Today we have groundbreaking new hardware on the way to showrooms from both BMW and Cadillac. Jeep is teasing us again with must see Wrangler concept vehicles at the Moab Easter Safari. And in our Reality Check, Ford is recycling more than just Budweiser cans to build their new F-150’s.

2016 BMW X5 xDrive 540e

As if BMW wasn’t already in cutting edge limelight, they enter the newly minted plug-in hybrid SUV fray with their 2016 X5 xDrive40e.

The 2016 X5 xDrive40e plug-in hybrid combines a 240 horsepower 2.0-liter turbocharged four-cylinder engine with a 111 horsepower electric motor integrated into its 8-speed automatic transmission.

Together, the two power sources can deliver an impressive 308 horsepower and 332 pound feet of torque. BMW says that even with its heavy battery and hardware, it can accelerate from 0-60 mph in just 6.5 seconds.

Its lithium-ion battery pack can be plugged in and charged, allowing for up to 13 miles of driving in electric only mode with top speeds of 75 mph – emission free. Outside of that, the X5 xDrive40e functions much like that of any other hybrid vehicle.

Making it unique in the marketplace, the X5 xDrive40e retains a traditional all-wheel-drive system with a drive shaft and transfer case which means even in electric only mode, it still offers all-wheel-drive.

And even with the rotating mass and losses associated with its dedicated all-wheel-drive system, BMW claims it can achieve 55 MPGe.

It will feature multiple drive modes which allow you to choose which power source is being used and how. You can reserve electric power for another time, use it exclusively, or turn up to full sport mode and have it all.

The 2016 BMW X5 xDrive40e will be built Stateside at the Spartanburg, South Carolina plant and goes on sale here in the fall. Pricing will be announced closer to that time.

Cadillac 3.0TT V6

Cadillac this week announced another tidbit about their upcoming CT6 flagship sedan, an all new generation of high-feature V6 engines.

The top rung of this new engine architecture is a 3.0 liter twin turbo which will produce a robust and refined 400 horsepower and 400 lb-ft of torque. This makes it Cadillac says one of the most power-dense V6 engines in the world

To produce all its power and also be efficient, it will boast turbocharging, cylinder deactivation which enables four-cylinder operation on light loads and auto stop/start technologies.

In the 2016 Cadillac CT6, the engine will be mated to GM’s Hydra-Matic 8L90 eight-speed automatic transmission.

Cadillac says the all-new engine gets turbochargers with lightweight, low-inertia titanium-aluminide turbines and low-volume inter-cooler similar to the ATS-V, which contributes to more immediate power delivery.

These low-inertia turbochargers enable peak torque to come between 2,500 rpm to 5,000 rpm, right in the sweet spot for most street and highway driving conditions.

The new engine family will also include a new 3.6 liter naturally aspirated version. Both will be produced at GM’s Romulus Powertrain Operations plant just outside Detroit.

The new flagship Cadillac CT6 and its twin-turbocharged V6 will be unveiled next week at the New York Auto Show.

Jeep Wrangler Moab Concepts

At the Easter Jeep Safari in Moab later this month, Jeep is again bringing concept red meat to its core tribe, teasing them and us with what could be available in future catalogs or showrooms.

Playing the retro card is the Chief Concept. A tribute to the 1970s Jeep Cherokee wagons, the Ocean Blue concept marries the classic body silhouette and grille with the upright windshield and interior of the modern day Wrangler.

It’s basically a custom body around the Wrangler’s bones that looks the part well. They even put together some convincing versions of the 1970′s slotted aluminum wheels in 17-inch size. The interior is dolled up for the surfer guy, who obviously likes pink flowers on his white leather seats. Don’t you?

The more modern and Mopar catalog sourced Wrangler concept is the Red Rock Responder. It features a high-top rear fender flare treatment, which extends the cargo area and gives a pickup silhouette in a way Jeep still doesn’t offer for regular production.

A collection of LED lighting, suspension and aggressive wheels set it up for off-road capability above and beyond. While most of what you see here can be bought through Mopar for your own Wrangler, a set of rock rails here are prototypes.

Going to Jeep’s roots is the Staff Car concept which is pure military. A fully open interior and body color everything gives it an authentic look and feel yet features all the modern comforts. Well, perhaps except the flat seats.

Steel wheels bring much of the convincing style here along with a canvas roof. While some elements could never be made production feasible, it would be fun to see a special edition Wrangler based on this one.

The concept vehicle I liked best is the Wrangler Africa concept. Taking a page from well, let’s just say other brands, the Africa has the fully enclosed passenger compartment in retro style that is distinctly made for a safari.

With an extended rear cargo area, the Jeep Wrangler Africa concept stays purpose built in theme with steel wheels and a pure plain wrapper style. Under that hood is also a tantalizing 2.8-liter four-cylinder turbo-diesel.

All of them are pretty damn nice. Some you can build with Mopar parts, others we can only hope Jeep will put in a showroom someday.

Test Drives

The 2015 Lexus NX300h Hybrid was our first test drive this week, bringing high efficiency to the newest entry of the compact luxury crossover class.

About the same size as a Toyota RAV4, the NX300h brings Lexus levels of style inside and out with handling dynamics far sportier and rewarding than we honestly expected. It’s got Lexus latest design flare that can’t be missed or mistaken.

With its latest generation hybrid drivetrain it achieved over 35 mpg on a tank average over our week of testing while also offering up a more traditional driving experience in terms of power delivery through its re-tuned CVT.

The 2015 Hyundai Genesis was also a pleasant surprise as the second-generation of the rear-wheel drive luxury sedan took us up into the mountains for an extended test to see how it stacks up to competitors from Germany and Japan.

All-new inside and out, and built upon an all-new chassis platform it offered up intriguing levels of fit and finish, powertrain refinement, and chassis handling poise. Best yet, it impressed with a well executed interior that matches its peers in quality and comfort on the road.

For a full review on both of these and many others, see the links below in the information section or log onto our website at www.TestDriven.TV

Reality Check: F-150 Recycled Seat Fabric

I am sure you have asked yourself this question right? What if we could redirect plastics from landfills and use them to build a Ford F-150?

Well Ford has asked the question and answered it, working with a company called Unifi to integrate reclaimed plastic fiber material called REPREVE into as many of their models as possible.

REPREVE is made from 100 percent recycled materials including plastic bottles and can be woven into seating fabrics, sound deadening, carpeting and even used for trims.

Given the Ford F-150 is the most popular vehicle made on the planet, Ford says it can divert more than five million plastic bottles from landfills this year by using the reclaimed material in the seats.

The F-150 is one of five high-production global vehicles Ford builds which use REPREVE fibers in various ways, with more on the way soon.

So next time you are taking your new 2015 Ford F-150 out into nature and plundering through protected water sheds like a bull in a China shop, you can feel better about it knowing that a landfill somewhere at least is less impacted.

I feel better about it. Don’t you?

Money Shot

Now it’s time for our Money Shot where we take the hottest photo from this week’s news and we show it to ya.

This week Nissan announced the 45th Anniversary Gold Edition GT-R commemorating, well 45 years of something, certainly not of GT-R’s. That detail aside, it looks nice doesn’t it? Only 30 if the limited edition models will be offered starting at $102,770. But only 30? Why not 45 of them and keep on theme?

Well that’s it for Motoring Monday, we appreciate you being with us. Click the link below to subscribe to our YouTube Channel and I’ll keep you updated on all our new test drives, automotive news, and Motoring Monday episodes.

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