Land Rover Discovery Concept: Land Rover confirmed that it will bring a new family of vehicles, called Discovery, to market starting in 2015 with a small SUV called the Discovery Sport. In the meantime, it's showing the Discovery concept vehicle, which is full of advanced technology. Drivers can fold down the seats and reconfigure the interior using a touchscreen, for example, or control the car remotely at very low speeds. The concept also hints at future Land Rover technologies. The doors, headlights and seatback screens can be controlled by gestures, and the powerful headlights use lasers to track objects in front of them and lower their beams in oncoming traffic. A "transparent" hood uses cameras beneath the car to project the road surface onto the windshield, giving the impression that the driver can see right through the hood and down to the road below.
BMW X4: BMW has a new competitor in the red-hot small SUV segment. The X4, dubbed a "sports activity coupe," sits slightly longer and lower than its sister vehicle, the X3, and has a slanted, coupe-like roof. New features include a standard power tailgate that lifts if the driver waves a foot under it. The X4, which goes on sale this spring, starts at $45,625 for the xDrive28i, which has a 2.0-liter, 240-horsepower four-cylinder engine. The top-of-the-line xDrive35i starts at $48,925 and has a 3.0-liter, 300-horsepower V6. Both models have an eight-speed transmission and all-wheel-drive.
Nissan Murano: Nissan has given the third generation of the Murano midsize crossover SUV a more modern design, nicer interior and better fuel economy than the previous version. The company says the exterior runs counter to the typical "heaviness and chunkiness" of SUVs, with sculpted sides, new lighting and a jet-inspired roof. Inside, the 2015 Murano gets three-cushion seats and a low center console that makes conversations easier between the front and rear occupants. The SUV, available in the fall, comes with a 3.5-liter V6 engine that will get about 24 mpg in combined city-highway driving. That's 20 percent better than the current version. Price wasn't announced.
Hyundai Sonata: The 2011 Hyundai Sonata, with its curvy, creased sides and upscale interior, elevated Hyundai as a brand and prodded competitors to improve their own designs. Now, the 2015 Sonata ditches the curves in favor of clean, taut lines and a more premium look. The car has a firmer, more responsive feel. The grille is larger, and flanked by narrower, LED running lights. Inside, Hyundai redesigned the center stack and angled it toward the driver for better ergonomics. Noise inside the car is reduced with more sound deadening materials in the dashboard and elsewhere. New features include a trunk that automatically opens when it senses the driver's key, optional blind spot and lane departure warning systems and, later this year, Apple's CarPlay, which will let drivers use their iPhones through the car. Hyundai made some tweaks to the engines. The SE, Limited and Sport models get the 2.4-liter four-cylinder with 185 horsepower, while the Sport 2.0 gets a 2.0-liter turbocharged four-cylinder with 245 horsepower. The new Sonata goes on sale this summer.
Mercedes S63 AMG 4Matic Coupe: The high performance version of the two-door S63 coupe burns up the road with a 5.5-liter V8 that gets 577 horsepower and 664 pound-feet of torque. The car can accelerate from 0 to 60 in 3.9 seconds and has a top speed of 186 mph. Mercedes shaved 140 pounds off the previous model by using more lightweight materials, including a lightweight lithium-ion battery and a composite braking system. That will help fuel economy. For the first time, the S63 AMG will come standard with an all-wheel-drive system. The system sends two-thirds of the engine torque to the rear wheels, for better performance, but gives drivers more control on wet or icy roads. The S63 AMG goes on sale this fall in the U.S. Pricing wasn't announced, but it will top $100,000.
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