It’s Friday once again, which means it’s time for another round of my Five For Friday: Five Thoughts about the Auto Industry for February 22, 2013. A sub-Stingray Corvette, 4G LTE Internet from GM, the Jeep Cherokee, leaked photos of the Toyota GT-86 convertible, and a turbodiesel Jeep Wrangler on the way - let’s look at my take on the most noteworthy and interesting automotive stories from the past week.
01. Cheaper Corvette On The Horizon?
The 2014 Chevrolet Corvette Stingray hasn't been priced yet, but its expected MSRP should settle somewhere around $55,000. This has Motor Trend wondering whether there might not be room at the bottom of the Corvette lineup for a non-Stingray edition of the car that would deliver performance without the frills. The magazine recently reported that a more affordable version of the C7 Corvette - one that swaps out the 6.2-liter, 450 horsepower base V-8 for a more modest 400 horsepower, 5.3-liter unit - could help position the Chevrolet coupe underneath the $50,000 barrier and attract a wider buyer base. With the Chevrolet Camaro lurking in the wings at a very similar price point, however, this speculation might stay just that.
02. Internet In Your Car? Yes, Says GM
In-car Internet isn't new, but General Motors is on the verge of taking things past the current linked-to-mobile-phone systems that are offered by a broad range of manufacturers. Over the course of the next two years, GM will be working with AT&T in order to outfit its automobiles with 4G LTE Internet capability that will connect each vehicle directly to a mobile data network without the need for a phone as an intermediary. The new technology effectively transforms cars, trucks, and crossovers into 4G wireless hotspots, and it could revolutionize how the automaker provides downloadable content and systems updates to vehicle owners.
03. Photos Of New Jeep Cherokee Released
The Jeep Cherokee name has been re-animated and attached to a Fiat-based crossover that will be hitting the market as a 2014 model. The first pictures of this replacement for the departing Jeep Liberty were released this past week, and the looks of the small SUV are definitely unique when compared against anything else in the current Jeep lineup. Although it will not be officially unveiled until the New York Auto Show at the end of the month, the pictures that were released show a sharp, angular front fascia wearing the traditional seven-slot grille plastered across the face of all modern Jeeps. A rounded rear and family-friendly crossover styling dominates the rest of the vehicle's design, giving it a less-than-rugged personality that could appeal more to those seeking a capable urban hauler.
04. Toyota FT-86 Convertible Leaked Ahead Of Geneva Debut
Another photographic pre-release from the past seven days was unplanned on the part of its parent company. The Toyota FT-86 convertible was to be kept a secret until the upcoming Geneva Motor Show this month, but a number of photos of the vehicle have made their way to the Internet ahead of its debut. The drop top, which will be marketed in the United States as the Scion FR-S convertible, looks remarkably like a Lexus thanks to its clean lines and aggressive front fascia. No word on pricing or availability until Geneva makes everything official, but for those who were hoping for an open-air competitor to the Mazda Miata, the Scion FR-S convertible would appear to be it.
05. Jeep Wrangler Next To Be Invited To Diesel Party
Ward's Auto is reporting that the next refresh of the iconic Jeep Wrangler SUV will be bringing more than just updated looks to customers when it makes its way to showrooms for 2015. Jeep President and CEO Mike Manley discussed the potential for a diesel-powered Wrangler in an interview with Ward's, stating that the off-road warrior will most likely avail itself of a turbodiesel power plant to coincide with its redesign.
If the same EcoDiesel mill found under the hood of the 2014 Jeep Grand Cherokee is used, this would make the 2015 Jeep Wrangler with the optional turbodiesel motor the most powerful version of the SUV in the history of the brand, as the 3.0-liter V-6 delivers 240 horsepower and over 400 lb-ft of torque in its current tune. A smaller four-cylinder turbodiesel motor is also a possibility. Even more important for Wrangler fans is how much additional range out on the trail the diesel unit would give buyers, thanks to the impressive fuel economy associated with direct-injection diesel technology.
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