The last Grand National heads to auction, showtime for Acura’s MDX Type S, Nightshade edition closes out Toyota’s Avalon

The last Buick Grand National ever built heads to auction

Intake: As far as last-ofs go, this one’s a doozy for ’80s GM buffs. The last Buick Grand National ever built will head to auction next month at Barrett-Jackson’s Scottsdale sale. It was the final car to roll off the General Motors Pontiac, Michigan, assembly plant as well, and it marked end of GM’s mid-size rear-drive G-body platform. The black beauty shows just 33 miles on the clock and still wears the factory-installed interior plastic. Documentation is extensive and thorough, with the original window sticker that says “The Last Grand National” on it as well as a host of photo and video materials collected by a GM film crew. The car will cross the block with no reserve.

Exhaust: This auction has the makings of a serious result. Hagerty Automotive Intelligence expert Greg Ingold weighs in: “The first and last of anything are extremely sought after by collectors,” he explains. “Not only is this the last one, but it has 33 miles. I expect this thing to set a record for a Grand National that will stand for quite a while.” Currently, a #1-condition (Concours-quality) Grand National is worth at $73,500. When the hammers falls on this one, it should land well north of that figure.

Acura’s sporty MDX Type S begins rolling off the assembly line

2022 Acura MDX Type S front three quarter driving
Acura | MullenLowe

Intake: Production of Acura’s MDX Type S is underway at the brand’s East Liberty, Ohio, plant. This high-performance MDX is intended to appeal to those in search of a family hauler that can still deliver a sense of driving enjoyment from behind the wheel. To aid in the endeavor, Acura equipped the MDX Type S with a 355-horsepower turbocharged V-6, adaptive air suspension, Brembo front brakes, and stylish 21-inch wheels. It’s the second Type S-badged vehicle to arrive from this self-proclaimed “renewed era of Type S performance,” following the TLX Type S sedan that was unveiled in the middle of last year. The two will be joined by the widely-anticipated, limited-production NSX Type S early next year.

Exhaust: Yes, it’s a stretch to consider a seven-seat SUV a prime candidate for a sporting upgrade. Heft aside, the MDX is a solid vehicle as-is, and if the abundance of Mercedes-AMG, BMW M, and Ford ST-branded high-riders is any indication, there’s a market for such a vehicle. In all likelihood, the MDX Type S will sell better than the TLX. If we’re offering up candidates for the next Type S-ification, we humbly suggest the forthcoming Integra.

Toyota sends the Avalon off with special XSE Hybrid Nightshade edition

Intake: While Toyota’s Avalon sedan will soon be discontinued, the marque isn’t letting the full-sizer go down without a bit of flair. The 2022 Avalon XSE Hybrid Nightshade edition will send the competent if aging cruiser out with a splash of sporty appearance. A piano-black mesh grille, grade-specific lower diffuser, gloss black wheels, and blacked-out exterior bits such as the side mirror caps, headlight bezels, trunk lid spoiler and exterior badging will aim to spice up the car’s looks. Paint options consist of Midnight Black metallic, Wind Chill Pearl, or Celestial Silver Metallic. There’s a similarly blacked-out feel in the cabin, with black leather and suede adorning seating surfaces and headliner. The XSE Hybrid Nightshade pairs a 2.5-liter four-cylinder with a continuously-variable transmission and a 259-volt lithium-ion battery pack for an EPA estimated 43 MPG city/highway/combined. Starting price for this special-edition Avalon? $41,725.

Exhaust: On the one hand, the death knell for yet another full-side sedan comes as a blow to those of us who view the crossover-laden market of today with a bit of disdain. On the other hand, the Avalon has never really been all that thrilling; it embodies the most conservative aspects of Toyota’s notoriously conservative product planning tendencies. This special edition doesn’t really do much to change that, nor does it really fit the Avalon’s usual discount-Lexus-ES vibe. If a Toyota sedan is a must-have for you—fiscally responsible folks are now tipping their caps—there’s still the Camry.

NHTSA steps up probe into Hyundai and Kia engine fires

2014 Hyundai Santa Fe Sport

Intake: The National Highway Traffic Safety (NHSTA) is ramping up efforts to investigate a plethora of engine fire issues that have hampered Hyundai and Kia products for over six years. According to Automotive News, the NHTSA has opened an “engineering analysis” to study some 3 million vehicles and to investigate how effective the existing recalls from the Korean automakers have been in remedying the issue. The engineering analysis is the next step in a process that could eventually result in a formal recall being issued, but AN noted that it’s also possible that the analysis closes the probe without requiring further action. Hyundai told AN that it continues to fully comply with the NHTSA investigation into these non-collision engine fires.

Exhaust: Fires are not something to take lightly—even more so if they’re occurring in the context of unprompted engine failure outside of any collision. If you’re having a bit of deja vu reading this, there’s a good reason why: In late 2020, Hyundai and Kia agreed to a $210 million U.S. auto safety civil penalty for recalls of 1.6 million engines due to, yes, fire risks. If NHTSA deems that those recall efforts weren’t effective and timely enough for such a large swathe of vehicles, there will be a hefty fine to pay.

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