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Kia Shows Hints of Nine Future Electric Cars and Concepts

Fri, 01/15/2021 - 8:30pm

We’ve seen Kia’s new logo, and now we’ve learned a more about the brand’s future plans, including seven all-electric models and three battery-powered concepts by 2027. Kia’s intent is to stake out a leading position in the EV market, and it teased five of those future production models in silhouette.

The models will be known as EV1 through EV9, part of a model-name reorganization we’ll touch on in a bit. We don’t know which models get which numbers, so we’ll use Kia’s own descriptions (and please don’t accuse of egregious use of marketing-speak; we’re just parroting here).

First up is what Kia calls “a powerful and dynamic crossover”:

A “fun and practical commuter”:

A “strong and bold SUV”:

An “agile and dynamic machine” (which they hinted would be a serious performer, perhaps an electric Stinger):

Lastly, a “long and elegant sedan” (hidden, for reasons we can’t even guess at, behind the agile and dynamic machine):

All of the products will use the company’s Electric Global Modular Platform, a dedicated EV architecture that Kia and partner Hyundai have chosen to refer to by the rather unfortunate acronym E-GMP. The first car will debut in the upcoming weeks, and it will likely be a close mechanical relative of Hyundai’s stylistically differentiated Ioniq 5.

Kia also teased three mobility concept vehicles, which they refer to as PBVs, or Purpose Built Vehicles. They, too, were revealed in silhouette. First is what Kia calls “a micro autonomous pod”:

An “individual urban transporter”:

A “midsize commuter”:

And a “large logistic companion” (is that a fancy way of saying delivery drone?):

All these changes are part of a corporate marketing reinvention. The company officially known as Kia Motors Corporation will formally adopt the name everyone else uses: Kia. The brand’s new slogan is “Movement That Inspires” and it has even adopted new brand colors, with black and white as the primary hues and yellow, green, and gray also in use. Kia’s plan is to move away from a manufacturing-driven model and expand into other business areas that it terms “innovative mobility services.”

Meanwhile, some model names will change as well. Kia recently renamed the Optima as the K5, and it says other sedans will follow suit, adopting the alphanumeric names used in other markets. However, SUVs like the Sportage and Telluride will retain their long-form names.

Could Kia come to dominate the electric-vehicle segment? Twenty-nine years ago, when they came to the US with a cheap-but-rugged SUV called the Sportage, few thought the South Korean automaker would ever become a serious player. Look how that turned out. Ten years ago we didn’t think Kia would ever built a proper driver’s car, and look how that turned out. If Kia has set the goal of becoming a major EV player, its competitors should take notice.

The post Kia Shows Hints of Nine Future Electric Cars and Concepts appeared first on MotorTrend.

Is REE Automotive’s Skateboard Chassis the Future of Commercial EVs?

Fri, 01/15/2021 - 7:30pm

Sure, you could always buy a prefab skateboard from Element or Zero, but the cool kids pick their ideal size deck and then select custom trucks and wheels to suit. Tel-Aviv-based REE Automotive reckons it should be just as easy to build your electric mobility as a service (MaaS) shuttle or delivery van. At CES 2021, the company showed off its electric skateboard chassis concept comprised of its patented REEboards and REEcorners.

REEboards—Backbone of the Electric Skateboard Chassis

REEboards are way larger but only slightly more complicated than the bent plywood of an analog skateboard. In addition to providing the structural basis for the finished vehicle, the board houses a battery sized for its intended duty cycle, along with most power electronics and the wiring needed to distribute the power, as well as the steer-, brake-, and accelerate-by-wire commands, to the corners. 

REEcorners: The Trucks and Wheels of the REEboard

REEcorners mount to the REEboard and house the motor, brake, spring, damper, wheel, and tire all within the envelope of the modest-sized wheel well. The design of these corners can vary with the fitment, but examples displayed include angled coil-over-shock designs, typical disc brakes (with electric actuation), and the option of an electric motor. Obviously, any corner can be driven or not as desired, and naturally, the size and strength of the motor, brakes, springs, and shocks can be tailored to suit a range of different projected gross-vehicle weights. The suspensions are all completely mechanical, as air or hydraulic connections unnecessarily complicate the REEboard design.

Obviously, these fully plug-and-play REEcorners can be operated by a computer or by a person manning controls, so REE Automotive’s e-chassis solution is ready for all levels of autonomy, from level 2 assist to full-on robotaxi or delivery pod. Benefits REE claims for its platform include: complete freedom of body design, fast launch cycles, highest load capacity in the smallest footprint, battery capability ranging from 48 to 800 volts, minimal downtime for maintenance, and over-the-air updates with artificial intelligence providing preventive maintenance. 

Ready for Commercial Use

The REEcorners strike this tech-watcher as exceptionally good at being compact, modular, easily assembled, and cost-effective. They do NOT strike me as the ideal way to suspend a sports car, luxury sedan, or SUV. REE Automotive knows this, which is why it is primarily targeting commercial uses.

“We strive to be the blank canvas on top of which partners and customers can build EVs [and] AVs tailored to their exact needs while on the road [toward] a zero-emissions future,” Daniel Barel, REE’s chief executive officer and co-founder, said. Late last year, the game-changing nature of REE’s product was recognized with a BloombergNEF Pioneer award.

Toyota’s heavy-truck division, Hino, showed off its FlatFormer delivery concept truck based on the REE platform at the 2019 Tokyo Motor Show. Additionally, REE Automotive signed a memorandum of understanding in late 2020 with Mahindra that aims to produce 250,000 electric commercial vehicles on REE platforms. Furthermore, the company has inked strategic partnerships with Tier 1 companies such as American Axle, NSK, Musashi, Tenneco, KYB, and Iochpe-Maxion. Leaning on this network of partners and customers, REE Automotive tells us to expect the first products rolling on its electric skateboard chassis to appear in 2023.

The post Is REE Automotive’s Skateboard Chassis the Future of Commercial EVs? appeared first on MotorTrend.

The Stellantis Era Dawns: FCA Is Dead, Brands Like Chrysler May Not Survive

Fri, 01/15/2021 - 6:30pm

Another milestone in the tumultuous history of the company originally known as just Chrysler: On Saturday, Fiat Chrysler Automobiles and PSA Group will merge to create Stellantis, the fourth-largest automaker in the world by volume. Stellantis will be listed on the New York, Milan, and Paris stock exchanges next week.

There will be repercussions. Stellantis will start life with seven FCA brands and another four from PSA. That seems unmanageable. Every merger creates duplication and results in the death of products, brands, positions, plants, and plans. PSA Group CEO Carlos Tavares, who becomes CEO of Stellantis, has a history of turning brands and companies around with tough cost targets and the discipline to axe where necessary.

Fate of FCA Brands

On the FCA side, Jeep and Ram are the profitable powerhouses and, quite frankly, the reason the automaker was an attractive dance partner in the first place. Jeep will only grow in stature with a greater international presence. Ram will remain mostly centered on the North American market but could increase its market reach, especially with commercial vehicles. FCA CEO Mike Manley will oversee the Americas for Stellantis and will be a champion for these brands.

It is the oldest, truly heritage, brands, that are most vulnerable: Chrysler and Dodge. Chrysler sold just over 110,000 vehicles in the U.S., its biggest market, in 2020. It is a brand that now only consists of the Chrysler Pacifica minivan and the aging Chrysler 300 fullsize sedan.

Dodge is healthier with about 267,000 sales in the U.S. last year, but with the discontinuation of the Journey crossover and the Grand Caravan minivan, it is reduced to the Dodge Durango SUV and the Dodge Charger and Dodge Challenger muscle cars.

Then there are the Italian brands: Alfa Romeo, Fiat, and Maserati that have failed to meet lofty expectations in North America. Fiat’s dismal sales resulting in the discontinuation of the Fiat 500, 500L and 124 roadster, leaving only the Fiat 500X small crossover.

The PSA Group brings Peugeot, Citroen, DS Autos, and Opel which the group bought from General Motors in 2017.

Peugeot’s U.S. Return Uncertain

Before the creation of Stellantis, there were plans to sell a PSA Group brand in the U.S. by 2026 and Tavares later identified the brand as Peugeot. A small group of executives have been in place in the U.S. to oversee the return of the brand that left North America in 1991. Peugeot CEO Jean-Philippe Imparato now says plans to re-enter the U.S. by 2026 may be reconsidered, according to an Automotive News Europe report.

Chrysler’s Storied (and Checkered) History May Not Save It

Chrysler dates back to 1925, founded by Walter Chrysler, and it is still referred to as part of the Big Three or Detroit Three, referring to General Motors, Ford, and Chrysler.

The automaker has teetered many times on the edge of a financial cliff. It was on the verge of bankruptcy in the late 1970s and was saved by government loan guarantees worth $1.5 billion that bought time until the release of a surprising savior in secret development: the minivan.

DaimlerChrysler ‘Merger of Equals’ … Wasn’t

In 1998, in a deal worth $36 billion, Chrysler was acquired by Daimler-Benz of Germany, and the so-called alliance or “merger of equals” was named DaimlerChrysler. It was not a good fit, as the two cultures never really merged—though Daimler-sourced platforms helped make vehicles like the Chrysler 300C, Dodge Charger and Challenger, and Jeep Grand Cherokee much better than their predecessors. Daimler sold Chrysler in 2007 to Cerberus, a private equity firm in the U.S., for just $7.4 billion.

The financial crisis in 2008 proved devastating for Detroit automakers. Chrysler laid off thousands of white-collar workers. Plant closures, shift eliminations, job cuts, and model line rationalizations were all planned. Work on future products was mostly curtailed. The few remaining resources were diverted to development of the next-generation Chrysler 300 full-size sedan and the new Jeep Cherokee.

Chrysler Files for Bankruptcy

On April 30, 2009, Chrysler filed for bankruptcy. General Motors filed for bankruptcy June 1, and while the government deemed GM too big to fail, officials were divided as to whether to use government money to save the smaller Chrysler.

In the end, government loans totaling more than $10 billion were provided, and when Chrysler exited bankruptcy, it had a patchwork of owners including the U.S. and Canadian governments, the United Auto Workers pension fund, and Fiat S.p.A. which agreed to supply some of its powertrains and other tech, and also share its CEO, Sergio Marchionne.

FCA Gains Full Ownership

By 2014, Fiat had acquired 100 percent of Chrysler, which became a full subsidiary of the Italian automaker. Fiat Chrysler Automobiles was formed; Marchionne remained CEO of the cross-Atlantic empire until he died in 2018.

The post The Stellantis Era Dawns: FCA Is Dead, Brands Like Chrysler May Not Survive appeared first on MotorTrend.

‘Ferrari’s Ass Is Mine’ Shelby Cobra Once Owned By Paul Walker Up For Sale

Fri, 01/15/2021 - 6:00pm

A Shelby Cobra is a Shelby Cobra is a Shelby Cobra—except when it isn’t. Shelby managed to complete just over 1,000 original Cobras between 1961 and 1968; add another zero and triple, maybe quadruple, that to account for all the Cobra replicas shaking windows and terrorizing tire shops around the world. Carroll Shelby’s drawn-out fight with RepliCobra peddlers was perhaps his toughest and highest-profile battle since he brought the fight to Ferrari at Le Mans back in the mid-1960s.

Finally, after numerous lawsuits and chest-high columns of cease-and-desist letters, Shelby acquiesced and reached an agreement with a dossier of manufacturers including Superformance, Factory 5, Kirkham Motorsports, and even AC Cars, who held the rights to the AC Ace and AC Cobra shape to begin with. Eventually, limited production of official Shelby-licensed Cobras resumed in the late 1990s, when even Shelby himself got in on the RepliCobra fun.

Shelby, of course, wouldn’t be pleased with some slipshod fiberglass facsimile. In the late 1990s, the former Texan chicken farmer commissioned AC Cars to build a run of 14 CSX1000 Cobras, all shaped from hand-rolled aluminum like the originals. Ten of these CSX1000 cars were to be outfitted in “Ferrari’s Ass is Mine” specification per Shelby, recalling his famous pledge when the Shelby team lost the 1964 World Manufacturers Championship allegedly on a technicality. As sensationalized in the blockbuster film “Ford v. Ferrari,” Shelby returned with the financial and technical backing of Ford with the GT40, taking home the laurels in 1966 and 1967.

Only two of the ten planned FAM Cobras were built by AC, making the gorgeous FAM Cobra that’s headed to Mecum’s Glendale sale later this spring one of the rarest serialized RepliCobras to ever wear the official Shelby crest. As part of the jab toward that legendary Italian automaker, this FAM Cobra is coated in a gorgeous shade of Ferrari’s own Rosso Corsa red, accentuated by a Ferrari-aping tan interior.

As this is a 427 Cobra, there’s enough power under that curved front hood to kick-start the Hoover Dam’s generators. A Shelby-built 468-cid (7.6-liter) big-block V-8 churns out 550 hp, a whacky amount of gumption for such a light car and with so short a wheelbase. A Tremec five-speed manages all that spin, as does four-wheel independent suspension and a set of powerful Wilwood brakes. All in, it’s a tidy package; unsurprising, considering one of the previous owners was none other than late Fast and Furious superstar and all-around car nut Paul Walker.

For the Shelby diehard, this is a rare chance at a serious piece of the brand’s modern history, and one of the finest continuation Cobras ever to lay elevens onto tarmac. Register to bid on this Ferrari-baiting roadster before it crosses the auction block in March.

The post ‘Ferrari’s Ass Is Mine’ Shelby Cobra Once Owned By Paul Walker Up For Sale appeared first on MotorTrend.

Dax Shepard Is Building an LT4-Swapped Chevy 454 SS Pickup

Fri, 01/15/2021 - 5:15pm

Actor, automotive enthusiast, and co-host of the MotorTrend App’s new Top Gear America, Dax Shepard is building a Chevrolet 454 SS pickup with a supercharged LT4 engine and six-speed automatic transmission. HOT ROD Garage co-host Lucky Costa is doing the work at his personal shop and invited us to check in on his progress.

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It’s a pretty well-known fact that Dax is a dyed-in-the-wool gearhead. He hails from Detroit and grew up in the industry. We’ve featured some of his cars, like his hot-rodded Lincoln Continental and LS-swapped 1996 Buick Roadmaster wagon. He recently purchased this low-mileage 454 SS, and it’s really clean.

We drove it around the block and were impressed with its tight feel and ride quality. The throttle-body-injected (TBI) 454 definitely makes more torque and accelerates with more aplomb than Project Jake, the in-house, small-block-powered OBS (old body style) 1993 GMC C1500 from our sister publication HOT ROD. Still, an 8:1 compression big-block with peanut-port cylinder heads, a tiny cam, and hard-to-tune, airflow-limited induction and fuel-delivery systems doesn’t compare very favorably with even the standard engines in today’s pickups.

Say what you will about taking out the big-block in a 454 SS and replacing it with an LS or (in this case) LT engine, it’s hard to argue with the logic. Lucky told us he and Dax discussed several options on how to build the existing big-block for more power, but Dax decided on the LT4 E-Rod crate engine from Chevrolet Performance in an attempt to keep the pickup emissions-compliant. This engine package received an executive order (E.O.) number from the California Air Resources Board (CARB) allowing it to be installed in 1995 and older passenger cars and trucks up to 5,725 pounds GVRW.

The LT4 originally appeared in the C7 Corvette Z06 and is rated at 640 horsepower and 630 lb-ft of torque thanks to its 6.2 liters of displacement and a 1.7L Eaton R1740 TVS supercharger that generates a conservative 10 psi of boost. Even with the extra weight of the supercharger, the all-aluminum engine will be lighter than the 454, which Lucky has set aside in case Dax decides to put his pickup back to stock someday.

Is the LT4 Engine a Small-Block?

Although people refer to the LS and LT family of engines as small-blocks, the LT4 takes up a considerable amount of real estate, thanks to its extensive supercharger and accessory drive pulleys. Lucky removed the hood, grille, and front bumper assemblies because it would be much easier to perform the engine change that way.

Elevated Concepts, Inc. is a company that specializes in LS and LT engine swaps for the ’88 to ’98 Chevy and GMC pickups and SUVs. Owner Derek Parker sells LT-swap motor mounts that position the engine at an ideal location within the engine compartment. Lucky drilled access holes to reach the inside of the fasteners on the frame stands. They are otherwise inaccessible without removing the lower control arms.

As is often the case with engine swaps, the accessories can sometimes get in the way of the frame in older cars. Other accessory drive systems are available, but Lucky prefers Holley’s LS and LT systems for their high-quality fit, finish, and reliability. Unique to the LT4 because of its supercharger drive and throttle body location, the LT4 accessory drive kit puts the alternator low and on the right side of the engine. Lucky notched and reinforced the frame to clear the alternator, leaving enough room around it in case it ever needs to be removed in the future. We’ve seen frame modifications like this done on dozens of cars with no evidence of compromised structural integrity.

L

Dax chose the Supermatic 8L90-E eight speed automatic transmission from Chevrolet Performance to act as intermediary between the LT4 and the 12-bolt axle in the 454 SS. It’s rated to handle 650 lb-ft of torque and is offered with a choice of a 2,400-rpm or 3,000-rpm stall converter. First gear is a steep 4.02:1, and sixth is a low 0.67:1, so Dax will experience the delicious contrast of neck-snapping launches (providing he has sufficient traction) and sedate highway cruising once he lets off the gas. This thing will probably get pretty decent mileage, all things considered.

The stock transmission crossmember in these pickups is basically a stamped piece of sheetmetal that’s so straight it could double as an ironing board. The lack of complexity makes it easy to accommodate the new transmission, which seems like it takes a standard GM mount. Lucky just needed to move the crossmember back a couple of inches to its new mounting position. Stay tuned for more as work progresses, and be sure to check out the new Top Gear America when it debuts on January 29, 2021 on the MotorTrend App.

Sources

Chevrolet Performance, chevrolet.com/performance-parts
Elevated Concepts, Inc., elevatedconceptsinc.com
Holley, 270-781-9741, holley.com

The post Dax Shepard Is Building an LT4-Swapped Chevy 454 SS Pickup appeared first on MotorTrend.

Simplify, Then Add Partnership: Lotus and Alpine Collaborating on an Electric Sports Car

Fri, 01/15/2021 - 4:19pm

Two companies that are both defined by the relentless pursuit to do away with any and all unnecessary weight in their sports cars will soon be working together with nickel, cobalt, and lithium and taking a shot at electrification. That’s right, Lotus and Alpine are collaborating on an electric sports car, and believe it or not, this is great news for the EV world. At the moment, one of the main problems with electric vehicles is they weigh significantly more than their internal combustion engine counterparts. Lotus and Alpine, both experts in lightweight sports cars of old, could very well change that calculus.

You see, power and torque can make up for extra vehicle heft in a straight line, but in every other performance aspect—so, turning and braking—weight can be a real drag. Lightweight, handling-focused, and relatively low-output sports cars such as the Alpine A110 and the Lotus Evora GT are a dying breed, but applying Lotus founder Colin Chapman’s mantra “simplify, then add lightness” to a two-seat EV might breathe new life into what is currently a very niche sports car market, assuming that’s what Lotus and Alpine seem likely to do.

Lotus is already hard at work on the Evija, a 2,000-hp all-electric hypercar that won’t be sold in the U.S. Alpine, for its part, is now part sports car maker and part Formula 1 team. So, the two teaming up for an EV project seems like a very good starting point, and hopefully some of what Alpine learns on track will make its way into something we can get behind the wheel of. And just think of the carbon-fiber and other materials know-how F1 development could bring to an electric road car. 

Of course, all of these plans are in their nascent stages. The partnership between the two sports car heavyweights (pun intended) represented little more than a footnote in Renault Group’s major news blast yesterday that outlined plans for the company’s foreseeable future. It also officially introduced the Alpine Formula 1 team to the world—the team’s social accounts were rebranded, and the F1 race car’s official winter livery was shown for the first time. While Formula 1 news is all fine and good, what matters more to consumers and car enthusiasts, we think, is the possibility that this partnership between Alpine and Lotus brings to the EV space.

The post Simplify, Then Add Partnership: Lotus and Alpine Collaborating on an Electric Sports Car appeared first on MotorTrend.

My Doctor the Car? Future Cars Might Monitor Drivers’ Health and Wellbeing

Fri, 01/15/2021 - 1:30pm

Smile, you’re on candid camera when you’re in a modern car with sophisticated driver-assist systems. And in the near future, those cameras will be joined by lidar VCSEL and radar sensors, as well. Yes, the same gadgets that vehicles must use to perceive the environment sufficiently to drive themselves will soon be keeping tabs on you and your passengers inside, too. Ah, progress …  

GazeSense Lidar VCSEL Driver Monitoring

You may have seen those unflattering black-and-white images showing how a computer “sees” you when it’s trying to figure out what you’re looking at. Most of these are shot with infrared cameras, but Switzerland-based Eyeware has teamed up with Belgium-based semiconductor supplier Melexis to develop the GazeSense system. It uses a 3D camera that employs lidar VCSEL range sensing to more accurately identify an occupant’s face, eyes, and focus of attention. It performs well in a wider range of lighting conditions than the purely infrared cameras primarily used today. The low-resolution image isn’t any more flattering (nobody’s looking at it anyway), but it’s highly accurate, even at an angle. This opens greater possibilities for positioning of the camera (on the dash, rear-view mirror, A-pillar, etc.). We expect the iPhone 12 Pro’s incorporation of a lidar VCSEL sensor to rapidly bring down the cost and hasten the adoption of such devices. 

SRI Body-Language Detection

Menlo Park-based SRI aims to take driver monitoring to the next level, by endeavoring to look beyond gaze to infer the driver’s holistic state of wellbeing. The system, which has been developed in Toyota’s LQ concept car (first introduced in 2019), incorporates a suite of infrared and 3D cameras to track driver’s eye movements, facial expressions, and skeletal positioning from which it gauges body language. It then strives to identify drowsiness or even potentially dangerous emotional states, like anxiety or boredom, which could affect driving. To counteract these states, the vehicle might blast the air conditioning to help a driver stay alert or maybe suggest an alternate less traffic-choked or boring route if it perceives irritability or boredom. The more miles each driver spends in the car, the more accurately the artificial intelligence recognizes and responds to the driver’s needs. Production (you may be relieved to learn) is not imminent. 

Radar Heart and Respiratory Sensing

While some are content to simply monitor gaze or emotional state, the Delaware-based radar specialists at Xandar Kardian seek to infer the cabin occupants’ general health by keeping tabs on resting heart rates, respiratory rates, and the general occupancy of the entire vehicle. And the company claims it can do all this with a single sensor. Well, that sensor doesn’t monitor gaze, but by using impulse-radio ultra-wideband (IR-UWB) radar technology it can monitor the driver’s general health, notice drops in resting heart rate or respiration that could indicate drowsiness—information that could be used to turn up the air conditioning or music to rouse the driver. Then, at the end of a journey, it can definitively detect the presence of a living being in the back seat, triggering a mobile-phone alert for the driver. Xandar Kardian claims that its single sensor is more cost-effective than the seven- or eight-seat sensors typically required to serve a cabin monitoring system.

The post My Doctor the Car? Future Cars Might Monitor Drivers’ Health and Wellbeing appeared first on MotorTrend.

Getting to Know Top Gear America Host Jethro Bovingdon

Fri, 01/15/2021 - 1:00pm

Top Gear America host Jethro Bovingdon is best known to the viewers and readers of MotorTrend and Automobile for getting sideways in the most-exotic new cars. Although he’d be happy to own more than a few of them, his own collection runs a bit more classic.

“I haven’t owned loads, because I’ve always been doing this and I have free cars,” Bovingdon said. “I like driving all sorts of cars. I’m not super into awful cars, but if it’s awful cars doing fun stuff, I can live with it. And I’ve driven plenty of awful cars in my time.”

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Although he prefers paying professionals like his mechanic father and brother to work on his cars these days, Bovingdon is no stranger to getting his hands dirty.

“One of my first cars, actually, was a project car for a magazine,” he said. “And it was an E36 BMW M3 GT. And I foolishly, having never been to the Nürburgring, I decided to make a target eight-minute car. So I bought this M3, and I’d read that it’d done, like, an 8:23 or something, but when it was new. So I was like, well, we can probably get it down to eight minutes. And I spent the next two years trying to make it do eight minutes.

Pagani Huayra Roadster (left), Jethro Bovingdon, and a Pagani Huayra Coupe (right).

“The first attempt, I think, did 8:16, but I didn’t realize you had to cut out that little bit,” he recounts. “So let’s say it was an 8:12 or something. And then every time I went back after that I broke. But it was great. I mean, it had a roll cage, fully stripped. It was fun. And I loved that car. On one of the runs, it got stuck in fourth gear on the ’Ring. We put short gearing in it. So I had to drive it back from the Nürburbring to my home in Northamptonshire in fourth gear. So that was fun.”

Driving 500 miles from western Germany to southern England in a broken track car isn’t the only ill-advised road trip Bovingdon’s embarked on, either.

“I’ve got a 1972 Citroën DS,” he said. “D Super it is, actually, so I shouldn’t say it’s a DS. Which is my favorite, not just because it’s cool. But basically, when I was born my dad had a D Super. So the first car I ever went in, on the way back from the hospital, was a D Super. He had a white one.

“Then I bought mine in Greece. So I flew to Greece and then I jumped in a ferry from Greece to Brindisi in the bottom of Italy, picked up my dad and two brothers at the airport. They flew into Brindisi, and then we did, like, a three-day road trip home. We stopped the first night in Maranello, then we went over the Alps and stopped just in France. And then drove home. So that’s just mega. Like 1,500 miles in a car that probably hadn’t done 1,500 miles in, like, 20 years. And nothing broke. Literally nothing broke. We had to tighten up a door mirror, that was it.

“So I love it because of the history with my family. My dad had a couple of DS’s when I was younger, he’s got an SM now, and because the road trip was so cool,” he said.

While Bovingdon is willing to leave the Citroën stock, the modification bug has bit him hard as he continues to dump money into his Renault Clio 172 Trophy street and track toy. Also eating up his funds with modifications: his purple 911.

“I’ve got a Porsche 996,” he said, “which is basically a Carrera, the car that everyone says is terrible. But it was the first 911 I ever drove. In fact, the first one I ever rode in. And I was a real 911 cynic and then I rode in it and was, like, ‘Oh my God, this thing’s amazing.’ And then I drove it, and I was like, ‘Oh my God, this thing really is amazing.’ So I’ve got a 996, which is currently broken, which I adore, and no matter what anyone says, fantastic car. I love that thing.”

“I like driving all sorts of cars. I’m not super into awful cars, but if it’s awful cars doing fun stuff, I can live with it.” —Jethro Bovingdon

Maybe it’s because he gets to drive all the newest exotics for work, but given a sudden windfall, Bovingdon wouldn’t run out and buy the newest mid-engine wonder on the market, even if he somehow found room for it in his driveway. He would get something a bit newer than his other cars, though.

“Three cars I wish I could buy: Ferrari 458 Speciale, Porsche 997 GT3 RS 4.0 … and third one. Gosh, there’s so many good ones, aren’t there? I’ll say an American one, Ford GT, 2005. Not the new one. I love those.”

We could’ve talked to Bovingdon all day about the cars he’s owned and driven, but he had to run to the airport to go drive a McLaren Senna GTR on the Formula 1 track in Bahrain. Such is the life of a Top Gear America presenter who’s won his class twice at the 24 Hours of Nürburgring endurance race. The all-new series starring Bovingdon, Dax Shepard, and Rob Corddry debuts January 29, 2021, on the MotorTrend App.

Follow Jethro Bovingdon on Social Media!

Twitter: @JethroBovingdon

Instagram: jethrobovingdon

Stream TOP GEAR AMERICA on January 29, 2021, on the MotorTrend App. In the meantime, sign up for a free trial today and start watching 8,000+ episodes of hit car shows!

The post Getting to Know Top Gear America Host Jethro Bovingdon appeared first on MotorTrend.

Can (and Should) This 1972 Triumph TR7 Be Saved?

Fri, 01/15/2021 - 12:12pm

British sports cars have a well-deserved reputation for indestructible build quality and stolid reliability, and the Triumph TR7 is possibly the crown jewel of them all. Between Triumph’s reputation for building affordable and credible sporting cars and motorcycles, coupled with the “Shape of Things to Come” styling, the 1972 Triumph TR7 was one of the greatest sales successes of its time and segment. This flaming orange example, still with its original Zenith carburetors (maybe not where you’d expect them), is coming to the Wheeler Dealers garage for the sorting out it deserves and direly needs.

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Okay, we can’t keep it up anymore. There are only two true statements in that first paragraph, namely that Triumph made affordable sports cars and still makes fantastic motorcycles. Famous for reliability and sales success, they ain’t. Even so, Mike Brewer couldn’t be happier with his recently purchased and very orange 1972 Triumph TR7—a stark contrast to Ant Anstead’s reaction on the latest episode of Wheeler Dealers. Anstead intensely dislikes the TR7, and is far from excited to see Mike show up with this particular orange wedge of sports-car cheese on a trailer. And that was before he found the Zenith carburetors in a box in the trunk, instead of bolted to the intake where they should be.

Triumph TR7: Right Car, Wrong Time

The TR7 was exactly what the British population needed, but it launched when they were the least receptive to it. The 1970s were a difficult time in many countries around the globe, and in Great Britain regular auto union and sanitation strikes with rolling blackouts made the atmosphere, well, not as cheery as that of the 1960s. British auto manufacturers in general were struggling to keep up with the advancing technology coming out of Japan and elsewhere in Europe, and while British sports cars still sold reasonably well, most designs were getting very long in the tooth.

In a last-ditch effort to save the car company, Triumph came up with the radical wedge-shaped TR7, which many Britains took as an affront to traditional sports-car styling. The TR7 and TR8 (that’s the V-8–powered version) were the last cars Triumph ever made, which is a complete shame because, despite its polarizing styling, the TR7 was one of the best cars the firm produced.

The TR7 is possibly the most agile Triumph, and the 86-hp, twin-Zenith-carbureted inline-four has enough grunt to propel the 2,200-pound package. Ignoring that its body is a literal wedge dividing fans and detractors, the TR7 is a quintessential sports car: two seats, folding top, engine in front, drive out back, as few controls as possible inside. Unlike some of its domestic and foreign competitors, the interior of the TR7 was very well laid out and comfortable. The convertible top didn’t even leak, mostly! That’s like an old 454 Chevy truck getting double-digit gas mileage—it can be done, but you’ve never heard of anyone actually doing it. 

But even in the best of times, British cars were never known for their reliability and build quality. At a failing company like Triumph, during some very hard and lean years for British auto workers, build quality suffered even more and early production runs of the TR7 were delayed. Ultimately, that was the end for Triumph and its sports cars.

Is the TR7 Worth Saving?

Mike Brewer knows what he’s getting into with an old British lump, especially a Triumph TR7; he admits the only reason he’s looking at this one is because it’s cheap. Cheap usually means issues, and while the angular body is clean enough and could look good with a bit of elbow grease, the ride is bad, the wiring is a rat’s nest, and the previous owner couldn’t figure out how to tune and sync the twin Zenith carburetors and backyard-engineered a single Solex and a very interesting air cleaner setup that now robs the zippy little engine of nearly all its power. But it’s cheap!

Ant Anstead is all for the weekend warrior digging in and troubleshooting their car issues, but the things done to this TR7 are just criminal. And Ant hates the TR7, swearing he would never in his life own one. But Mike is forcing his hand here, so if Anstead he’s going to do the job, he’s doing it right. That means rebuilding the original twin Zenith carbs the previous owner had the foresight to keep, sorting out the outright dangerous wiring, and figuring out what is hampering the ride quality. Ant can do the work, but will Mike be able to sell the TR7 for a profit?

Photos courtesy of Discovery

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Bummer Bus? Volkswagen’s ID Buzz Electric Microbus Delayed Until 2023

Fri, 01/15/2021 - 11:21am

If you have been counting the years until the U.S. gets the Volkswagen ID Buzz, the all-new, fully electric microbus redux, sit down and fret because your wait has gotten longer. The U.S. was supposed to get the ID Buzz next year, but the bus’s launch is being delayed until 2023. The update came from Scott Keogh, CEO of Volkswagen of America, during a panel discussion as part of an Automotive News panel discussion in conjunction with CES 2021.

The modern take on the retro hippie-era van will be built in Hanover, Germany, for export globally. The plant is being retooled for production next year of the low-volume lifestyle vehicle. But the microbus must share capacity with a small electric commercial cargo van for Europe and that has been deemed a priority. (With pandemic-related door-to-door shipping what it is, the move makes sense.) Additionally, European markets will get the ID Buzz ahead of other markets.

Dealers and Customers Are Asking for the VW Microbus

VWoA CEO Keogh says he wishes the ID Buzz was arriving next year, adding that customers and dealers keep asking for it.

The niche electric van harkens back while. There was a Microbus Concept in 2001, the 2011 Bulli show car, followed by the BUDD-e concept at CES in 2016, and then the Volkswagen ID Buzz Concept in 2017. We even drove the hand-built concept that year.

VW is concentrating on higher-volume electric vehicles first, including the 2021 Volkswagen ID4 electric compact SUV that is slated to go sale in the U.S. this spring. The automaker’s EV push comes thanks to a new modular electric-vehicle platform known as MEB that was designed to spawn a wide assortment of vehicles of assorted sizes and body styles as part of a corporate pivot to electric vehicles in the wake of the diesel emission scandal. VW has said it intends to sell 22 million EVs a year, globally, by 2029.

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5 Cool 2021 CES Gadgets Your Next Car Needs

Thu, 01/14/2021 - 6:15pm

While much of the emphasis at CES 2021 was focused on autonomy (and related sensors), artificial intelligence, and bigger-picture tech, there were still plenty of little gizmos on virtual display promising a brighter driving tomorrow. Gadgets that solve little problems, like why your phone sometimes doesn’t juice up properly in a Qi wireless charger, and how a WiFi camera can help you monitor precious trailer cargo or reverse a long rig into a tight spot, and even how to pay for gas or parking remotely. Here are five hot gizmos from this year’s non-show.

Sweet-Spot Qi Wireless Charger

Ever notice how sometimes when you toss your phone onto your car’s Qi wireless charger, it doesn’t always start charging (or maybe it gets hot but charges slowly)? That’s often because the ideal spot on your phone for picking up inductive charging hasn’t aligned ideally with the coil on the pad. Panasonic seeks to fix this problem with a moving coil that roves around under the surface of the pad to locate your phone’s sweet spot and commence charging at the fastest, most efficient location generating the least amount of waste heat possible.

True Wireless Wi-Fi Camera

Need to see when reversing that double-axle fifth-wheel camper into its berth? Want to keep an eye on the horses inside the trailer? Want to do it all on your vehicle’s nice big infotainment screen? Then check out Panasonic’s new True Wireless Wi-Fi Camera, which can beam a crisp 1080p picture at 60 frames/second and low (sub-80 millisecond) latency right to your screen. It’s powered by a battery that can be trickle-charged by hard wiring it to the trailer or vehicle, or recharged onboard via USB, mounts via suction cup or mechanical mount, and is dust-tight and waterproof to 1-meter depth for 30 minutes. At least initially it’s envisioned as an OE accessory item integrated into the user interface, and Panasonic has a customer signed to deliver the feature in the 2022-2023 timeframe. It’s unknown whether said customer will endeavor to program its system to stitch this camera’s image with those of other rear-facing cameras to provide “invisible trailer” view or not, but this is technically feasible.

Smoke/Vape/Chemical Weapons Detector

Zeeland, Michigan-based supplier Gentex started out in the smoke detector business and recently acquired Utah-based startup Vaporsens to double down on that area of expertise. The plan is to incorporate a new nanofiber technology developed by Vaporsens that employs a mesh net of nanofibers about 1/1,000th the size of a human hair. The fibers themselves are porous enough to absorb targeted molecules and identify them via subtle changes in electrical resistance. By incorporating such technology in the HVAC system or in overhead console sensors, a shared vehicle or robotaxi could narc on scofflaws who smoke or vape in a vehicle or potentially sense more dangerous substances brought into or left behind in a vehicle. In either case they could trigger Gentex-supplied driver monitoring and cabin sensing cameras to capture images of the perps.

Using Toll Tags to Buy Gas, Pay for Parking

New cars are gradually incorporating Integrated Toll Module devices into their windshield mirror assemblies, and now ITM supplier Gentex is working with PayByCar to enable contactless in-vehicle payment of other products and services like gas and parking. Pulling into a gas station, your car will be identified and your phone will get a message asking which pump you’re pulling up to, what grade of gas you want. After that, the system will then authorize that pump and automatically charge your preferred method of payment.

The program is just rolling out at gas stations on the East Coast.

META NanoWeb See-Through 5G Antenna

With the increasing popularity of hood-to-trunk glass windshield/roof/backlight designs, the problem of where to put an antenna arises. Here’s a handy solution: A see-through antenna. The magic that allows this nearly transparent antenna to work virtually as well as a metal one is its highly transparent metal mesh, which marks a huge improvement over previous metallic films like indium tin oxide (sometimes used in windshield defrosters). Optical transmission is up to 98 percent with no color tinting and minimal haze (less than one percent). It’s designed to receive frequencies from 400 MHz to 92 GHz (4G, 5G, XM Radio, etc.).

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Nissan NV350 Office Pod Concept: Let’s Never Return to the Office, Ever

Thu, 01/14/2021 - 5:45pm

Like most of the population, we’re wondering when we can return to our offices—or at least we were until we saw Nissan’s NV350 Caravan Office Pod Concept, one of several concept cars Nissan is showing at the virtual 2021 Tokyo Auto Salon. The NV350 Office Pod turns work-from-home into work-from-wherever, and we’ve decided that we desperately, desperately need a fleet of them, if only to distance ourselves from our own families (we kid … mostly).

Based on the Nissan NV350 van, the NV350 Caravan Office Pod Concept features an office with a computer desk and what appears to be a delightfully overcomplicated office chair. The office pod fits neatly into the back of the Caravan, but should you choose to take your workspace-on-wheels to a more picturesque spot, the pod slides out of the back of the van on rollers, allowing you to finesse your expense reports in tune with nature.

What we like best about the Office Pod is the rooftop deck. It features a lounge chair and a fold-out umbrella, ideal for those times when you really need to concentrate on your business strategy, preferably with a nice cold drink and a spy novel. As for the wavy body graphics, Nissan says they are decorative only, but we can’t help but wonder if the NV350 Office Pod Concept does—or could—take the concept of being off the radar quite literally and deflect probing signals.

Of course, this is a concept only, based on a van not sold in the US (although the NV350 is sold in Mexico as the Urvan—we’re just sayin’). It’s unlikely we’ll ever see a production version, because there is no God and he hates us.

Other Nissan entrants from the virtual Tokyo show:

Nissan Play Gear Concept

This concept car is based on the freshly-facelifted Nissan Note E-Power, a series hybrid that uses an electric motor to drive the front wheels and a 1.2 liter gasoline engine to keep the battery charged. The Play Gear concept gets matte gray paint, 17” wheels and a roof box that is bound to do wonders for fuel economy. It’s no office-on-wheels, that’s for damn sure.

Nissan Kicks Autech, Note Autech, and Elgrand Autech Concept

Autech is Nissan’s in-house tuner, though two of these production models, the Kicks Autech and Note Autech, really only amount to a regular Kicks and a regular Note with appearance packages. Both feature blue-and-black paint and upholstery along with unique wheels and grilles. Nissan already makes an Elgrand Autech, and the new-to-Tokyo concept version promises “a fusion of the suspension of the Nissan GT-R.” Rig it up with an office in the back and sign us up!

Nissan is showing other vehicles that we’ve seen (or driven) already, including the Nissan Z Proto (called Fairlady Z Prototype in the home market), the 2022 Ariya electric crossover, the once again-updated 2020 GT-R Nismo, and the Leaf Nismo. Maybe Nissan ought to get to work on an NV van with an office in the back.

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Muscle Car City of Ruins: Rick Treworgy’s Classic GM Collection Heads to Auction

Thu, 01/14/2021 - 4:30pm

What’s better than being the mayor of Flavortown? How about being the proprietor of a larger city. Move over Guy Fieri, because Rick Treworgy lords over the land that is Muscle Car City. Or at least he will until Muscle Car City closes its doors for good on January 17, 2021.

You see, Muscle Car City is a municipality in name only. In actuality, it’s a museum that contains Treworgy’s massive car collection. We’re talking hundreds of cars. Enough to fill up almost an entire Walmart. Literally. 

Before it became a haven for Treworgy’s collector cars, Muscle Car City was an actual Walmart in Punta Gorda, Florida. The building will return to its roots as primarily a place of commerce from January 22–23, when Mecum begins auctioning off the automotive residents—and other associated treasures—of Muscle Car City.

Treworgy’s collection of cars all share one through-line: General Motors. Predictably, performance machines such as Chevrolet Camaros, Chevelles, and Corvettes, as well as Pontiac GTOs and Oldsmobile 442s, live up to Muscle Car City’s billing and make up a large portion of the auction lots. Still, there are a few aberrations in the bunch, including a replica 1902 Oldsmobile, a race car from the 2000 film “Charlie’s Angels” (with a GM V-8 engine, of course), and a couple of Chevy-based ice cream trucks.

Not a single item in this lot has a reserve, either. In other words, everything auctioned off from Treworgy’s collection will sell to the highest bidder. These collector cars may soon get evicted from Muscle Car City, but each will hopefully end up in the garage of a genuine home.

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Leaked! Production 2022 Nissan Z Spills the Tea in Patent Images

Thu, 01/14/2021 - 3:30pm

It’s safe to say the next-gen Nissan Z is one of the most hotly anticipated cars. The Z Proto concept broke cover last year and brought a wave of excitement with it. Despite some speculation that Z Proto was just a 370Z underneath with some more handsome bodywork layered on top, we’re still excited for the next member of Nissan’s Z family tree. But what we all wanted to know was just how closely the production car would resemble the show car.

Thanks to a set of patent images that were found lurking around an Australian patent site, we now have a pretty good idea of what the production car will look like. Design number 202015053, as it’s referred to on the site, is most definitely the saleable version of the car we expect Nissan to sell as the 2022 400Z. For lovers of retro-modern design, the news is good.

Even though it very closely resembles the Z Proto, there are key indicators that this is the production version of the car. The radar sensor for systems such as adaptive cruise control (something the Z Proto didn’t have) is clearly visible in the lower part of the front intake. Additionally, the headlights are shaped slightly differently, there are emergency keyholes in the doors and in the rear liftgate in the event the battery in the car’s remote dies, and there are cutouts for reflectors (a requirement in the United States and many other countries).

If these patent images are to be believed, the 2022 Z will also keep its retro taillights that were inspired by the old Nissan 300ZX, as well as the hood bulge that inspired by the original 240Z. We also hope other small, retro details make their way to the production version, such as the Fairlady badge and the almost-but-not-quite circular daytime-running-light design that harks back to the headlights of the 240Z and 280Z.

It looks like the next Z is shaping up to be a heritage-rich, yet thoroughly modern, sports car. We can’t wait to get behind the wheel.

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Renault’s R5 Concept EV Is How You Say ‘Back to the Future’ in French

Thu, 01/14/2021 - 2:45pm

The iconic Renault 5 hatchback is getting rebooted as a sexy EV, informed by the iconic little Cinq of the past, but not necessarily beholden to it. In fact, you can say that about Renault in general, because this R5 Concept EV was revealed as part of a larger push to reinvent the French company for the 2020s and beyond that the company is calling Nouvelle Vague—New Wave. Renault as a services company, as a tech company, et cetera. Oh, and they’re still going to build cars—and if they’re anything like this R5 concept, that’s great news for those that can buy them.

The company is promising seven fully-electric vehicles—half its projected lineup—to be full EVs by 2025. The company already sells a range of EVs, from the tiny and bizarre Twizy to the Master Z.E. commercial van, but the best-known EV in the lineup is the Nissan Leaf–like Zoe. None of the company’s EVs have much pizazz, in comparison to Tesla’s sleek futurism or the cheeky-cute retro vibe of the Honda E.

Rebooting the Renault 5 for the modern era is a smart move. This little hatchback was everything to everybody, from an economy-minded runabout to one of the most badass Group B racers—and, embarrassingly, the “Le Car” to Americans. The mid-engined turbo models brought legit rally hardware to the street, if you could afford it, and they could easily embarrass most contemporary Ferraris in the performance criteria that matter. Especially with its massive, chunky fender flares—penned by none other than Marcello Gandini at Bertone, designer of the Lamborghini Countach—it was an unforgettable performance upstart.

The new 5’s sharp lines and puckish proportions are a definite retro play, especially the taillight design and the throwback “5” logo on the hatch. However, it doesn’t necessarily need a familiarity with the original to work—the overall design is modern enough to carry it, and the shoutouts to the original are basically fanservice for those in the know. The bold daytime running lamps are a novel take on the original’s square fog lights, and even the C-pillar splits the difference (in a smart way) between the contemporary “floating roof” trend and the original 5’s rain rail.

Will the prototype reach production? We think Renault would be smart to consider it, since the current EV lineup could use a little attitude to do battle with cars like the Honda E and the reimagined Fiat 500 EV.

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Mecum’s Upcoming Muscle Car City Museum Auction Features Rare Chevrolet Chevelle Z16

Thu, 01/14/2021 - 2:01pm

ZL1, COPO, L88, SS, RS, Z/28, Z06—without context, Chevy’s mid-century order codes are about as evocative as reading the back of a once-a-day vitamin bottle. Unsurprisingly, the docket of Mecum Auction’s upcoming sale of Rick Treworgy’s sprawling Muscle Car City is loaded to the air cleaners with these alphanumeric codes, and while it’s tempting to fixate on the incredible COPO Camaros and SS variants filling up the show floor of the former grocery store, we can’t tear our eyes from the rare and semi-obscure 1965 Chevrolet Chevelle Z16 that’s up for grabs.

As demand for high-performance muscle car variants rose in the mid-1960s, Chevrolet realized the relatively staid Chevelle was at risk of falling behind its contemporaries as the big-block floodgates swung open. The popular small-block 327-cubic-inch (5.3-liter) V-8 was offered within the first year of Chevelle production in 1964. But its maximum output of 300 hp put it behind the competition, particularly as the Pontiac GTO’s tri-power 389-ci engine spun out 360 hp and a wicked 424 lb-ft by 1965. A 350-hp RPO L79 327 was made available in 1965, but the 360 lb-ft couldn’t match the tri-power’s tenderizing torque.

Of course, the legendary SS 396 was just a year away, but there was little promotion or fanfare—yet—for the forthcoming big-block Chevelle. To ramp-up interest for the future big-block package, Chevy slid the then-new 396-ci (6.5-liter) L37 big-block V-8 into a run of 200 Chevelle SS coupes and one convertible. This new hot rod carried the internal designation of “Z16” and was offered primarily to members of the media, Chevy VIPs, and other high-profile individuals the General deemed would effectively promote the big honkin’ engine package just over the horizon.

While the Z16 is more than just a shoehorned big-block, it was all about that engine. A hearty 375 hp and a thick 420 lb-ft made it one of the most potent muscle cars of its day, with each 396 matched to a Muncie four-speed manual transmission. Interestingly enough, though the 396 shared a basic design with the same year’s Corvette 396, the Z16’s L37 utilized more street-friendly hydraulic lifters versus the ‘Vette’s solid-lifter setup, owing to the Corvette’s L78 396’s 425-hp rating.

Elsewhere, Chevelle Z16s were beefed up to handle the extra gumption. The frame was that of a Chevelle convertible, chosen for its additional structural reinforcement. Around back, the Z16 wore a narrower rear axle and upgraded brakes from the Impala along with the customary “heavy-duty” suspension. Visually, good luck picking a Z16 out from a field of 1965 Chevelles; aesthetic differences were limited to a bespoke black-and-chrome rear panel with untrimmed taillights pulled from a lower-spec variant. A quick indicator of a potential Z16 is the color; whereas a regular Chevelle SS could be covered in any of the 15 paint options, Z16s arrived only in Tuxedo Black, Regal Red, or Crocus Yellow.

Of the 201 produced, only around 75 are accounted for, making any Z16 that comes to market a noteworthy occurrence. Treworgy’s Z16 is one of the nicest out there, especially wearing rare Crocus Yellow paintwork. According to Mecum’s listing, the car is still fresh from a past frame-off restoration and carries documentation stretching back to the original owner. Interested? We thought so, but it won’t come cheap. Make sure you register to bid before the Z16 crosses the auction block, as it’s currently on schedule for the first day of the sale on January 22.

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2021 Honda Ridgeline Prices Released: Refreshed, Truckier Model Ditches FWD Option

Thu, 01/14/2021 - 11:25am

Rarely do mid-cycle updates of existing models accomplish so much change as Honda’s 2021 refresh for the Ridgeline midsize pickup. The only unibody, car-based pickup truck on the market, the Ridgeline has long delivered admirable handling, ride comfort, and clever packaging thanks to its lack of a cumbersome separate frame. Thing is, while it’s among the best midsize trucks you can buy, the pre-update Ridgeline resembled a Honda minivan with a pickup bed grafted on. For 2021, the Ridgeline finally adopts tougher, truckier styling. And, as if Honda is trying to drive the point home that it wants customers to take the pickup more seriously, it’s abandoning the Ridgeline’s standard front-wheel-drive configuration.

By making all-wheel drive standard across the Ridgeline lineup, Honda is taking away another arrow from the quiver of haters who giggle behind their hands at a—gasp!—front-drive pickup truck. The change only impacts the base Ridgeline Sport and second-tier Ridgeline RTL trims, which for 2020 came with FWD and offered all-wheel drive as an option. All-wheel drive already was standard on the uplevel RTL-E and Black Edition models.

Baking in a previously optional feature such as all-wheel drive has the predictable impact on pricing, with the 2021 Honda Ridgeline’s various MSRPs rising accordingly. At $37,665, the base 2021 Ridgeline Sport costs $2,590 more than last year’s model—but, remember, that’s comparing front-drive apples to all-wheel-drive oranges. The new Ridgeline Sport only costs $350 more than the all-wheel-drive 2020 model. Ditto the 2021 Ridgeline RTL, which sees its price jump $650 over last year’s all-wheel-drive RTL; the gap between the ’21 RTL and the front-drive 2020 version is a bigger $2,800. Ridgeline RTL-E and Black Edition variants see their prices rise just $400 each.

2021 Honda Ridgeline Pricing
  • Ridgeline Sport: $37,665
  • Ridgeline RTL: $40,645
  • Ridgeline RTL-E: $43,595
  • Ridgeline Black Edition: $45,095

As before, the Ridgeline comes standard with a ton of equipment, including Honda’s suite of active safety features (adaptive cruise control, lane-keep assist, lane-departure warning, forward collision warning, and automated emergency braking). Automatic climate control is also baked in, as are a V-6 engine, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, and 18-inch wheels. The Ridgeline’s segment-exclusive in-bed trunk, which can double as a sealed cooler, and multiway tailgate that can swing to the side or swing down, also are standard.

Considering the Ridgeline’s robust equipment list, it isn’t as pricey for the segment as it may seem. Sure, several midsize pickup competitors can be had for well under $30,000, but most of those come with weak four-cylinder engines and two-wheel drive, and lack many of the Honda’s safety and comfort features. Option up a Ford Ranger, Toyota Tacoma, or Chevy Colorado to match the Ridgeline, and the price battle is more competitive. In any event, we’ll soon see how the updated Ridgeline stacks up, and what on- and off-road improvements its beefier tires, wider stance, and new front end impart on an already slick truck experience. The 2021 Honda Ridgeline reaches dealerships in February.

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The Surprising Performance Potential of Volvo Engine Swaps

Thu, 01/14/2021 - 10:01am

Many fans of Swedish metal are eager to turn others onto the potential for Volvo performance. There are a surprising array of engine options and platforms that can make for the perfect oddball project. We’ve gathered some ideas to inspire you to consider a Volvo project car.

Uncommon Performance: 1974-1993 Volvo 240

The humble Volvo 244 (sedan), 242 (coupe) and 245 (wagon) enjoyed nearly three decades of faithful service as the go-to car of choice for college professors, safety-conscious families, and free thinkers looking to escape Detroit’s grasp in an era when European imports were still a mixed bag when it came to quality and reliability. Collectively known as the Volvo 240, the line-up’s stodgy, squared-off styling concealed an overbuilt design that still ensures a steady supply of driver-quality 200-Series cars decades after the last one left the assembly line.

The rear-wheel drive 240 also happen to have evolved into one of the least-likely performance platforms out there, with a legion of dedicated owners providing a global support group for anyone who wants to try to squeeze at least a little speed and better handling out of these modestly-appointed automobiles. Volvo fans aren’t just found in their natural epicenter of Sweden, either; the United States is the next-most common country to spot a hopped-up 240 sitting at the autocross or quarter-mile starting line.

There are many paths to take on the journey from slow poke to FTD behind the wheel of a Volvo 240. We dug down into the three most common starting points when adding some giddy-up to the Volvo’s go.

From The Factory

Typically, the Volvo 240 isn’t much in a straight line right out of the box. The vast majority of 200-series Volvos you’ll find lurking on Craigslist are fitted with one of a handful of venerable but meek naturally-aspirated four-cylinder engines. These fuel injected, low-compression mills hover between 100 and 130 horsepower depending on the model and year. Still, there were a number of factory models available that were quicker than average, and which have become respectable starting points for would-be tuners.

Volvo Redblock

If you want to keep things in the family, there are a few Volvo-sourced swaps that are for the most part plug-and-play. Volvo was the first automaker to bring a turbocharged wagon to the American market (the famed “redblock” B21FT engine, with the mightier B21ET offered in Europe), and that experiment continued well past the 200-Series being put out to pasture, which means that it’s relatively easy to sources a turbocharged four-cylinder motor from either a 700-Series or 900-Series car and make it work in your 240. Forget chasing naturally-aspirated power, as your money will go a lot farther in the world of forced induction.

Which engine should you target? The B230FT 2.3-liter redblock is one of the most popular swaps, with ‘L’ block engines produced post-1993 offering thicker cylinder walls and an oil cooling system for the pistons. Truth be told, however, even ‘K’ block or early B23 motors outfitted with the intercooler boost system are good for over 160 horses and decent torque in stock trim (although somewhat fragile connecting rods vulnerable to crankshaft flex are something to watch out for, fixed in later models thanks to a 50 percent thicker design and the relocation of the axial bearing).

From The Aftermarket

Turn up the boost via a larger turbo, add supporting fuel mods, and remap the ECU and you are looking at an easy 250 horsepower with solid reliability from a B230FT, but the first stop on the Volvo aftermarket typically isn’t in the engine department. Rather, it’s to address to platforms various handling deficiencies. We spoke to Jared Lohnes at iPd, one of the longest-running (since 1963) Volvo performance operations in the United States, and he told us that the first modification he recommends is a set of larger swaybars front and rear, which won’t compromise the ride, but will definitely wake-up handling. The stock 240 setup was intended to prioritize comfort over cornering, and Jared also considers a set of lowering springs (usually up to a 35mm drop), stiffer shock absorbers, and poly bushings all around as a great starting point. As with any car, larger wheels and stickier tires will tie it all together and offer some of the best bang for your buck when it comes to improving the car’s reflexes.

Once you’ve got the handling locked down, the next step for most Volvo tuners is to improve engine breathing via a larger, less restrictive exhaust, and a ported and polished head. A more aggressive camshaft is also a popular seller for iPd, and Lohnes explained that it’s a simple afternoon job whether you’re running an NA or turbocharged Volvo engine. Most of the time the stock rear differential is going to be able to hold whatever Volvo-sourced power you throw at it (with the 700-Series G80 locker a popular choice for extra traction), so it’s not something you’ll need to upgrade right away. If your clutch has seen better days, that’s not a bad place to allocate some of your budget. You might be tempted by chassis bracing and strut tower bars, but keep in mind that the stiffer you make the car, the less comfortable it will be on regular roads. Know your goals before ordering parts for your project and don’t go overboard and risk ending up with a car you won’t enjoy driving.

From Left Field

Rear-wheel drive, solid construction, plentiful parts availability: all three of these factors add up to a community of third-party engine swaps with a history dating back to the 1980s when Converse Engineering began selling the first Volvo 240s outfitted with 5.0-liter Ford V-8 engines. While the 302 continues to be a common, and relatively affordable swap for the Volvo crowd, the 200-Series is not immune to the wave of LS appreciation that has swept over the entire customization community. Affordable starting points include 4.8-liter and larger 5.3-liter V-8s scored from GM SUVs, while pricier builds involving 5.7-liter LS1 engines have all been done and documented online, opening up a world where 300 to 400 horsepower is easily attainable.

Surprisingly, the extra torque brought on by these swaps doesn’t have much of a negative effect on driveline components as one would think. If you want to graduate from the world of one-wheel burnouts to a full-locking diff out back, however, then a stouter unit is recommended (the 8.8-inch, 31-spline pumpkin out of a Ford Explorer is a popular choice). It’s also important to consider the extra weight—roughly 200 lbs in the case of an LS engine—when installing a V-8 swap, which means bigger front brakes are a sound investment.

Remember that these are just a few of the things you can do to a Volvo 240 to get the juices flowing quicker than they did when your sedan, coupe, or wagon originally left the factory. The only limit to how wild you want to get with your car is typically your budget, but if you use your imagination you can usually get around any financial roadblocks with a little creative engineering.

Volvos are fun!

If you’d like to delve deeper into the Volvo performance community, we recommend checking out Turbo Bricks, one of the best online communities dedicated to the art of Swede speed. In addition to iPd USA, you can also get in touch with Elevate, which recently acquired K-PAX. While focused on more modern Volvos, it’s not a bad place to call if you’re swapping a newer drivetrain into your 240. For more of a classic perspective, along with access to race-tested engine expertise, Vintage Performance Development has been focused on the Volvo community for the past 15 years.

The post The Surprising Performance Potential of Volvo Engine Swaps appeared first on MotorTrend.

2021 Dodge Charger or Nissan Maxima? Pros and Cons Review

Thu, 01/14/2021 - 8:00am

Although the Dodge Charger and Nissan Maxima adopt a similar form factor, these full-size sedans go about their business in very different ways. The Maxima takes a more luxurious approach to its features and appointments while still trying to be fun to drive. Meanwhile, the Charger emphasizes power and performance more than comfort or technology.

Deciding between the Charger and Maxima? Here are the pros and cons of each to consider.

2021 Dodge Charger: Pros Over the Maxima Engine Choices

Both the Maxima and Charger come standard with a V-6 engine. In the Nissan, it’s a 3.5-liter unit that makes 300 hp and 261 lb-ft of torque, all of which is sent to the front wheels via a continuously variable automatic transmission (CVT). The Dodge has a 3.6-liter mill that turns out 292–300 hp and 260–264 lb-ft. Power is routed through an eight-speed automatic, and buyers can choose either rear-wheel- or all-wheel-drive.

That’s as exciting as it gets in the Maxima, but the fun has only just begun in the Charger—it’s also offered with several V-8 choices. Those range from a 370-hp 5.7-liter Hemi to the infamous 797-hp supercharged 6.2-liter powerplant in the Hellcat Redeye. Indeed, the Maxima’s V-6 provides reasonable acceleration. But for the power-hungry, a V-8-equipped Charger is the only choice here.

Passenger and Cargo Space

The Charger and Maxima trade advantages in interior capacities. Front-row headroom measures 38.6 inches in the Charger and 39.4 inches in the Maxima. Likewise, there’s less front legroom in the Dodge, which has 41.8 inches to the Nissan’s huge 45.0 inches. In the Charger’s second row, headroom is 36.6 inches, negligibly less than the Maxima’s 36.7 inches. However, back-seat legroom measures 40.1 inches in the Charger, much more than the Maxima’s 34.2 inches. Additionally, the Charger’s trunk is bigger, with 16.5 cubic feet to the Maxima’s 14.3. Long-legged drivers will appreciate the Maxima’s generous front-row space. But since the Charger is still pretty roomy up front and much more so in the second row, not to mention it has a larger trunk, it seems like the better overall package for spacious sedan practicality.

Colors and Trims

Besides black, white, and silver, the Maxima is available in eye-catching blue, orange, or red paint. We like that Nissan offers more than drab basic colors, but the fun ones are available only on certain trims and cost $395 extra. The Charger has a range of awesome paint choices. Sure, you can get black, white, or various grays, but you also have two blues, two reds, two oranges, and more to choose from—check out the classy F8 green or the sophisticated Hellraisin purple. All of these paints are available on every Charger trim level and cost the same amount: $0.00. V-8-powered Chargers also offer a range of retro-tastic stripe and decal packages and a muscular widebody kit. The Maxima looks good, but if you want a car that you can personalize with stand-out style, the Charger gives you the most options.

Value

IntelliChoice, a MotorTrend subsidiary, works to determine car values by calculating long-term ownership costs. Between the Charger and Maxima, there’s a clear winner—with caveats. The Maxima is rated as a Poor value; insurance costs and depreciation undermine its long-term outlook. Meanwhile, the Charger lineup is rated as an Average value, but values for specific trims vary. For example, the basic SXT V-6 model is a Good value, as it shouldn’t cost a huge amount to run, insure, or repair. But choosing a V-8 Charger lessens the value equation. An R/T is an Average value, but the Hellcat is rated as Poor. Why? Well, IntelliChoice estimates that it’ll cost some $90,000 over five years, with over a third of that being depreciation and nearly $15,000 of it pumped into the gas tank. Even still, the Charger has a value advantage over the Maxima—just know that it depends on which model you get.

2021 Nissan Maxima: Pros Over the Charger Interior Design and Materials

When you pay for a high-end Charger, your dollars go toward what’s under the hood more than inside the cabin. Besides details such as carbon-fiber trim and Alcantara upholstery, expensive Chargers share appointments with bare-bones rental lot specials. It’s the opposite case with the Maxima. All models have the same engine, so opting for a higher trim level makes things nicer inside. Quilted leather upholstery, a rear window sunshade, and multi-color ambient lighting are among the niceties added as you move up the Maxima trim walk. We think its cabin design is more aesthetically pleasing, too.

Safety and Driver Assist Features

If safety is a priority, the Maxima is the better choice. From the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), the 2020 Maxima earns five-star ratings across the board (a complete set of ratings for the 2021 model hasn’t been published). The 2021 Charger gets a four-star frontal crash score and five stars in other categories. From the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS), the Maxima received the 2020 Top Safety Pick + designation, an accolade the Charger can’t match. In the driver’s side small overlap front crash test, which replicates what happens when the front left corner of a car hits an object at 40 mph, the Dodge got the second-lowest Marginal score. Also, its headlights received the lowest Poor score.

All Maxima trims are standard equipped with adaptive cruise control, lane-keep assist, blind-spot monitoring, rear cross-traffic alert, front and rear automatic braking, and more driver-assist features. The Charger comes with none of these. You can add them by choosing option packages, but the Hellcat isn’t compatible with features such as adaptive cruise control.

Fuel Economy and Driving Range

Fuel economy ratings from the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) for the 2021 Maxima are 20/30 mpg city/highway, slightly better than the V-6 Charger’s 19/30 mpg rating. The Maxima has an 18-gallon fuel tank, which provides a theoretical maximum range of 540 miles. However, the Charger’s tank holds 18.5 gallons, allowing up to 555 miles of cruising distance. This all goes out the tailpipe if you choose a V-8 Charger. Its most economical eight-pot is the 5.7-liter Hemi, which is rated at 16/25 mpg and can cover about 460 miles between fill-ups. Meanwhile, the Hellcat chugs premium fuel at 12/21 mpg for under 390 miles of driving range, assuming you’re gentle on the throttle—yeah, right.

Freeway Cruising

As we found out during its year in our long-term fleet, the Maxima is a capable freeway cruiser. Its driver-assist features and comfortable ride make it a relaxing car to hit the road in, whether for everyday commutes or multi-state journeys. Although V-6 Chargers are also spacious and comfortable, the models’ absence of standard driver-assist tech makes taking to the road that much more taxing. V-8 Charger models feature sportier chassis setups, which improve handling but diminish outright comfort. Those larger engines also necessitate more frequent stops for fuel. The Charger might be better fun on a twisty road, but the Maxima is nicer for normal driving.

The Verdict

The Maxima is a better bet than a Charger if you’re looking for a sensible, comfortable full-size sedan. Its nicer interior and numerous driver-assist features make it more luxurious, and its strong safety scores and decent fuel economy earn it pragmatic points. However, if you’re after a thrill ride, the Charger is the only choice here. When equipped with a V-8 engine, it’s a proper muscle car, providing more power, noise, and tire smoke than any competitor can.

2021 Dodge Charger Pros Over Nissan Maxima
  • V-8 engine choices
  • More passenger and cargo space
  • Fun color and trim options
  • Better value
2021 Nissan Maxima Pros Over Dodge Charger
  • Better fuel economy
  • Nicer interior
  • Standard safety and driver-assist tech
  • A more comfortable freeway cruiser

The post 2021 Dodge Charger or Nissan Maxima? Pros and Cons Review appeared first on MotorTrend.

2021 Kia Seltos SX Turbo vs. Subaru Crosstrek Sport: Which Is the Best?

Thu, 01/14/2021 - 7:00am

Something surprised me when browsing our online buyer’s guide the other day—right now there are more than 17 subcompact SUVs on the market from mainstream automakers. Everyone from Chevrolet to Toyota competes in the space, and more vehicles join the segment every day. The 2021 Kia Seltos is one of our favorite new subcompact SUVs to enter the fray; this 2021 MotorTrend SUV of the Year finalist impressed us with its killer style, great power, and exceptional value. But while the segment grows in number, those already in the field aren’t sitting still. The 2021 Subaru Crosstrek Sport is the latest update to another MT favorite (not to mention a 2018 SUV of the Year finalist), offering more power, updated styling, and new features. But is the new kid on the block the better SUV? We took the turbocharged 2021 Kia Seltos SX Turbo and the new 2021 Subaru Crosstrek Sport onto some of our favorite roads to find out.

Tale of the Tape: 2021 Kia Seltos SX Turbo AWD vs. Subaru Crosstrek Sport

As the 2021 Subaru Crosstrek and Kia Seltos play in the same segment, they’re matched fairly evenly in the specifications department.

Riding on Subaru’s modular Subaru Global Platform, which underpins everything from the compact Impreza sedan to the three-row Ascent SUV, the Crosstrek is the bigger of the two; its wheelbase is 1.4 inches longer than the Kia’s, and it’s 4.5 inches longer overall.

Subaru offers three different powertrains in the Crosstrek: a standard 152-hp 2.0-liter flat-four, a 148-hp gasoline-electric setup in the Crosstrek Hybrid, and, new for 2021, a 2.5-liter flat-four producing 182 hp and 176 lb-ft of torque, as found in our 2021 Crosstrek Sport. Although a six-speed manual is standard on the Crosstrek’s base engine, the 2021 Subaru Crosstrek Sport is available only with a continuously variable automatic transmission (CVT). Like all Subarus, save for the BRZ sports car, all-wheel drive is standard on the Crosstrek.

Aside from the new 2.5-liter flat-four (borrowed from the Subaru Forester, Legacy, and Outback), the 2021 Crosstrek also gets some minor styling revisions inside and outside, plus an updated version of Subaru’s X-Mode off-road software and its EyeSight driver-assist safety tech.

The new 2021 Kia Seltos is slightly shorter and stubbier than the Crosstrek and has a more traditional SUV-like appearance. Riding on a small-car platform shared with the Hyundai Kona and Kia Soul (among others), Kia offers two powertrain options in the Seltos. Standard is a 146-hp 2.0-liter I-4 paired with a CVT. On the base $23,165 Seltos LX, it comes standard with all-wheel drive. Moving laterally over to the $23,165 Seltos S nets you more standard creature comforts, but standard front-wheel drive. All-wheel drive is available for an extra $1,600. Optional—and equipped on our Seltos SX Turbo test car—is a turbocharged 1.6-liter I-4 that makes 175 hp and 195 lb-ft of torque. It comes standard with a seven-speed dual-clutch automatic gearbox and all-wheel drive.

In addition to its two engine options and stylish sheet metal, the new-to-market Seltos also offers Kia’s latest suite of driver-assist tech and premium infotainment options.

How Much Are the 2021 Kia Seltos SX Turbo and 2021 Subaru Crosstrek Sport?

Competing in the $20,000–$30,000 range isn’t easy. Raw materials and labor costs being what they are, there’s not a lot of room for automakers to undercut one another while still ensuring they generate profit. As such, it’s unsurprising how similarly the Seltos SX Turbo and Crosstrek Sport are priced. The 2021 Subaru Crosstrek Sport starts at $27,545, and, as equipped for this test with a $1,600 package that includes a moonroof and blind-spot monitors with rear cross-traffic alert, it stickers for $29,145.

The 2021 Kia Seltos SX Turbo AWD, at $29,010 to start, comes similarly equipped to our Crosstrek Sport (though it was missing the $700 optional moonroof). The only options on our $29,485 as-tested Seltos SX Turbo were carpeted floormats and Starbright Yellow paint that in some light perfectly matched our Crosstrek’s Plasma Yellow Pearl paint job.

2021 Subaru Crosstrek Sport or 2021 Kia Seltos SX Turbo: Which Is Faster?

The test track is where some daylight begins to appear between the Seltos and the Crosstrek. Despite being down 7 hp to the Crosstrek, the Seltos is the quicker of the two from a standing start. Thanks to its quick-shifting dual-clutch automatic transmission, the Kia accelerates to 60 mph in 7.4 seconds, whereas the Crosstrek, saddled with its more lackadaisical CVT, needs 7.8 seconds to hit 60 mph from a standstill. Interestingly, the Subaru shows some signs of life when we look at its quarter mile performance. Its 16.0-second run at 87.7 mph is 0.1 second slower than the Kia’s (but its trap speed is ever so slightly faster than the Seltos’ 86.9-mph turn).

In layman’s terms, this means the Kia’s torque and transmission help out at city speeds, but the Crosstrek’s power advantage bridges the gap at highway speeds. We can actually see this play out in our 45–65 mph passing test, where both SUVs take 3.9 seconds. The Crosstrek’s few extra horses and the CVT’s ability to quickly “downshift” help it keep pace with the Seltos, which has a harder time keeping ahead because of its engine’s peaky power delivery and slow downshifts.

In braking and handling tests, the Seltos has the edge again by the thinnest of margins. Its best 60–0 mph stop was 117 feet; the Subaru needed 124 feet. The Kia also managed to lap our figure-eight course quicker than the Crosstrek, averaging 0.63 g over its 27.4-second lap versus 27.9 seconds at 0.60 g for the Subaru.

When it comes to fuel economy, the Subaru claws back some points with an EPA rating of 27/34/29 mpg city/highway/combined versus the Kia’s 25/30/27 mpg score.

Is the Crosstrek Sport or Seltos SX Turbo Better in the Real World?

Although the Kia and Subaru are matched evenly on paper, the two have tremendously different characters in the real world.

Perhaps in an attempt to capture some of the essence of the award-winning (and hot-selling) Kia Telluride, the 2021 Kia Seltos immediately feels more SUV-like than the Subaru. You sit high in the Kia’s cabin, with a commanding view of the road. The Seltos’ ride initially lends itself to that SUV-like impression, too, with a heavy sort of stiffness over speed bumps and potholes that’s more typical of traditional body-on-frame SUVs. That impression begins to fade some as you spend more time behind the wheel; the truck-like solidity evolves into unmistakable firmness reminiscent of a hot sport compact, complete with all the head toss and gut jiggle you would expect. Thankfully, though, the setup avoids excess body roll, while the steering is quick and pleasingly hefty but somewhat artificial feeling.

The Kia’s little turbocharged 1.6-liter engine and seven-speed transmission are at their happiest hammering away at wide-open throttle. Unfortunately, that’s not quite representative of how the average American drives. Despite what we found at the test track, the engine, when run at city and highway speeds, is laggy and the transmission is slow to respond, especially when calling for a downshift to beat traffic around town or pass a slow-moving truck on the interstate. In heavy stop-and-go traffic (or just negotiating your parking lot or driveway), the powertrain becomes even more irritating, behaving as if it were a freshly minted manual driver, with rough, slow shifts and lots of head toss as the Seltos’ drivetrain attempts to put the power down without feeling like it’s going to stall. The Seltos’ base powertrain is much smoother.

The Subaru Crosstrek, despite the “Sport” in its name, is the more refined and relaxed of the two vehicles. There’s an unmistakable feeling of solidity and quality in the way the Crosstrek goes down the road; the Subaru’s balanced chassis and superb suspension tuning is probably the root cause of this impression. Sure, you’ll get tire scrub and some understeer when you really drive hard, but the Crosstrek’s chassis can absolutely handle far more power and grip than what’s on offer. Its suspension is even more impressive. Using nothing but old-school engineering, it still manages to completely obliterate the perma-landslide purgatory found on the rough-road section of our test loop in much the same way a Mercedes-Maybach GLS600 did on the same stretch of road just the day prior. What that means on less extreme sections of roadway is the Subaru rides exceptionally smoothly and comfortably.

“Smooth” accurately describes the Crosstrek’s powertrain. Unlike our experiences in our long-term Subaru Outback, which has a turbocharged engine and CVT, throttle tip-in on the Crosstrek Sport is linear. And the Crosstrek gets up and going without the Seltos’ drama. It’s not necessarily as exciting as the Seltos when its engine is on full boil, but the Subaru feels quick once the flat-four is in its powerband, and it feels acceptably powerful when it’s not. It doesn’t live up to the “Sport” badge on its rump, but the Crosstrek now at least offers a gasoline powertrain more than capable of keeping up with traffic.

Subaru Crosstrek or Kia Seltos: Which Has the Best Interior?

Despite the little injection of matching yellow trim to the bottom of the 2021 Subaru Crosstrek Sport’s steering wheel (and the yellow thread in the seat stitching), the car’s cabin is much the same as the versions that came before it. That’s no bad thing. Since its debut, the Crosstrek has been one of our segment favorites due to its balance of practicality, quality, and features. The neoprene-wrapped seats (a Crosstrek Sport exclusive) are comfortable, spacious, and adult-friendly both front and rear, while the cargo hold is positively massive for an SUV of this size, even if the Seltos ends up edging the Subaru in overall cubic feet.

We’re also fans of the Crosstrek Sport’s 8.8-inch Apple CarPlay- and Android Auto-friendly infotainment suite, which is both intuitive and responsive. That said, we wish the smaller multi-function display on top of the dash was a color unit as found on higher-spec Crosstreks (rather than looking like an old alarm clock).

After hopping out of the Subaru and into the Seltos, the Kia makes a killer first impression. Kia’s major focus on interior design in the Seltos’ cabin is just something you don’t get elsewhere in this segment. Power seats with lumbar adjustment, automatic climate control with vents for rear passengers, and an 8.0-inch CarPlay- and Android Auto-compatible infotainment system (also shared with Hyundai and some Genesis models) are impressive enough. But then you look at things such as the fractal speaker grilles for the Bose sound system, and it’s impossible not to feel like you’re in a far more expensive car.

Unfortunately, it seems like some of these lovely touches came at the expense of fundamentals. The Seltos’ cabin, though technically larger than the Crosstrek’s, feels smaller for passengers, and it features lesser interior materials than what Subaru offers for nearly the same money.

2021 Kia Seltos SX Turbo or 2021 Subaru Crosstrek: The Better Buy

This comparison is close. The MotorTrend of the ’70s or ’80s would likely have said something along the lines of, “If you want something sporty-ish get the Kia, but if you want something more comfortable, get the Subaru” and hit the local bar.

Thankfully, we’ve moved past such fence-sitting. While both of these SUVs are exceptional segment standouts, for us, the Subaru’s final bit of polish, superior ride quality and efficiency, and its near-identical instrumented-test performance earn it the top spot in our SUV rankings.

POWERTRAIN/CHASSIS 2021 Kia Seltos SX Turbo T-GDI 2021 Subaru Crosstrek Sport DRIVETRAIN LAYOUT Front-engine, AWD Front-engine, AWD ENGINE TYPE Turbocharged I-4, alum block/head Flat-4 alum block/heads VALVETRAIN DOHC, 4 valves/cyl DOHC, 4 valves/cyl DISPLACEMENT 97.1 cu in/1,591 cc 152.4 cu in/2,498 cc COMPRESSION RATIO 10.0:1 12.0:1 POWER (SAE NET) 175 hp @ 6,000 rpm 182 hp @ 5,800 rpm TORQUE (SAE NET) 195 lb-ft @ 1,500 rpm 176 lb-ft @ 4,400 rpm REDLINE 6,500 rpm 6,000 rpm WEIGHT TO POWER 18.5 lb/hp 17.9 lb/hp TRANSMISSION 7-speed twin-clutch auto Cont variable auto AXLE/FINAL-DRIVE RATIO 4.63:1 (1st, 2nd, 4th, 5th), 3.61:1 (3rd, 6th, 7th, R)/2.58:1 3.70:1/2.07:1 SUSPENSION, FRONT; REAR Struts, coil springs, anti-roll bar; multilink, coil springs, anti-roll bar Struts, coil springs, anti-roll bar; multilink, coil springs, anti-roll bar STEERING RATIO 12.8:1 13.0:1 TURNS LOCK-TO-LOCK 2.5 2.6 BRAKES, F; R 16.0-in vented disc; 15.0-in disc, ABS 11.6-in vented disc; 10.8-in disc, ABS WHEELS 7.5 x 18-in cast-aluminum 7.0 x 17-in cast-aluminum TIRES 235/45R18 94V Kumo Majesty 9 Solus TA91 225/60R17 98H Yokohama Geolandar G91 (M+S) DIMENSIONS WHEELBASE 103.5 in 104.9 in TRACK, F/R 62.0/62.4 in 61.0/61.2 in LENGTH x WIDTH x HEIGHT 172.0 x 70.9 x 63.6 in 176.5 x 71.0 x 63.6 in GROUND CLEARANCE 7.3 in 8.7 in APPRCH/DEPART ANGLE 28.0/28.0 deg 18.0/28.6 deg TURNING CIRCLE 34.8 ft 35.4 ft CURB WEIGHT 3,243 lb 3,262 lb WEIGHT DIST, F/R 59/41% 59/41% TOWING CAPACITY Not rated Not rated SEATING CAPACITY 5 5 HEADROOM, F/R 40.0/38.4 in 39.8/38.0 in LEGROOM, F/R 41.4/38.0 in 43.1/36.5 in SHOULDER ROOM, F/R 55.5/54.7 in 56.7/55.6 in CARGO VOLUME BEH F/R 62.8/26.6 cu ft 55.3/20.8 cu ft TEST DATA ACCELERATION TO MPH 0-30 2.7 sec 2.9 sec 0-40 3.9 4.2 0-50 5.6 5.9 0-60 7.4 7.8 0-70 9.9 10.2 0-80 13.1 13.2 0-90 17.2 16.9 PASSING, 45-65 MPH 3.9 3.9 QUARTER MILE 15.9 sec @ 86.9 mph 16.0 sec @ 87.7 mph BRAKING, 60-0 MPH 117 ft 124 ft LATERAL ACCELERATION 0.82 g (avg) 0.79 g (avg) MT FIGURE EIGHT 27.4 sec @ 0.63 g (avg) 27.9 sec @ 0.60 g (avg) TOP-GEAR REVS @ 60 MPH 2,000 rpm 1,600 rpm CONSUMER INFO BASE PRICE $29,010 $27,545 PRICE AS TESTED $29,485 $29,145 STABILITY/TRACTION CONTROL Yes/Yes Yes/Yes AIRBAGS 6: Dual front, front side, f/r curtain 7:  Dual front, front side, f/r curtain, driver’s knee BASIC WARRANTY 5 yrs/60,000 miles 3 yrs/36,000 miles POWERTRAIN WARRANTY 10 yrs/100,000 miles 5 yrs/60,000 miles ROADSIDE ASSISTANCE 5 yrs/60,000 miles 3 yrs/36,000 miles FUEL CAPACITY 13.2 gal 16.6 gal EPA CITY/HWY/COMB ECON 25/30/27 mpg 27/34/29 mpg ENERGY CONS, CITY/HWY 135/112 kW-hrs/100 miles 125/99 kWh/100 miles CO2 EMISSIONS, COMB 0.72 lb/mile 0.65 lb/mile RECOMMENDED FUEL Unleaded regular Unleaded regular

The post 2021 Kia Seltos SX Turbo vs. Subaru Crosstrek Sport: Which Is the Best? appeared first on MotorTrend.

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