Chase Elliott talks about his rookie season and the 2017 Kelley Blue Book Best Buy Awards

4-6 November, 2016, Fort Worth, Texas USA Chase Elliott (24) makes a pit stop. ©2016, John Harrelson / NKP

Kelley Blue Book recently announced the winners of the 2017 Kelley Blue Book Best Buy Awards, honoring the top model-year vehicle choices available in the U.S. market. Of more than 300 new-car models available for 2017, KBB’s editors named the 2017 Honda Civic the Best Buy of 2017 alongside Best Buy Award winners in 12 major vehicle categories.

We spoke to NASCAR driver Chase Elliott about the KBB awards, his rookie season, and if his dad, legendary driver Bill Elliott aka “Awesome Bill From Dawsonville,” ever made him use KBB to help with an automobile purchasing decision like our dads did.

When was the last time you bought a car? When I was your age, my dad made me use Kelley Blue Book to confirm the right price. Did your dad ever make you do that?

Yes! I have in the past. I haven’t purchased anything recently because I’ve been so focused on my rookie season. But I have definitely looked at KBB over the years, trying to make a good move in terms of a purhcasing decision, and my dad got me started on that.

What’s the weirdest thing you’ve thought of while driving 200 MPH on a racetrack? 

That’s a good question. Once we get going in a race, we have so many things that are going on. Trying to make the car better, trying to improve, trying to drive better, communicating what you need to your team. We just have a lot of things going on. That being said, you don’t have a lot of time to think about anything outside of that. And if you do, your head probably isn’t in the right place. We try to stay as locked in as we can.

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First Drive: 2017 Prius Prime

The new Prius Prime from Toyota is a plug-in hybrid that pushes the envelope of what we’ve come to expect from hybrid vehicles. That’s not surprising as the Prius brand has led the way in this category for years, and now it’s also coupled with a bolder design to attract even more potential consumers. I drove the Prius Prime on some great roads in SoCal and came away very impressed.

Exterior

As you can see, Toyota has gone with a much more aggressive design for the Prime. It will be interesting to see how loyal Prius buyers react to the new design but in my view it’s a significant improvement. The designers went with a more chiseled profile and edgy character lines along with very distinctive headlights and taillights. The quad LED headlights look like diamonds and highlight the front facia along with a bold acrylic grille, and the rear end with also catch your attention with prominent taillights.

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Lamborghini introduces limited edition Centenario Roadster

Lamborghini Centenario Roadster 1

If you’ve been pining over a new Lamborghini, you’re going to have to look for something other than this new roadster. Lamborghini introduced the limited edition Centenario Roadster at Pebble Beach this weekend and announced they will only be making 20 of these beautiful beasts. All of them have already been sold at a starting price of 2 million euros!

This follows the introduction of the Centenario Coupé, with Lamborghini unveiling its latest one-off creation for fervent collectors and enthusiasts at Monterey Car Week in California.

“Lamborghini prides itself on the relentless pursuit of experimentation. We are proud to unleash Centenario’s further potential in the form of a classic roadster; the perfect harmony between innovation and timeless design. This unique engineering achievement is a befitting tribute to Lamborghini’s extraordinary past and a preview of its brilliant future. Centenario Roadster embraces the cutting edge characteristics of its coupé sibling and embraces the freedom of a true open-top super sports car for a pure drive experience,” said Stefano Domenicali, Automobili Lamborghini Chief Executive Officer.

It’s not just a beautiful vehicle. The new Centenario Roadster also boasts a V12 naturally aspirated engine with 770 horsepower, the most powerful built by Lamborghini, with a weight to power ratio 2.04 kg/hp. The 20 buyers should have some fun with this one!

Lamborghini Centenario Roadster 2

  

Cadillac unveils Escala Concept at Pebble Beach

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The Escala Concept introduces the next evolution of Cadillac design.
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The Escala Concept introduces the next evolution of Cadillac design.

Cadillac previewed the future design direction for the brand as it unveiled the Escala Concept this weekend at the annual Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance. Cadillac describes this new concept flagship sedan as a more expressive, expansive companion to the recently launched CT6.

The design is impressive, and it certainly looks like a Cadillac, but it’s still a rather pronounced departure from recent Cadillac design with the shape of the front facia and the front headlights. Take a look back at the Elmiraj Concept from three years ago and you’ll see the difference. The Elmiraj design was reflected in Cadillacs we’ve seen over the past several year, so we can expect to see the Escala front end reflected in upcoming Caddies as well.

Cadillac points out that the new design offers “a new expression of Cadillac’s vertical lighting, a brand signature since 1948.” But there’s no mistaking the horizontal lighting that now dominates the front end.

“Escala is a concept with two clear objectives,” said Johan de Nysschen, president of Global Cadillac. “First, Escala is a statement of intent for the next iteration of the Cadillac design language, and also technical concepts in development for future Cadillac models. Secondly, Escala builds Cadillac’s aspirational character, signaling the brand’s return to the pinnacle of premium.”

I like the new look, and Cadillac probably needed to push their designs in a newer direction to refresh the brand. Let’s see how this new design expression gets treated in upcoming production models.

  

NASCAR racing helped create mystique of the American automobile

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NASCAR (the National Association of Stock Car Automobile Racing) had a tremendous effect on the development of American’s love affair with automobiles. It also helped in the development of many safety and performance developments that have come along in the last 50 years. The history of American motoring has its roots firmly planted in NASCAR’s development.

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