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2019 GMC Yukon Graphite Edition packs underhood punch

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Graphite is the new black, at least at GMC. On Monday, the truck maker revealed its 2019 GMC Yukon Graphite Edition and Graphite Performance Edition  packages that follow in the footsteps of the 2018 Chevrolet Tahoe Custom Edition.

With the 2019 Yukon, buyers have the the option of going with the regular Graphite Edition which features a long list of blacked-out elements or the Graphite Performance Edition with a big underhood boost in addition to the styling bolt-ons.

MORE: Read our 2018 GMC Yukon review

Notable features on the regular Graphite Edition include 22-inch machined alloy wheels with dark metallic pockets, an ominous-looking black chrome grille mesh insert with black fog lamp surrounds, body-color grille surround, black roof rails and gloss black beltline moldings.

The Graphite Performance Edition also gets a beefier 6.2 liter V-8 and custom-tuned magnetic ride suspension.

Along with the upgraded V-8 and suspension system boost, the Graphite Performance Edition also receives a host of other mechanical upgrades including a 10-speed automatic transmission, active two-speed transfer case for four-wheel-drive models, trailer brake controller, high capacity air cleaner, and a 170-amp alternator. The interior of the Performance Edition gets Bose active noise cancellation, a head-up display, and an 8.0-inch touchscreen with navigation.

Both packages can be applied to the Yukon’s SLT trim in both rear- and four-wheel-drive configurations. Three exterior colors will be available: Onyx Black, Dark Sky Metallic and, White Frost Tricoat.

GMC has yet to announce pricing for the new editions but did say that they will make their way to dealerships this summer.

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California’s new $700 digital license plates can relay messages to other drivers

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Future license plates in California may be powered by the same technology used in Amazon’s Kindle e-reader—but not as a touchscreen device, of course.

The state of California said Monday that it will test the nearly $700 digital license plates on 24 state-owned vehicles before approving them for public use, reported The Sacramento Bee.

Drivers will be able to change the color of the background of the plate and font and when a car is parked it will be possible to move the centered registration number to display a message or even an advertisement.

The plates are similar to those currently being tested in Dubai.

Police will be able to track stolen vehicles with the plate—unless it is removed by a crafty thief. Drivers will also be able to update their vehicle registrations via the plate.

The prohibitive factor for most drivers will be the cost of the plate. California based tech company, Reviver Auto will charge $699 for the plate, which doesn’t include the cost of installation or a $7 per month user fee.

The plates won’t be sold by the California DMV but will instead be available through car dealerships, 11 of which have signed up to sell the plates so far.

Arizona is also planning a pilot program to test the plates.

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5 hidden ways automakers keep new cars affordable

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A cheap car used to feel like what it was: a cheap car. That’s no longer the case, and it’s due in part to exceptionally careful cost-cutting. Car manufacturers trim pennies here and dollars there in ways not always obvious to consumers.

Here’s a look at a few tricks automakers use and how they’re passed onto consumers.

1. Platform sharing

New cars are all about scalability, at least in terms of what you can’t readily see. Peel a new car’s fenders back and you’ll probably find a lot of things shared between models in the automaker’s lineup, even if they look very different.

Car manufacturers call it scalable architecture and it’s a relatively recent development that lets them stretch what’s underneath to make cars larger or smaller. Common mounting points for suspension and powertrain parts help automakers shave development and production costs.

For example: Subaru and VW are consolidating their lineups to just a single platform each for everything from compact cars to three-row crossover SUVs.

2. Forgotten features

The CD player has gone the way of the tape player, which bit the dust a few years after the 8-track. Eventually, wireless charging pads and streaming music will do the same for USB ports.

But not all features bite the dust due to irrelevance. Automakers sometimes restrict small features like one-touch power windows, map pockets, rear-seat air vents, split-folding rear seats, and illuminated vanity mirrors to higher-spec trim levels. These aren’t usually deal-breakers and they help automakers trim costs to keep models and trim levels price-competitive.

For example: The 2018 Honda Civic LX lacks a map pocket on the back of the passenger’s seat. The Civic EX has one.

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