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Toyota GR Yaris Arrives in Mexico, Sells Out in Less Than 24 Hours

Wed, 04/21/2021 - 11:45am

If you’re banging your head against the wall, don’t worry—you’re not alone. That was exactly our reaction when we found out that the Toyota GR Yaris—the rally-inspired, 257-hp hot hatch—would be sold in Mexico. Our neighbors to the south were so excited for this launch that the 300 units slated for them sold out in less than 24 hours. This side of the border, however, we’re sobbing.

The arrival of the GR Yaris was a big announcement by Toyota Mexico, as initially there were no plans for the car to arrive to North America at all. We Yanks have been begging for the GR Yaris to reach our shores, but so far, the answer has been no. Bob Carter, executive vice president of sales for Toyota Motor North America, told us last year that, “The U.S. and North America have the harshest crash tests in the world, so [the GR Yaris] is not homologated for the U.S.” But he then got our hopes up when he said, “But stay tuned, we got an answer for it. It’s possible that we bring something else. I’ll leave it at that. Come to our future events.”

Although that gets our hopes up, it doesn’t look like we’ll get the GR Yaris in America. Rumor has it we could get a GR C-HR or GR Corolla, though nothing has been confirmed.

Late last year we drove the hot hatch’s Euro-spec version and heralded it as the most focused driver’s car one could buy this side of a Porsche 911 GT3 RS. The GR Yaris has nothing in common with the Yaris that used to sell here in the U.S. (which was based on the Mazda2). The powerful two-door has its own dedicated platform, and its peppy 257-hp, 265 lb-ft 1.6-liter turbo I-3 engine helps this rocket reach 62 mph in 5.5 seconds, according to Toyota. That power is routed to all four wheels via to a six-speed manual transmission.

“You’ll climb out of the GR Yaris after a blast down your favorite driving road grinning with delight at just how eager, communicative, balanced, and accomplished this little car feels,” said international bureau chief Angus MacKenzie after spending some time with it.

We’re glad Toyota revealed a new generation of the GR 86, and we’re thankful for the GR Supra, but the absence of the GR Yaris in the States leaves a whole in our hearts. We can only hope that Toyota’s answer fills this gap with joy.

The post Toyota GR Yaris Arrives in Mexico, Sells Out in Less Than 24 Hours appeared first on MotorTrend.

2023 Cadillac Lyriq First Look: Wait, This Electric SUV Isn’t the Concept Car?

Wed, 04/21/2021 - 9:00am

If an electric SUV from Cadillac is on your wish list, listen up, because General Motors has pulled forward production of the 2023 Cadillac Lyriq, a midsize electric crossover that will be available a year from now with a starting price of $59,990. Originally the Lyriq was slated to appear late in 2022 or early in 2023.

How did Cadillac manage to pull the project forward by a full nine months? Testing is ahead of schedule. Reservations for the two-row, five-passenger crossover with the rakish rear window will open in September and production begins at the Spring Hill plant in Tennessee in the first quarter of 2022. Oh, and the attainable pricing rings in below the $71,000 Jaguar IPace and the $67,000 Audi E-Tron.

Not only is the Lyriq arriving ahead of schedule, but when it arrives it will look strikingly similar to the wild concept car Cadillac showed us last summer, complete with a cool new black-accented face with animated lighting, gigantic wheels, and a massive 33.0-inch curved screen inside. The public can see it in a new advertising campaign that debuts Sunday night during the Oscar awards ceremony.

2023 Cadillac Lyriq Looks Just Like the Concept

Those intrigued by the show car will be hard-pressed to find differences in the production model. The 2023 Lyriq has the same new vertical signature lighting and transparent crystal black pseudo grille motif with pinstriping and the Cadillac crest that lights up. The taillights also light up like digital rain falling on the vehicle, executive director of Global Cadillac Design Andrew Smith said. The vehicle comes to life when it recognizes you, waking up with a sequential light show. “This is a leapfrog into the future.”

The few changes for production are (slightly) smaller wheels, conventional door construction (show cars have bigger openings to display the interior), an extra cup holder, and five-passenger two-row seating instead of the display car’s four-chair setup.

Keeping the show vehicle’s design intact for a production model is not easy to do, chief engineer Jamie Brewer said. The concept needed to meet regulations around the world and meet all performance requirements and customer expectations. “The engineering team had to say we are committed to bringing the show car to life in a production vehicle,” she said. “You’ll be hard-pressed to find any differences between it and the show car.”

Early Models Offered With Choice of Two Colors

At launch, the first-release Lyriq models will be offered in a choice of two exterior colors: Satin Steel Metallic or Stellar Black Metallic, Smith said. Interior is a choice of black or a speckled gray. The first models are not special editions, but they will be top-end and well-equipped.

The interior of the 2023 Cadillac Lyriq is dominated by the giant curved 33.0-inch LED display with more than 1 billion colors. It has a 19-speaker AKG Studio audio system with headrest speakers and serious attention went into an active sound canceling system. Of note is the cantilevered center console that does not connect to the dash and a wood veneer with a laser-cut pattern.

Cadillac Lyriq Uses Same Ultium Battery System as GMC Hummer EV

The Lyriq is part of a new wave of electric vehicles for GM on the BEV3 electric vehicle architecture that uses the Ultium Platform battery system developed with LG Chem. The first vehicle to use Ultium will be the 2022 GMC Hummer EV full-size electric pickupwhich goes on sale this fall.

GM’s Ultium system can be packaged to fit vehicles of assorted sizes and shapes. While the Hummer’s large frame can accommodate 24 modules, the smaller Lyriq crossover will use a 12-module, 100-kWh battery pack.

What Is the Range of Cadillac Lyriq?

The rear-wheel-drive Lyriq will deliver 340 horsepower and 440 Nm of torque (Cadillac is—weirdly—badging new models based on torque measured in newton-meters; in American figures that’s 325 lb-ft) and is expected to have a range of more than 300 miles on a single charge.

A second drive motor for the front axle that affords all-wheel drive will come later, and we expect performance variants eventually. “Sporty variants are part of our heritage,” vice president of Global Cadillac Rory Harvey said, adding it is something they are looking at and evaluating.

With fast charging, the Lyriq can add about 76 miles of driving range in 10 minutes. The first-release models will come with a standard 19.2-kW Level 2 charging module for their owners’ homes that will give the crossover up to 52 miles of range per hour of charging or roughly double what typical home chargers deliver today. Brewer said it is the fastest Level 2 charger allowed in the industry, and it will be an option with future trim levels.

Batteries will come from the Ultium Cells plant in Lordstown, Ohio, initially while a second battery plant is under construction in Tennessee. It will be online in late 2023. Both are joint ventures of GM and LG Energy Solution.

One Pedal Driving and Super Cruise

The Lyriq has one-pedal driving and features the next generation of GM’s Regen on Demand regenerative braking technology. This means that by simply easing off the accelerator pedal, the electric motors’ rotational resistance slows the vehicle all the way to a stop (while also charging the batteries by acting as generators) without any need to use the brake unless more rapid deceleration is needed. Customers can also bring the vehicle to a complete stop using a paddle on the steering wheel, as in the Chevy Bolt.

Like all Cadillacs going forward, the Lyriq has available Super Cruise, GM’s highway hands-free driver-assistance technology, albeit the enhanced version with automated lane change capability. Remote parking will not be available at launch but is promised later, one of many over-the-air software updates Cadillac said will become available over time.

Lyriq Is First of All-Electric Lineup for Cadillac

This is the first of many battery electric vehicles planned for Cadillac which will be the lead brand for General Motors when it comes to EVs. Next up is the Cadillac Celestiq flagship sedan. Timing has not been disclosed.

In fact, every new Cadillac introduced from this point on in North America will be a luxury electric vehicle, starting with the Lyriq, Harvey said. Cadillac entered the decade as an internal-combustion-engine (ICE) brand and will leave it as an EV brand. “We won’t be selling ICE vehicles by 2030.”

It is part of GM’s overall commitment to an electric future. The automaker is spending $27 billion to bring 30 EVs to market globally by the end of 2025 with a larger goal of phasing out new vehicles with combustion engines by 2035.

Throughout the pandemic, GM has been able to accelerate the timeline of vehicles using the modular Ultium platform, pulling ahead a number of planned vehicles. Using virtual development tools, GMC was able to reduce development time for the Hummer pickup by about two years.

“These are historic moments,” Harvey said.

2023 Cadillac Lyriq PRICE $59,990 LAYOUT Rear Motor, RWD, 5-pass, 4-door SUV ENGINE 340-hp/325-lb-ft AC permanent magnet electric motor TRANSMISSION 1-speed auto CURB WEIGHT 5,610 lb (mfr) WHEELBASE 121.8 in L x W x H 196.7 x 77.8 x 63.9 in 0-60 MPH 5.4 sec (MT est) ON SALE  First Quarter 2022

The post 2023 Cadillac Lyriq First Look: Wait, This Electric SUV Isn’t the Concept Car? appeared first on MotorTrend.

Cargo Room Is the Biggest Flaw in Our 2021 Toyota Venza

Wed, 04/21/2021 - 8:00am

We’ve come to know our 2021 Toyota Venza really well after four months and over 7,000 miles. Not only did we take a two-way cross-country trip in it, the Venza has also been a great family hauler for special family visits. There’s no denying the Venza’s cabin is comfortable and premium, but interior space is not one of its fortes. Whether we look at its cargo or passenger space, the Venza isn’t as roomy as others in its segment or a segment below. This doesn’t mean the Venza has poor interior room, but we’d still like to have a tad more space in our two-row midsize SUV.

The Cargo Room Problem

More than passenger space, it’s cargo room that’s limited. First, the cargo floor is much higher than in any other SUV in the segment, making it complicated to place heavy items—such as a large suitcase—inside the Venza. During our road trip or when picking up family members from the airport, the high cargo floor made it a harder task to load the luggage.

Looking at the specs, the Venza is less spacious than the smaller RAV4 Hybrid. The RAV4’s cargo volume is a roomy 69.8 cubic feet with the rear seats folded, compared to the Venza’s 55.1 cubic feet. With the seats up, cargo room is 28.8 cubic feet in our Venza versus 37.6 cubic feet in the RAV4 Hybrid—over 30 percent more capacity. Part of that has to do with the Venza’s swoopy roofline and angled hatch. This design constraint makes it impossible to load more than two large suitcases in the hatch. Passenger volume, on the other hand, is basically the same—98.3 for the Venza versus 98.9 for the RAV4 Hybrid.

With these data, you might be wondering why should you buy a Venza over a RAV4 Hybrid since it’s more expensive, a tad less fuel efficient, and has less cargo room. The answer lies in its beautiful and premium design. Without the Toyota badges, the Venza could be confused for a Lexus, and the limited number of trims (three) positions it as great alternative if the RAV4’s rugged looks are too much for you.

The First Service

Cargo room aside, we’ve been pretty happy with the Venza’s behavior over the past few months. It’s already visited the dealer for its first 5,000-mile service, and given that every new Toyota comes with Toyota Care, we didn’t have to spend a dime on getting it serviced. Our Venza underwent a tire rotation and a multipoint inspection as part of the service, and because everything looked good with it, we were out of the dealership in just over an hour.

We’ll have to go back to the dealer to get it serviced again soon, as the 10,000-mile mark is quickly approaching. Stay tuned.

More on Our Long-Term Our 2021 Toyota Venza XLE:

The post Cargo Room Is the Biggest Flaw in Our 2021 Toyota Venza appeared first on MotorTrend.

2021 Jeep Wrangler Rubicon 392 V-8 First Test: From Moab to L.A. in 4.2 Seconds

Wed, 04/21/2021 - 7:00am

“Good luck driving that Jeep Wrangler for 13 hours,” my editor told me in a sarcastic tone. Considering the time I’ve spent behind the wheel of the Wrangler Rubicon and its Gladiator pickup truck sibling, I knew what he was referring to. The loud, bouncy Jeep Wrangler is not the most comfortable SUV—and driving from Moab, Utah, to Los Angeles is something not everyone is up for.

Well, maybe not everyone at MotorTrend. You see, not only do we get to drive all sorts of cars during the year, we also get to choose the vehicles we’d like to take on a road trip. Most of the time, we pick those that are comfortable, ride nice, and are roomy. And while the Wrangler Rubicon doesn’t really fit that criteria, anything that gets me out of the house these days is a good idea—especially when it’s the 470-hp Wrangler 392. Are we spoiled? You betcha!

Like we said in our 2021 Jeep Wrangler Rubicon 392 First Drive story, this Wrangler is a different kind of beast. And we’re not just talking about the 470-hp, 470 lb-ft 6.4-liter Hemi V-8 that launches the 392 from 0–60 mph in 4.2 seconds or completes the quarter mile in less than 13 seconds, per our own instrumented testing. There’s also the glorious sound that this engine makes when you step on the throttle and the Hydro Guide induction system that engineers had to create in order to allow this Wrangler to cross rivers. Moreover, there are the substantial changes that engineers made to the chassis, making the 392 the most capable Wrangler to date.

How lucky was I to drive the 392 back home?

From the Trails to the Backroads in the Wrangler 392

Firing up the 392’s engine at the crack of dawn in the hotel’s parking lot in Moab made me chuckle; the roar at the start and its burbling idle were loud enough to wake up everyone facing the lot. I resisted pressing the Quiet button and instead enjoyed listening to the fantastic sound while I got settled. The thermometer read 28 degrees and the heated seats and heated steering wheel turned on automatically to provide a warm welcome.

The day before, I had covered Moab’s Behind the Rocks trail in a Snazzberry red 392 with a hardtop roof, and its rock-crawling capability and ability to power through sand dunes were impressive. But that cold Wednesday morning I had different plans for my Snazzberry soft-top, as I headed south on Highway 191 leaving behind Moab and the stunning La Sal Mountains.

After stopping for gas and coffee, I headed west on Utah’s State Route 95. The stunning red rock vistas, canyon drops, and twisty turns made the drive anything but boring, and the 392’s ride was settled and refined. Besides lifting the suspension by 1 inch versus other Rubicons, Jeep engineers relocated the rear suspension mounts, stiffened the front springs by 10 percent and softened the rear springs by 20 percent. The Rubicon’s Tenneco monotube shocks were replaced by non-reservoir Fox 2.0 monotube socks. And although the current-gen Wrangler won our hearts during our 2019 SUV of the Year competition, its bouncy ride was something we’ve always noted. The changes to the 392 don’t fix the problem entirely, but the ride is a night-and-day difference—it’s smoother and more refined.

With caffeine kicking in, it was time to get off the pavement. Several trails branch off from Highway 95, but a quick look at Google Maps had me searching for service road 235, which connected with Snow Flats Road. Although service road 235 was quite boring, Snow Flats was scenic and diverse; it wasn’t nearly as challenging as Behind the Rocks, but it had a mix of slick rock and gravel that was captivating. I left the two-speed transfer case in 4Auto and enjoyed the ride. Like all Rubicons, the 392 is equipped with front and rear locking differentials and sway bar disconnect, but I left those untouched. The suspension lift gives the 392 better approach and departure angles (44.5 and 37.5 degrees, respectively), something that we noted in Behind the Rocks, but unnecessary on this milder trail.

By the time I made my second stop for gas in the town of Mexican Hat, Utah, the 392 was averaging about 14 mpg. After driving through Monument Valley and crossing the Arizona border into Kayenta, I headed west on Arizona Highway 98 towards Page for a stop at Horseshoe Bend. The highway stint brought slightly better fuel economy, though always under 17 mpg.

Heading south towards Flagstaff, the 6.4-liter came alive. Not even the 7,000-foot elevation could put a dent in this engine, as it always delivered power without hesitating. The outstanding eight-speed automatic transmission deserves a lot of credit, too, as it stays in the right gear and doesn’t hesitate to downshift. Paddle shifters are standard, but I think I used them once during the entire road trip—you don’t really need them. Press down the accelerator and your back will be pushed hard against the seat while a gratifying sound fills the cabin. Here’s what associate road test editor Erick Ayapana had to say after running our straight-line tests: “My goodness. Unlike any Wrangler I’ve driven. It simply explodes off the line, loud exhaust note, and lots of pull.” The downside? The 33-inch BF Goodrich All-Terrain tires are limited to 100 mph, so the 392 can’t accelerate past that speed.

There are a few other flaws in the 392—Its steering feel is still vague, and its cabin is quite loud. Although its steering isn’t as bad as in the Gladiator’s, it was probably the most irritative foible during my drive back home. And Wranglers are known for loud interiors, even when you opt for the hardtop. But even so, I’d sacrifice some noise insulation for an automatic soft top that opens and closes with the push of a button—like on my 392.

The $75,000 Question

The 6.4-liter engine is available only in the four-door Wrangler Rubicon. Its starting price is $74,995, making the Jeep Wrangler Rubicon 392 the most expensive Wrangler by far. It does come loaded with standard features like the aforementioned heated seats and steering wheel, the 8.4-inch infotainment system with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto and navigation, as well as other packages that are optional in other Wranglers.

But when you factor in everything you’re getting—the most capable Wrangler, a V-8 engine, and a more compliant suspension, the $75K suddenly seems like a bargain. Even without the 6.4-liter, Wrangler Rubicons can easily reach $60,000, and the 392 is simply the best Wrangler there is today.

When I asked Jeep engineers why not put the 700-hp Hellcat engine in the Wrangler, their reply was “because we don’t need it.” They felt that 4.2 seconds to 60 mph and a sub-13-second quarter-mile is good enough. And after 18 hours and over 930 miles behind the wheel of the 392, I couldn’t agree more.

Jeep Wrangler Rubicon 392 Pros:
  • Amazing, powerful engine
  • Soft suspension
  • Comes fully equipped
  • Loud cabin
  • Vague steering
  • Awful fuel economy
SPECIFICATIONS 2021 Jeep Wrangler Unlimited Rubicon 392 BASE PRICE $74,995 PRICE AS TESTED $78,545 VEHICLE LAYOUT Front-engine, 4WD, 5-pass, 4-door SUV ENGINE 6.4L/470-hp/470-lb-ft OHV 16-valve V-8 TRANSMISSION 8-speed automatic CURB WEIGHT (F/R DIST) 5,122 lb (54/46%) WHEELBASE 118.4 in LENGTH x WIDTH x HEIGHT 188.4 x 73.8 x 74.5 in 0-60 MPH 4.2 sec QUARTER MILE 12.9 sec @ 100.4 mph BRAKING, 60-0 MPH 133 ft LATERAL ACCELERATION 0.67 g (avg) MT FIGURE EIGHT 29.3 sec @ 0.56 g (avg) EPA CITY/HWY/COMB FUEL ECON 13/17/14 mpg ENERGY CONS, CITY/HWY 259/198 kWh/100 miles CO2 EMISSIONS, COMB 1.33 lb/mile

The post 2021 Jeep Wrangler Rubicon 392 V-8 First Test: From Moab to L.A. in 4.2 Seconds appeared first on MotorTrend.

2022 Porsche 911 GT3 First Drive: Diminishing Returns, Dynamite Results

Tue, 04/20/2021 - 6:01pm

“Point of diminishing returns” best defines the new 2022 Porsche 911 GT3. It’s a description Porsche GT chief Andreas “Andy” Preuninger mentioned more than a half-dozen times in reference to the new 911 GT3 during his media briefing about the new car. Why? Emissions regulations constrained the GT3’s engine development, and the 911’s existing suspension architecture limited the model’s grip and handling performance. But where most automakers might say, “good enough,” and continue printing money, Preuninger said he and his team worked within their constraints to somehow once again build one of the best Porsche 911s we’ve ever driven.

What Makes the New 911 GT3 Tick?

On paper, when comparing the new 992 2022 Porsche 911 GT3 to its 991.2-generation predecessor, it’s hard to get excited. Horsepower? Up only two, to 502. Torque? Up just seven to 346 lb-ft. Engine displacement? Unchanged at 4.0 liters. Design? To the untrained eye, a Porsche 911 is a Porsche 911.

But the fact is, the new 911 GT3 is an incredibly fascinating piece of holistic engineering.

While sharing its displacement with the old GT3’s flat-six engine, the naturally aspirated mill (the last in the 911 lineup) comes straight out of the 911 GT3 Cup race car, and it features six individual throttle bodies, a new rigid valvetrain, a 9,000-rpm redline, and a lightweight stainless-steel exhaust system that’s soldered together instead of welded to cut weight. The GT3, as before, is available with a six-speed manual gearbox or, as our test car arrived with, a PDK seven-speed twin-clutch automatic.

A move from 4.0 to 4.2 liters would have increased horsepower, but Preuninger told us it would’ve been near impossible for such an engine to meet ever-tightening emissions regulations. Instead, he said 70percent of Porsche’s engineering capacity was dedicated to getting the GT3’s 4.0-liter engine to meet emissions targets. Diminishing returns, in other words.

What Porsche couldn’t do with the 2022 911 GT3’s engine dictated its next moves; how do you get more speed and better performance without meaningfully increasing horsepower? Porsche put the car on a diet and gave it better aerodynamics and more grip.

The new 911 GT3’s sheetmetal helps take care of both the weight savings and improved aero. On the latter front, the 911 GT3’s new manually adjustable swan-neck rear wing—a style that’s been in vogue in GT and endurance racing due to its efficiency—is the most obvious addition to the 911 GT3. However, the additional duck-bill rear spoiler, manually adjustable front diffusers, rear diffuser, and fully paneled underside are just as important. Porsche said the new 911 GT3 is not only slipperier than the previous version but that it’s also capable of producing more downforce as well. In its factory setting, the 911 GT3’s aero provides up to 510 pounds of downforce, a 50-percent gain compared to the last-gen GT3 set in its most aggressive spec. In the new car’s most aggressive settings, the GT3 can generate up to 850 pounds of downforce, or 150 percent more than the old car.

Keeping the 2022 Porsche 911 GT3’s curb weight down was important, too—especially considering the 992 911 is physically larger than the 991.2 it replaced. The new GT3 does the usual weight savings tricks: Sound deadening is reduced and the 911’s vestigial rear seats get kicked to the curb. Optional extras, like a carbon-fiber roof, carbon-fiber bucket seats, and carbon-ceramic brakes help to bring the weight down further. Versus the last 911 GT3, the new 992 version also gets a carbon-fiber-reinforced plastic hood and front fascia, thinner glass, lighter (and larger) wheels, and a host of other mechanical and electrical revisions. The result, according to Porsche, is a 3,200-pound curb weight that is only 11 pounds more than a comparable 991.2 GT3 despite the new car’s bulkier dimensions.

Changes underneath the skin are more subtle. Performance potential for the MacPherson-strut front suspension found on every other 911 was “maxed out” on the 991.2 GT3, said Preuninger.  Faced with yet another point of diminishing returns, the GT team looked to the 911 RSR race car for inspiration. Its solution was a new multilink front suspension (a 911 road car first), chosen for its ability to balance turn-in and ride quality. A revised multilink suspension does the work in back. New adaptive dampers are capable of reacting to impacts in less than 10 milliseconds, while rear-axle steering, wider axles, wheels and tires, and larger brakes complete the new 911 GT3.

Enough Talk—How Does it Drive?

A great driver’s car typically announces itself not with the bark of its engine on start-up, but rather through the steering wheel when pulling out of a parking spot. The 2022 Porsche 911 GT3 is no exception. Compared to “lesser” 911s like the Turbo S or basic Carrera, there’s something organic—elemental, even—in just your first tug of the wheel. If there’s just a spark of life in the GT3’s steering at parking lot speeds, it’s a full-on living, breathing animal when unleashed on one of the country’s best driving roads, California’s Angeles Crest Highway.

Like pretty much every modern Porsche, the 992 911 allows you to find and explore your limits right out of the box; the 2022 911 GT3 unlocks even more potential. Every subtle flick of your wrist results in the GT3 responding exactly as you intended it to, with the front tires digging into the pavement like an NHLer’s skates cutting into the ice.

“I immediately noticed how strong, how planted, how indefatigable the front end is,” senior features editor Jonny Lieberman said. “Whatever you command the front tires to do, they obey. Wherever you tell them to be, they are. There’s no hint or possibility of understeer; it’s planted like a German oak tree.”

The 911 GT3’s new suspension system, which helps tremendously with steering feel and feedback, is equally good at steamrolling bumps and bruises in the pavement. While you’ll never confuse the GT3 for a Cayenne, its stiff ride is also reasonably compliant. Even high-speed mid-corner bumps in the GT3’s most aggressive Track setting don’t upset the chassis. Despite spending an entire day in the GT3’s fixed carbon-fiber bucket seats, we remained surprisingly comfortable and pain-free. You can’t say the same for many other track-ready supercars.

Power isn’t the GT3’s main point, but this car delivers on that front, too. While most high-revving engines leave you hanging with a horsepower or torque trough, each and every one of the GT3’s 9,000 revs delivers the goods. The engine doesn’t have the same violence as the 911 Turbo S’s (or the coming 911 GT2’s likely will have), but with an estimated 3.2-second sprint to 60 mph, it’s no slouch, either.

While down a gear versus the rest of the 911 lineup (saving 44 pounds, Porsche said), the GT3’s PDK seven-speed dual-clutch auto remains uncannily adept at always choosing the correct ratio at the right time, no matter the drive mode. Upshifts and downshifts are lightning quick when the transmission is left to its own devices, but for those who prefer to shift for themselves, the PDK offers shift paddles and also a big meaty shifter yanked from the manual GT3 to grab. Considering how quickly the engine works its way through its rev range, big, bright yellow shift lights are a welcome addition to manual mode.

When it’s time to slow down, the new 911 GT3’s optional carbon-ceramic brakes are more than up to the task of reliably and repeatedly reigning the car down from triple-digit speeds. The brakes are so responsive, in fact, you’ll instinctively find yourself braking far later for corners than you normally would.

The Ultimate Porsche 911, Again

Reaching what appears to be a point of diminishing returns might be a scary place to arrive at for most automotive engineers, but indeed the 2022 Porsche 911 GT3 shows there’s usually a way to solve the equation. Decades of racing success will do that for you. Prices for the latest über 911 start at $162,450. Excuse us while we pool our pennies.

2022 Porsche 911 GT3 Specifications PRICE $162,450 LAYOUT Rear-engine, RWD, 2-pass, 2-door coupe ENGINE 4.0L/502-hp/346-lb-ft DOHC 24-valve flat-6 TRANSMISSION 7-speed twin-clutch auto; 6-speed manual CURB WEIGHT 3,200 lbs (mfr) WHEELBASE 96.5 in L x W x H 178.6 x 74.9 x 50.9 in 0-60 MPH 3.2 sec (mfr est) EPA FUEL ECON Not-yet-rated ON SALE Fall 2021

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Battery Box: The Mercedes-EQ Line Grows With EQT Small Van

Tue, 04/20/2021 - 5:50pm

Mercedes-Benz Vans’ lineup in Europe is a little bit confusing, and since we only get the Sprinter and the Metris on these shores we’ll spare you a detailed examination of how the new T-Class partially replaces the current Citan. So here’s what you need to know: There is a T-Class there, a joint-venture with Renault and related to the Kangoo small commercial van, and this new Concept EQT previews an electric Mercedes-EQ EQT version of said T-Class.

To put it another way, think of the T-Class as being roughly the same size and shape as a Ram ProMaster City or Ford Transit Connect. Now, electrify that and put a Mercedes tri-star on it, and you’re in the right headspace.

The Mercedes-EQ lineup is getting serious now. We just saw the flagship EQS luxury sedan (in the gallery below) and the EQB small SUV, and the EQC midsize SUV is a solid first shot at a full-bore EV from the company. And Mercedes-EQ ain’t done yet, with the EQA compact SUV on the way, too. And Mercedes-Benz Vans isn’t going to let the EQT roam the streets alone, as Mercedes already sells the eVito and eSprinter vans in Europe.

Not that this is exactly a pure work van. Mercedes-Benz Vans is using the T-Class (and EQT) to target non-commercial customers with small, utilitarian, and upscale vans. What, exactly, that’ll look like in EQT form remains to be seen, but it sounds like the company is targeting “active lifestyle” customers who want a well-appointed and luxurious vehicle or camper.

The EQT Concept will debut on May 10, and the production version should arrive sooner rather than later. After all, the related 2021 Renault Kangoo is already on sale, and that includes its ZE electric version, so a production EQT can’t be too far off.

The post Battery Box: The Mercedes-EQ Line Grows With EQT Small Van appeared first on MotorTrend.

Reality Bites: Mercedes Turned the Hot Vision EQS Into the Dull 2022 EQS EV

Tue, 04/20/2021 - 2:15pm

Oh dear. How did we get from there to here? I’m wracking my brain trying to think of a worse dreams-to-reality ratio than what Mercedes did by going from the incredible Vision EQS Concept to the actual EQS. The Lincoln Continental from a few years back, which began as the answer to, “What Would Don Draper Drive?” and ended up as a rebodied Ford Fusion with fussy seats? Another heart breaker was the sinister to the point of intimidating Jaguar C-XF, which then got declawed and became the first generation XF sedan. Then of course you have every Subaru concept ever. Forever. To reiterate, I was in love with the Vision EQS Concept, and am shocked at how comparatively dull the actual EQS is.

First things first: how bad is it in reality? I asked a photographer who worked on the press shots what the EQS is like in person. “Huge,” he told me, pointing out that in a studio by itself, the massiveness of the EQS isn’t apparent. “Pictures don’t convey the scale at all.” There are just millimeters of difference between it and the XL new S-Class. But how does it look in the flesh? “It’s just underwhelming.” Yeah. That’s the right way to put it. I’m seriously underwhelmed. 

I have been visually underwhelmed by electric Mercedes models since I first saw (and drove) an EQC prototype. The prototype previewed the essentially identical production EQC400, which is basically a facelifted Mercedes-Benz GLC-Class, which is a pretty good-looking compact luxury SUV, with an electric powertrain. Have you heard the term butterface? It applies the melted-grille EQC. The design troubles of the EQS go far beyond the grille. I’d actually argue that—ignoring the rear end—the grille is the car’s best feature. 

Great Vision (EQS)

I suppose I should establish why the Vision EQS Concept is so good. Well, first of all, just look at it. Trite, I know, but what a great-looking car. Things that jump out at me? The masterful one-piece grille and headlight motif. Talk about a party trick. Exceptional, especially in this day and age of shrinking headlights and massive grilles, the front end of the Vision EQS was a mature, bold statement.

Next, check out how the front tire pokes up into the hood. So slick. Yes, the show car is no doubt rolling on a set of 24- or 26-inch wheels, but we’re talking design. Plus, have you ever seen better use of two-tone paint? Not since the 1955 Chevy Bel Air. I should add that two shades of paint tend to make cars look old and fuddy duddy. Not here. No, here we’re looking at the future. 

Other stuff. The hidden B-pillar is also clutch, especially considering how the brightwork around the greenhouse is a single line, like a bow. So choice. The Vision EQS also looked muscular. Big, sure, but like a tiger, not a hippopotamus. The shape conveys strength and power—athleticism—even though it’s also obviously a luxury car. I haven’t seen this done so well since the recently departed Jaguar XJ. Also, the little pieces of copper (batteries, get it?) along the bottom edge sets the whole thing off. Again, masterful.

Low EQ

Many people—including a large swath of the MotorTrend staff—have mentioned that the EQS bears a resemblance to the Tom Gale-era Dodge Intrepid. That’s neither accurate nor fair to the handsome Intrepid. Here’s why it’s not accurate. Almost three decades ago, Chrysler launched its cab-forward LH platform. The idea behind it was that since big cars were all going front-wheel drive, then Chrysler might as well embrace such engineering with a smart design. The result was a nice-looking sedan with an utterly massive front overhang. Not only that, but the front doors nearly touch the wheel wells. Dash-to-axle ratio? Look elsewhere. 

But as you can see, the Mercedes EQS actually has a nice, big dash-to-axle ratio (this term essentially refers to the amount of metal between the front door and the wheel well). It’s just that the A-pillar comes charging forward, landing at the front wheel. This is bad for two reasons. The first is that it just screams front-wheel drive. Now, in the brave new EV world, FWD doesn’t mean what it used to (FWD is typically a cost-saving, packaging decision), but in the rarified world of big Mercedes models with equally big price tags, projecting cheapness is nicht gut. Also, typically speaking, good car design says that the highest part of the front fender (the fender peak) should be right over the center of the front wheel. Here it’s certainly not, as the fender peak is closest to the front windshield. The Lexus LC sorta, kinda, almost pulls this off, but not really. On the Vision EQS? The fender peak is right on top of the center of the front wheel. 

The second negative effect, and this is the far bigger design crime? Having an A-pillar jut that far forward creates a horrid little triangle—just like on a Toyota Prius! Ick! Lots of other non-premium front drivers have these terrible triangular pieces of glass, too. True, but here it’s not glass, as it appears to be black plastic with the letters “EQS” attempting to hide it. But still, yuck. When it came to the Vision EQS, the design team was smart enough to plug this triangle (called a sail) with a rearview mirror, but the production car opts for a body-mounted mirror (quieter, better for aero) rather than a sail mounted one. The results make me sad.   

Sadly, much more went wrong. The grille and the headlights aren’t one piece. Not a showstopper, but man, did that sing on the Vision EQS. Since the wheels are smaller (I love how I’m calling 21-inch wheels “smaller”), the tires don’t flow into the fender/hood in the same elegant way as on the concept. The two-tone paint draws attention to this by overemphasizing the lines that separate the front fascia from the rest of the car. The same happens to the rectangular chunk of metal between the wheel and the front door. But at least Mercedes put the service panel door to access the windshield wiper fluid there! Kidding, that looks bad. I’ll say this now—service panels and charging ports need to be hidden. Front fenders are for displaying badges or brightwork. On the EQS, this service panel looks like a third door handle.

Here We Are

I could go on (Why not hide the B-pillar? What happened to the trailing edge of the rear door cut line?), however, suffice to say that the EQS is a design swing and a miss. Mercedes can dismiss much of the criticism by saying that it was trying to achieve the lowest drag coefficient ever seen on a production car—which it did courtesy of the EQS EV’s 0.20 Cd. I’ll counter by quoting my colleague Christian Seabaugh, who said, “So what?” He then pointed out that the fantastic new Audi A6 E-Tron Concept has a Cd of 0.22, but is twenty times better looking. 

I’ll end by quoting a legendary designer friend of mine. We were at a bar later one night at the Geneva Motor Show. I was with McLaren. I was fighting with company representatives over how terrible I thought the Senna looked, with them saying that I don’t get it—the Senna “had to look” the way it did. Function over form and all that. My friend, nameless as he remains here, grabbed a hold of my phone that had a picture of the malformed Senna and said, “It didn’t have to look like this. You chose to make it look like this.” The same is true with the EQS. I’ll go further and say this is worse, as Mercedes had a perfectly handsome design just raring to go. 

The post Reality Bites: Mercedes Turned the Hot Vision EQS Into the Dull 2022 EQS EV appeared first on MotorTrend.

2022 Subaru Outback Wilderness Gets Price That Isn’t Out There

Tue, 04/20/2021 - 1:15pm

The 2022 Subaru Outback Wildnerness promises to go where only the courageous dare to explore. Aimed at outdoor enthusiasts wanting more out of their wagon, the Outback Wilderness, a trim above Onyx XT, and positioned just below the Limited XT and Touring XT, is set to arrive this spring. It is the most rugged and capable Outback to date.

In Wilderness trimAmerica’s favorite all-wheel-drive crossover  will have a starting price of $38,120 and a whole bunch of sweet new gear. For starters, the Wilderness has a ground clearance of 9.5 inches thanks to a 0.8-inch suspension lift. Further improving stability, it also gets tuned shocks and springs, which do not compromise ride quality on regular roads. Additional standard equipment includes 17-inch wheels in wrapped Yokohama Geolandar all-terrain tires, a front skid plate, a full-size spare, and a fixed roof rack with a 700-pound capacity.

The Wilderness adds a new grille along with front and rear bumpers. Other noticeable changes consist of more pronounced wheel arch claddings, matte black trim, a black decal on the hood, and Anodized Copper trim throughout. New are also six-LED fog lights exclusive to the Wilderness model.

Inside, the rugged theme continues with Anodized Copper applied to the seats, door panels, center console, and dashboard. The Outback Wilderness features an 11.6-inch infotainment system, and Subaru is only offering one optional package, that among other items, adds navigation and a sunroof.

A 2.4-liter turbocharged H-4 engine producing 260 hp and 277 lb-ft comes standard on the Wilderness, and it pairs to continuously variable transmission. The CVT now has a final-drive ratio of 4:44:1 instead of 4.11:1 in the lower grade models. For those looking to spruce up their factory-ready Outback Wilderness a bit more, there are plenty of accessories that get the job done.

By way of comparison, the less-powerful but also outdoor-oriented 2021 Toyota RAV4 TRD Off-Road rings up at $37,155, while the 2021 Jeep Cherokee Trailhawk starts at $37,155. For non-Wilderness Outbacks, the 2022 models start at $28,070 for non-turbo models. The 2022 Legacy sedan starts at $23,955.

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2021 BMW M3 Competition First Test: Facing the Facts

Tue, 04/20/2021 - 8:00am

Any new BMW M3 is a big deal to the enthusiast car community. Forget for a moment what the car actually is and focus instead on understanding what it represents. The M3 is the souped-up, hot-rodded, better-to-drive version of the traditional Ultimate Driving Machine, the BMW 3 Series. The 3 Series is supposed to be a driver’s car right out of the box; the 3 Series after BMW’s M Division performance gurus have fiddled with it? We’re talking hopes and dreams here, people.

While it will never be cheap, this level of M performance should be somewhat attainable. M3s tend to look pretty good, too, going all the way back to the swole-fendered, deep-chinned, bewinged OG E30 version of the 1980s. I don’t think I’ll ruffle too many feathers by saying fans of fast cars want any new M3 to be handsome, quick, expensive without being exclusive, and—above all else—wonderful to drive. The all-new G80-generation 2021 BMW M3 isn’t that exact car. So, what is it?

That Face

It would be a dereliction of auto scribe duty for me to go one sentence further without mentioning this car’s face. It’s insane. I’ve been staring at it online for months, and in person for more than a week. The twin, massive grille structures have not grown on me. The nostrils do not look better in person, nor have I gotten used to them. The design is … “ugly” isn’t the word, as that’s too easy. But I do have a theory about why. For the most part, when people think the front end or face of a car is good looking, they’re anthropomorphizing it. That means they’re projecting human qualities onto what they’re looking at. Headlights as eyes and the grille as a mouth, etc.

The face of the new M3 (and its two-door sibling, the M4) doesn’t look human. It’s alien, unfamiliar, insectoid. As such, the front of the car is repulsive. Meaning the opposite of attractive. Have you seen a potato bug? Also known as a Jerusalem cricket, these slimy, prehistoric, hissing (they literally hiss!) abominations make my skin crawl. They repulse me. I have no way of knowing if BMW did so intentionally, but it’s created a car that repulses people in the same way. If you see a G80 M3 bearing down on you (and it will be bearing down on you), you’ll instinctively get out of its way. One of my favorite German words is Überholprestige, which means “overtaking prestige,” as in, when you glimpse a car in your mirror, it’s using its Überholprestige to make you pull right and let it pass. Viewed through this particular lens, the M3’s face works. That said, I don’t enjoy looking at it.

Is the rest of the car good to look at? No, not really. It’s safe to say that this generation of M3 is a dud, design-wise. The side is a bit homely, and BMW didn’t spend the money to flare the rear door skin to match the swollen rear fender. The result is an abrupt transition from door to fender that looks cheap. The rear end is generic. I suppose I should say “generic with four huge pipes and a carbon splitter,” but it’s generic all the same.

What About Inside?

If you look closely at the interior photos, you will notice what looks to be a carbon-fiber tray that sits between the thighs of either front seat occupant. Well, that’s exactly what it is. That’s part of the $3,800 M Carbon bucket-seat option. I drove a different Frozen Portimao Blue M3 with these seats for about three minutes. Just around the block to get a taste. I did not like these seats. Unlike the no doubt thin, six-and-a-half-foot-tall German engineers who designed these chairs, I’m—like so many Americans—not so tall and possessed of beefier thighs. Point is, I initially did not like the seats. Then I had to drive all the way across Los Angeles on the 405 with its perpetual, horrible traffic. Ninety minutes later, I’d come to the conclusion that these carbon-backed thrones are the least comfortable I’ve ever sat in. And I’ve sat in a McLaren Senna.

Then I drove the M3 Competition the way it was designed to be driven, which is to say hard. Very hard, in fact. And now I believe these are the best performance seats ever fitted to a car. If they’re not the actual best, then they’re as good as any. These optional seats hold you perfectly in place during high-spirited license-jeopardizing hoonage. For normal everyday commuting, however, they’re bad. Choose wisely. The rest of the interior is very much like an M5’s or an M8’s, with the addition of the cruel M Drift Analyzer. I held a 24-yard-long drift at a 31.6-degree angle for 3.4 seconds and the damn thing only gave me one star out of four.

The entry price for an M3 Competition is $73,795. Our test car? $104,245. Yes, that’s more than $30,000 in options. Must-have extras? I think the carbon-ceramic brakes for $8,150 are totally worth it. Do you need the $950 carbon trim inside? At $4,700, the M Carbon Exterior package is probably a waste (even if the front intakes are choice), especially since the critical exterior carbon bit, the carbon-fiber roof, is standard. I could go either way on the $2,500 M Driver’s package, which raises the top speed from 155 mph to 186 and includes a one-day “high-performance driving class” at a BMW Performance Center. On second thought, splurge.

Mmm … Performance

Yes, the G80 M3 is larger and heavier than the previous F80 M3. The wheelbase has grown by 1.8 inches, and the car is 4.6 inches longer and about half an inch wider. While the weight increased, it’s not as bad as you might think. Ninety-nine pounds separate a 2016 M3 Competition (3,646 pounds) from this M3 Comp, which our scales say sits at 3,745 pounds. That’s not light, but it’s not a figure one should rend their garments over, either. In fact, it’s still light. The M3 Competition’s most direct competitor, the 505-hp Alfa Romeo Giulia Quadrifoglio, weighs 3,785 pounds, and the last Mercedes-AMG C63 S we tested registered 3,936 pounds. While we’ve never weighed an Audi RS5 Sportback, its S5 Sportback relative clocked in at 4,092 pounds. It’s a safe bet that the RS5 version is heavier still. What about all the hand wringing you saw on the internet saying that the M3’s too big and heavy? Caveat lectorum.

The M3 Competition’s S58 turbocharged 3.0-liter I-6 engine is rated for 503 hp and 479 lb-ft of torque; the non-Comp model makes 473 horses and 406 lb-ft, for reference. The output runs through an eight-speed ZF automatic transmission and onto the rear wheels. (All-wheel drive is available for 2022.) Can you still get a manual transmission? Yes, but not on the Comp.

As you’d expect, this BMW is quick. The 2021 M3 Competition hits 60 mph in 3.5 seconds, handily beating the 2016 M3 Comp’s 4.3-second run. Same story in the quarter mile—the old car did it in 12.5 seconds at 118.0 mph. The G80 is nearly a second quicker at 11.6 seconds, while it trips the lights at 125.6 mph. That Alfa? 3.8 seconds to 60 mph and the quarter in 12.1 at 116.2 mph. Braking is a bit of a wash, with the old M3 Competition stopping from 60 mph in 100 feet and the new one needing 102; the Giulia Quad splits the two at 101 feet. However, the M3 Comp’s figure-eight time is much improved: 23.8 seconds versus 24.2 for both the old M3 and the Alfa. We consider less than 24 seconds around our handling course to be a supercar.

How’s It Drive?

Wow. I wasn’t prepared for how brutal, how relentless, how indomitable the G80 BMW M3 Competition feels on the road. The initial impression is all torque—buckets and suitcases full of it. The S58 engine produces peak torque over a glass-flat “curve” from 2,600 to 6,000 rpm, and the car’s forward thrust simply never relents. Third, fourth, or fifth gear, it doesn’t even matter because you’re still in the meat of the “curve.” Bimmer fanboys and girls wrinkled their collective noses over the fact that the last-gen car’s dual-clutch gearbox was dumped in favor of a plain-ol’ automatic. These same types are also upset that anything other than a manual exists. The reality? If I told you the transmission was actually a dual-clutch, you probably wouldn’t know the difference. That’s how quick ZF’s ’box has gotten. Sure, downshifts could be a fraction of a second quicker, but that’s getting into the realm of nitpicking.

The front end is remarkable. Planted, accurate, neutral—it’s about as good as sporty cars get. The steering is incredibly direct and there’s not a lick of understeer, which is not easy to pull off on a street car this nose heavy (weight distribution is 53/47 percent front and rear). There’s barely any oversteer, either. My horribly judged drift attempts notwithstanding, I struggled to get a tire to squeal. This thing is absolutely stuck down. It truly feels as if the G80 M3 was built around its Michelin Pilot Sport 4S tires. Pilot Sport Cup 2 ultra-high-performance rubber is available in other markets, but in the United States, we’re just being offered the regular high-performance meats. I’m going to say something weird, but I don’t think we need the Cup 2s. Again, the M3 is as planted as any car I’ve driven.

Popular internet opinion says the new M3 is now really an M5. The reality is that’s in the M5’s dreams. Aside from the fact that the G80 M3 is more than 400 pounds lighter than the current F90 M5, the G80 M3 is also around 200 pounds lighter than the legendary E39 M5. Even the 311-hp E34 M5 weighs 100 pounds more than this car. No M5 has ever felt this fleet, this exact, this sporting. Sorry, internet, but that’s the truth. Sure, the original 282-hp E28 M5 was much lighter, but that one had nowhere near this sort of power-to-weight ratio. No, the G80 M3 is something else entirely.

The Verdict

While I have yet to slide behind the wheel of an E30 M3, I’ve driven more than my fair share of every other generation of M3. Years ago, I drove an E46 M3 back-to-back on a track with a 997-generation Porsche 911 Carrera S. The E46 was nice and fun and all that, but the 911 seemed twice as quick and 50 times as good. You wouldn’t really think to ever compare the two. Fast forward, and not only did I have this pig-faced M3 at home, but also a Porsche 911 Carrera S manual. I took both Germans up the same road on the same day—the best way there is to compare cars. The BMW felt quicker, and according to our test numbers, it is. I’m almost positive that on a racetrack, the 519-pound-lighter Porsche would find a way to exert its supremacy—that’s what Porsches do. But in the canyons? Where both cars will be driven the majority of the time? I’d rather have the 2021 M3 Competition. This car is that good. I’d just need to remember to always park the thing with its ghastly nose in.

SPECIFICATIONS 2021 BMW M3 Competition BASE PRICE $73,795 PRICE AS TESTED $104,245 VEHICLE LAYOUT Front-engine, RWD, 5-pass, 4-door sedan ENGINE 3.0L/503-hp/479-lb-ft turbo DOHC 24-valve I-6 TRANSMISSION 8-speed automatic CURB WEIGHT (F/R DIST) 3,745 lb (53/47%) WHEELBASE 112.5 in LENGTH x WIDTH x HEIGHT 189.1 x 74.3 x 56.4 in 0-60 MPH 3.5 sec QUARTER MILE 11.6 sec @ 125.6 mph BRAKING, 60-0 MPH 102 ft LATERAL ACCELERATION 1.03 g (avg) MT FIGURE EIGHT 23.8 sec @ 0.85 g (avg) EPA CITY/HWY/COMB FUEL ECON 16/23/19 mpg ENERGY CONS, CITY/HWY 211/147 kWh/100 miles CO2 EMISSIONS, COMB 1.05 lb/mile

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2022 Acura MDX SH-AWD A-Spec First Test: Gets the Job Done

Tue, 04/20/2021 - 6:00am

None of us wants to believe we’d fall for a marketing pitch or an advertising line. We’re all sophisticated, modern consumers who’ve seen it all. We’re jaded, and too smart to be sold, anyway. But there’s a reason you remember commercial jingles years or even decades later. There’s a reason you prefer one brand over the other, even if you can’t really explain why. None of this is by accident; it’s the work of teams of professional marketers with untold budgets saturating the world with carefully crafted messaging based on decades of psychological and behavioral research. It’s also the reason you should keep being jaded and skeptical of the messages you’re bombarded with, because they’re designed to sell you something, not convey an irrefutable truth. Automotive advertising is no exception, and the 2022 Acura MDX SH-AWD isn’t delivering what the marketing is promising.

Looking Beyond the Advertising

Go to Acura’s website right now and look up the MDX. “Performance” is the overriding message. It’s listed as a “premium performance SUV,” performance is the first of three categories presented for further information, and an additional section on performance is directly below. It’s consistent with all of Acura’s messaging about the MDX, and the direction of the greater Acura brand, both of which center on “precision crafted performance.”

The issue is, the MDX doesn’t deliver. Not on that message, anyway.

But no one buys a three-row premium SUV because it kicks ass on the racetrack. That’s not what these vehicles are made for. Comfort, convenience, technology, space—those are the things that really matter. And those are the places where the MDX largely succeeds.

More Space for Activities

This big SUV has grown in every dimension, opening up useful space throughout. There’s more cargo room behind every row and even stowage under the rear cargo floor (without giving up the spare tire like some automakers do). There’s a bit more passenger space in the first two rows and significantly more than before in the third row, where an average height adult can now fit. After all, those kids in the third row are going to get a lot bigger in the 10 years you’re statistically likely to keep this vehicle.

Roomier rear accommodations are welcome, but passengers are going to be underwhelmed by the seats. A hard, flat, unsupportive third row may be industry standard, but it’s disappointing in the second row. At least those middle seats fold and slide forward with the touch of a button to allow third-row access. That may be less elegant and luxurious than power actuation but is magnitudes faster. How Acura engineers came up with that time and effort saver but awkwardly placed the handles that release the folded third-row seats where you must climb into the back of the car to reach them is beyond us.

Similarly, being able to remove the middle seating section in the second row is a nice trick, but actually lifting it out of the vehicle is awkward and cumbersome, and the resulting exposed mounts in the floor make it look like something is missing. Nothing about this says “luxury.”

The front row is where Acura really delivered. There’s a bit more stretch-out room, seat heaters are standard, and the Advance Package features 16-way heated and cooled seats that remain comfortable at the end of a seven-hour road trip and still offer good lateral support in corners.

Hi-Tech, High Atop the Learning Curve

Acura promises the most tech it has ever put in a vehicle, and it delivered. The execution, though, is a mixed bag.

The optional ELS Studio 3D stereo is fantastic, providing the kind of clarity and range you usually have to pay a lot more money for on a much more expensive car. You have to operate it, though, through Acura’s controversial True Touchpad Interface. It’s a powerful system and highly customizable, but the learning curve is extremely steep. Every little feature can be made a favorite, so once you’ve got it set up the way you want and get used to the way the touchpad works—you don’t use it like a trackpad, instead touching it exactly where you would on the main screen—it’s very convenient. But getting there is a struggle.

The infotainment setup has all the right add-ons, though. Wireless Apple CarPlay and Android Auto are included, and Amazon’s Alexa voice assistant is integrated into the system. Unfortunately, Alexa responds to a lot of words that sound vaguely like “Alexa,” making it more annoying than helpful.

It’s a similar situation with the new digital instrument cluster. You’ll want to dig through the menu and switch it to the “Crafted” layout, which looks like traditional round gauges. The “Advanced” layout tries to take advantage of the design freedom offered by a screen but ends up looking like someone put all kinds of information and graphics in a bucket and threw it at a chalkboard. There’s too much information competing for your attention, half of which isn’t useful.

We’re also of two minds on the advanced driver aids. We’re happy to see all the latest features included and things like traffic-jam assist are very helpful, but the lane-centering system is so hyperactive with its near-constant steering corrections that you’ll probably just want to switch it off.

Promised Performance Mostly Undelivered

All the right technology is present under the skin, but in this case, it really doesn’t deliver. A new and considerably more rigid platform, a new control arm front suspension and revised multi-link rear suspension, next-generation torque-vectoring all-wheel drive that can send more power rearward and do so more quickly, bigger brakes, variable-ratio electric power steering, a new transmission with more aggressive gearing and faster shifting; this thing has it all.

Put it on our test track, though, and the only metric by which it outperforms the old MDX is acceleration. A lower first gear gets the new model off the line quicker, cutting the 0–60-mph time by 0.6 second to 5.7 seconds. It’s all the launch, though, because the new MDX is actually slower in our 45–65-mph passing test by 0.1 second.

Stopping from 60 mph is also slightly worse. Despite the bigger brakes, the new MDX needs 118 feet to stop from that speed, 2 feet more than the 2019 MDX SH-AWD A-Spec we tested. No doubt a contributing factor is the additional mass, with the 2022 model carrying 269 more pounds than the 2019 as a result of growing slightly in every external dimension.

The thrust of Acura’s pitch, though, is really about handling. All that suspension and all-wheel-drive work should pay some real dividends, but it doesn’t. The new MDX pulls 0.84 g on the skidpad, versus the previous model’s 0.85, but that’s a paltry difference compared to the figure-eight result. That test measures acceleration, braking, handling, and the transitions between them, and the new MDX was way slower than before. With a 28.6-second lap at 0.60 average g, it can’t hold a candle to the old model’s 27.1-second lap at 0.65 average g.

Performance Isn’t Just About the Numbers, Is It?

Here at MT, we believe the way a vehicle feels to the driver matters as much or more than the numbers it generates on the test track, and the test driver’s notes do say the MDX felt sporty and even power oversteered off the corners. Maybe there’s something there, after all? Only if you drive it like you’re at a racetrack.

On the road, the overwhelming impression is one of adequacy. The 2022 MDX gets the job done, and that’s about it. There’s nothing about the way it drives on real-world roads, straight or curvy, that’s sporty or even memorable. It’s extremely competent, sure, but it has no soul. The steering is numb, and the way the body moves is controlled to the point of feeling robotic. It never gets into a groove. The torque-vectoring works, making the handling more precise, but not more exciting.

In fact, the wrong things make the drive exciting. Like the smaller RDX, the MDX features a brake pedal tuned for perfect limousine stops that don’t disturb your passengers in the slightest. An admirable goal, but in practice it makes the brake pedal feel like stepping on a wet sponge. Nothing happens until the pedal is halfway to the floor. Stopping from higher speeds the first few times means applying the brakes then stomping on them to get the stopping power you wanted the first time. Hardly elegant.

It’s a similar feeling under acceleration. As the testing shows, the MDX gets off the line, but it’s soggy in the middle. Acura’s 3.5-liter V-6 is old and feels overwhelmed by the weight of this vehicle. The new 10-speed automatic transmission does its best, but all the power and torque are at the top of the rev range, and worse, there’s a plateau in the torque delivery between 2,500 and 3,500 rpm. It’s a good thing the transmission can drop four gears at once when you put your foot down, because that’s the only way this thing really gets moving. Otherwise, you’re always giving it a lot more gas than you think you should to get the response you want. (Thankfully, an MDX Type S with a turbocharged 3.0-liter V-6 is on the way.)

But Is It Luxurious?

Being a “premium” brand rather than a traditional “luxury” brand cuts both ways. It allows Acura to sell its vehicles for significantly less money than the old-school luxury brands, but it means costs have to be saved somewhere. Acura mostly has the balance right, keeping the interior very quiet, offering a bangin’ sound system, and loading up on the latest tech.

There are misses, though, in the little details. Acura’s “Milano” leather looks and feels less rich than the leather in luxury competitors, and the textured plastic trim between the bits of real wood and metal looks like something from a Honda Civic. The center console layout is odd, with the wireless phone charger underneath a wrist rest that makes it awkward to get your phone in and out. Then there’s all the empty space around the protruding pushbutton shifter, and the maddening inelegance of going to all the trouble to house the USB charging ports in a pop-up module only to paste a giant battery logo on it and ruin the effect.

Should You Buy One, Then?

As much as the MDX is hit or miss on the tech, the luxury, and the driving experience, it’s really good at what it needs to be: a nicer mainstream SUV. Compare it to a Honda Pilot and you see a lot of style and tech advantages for not a lot of extra money. Compare it to an Audi Q7 and you understand why the true luxury brands are so much more expensive than the premium ones. The 2022 MDX gets the job done fine, but a forgettable driving experience, some frustrating tech, and uncomfortable rear seats mean “fine” is as good as it gets.

SPECIFICATIONS 2022 Acura MDX SH-AWD A-Spec BASE PRICE $58,125 PRICE AS TESTED $58,125 VEHICLE LAYOUT Front-engine, AWD, 7-pass, 4-door SUV ENGINE 3.5L/290-hp/267-lb-ft  SOHC 24-valve V-6 TRANSMISSION 10-speed automatic CURB WEIGHT (F/R DIST) 4,487 lb (58/42%) WHEELBASE 113.8 in LENGTH x WIDTH x HEIGHT 198.4 x 78.7 x 67.1 in 0-60 MPH 5.7 sec QUARTER MILE 14.4 sec @ 93.2 mph BRAKING, 60-0 MPH 118 ft LATERAL ACCELERATION 0.84 g (avg) MT FIGURE EIGHT 28.6 sec @ 0.60 g (avg) EPA CITY/HWY/COMB FUEL ECON 19/25/21 mpg ENERGY CONS, CITY/HWY 177/135 kWh/100 miles CO2 EMISSIONS, COMB 0.91 lb/mile

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2022 Hyundai Tucson First Drive Review: Style, Space, and Serenity

Tue, 04/20/2021 - 12:01am

The all-new 2022 Hyundai Tucson makes finding its central theme impossible: With its polarizing exterior styling, relaxing cabin, and unexpected driving character, this compact SUV embodies contrasts that somehow blend into a pleasantly cohesive whole. And the takeaway from that whole? If you work for Honda or Toyota, you might want to pay serious attention to the new Tucson.

It’s Less Shocking in Person

We’ll begin with the obvious: the 2022 Tucson’s exterior styling. With aerodynamic concerns turning most SUVs into look-alike blobs, designers at most automakers use sheetmetal surfacing to manipulate reflections into forming the vehicle’s “lines.” Hyundai has done the opposite with its compact SUV, using sharply creased panels to break its look into disharmonious planes. The styling is a bit jarring in studio-lit photos, but it’s much subtler in person, and we like it as a creative way to make the Tucson stand out from other SUVs.

The new grille is a sign of the times (did Hyundai have mask mandates in mind when approving the design?) and we love the way the integrated daytime running lights and turn signals go black when the Tucson is shut off. This seems to be a sign Hyundai is moving away from the recently introduced front-end look we were just getting used to on the Venue, Kona, Santa Fe, and Palisade. Finally, we cannot figure out why Hyundai felt the need to rip off the Ford Mustang Mach-E’s taillights.

The New Tucson’s Contrasting Cabin

If you’re expecting the exterior styling to bleed into the cabin, you’re in for a surprise. The Tucson’s interior has a completely different aesthetic, and it’s stellar. The dashboard forms a wide arc around the driver and front passenger, with the instruments and center stack floating on standalone panels. The arc carries into the back seat, interrupted (rather rudely, we might add) by the B-pillar. It’s a lovely design that doesn’t compromise ergonomics.

The displays are crisp and bright—bright enough, Hyundai points out, there’s no need to shade the instrument panel for daylight visibility. The movement of the computerized needles is Disney-smooth, and the gauges change with a rather nifty animation when a different drive mode is selected.

On the center stack, the 2022 Hyundai Tucson employs touch-sensitive panels in place of traditional hard buttons, and the “virtual” buttons are spaced out and marked well enough to be easy to find and press while on the move. Our biggest complaint is the lack of a proper volume knob for the stereo. No doubt Hyundai didn’t want to interrupt the waterfall flow of the center screen, but we would have preferred a more creative solution (like this one, which Hyundai should have ripped off from the Mustang Mach-E). There’s a reason the humble volume knob has endured throughout the hundred-year history of broadcast radio, and its omission is one of the Tucson’s few glaring faults. Honda learned this lesson the hard way last decade; let’s hope it doesn’t take Hyundai as long to solve this problem.

Go Ahead, Spread Out Inside

Speaking of Honda, nearly everything about the Tucson aft of the front seats reminds us of the Honda CR-V, and we mean that as the highest compliment possible. Lack of rear-seat legroom was one of the complaints consumers had about the outgoing Tucson, so Hyundai developed short- and long-wheelbase versions; the latter is the only version for the U.S. The result is a 3.1-inch stretch in legroom over the outgoing Tucson and 0.9 inch more than the benchmark CR-V. It’s a great back seat, with supportive cushions set nice and high to give a great view out the front windshield, something those prone to carsickness will appreciate.

One of the things we admire most about the CR-V is the concert-hall-sized luggage bay, and the Tucson offers a similar yawning chasm for cargo, trailing the Honda by a mere half a cubic foot, at 38.7 or 38.8 cubes depending on the model. The hands-free tailgate can be opened merely by standing behind the Tucson with the key fob on your person; no awkward kicking under the bumper. Hyundai has even adopted cargo-bay seat-back releases, too, as seen in the Honda, which allows you to drop the rear seat backs while standing at the back bumper. Very nice.

Small Engine Acting Big

Let’s talk about how the 2022 Hyundai Tucson drives. The Tucson will launch with conventional and hybrid powertrains, with a plug-in hybrid coming in a few months. We spent most of our time with the hybrid, which sandwiches an electric motor between a 1.6-liter turbocharged four-cylinder engine and a six-speed automatic transmission. The engine itself delivers 180 hp and 195 lb-ft, and combined output with the electric motor is 226 hp and 265 lb-ft of torque. All Tucson hybrids come standard with Hyundai’s HTRAC all-wheel-drive system.

This style of hybrid delivers a more conventional feel than the Honda or Toyota systems. The engine revs and shifts like a conventional powertrain, as opposed to the Honda CR-V Hybrid’s engine, which is either silent or screaming. The electric motor gives a strong and smooth boost to low-end torque, and if you didn’t know better, you might think you were driving an SUV with a six-cylinder engine. The Tucson Hybrid moves away from a stop with authority, and there’s plenty of git-up for passing on a two-lane road.

One thing confused us: The pushbutton transmission has no “B” mode to crank up the regenerative braking, which recharges the battery as the vehicle decelerates. Using the steering-wheel-mounted paddles downshifts the transmission but doesn’t turn up the regen. The only way to take advantage of regenerative braking on a long downgrade is to ride the brake pedal—but Hyundai’s integration of regenerative and friction braking is so seamless (something some automakers can’t seem to get right)  it’s impossible to tell if you’re merely charging the battery or if you’re well on your way to boiling your brake fluid. Considering how much thought Hyundai put into the smart regenerative brake controls on the battery-powered Kona Electric, it’s curious that this important feature has been all but ignored in the Tucson Hybrid.

EPA fuel-economy numbers for the Tucson Hybrid are just shy of the Honda CR-V Hybrid’s at 38 mpg combined for the Blue model, 37 for the SEL and Limited—and we’ll need more seat time to see if the Tucson can deliver the same stellar real-world economy as the Honda. Still, the top trims of the Tucson Hybrid (SEL Convenience and Limited) only cost around $1,200 more than their conventionally powered all-wheel-drive counterparts, which makes them an exceptionally good buy. We’d take the hybrid option just for its better power delivery.

Big Engine Acting Small

Not that there’s anything wrong with the Tucson’s conventional engine, a stout, 2.5-liter four-cylinder that delivers 187 horsepower and 178 lb-ft to an eight-speed automatic transmission, with a choice of front- or all-wheel-drive. No turbochargers here: Like Toyota did with the RAV4, Hyundai has come to the conclusion that there’s no replacement for displacement. We drove the 2.5-liter Tucson after the Hybrid, and while the electrified Tucson is a tough act to follow, we liked the 2.5’s strong acceleration, even if it wasn’t quite as smooth as the hybrid’s, as well as its restrained volume levels. Fuel-economy estimates are modest (24/29 mpg city/highway with all-wheel drive), but in our experience, big naturally aspirated engines do a better job with real-world fuel economy than small turbo engines like the one used in the Honda CR-V.

The ride in both versions was firmer than we expect from a family SUV. A stiff suspension should hold the promise of better handling, and while curvy roads are hard to find in Tucson, Arizona—the obvious place for a media test drive, right?—on the few curves we did find, the vehicular Tucson exhibited good grip and minimal roll, though not much excitement. Similarly, the steering didn’t offer much feedback and felt artificially heavy when turning the wheel, although the smooth pavement didn’t give the Tucson much opportunity to show its stuff. We’ll have to test a Tucson at our Los Angeles or Detroit offices to cast a verdict on whether the handling shows enough of an improvement to justify the stiffer ride, but our first impression is that we’d give up a little grip for a little more compliance.

Hands on the Wheel!

Our high-trim Tucsons featured Hyundai’s latest driver assist technologies, and the adaptive cruise control and lane keeping assistance systems worked well. With the latter engaged, we took our hands off the wheel to see how long it took before the Tucson warned us (don’t try this at home, kids!), and much to our surprise, it never did—not sure how that one got past Hyundai’s product liability team. Our test car also had the remote-moving feature of the Sonata: Press and hold a button on the key fob, and the driverless Tucson will crawl slowly forward or backward, supposedly to squeeze into that last, too-narrow parking spot. Unfortunately, there’s no feature to stop the poor sap next to whom the Tucson is parked from dinging the daylights out of your doors.

There’s more coming from the Tucson lineup, including a plug-in hybrid variant offering 261 hp and 32 miles of electric-only range, plus a sporty-themed N Line version. (In addition, the new Tucson provides the basis for Hyundai’s new Santa Cruz small pickup truck.) What we’ve seen so far of Hyundai’s new compact SUV has impressed us: We like the 2022 Hyundai Tucson’s exterior styling and love the interior styling. Passenger and luggage space are stellar—unless they are avid refrigerator collectors, a family of four really doesn’t need an SUV much bigger than this. The 2.5-liter engine is good, and the hybrid powertrain is great. Pricing is reasonable, starting at $26,135 for the front-wheel-drive SE and topping out at $38,535 for the hybrid-powered Limited AWD model. We think the 2022 Hyundai Tucson would be better with a volume knob, a B-for-braking mode on the hybrid, and possibly a slightly softer ride, but the new Tucson so far seems like a magnificent alternative to the class-leading Toyota RAV4 and Honda CR-V.

2022 Hyundai Tucson Limited AWD Specifications PRICE $37,285 LAYOUT Front-engine, AWD, 5-pass, 4-door SUV ENGINE 2.5L/187-hp/178-lb-ft DOHC 16-valve I-4 TRANSMISSION 8-speed auto CURB WEIGHT 3,651 lb (mfr) WHEELBASE 108.5 in L x W x H 182.3 x 73.4 x 65.6 in 0–60 MPH N/A EPA FUEL ECON 24/29/26 mpg ENERGY CONSUMPTION, CITY/HWY 140/116 kWh/100 miles CO2 EMISSIONS, COMB 0.75 lb/mile ON SALE Now

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Honda SUV e:Prototype First Look: The Electric HR-V Cometh

Mon, 04/19/2021 - 5:45pm

Honda is making some moves to bring more electric vehicles around the world. Using its stage at the Shanghai Auto Show, Honda announced its plans to introduce 10 electric vehicles for China in the next five years, and the Honda SUV e:Prototype is a preview of its first electric SUV to be sold in that country.

The e:Prototype (which looks like an electric version of the new, not-for-America HR-V), brings an electric look to Honda’s latest design language. The concept boasts both elegant lines and a futuristic look. We expect its production version to look pretty similar to the concept, though things like the super-slim side mirrors and inner-headlight design will most likely not make it to showrooms. It’s unclear whether this SUV, or any of the 10 EVs slated for China, will be sold in America.

As we’ve reported in the past, we Yanks will be getting our own version of the next-gen Honda HR-V, and although no date has been announced yet, we hope to see it within the next 12 months (at least in concept form). We don’t know whether the North American HR-V will have an electric powertrain, or if Honda will introduce separate nameplates for its upcoming electric vehicles.

Last year, Honda and General Motors announced a new joint project to develop two new electric vehicles for Honda, both of which will be based on GM’s new global EV platform. These vehicles are slated to go on sale for the 2024 model year, and although we don’t know the names or body styles of these models, we’re sure at least one will be a small SUV that will compete against the growing list of compact and subcompact electric crossovers slated to arrive in America in the next few months. The two vehicles under the GM-Honda partnership will be built by GM and will use GM’s Ultium battery technology, which should provide a driving range of 400 miles or more. Fast-charging capability, meanwhile, ought to afford owners to add more than 100 miles of range after just 10 minutes of charging, according to GM.

Honda didn’t give any details on the driving range, battery size, or charging capacity on the e:Prototype, but given its launch date, and the fact it seems to be built specifically for the Chinese market, we doubt it previews the vehicle Honda plans to build with GM.

Honda also revealed the Breeze PHEV in Shanghai, a plug-in hybrid SUV that’s scheduled to launch in China in the second half of this year. Like it did with the e:Prototype, Honda did not disclose any details such as driving range or fuel economy for the Breeze PHEV.

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2023 Mercedes-Benz EQB First Look: The GLB Goes EV

Mon, 04/19/2021 - 4:45pm

Mercedes-Benz’s EQ line of electric vehicles continues its rapid expansion with the new EQB small SUV, which the company pulled the wraps off of at the Shanghai Auto Show. While the EQB revealed in Shanghai is built in China for the Chinese market, a global variant of the electric SUV will also be produced at Benz’s plant in Kecskemét, Hungary.

While Mercedes is mum on details related to the global-spec EQB, the company plans to ship the electric SUV to the United States in 2022 as a 2023 model year vehicle. The U.S.-spec Mercedes EQB ought to share much of its styling with the Chinese-market model, which wears distinct front and rear fascias relative to the GLB-Class SUV upon which it shares much of its underpinnings, body panels, and interior pieces.

That EQ Look

Like other EQ models, including the recently revealed Mercedes EQS, the EQB’s mug features a big faux grille with a milk-mustache-like light strip that merges with the accent lighting elements of the triangular-shaped LED headlamps. Additionally, Mercedes further differentiates the EQB from its GLB kin by way of model-specific wheels and a distinct rear end treatment with a new fascia and full-width lighting that extends through the rear hatch.

Although we applaud Mercedes for making the EQB look noticeably different from the GLB, we are not entirely sure it looks any better than its gas-powered counterpart. Blame a contrast between the front-end design, which looks like it was crafted in a wind tunnel, with the otherwise boxy proportions.

Fewer changes are made to the EQB’s insides, which look almost identical to those of the GLB. That’s not necessarily a bad thing, though, as the GLB’s cabin is a fine enough space to while away miles—provided you’re not stuck in the SUV’s optionally available and cramped third-row seats. That third row will remain an option in the EQB (and come standard in the China-market model).

The EQBeating Heart

Mercedes is launching the EQB in China with all the fixings, including the racy-looking AMG Line kit. With 288 hp, presumably from two electric motors (one at each axle), the initial batch of Chinese-built EQBs promise to offer formidable grunt off the line. 

European-spec EQBs, meanwhile, are due to offer front- and all-wheel-drive powertrain options, the most powerful of which packs more than 268 hp, per Mercedes. A 67-kWh battery pack is responsible for supplying electricity to the EQB’s powertrain. Mercedes is keeping quiet on driving range details, however, it does acknowledge a long-range variant of the EQB—likely with an even larger battery pack—is due to arrive later. We wager much of the European-spec EQB’s powertrain options will apply to the U.S. market model, too.

Look for more details related to the powertrain, driving range, and price of the 2023 Mercedes EQB to come online closer to the model’s 2022 U.S. launch.

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2022 Ford Evos First Look: Return of the SUS

Mon, 04/19/2021 - 4:01pm

Cast your mind back to the 2011 Frankfurt Motor Show. There, Ford took the wraps off the gorgeous Evos Concept—a sedan with gullwing doors and styling well beyond Ford’s contemporary production cars. The whole point of the original Evos was to showcase—and evolve—Ford’s styling at the time. The new Evos is here to do something similar for Ford in China, and this time it isn’t just a concept.

The new Evos is actually a fully production-ready car headed for the Chinese market. It’s also the first Ford that was largely developed by Changan Ford, a joint venture between Chinese automaker Changan Automobile and the Blue Oval. The styling is fresh and thoroughly modern. An SUV with the proportions of a lifted hatchback, the Evos reminds us of the Acura ZDX (at least, in terms of ethos) with a bit of the attitude of the Subaru Outback SUS of yore. But putting old Acuras and Subarus to one side, the new Evos does help usher in a new era for Ford in China.

In order to complement the Evos’ thoroughly modern exterior looks, the inside is laden with tech—and huge screens. The upper half of the dashboard is covered by an enormous panel that nearly spans the full width of the interior and contains two displays. The first is a 12.3-inch digital instrument cluster and the second is a 27.0-inch 4K infotainment display that runs on Ford Sync+ 2.0.

Just like the Mustang Mach-E, the new Evos is underpinned by Ford’s new fully networked vehicle E/E architecture—which supports over-the-air updates—and will feature BlueCruise, Ford’s new SAE Level 2 driver-assist technology. Other neat features include a new “co-pilot” mode which allows the front passenger to take over their half of the huge display and relay pertinent information to the driver.

The new Evos will go on sale alongside a Chinese-market-specific Mach-E and a new PHEV version of the Escape. The Evos will be powered by a turbocharged 2.0-liter I-4 that a Ford spokesperson said is “like the [one in the] Bronco Sport.” There is no word on specific outputs for the Evos’ engine, but the 2.0-liter in the Bronco Sport makes 245 hp and 275 lb-ft of torque, and it’s safe to assume the Evos’s numbers will be similar. There are no details on other optional powertrains that may be available in the future at this time.

Sadly, despite the sleek looks, stout powertrain, and SUV-like body style (three things American buyers adore), Ford has no plans to sell the Evos outside of China—at least for now.

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Report: Ferrari to Unveil First All-Electric Vehicle in 2025

Mon, 04/19/2021 - 3:15pm

Like it or not, electrification is coming for everyone—that includes big guns like Porsche, Lamborghini, and even Ferrari. Yes, the automaker responsible for some of the most sonorous, soulful internal-combustion engines will soon make the switch from exploding up dino juice to flowing electrons in at least one of its upcoming vehicles.

Unlike Bentley and a number of other automakers, Ferrari hasn’t put a hard stop date for their ICE engines, although the company is already dabbling in electrification with its PHEV hypercar, the SF90. According to a new report from EVO Magazine, it seems that Ferrari’s first EV will arrive by 2025, and it isn’t going to be an amorphous blob designed to get 500 miles on a single charge.

Ferrari makes supercars, and their first EV will likely be a hypercar to compete with the likes of the Lotus Evija and the Rimac Concept 2. Long, low, wide, and fast as you-know-what—that’s the Ferrari way. All you have to do is forget about the screamin’ V-12 or twin-turbo V-8 that would otherwise be under the hood.

As Ferrari delves deeper into the world of EVs, more all-electric models may emerge. Perhaps an electric FF/GTC4 Lusso successor is in the cards. After all, the quiet serenity of EVs is a good match for grand touring, provided the range is sufficient. In the meantime, though, the V-12 will be sticking around.

The track-focused version of the 812 Superfast is due in the coming months, as is the new Purosangue SUV. According to the EVO report, the Purosangue will also use a version of Ferrari’s V-12. We think that will be the range-topping model, and there will be a version with a powertrain similar to that of the SF90 hybrid supercar.

We just know that, whatever the future holds for Ferrari, the end result will be a fantastic addition to the Scuderia.

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This Original-Owner ’63 Corvette Stingray Has 584,000 Miles … and Counting

Mon, 04/19/2021 - 2:15pm

When Chevrolet released the C2 Corvette for the first time in 1962, it made waves in the automotive world, and people actually started to get excited about the Corvette for the first time. But none showed the same level of excitement as Steve Stone of Cedar Rapids, Iowa.

Steve was so elated to have a new C2 Corvette as an 18-year-old that he just about drove the wheels off it, clocking 33,575 miles in just the first year. The 24,000-mile warranty he got with the 1963 Corvette was used up in just eight months. The next year, it was more of the same, with Steve driving the Stingray another 30,000 miles. But then the Vietnam War broke out.

As Steve remembers vividly, “I was drafted into the U.S. Army in May 1965. I, like most of our generation, put our rides up for sale since most of us were being sent to ’Nam. I was very, very fortunate not to be sent there, and my ’Vette did not sell, so I kept it.”

Over the next five decades Steve worked two jobs, raised four sons, went through a divorce, and now has been married to his current wife for 32 years. Over that span, he never sold the Corvette and never stopped driving it. “My ’Vette is the only one I have ever owned, and it is the only one that I ever wanted. Current mileage is 584,000 miles.”

Related: 840,000-Mile Fastback 1965 Mustang GT K-Code Owned Since 1967!

In the summer of 2007, Steve and his wife drove the 1963 Corvette 6,000 miles on a road trip to the West Coast with a 7,100-mile trip up to Labrador, Canada, the following year. Then, a few years later, “We turned the half-million-mile mark on October 1, 2012,” Steve recalled. Continuing, he told us, “We have done many other things with it: parades, drag racing, autocross, Corvette concourse shows, Bloomington Gold (twice), Corvettes at Carlisle, and eight laps on the Indy 500 track.”

He then proceeded to list off a dozen different states in which the C2 Corvette has been shown—everywhere from Utah to Washington to Wisconsin and even Saskatchewan, Canada.

“Our number one priority is reliability, and number two is looks,” said Steve, wisely adding, “You can’t drive looks.”

Steve Stone’s 1963 Corvette Stingray Convertible Factory Options:
  • 340-hp small-block Chevy L76 engine
  • Four-speed manual transmission
  • Positraction with 4.11 gears
  • Triple black
  • Convertible with hard top
  • AM radio
  • Whitewall tires
  • No power steering or power brakes

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Lincoln Zephyr Reflection Concept First Look: One Beautiful Sedan

Mon, 04/19/2021 - 1:10pm

There’s no denying that Lincoln is in a better place than it’s been in years. The Navigator and Aviator have taken the American luxury brand in a bold, distinctive direction. There’s no reason the Lincoln Continental couldn’t have distilled this down into a similar experience, but as you’re probably aware, the Continental never managed to get the formula exactly right. But lest you think that Lincoln simply didn’t have it in itself to craft that sort of swaggering, desirable sedan that could stand out in a way the Continental couldn’t, the Lincoln Zephyr Reflection “preview car” is here to set the record straight in Shanghai.

If you think “preview car” sounds like PR doublespeak for a concept car that … ahem … previews a forthcoming production model, then you’re not wrong. Indeed, Lincoln claims the production variant of this concept is ready to go and is due to hit dealerships in China next year. Look for the saleable model to sport larger side mirrors and perhaps a less intricate grille arrangement relative to this concept.

That said, the Zephyr Reflection is not a China-market analog to our recently departed Continental. In fact, it is much smaller than that car. If it’s hard to tell this, then that’s because there are a lot of stylistic flourishes that effectively add length, elegance, and athleticism to the Zephyr Reflection’s design. Check out the strong lower door crease and side skirt arrangement. These features reduce the visual height of the doors, giving the effect of a longer wheelbase and a hunkered-down stance, while also adding some visual contrast and complexity. The Audi A7-esque tail lip, the sharply swooping body line just below the windows, the kink at the C-pillar? All of these work together to build a car with some real distinct Lincoln character—and without losing coherence.

Up front, Lincoln’s contemporary “hexagonal bean” grille is present. Here, it’s encrusted with inset Lincoln shields. It also features some fascinating curvature and is bisected by a bold accent bar. The headlights and inlets at the lower corners of the car’s fascia don’t necessarily scream Lincoln or resemble other products, but that’s not the Zephyr Reflection’s fault so much as it’s the result of a brand employing a design language that’s still in the infancy. There are other suitably bold and aggressive details, too, such as the horizontal rear light fixture (with a compelling turn-down at the corners) and the crisp, modern (and thus screen-intensive) interior. 

While Lincoln calls the Zephyr’s design language “Quiet Flight,” it’s certainly louder than “Quiet Luxury.” And so too is the strategy behind it. Lincoln is working to design unique cars for the Chinese market (ahem, the Zephyr Reflection), and also produce these models locally to avoid punishing tariffs. The Chinese-produced Lincoln Corsair PHEV debuted alongside the Zephyr Reflection, and it won’t be the last—part of what we assume is still the plan to produce as many as five vehicles in China.

The production Zephyr Reflection will almost certainly never make it to our shores, but perhaps some of its Quiet Flight DNA will help the next generation of Lincoln SUVs and crossovers stand out.

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Genesis Electrified G80 First Look: Genny Goes Electric

Mon, 04/19/2021 - 11:45am

Genesis makes its electric vehicle plans official with the appearance of the Electrified G80 at the Shanghai Auto Show. We expect the EV model to show up on our shores within the next year or two, as well, given the brand claims the Electrified G80 is a global vehicle.

The parent company of Genesis, Hyundai Motor Company, has big EV plans for each of its brands (Hyundai, Kia, and Genesis). Hyundai is grouping its offerings into the Ioniq sub-brand, starting with the Ioniq 5, while Kia recently unveiled the EV6.

Genesis, meanwhile, previously dabbled in the EV space by way of its concept cars, the latest of which is X Concept, an electric two-door grand touring car. The Electrified G80, however, marks the luxury brand’s first production EV model. The battery-powered luxury sedan looks almost exactly as one might expect: like a conventional G80 with a charging port hidden behind a panel located within the brand’s signature grille design that has been tweaked a little.

The Electrified G80 comes standard with all-wheel drive and promises a range of more than 310 miles on a full charge of its battery pack. Admittedly, that sum is likely calculated on a more liberal testing cycle and not the EPA’s more conservative one. We will not be surprised if the Electrified G80’s EPA-rated range falls below 300 miles. According to Genesis, the Electrified G80 can reach 80 percent charge capacity in 22 minutes and accelerate to 60 mph in 4.9 seconds. That’s 0.3 second quicker than what we achieved from an all-wheel-drive 375-hp Genesis G80 3.5T.

Things look much the same inside the Electrified G80 relative to its gas counterpart. That said, Genesis notes the car’s insides use more recycled materials, and we’re sure the digital gauges are specific to the EV model. A solar panel in the roof can generate electricity using sunlight.

Although we await official word from Genesis of the Electrified G80’s U.S. prospects, we wager the model will sport a sticker price a little above that of the AWD-equipped G80 3.5T, which starts at $63,295. This ought to make it noticeably cheaper than something like the Tesla Model S, which currently costs a minimum of $81,190 to get into.

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Audi to Sell New A6 EV Hotness Alongside Old, Different A6 Gas Model

Mon, 04/19/2021 - 11:00am

The electrification of the auto industry presents a conundrum for automakers transitioning legacy models from gas- and diesel-powered internal combustion engines to electric motors: what if the industry is ready before the customer is? In the case of the Audi A6, the brand says it’s planning on selling two versions: one gas and one electric, the latter of which is set to arrive for 2024 and bear the name A6 E-Tron.

Why Two Audi A6s?

Audi thinks some customers may not be ready (or able) to make the leap from gas to electric powertrains by the time the A6 E-Tron hits dealers. Audi cites today’s charging infrastructure as the main reason for this. While growing rapidly, today’s EV charging infrastructure still leaves much to be desired in some parts of the United States (and elsewhere on the globe).

The gas A6 will look a lot like today’s model. Although it’s likely to be updated by 2024, the current A6 is a fairly young car by Audi standard. It dates back to 2018 and was freshened just last year. Riding on Audi’s modern MLB Evo platform, the gas-powered A6 will likely continue to be available as a sedan and as a wagon (in the forms of the A6 Allroad and RS6 Avant). It’s probably a safe assumption that the current lineup of turbocharged I-4s and V-6s, as well as standard all-wheel drive, remains, though the future of the V-8-powered RS6 Avant is probably murky at best.

The electric version of the Audi A6 will look much like the loosely disguised A6 E-Tron Concept that was just revealed at the Shanghai Auto Show. The production A6 E-Tron will ride on the brand’s new Premium Platform Electric (PPE) architecture, and it’ll be available in both single-motor rear-drive or dual-motor all-wheel-drive forms. The all-wheel-drive A6 E-Tron Concept makes 469 hp and 590 lb-ft of torque and packs an estimated driving range of more than 300 miles. Charge speeds ought to be fast, too, with the A6 E-Tron initially supporting up to 270-kW DC fast charge speeds—20 kW more than Tesla’s V3 Superchargers.

Audi Q6 E-Tron Electric SUV Coming

Unlike Porsche’s J1 EV platform, which only underpins the Porsche Taycan and Audi E-Tron GT, the new PPE platform isn’t just slated for just the A6 E-Tron. Co-developed with Porsche, PPE will end up underpinning every electric Audi, Bentley, and Porsche for the foreseeable future. While the A6 E-Tron Concept was the first to debut with the new platform, it’ll be beaten to market by the new 2023 Audi Q6 E-Tron electric SUV.

Details are still sparse on the Q6 E-Tron. Nevertheless, based on what Audi designers have done with the smaller Q4 E-Tron, the gas-powered Q5 Sportback, and the A6 E-Tron Concept, it seems likely that this sporty-looking SUV will have an aggressive (and aerodynamic) fastback roofline. Powertrains will likely mirror those of the A6 E-Tron, with both single- and dual-motor options available. Expect a driving range north of 250 miles from the Q6 E-Tron (and that’s being a bit conservative).

The Audi Q6 E-Tron will be revealed in 2022 and is due to hit dealers by 2023.

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Another 2022 VW Taos Prototype Drive: This Time With Multiple Suspension Tunes

Mon, 04/19/2021 - 9:00am

This isn’t our first time behind the wheel of a not-quite-ready-for-prime-time version of the 2022 Volkswagen Taos: Last fall, we sampled the new 1.5-liter turbo engine, and this time we were invited to drive more prototypes with suspension tuning that both was and wasn’t close to final. Frankly, at this point we just want to drive the damn production version, but VW seems determined to draw out the introduction like some sort of romantic interlude, minus the candles and prosecco.

We’ll play along, though this time we’ll skip the long setup on the small SUV’s market position, tweener status, and baby-Atlas styling because we covered those in our First Look. This time ’round, we were invited to Volkswagen’s hot-weather proving grounds in Maricopa, Arizona, where two front-wheel-drive and two all-wheel-drive examples of the wee SUV awaited.

This exercise was of questionable usefulness. We started out on one of Volkswagen’s handling courses—the fuel-handling course, which is a narrow, twisty track with tight, off-camber turns designed to make fuel slosh in the wrong direction. It also featured a few sine-wave bumps, which we were advised to take below 40 mph lest our Taoses catch some sick air. Good fun, to be sure, but about as close to real-world driving as Volkswagen putting us behind the wheel and dropping the cars out of an airplane.

But that’s okay because the prototypes we drove weren’t quite real-world, either. The two front-drivers differed slightly but were close to production tune, we were told, while the all-wheel-drive prototypes were very different, both from each other and the final product. One was stiffer and more aggressive, the other was notably softer, and we were told the final AWD tuning would be somewhere between the two.

The sharp curves of the fuel-handling course put the FWD Taoses into a constant state of tire-squealing understeer, and the reverse banking of the turns exaggerated the sensation of roll to the point that we were in no position to properly judge body control. We’d hoped for a few midcorner bumps to potentially highlight the differences between the front-driver’s torsion-beam rear axle and the all-wheel-driver’s multilink setup, but the pavement was baby-butt smooth except for the sine waves, which were like the world’s smallest and least thrilling roller coaster.

The softer of the two all-wheel-drivers felt remarkably similar to the front-drive cars, though it exhibited better grip that let us carry a bit more speed through turns. Its steering was also slightly less precise. The stiffer-riding of the two Taos AWD prototypes was tidier in its motions and handling, and quieter, too. Despite seemingly a little less steering feedback, it was the one we preferred. Even though it’ll never make production. We can also reliably report that regardless of the number of driven axles or suspension tuning, the engines never starved for fuel.

Next up was a slalom and a high-speed lane change exercise, where we noted many of the same behaviors as on the fuel-handling course. After that we headed to VW’s bumpy road course, an abusive stretch of tarmac that makes Detroit feel like its streets are paved with slabs of marble. The bumps pummeled our backsides, but we noticed the stiffer all-wheel-drive version didn’t beat us up much worse than did the other three. This, in turn, made us wonder why Volkswagen couldn’t just make all of the Taoses drive like the one we liked best, because there didn’t seem to be much of a trade-off in ride quality.

Although we were a bit frustrated at not getting a better idea of how the actual 2022 Volkswagen Taos you will be able to buy later this year rides and handles, we did come away with a few useful observations, few of which relate to the suspension.

First, we’re really looking forward to seeing the 1.5-liter turbo-four in production. This 158-hp, 184-lb-ft mighty mite will eventually replace the 1.4T, with the goal of increasing power and fuel efficiency and reducing complaints from owners (particularly American ones) about hesitation on initial acceleration. Power from this little gem is very impressive, though some might still take issue with the hesitation from the dual-clutch transmission fitted to the all-wheel-drive version.

We like the interior, which is similar to the straightforward setup found in the Jetta, albeit with a bit more personality. We know from our time with the ID4 electric SUV that VW interiors are about to undergo big changes, and for the better, but we’re going to miss these old super-sensible cabins. And we like the size and packaging of the Taos, which delivers the maneuverability of a smaller SUV with more useful space, particularly in the cargo area.

We think there’s a lot to the 2022 Volkswagen Taos that we’re going to like—and if VW would just let us drive the final version already, maybe we could figure that out once and for all.

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