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2017 Toyota Highlander Gets Design Tweaks, New V6 and More Tech

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2017 Toyota Highlander SUV, Cherry red

Toyota has made several modifications to the Highlander for its 2017 model year, giving it a revised exterior, a new V6 engine and more tech.

Unveiled at the 2016 New York Auto Show, the updated, three-row SUV-crossover features a new grille, a redesigned lower front bumper, and restyled head- and taillights. There are more exterior colors and alloy wheel designs to choose from.

A new mid-range trim level called SE joins the lineup for the first time, giving buyers darker exterior accents, black leather upholstery with silver contrast stitching, 19-inch alloy wheels, and a sportier suspension.

The biggest news is found under the hood, where mid- to high trim Highlanders benefit from a direct-injected 3.5-liter V6 engine that’s mated to a new eight-speed automatic transmission. promises that the eight-speed boosts both performance and gas mileage.

Entry-level models continue to be powered by a 2.7-liter four-cylinder engine.

On the safety front, the 2017 Highlander comes standard with Toyota Safety Sense P (TSS), which bundles several safety technologies that include Lane Departure Alert, a Pre-Collision System with Forward Collision Warning and automatic emergency brake, Automatic High Beams, Pedestrian Pre- Collision, and Dynamic Radar Cruise Control.

Toyota’s large SUV-crossover goes on sale in the second half of 2016.

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Chevrolet

New, 2018 Chevrolet Traverse Gets RS Treatment, Turbo Engine

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New, 2018 Chevrolet Traverse RS SUV

The Chevrolet Traverse lineup has received a sportier touch in the form of the new Traverse RS.

Unveiled at the 2018 Chicago Auto Show, the Traverse RS is the first Traverse to get a turbocharged engine, one that makes 257 horsepower and 295 pound-feet of torque. The engine is mated to a nine-speed automatic transmission that helps the three-row, seven-passenger crossover deliver an expected EPA fuel economy rating of 20 mpg in city driving and 26 mpg on the highway.

The RS treatment appears to be more of an appearance and comfort package than it is a performance-focused one, adding blacked-out exterior trim and such standard equipment as HID headlamps, active shutters, an eight-inch infotainment system, heated seats, Bose audio, and unique 20-inch dark wheels. It doesn’t come with all-wheel drive, nor does it have it as an option.

The Chevrolet Traverse RS is currently available in the United States with a $43,095 MSRP (including freight).

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Compact Cars

Byton’s 300-Mile Electric SUV Concept Takes Aim At Tesla

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Electric Byton SUV

If you have never heard of Byton, don’t worry — we write about cars everyday, and neither have we.

Making its North American debut at the 2018 Consumer Electronics Expo, Byton is a Chinese upstart that clearly wants to give Tesla Motors a run for its money. The company showed off its first concept at the show, an all-electric SUV that CEO Carsten Breitfeld claims “will deliver an entirely new connective experience for people on the move.”

The Byton SUV was designed in German and, as far as technology is concerned, probably has more in common with the latest smartphones than it does with the average car, boasting such gen-y features as facial-recognition-enabled locking and profiles for seat position memory, entertainment settings and more.

Its attractive and modern exterior is reminiscent of Faraday Future’s FF 91, while the interior seats seven and is highlighted by a massive 49-inch “shared experience display” screen that spans the entire dash complimented by a 8-inch touchscreen integrated into the steering wheel.

The seats can pivot, providing all passengers access to the display. Multiple, cloud-enabled productivity or entertainment features like Amazon Alexa are abound and are powered by a 5G connection.

When the SUV arrives, buyers will have the option of two versions. The base model will have a rear-wheel drive configuration and a 71 kWh battery pack that should give it a driving range around 250 miles, while the second version is all-wheel drive and packs a larger 95 kWh battery that lets it travel 325 miles.

Rear-drive models will have 400NM of torque (~300lb-ft) to work with, and the dual-motor all-wheel-drive variant will pump out 710NM (just under 525lb-ft). These are very ambitious performance figures for a Jeep Grand Cherokee-sized SUV poised for production.

As is customary of most premium electric car concepts these days, there is an autonomous driving system that, like Tesla’s, can be upgraded via software. Launch models features enhanced Level 3 components, while Level 4 will be offered sometime later as an over-the-air upgrade.

The production Byton electric SUV will be ambitious in its engineering, but perhaps not as ambitious as its claimed starting price of just $45,000 U.S., which greatly undercuts the Tesla Model X. It launches in China in 2019, with European and U.S. sales beginning later on.

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Kia Niro EV Concept Previews Kia’s Long-Range Electric CUV

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Kia Niro Electric Crossover Concept

For those that like or are even considering getting the Kia Niro plugin hybrid, but want more electrification, the Kia Niro EV Conept is a preview of what’s to come.

Unveiled at the 2018 Consumer Electronics Expo, the full-electric crossover is just a concept, but Kia has already stated a specific range of 238 miles (383 km), which, as it turns out, is the exact same range that the Chevrolet Bolt EV launched with. A coincidence? The Korean automaker isn’t the type to play games, so likely not.

The elimination of an international combustion engine renders a traditional grille unnecessary, with the Niro EV featuring a smooth interactive display panel instead. It is powered by powered by a next-generation electric vehicle powertrain that pairs a 64 kWh lithium-polymer battery pack with a 150 kW electric motor.

Designers opted for a minimalistic interior boasting new technologies, including an advanced pedestrian warning system that uses multiple front-view cameras, object-recognition technology and front speakers to detect and alert pedestrians or cyclists of the car’s presence. The system also uses the grille-mounted display to provide visual communication.

The production Kia Niro EV will be one of the first long-range crossovers available when it launches, as well as just one of 16 new green vehicles that Kia will introduce by 2025, including a new hydrogen-powered, fuel-cell electric vehicle sometime in 2020.

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