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The Long, Tortuous Wait for the 2022 Hyundai Santa Cruz

Thu, 04/15/2021 - 7:15pm

Like a kid waiting for Santa on Christmas morning, the wait for the 2022 Hyundai Santa Cruz compact pickup truck has seemed interminable. We first saw the Hyundai Santa Cruz Concept at the 2015 North American International Auto Show in Detroit, where its quirky looks and bold aspirations attracted big crowds—and no shortage of skeptics.

But Hyundai execs knew it was a risky segment and said the Santa Cruz was one of the most-researched vehicles they had ever created. They believed there was a market for the truck, even though success had eluded other automakers.

Hyundai Santa Cruz Concept

Dave Zuchowski, the then-CEO of Hyundai Motor North America, said the automaker was using the show to gauge reaction. The response was overwhelmingly positive and within days, the early verdict was “go for it,” especially as Hyundai’s lineup was mostly cars and it needed SUVs and a truck to better match its product portfolio with consumer demand. Engineering work continued and a business plan was developed to talk to the board in Korea for approval.

An exuberant Zuchowski said a decision to greenlight was possible when the board met in November 2015 for its next annual product review. From there, it would take four years or less for the truck to reach production. Hyundai could also justify building a plant in the United States to produce the Tucson, as well as the Santa Cruz.

Alas, things didn’t exactly go to plan, as the gestation period ultimately lasted six years. Even the African elephant can get the birthing done in just under two years.

Zuchowski pushed hard for the little pickup, as he was convinced it would sell well. In 2016, he told MotorTrend the decision was made to add the Santa Cruz to the lineup in 2018 as a 2019 model. It would share a platform with the new 2016 Hyundai Tucson compact SUV and the design was very close to being locked in. Projected sales were 50,000—70,000 a year, which was enough to make a $25,000 truck viable. But the announcement was never made and the truck lost its champion when Zuchowski was ousted in December 2016.

Then, Hyundai’s former chief operating officer Brian Smith told us it would be in showrooms in 2020. Given the events of 2020, though, missing that deadline is understandable.

Santa Cruz-ing for a Redesign

The time it took the Santa Cruz to go from getting the green light to reaching production was so long that the design team had to go back to the drawing board. SangYup Lee, head of the Hyundai Global Design Center, said the look had to evolve to better fit with Hyundai’s most recent models, starting with the current Sonata. The Santa Cruz needed to look more distinctive. It would still ride on the same platform as the Tucson, though.

Another snag has always been production. From the start, North American officials pushed for it to be built in the U.S., but capacity was an issue. Hyundai couldn’t build enough Tucsons back in 2015, let alone add a truck based on the same platform. Nor could Hyundai meet the demand for the Hyundai Santa Fe assembled at the Kia plant in West Point, Georgia.

All along, the Hyundai Santa Cruz was designed to be an affordable, entry-level lifestyle vehicle, starting at about $25,000 (that was in 2015, but the production pickup could still start as low as $26,000). It is a vehicle for the person who wants some pickup attributes but does not need class-leading ground clearance or payload or towing capacity.

More Unibody Pickups in the Works

The Santa Cruz won’t be the only compact pickup coming to market, as the 2022 Ford Maverick pickup, which slots below the Ford Ranger, is due to arrive in the coming months. Meanwhile, Stellantis is still figuring out if the rebirth of the Dakota should take the form of a smaller, unibody truck. It is an idea that dates back to the Dodge M80 pickup concept that debuted at the 2002 Detroit show. FCA even started building a plant in Windsor, Ontario, to produce the little truck but when the company’s finances went south, the program was killed. The shell of the unfinished plant has since been razed.

The post The Long, Tortuous Wait for the 2022 Hyundai Santa Cruz appeared first on MotorTrend.

Mopar 2021 Ram 1500 Special Edition Brings a Strong Sticker Game, Rarity

Thu, 04/15/2021 - 6:15pm

A new limited production pickup truck is strutting its stuff out of the Mopar Custom Shop at Fiat Chrysl—we mean, Stellantis. It’s called the Mopar 2021 Ram 1500 Special Edition, and it’s best you dash any hopes that by slapping the Mopar name on Ram’s Hemi-powered 1500 might result in a muscle street truck with beefed-up performance, an athletic stance, and a demeanor akin to the V-10 Viper truck of years past.

Even though Ram has recently been enamored with the production of performance trucks (think TRX, or to a lesser extent, the 2500 Power Wagon), this Mopar Special Edition is a bit less involved. The Mopar touch amounts to a performance appearance package and includes zero modifications for the  5.7-liter Hemi V-8 under the Ram’s hood. Alas, the unmolested Hemi still pushes out 395 horsepower and 410 lb-ft of torque, so it has the potential for muscular Mopar performance of truck generations past.

So, no, the Mopar 2021 Ram 1500 Special Edition isn’t performance-oriented, but it is exclusive. Only 250 of these trucks will be made—210 for the United States and 40 for Canada. Ram celebrates this exclusivity with a Mopar ’21 owner’s kit that includes a custom-made, personalized metal certificate of authenticity capped by a serialized build number and a nifty rendering by the Mopar Design team. It all adds up to a touch of nostalgia, perhaps.

The special edition Mopar Ram will be built off the 2021 Ram 1500 Big Horn/Lone Star trim Crew Cab 4×4 configuration. These Rams already offer some cool exterior elements out of the gate (ones that aren’t unique to the special edition), including black-painted 20-inch wheels, side mirrors, and grille badges, as well as body-color bumpers, door handles, and fender flares. The Special Edition package builds upon this with some general add-ons: Mopar accessory running boards, a spray-in bedliner, tow hooks, adjustable tie downs, dual-trailer camera prep, a body-color tonneau cover, and all-weather floor mats.

Package-exclusive content—the stuff that really makes the Mopar Special Edition unique—really comes down to five main elements. Most obvious are the black exterior decals that travel along both doors before darting up the bed in front of the taillight and over the tonneau cover. The graphics almost form the illusion a rear spoiler. Less obvious are the gloss-black grille surround and black exhaust tips. Inside, cloth seats stitched in Light Diesel Gray have embroidered Mopar logos in the seatbacks. Lastly, a serialized instrument-panel badge identifies its build-sequence number.

Four paint colors will be available: Billet Silver, Bright White, Flame Red, and Hydro Blue. The patriotic palette corresponds beautifully to the Mopar ’21 pickup’s summertime arrival in select dealerships. The package will retail for $8,500 on top of the price of a qualifying Ram 1500 Big Horn or Long Horn.

The post Mopar 2021 Ram 1500 Special Edition Brings a Strong Sticker Game, Rarity appeared first on MotorTrend.

Florida Police Seeking Driver of Drawbridge-Jumping Hyundai Santa Fe

Thu, 04/15/2021 - 5:30pm

Thousands of miles from Santa Fe, New Mexico, the driver of a Hyundai Santa Fe has attempted to mimic Santa’s sleigh. The SUV crashed through traffic-control arms as a drawbridge in Daytona, Florida, was raising and jumped the gap to the other side. All jokes aside, the wayward Hyundai’s flight was caught on security cameras, and Daytona police are seeking the driver, according to the local news station, WESH 2.

Daytona Beach Police are searching for the person who drove through a drawbridge crossing arm and jumped the bridge as it was rising into the air.


— WSVN 7 News (@wsvn) April 15, 2021

So far, it isn’t clear whether the airborne crossing was intentional or not. Nor is it clear if the driver fits the infamous “Florida man” template. In the video provided above, you can see the Santa Fe driving at what appears to be a fairly tame speed as it hits the lowered traffic arm—you know, the sort of arms at railroad crossings and parking garages. It then seems to slow somewhat but continues onward, its windshield smashed and some damage visible to its hood, before hitting the slowly raising bridge deck and hopping to the other side.

Our guess is that the driver didn’t realize what they were doing, if only because they don’t seem to respond at all before hitting the barrier. But, who knows, maybe they had somewhere to be—stat. Either way, the older Santa Fe appears to handle the admittedly small jump well, landing straight and true, and continuing on safely.

Could the jump have been cooler? You bet. Had the Hyundai been any later to the drawbridge, the slope of the raising bridge deck would have been steeper, and the distance to the opposite side greater—offering up some true Dukes of Hazzard vibes. Granted, the jump also could have been much, much more dangerous and had far graver consequences. We’re just glad it appears the driver is okay, even if they’re probably getting visited by the police, who are eager to find out how and why this occurred, soon.

But really, all this reminds us of is one of Hyundai’s 1995 TV ads for the Accent subcompact sedan, which featured the relatively short NBA star Tyrone “Muggsy” Bogues dunking over taller players and the little Hyundai jumping a bridge. And we welcome any opportunity to rehash this gem of Korean-market advertising:

The post Florida Police Seeking Driver of Drawbridge-Jumping Hyundai Santa Fe appeared first on MotorTrend.

Ram Electric Pickup Truck Might Arrive in 2024

Thu, 04/15/2021 - 4:45pm

By 2030, every nameplate—including Jeep, Ram, Chrysler, Dodge, Maserati, and a plethora of other brands—under the Stellantis umbrella (the company created in January by merging FCA and PSA Group) will offer an electric vehicle. In the run-up to 2030, the company plans to build plug-in hybrids of most models as part of an accelerated global electrification plan.

New platforms are in the works to support pure electric vehicles, too, including one for body-on-frame pickups and large SUVs due in 2024. This is big news for those wondering when we will see Ram trucks powered solely by electric motors. Ford is preparing to launch an electric F-150 next year and General Motors has the 2022 GMC Hummer EV pickup coming this fall, as well as the forthcoming electric Chevrolet Silverado full-size pickup. Start-up electric vehicle maker Rivian will start production of the R1T electric pickup in June and Tesla continues to work on its Cybertruck.

Battery Factories Coming

Stellantis will make battery cells at factories in Europe and the United States as part of a move to engineer and build electric powertrain components via joint ventures—a reversal of the old FCA ways of outsourcing most of the parts needed to build a vehicle (something that made the automaker extremely dependent on its supply chain). Stellantis CEO Carlos Tavares provided an overview of some of the corporate strategies the company plans to pursue at the virtual first annual shareholders meeting of the newly created fourth-largest automaker.

Stellantis’ leadership team is still being finalized, but work is underway to continue to execute FCA’s and PSA’s plans in the short term while coming up with a new long-term plan through 2030. The first conclusions will be delivered by fall, Tavares said. Electrification plays a major role in the long-term vision of the company, which has more than 100 nameplates offered by its 14 brands.

Stellantis to Triple EV Sales in 2021

Stellantis will ensure it has the manufacturing and supply capacity needed to meet amped-up electrification targets. In 2021, the company expects to sell more than 400,000 electrified vehicles, tripling the number it sold in 2019. Currently, 14 percent of total Stellantis sales are electrified in Europe. That will grow to 38 percent by 2025 and 70 percent of total sales by the end of the decade, Tavares said.

The U.S. has been slower to embrace EVs in general and Stellantis is no exception. EVs account for only 4 percent of Stellantis’ U.S. sales today. Projections, however, call for EV sales to balloon to 31 percent in 2025.

New Platforms Designed for Pure EVs

Stellantis’ more than 100 nameplates will move to four re-engineered platforms that support battery-electric vehicles. Small cars will be on STLA Small, encompassing the A, B, and C segments, which ought to offer a driving range of more than 500 kilometers (311 miles). STLA Medium is for C- and D-sized vehicles. These models ought to sport a range of 700 kilometers (435 miles). STLA Large is for D- and E-segments. Expect a range of 800 kilometers (497 miles). Finally, STLA Frame is for body-on-frame large E and F SUVs, as well as pickups. Look for a range of 500 kilometers (311 miles) from these vehicles.

Tavares said work began a few months ago on the new platforms. STLA Medium and Large will reach production in 2023, followed by the STLA Frame in 2024. STLA Small, which is more focused toward the European market, is not due until 2026, in part because the next generation of the current eCMP platform is coming next year.

Making Key EV Components Crucial

Stellantis also wants to control the cost, performance, and quality of electric powertrain-related components. To that end, the company will use joint ventures and partnerships. E-Motors is a joint venture that will make electric motors by the end of 2022. Another venture will engineer and manufacture dual-clutch transmissions for EVs, with production to begin at the end of 2022, as well. In order for it to control all aspects of the battery pack, Stellantis will take care of the battery management software and supply the battery cells through a joint venture with SAFT called Automotive Cell Company.

The company also has plans for two battery factories in Europe: one in Douvrin, France, with production to start at the end of 2023, and another in Kaiserslautern, Germany, which is slated to go online at the end of 2025. A decision on a similar factory in the U.S. is expected soon.

Tavares said Stellantis will have access to a 130-GWh supply of batteries by 2025. It’s expected to grow to 250 GWh in 2030. By comparison, Tesla’s Gigafactory in Berlin will initially be capable of producing more than 100 GWh per year, and CEO Elon Musk says it could increase capacity to as high as 250 GWh over time.

Further details will be provided at an Electrification Day for investors on July 8.

The post Ram Electric Pickup Truck Might Arrive in 2024 appeared first on MotorTrend.

Vermont Town Bucks Ford’s Bronco Off-Roadeo Driving School From Local Ski Resort

Thu, 04/15/2021 - 2:30pm

The Ford Bronco Off-Roadeo training program isn’t coming to Vermont. The Woodstock Inn and Resort blindsided the residents of South Pomfret, Vermont, when it disclosed a proposal that allowed its popular 189-acre ski area called Suicide Six to be used during the summer as an off-road driving school for owners of new Ford Broncos. Angry residents spoke out against the idea during a heated public meeting after which Adventure ORX, operator of the Off-Rodeo, was immediately advised to withdraw its state and local permit applications.

Residents of South Pomfret felt like the plan sprung up suddenly and that they weren’t given a fair warning. The bombshell had come less than two weeks before the hearing, so locals were baffled as to why they had not been informed about this sooner.

Additionally, residents were concerned about the potential influx of Ford Broncos and other off-roaders on the community’s network of Class 4 roads near Suicide Six. Class 4 roads are described as “passable but not maintained” roads enjoyed by hikers, horse riders, and mountain bikers. Resident’s feared turning this space into an off-road hub would lead to on- and off-road traffic congestion, resulting in safety issues. The Woodstock Inn and Resort had hoped to generate revenue during the offseason months of May to October by leasing the Suicide Six ski area to Dearborn, Michigan-based Adventure ORX, the company contracting with Ford to run the program.

The basic concept of the Bronco Off-Roadeo program is nothing new For example, Land Rover has offered a program at the Equinox Golf Resort & Spa in Manchester, Vermont.

The scope of the two-day program was to consist of a 2.0-mile driving loop on varied terrain scattered about Suicide Six. Class 4 roads were seemingly also due to be included. Meanwhile, the ski area’s parking lot was to be used to house a couple of dozen Broncos, as well as serve as a cleaning and washing area to freshen up the vehicles between classes.

The slopes of Vermont’s Suicide Six ski property would have been the fourth Bronco Off-Roadeo location, joining planned events in Austin, Texas; Moab, Utah; and Nevada. Registration for the Bronco Off-Roadeo opens April 27, 2021, and is available for original owners of 2021 Bronco, 2021 Bronco Sport Badlands, and 2021 Bronco Sport First Editions.

The post Vermont Town Bucks Ford’s Bronco Off-Roadeo Driving School From Local Ski Resort appeared first on MotorTrend.

Size Showdown: 2022 Hyundai Santa Cruz vs. Midsize Pickup Trucks

Thu, 04/15/2021 - 1:30pm

Context matters. If you truly want to understand just how small the 2022 Hyundai Santa Cruz compact pickup is, then you need to know how it measures up to larger midsize truck offerings. In this case, we’ve gathered key dimensional details of the Santa Cruz and pitted these figures against those of the Honda Ridgeline and the Chevrolet Colorado Crew Cab.

The former shares its unibody construction method with the Santa Cruz, while the latter is the archetypal American midsize pickup. While the Hyundai and Honda are limited to one body style and one bed configuration, the Chevy is available in either smaller Extended Cab or larger Crew Cab body styles, the latter of which also offers short- and long-bed configurations. To limit confusion and compare the most similar configurations, we are mainly looking at the dimensions of a Colorado Crew Cab with a short box.

The Long and the Short of It

At 195.7 inches long, the 2022 Hyundai Santa Cruz casts a shadow 14.5 inches and 17.0 inches shorter than those of the Ridgeline and Colorado Crew Cab, respectively. The Hyundai’s 66.7-inch height is also down 3.6 and 4.1 inches to those of the all- and four-wheel-drive Honda and Chevy. In other words, the Santa Cruz’s overall length and height are within a few inches of those of the 193.3-inch long and 64.2-inch tall Subaru Baja pickup of the 2000s (not to mention a number of today’s midsize SUVs). 

The Santa Cruz’s smaller size ought to make it more maneuverable in urban environments than the larger Ridgeline and Colorado. Predictably, the little Hyundai pickup sacrifices bed space as a result. With a maximum length of 52.1 inches, the Santa Cruz’s rear box gives up 9.6 inches of length to the Colorado Crew Cab’s standard bed, and 11.9 inches to that of the Ridgeline. Opt for the Colorado Crew Cab’s available long bed and the delta swings to approximately 21.9 inches. Like the Honda, though, the Hyundai packs a trick locking-storage area under its bed floor for additional cargo space and security.

Truck Stuff

A big box is only one part of the truck equation, though. Presumably, Santa Cruz buyers would be happy to trade some bed space for more city-friendly exterior dimensions. Will these same consumers willingly sacrifice payload and towing capacity for the Hyundai’s size convenience?

The Santa Cruz’s maximum towing capacity of 5,000 pounds (when equipped with the optional turbocharged 2.5-liter four-cylinder engine) manages to match the larger Ridgeline’s figure. And as you might expect, it does fall short (by 2,000–2,700 pounds) of the body-on-frame Colorado’s maximum figure when equipped with either its 3.6-liter V-6 engine or turbo-diesel 2.8-liter I-4. 

Forgo the Santa Cruz’s turbocharged engine option, and stick with its standard naturally aspirated four-cylinder engine, and you’re looking at a maximum towing capacity of 3,500 pounds—the same as a base four-cylinder Colorado. Given its diminutive size, the Santa Cruz’s towing capacity ought to satiate the needs of a large number of buyers. That said, some buyers will simply need more capability than this Hyundai offers, and in those instances, they might have to turn to larger competitors such as the six-cylinder or turbo-diesel Colorado.

Hyundai claims the Santa Cruz’s maximum payload capacity tops 1,700 pounds. For reference, the Ridgeline and Colorado offer maximum payload capacities of 1,583 and 1,550 pounds, respectively. The four-cylinder Colorado Crew Cab short bed, meanwhile, offers a 1,400-pound payload.

Compact trucks are coming back to America, and we can think of plenty of reasons to choose the small and stylish Santa Cruz over larger midsize pickups. Given its smaller stature, the Hyundai predictably can’t match its larger competitors’ maximum capabilities or bed volume—although many of the differences aren’t as stark as you might initially have thought. Buyers will simply need to decide what’s most important to them.

The post Size Showdown: 2022 Hyundai Santa Cruz vs. Midsize Pickup Trucks appeared first on MotorTrend.

Does Honda Make Electric Cars? Everything You Need to Know About Honda EVs

Thu, 04/15/2021 - 7:00am

For an automaker so dominant across multiple segments, there’s a significant hole in Honda’s lineup. Compared to Ford and its Mustang Mach-E, Chevrolet with the Bolt and Bolt EUV, and Nissan and its Leaf, Honda notably lacks a dedicated electric vehicle for the North American market. That will soon change.

Current Honda Electric Cars

If you live in the U.S. and want an electric Honda, you can’t have one because the automaker doesn’t sell any full-electric vehicles here. If you’re looking for an electrified Honda, the automaker’s only current offering is the Accord-sized Honda Clarity. Most examples are plug-in hybrids, featuring an electric motor and 17-kWh lithium-ion battery and a 1.5-liter gas-fed I-4. The gas engine primarily acts as a generator for the battery while the electric motor handles propulsion, but the engine can also contribute to acceleration at full throttle.

With a full battery, the plug-in Clarity can travel 47 miles on electricity alone. It delivers 110 mpg-e combined running on gas and electricity, or 42 mpg combined on gas alone. The gas generator means drivers won’t have to worry about the range anxiety associated with fully electric vehicles, but of course, the gas engine still emits 57 grams of CO2 per mile according to the EPA.

The other alternative is the Clarity Fuel Cell. That car employs an electric motor powered by hydrogen, not a gas generator, and it’s only sold in select California markets with the hydrogen infrastructure to support such a vehicle. The Fuel Cell variant boasts an impressive 360-mile range on a full tank. Hydrogen can be tricky to find, though, and Honda only offers the Clarity Fuel Cell on lease; you can’t buy one. That said, the zero-tailpipe-emission promise of hydrogen is enticing.

The Honda EV You Can’t Have

Not that Honda doesn’t build a dedicated EV. In the European and Japanese markets, buyers can land an adorable, beautifully executed little hatchback dubbed the Honda e. It sports a 35.5-kWh battery and a rear-mounted electric motor producing either 134 or 152 horsepower. Range numbers read 124–137 miles on the WLTP combined cycle, which gives more generous ratings than the EPA. Honda says the battery can be charged from 0 to 80 percent capacity in as little as 30 minutes.

The Honda e’s range is uncompetitive for the North American market, but we’re more interested in the enthusiast aspect. Of course, this is no sports car, but the Honda e offers perfect 50/50 front-to-rear weight distribution and a low center of gravity, all in a package 8.1 inches shorter than the now-discontinued Honda Fit. It’s rad inside, too, with stylish cloth seats, a swath of real wood trim, and what seems like as much screen real estate as the new Cadillac Escalade.

When we had a chance to drive the Honda e, we came away thoroughly impressed. Tight dimensions and great visibility make it a terrific city car, ride quality is plenty comfortable, and it was even pleasant on the highway. Most American-market EVs offer more in terms of range and outright performance, but it would be hard to compete with this pint-sized Honda on charm.

Honda’s Electric SUV Future

Worry not, though, America’s electric Honda is on the way. General Motors—the parent company behind Buick, Chevrolet, Cadillac, and GMC—will be producing Honda-designed vehicles on the Ultium electric architecture set to underpin the upcoming Cadillac Lyriq and GMC Hummer EV.

We got more details on the deal in January of this year. Honda and GM are working on two vehicles set to start production in 2023, a mainstream Honda SUV and a more luxury-focused Acura SUV. The Honda may share styling cues with the Honda SUV e Concept, which made its debut at the 2020 Beijing Motor Show.

Honda’s Electric Past

Not to say Honda is new to the electric car game. The automaker’s first shot at a battery-powered car came in the form of the EV Plus, a Japan-only early EV of which Honda built just 300 examples back in the late 1990s. Over a decade later, Honda released the Fit EV in the U.S. with 82 miles of range and 123 hp, although it was only sold in certain states with the necessary infrastructure. (Sound familiar?) More recently, Honda sold an all-electric version of the Clarity for California and Oregon, but that model was discontinued for the 2020 model year.

The post Does Honda Make Electric Cars? Everything You Need to Know About Honda EVs appeared first on MotorTrend.

2021.5 Nissan GT-R NISMO Special Edition First Look: Need Mo’ NISMO?

Wed, 04/14/2021 - 4:01pm

Nissan’s latest take on its GT-R sports car comes in the form of the NISMO Special Edition. The limited-run model, which is due to arrive in the United States this fall, straddles the line between the 2021 and 2022 model years, which is why the Japanese brand instead intends to market and sell this car on our shores as a 2021.5 model. 

Model year semantics aside, buyers of this extra-special GT-R are due for a real treat. Well, visually at least. Although the GT-R NISMO Special Edition maintains the GT-R NISMO’s 600-hp twin-turbocharged 3.8-liter V-6, six-speed dual-clutch automatic transmission, and all-wheel-drive system, it does offer trim-exclusive styling details including a coat of Stealth Gray paint, RAYS-sourced 20-inch forged aluminum-alloy wheels with red accents, an exposed—albeit under clearcoat—carbon-fiber hood, and the inclusion of Nissan’s latest logo design throughout. The head-turning addition to the GT-R Nismo line also sports a Special Edition-specific plaque on the engine, which includes the name of the master technician that hand-assembled each of these six-figure sports cars’ hearts. 

Well, we assume the GT-R NISMO Special Edition will wear a six-figure price tag given the 2021 GT-R NISMO starts at $212,535 (and the plain-Jane 565-hp GT-R stickers for $115,335). Nevertheless, Nissan’s still keeping mum on pricing information for the NISMO Special Edition, as well as how many it’ll build. Smart money is on writing a check for well over $200,000 to snag one of these puppies. Good looks come at a cost. Right?

The post 2021.5 Nissan GT-R NISMO Special Edition First Look: Need Mo’ NISMO? appeared first on MotorTrend.

What Is Ford Co-Pilot360? And Which SUVs, Cars, and Trucks Have the Safety Tech?

Wed, 04/14/2021 - 2:00pm

The automaker that implemented mass production and affordable cars over 100 years ago is now making modern driver-assist features more accessible. Ford offers the Co-Pilot360 active safety suite in some form on almost every model it sells. (Ford GT drivers miss out, but something tells us they won’t mind.) Read on for all the details on Ford Co-Pilot360.

Ford Co-Pilot360 Features

Ford offers all the active safety features you’d expect in a modern vehicle. That starts with Pre-Collision Assist (also called forward collision warning) and Automatic Emergency Braking (AEB). If the car is rapidly approaching a vehicle or pedestrian ahead to the point where sensors detect an impending collision, the system will issue an audiovisual warning before engaging the brakes if the driver doesn’t do so soon enough. Evasive Steering Assist can help avoid or mitigate a collision if there isn’t enough room to brake.

Next on the list is a Blind Spot Information System (BLIS), sometimes referred to as blind-spot monitoring, with cross-traffic alert. This system lights up a small icon on the corresponding side mirror when there is a vehicle in your blind spot, and cross-traffic alert issues a warning when your vehicle is in reverse and another car is approaching from the side. 

Auto high-beams perform exactly the function you’d expect. Driving at night, the system will toggle between high- and low-beam headlights to provide superior visibility when the coast is clear without blinding oncoming drivers. The Lane-Keeping System (also known as lane departure warning and lane keep assist) issues an alert when your vehicle begins to drift out of the lane without an active turn signal and can apply steering to redirect the vehicle.

Lane keeping is different from Lane Centering, which Ford includes as part of its Intelligent Adaptive Cruise Control system, along with Speed Sign Recognition. Lane Centering takes more control of the vehicle’s steering to keep it centered in the lane. We like that on vehicles equipped with Lane Centering, you can choose if you want to use the more advanced tech or just lane departure prevention for a more natural steering feel.

 The adaptive cruise setup allows drivers to set a desired speed, which the vehicle will maintain until there is another vehicle ahead, at which point it will engage the brakes to maintain the set following distance. When we experienced this system in the Explorer, it adjusted well (if slowly) to speed limits but left too large a gap in front for other cars to cut you off.

What Is BlueCruise?

Ford’s next generation of active safety functionality starts with the 2021 Mustang Mach-E and 2021 F-150. Those two vehicles are available with a Co-Pilot360 Active 2.0 Prep package that, starting in the second half of 2021, will include Ford’s new BlueCruise Level 2 driver-assist tech. The new system will enable true hands-free driving on over 100,000 miles of highway in the United States and Canada, like General Motors’ Super Cruise.

Which Ford Models Have Active Safety Tech? SUVs

The humble subcompact EcoSport is the only Ford vehicle with no driver-assist features as standard; BLIS and cross-traffic alert are optional on the EcoSport SE and standard on the Titanium. Stepping up to a base Escape adds automatic emergency braking, the lane keeping system, BLIS and cross-traffic alert, and auto high-beams. Adaptive cruise control with lane centering and speed sign recognition are optional on the SE and SEL or standard on the Titanium.

All Bronco Sport trims include automatic emergency braking, the lane keeping system, blind-spot monitoring, cross-traffic alert, and automatic high-beams as standard. All but the base model offer optional adaptive cruise with lane centering and speed sign recognition. For the full-size Bronco, the Mid package (optional on Big Bend, Black Diamond, and Badlands or standard on the Outer Banks and Wildtrak trims) includes automatic emergency braking, blind-spot monitoring with cross-traffic alert, the lane keeping system, and auto high-beams. The Lux package, which is optional on Outer Banks trims and higher, adds Evasive Steering Assist and adaptive cruise.

Ford Edge models include automatic high-beams, BLIS and cross-traffic alert, lane keep assist, and automatic emergency braking as standard. The adaptive cruise system with lane centering and speed sign recognition is optional on SEL trims and higher.

In the three-row Explorer, automatic high-beams, lane keeping, blind-spot/cross-traffic alert, and auto emergency braking are standard on all models. Evasive steering and the adaptive cruise collection are optional on the XLT or standard on the Limited. Explorer ST and Platinum models add a semi-autonomous Active Park Assist 2.0 system plus low-speed rear emergency braking. Looking at Ford’s largest SUV, the Expedition, auto high beams, blind-spot and cross-traffic alert, lane keeping, and emergency braking are included on all trims. The adaptive cruise features are optional on XLT models and standard on Limited trims and above.

Ford’s most advanced active safety features are found on the electric Mustang Mach-E. Standard features include automatic high beams, BLIS and cross-traffic alert, lane keeping, and front and rear automatic emergency braking, but also the adaptive cruise tech and evasive steering assist. A Co-Pilot360 Active 2.0 Prep package—optional on Select and GT or standard on California Route 1 and Premium trims—includes the hardware necessary for advanced semi-autonomous driving tech and is expected to make its debut in the third quarter 2021.

Vans and Trucks

On to work vehicles, the Transit Connect includes automatic emergency braking on all trims. Blind-spot monitoring and rear cross-traffic alert plus lane keeping and automatic high-beams are standard on XLT and Titanium models. The compact Ranger pickup includes standard emergency braking. Blind-spot and cross-traffic features plus lane keeping are optional on the Ranger XL or standard on XLT models. Adaptive cruise tech is optional on the XLT and standard on a Lariat trim with the 501A equipment package.

Ford’s larger trucks are plenty safe, too. Super Duty models include no active safety suite features as standard, but XLT models add auto high-beams, blind-spot monitoring and rear cross-traffic alert, and automatic emergency braking. Platinum trims and above include the adaptive cruise features.

Having just been refreshed, the F-150 offers more content. XL trims include emergency braking, lane keeping, and automatic high-beams. Blind-spot monitoring and rear cross-traffic alert are optional on base XL models or standard on XLT trims and higher. The XLT and Lariat also offer optional adaptive cruise and evasive steering assist, and Lariat models offer the semi-autonomous Prep package. King Ranch trims include the adaptive cruise features as standard, and the F-150 Limited includes everything we’ve mentioned including the Co-Pilot360 Active 2.0 Prep package.

Which Fords Are the Safest?

A few Ford models are especially strong performers in safety testing conducted by the IIHS, which evaluates a vehicle’s active safety tech as well as its crashworthiness and headlight performance. The Escape is a 2021 Top Safety Pick when equipped with the Titanium trim’s LED headlights, but the standard headlights on other trims have inadequate visibility.

The story is the same with the 2021 TSP–winning Ford Edge, which requires optional LED headlights on the Titanium and ST trims. The Edge’s standard LEDs get the lowest headlight rating of Poor due to excessive glare. The safest vehicle in Ford’s fleet is the Explorer. That car earns a 2021 Top Safety Pick+, meaning all models regardless of options are some of the safest vehicles on the road.

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2022 Audi Q4 E-Tron and Q4 E-Tron Sportback First Look: More Model Y Alternatives

Wed, 04/14/2021 - 1:15pm

It isn’t enough to just build an electric car anymore. As an automaker keen on satisfying greenies, you must commit to sustainability. That means low-emission/carbon-neutral factories, sustainable material choices, and leveraging renewable energy. Audi’s all-new, fully electric Q4 E-Tron electric crossover (and its fastback Sportback counterpart) checks all three boxes and then some. This isn’t just another EV from Audi—it’s a mission statement.

The Q4 E-Tron kicks off Audi’s ushering in of a new era for itself, and it’s the company’s latest stab at an EV for the masses. Audi’s previous two E-Trons were an expensive midsize-ish SUV and a Porsche-based super sedan, the E-Tron GT. The smaller Q4 brings lessons from those E-Trons to the compact luxury crossover segment, and the result is an SUV that Audi says is spacious, luxurious, and exceptionally usable.

So What Is The Q4 E-Tron?

The new Q4 E-Tron will come as both a normally-shaped compact SUV and as a more swoopy Sportback, mimicking the now-common dual-pronged crossover options from BMW (X3 and X4) and Mercedes-Benz (GLC-Class and GLC-Class Coupe) in the same space. As with those offerings, the Q4 E-Trons will be mechanically identical. As such, most of their mechanical specifications are the same, but ranges and cargo capacities differ slightly. The Q4s are based on the same scalable MEB architecture as the Volkswagen ID4, but Audi says it has worked hard to make sure the two feel completely distinct.

Both Audi EVs do share similar exterior proportions, though. The ID4 and Q4 are somewhat bulbous compact EV crossovers, the major differences being the Audi’s more futuristic look and slightly less friendly face. The Q4 E-Tron, as you might have guessed, slots between the subcompact Q3 and compact Q5 (though closer to the latter) in terms of size and will seat a max of five passengers.

The suspension uses a McPherson strut design up front and a five-line setup at the rear, with dampers and coil springs at all four corners—much like the ID4. Where the two differ is with Audi’s optional dynamic package (which is standard on E-Tron S Line cars) that lowers the suspension and adds a variable-ratio steering system. Also included? An adaptive suspension that reads the road every five milliseconds and adapts to the way you’re driving. This best of both worlds solution should result in stout handling when you want it and comfy cruising when you don’t. There are also five driving modes that range between comfort, auto, efficiency, individual, and dynamic modes. You can even fully disable traction and stability control in the Q4 E-Tron if you’re feeling frisky.

A battery pack is mounted underneath the Q4’s floor, and the EV itself will be powered by either one or two electric motors depending on which of its three trims you pick. The lowliest Q4 is the Q4 35 E-Tron, which packs a 52-kWh battery pack. The Q4 40 and Q4 50 E-Tron Quattro models share a larger 77-kWh battery.

The rear-drive Q4 35’s single motor and lower-powered battery pack also make it the weakest of the bunch. Its lone motor makes 167 hp and 228 lb-ft of torque. The Q4 40 is also rear-wheel-drive, but its motor pumps out 201 hp and the same 228 lb-ft of twisting force. The top-of-the-line Q4 50 Quattro model has two motors—one at each axle—and together they produce 295 hp and 339 lb-ft.

None of the three models have been rated by the EPA yet, but Audi has run some of the cars on Europe’s World harmonized Light-duty vehicles Test Procedure, or WLTP for short. The Q4 35 E-Tron’s WLTP estimated range is 221 miles while the Sportback’s extra aerodynamic efficiency means it can cover 216 miles on a single charge. The most powerful Quattro model hasn’t been rated by the WLTP, but the 40 model was rated at 323 miles.

It is worth noting that the WLTP standard is different to the EPA’s, and tends to produce rosier figures. What that means for Americans is the Q4’s EPA estimated range will most likely be lower than the WLTP number.

Q4 E-Tron Gets a Next Level Interior

Audi has gone to town with the new Q4’s interior, with high-tech displays and a unique design relative to the ID4. The first of two screens is a 11.6-inch touchscreen above the center console for the infotainment and all of its associated controls. Audi is partnering with Sonos for its high quality audio systems, and the Q4s mark the first use of Sonos speakers in a production car. The second screen is the one in front of the driver that houses Audi’s excellent digital instrument cluster.

There is another display that’s not as obvious as the two aforementioned screens. For the Q4 E-Tron, Audi has developed a new augmented reality head-up display. Much like the unit found in the new Mercedes S-Class, the AR HUD displays key information on the car’s windshield but it looks as though the information is literally hovering over the road, overlaid across the driver’s view ahead. The HUD can display status info like the speed limit, directions from the navigation, and key info from the Q4’s driver assist systems, of which there are many.

When fully equipped, the Q4 can have a front radar, a front camera, four surround-view cameras, two rear radars, and eight ultrasonic sensors for handling various driver assists. The result is a car that has an extremely well defined view of its surroundings. Standard safety goodies include lane departure warning and collision assist. Other niceties such as adaptive cruise control with lane centering, a driver monitoring system to anticipate driver fatigue, rear cross-traffic alert, blind-spot monitoring, and a surround view camera system ease the burden of, well, driving—at least somewhat.

Buyers also have a few choices when it comes to the Q4’s steering wheel, the most interesting of which is a twin-spoke design that has capacitive-touch buttons for all of its controls. The wheel itself is also, well, not really a wheel. It’s almost square. Don’t worry, there’s a conventional, more circular wheel on offer as well. Hey, at least it isn’t a yoke.

Because these Q4 E-Trons are SUVs, there should be at least a smidgeon of utility to them. The Q4 has 19 cubic feet of cargo space behind the rear bench, but fold it down and the space opens up to just over 52 cubic feet. The Sportback version has a similar amount of space with the rear seats up, but with the rear bench down, that swoopy roofline cuts out a few cubes of capacity relative to the upright Q4. Also, Audi made it a point to say the Q4’s door bin can store a one-liter drink bottle, which is neat.

The True Cost Of The Q4

Audi’s newest EV is made at a net-zero carbon factory in Zwickau, Germany. While the production of batteries is energy intensive, Audi has made sure its battery suppliers use power from renewable sources during the production process. Even better, 27 parts of the Q4 have been made with recycled materials, including the insulation for the cabin, some of the interior upholstery, and the floor covering.

The Q4 40 E-Tron is the first model that will hit the market, and it will go on sale in June. Audi says it will cost €41,900, or just under $50,000 at current exchange rates, and before any applicable tax incentives are factored in. The other two models come later, and will likely book end the Q4 40s pricing. Sportback models carry a $2,400 premium over the standard crossovers. For those who are supremely interested in the new Q4, there will be a ritzy, fully-loaded Edition One model that adds another $7,400 or so to the car’s price tag, but stay tuned for final U.S.-market pricing and driving range information closer to the on-sale date.

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“F9” Looks as Fast and Furious as Ever in Latest Full-Length Trailer

Wed, 04/14/2021 - 12:15pm

If fast cars, big stars, and plentiful explosions are what draw you into the Fast and Furious films, then you’re going to love the trailer for the latest film in the long-running franchise. Known simply as F9, the movie looks as explosive as ever, with Dodge Chargers jumping off cliffs, fighter jets, and even a rocket-powered Pontiac Fiero.

Yes, the “family” is back together. Only this time with more of Dominic Toretto’s (Vin Diesel) biological family members: notably his son, Brian, and his brother, Jakob (John Cena), who’s also the villain in the film.

This second trailer follows the first official preview by over a year, thanks to the COVID-related delay in F9’s theater release. Originally delayed until April 2, 2021, the film’s opening is now slated for June 25—the same date (not year) as the original, franchise-opening Fast and Furious movie’s release in 2001.

So, what’s going on in these trailers? That’s right, Dom has a brother now. Conveniently, he’s never once mentioned in the previous films, but that’s neither here nor there. Listen, you don’t go into a Fast movie and expect its plot to be airtight or sense. That said, viewers can surely expect a wild cinematic ride filled with unbelievable stunts, bad jokes, and an absurd plot arc. No, F9 probably won’t win any Oscars, but it’s sure to entertain.

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1969 Icon BR Ford Bronco New School First Drive: Icon Builds The Bronco Ford Won’t

Wed, 04/14/2021 - 10:30am

It’s the wheels and tires that really give it away. Even the casual car fan will recognize they’re not even close to original. Serious car fans will notice a bunch of other tells, like the modern LED headlights, the blocky painted steel bumpers, and the “Icon” badging in place of the iconic Ford lettering and Bronco badge on the grille and fenders. It takes a serious Ford Bronco fan to notice the front turn signals are the wrong shape, the spare tire is on the wrong side, and all the chrome is gone.

Spotting all of Icon CEO and chief designer Jonathan Ward’s changes is half the fun of an Icon vehicle. Even when he isn’t trying to be particularly subtle, his style tends toward enhancing the original design, not throwing it out.

When it comes to the Icon BR series of classic Ford Broncos, though, you’ve got options. The rig you see here is a 1969 Icon BR Ford Bronco New School, and it’s the way Ward has been doing them from the start. Because some customers wanted a more subtle, more original look but the same world-class craftsmanship, there’s also the Old School series that’s much harder to spot as a custom. Most of the tells I listed above don’t apply.

Either way your taste takes you, there’s no shortage of the trademark Icon upgrades. Under the hood is a 460-hp Ford Coyote 5.0-liter V-8 and your choice of a five-speed manual or four-speed automatic. From there, a twin-stick Atlas II transfer case and Currie axles based on the Dana 44 front and 60 rear handle the twist. Controlling the axles are Fox shocks with coilover springs and adjustable anti-roll bars. All of that is bolted to an Art Morrison chassis and topped by your choice of body style, be it full-roof hard top, full-roof soft top, half-cab pickup, or a Roadster with no doors and only a bikini soft top. Each body is stripped bare and repainted with a marine-grade primer the body shop hates for how hard it is to sand, then painted any color you want. Ward strongly discourages modern flat paint finishes on Old School Broncos, but for a New School like this one, go nuts.

Not just with the paint, either. Go nuts. Ward builds his Broncos to be used like Broncos. Those Currie axles are loaded with ARB air-locking differentials for serious crawling, if you’re willing to risk the paint job. Those are 33-inch BFGoodrich KO2s on the Icon billet aluminum wheels, and that’s a proper Warn 9.5 Ti winch integrated into the front bumper. The Atlas transfer case is good for an 87:1 crawl ratio in low gear, better than a Jeep Wrangler Rubicon. These things aren’t made to be trailer queens.

They don’t drive like old trucks, either. Even with this New School Bronco’s anti-roll bars in their softest setting for better off-road ride and articulation, this thing drives as well as a brand-new Wrangler. Around here, off-road parks tend to be in the mountains, and cruising out the winding roads to get there was actually fun in its own right. Despite the soft setup, the body doesn’t lean nearly as much as you’d expect looking at it. All the leaning it does is measured and well controlled, making the Bronco feel confident and sure-footed on the road.

Not tipping over in the first sharp bend is only one part of the equation. Big Brembo disc brakes front and rear take orders from a Wilwood dual-circuit master cylinder that provides excellent pedal feel and immediate engagement. Nothing puts a driver’s mind at ease—especially in an old truck—like good brakes, and these are great brakes.

You want great brakes when your rig has, at minimum, more than double the original horsepower. The vintage 220-hp 302-cubic-inch (4.9-liter) Windsor V-8 this particular truck came from the factory with was no doubt a massive improvement over the standard 105-hp 170-cubic-inch (2.8-liter) I-6 and more than enough for the original chassis, but damn if the 460 hp provided by the modern Coyote V-8 doesn’t feel just right today. It feels like this engine and this truck were designed for each other—it matches up that well. It has plenty of power for showing off, ripping onto the freeway, and passing slowpokes. Plenty to put a smile on your face, but not so much the truck feels overpowered and unwieldy.

That power is accompanied by the ideal soundtrack, an unmistakable Ford V-8 rumble that eschews the Mustang’s scream at high rpm for a mellower sound befitting a truck. This truck having a manual, you get to decide how much you want to hear of any particular rpm range, and you’ll want to. The shifter is ridiculously long and mounted up close to the dash, as befits an old truck. The throws are inevitably long, but the action is surprisingly precise and the gears easy to find. Even with my short legs, comfortably reaching all the odd-numbered gears requires sitting up on the pedals and steering wheel, just like in an old truck, but one that’s more satisfying to drive than a modern manual transmission Wrangler.

Although the shifter looks the part, it’s a lot easier to spot the Icon parts inside the Bronco than out. The steel center console looks too modern to be original, and a peek under the lid reveals the touchscreen navigation and entertainment system. The steering wheel is an Icon piece, but it looks like it could be a vintage aftermarket part if not for the Icon lizard mascot in the center of the horn button. Similarly, the machined billet knobs on the dash that control the wipers, fan, headlights, and temperature look like they could be vintage, but they aren’t. Same for the stainless steel trim pieces. The marine-grade Chilewich carpeting and seat covers are cut and trimmed in ways such things weren’t done in the ’60s, but the real giveaway is the gauges. Although they’re fitted in the same hard-to-see spot as the originals (to the left of the steering column), they’re obviously modern.

All those pieces are great, but as always, it’s the little touches that make an Icon. The grille, the subtle trim rings around the taillights, the exterior door handles, door mirrors, and interior window cranks are machined from solid aluminum. It’s a ridiculous amount of over-engineering, but boy, do they feel substantial in your hands. What’s more, the windows are electric. The cranks actually only move an inch and actuate hidden switches. Double-tap the driver’s window crank to control the passenger’s window.

Then there are the bits borrowed from the similarly over-engineered world of aviation. The sun visors are built of sturdier stuff than any you’ve ever seen in an automobile, because they were designed for jets. The little spotlights that protrude from either end of the dash came from a Russian MiG fighter jet.

As always, parts and craftsmanship of this caliber don’t come cheap or anything close to it. A full hardtop like this starts at a cool $207,000, and this particular one came in at $260,000 all said and done. As with any Icon build, though, the sky’s the limit if you want to customize. Just get your order in now, because there’s currently a multi-year wait on new builds. Not many can afford them, but among those who can, these things are popular, and it’s easy to see why. At least selling my house would actually buy me one of these, unlike Ward’s even more impressive Derelict models.

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2022 Honda Civic Sedan First Look: Small Car Royalty, Redesigned

Wed, 04/14/2021 - 9:00am

This is it, Honda fans: Here’s your first official look at the all-new 2022 Honda Civic sedan. In place of the industry-standard teaser that features a backlit silhouette or just a slice of the headlight framed against inky darkness, Honda bucks the trend with a full front three-quarter glimpse of its newest bread-and-butter compact sedan.

Keen Honda enthusiasts know this isn’t really our first look at the new 11th-generation sedan. The lovely dark orange 2022 Honda Civic Sedan Prototype shown at the end of last year (and which is pictured below and in the gallery) gave us an eyeful of what to expect from the Civic’s sheetmetal; a sketched rendering is all we got regarding the small car’s cockpit design, however.

That said, Honda was careful to bill the prototype as a preview and not a verbatim production car, so it’s best seen as a conglomeration of stylistic touches that will be available on a range of different trims and editions of the 2022 Civic. So, think of the orange car as the forthcoming 2022 Honda Civic’s “greatest hits.”

Well, maybe not all of the future Civic variants, as Honda already confirmed there will be a Type R based on the 11th-gen, along with an Si and a hatchback. For now, this production-ready red sedan reveals the 2022 Civic in four-door Touring specification, complete with premium-looking contrast wheels.

There are subtle differences in the front fascia when compared to the prototype, but it appears the orange car was a faithful first look. It’s a largely handsome design, especially when parked next to the alien-like origami angles of the outgoing Civic, and it appears more as a scaled-down interpretation of the larger Accord than a sleeker version of the prior generation.

There’s good stuff under the new skin, too. Honda confirmed the new Civic’s bones are retained from the outgoing car, with significant improvements in torsional rigidity and handling. The current Civic remains one of the sharpest compacts to drive in any body style or trim, so we expect the new car to be dynamite to drive.

There’s still no look at the cabin but based on the sketches provided at the prototype’s debut, it’s shaping up to be one of the segment’s cleanest and most modern interiors. Look for the inside to reflect the mature aesthetic of the outside, with less angularity and more horizontal surfaces.

Excited? Us, too. For your first full look at the new 2022 Honda Civic, check back here on April 28 when Honda pulls off the cover completely.

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2022 Kia Carnival First Drive Review: So Long, Sedona

Wed, 04/14/2021 - 8:00am

Drop the fantasy for a moment. As much as we’d all love to project the rough-and-tumble, outdoorsy ruggedness associated with the deep-voiced sales pitches in SUV ads, how often are you really tackling anything more challenging than a gravel parking lot or a dusty fire road?

Buyers in need of three-row seating but who won’t capitalize on the off-road Sporting aspect of a sport utility vehicle can get loads more utility out of a less ostentatious, less understood class of vehicle. The clever buyer shops for a minivan—or as Kia is calling it, a multipurpose vehicle (MPV). As much as we love the SUV of the year–winning Kia Telluride, the new 2022 Kia Carnival MPV could be a smarter fit for most families.

What Is It?


If you haven’t heard of the Carnival, you’re not alone. Kia introduced it as a new nameplate for 2022 to replace its Sedona minivan, which Kia has sold in the U.S. since the 2002 model year.

The Carnival rides on a lighter, stronger platform than the outgoing Sedona and features boxy, SUV-inspired sheetmetal reminiscent of newer Kia designs, including the Telluride, Seltos, and Sorento. (A neighbor even asked if it was an SUV or a minivan, which surely would thrill Kia’s designers.) This is also the first model to don the newly redesigned Kia badge.

Cavernous Cargo Carrying

The Carnival is more spacious than the van it replaces, too. With 40.2 cubic feet of cargo space behind the third-row bench, it has 6.3 cubic feet more cargo volume than the old Sedona and at least 6.7 cubes more than any other current minivan. Stowing the third-row seats is easily doable with one hand via a chunky handle on the back of the seat, and with the seats folded, the load floor is completely flat.

Space behind the second row is class-competitive but a few cubes behind a comparable Honda Odyssey or Chrysler Pacifica. The Carnival’s second-row seats are removable (in all models save the range-topping SX Prestige), a feature the Sedona didn’t offer. To do so, lift a lever under the back side of the seat and fold the seat forward; removal requires no more than average adult strength, but the awkward shape means it may be wise to enlist the help of a partner.

Those planning to frequently swap between using the maximum space behind the first row and using the second-row seats may be better off with Chrysler Pacifica’s Stow ’n Go solution rather than wrangling the second-row seats into and out of the Carnival. Once they’re removed, however, not only does the Kia have more space behind the first row than any other minivan, but its cargo volume also measures larger than that of the colossal Chevrolet Suburban (145.1 versus 144.7 cubic feet).

Cargo Space behind third-/second-/first-row seats (cu. ft.) 2022 Kia Carnival 40.2 / 86.9 / 145.1 2021 Toyota Sienna 33.5 / 75.2 / 101.0 2021 Honda Odyssey 32.8 / 89.2 / 144.9 2021 Chrysler Pacifica 32.3 / 87.5 / 140.5 2021 Kia Sedona 33.9 / 78.4 / 142.0 Three Roomy Rows of Seating

But don’t go thinking the Carnival is just a cargo van stand-in. The new MPV can be ordered in seven- and eight-passenger configurations, both with ample legroom in all three rows. Third-row access is near effortless with a one-hand pull of a handle beneath the second-row armrest that folds and slides the seat forward; older kids will have no problem operating it themselves. Third-row legroom matches the Pacifica and is a couple inches behind the Sienna and the Odyssey. A 6-foot-1 passenger has just enough legroom in the way back, but their head likely will be brushing the ceiling. Also, the rearmost windows border on claustrophobia-inducingly small.

The second row is really where it’s at. Beyond the 40.5 inches of legroom, its neat aspect comes with the SX Prestige and its “VIP” second-row seat. The Prestige swaps out the standard second-row bench for two leather-lined, heated, and cooled lounges that are more comfortable than the furniture in most living rooms. You can slide them way back, to make room for the Prestige’s party trick: full recline with power-extendable legrests. Friends compared them to the plush recliners in upscale movie theaters. At $47,275, the Carnival SX Prestige is pricey, but it’s less than other top-spec minivans. And it easily represents the most luxurious rear seating experience in any car under $50,000.

Up front, there’s an 8.0-inch touchscreen infotainment system featuring Apple CarPlay and Android Auto as standard, but that’s only on the base model. All other trims showcase a huge 12.3-inch display that’s set high on the dash to keep your eyes near the road. Through the infotainment screen, the driver or front passenger can access the cabin camera and the intercom (standard on EX and above), which allow parents up front to talk to and keep an eye on kids in the back without turning around.

Living with the Kia Carnival

For the most part, it all comes together as a well-executed people mover.

There are six USB charging ports in the car (eight with the rear seat entertainment displays) plus two three-prong household outlets and two 12-volt power outlets. Including the wireless charging pad that’s standard on EX trims and higher, it’s possible to charge as many as 13 devices at once. The Carnival has 11 cupholders, too—no matter how many people you pack into this thing, no phone need go uncharged and no cup or juicebox unheld.

The interior design is just as handsome as the bodywork. Kia integrates metal-look trim throughout the cabin, and leatherette upholstery is standard on the EX and SX. Especially with the Prestige trim’s dual 12.3-inch front displays, the cabin gives off real Mercedes-Benz vibes. That said, the metallic trim can cause dangerous glare for the driver in the wrong light. What’s more, Kia’s overreliance on capacitive-touch buttons for HVAC and infotainment controls can be frustrating, as they lack tactile feedback and can be tough to find without taking your eyes off the road.

SX trims and above include dual 10.1-inch displays as part of a rear entertainment system. The displays feature preinstalled apps for streaming Netflix, Youtube, and Twitch, and there’s a kids mode with graphics by Pinkfong, the South Korean children’s educational empire behind last year’s Baby Shark phenomenon. Factor in the HDMI, USB, and wireless device–mirroring capabilities, and the entertainment prospects are vast.

The rear entertainment displays are not perfect, however. Streaming content through any of the preinstalled apps requires connecting the system to a paired smartphone’s Wi-Fi hot spot because unlike its competitors, the Carnival does not include one. In an effort to treat the Carnival as a mobile office for an afternoon, we were also frustrated to find the HDMI input produced a fuzzy, low-res image and too much lag to accurately use a cursor, though Kia insists the examples we drove were pre-production units and this could change.

Kia Carnival Driving Impressions

The biggest surprise from our time with the Carnival? How well it drives.

Kia has developed a new 3.5-liter naturally aspirated V-6 for the Carnival. With 290 hp and 262 lb-ft, it’s the most powerful engine in the segment and is tied for the most torque. Paired with a smooth-shifting eight-speed automatic that is rarely caught in the wrong gear, the engine provides ample acceleration. The Carnival is also rated to tow 3,500 pounds, which is typical for this class.

Vans like this need to ride well, too, and this Kia achieves that. The combination of relatively soft springs and tires with plenty of sidewall delivers a plushness that won’t wake the baby in the back seat if you hit a pothole. More impressive, though, the Carnival exhibits next to no body roll and minimal secondary ride motions. It’s genuinely fun to drive. And when you’re just on a highway slog, Kia’s lane centering and adaptive cruise control systems are among the best in the business.

That Highway Driving Assist is part of a generous collection of driver assist active safety tech. Automatic emergency braking, pedestrian detection, lane centering, blind-spot monitoring, rear cross-traffic alert, driver attention warning, and rear occupant alert are all standard, even on the base model. The EX trim adds front parking sensors and Highway Driving Assist adaptive cruise control; the SX gains auto rear braking and an (invaluable) high-res 360-degree camera system; and the SX Prestige boasts a blind-spot camera feed in its 12.3-inch digital instrument cluster.

Our only complaint about the mechanicals is the lack of choice. With the new Sienna debuting with a hybrid-only powertrain and Chrysler offering a plug-in hybrid Pacifica, some buyers will be dismayed by the Carnival’s 22 mpg combined fuel economy rating. (Queried about the lack of a hybrid offering for the Carnival, a Kia representative said, “Be on the lookout for what’s in store.”) Drivers in colder climates may also be lured away by Chrysler and Toyota’s available AWD—the Carnival is FWD only.

The Verdict

We mentioned earlier that Kia is marketing the Carnival as an MPV, a multipurpose vehicle. Nothing wrong with that; it can manage stand-in duty as a comfortable road tripper, an executive luxury limo, or even a full-blown cargo hauler.

But consider the Carnival’s strengths: smooth ride; thoughtful, family-friendly features; intuitive tech; and a vast, high-quality cabin. Lean in to the stereotype, Kia. The Carnival is an excellent modern minivan.

2022 Kia Carnival PRICE $33,275-$47,275 (est) LAYOUT Front- engine, FWD, 7-8-pass, 4-door  van ENGINE 3.5L/290-hp/262-lb-ft DOHC 24-valve V-6 TRANSMISSION 8-speed auto CURB WEIGHT 4,750 lb (mfr) WHEELBASE 121.7 in L x W x H 203.0 x 78.5 x 68.5 in 0-60 MPH 6.5-7.5 sec (MT est) EPA FUEL ECON 190/26/22 mpg ENERGY CONSUMPTION, CITY/HWY 117/130 kW-hrs/100 miles (est) CO2 EMISSIONS, COMB 0.90 lb/mile (est) ON SALE Currently

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2021 Lexus IS300 AWD First Test: Doesn’t Drive a Day Over Seven Years Old

Wed, 04/14/2021 - 7:00am

If Lexus had its way, you wouldn’t think too hard about the 2021 Lexus IS300 AWD. The automaker’s media push surrounding the latest changes to its perennial compact sport sedan would have you believe a new schnozz, rump, touchscreen, and behind-the-scenes upgrades to its chassis constitutes an all-new ground-up redesign and not a simple midcycle refresh. In a way, Lexus is correct—this isn’t a midcycle refresh. Or rather, it shouldn’t be; that shiny new 2021 Lexus IS gleaming on dealer lots might wear a significant nip/tuck, but this year marks the second-gen IS’ seventh year of production—the time for a true midcycle refresh was three years ago.

Seven years. Usually, all-new models begin to show their age around the three- or four-year mark; at five or six model years, we start to moan and groan, no matter how much we liked the car when the design was wrapper-fresh. Annoying? Well, we certainly find our shares of peas under Nappa leather seat cushions, but unless extensive market research and strong sales dictate it ain’t broke—like Subaru’s latest copy-paste generation jump for the current Forester and Outback—consumers start to notice as you inch closer to the decade mark.

Of course, most consumers are not as picky as us car dorks. There is usually no Goldilocks moment in the buying—or leasing—process, and though some might notice some outdated portions of the interior, the average buyer likely won’t recognize the IS’ age-related quirks that bug us the most. They won’t care about the revamped chassis and shockingly old powertrains. For most, the new IS’ biggest selling point is the revised infotainment system that—joy of joys—is now operated via touchscreen.

Ancient Powertrains, Modern Performance

But goodness, those powertrains—they need to book an appointment with the great bench dyno in the sky, having stuck around in some cases since the late 2000s. The 2021 IS300 AWD we tested carries one of the weirder and more archaic options available within the IS family; a 3.5-liter V-6 routs power through a six-speed automatic transmission and into an all-wheel-drive system. It’s the same engine that powers the IS350 that sits a rung up from the IS300 range, only it’s significantly detuned from the IS350’s 311 hp and 280 lb-ft, putting out a lower 260 hp and 236 lb-ft in an attempt to match the standard rear-wheel-drive IS300’s 2.0-liter turbocharged I-4’s 241 hp and 258 lb-ft.

Weird, right? Lexus apparently found it most cost effective to simply cut power on the 3.5-liter rather than to modify the AWD system to match the 2.0-liter. It gets even weirder; cutting 51 hp and 34 lb-ft did little to slow the IS300 AWD’s performance from the more powerful eight-speed IS350. The IS300 AWD buzzed from 0 to 60 mph in 5.7 seconds on its way to a quarter-mile finish in 14.3 seconds, matching the rear-wheel-drive 2021 IS350 F Sport to 60 mph and losing the dragstrip sprint by 0.1 second. Wait, what?

A Tale of Two Transmissions

A close study of the acceleration charts calls into question the degree of “detuning” that really happened on our test car’s engine. The all-wheel-drive traction off the line gives the IS300 a clear advantage below 20 mph, but the fact that the IS 350 isn’t able to clearly pull ahead until about 70 mph despite gearing that’s about 9 to 11 percent shorter in the first three gears, and a weight-to-power advantage of 2.8 pounds per horsepower (12.2 versus 15.0) suggests those engine output figures are seriously “conservative.” If they all run as strong as this one, there’s no significant penalty to pay if you pick the lower-spec AWD IS—at least, if you don’t have a line of credit to support the purchase and subsequent care and feeding of the forthcoming V-8-powered IS500.

Old engine, but modern(ish) performance. That 5.7-second sprint and the quarter-mile time are just a few tenths slower than both the equivalent BMW 330i xDrive and the rear-wheel-drive Mercedes-Benz C300. More surprising still—all of those segment mates pack torque-rich turbocharged four-cylinders and sharper automatic transmissions.

Quick enough, but the V-6’s power delivery is predictably peakier than the aforementioned turbo-fours, requiring high revs when wringing it out down a country road. The six-speed isn’t a quick shot, but shifts are smooth during day-to-day driving and not recalcitrant when abused in manual shifting mode, operated by either the shifter or the wheel-mounted paddles.

Some Chassis Chatter

Although it left the powertrains unchanged, Lexus fettled the IS’ chassis to bring it more in line with the far more modern platforms that underpin its competitors. No mean feat, as you can directly trace the roots of the IS300’s Toyota New N platform back to 2005. So, to shake off 18 years of dust, Lexus stiffened the IS’ body structure, adding extra reinforcement to the radiator side supports, more weld points for the front-side-member, and reworked portions of the C-pillars and roof.

The suspension and weight reduction were a particular point of focus, with new coil springs that are 20 percent lighter than the standard setup on the prior IS, along with new A-arms forged from aluminum that are 18 percent lighter than the prior set of steel A-arms. Beyond the lightened hardware, a set of Toyota’s much-hyped swing-valve shocks are slotted into the IS, improving ride comfort and rebound control.

The result is a wizened sport sedan that’s surprisingly good to spank down a canyon—or around our figure-eight test loop. In the hands of our capable hotshot and road test editor Chris Walton, the IS300 AWD cut through the aforementioned figure -eight in 25.9 seconds at an average of 0.70 g, which whups that BMW 330i xDrive by 0.7 second and 0.04 g. The surprises don’t stop there; against a 2020 Alfa Romeo Giulia Q4 that we tested last year, the supposedly dowdy Lexus bests the driver’s favorite Italian by 0.8 second and 0.04 g. Line up the Lexus, Bimmer, and Alfa on the skidpad, and the IS300 AWD’s 0.88-g average falls to the Bimmer’s 0.91-g average but stomps the Alfa Romeo’s 0.84-g average. All this without the hotter IS350 F-Sport’s optional adjustable dampers, Torsen limited-slip rear diff, and summer tires. Piloti, meet mouth.

The Lexus IS300 AWD is (Good) Road Worthy

Dynamically, we have little to complain about, other than some nebulous brake feel. “Really comes off the corner very well, and with the all-wheel drive, you can just flatfoot it,” Walton notes. “The pedal is a bit squishy, so it’s hard to know how far off the brake pedal you need to be while trail-braking. The steering weight is nice, and the balance on the skidpad is tremendous.”

Out on the viciously squiggled roads that snake through the Santa Monica Mountains above Malibu, the IS300 AWD continued to surprise. Brake fade is the enemy of many a car up on Malibu roads, and it’s not just from excessive braking; most stability and traction control systems on the market today are brake actuated and overenthusiastic, meaning even without brake input from the driver, the calipers are working overtime to keep you shiny side up. Of course, this means the more you push, the more it wicks away your stopping power—even if you’re not being rambunctious.

The result is a soft pedal and some concerning pedal travel. On roads as challenging and tight as those found between California canyons, this happens to even some of the IS’ stouter competitors—but not the IS300 AWD. With traction control turned off but stability kept on, the IS’ brakes were not significantly worse for wear after a few laps of our road test loops. Although the best 60–0-mph stopping distance we recorded at the test track was a mostly average 117 feet, the brakes remained unroasted by the time we called it quits on our road test.

Overall, the IS is a pleasantly neutral sport sedan. Steering is artificial but well weighted enough, and the front end is surprisingly grippy despite the all-wheel-drive setup. Turn-in is quick-ish, and poise from the revised suspension is noticeable; it’s no IS F, but for an occasional blast up to the family’s mountain cabin, the IS300 AWD at least won’t leave you bored out of your mind.

New Lexus IS300—Better Interior, Same Weird Packaging

So, it has the sport sedan creds, but we’re less enthused about interior packaging. We can forgive the dated center console with the weird, pseudo-gated shiftgate and touch-capacitive slide controls for the air conditioning temperature. Lexus’ obnoxious touchpad-operated infotainment gets a reluctant pass as well thanks to the choice of two different-sized touchscreens that both include Apple CarPlay and Android Auto.

The IS AWD’s driveline hump continues to be unforgivable, and for some, likely a deal breaker. Jutting out from the side of the center transmission tunnel is a large, rounded hump that houses  the power-takeoff for the all-wheel-drive system. It intrudes into the driver’s footwell; for this 5-foot-11 author, my right calf rested lightly on the lump, so we expect it will force taller drivers to angle their legs to the left slightly. Not good.

Tech and toy accoutrement is well enough for those in the front, with two USB ports under the armrest, an optional Mark Levinson sound system, and optional heated and ventilated seats, though the lack of available wireless charging is noted. If you’re in the back, leg- and headroom are passable, but you’re riding steerage for the most part; aside from two center vents, there are no door pockets, heated seats, USB ports, or—get this—cupholders. Yup, not even in the fold-down center armrest. Curiously, a rear-window sunshade can be extended and retracted by the driver so, uh, enjoy?

If you couldn’t guess, color us pleasantly surprised by the 2021 Lexus IS300 AWD. It’s undeniably still the old IS we’ve known since 2014, but it’s nicer to drive, better to operate, pleasant to look at, and as equipped at $47,975, not a bad buy. Just make sure your rear passengers don’t bring Big Gulps with them on road trips.

SPECIFICATIONS 2021 Lexus IS300 AWD BASE PRICE $42,075 PRICE AS TESTED $48,025 VEHICLE LAYOUT Front-engine, AWD, 5-pass, 4-door sedan ENGINE 3.5L/260-hp/236-lb-ft DOHC 24-valve V-6 TRANSMISSION 6-speed automatic CURB WEIGHT (F/R DIST) 3,887 lb (55/45%) WHEELBASE 110.2 in LENGTH x WIDTH x HEIGHT 185.4 x 72.4 x 56.7 in 0-60 MPH 5.7 sec QUARTER MILE 14.3 sec @ 97.6 mph BRAKING, 60-0 MPH 117 ft LATERAL ACCELERATION 0.88 g (avg) MT FIGURE EIGHT 25.9 sec @ 0.70 g (avg) EPA CITY/HWY/COMB FUEL ECON 19/26/22 mpg ENERGY CONS, CITY/HWY 177/130 kWh/100 miles CO2 EMISSIONS, COMB 0.90 lb/mile

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Ford’s BlueCruise Has Autopilot and Super Cruise in Its Crosshairs

Wed, 04/14/2021 - 6:00am

Ford’s forthcoming Level 2 hands-free driving-assist system is abandoning the Active Drive Assist moniker in favor of something with a little more flair. Meet BlueCruise, the Blue Oval’s answer to similar Level 2 setups from the likes of Tesla (Autopilot) and General Motors (Super Cruise).

Ford’s system is due to make its consumer debut in the second half of the year on 2021 F-150 and Mustang Mach-E models sporting the brand’s Co-Pilot360 Active 2.0 Prep package. Owners of these vehicles can soon spend $600 for an over-the-air software update that activates a three-year subscription to BlueCruise, which affords hands-free driving on more than 100,000 miles of (divided) highways throughout the United States and Canada.

At the moment, Ford fits Co-Pilot360 Active 2.0 Prep package-equipped F-150 and Mustang Mach-E models strictly with the hardware needed to get BlueCruise working, however, the Blue Oval plans to soon begin installing the hands-free driving-assist system’s software at the factory, as well. Currently, the company includes the hardware-only Co-Pilot360 Active 2.0 Prep package as standard equipment on 2021 Ford F-150 Limited and 2021 Ford Mustang Mach-E CA Route 1, Premium, and First Edition trims. The Prep package is also available as a $995 option on 2021 Ford F-150 Lariat, King Ranch, and Platinum trims. It’s also included in the 2021 Ford Mustang Mach-E Select trim’s $2,600 Comfort and Technology package.

Once BlueCruise is enabled, though, Ford promises the hands-free driving-assist setup benefits from an intuitive interface. Whereas GM’s Super Cruise uses steering-wheel-mounted lights to let the driver know the state of the hands-free system, Ford’s BlueCruise uses the instrument cluster screen, which relies on text and blue graphics to let the driver know if hands-free driving can commence (or if it needs to conclude).

A driver-facing camera, meanwhile, keeps an eye on the driver’s gaze—even when the driver is wearing sunglasses—and hand position to make sure the individual behind the wheel is ready to take back control of the vehicle if necessary. For what it’s worth, Ford’s marketing manager for Co-Pilot 360, Karen Sullivan, assured members of the media that BlueCruise’s driver-attention data “only stays in the camera,” as opposed to getting sent elsewhere.

Ford plans to continuously improve upon BlueCruise, too, with additional over-the-air updates that ought to add future features such as lane change assist and predictive speed functions, as well as revisions to the system’s maps that will include more BlueCruise-compatible roads. While users will not be able to use BlueCruise while towing, Ford’s engineering supervisor for Co-Pilot 360, Michael Kane, implied future updates could address this issue.

Look for Ford to expand BlueCruise to other models in its lineup in the coming years. We also expect the technology to find its way to Ford’s luxury brand, Lincoln, albeit under a different name.

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2022 Bentley Continental GT Speed Convertible First Look: A Million Miles of Headroom

Tue, 04/13/2021 - 5:30pm

The 200-mph barrier is a big deal. While the recently announced Bentley Continental GT Speed coupe can break that barrier with ease, it now can do so with its top down thanks to the arrival of the Continental GT Speed Convertible.

Mechanically, the GT Speed ’vert is identical to the coupe that broke cover earlier in the year. The big change is the addition of a folding soft-top instead of the regular Speed’s swept roof. Power (650 hp) and torque (664 lb-ft) from Bentley’s twin-turbo 6.0-liter W-12 stays the same in the drop-top as it does in the coupe. The same goes for the Speed’s impressive 208-mph top speed. The trot 60 mph does take 0.1 seconds longer compared to the coupe, though, rising from 3.5 to 3.6 seconds.

All the go-fast tech from the coupe that’s been added to the Speed to tame its additional power and torque is here, too. The GT Speed Convertible employs the same four-wheel-steering system that turns the rear wheels in the opposite direction—for the sake of agility—at low speeds and in the same direction as the fronts at high speeds (for extra stability). Massive silicon carbide brakes are here to haul you down from that lofty top speed, and the binders still hide behind a set of 22-inch Speed-exclusive wheels.

The same three driving modes from the Speed coupe appear in the Speed Convertible, too. Bentley and Comfort mode affirm the Conti’s grand-touring credentials, while Sport quickens the transmission and stiffens the suspension to scratch the driver’s itch for carving corners with more vigor. Selecting Sport mode also opens up the exhausts so you can better hear the glorious song of the Speed’s 12-cylinder powerplant.

Bentley says the soft top has been reworked for this new generation of Continental, making the ragtop model’s cabin as quiet as the old coupe. That top comes in seven different colors (including Tweed), too. There are also eight different colors for the roof’s interior-facing bit. Despite this, we don’t see why any Speed owner would ever drive this bad boy with the top up. Bentley didn’t mention a price tag, but we expect the Continental GT Speed Convertible to cost around 10 percent more than the Speed coupe when it reaches showrooms later this year.

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MG Shows Off Electric Cyberster Sportscar Concept for Shanghai Show

Tue, 04/13/2021 - 4:30pm

So far the EV revolution has largely resulted in the electrification of practical vehicles, with most new debuts taking the shape of sedans, SUVs, or trucks. Since the original Tesla Roadster, we haven’t seen much in the mainstream two-seater department. British automaker MG, known by enthusiasts for its heritage as a maker of small convertible sportscars, has introduced the Cyberster concept car as a radical departure from its current lineup of milquetoast gasoline and electric SUVs (built in China and Thailand) and sold in the U.K., Asia, and Australia.

MG’s new Cyberster concept isn’t the cute and charming compact sportscar its predecessors were. Designers at the MG Advanced Design Centre team opted for a future-forward appearance rather than one stuck in the past. The front fascia appears to take more inspiration from Spiderman’s anti-hero Venom than the brand’s historical models. The Cyberster concept is aggressively futuristic, with big dual fairings flowing behind the floating headrests on the rear deck, and a cockpit that looks like it’s right out of Cyberpunk 2077.

The rear end has taillights inspired by the Union Jack and an illuminated “heckblende” that stretches from one side of the car to the other. MG calls the LED accent line that runs from the front wheel arch to the center of the door the “laser belt.” In keeping with a lightweight sportscar theme, the handle inside of the car is a pull strap akin to what one would use in a Porsche 718 Cayman GT4 or Boxster Spyder.

In fact, MG baked in a lot of high-tech goodies into its Cyberster concept. Among them, 5G network connectivity and a built-in video gaming console within the cockpit, which MG says is possible thanks to the car’s electric architecture. But while MG isn’t offering drivetrain figures at the time of publication, it claims that the Cyberster concept is good for a 0-62 mph sprint of less than 3 seconds and that its battery is capable of delivering 500 miles of range.

MG says more details on the Cyberster concept will become available upon its official debut at the Shanghai Motor Show, which will take place from April 21-28.

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How Does the 2024 GMC Hummer EV SUV Compare to an H2?

Tue, 04/13/2021 - 3:19pm

Hummers are big, right? Duh, you’re thinking, that’s not news. Always were, always will be. It’s not, and you’re right: the 2024 GMC Hummer EV SUV is a big, big vehicle—just like its unabashedly, proudly oversized predecessor, the 2003–2009 Hummer H2. Debuting just a few years after the first-generation Toyota Prius, the first non-military Hummer was a lightning rod for controversy, as its size (and more importantly, thirst) were outsized. The GMC Hummer (mostly) sidesteps the latter issue with a fully electric powertrain, but it’s still a massive brick of a machine. Comparisons will be made—by us, right now. And the results, if you haven’t already examined the dimensions section of the spec sheets, might surprise you.

While vehicles have, in general, gotten larger since the early 2000s, the H2 was one of the largest vehicles around. Check out these illustrations we’ve made, which really underline the ways in which the GMC Hummer (red-lined, while the H2 is represented in white) literally overshadows its predecessor.

The difference in width is particularly impressive. The GMC SUV is a wide, wide 93.7 inches in track width. The H2 is an almost unbelievable 12.5 inches narrower. The maximum height disparity (remember, the GMC Hummer features adaptive air suspension with an Extract mode that provides an additional 6 inches of lift) is a full 5 inches. At least, it will sometime after launch—the capability won’t be available until sometime after it goes on sale, because reasons.

Not illustrated are some of the new Hummer’s remarkable capabilities, electric powertrain or otherwise. Fording depth? Thirty-two inches. That’s basically a small ocean. Vertical wall climbing ability? Eighteen inches. Suspension travel? Thirteen inches. It’s a monster truck, folks.

Actually, despite sharing a platform with GM’s traditional full-size SUVs of the time, the H2 was no slouch. It can clear 16-inch obstacles, thanks to wheels pushed way out to the corners. But in other metrics, it falls short of its descendant. The H2 could only manage a 20-inch fording depth, and suspension travel was far shorter: 8.7 inches up front, 10.8 in the rear. The lack of an air-breathing engine, the unique advantages of its specialized platform, and the inevitable march of progress mean the new electric GMC Hummer leaves its predecessor behind in many metrics.

Overall length, however, is similar, but the new Hummer pushes its wheels even further to the corners, riding on a 126.7-inch wheelbase—roughly 4 inches longer than the H2’s same measurement. Neither are lightweights, either. The H2 had a listed curb weight of 6,400 lbs, and GMC isn’t talking curb weight yet but given the likely poundage of its Ultium batteries, it couldn’t be any less than its predecessor.

One last point of comparison: range. Using EPA estimates, we pegged the H2 at 448 miles of range for freeway driving—of course, that’d require a light foot and maybe a tail wind. How’s the EV-only 2024 Hummer compare? GMC claims a range of more than 350 miles, with a recharge time of 100 miles in 10 minutes using a fast charger (in absolutely ideal conditions). The time from empty to full is unknown at this time; assume it’ll be a while, even using a fast charger, since the largest pack is a massive 200 kWh.

How this all works in the real world remains to be seen, but let’s just say that the new 2024 GMC Hummer EV SUV (and its 2022 Pickup counterpart) are making a big impression already.

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Hyundai Heritage Series Pony First Look: The 1980s Hatch Remastered

Tue, 04/13/2021 - 12:38pm

Grab a saddle, because Hyundai’s got a Pony that’s just begging for a ride. The company’s Heritage Series Pony is a chic and contemporary take on its first foray into the automotive space. This Pony hatchback, though, is more than just a restomod with a modern electric heart—it’s also a piece of art.

Yes, Heritage Series Pony is but one piece in a larger exhibition called “Reflections in Motion,” which is currently on display within the walls of Hyundai Motor Studio Busan in South Korea. While the exhibit features multiple works, its limelight seems to shine brightest on the ’80s-tastic Heritage Series Pony.

After all, what’s not to love about this small electric hatchback that combines classic styling with trendy design details? Sure, the Hyundai notes the Heritage Series Pony’s LED headlights “are a homage to the pixel and the [8-bit] graphics of the 1970s and [1980s],” but to our eyes, these lamps share a basic look with those of the upcoming Ioniq 5. The same goes for the taillights.

Likewise, the digital gauge cluster uses Nixie tube-style graphics, not unlike those Kia uses in the radio display of its K5 sedan. In short, the Heritage Series Pony perfectly combines retro 1980s flairs with ultramodern decor.

Hyundai is mum on powertrain specifics for the Heritage Series Pony. All we know is this piece of rolling art relies on electricity for power. That said, we like to think Hyundai fit the Ioniq 5’s approximately 300-hp powertrain and 73-kWh into this little Pony. If this is the case, too, then maybe Hyundai ought to consider renaming this project after an equine better associated with a true sense of urgency. May we suggest Secretariat?

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