skip past the practical and dial up the horsepower.

Steven Lang has been an auto auctioneer, car dealer, and part owner of an auto auction for nearly two decades. He is co-founder of the Long-Term Quality Index.

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Minneapolis Cop Shoots and Kills Australian Woman Through Door of His Car [UPDATED w/ comments from ACLU]

family photofamily photoThe shooting of Justine Ruszczyk has attracted international attention and outrage for reinforcing the idea that American cops look at citizens as threats rather than employers who hire them to serve and protect them.

A Minneapolis police officer reportedly shot Ruszczyk, who was dressed in pajamas, while she was talking to his partner. The officer shot the woman through the driver’s side window of the squad car while in the passenger seat.

The officer who shot her was not identified but was placed on paid leave, according to the police chief, Janee Harteau. Neither officer had his body camera activated despite department policy. Because the cop shot her from inside vehicle, the incident was not caught on dash camera.

The Minnesota Department of Public Safety’s Bureau of Criminal Apprehension (BCA) is investigating the shooting, and acknowledged in a press release that the officers’ body cameras were off and that the dash camera didn’t record the shooting. Investigators are looking for whether other video of the incident might exist.

“I am heartsick and deeply disturbed by what occurred last night. My thoughts are now with everyone affected by this tragic incident, especially the deceased woman and her family,” Minneapolis Mayor Betsy Hodges said in a Facebook post. “The City will continue to provide updated information on this incident, and the BCA’s investigation, as soon as we have it.”

Ruszczyk, an Australian, had lived in the U.S. for three years and was set to marry Don Damond, a local businessman, whose surname she sometimes used. She had called 911 herself to report a possible assault in the alleyway outside her home.

“America sucks, these cops need to get trained differently,” Ruszcyk’s step-son, Zach Damond, said on a video posted online. “I’m just done, fuck the police. I’m just done. This has to stop.”

The incident demonstrates the urgent need for higher employment standards at police departments across the country. Specifically, policies requiring the use of body cameras should be coupled with disciplinary measures that include termination for failure to activate body cameras as required.

And this kind of policy needs to be enforced vigorously. In that way, it can be possible to remove officers who have a habit of ignoring their body cameras before they fail to activate it during a violent incident.

Further, a national police offender’s registry, if used vigorously, could keep such problematic cops from getting employment in law enforcement elsewhere.

For there to be any hope about improving police standards and reducing incidents of violence, it has to become easier to fire bad cops and harder for such cops to get jobs in other jurisdictions.

Minneapolis police were equipped with body cameras starting in early 2016, and department policy require them to be turned on during suspicious person and traffic stops, chases, and public contact that involves verbal or physical confrontation.

It also calls for disciplinary measures up to and including termination for failing to comply. It won’t be known whether any disciplinary measures will be taken against these two officers for their failure to turn on the body cameras in the first place at least until their names are released to the public.

The Minneapolis police body camera policy also calls for officers to obtain consent when possible before turning on their body cameras. It remains to be seen whether this offers enough of a loophole for cops to wriggle out of trouble in police shootings such as this one.

The city apologized last year for not publicizing the department’s body camera policy before rolling ou the cameras themselves.

UPDATE: The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) of Minnesota has called on the two officers to face penalties for violating department body cam policy. “This violation of policy thwarted the public’s right to know what happened to Ms. Damond and why the police killed her,” said Teresa Nelson, the interim executive director of the Minnesota ACLU, in a statement. “The two officers broke the policy not only when they didn’t activate the body cameras before the incident, but also when they failed to do so after the use of force.”

“These two officers should face penalties for breaking policy 4-223 and making the truth so much harder to find,” she said. “Consequences should be added to the policy to ensure better compliance and accountability.

The ACLU also called for the release of audio of Damond’s 911 call and any audio that may have been recorded by the dash camera.

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Tesla Autopilot is being blamed by driver in a rollover crash

A Tesla vehicle, not clear if a Model S or Model X, was involved in an accident in central Minnesota today and resulted in the vehicle rolling over and into a marsh.

The local sheriff department says that the driver and 4 passengers suffered “minor injuries”.

The driver, 58-year-old David Clark of Eden Prairie, told the police that Tesla Autopilot was to blame for the accident.

Early media reports cited the Kandiyohi county sheriff’s office directly blaming the Autopilot, but an updated news release clarified that they were relying on the information from the driver.

From the updated report:

“Clark stated that when he engaged the auto pilot feature that the vehicle suddenly accelerated causing the car to leave the roadway and overturn.”

It happened near the intersection of 141st Street and 172nd Avenue while they were traveling eastbound on 172nd Avenue.

It follows a series of accidents blamed on Tesla’s Autopilot over the past few years, including several claims of “sudden acceleration” like accidents where Tesla vehicles crashed into businesses: a Model S crashed into a gym in Florida and a Model X crashed into a beauty salon in California.

In most cases, Tesla was able to pull the data logs from the car and show that the driver, who is always responsible for controlling the vehicle even on Autopilot, was actually to blame for either ignoring alerts or not keeping their hands on the steering wheel. In one case, we were even able to have a third-party review the vehicle logs and confirm Tesla’s version of the accident.

As for this latest accident in Minnesota, Tesla was apparently unable to pull the logs since they don’t know if the Autopilot was activated during the crash. A spokesperson sent us the following statement:

“We are glad the driver and passengers are safe. We are working to establish the facts of the incident and have offered our full cooperation to the local authorities. We have not yet established whether the vehicle’s Autopilot feature was activated, and have no reason to believe that Autopilot, which has been found by NHTSA to reduce accident rates by 40%, worked other than as designed. Every time a driver engages Autopilot, they are reminded of their responsibility to remain engaged and to be prepared to take immediate action at all times, and drivers must acknowledge their responsibility to do so before Autopilot is enabled.”

It’s always possible that Tesla could not recover the data due to the severity of the crash. The vehicle rolled over at least once during the crash and was found upside down when the police arrived.

Tesla’s vehicles have scored very high on rollover safety tests due to a strong roof structure reinforced with boron steel, but furthermore, the vehicles are simply difficult to roll over due to their weight and low center of gravity thanks to the battery pack close to the ground. It must have been a severe accident to result in a rollover.

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