Pod Rods: Some classics run before the Rolex 24; Ford buzzes a car; and Range Rover shows off its coupe interior

America’s racing season starts this weekend with the Rolex 24 at Daytona, so we thought Pod Rods would take a peek at some special stuff there. Then we get an emotional buzz off a Ford, check out what “Emmo” is doing before he comes to The Amelia Island Concours, and let Jalopnik solve what’s a supercar. It’s all in Pod Rods, along with the local car event calendar: — First off, one intriguing part of the Rolex 24 weekend at Daytona International Speedway is a high-speed exhibition of cars that raced in the round-the-clock endurance race there in the past. Then those cars are displayed in the infield as the race begins Saturday afternoon. Jacksonville collector John Campion has three special Lancia race cars arrayed on display, and also plans to run them in the Rolex Heritage run. Then part of his Lancia collection will be included March 11 at the special Martini racing class display at the 23rd annual Amelia Island Cocnours d’Elegance. — Speaking of The Amelia and its event-filled March 9-11 weekend at The Ritz-Carlton, Amelia Island and The Golf Club of Amelia Island, this year’s honoree is veteran racer and Indy 500 winner Emerson Fittipaldi, while the event will also celebrate 60 Years of N.A.R.T, the Porsche Carrera, Auburn, IMSA GTP, the Jaguar E-Type and the Ferrari Daytona. As part of its honoring of “Emmo,” the concours has introduced a new video to show off some of the racer’s exploits and feelings about attending. — And if one video of Fittipaldi isn’t enough, how about this sneak preview of a special Super Bowl ad for Kia, as “Emmo” drives the company’s new rear wheel-drive Stinger sports sedan on a race track against another unseen driver. The 60-second ad will run in the Super Bowl’s the third quarter Feb. 4, the automaker’s ninth consecutive year advertising in the show. — A special 2016 Harley-Davidson Softtail Slim motorcycle Continue Reading

Houston Auto Show Preview Night gives sneak peek at Texas’ hottest car show

By John Boyd Updated 11:56 am, Wednesday, April 5, 2017 window._taboola = window._taboola || []; _taboola.push({ mode: 'thumbnails-c', container: 'taboola-interstitial-gallery-thumbnails-5', placement: 'Interstitial Gallery Thumbnails 5', target_type: 'mix' }); _taboola.push({flush: true}); window._taboola = window._taboola || []; _taboola.push({ mode: 'thumbnails-c', container: 'taboola-interstitial-gallery-thumbnails-10', placement: 'Interstitial Gallery Thumbnails 10', target_type: 'mix' }); _taboola.push({flush: true}); window._taboola = window._taboola || []; _taboola.push({ mode: 'thumbnails-c', container: 'taboola-interstitial-gallery-thumbnails-15', placement: 'Interstitial Gallery Thumbnails 15', target_type: 'mix' }); _taboola.push({flush: true}); window._taboola = window._taboola || []; _taboola.push({ mode: 'thumbnails-c', container: 'taboola-interstitial-gallery-thumbnails-20', placement: 'Interstitial Gallery Thumbnails 20', target_type: 'mix' }); _taboola.push({flush: true}); window._taboola = window._taboola || []; _taboola.push({ mode: 'thumbnails-c', container: 'taboola-interstitial-gallery-thumbnails-25', placement: 'Interstitial Gallery Thumbnails 25', target_type: 'mix' }); _taboola.push({flush: true}); window._taboola = window._taboola || []; _taboola.push({ mode: 'thumbnails-c', container: 'taboola-interstitial-gallery-thumbnails-30', placement: 'Interstitial Gallery Thumbnails 30', target_type: 'mix' }); _taboola.push({flush: true}); window._taboola = window._taboola || []; _taboola.push({ mode: 'thumbnails-c', container: 'taboola-interstitial-gallery-thumbnails-35', placement: 'Interstitial Gallery Thumbnails 35', target_type: 'mix' }); _taboola.push({flush: true}); window._taboola = window._taboola || []; _taboola.push({ mode: 'thumbnails-c', container: 'taboola-interstitial-gallery-thumbnails-40', placement: 'Interstitial Gallery Thumbnails 40', target_type: 'mix' }); Continue Reading

First Drive: The 2018 Alfa Romeo Stelvio is an ‘al dente’ entry luxury SUV

Full Car Details More Reviews Any chef worth his or her weight knows two of the most important words for cooking pasta: al dente. While it technically means “to the tooth” in Italian, this property of perfect pasta is achieved by draining and straining a minute or so before the pasta would otherwise be finished cooking, resulting in a firm bite and a heartier dish. If this sounds to the un-seasoned chef (pun intended) like an easy way to undercook pasta on a regular basis, don’t be wary: the residual heat from the boiling process and any additional cooking in a separately prepared sauce will achieve that perfect consistency that you’ll find in your favorite Italian restaurant… unless that restaurant happens to be Olive Garden, in which case, come see me in my office and we’ll have a chat. Mastering the art of cooking pasta al dente every time, regardless of its shape or size, is one of the first steps on the way to becoming an accomplished cook, and much like in Italian cuisine, building a successful luxury automotive brand from the ground up requires mastery of the basics first and foremost. See, you knew I’d get to the car eventually. If you missed the Super Bowl this year or haven’t been paying attention to basically every automotive news site for the last two years or so, you may have missed the news: Alfa Romeo is back, and it's bringing with it an onslaught of sexy Italian cars and SUVs to steal sales from the stodgy Germans. Or rather, that was the plan. With its first mainstream offering since the early 1990s, the Giulia compact sports sedan, Alfa has swept up numerous awards and the hearts of enthusiasts like me who have wanted the storied brand to make a comeback for decades, both on our shores and in general. The rip-roaring Giulia Quadrifoglio set record lap times, took home our Luxury Performance Car award, and gave us Continue Reading

Much like the Falcons, Alfa Romeo blew a chance at Super Bowl glory with sub-par ads

It may not have been as obvious as the one right before our eyes, but there were two massive squandered opportunities during Sunday’s epic Super Bowl between the New England Patriots and Atlanta Falcons… and both perpetrators were wearing red. In case it has eluded your attention span thus far – and for many Americans this is unfortunately the case – Fiat Chrysler Automobiles (FCA) is re-launching the legendary Alfa Romeo brand in the United States with an onslaught of boldly-styled, loud, and ridiculously fast cars and SUVs this year and next, and the brand officially signaled its arrival with a trio of ad spots on the world’s biggest television stage: the Super Bowl. With the average 30 second slot running close to $4.6 million, FCA bought two minutes worth of airtime, totaling over $20 million, and that’s before whatever amount they paid to be the official sponsors of the halftime highlights and analysis show. That’s a massive chunk of change, but likely a necessary one to introduce potential buyers to a brand they likely have no frame of reference for or experience with if they’re not hardcore gearheads. But, both in the moment and after re-watching the three spots, I couldn't help but feel just one sentiment watching the gorgeous red Giulia Quadrifoglio bomb down a variety of back roads and racetracks: Yawn. This is absolutely not to say that Alfa Romeo has built a boring car. Quite the opposite, in fact, as our first drive of the Giulia QF (we’ll refer to it as this for now, as I’m getting tired of spelling out Quadrifoglio every time) revealed a raucous, unbelievably fast sports sedan, perhaps at the top of its segment before ever reaching a buyer’s driveway. I mean, it’s got 505 horsepower, wild looks, and comes in two gorgeous shades of red (and some other colors, but don’t get those). How could a car like that not blow people Continue Reading

Daily Drive-Thru: New looks for the Ford Expedition, Dodge Durango; U.S. News picks the ‘Best Cars for the Money,’ and more

In addition to that bit of new-model news, we’ve also got the latest on a lawsuit over the use the term “certified pre-owned” and a glimpse at what things might look like if the Trump Administration actually pushes its harsh border tax policy through. Plus our Associate Editor Brian León tells us why Alfa Romeo blew it as bad as the Atlanta Falcons on Super Bowl Sunday. All of that and more in this Tuesday edition of the Daily Drive-Thru. Ford rolls out all-new Expedition Tired of getting its butt kicked by the Chevrolet Tahoe and Suburban, the all-new 2018 Ford Expedition looks better than ever, drawing inspiration from two of its more successful siblings, the midsize Explorer SUV and F-150 pickup truck. Taking the F-150’s lead, the Expedition has adopted an aluminum body on top of a high-strength steel frame, which allows it to drop 300 pounds. But make no mistake, this full-size SUV is no lightweight, with its F-150-inspired 3.5-liter turbocharged EcoBoost V6 engine, which comes paired with a 10-speed automatic transmission. In terms of looks, however, that’s where the Explorer influence comes in, as the Expedition’s normally harsh exterior gets noticeably softened, a shift likely made to appeal to a broader, more family-minded audience. Dodge adopts the Durango into the SRT family Not to be outdone, Dodge also made a major announcement for its full-size SUV offering. While it did not surprise us with a complete redesigned Durango, it did the next best thing, outfitting it with 392-cubic-inch Hemi-powered V8 and slapping a few SRT badges onto it. Joining the elite ranks of the Charger and Challenger 392 and Hellcat sports car, the Durango SRT offers way more speed and power than any three-seat SUV truly needs, and it is glorious. We’re talking 475 horsepower, 470 lb.-ft. of torque and seven adjustable damping modes, including one designed Continue Reading

Daily Drive-Thru: A first look at the 2018 Range Rover Velar; suit claims automakers knew about Takata issues, and more

Oh, hello there, long time no see. After a week-long hiatus for a much-needed vacation, I’m officially back to work, ready to dish out the latest automotive news to you for the rest of the week. Today we’ve got the latest update on the ongoing Takata air bag saga, February’s sales reports, some lovely eye candy, and more in today’s edition of the Daily Drive-Thru. First, let’s get things started with the latest addition to the Range Rover family. First Look: 2018 Range Rover Velar Named after Land Rover’s first-ever Range Rover prototype built in 1969, the Range Rover Velar pays homage to the line’s history while also blazing a new path toward the future. Slotted between the midsize Range Rover Sport and the small Range Rover Evoque, the Velar features new design cues and technology that Land Rover promises to roll into the rest of its Range Rover line in the near future. With advanced driving assistance features such as adaptive cruise control, Land Rover’s off-roading Terrain Response 2 system and advanced towing assistance, the Velar promises to be a versatile addition to the Range Rover family. Suit: Automakers knew about Takata defects Japanese auto parts maker Takata Corp. has taken a lot of heat for its defective air bag inflators, and rightfully so. They’ve resulted in at least 17 deaths, more than 100 injuries and they are at the heart of the biggest automotive safety recall ever. But perhaps Takata is not the only party at fault here. A lawsuit filed on behalf of Takata air bag victims and their families claims that BMW, Ford, Honda, Nissan and Toyota knew about the dangers of the ammonium nitrate-powered inflators and used them anyway. In fact, Ford’s safety monitors explicitly warned against using the air bags, but the company did anyway. GMC, Nissan, Honda thrive as sales fall nation wide Continue Reading