- - Friday, December 4, 2015

As the end of the year rolls around, car manufacturers are happier than ever to showcase the best and brightest for the New Year and beyond, and there is quite a bit of news too.

Honda is in the midst of launching the all-new Civic (sedan, coupe, Si versions and Type R), and next year you can expect an all-new Ridgeline pick-up truck followed by an all-new Honda Odyssey minivan. On the Acura side, the NSX supercar is coming in spring 2016.

Over at Toyota, Scion is expanding its lineup with a vehicle fit for young urban creatives who Toyota folks say actually inspired the design. At the recent LA Auto Show, Scion took the wraps off the C-HR Concept, which is named for its Compact size and High Ride height. A variation of the vehicle shown in Paris and Frankfurt, the C-HR Concept incorporates Toyota’s New Global Architecture (TNGA). TNGA is an innovative and integrated approach to developing new platforms and powertrains for Toyota, creating a lower center of gravity, increased body rigidity, more responsive handling and improved ride comfort.

The 2016 Toyota Prius is out now and all about creating change. At a recent launch for the new Prius executives proudly revealed a new exterior design, new hybrid system with a notable fuel economy boost, a new platform with double wishbone rear suspension and now available with Toyota’s Safety Sense system offering automatic pre-collision braking. The 2016 Toyota Prius will also be the first vehicle based on Toyota’s New Global Architecture. As for the exterior changes, its longer, lower and wider than in years past, promising more room on the inside as well as handling agility.

“This Prius will invite new drivers into the category by delivering an impressive look and feel, built on the foundation of safety and eco-consciousness that define the vehicle’s heritage,” said Bill Fay, group vice president and general manager, Toyota Division.

The new Prius comes in six trims; the well-equipped entry level Prius Two for hybrid buyers on a budget, Prius Two Eco for buyers looking for even greater fuel efficiency and increased technology, Prius Three, Prius Three Touring offering a high-end driving experience, the top-of-the-line Prius Four and the Prius Four Touring for drivers who want it all in one package.

Because the Prius, under certain situations, can operate in battery mode alone, it will incorporate a Vehicle Proximity Notification System to help alert pedestrians and cyclists. A small in-vehicle speaker emits a low but noticeable warning tone when traveling below approximately 15 mph, and the sound changes with vehicle speed.

Lincoln can’t be forgotten, and looking further into 2017 expect a newly designed 2017 MKZ focusing on areas most desired by today’s luxury midsize sedan customer – quality, performance and style. The new Lincoln MKZ is designed to appeal to those who are looking for something different in the luxury market. From the placement of technology features such as the push-button gear shift to re-imagined interior spaces, including the floating center console, drivers will find an unexpected experience based on intelligent function and beautiful form that offers, above all, an enjoyable drive. The Lincoln Continental will also return in 2016, an all-new full-size sedan. The Lincoln folks said, “The Continental Concept provides a strong signal of what’s to come.”

Volvo is also touting its development of a “Time Machine” concept. Announced in November, the concept is compatible with the company’s new Scalable Product Architecture (SPA), which underpins the all-new 2016 XC90 and future Volvo models.

“You won’t be able to go back in time and meet the legends of history, or go into the future and meet your kids,” said Anders Tylman-Mikiewicz, general manager of the Volvo Monitoring and Concept Center. “But when our planned concept is applied to a SPA-based vehicle, it has the potential of giving significant time back to drivers.”

This Volvo concept has been in development over the last several years and Volvo also said it will introduce 14 new car models over the next three years based on the new Scalable Product Architecture and Compact Modular Architecture. These vehicle architectures allow the company to quickly develop new ways of making vehicles more adaptable to individual, market or societal needs. The company has already introduced three concepts and variations to the SPA based XC90 earlier this year.

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