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Today’s FirstUp

August 29, 2014 

Mercedes-Benz Crossovers, SUVs Will All be Renamed

Mercedes-Benz is set to bring sweeping changes to the names of its SUVs, a move aimed at placing greater emphasis on its C-, E-, and S-class models. Among the changes – Mercedes-Benz officials haven’t confirmed them yet – is renaming the upcoming second-generation GLK. It will wear GLC badges when it’s revealed in 2015, according to sources close to the German carmaker. AutoWeek says the new name, first used on the April’s Beijing motor concept GLC coupe, is meant to align the GLK with the C-class in the same way the smaller GLA ties to the A-class. Mercedes-Benz also plans to abandon the long established M-class name for a new GLE badge when the facelifted version of its strong-selling US-built SUV drops early next year. As well as appearing on the facelifted M-class, the GLE name is also planned to appear on the production version of the concept GLC Coupe. It wears the GLE Coupe name into production. Further up the ladder, the GL gets a new GLS name, positioning it as the S-class of Benz’s SUV lineup. For more on Mercedes’ plans, click here

Toyota Targets Shoppers with Location-Based Mobile Ad Tool
Toyota is using a location-based mobile ad tool to supercharge its annual clearance sale. According to Automotive News, the tool, Opera Mediaworks’ Dynamic Sales Event platform, enables Toyota to target shoppers who are intent on making a purchase with banner ads on Web pages and apps that display the annual percentage rate for loans at dealerships in their regions. Click here for an example. The ads sometimes also include cash-back offers. The tool uses a mobile device’s latitude and longitude to determine whether potential buyers are near a dealership in real time. Toyota knows a shopper is actively looking for a vehicle thanks to data from its Audience Management Platform. “Being able to reach users based on where they are in that moment or where they have been provides a new type of behavioral targeting that is very effective at reaching specific audiences,” said Scott Swanson, president of global advertising sales for Opera Mediaworks. The targeted ads are getting a 44 percent boost in response from active shoppers compared with non-targeted ads. The targeting campaign began Aug. 6 and continues through Monday, when the sale ends. For more on Toyota’s targeted ads, and what they might offer next, click here

With 3.5L V-6, Honda Proves Less is More
Previous versions of Honda’s SOHC all-aluminum 60-degree V-6 were Ward’s 10 Best Engines winners in 2005, 2008 and 2009, and this new one already is a two-time awardee for 2013 and 2014. Tested by WardsAuto editors in a ’14 Accord sedan equipped with a 6-speed automatic, it pumps out 278 horsepower and 252 lb.-ft. of torque while delivering segment-leading EPA-rated fuel economy of 21/34 mpg city/highway. Click here to see it. The Ward's 10 Best Engines jury collectively averaged more than 28 mpg over 837 miles of driving, well better than the 25-mpg combined EPA rating. "Turbocharged 4-cyl. engines, fast becoming the standard in this segment, struggle to post numbers like that," one WardsAuto juror wrote, “as did some naturally aspirated I-4s in this year's competition.” The most significant difference between this V-6 and previous versions is the first-ever marriage of Honda’s intelligent variable-valve timing and lift electronic control (i-VTEC) to variable cylinder management (VCM), which is Honda's clever cylinder-deactivation system. Perhaps most remarkably, Honda's 3.5L V-6 engineers have achieved impressive fuel efficiency and output without dual-overhead camshafts or direct fuel injection, which add substantial cost, complexity, mass and package size. For more on Honda’s award-winning 3.5L V-6, click here

See the Wild Lexus NX Spot too Retro for Outside Japan
Drifting cars, techno music, string bikinis, and foam parties. At first glance, Lexus’ new “Shampoo” TV spot seems tailor-made for the trendy young crowd the luxury brand craves. But Automotive News reports that the brilliant, visually enticing commercial for the new NX compact crossover won’t air stateside. Click here to watch it. It’s a Japan-only pitch that Lexus execs deemed too retro to go global. Blame it on the foam party, that turn-of-the-century (21st century, that is) Eurotrash fad from the nightclubs of Ibiza. While now a cringe-worthy memory for most hipsters in the U.S. and Europe, foam parties still carry currency in Japan. “Apparently they are becoming popular here,” Mark Templin, executive vice president of Lexus International, said Tuesday at a foam-themed NX kickoff event beneath Tokyo Tower. The Lexus “Shampoo” commercial is cool mainly because of its anchor sequence, which depicts two racing NX crossovers drifting and spinning through a tarmac smothered in snowy bubbles. The goal: Underscore the car’s performance credentials, Templin said. In the U.S. and Europe, by contrast, the NX message will focus more on the car’s edgy design, he added. For starters, the European creative will feature American rapper For more on the NX, click here

Top 15 Back-to-School Cars for 2014
Even with so many choices on the new-car market, finding a good vehicle for a student can prove difficult. According to the editors of Motor Trend, a great back-to-school car should be versatile — ready for moving boxes, midnight pizza runs, and tight parking. More importantly, it needs to be safe and budget-friendly. For those fortunate enough to get a new car the obvious choices include small sedans, but buyers need not limit themselves to searching in just one segment. Parents can rest easy, as each car listed on this list earned either 4 or 5 stars in recent government crash-test ratings. First up is the Mazda CX-5. Click here for a picture. Sharp steering and great handling are what really sets apart the Mazda CX-5. Best of all, students will enjoy plenty of space for friends in this small crossover without sacrificing that small-car feel. Another favorite is the Subaru XV Crosstrek. The XV Crosstrek is a compact crossover that delivers capable performance in the urban landscape and off-the-beaten-path. Also making the list are the Honda Fit, Toyota Prius c, and the Kia Soul. For all 15 of the best back-to-school vehicles for students, click here


  • Korea's Automakers Are Moving Away From Korea [Bloomberg]
  • Fiat Avoids Chrysler Merger Road Block [WSJ]
  • Video: Datsun Expands Revival with New Mi-Do in Moscow [AutoBlog]
  • Infographic: Labor Day by the Numbers [NBC]

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