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Review: New Ford Explorer Goes Telluride and Highlander Hunting

Tue, 06/18/2019 - 11:00

After selling more than 7.7 million to date, one of the most iconic three-row family SUVs of all time has been reinvented yet again. The 2020 Ford Explorer gets a major overhaul, as the latest in a line of SUVs that stretches back three decades.

The 2020 Explorer is now on a new platform, and surprisingly, it’s a rear-drive architecture with all-wheel-drive capability available on all trims. And the Explorer family has exploded into new realms. In addition to the regular trim levels, the 2020 lineup includes the first Explorer hybrid and adds an ST performance variant.

Needless to say, we were extremely intrigued when we headed to Portland, Oregon, for our first drive.

There are still 3.6 million Explorers on the road, and the ones arriving in dealerships this month are arguably Ford’s best effort to date.

The look is sleeker with a different grille for each trim level, starting with black mesh and adding more chrome with each upgrade and then blacked out for the ST. It has a wider stance and a sloping roofline for a racier side profile. A huge single body side panel extends to the middle of the C-pillar, which is split down the middle, and the rear quarter panel cuts into the metal. Passive entry on all four door handles add to a sleeker look, and the face is brightened by standard full LED headlights. Overall, the look is not as boxy, but it does pale in comparison to its luxury counterpart, the Lincoln Aviator, or the new Kia Telluride in terms of wow factor.

Benefits of the short overhang were abundantly clear on an off-road course on a hill with an 18-degree grade. The outgoing Explorer’s nose would have received a snootful of dirt at the bottom.

Base engine is a four-banger

The base engine is Ford’s 2.3-liter turbo I-4 that generates 300 hp and 310 lb-ft of torque. That proved to be enough power to pass, and the 10-speed automatic transmission easily found the right gear for each task. It was adequate and uneventful in its performance.

The top-end Platinum gets a 3.0-liter twin-turbocharged V-6 that produces 365 hp and 380 lb-ft of torque. That engine is tweaked for the Explorer ST to coax 400 hp and 415 lb-ft of torque. Driving impressions of the ST will be coming June 20, so check back with us later this week.

Although the new Explorer has roughly the same dimensions as the 2019 model, it has lost 200 pounds, and being rear-drive, there was a higher expectation of agility. It feels like a race car compared with the old model, an engineer said. We wouldn’t go that far, but the rear-drive platform and lightening do liven up the drive.

We started with a rear-drive Limited, which has a base price of $49,225. This particular one, however, was optioned to $52,820 with 20-inch wheels and a tow package. The cabin was quiet enough and the suspension adequately supple. Although there’s little body roll, the Explorer is a big vehicle and felt that way. It was not sluggish, but it was no track imp, either.

The hybrid that could

The capability of the Limited Hybrid was impressive. With a 318-hp, 336-lb-ft 3.3-liter V-6 mated to a 10-speed modular hybrid transmission, this is the first hybrid for Explorer—and the first hybrid the Ford brand has offered in six years.

The electric motor is packaged between the engine and the transmission’s torque converter and can drive about 3 miles in electric-only mode. The liquid-cooled 1.5-kW-hr battery pack is under the floor between the front seat and second-row footwell on the passenger side, so there is no encroachment on cabin space.

The hybrid claims a range of 500 miles. We only averaged 22.4–22.5 mpg. Other colleagues reported as little as 18 mpg or as much as 32. It speaks to different driving styles and that the vehicles were used in a variety of ways, including off-roading and towing. EPA certification is expected any day; we’ll see how it competes with the Toyota Highlander hybrid, which gets 29/27 mpg city/highway but is only rated to tow 3,500 pounds.

Surprisingly, the engine does not run on the Atkinson cycle. Engineers tell us the twin independent cam timing is already close to the Atkinson cycle, that it would not work well with the 10-speed, and that the small improvement in efficiency would come at the expense of performance. Ford did not want to sacrifice horsepower or torque on the Explorer. It’s an even bigger issue for police vehicles, which would have lost horsepower, torque, and pursuit performance. The Explorer and Aviator are the firsts to use this new powertrain architecture, which includes the engine, disconnect clutch, e-motor, torque converter, and transmission. The F-150 hybrid will use a version of this architecture next year.

At times the pedal felt a little heavy and the ride a bit jerky, but the brakes were smoother than many hybrids. And it has some serious capability. It’s rated to tow 5,000 pounds and was not even breathless during a stint with a 3,500-pound trailer behind us. It’s not much of a compromise, as the regular Explorer with the I-4 and a towing package brings towing capacity to 5,300 pounds and the V-6 tows 5,600 pounds.

Equally impressive was the hybrid’s off-road prowess, where it was as capable as its regular counterpart. With optional AWD and a tight turning radius, it tackled a challenging course in Trail mode. With hill descent control activated, it led the SUV down a steep decline with controlled speed. The vehicle also held firm on a bank with a 25-degree incline and forded a water hazard 12 inches deep with a rocky and unstable river bottom. Washers keep the cameras on the front and rear clean.

More room inside

While the Explorer stayed roughly the same size, the wheelbase grew 6.3 inches, which makes the cabin more spacious—a big improvement over the outgoing model, which felt cramped despite being such a large SUV. Designers rectified the complaints with thinner doors and a redesigned center console so the driver is better positioned and less cramped even though the vehicle did not get any wider. Space is also freed up by switching to a rotary-dial gearshift dial, which took some getting used to.

The 12.3-inch customizable digital cluster on the top trims has graphics that change to reflect which mode you’re in. The standard screen is 6.5 inches.

An 8.0-inch touchscreen replaces the old 4.0-incher; the upgrade is a 10.1-inch capacitive screen that is upright like a tablet. Designers chose a portrait layout because it mimics the way people use their phones and it’s easier to stack CarPlay and other information. The screen is well integrated into the dash, and designers used the extra inches below the smaller screen to create a shelf for phones. A number of USB ports and wireless charging are placed cleverly against the outside wall of the center storage bin.

The Sync 3 system was slow to load on the preproduction vehicles, but Ford is already sending an over-the-air software update. Hopefully the fix also addresses the nav system, which would shout out instructions late enough to induce frequent last-minute tire squealing or overshooting the mark and turning around during our evaluation drive.

The heated and cooled eight-way adjustable seat is comfortable. All but the base model has standard bucket seats in the second row instead of a bench. Second-row passengers can place their iPads in the ridges in the center storage area. Second-row cupholders are square to accommodate juice boxes.

Getting in and out

The Explorer sits high, so those with short legs can be challenged getting in and out. Passengers get a grab handle. To ease entry into the second and third rows, the scuff plate was widened for a sturdier step. And the second row folds and slides forward with the single push of a button. The Limited trim and those above it have buttons in the cargo area to fold the power third-row seats flat.

A nice touch is a lip to keep items from rolling out the back, and the carpeted cargo cover is reversible; the underside is a rubber mat. The cover can also be slotted at different heights to create assorted-sized storage areas. There is a standard power liftgate, a handy little triangle in the bumper so you know where to put your hand to activate it, and a skidplate to prevent scratching the rear bumper when loading and unloading.

Co-Pilot360 is standard, offering an array of driver assistance safety features such as pre-collision alert with automatic emergency braking, blind-spot monitoring, and lane keep systems and a rear camera.

All flavors of Explorer continue to be built in Chicago and are shipping to dealers now, with the exception of the hybrid, which awaits EPA certification. The base model starts at $33,860, XLT starts at $37,770, Limited is $49,225, Platinum is $59,345, and the ST starts at $55,835.

Overall, the 2020 Explorer has more style, capability, and breadth than its predecessor. Whether it vaults to the top of the segment is the subject of future comparisons, but this latest model packs enough goods to retain its status as an American sweetheart.

The post Review: New Ford Explorer Goes Telluride and Highlander Hunting appeared first on MotorTrend.

Categories: Property

2020 Cadillac CT4: Why I’d Buy It – Frank Markus

Tue, 06/18/2019 - 09:00

“What car should I buy?” It’s a question consumers ask themselves every day, but what would technical director Frank Markus drive? Keep reading for the answer, and see other editors’ picks here.

What? I gotta buy a new car now? I just “bought” an SUV (2019 Chevrolet Blazer AWD Premier), and my two-car household rule is to keep each vehicle for eight years, buying a new one every four so there’s only ever one payment. But fine, we’ll pretend my better half’s Smart ForTwo suffers a breakdown I can’t fix, forcing us to junk it now that our local Benz dealers have pretty much forsaken the brand. We will, however, need to limp that Smart (or use Lyft) for a few more months until the 2020 Cadillac CT4 arrives on the scene.

Mike’s two cars prior to the Smart were an Infiniti G20 and an Acura TSX, so the CT4 puts him right back in the compact luxury segment he briefly detoured out of. We’ve both been fans of Cadillac’s Art & Science aesthetic ever since it first appeared on the 1999 Evoq concept car. Mike looked long and hard at the first-gen CTS but chose the TSX because its interior was vastly nicer. Cadillac has upped its interior game substantially since then, and even the user interface is coming around to perfectly acceptable status nowadays.

We’ll be opting for the tried-n-true base 2.0-liter turbo-four and ten-speed automatic, not the zoomy V-Series. The base engine propels the much bigger CT6 adequately, so in a CT4 it should feel like an absolute g-sled—at least by comparison with a ForTwo. (I’m also a little skeptical of how smooth and refined that crazy-big 2.7-liter turbocharged truck motor is going to feel in the CT4 V-Series.) Should we opt for all-wheel drive? Michigan winters are plenty snowy, but our corner of the lower peninsula is flat enough that I’m going to spend a fraction of the likely $2,000 AWD option price on a dedicated set of winter tires and wheels I can swap on and off as necessary. The budget will see a likely 1-mpg highway fuel savings, and Mike might even detect marginally improved steering feel with rear-wheel drive.

An option we’re hoping makes the order sheet by the time the CT4 bows this fall: Super Cruise. It’s confirmed for the V-Series cars, so it seems likely Cadillac will at least offer it on the up-level base cars, as well. Having fallen in love with the early beta version of Tesla Autopilot, I’m eager to get more experience with GM’s fully fledged riff on that idea. Speaking of Elon-tech, the swift and stylish comparison-test-winning Tesla Model 3 for $42,900 (base rear-drive with the optional white-leather interior) would be a great candidate vehicle for Mike. Its range is sufficient to manage all the round-trip journeys he typically makes, and our garage is wired for EV charging. But having already tired of the 56-minute drive to Ann Arbor for Smart service, there’s no selling him on a 3-hour drive to our nearest Tesla dealer in Cleveland (Michigan’s dealer franchise laws still prevent Tesla from setting up shop in the mitten state).

If circumstances dictate that we buy before the CT4 is available (or if pricing proves too dear), either of MotorTrend’s last two Car of the Year winners would also serve our household needs with distinction. A base Alfa Romeo Giulia outfitted with all driver-assist features and a sunroof would cost us $43,990 including current regional incentives and would more strongly appeal to Mike’s aesthetic sensibilities. A $40,895 Genesis G70 2.0 with the Elite trim would make me a bit more comfortable on the things-gone-wrong front during the post-warranty end of our eight-year ownership window. Of course, the way things are going, I’m probably going to be telling you about yet another new vehicle I’d buy WAY sooner than eight years from now…

The post 2020 Cadillac CT4: Why I’d Buy It – Frank Markus appeared first on MotorTrend.

Categories: Property

2020 Porsche 718 Boxster Spyder First Look: It Weighs How Much?

Mon, 06/17/2019 - 23:47

The Boxster has always seemed like an underdog that showed promise, but never quite lived up to its potential. It’s the little sibling to the Porsche 911 and the softer, roofless sidekick of the sharper Cayman. The mid-engine layout of the Boxster and Cayman is inherently better handling than that of the 911, thanks to centralized weight yielding a shorter moment arm and aiding rotation, but for years Porsche reserved proper powerplants for the 911. Even when Porsche did decide to grace its mid-engine cars with a 385-hp flat-six from the 991.1 Carrera S in 2016, the best bits were saved for the fixed-roof Cayman GT4 while the Boxster Spyder made due with 10 less horsepower and inferior braking and suspension components. No more.

In steps the 2020 Porsche 718 Spyder, alongside the 718 Cayman GT4. Both cars receive a brand new 4.0-liter naturally aspirated flat-six in the same state of tune—414 hp and 309 lb-ft of torque—there’s no advantage for the Cayman here. Compared to its predecessor, development for the new 718 Spyder had stronger involvement from Porsche’s GT department, the folks that build 911 GT3s and the like. That same division was heavily involved in the building of the last-generation Cayman GT4, but much less so with the Boxster Spyder. The 718 Spyder inherits its front axle from the 911 GT3 and its rear end is an updated unit from the last-gen Cayman GT4. Brakes come courtesy of the GT3 as well. The 718 Spyder and 718 Cayman GT4 are mechanically identical, and the Spyder is officially a car born from Porsche Motorsport.


The biggest difference between the mid-engine Porsches is an aerodynamic one. Because Porsche expects Cayman GT4 owners to frequent the race track more often than those who opt for a Boxster Spyder, the coupe’s aerodynamic profile demands more downforce for increased grip in high-speed corners. The Spyder also offers luxury options including the Burmester audio system and heated steering wheel that aren’t available in the GT4.

About that engine: it’s not a detuned 911 GT3 engine. The new 4.0-liter flat-six hails from Porsche’s 9A2 Evo engine family—Porsche speak designating the engines developed for the 992-generation 911. It’s the first of its family without turbochargers and the first with a displacement above 3.0 liters. The 4.0-liter is mated exclusively to a six-speed manual, the same unit used in 718 GTS models and before you ask, yes, the gearing is just as long as it was in the last-gen cars, and yes, we’re a little sad about it. But the new engine revs to 8,000 rpm and its power figures make this the most muscular mid-engine Porsche to date, excluding the Carrera GT and 918 Spyder.

Problem is, it’s not the lightest. Although the 718 Spyder has its manually operated tent-like roof and fabric door pulls to save weight, it still weighs 3,206 pounds. For context, that’s 174 pounds more than a manual 718 Boxster GTS, only 24 pounds lighter than the big-boy 911 Speedster, and a considerable 306 pounds heavier than the last Spyder. This could be part of why the 718 Spyder is estimated to hit 60 mph in 4.2 seconds; 0.3 second slower than Porsche’s estimate for a PDK-equipped 718 GTS. But that’s not the point of this car. It’s about offering the unique experience of revving a naturally aspirated engine out to 8,000 rpm and hearing it sing as you blast through a long tunnel. With emissions regulations only getting stricter, free-breathing engines and manual transmissions are getting harder and harder to produce. Porsche understands what we love about driving, and they worked against those hardships to put a manual-shifting, free-breathing, motorsport-bred roadster into production. We’re grateful this car exists.


The post 2020 Porsche 718 Boxster Spyder First Look: It Weighs How Much? appeared first on MotorTrend.

Categories: Property

2020 Porsche Cayman GT4 First Look: 414 HP, Hardcore Hardware

Mon, 06/17/2019 - 23:01

At last, the all-new Porsche 718 Cayman GT4 is here! Short of the new Toyota Supra or the forthcoming mid-engined Corvette, we can’t think of a more anticipated sports car of late, and after endless speculation, tons of rumors, frenzied spy shots, and late-night debates among our staffers, the newest junior member of the Porsche GT family ticks all the right boxes.

For starters, it packs an all-new 4.0-liter naturally aspirated flat-six. That’s right, in the era where only 10 percent of 911 variants are naturally aspirated, and 100 percent of the Cayman/Boxster lineup is turbocharged, the free-breathing Cayman GT4 (and its Boxster Spyder sibling) stands alone. The sublime first-gen GT4 pulled power from a 3.8-liter, 385-hp naturally aspirated six sourced from the 991.1 Carrera S, so there’s precedent for this 4.0-liter model. The lineage of the powertrain is a bit more muddled this time, though, as Porsche claims this is a completely new engine and not at all related to the wild 4.0-liter in the 991.2 GT3.

Porsche tells us that this new powerplant is based on the 9A2 generation of engines that power the soon-to-be-replaced 991.2 Carreras. This is quite a leap from the regular 9A2, however, considering all 991.2s from base Carrera through Carrera GTS pack the same 3.0-liter twin-turbo flat-six. At minimum, this new engine has had the turbos and attendant plumbing removed, its displacement enlarged by a full liter, and been packed with a new crankshaft, pistons, connecting rods, valvetrain, air intakes, and cylinder heads. Against this work, it was allegedly too costly and complex to make the GT3’s 4.0-liter work here, which is hard to imagine. Regardless, that impressive build sheet allows for an 8,000-rpm redline, higher than the 992-generation 911’s.

As to why the engineers in Flacht, where Porsche’s race cars and GT road cars are developed, stuck with natural aspiration, GT boss Andreas Preuninger says it’s sticking to its guns. “We believe in [these] engines and in hard work. There’s always a way and we will continue going the naturally aspirated route for GT cars. The right way is not always the easy way.” Alright then.

A total of 414 horsepower and 309 lb-ft of torque are sent to the rear wheels through a six-speed manual transmission sourced from the current 718 GTS. Porsche admits it has future plans to bring the snappy PDK dual-clutch automatic gearbox to the GT4, but for now, you’ll need to shift it yourself or find another car. Performance is strong, with the zero-to-60-mph run taking just 4.2 seconds and a top speed of 188 mph.

There’s also a whole paddock’s worth of handling hardware to go along with the power. Porsche Active Suspension Management (PASM) with active dampers is standard, dropping the GT4 1.2 inches lower than the regular 718 Cayman. For the true track rats, the suspension allows for manual camber, toe, ride-height, and anti-roll-bar adjustments. It might not share the same engine as the GT3, but as a consolation prize, it plucks the front axle and brakes from big brother, offering either 15.0-inch iron rotors or a set of ceramics that measure 16.1 inches in the front and 15.3 inches in the rear. Considering this a bit of a purist machine, it only makes sense the rear differential is mechanical only, though it has the trick Porsche Torque Vectoring (PTV) functionality. More to the point, Porsche usually reserves its active, electronically controlled differential for cars equipped with PDK.

Aesthetically, it’s a refreshed last-gen GT4, now wearing aggressive variations of the current 718 bodywork—essentially what we pictured in our mind prior to its premiere. However, those good looks aren’t just for show; according to Preuninger, the updated rear wing and front diffuser help the car generate 50 percent more downforce than the last-gen model. It also doesn’t hurt that the wing and front diffuser are manually adjustable.

We’re in love, but our bank accounts are bracing for impact. The 2020 Porsche 718 Cayman GT4 starts at $100,450, a sizeable $16,000 jump over the previous car. Of course, this is also a more cohesive product, with more specific engineering and bespoke componentry. Order books are open now, with deliveries scheduled to begin next spring.

The post 2020 Porsche Cayman GT4 First Look: 414 HP, Hardcore Hardware appeared first on MotorTrend.

Categories: Property

Toyota Confirms it’s Building a Limited-Production Hypercar

Mon, 06/17/2019 - 22:02

Toyota has confirmed that it will produce a hypercar and even teased the model in a recently released video. The Japanese automaker is producing such a vehicle so it can race in the 24 Hours of Le Mans. Starting in 2020, the series will introduce its new hypercar class, a segment that requires road-based models to have a production run of at least 20 units over two years.

The Toyota GR Super Sport will be the automaker’s entry in that new class, which will replace the current LMP1 category as the top class. A concept version was shown at the 2018 Tokyo Auto Salon powered by a 986-hp twin-turbocharged V-6 hybrid powertrain. However, the race car will be limited to around 750 hp and weigh roughly 2,425 pounds due to class regulations. Hybrid systems are limited to 200 kW and its location must be the same as in its road going counterpart or on the front axle in entries that aren’t based on production models. The powertrain is taken straight out of the TS050 race car that recently won the 24 Hours of Le Mans for the second time.

Much of the GR Super Sport’s styling remains true to the concept except for the addition of conventional side mirrors mounted on the front fenders. There are plenty of styling cues taken from the TS050 like the rear-mounted central fin, though that design feature isn’t as prominent as the one on the Le Mans-winning race car. The cockpit also appears to have smaller windows, and has a sweptback greenhouse with a rear wing mounted lower and closer to the body. Even the headlight pattern is different and the front air intakes appear wider than the TS050’s.

The last time Toyota created a road-going version of a Le Mans racer was in 1998 when it built the TS020 GT-One. It featured the same 600-hp 3.6-liter twin-turbo V-8 and six-speed sequential transmission as the race car. Versus the race car, the road-going GT-One rode higher, had a lower rear wing and included creature comforts like climate control and hazard lights. Toyota reportedly built only two examples of the GT-One, with one on display in Japan and the other at Toyota Motorsport GmbH’s headquarters in Cologne, Germany.

Expect production of the Toyota GR Super Sport to start sometime next year ahead of the 2020 Le Mans 24-Hour race and continue for two years.

Source: Toyota

The post Toyota Confirms it’s Building a Limited-Production Hypercar appeared first on MotorTrend.

Categories: Property

How to Build a 7-Second, 175-MPH Nissan GT-R

Mon, 06/17/2019 - 21:07

Kenny Tran and the folks at Jotech Motorsports in Dallas were the first to develop twin-turbo kits for the VQ engine powering the 350Z, so they were more than prepared when Nissan released the GT-R in 2009. Jotech cars were running 10-second quarter miles by 2010, much quicker than the 11.6 seconds we recorded in our first test of Godzilla, though we do not test acceleration on adhesive-treated drag strips.

In the intervening years, Tran and his team continue to refine R35 GT-Rs—and they’ve only gotten better at doing so. Alongside the shop’s six available stages of power tuning, Tran recently bought back a GT-R he had built for a friend and customer he calls DK. (No, not the DK my dad always chooses in Mario Kart.) DK wanted a car that showcased the best of modern GT-R tuning tech but mandated that it maintain street drivability because he had no interest in running it on the dragstrip. That meant the GT-R’s creature comforts like air conditioning, power steering, Bluetooth, and a full interior with heated seats had to be retained. With these stock parts, DK’s car isn’t some power-to-weight-watchers miracle; Tran says it weighs 3,950 pounds fully fueled. That’s close to stock.

Not close to stock is its astonishing 2,200-hp maximum output. But Tran doesn’t think you should be impressed. “Anybody with the right parts and the right tuning can make loads of power under wide-open throttle,” he says. The team at Jotech went to extensive lengths to make this car drivable on the street. They did so by softening the dual-clutch transmission to slip in first and second gear to ease pulling away from a stop, installing two sets of fuel injectors for startup and high-boost scenarios, and even fitting a suspension lift system so DK could get the monster up his driveway. He would actually pick up his kids from school in the thing.

Of course, there’s no denying that the power output is a huge engineering accomplishment. The R35’s stock transmission and connecting rods are the first parts to go when you start adding power, but those bits need swapping out just to push past the 750-hp mark. To achieve the levels of power on DK’s car, the Jotech team installed a 4.3-liter fully built engine in place of the stock car’s 3.8-liter unit, swapped in bigger turbochargers, completely revamped the fuel system, and beefed up the transmission with stronger gears. Despite DK’s disinterest in taking this car to the track, under Tran’s ownership it was only a matter of time before he launched it down a dragstrip. After an encouraging series of runs on street tires, Tran mounted drag radials and recently brought the car to RaceWars in Ennis, Texas. The result? A quarter-mile run in 7.971 seconds at 175 mph.

Looking forward, Tran understands how hard it will be to improve upon the R35 GT-R. “The original designer already had in mind that the aftermarket was going to mod this car, and they really made everything very strong, very sturdy, and very tunable,” he says. As far as the R36, he’s hoping for more displacement and bigger turbos out of the box. “If you’re not above 700 [horsepower], you’re not even in the ballpark.” On the subject of hybridization, Tran says it’s definitely possible to tune a hybrid, as long as the motors are limited to the front axle; modern NSX-style hybrids with electric motors integrated into the drivetrain have a much lower power ceiling due to transmission restrictions. That said, Tran and the team at Jotech Motorsports aren’t planning to slow down anytime soon.

The post How to Build a 7-Second, 175-MPH Nissan GT-R appeared first on MotorTrend.

Categories: Property

SUV Showdown: 2020 Ford Explorer vs. 2020 Kia Telluride

Mon, 06/17/2019 - 18:00

Editor’s note: This story originally ran in January and has been updated with new information.

Three-row crossovers aren’t sexy, but they’re sure gaining lots of attention lately. Introduced at the 2019 Detroit auto show in January, the 2020 Kia Telluride joins the Volkswagen Atlas, Subaru Ascent, and Hyundai Palisade as another completely new nameplate in the segment. Also new is the sixth-generation 2020 Ford Explorer, which benefits from a significant redesign. So how does the ambitious newcomer compare against to the segment staple? Take a look below to find out.

Exterior Design

In terms of design, the Explorer builds off the previous model. The headlights and grille take on a more rounded shape, the roofline appears more sloped, and the rear end is new, though it keeps the old model’s blacked-out A-pillars and D-pillars. The Telluride receives more unexpected design cues that give it a quirky vibe. Square headlights, curved taillights, muscular wheel arches, and boxy proportions contribute to the Telluride’s unique personality. Oversized “Telluride” badging can be seen on the edge of the hood and on the liftgate.


The Explorer comes with a choice of four engines while the Telluride offers just one. The base engine on the Explorer is a 2.3-liter EcoBoost turbo-four making 300 hp and 310 lb-ft of torque. Platinum models receive a 3.0-liter EcoBoost twin-turbo V-6 good for 365 hp and 380 lb-ft on 93-octane gas. A more powerful 3.0-liter engine makes 400 hp and 415 lb-ft in the ST. Finally, there’s a hybrid Explorer that uses a 3.3-liter naturally aspirated V-6 making a total of 318 hp. All engines come paired to a 10-speed automatic.

The Telluride is less powerful than even the base Explorer. The 3.8-liter V-6 makes 291 hp and 262 lb-ft of torque, and it’s mated to an eight-speed automatic.

There’s another big difference between the two vehicles. Although both are available with all-wheel drive, the Explorer comes standard with rear-wheel drive, and the Telluride is standard with front-wheel drive. The latter has an available self-leveling rear suspension that automatically adjusts the ride height based on the vehicle load.

Fuel Economy

The Telluride maxes out at 20/26/23 mpg city/highway/combined, or 19/24/21 mpg when paired with all-wheel drive. The Explorer’s 2.3-liter turbo-four is more efficient than the Telluride, netting 21/28/24 mpg with rear-wheel drive and 20/27/23 mpg with all-wheel drive. The EPA’s website also lists a 18/24/20 mpg rating for the Explorer’s 3.0-liter engine. We’re still awaiting full fuel economy information for the new Explorer.

Drive Modes

The Explorer offers up to seven driving modes. These include normal, sport, trail, slippery, tow/haul, and eco modes; all-wheel-drive models with the advanced terrain management system add a deep snow and sand mode. The Telluride has four driving modes: smart, eco, sport, and comfort. Two special settings include one for snow and another called “AWD lock,” which delivers power evenly to all four wheels.

Interior Design and Features

The Explorer (pictured above) can seat up to seven, depending on the trim level chosen. The Telluride offers seating for up to eight occupants.

When you step inside the Explorer, you’ll notice the buttons are arranged in an orderly fashion. An 8.0-inch touchscreen is standard, but a tablet-style 10.1-inch screen is available. The Telluride’s 10.3-inch screen is oriented horizontally, unlike the similarly sized unit in the Explorer. The Explorer offers a rotary shifter to the Telluride’s more traditional gear selector. Grip handles on the Telluride’s center console hint that the model is capable of venturing off the beaten path.

Both models share a number of important creature comforts, such as Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, wireless phone charging, and multiple USB ports. The Explorer has up to four, and the Telluride has five standard and up to six available.

Among the Telluride’s unique features is a “quiet mode,” which makes sure the audio playing in the front row doesn’t reach the back rows. When the driver wants to communicate with those in the rear, an available microphone can help. Third-row occupants will enjoy reclining seats. Meanwhile, the Explorer features a nifty 12.3-inch digital instrument cluster that has special 3-D animated graphics for each driving mode.


The Telluride can tow up to 5,000 pounds. Towing numbers for the Explorer vary from model to model. Platinum models with the 3.0-liter V-6, for instance, can tow 5,600 pounds. The standard 2.3-liter engine can tow up to 5,300 pounds with the Class III Trailer Tow package.


The Ford and Kia look different but are sized similarly. The Telluride measures 196.9 inches in length, slightly shorter than the Explorer’s 198.8 inches. The Telluride is 78.3 inches wide compared to the Explorer’s 78.9 inches. The differences in the wheelbase are more noticeable: 114.2 inches for the Telluride and 119.1 inches for the Explorer.

Depending on the trim, ground clearance is 7.9 or 8.0 inches on the Telluride. The Explorer comes in at 7.9 inches, though Platinum models stand at 8.2 inches and ST models at 8.3 inches.

The Telluride wins when it comes to cargo space behind the third row: 21.0 cubic feet compared to the Explorer’s 18.2 cubic feet. If you drive with the third-row seat folded, however, the Explorer pulls ahead, with 47.9 cubic feet of space to the Telluride’s 46.0 cubic feet. Of course, we’ll have to compare the cargo bays for ourselves before we decide which one feels roomier.

Now how about legroom? The Explorer lags behind in the second row with 39 inches compared to the Telluride’s 42.4 inches of legroom. But the Explorer makes a comeback in third-row legroom, which measures 32.2 inches, ahead of the Telluride’s 31.4 inches.


Both the Explorer and Telluride offer a slew of safety features. They each get collision avoidance tech, pedestrian detection, forward collision warning, lane keep assist, blind-spot monitoring, and rear cross-traffic alert. Ford offers evasive steering assist, which provides steering support to help avoid a crash.

Pricing and Availability

The 2020 Kia Telluride began sales this spring, while the 2020 Ford Explorer enters the market in June. As we reported earlier, the base Explorer starts $33,860, putting it well above the Telluride’s starting price of $32,735. The most expensive Explorer in the lineup, the Platinum model, goes for $59,345, while the Telluride’s top trim only comes in at $42,535.

The post SUV Showdown: 2020 Ford Explorer vs. 2020 Kia Telluride appeared first on MotorTrend.

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2019 Mazda6: Why I’d Buy It – Alisa Priddle

Mon, 06/17/2019 - 09:00

“What car should I buy?” It’s a question consumers ask themselves every day, but what would Detroit editor Alisa Priddle drive? Keep reading for the answer, and see other editors’ picks here.

I’m mad that automakers aren’t making as many sedans any more. My choices are limited, and that makes me angry.

Ideally, I want a small car that looks luscious, has a manual transmission, lets me take the top off, and is affordable. And I am stymied.

I love Lincoln’s styling these days, but Ford has all but gotten out of the sedan business. FCA has nothing for me short of a muscle car. GM is also cutting back on its sedan offerings, but I’m intrigued by Cadillac’s new CT4 and CT5, which come out this fall with softer lines and the long hood of a rear-driver.

Toyota’s Corolla hatch has a manual, but I want more power and styling. The new Sonata’s styling has plenty of wow factor—the headlights that run up the hood are especially cool—but I have yet to drive it.

As for convertibles, most of the shopping is higher-end German luxury that exceeds my price ceiling. I can’t even justify them as a midlife crisis. A Mazda Miata is every journalist’s choice, but I need room for passengers and enough clothes, food, gear, and sundries for a week at the cottage so it’s just not practical enough. And even with winter tires, it would be challenged in deep snow in northern Michigan and Canada.

More about Alisa: Alisa Priddle is the Detroit editor for MotorTrend and does not like hot weather. Even Detroit is too warm a clime, which sends her scurrying to cottage country in northern Ontario as often as humanly possible, with an overstuffed SUV and a trailer hitch to get the boat in the water.

So I would likely wax nostalgic and head to the Mazda dealer for a 2019 Mazda6. I loved my 2004 Mazda6, which dealer staff begged to test-drive because it was the first to be delivered with the five-speed manual transmission.

I can’t get a stick shift in the Mazda6 anymore. But I’m still smitten with the sedan, especially the side profile where the A-pillar flows into the hood. It’s sexy, like the curve of a lower back.

I would spec up a Grand Touring trim, which starts at $30,420, in Soul Red Crystal Metallic (extra $595 for the paint) with a Sand leatherette interior. The Grand Touring includes the 250-hp 2.5-liter turbocharged engine, six-speed automatic transmission with sport mode, and all-wheel drive. It also includes must-haves such as heated seats, power-adjustable driver’s seat, and Apple CarPlay, along with other features also included on lower trims such as blind-spot monitoring, adaptive cruise control, and lane departure warning and assist. My trim choice means I get a sunroof I don’t need, and there are a few extras I’d like but don’t get such as cooled seats, a wiper deicer, and heated steering wheel. But I have to be prudent and can’t jump to the highest trim levels.

Mazda keeps it simple. There are no packages to add to the Grand Touring, though there are some option choices. I would add the $125 all-weather floor mats because this car will see all kinds of weather including deep snow. And I’d spend $475 on rear parking sensors to alert me of obstructions that could easily be trees and stumps given the cottage life I lead on the side. Here is my car configured.

Total cost: $31,615. Well worth it for the perky engine, sporty suspension, premium materials, and smiles per ride—even if it doesn’t have a manual transmission or convertible top.

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What to Buy: BMW X3 M or BMW X4 M?

Mon, 06/17/2019 - 09:00

It’s 2019 and 500-hp SUVs are a normal part of life now, so you’d better get on board. You used to want that M3 coupe, but reality got in the way and an SUV just fits you and the family better now. That doesn’t mean you can’t have fun, though. With 70 to 80 grand financed for a few too many months, you could be getting the kids to school at a top speed of 174 mph with either the 2020 BMW X3 M or X4 M, but how do you choose between these almost identical SUV rocket ships? We’re here to help.

Read our 2020 BMW X3 M and X4 M review HERE.

Money Matters

If the bottom line is priority one, the standard X3 M is the best bang for your buck with 473 hp, 0 to 60 mph in 4.1 seconds, and a starting price of $70,895. The X4 M is an extra $3,500 for the same performance and fuel economy, and adding the Competition package to either vehicle only nets you an extra tenth of a second to 60 mph for $7,000. Of course, if money is that much of a concern, the X3 M40i is only seven-tenths of a second slower for $55,645 and doesn’t drink nearly as much gas.

I Wanna Go Fast

Can’t totally let go of that M3 Coupe dream? We can get you close. The X4 M Competition gives you that swoopy, coupe-like styling you prefer with rear doors for the kids and an easy-to-load trunk. The Competition package gets you an extra 30 hp and knocks a tenth of a second off the official 0–60 time, too. That’s actually three-tenths quicker than the last M3 Competition we tested. Have your kid’s birthday cake and eat it, too.

Practicality is King

We get it—you bought an SUV because you need to haul stuff. Although BMW has done a lot of work to make the X4 M more practical this time around, there’s no getting around that sloping roofline. You need an X3 M with an extra 1.6 inches of rear headroom and, crucially, an extra 10.2 cubic feet of cargo space behind the rear seat. The X3 M also gets reclining rear seats and rear window shades to keep the sun off the kids. The good news is, getting the Competition package on your X3 M doesn’t affect cargo capacity, so feel free to go for the big gun.

In Your Face

Let’s face it, you’re not getting an M car to be subtle. Both the X3 M and X4 M make a statement, but if you really want to stand out from the crowd, it’s the X4 M Competition. Coupe-like SUVs are less common to begin with, so you won’t fade into the crossover crowd. Competition models also get snazzier V-spoke wheels standard and “Competition” badges to let people know you mean business.

Gas Guzzler

Fuel economy isn’t generally a top priority for those considering a 500-hp vehicle, but gas still costs money and the price is going up again. Good news for you: All X3 Ms and X4 Ms, Competition or not, get the same dismal fuel economy. It’s 14/19/16 mpg city/highway/combined no matter which body style you pick, so get the one you want.

Add Lightness

Sure, you’re buying an SUV, but you’re also buying a high-performance vehicle, and we all know weight is the enemy of performance. Plus, the heavier it is to start with, the more important weight savings are. If that’s your credo, then you need the Competition package. On either the X3 M Competition or X4 M Competition, it’ll save you 30 pounds compared to the standard X3 M or X4 M. It’s not much, but every little bit counts, right?

Tight Fit

Small garage? No problem. If it’s short front to back, you need an X3 M or X3 M Competition, which is 1.3 inches shorter in length. It’s the same story if your garage is narrow. The X3 M and X3 M Competition are 1.2 inches narrower. If height is the issue, go for the X4 M or X4 M Competition. They’re 1.9 to 2.0 inches shorter in height.

The post What to Buy: BMW X3 M or BMW X4 M? appeared first on MotorTrend.

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2019 Jeep Cherokee Trailhawk vs. 2019 Toyota RAV4 Adventure: Trailhawk Adventure

Mon, 06/17/2019 - 09:00

In January, we Big Tested eight compact SUVs and ranked the aging Jeep Cherokee seventh, adding this caveat: “If you’re planning to take your compact CUV off-roading, bump the Cherokee to the top of your list.” But then we got to wondering, is the Cherokee still the king of the soft-roader hill? The Toyota RAV4 Adventure trim level now gets a Jeep-ish Multi-Terrain Select dial of its own, Mud & Sand and Rock & Dirt settings, hill descent control (HDC), a new dynamic torque-vectoring all-wheel-drive system, and increased ground clearance (8.6 inches versus other RAV4s’ 8.4). Is this enough to dethrone the Cherokee in this segment of the segment? To find out, we ordered up one of each and headed to our local off-road park to find out.

Pre-trip Inspection

Before setting out, we carefully examined each ute from top to bottom (using our lift) to assess their off-road bona fides. Our going-in assumptions about the Jeep were reinforced by its two front and one rear recovery hooks, all of which are open so they can accept a fabric loop or a metal hook on the end of a recovery strap. It carries a full-size spare tire of the same specification as the tires on the ground, mounted on a steel wheel (note that this eliminates the bi-level cargo floor, which adds 1.8 cubic feet on Cherokees with mini-spares). Off-road buttons actuate a genuine 2.92:1 low range, a rear differential lock, HDC, Selec-Speed control (off-road cruise control to maintain a steady, slow pace), and a five-position Selec-Terrain knob (Auto, Snow, Sport, Sand/Mud, Rock). The transfer case even includes a neutral mode to allow flat-towing. The engine air intake is located high in the right front fender to enable deep fording (the spec is 20 inches, but we went deeper), and nearly every vulnerable component, hose, or line running underneath the Cherokee is protected by steel skidplates. Of course, all of this gear adds weight—some 740 pounds of it relative to the Toyota—which explains its 8/9-mpg city/highway fuel economy penalty with our tester’s base 3.2-liter V-6. (Spending $500 for the optional 2.0-liter turbo only shrinks those deficits by 2 mpg.)

The RAV4 by contrast features a compact T165/90D18 spare tire and no skidplates; that silver thing in front is a plastic falsie, and the plastic underbody sheathing is strictly for aerodynamics. Worse yet, it offers no recovery points whatsoever—no screw-in recovery eyelets in the bumpers and no shipping tie-downs underneath. (Ours was built in Canada.) All Adventure models are prepped for 3,500-pound trailer towing (bigger radiator, oil and trans-fluid coolers), but ours had no hitch, either. So before pulling the RAV4 off the rack, I attached a tow strap to the rear suspension subframe and vowed to have the Toyota lead the way into any potentially “sticky situations” so the Jeep or our Toyota 4Runner recovery vehicle could tug it out using this strap. Doing this after getting stuck would be super un-fun. On the upside, there is a 110-volt outlet in the cargo area for powering campsite compressors and the like.

Advantage: Jeep

1st Challenge: Fist-Size Rock Pile

This seemingly innocuous low pile of roundish rocks looks easy, but the rocks don’t interlock much, making it a little treacherous to climb even on foot. Both vehicles made quick work of scaling and descending this obstacle, and the RAV4 had a chance to impress us with its rear-axle torque distribution, reversing up one section with one wheel well up in the air and the diagonally opposite front momentarily airborne.

Advantage: Tie

2nd Challenge: Hell’s Steps

This massive rock staircase is designed to challenge lifted Wranglers and Defenders, so our expectations were minimal for either of these car-based entries. We started out in the Jeep, set to low range, diff lock, and Rock mode. The knobby, tall-sidewall (245/65R17) Firestone Destination all-terrain tires plus approach and departure angles that, at 29.9 and 32.2 degrees, are at least 10 degrees steeper than the RAV4’s allowed us to ascend about four “stairs” in the Jeep (with spotters assisting), with its impressive 48.4:1 low-range crawl ratio making it easy to scale rocks very slowly. Chin clearance ultimately stopped us from climbing the fifth step. The RAV4 valiantly climbed up onto the first full stair before its 19.0-degree approach angle stopped it. We contemplated placing a loose rock or two under the left front tire to clear the next step, but as the Jeep required no such assistance, we stopped here.

Advantage: Jeep

3rd Challenge: Sharp Downhill Left Hook

This dirt trail involved a steep incline with a sharp crest and decline around a very tight left turn to avoid a fallen tree. The Toyota’s suspension can’t articulate quite as much as the Jeep’s, so in the middle of the sharp left, its left front and right rear tires spent a moment or two airborne, with the front spinning a bit as the torque-vectoring rear end helped maintained forward motion. The Jeep’s front tire spun momentarily, too, but the Cherokee suspension keeps its feet on the ground better. On the downside, slightly larger wheelbase and turning circle dimensions required the Cherokee to reverse and reposition a bit before negotiating this turn.

Advantage: Tie


4th Challenge: Splash Pond

After wading through this pond in my Wellington Boots to verify it wasn’t bottomless and dialing up each vehicle’s mud setting, we motored through at about 15 mph, discovering a low spot my recce-wade had missed. Hitting this spot in each ute prompted an impressive windshield-high splash and subsequent bow-wake over the hood. Then just to make sure momentum hadn’t covered for a lack of grip from the RAV4’s less aggressive 235/55R19 Yokohama Avid GT tires, we drove that one back through, stopping in the middle, then slowly accelerating out. No problem.

Advantage: Tie

5th Challenge: Boggy Waterways

Feeling somewhat vexed that none of our challenges had managed to get either vehicle stuck, we found a waterlogged, mud-bottomed “canal to nowhere” that didn’t devour or fully submerge my Wellies, so I set the Jeep up for max-attack Mud mode and entered with Selec-Speed set to 5 mph. Nice as you please, it trundled right through and up the other side, with the engine rpm only rising once, briefly toward the end. OK, surely this challenge will confound the Toyota. Nope! Granted, with less aggressive tire treads and no low range torque multiplication assisting, I had to work the throttle a lot more than Jeep’s cruise control had. But the plucky RAV4 popped out the other side, too. Feeling bound and determined to make use of the four tow straps we’d brought along, I decided to try the canal lane next door, which was just slightly deeper than my Wellie boots but seemed passable. I entered in the Jeep with the Selec-Speed set to 5 mph, but within about 40 feet, with the exhaust burbling from beneath the surface, I felt the skidplates high-center on the submerged muck. Selec-Speed revved fruitlessly until I braked and shifted to park. With water halfway up the doors, I exited via the windows to link our three remaining tow straps to the 4Runner after easily locating the Jeep’s tow hook in the murky water and slipping my loop over it. Minutes later, the Jeep was back on dry ground. We were impressed to note that not a drip of water came in through the door seals, and although the doors themselves filled with water, the stereo speakers in them were unaffected. We knew better than to bother sending the RAV4 into that canal.

Advantage: Jeep

Bonus Challenge: Slick Clay Ditch

Desperate to use the Toyota’s subframe-mounted tow strap, I attacked one last slippery clay ditch and indeed managed to get the RAV4 into hopeless wheelspin mode, but backing up and changing the angle of attack got me through this obstacle, too.


We were right. If playing in the dirt like you see us doing in these pictures holds any allure to you, the Jeep Cherokee Trailhawk is the compact SUV for you. If you’re just outdoorsy and want an economical compact that will get you back out of your state park bivouac after a storm, the RAV4 Adventure offers an impressive leg up on all the other competitors in the space. And please. If you’re neither of the above, pick a different version or vehicle altogether, because on pavement the equipment added to make these two do what you see them doing here makes them heavier, noisier, and less efficient than you need.

2019 Jeep Cherokee Trailhawk 2019 Toyota RAV4 Adventure DRIVETRAIN LAYOUT Front-engine, 4WD Front-engine, AWD ENGINE TYPE 60-deg V-6, alum block/heads I-4, alum block/head VALVETRAIN DOHC, 4 valves/cyl DOHC, 4 valves/cyl DISPLACEMENT 197.7 cu in/3,239cc 151.8 cu in/2,487 cc COMPRESSION RATIO 10.7:1 13.0:1 POWER (SAE NET) 271 hp @ 6,500 rpm 203 hp @ 6,600 rpm TORQUE (SAE NET) 239 lb-ft @ 4,400 rpm 184 lb-ft @ 5,000 rpm REDLINE 6,500 rpm 6,750 rpm WEIGHT TO POWER 16.2 lb/hp 17.9 lb/hp TRANSMISSION 9-speed automatic 8-speed automatic AXLE/FINAL/LOW RATIO 3.52:1/1.69:1 3.18:1/2.14:1 SUSPENSION, FRONT; REAR Struts, coil springs, anti-roll bar; multilink, coil springs, anti-roll bar Struts, coil springs, anti-roll bar; multilink, coil springs, anti-roll bar STEERING RATIO 15.4:1 14.4:1 TURNS LOCK-TO-LOCK 2.7 2.7 BRAKES, F; R 13.0-in vented disc; 12.6-in disc, ABS 12.0-in vented, disc; 11.1-in disc, ABS WHEELS 7.5 x 17-in, cast aluminum 7.5 x 19-in cast aluminum TIRES 245/65R17 105T M+S Firestone Destination A/T 235/55R19 101V (M+S) Yokohama Avid GT DIMENSIONS WHEELBASE 107.1 in 105.9 in TRACK, F/R 63.6/63.5 in 62.6/63.3 in LENGTH x WIDTH x HEIGHT 182.9 x 74.9 x 67.8 in 181.5 x 73.4 x 68.6 in GROUND CLEARANCE 8.7 in 8.6 in APPRCH/DEPART ANGLE 29.9/32.2 deg 19.0/21.0 deg TURNING CIRCLE 38.1 ft 37.4 ft CURB WEIGHT 4,380 lb 3,640 lb WEIGHT DIST, F/R 58/42% 57/43% TOWING CAPACITY 2,000 lb (4,500 lb w/$795 trailer pkg) 3,500 lb SEATING CAPACITY 5 5 HEADROOM, F/R 37.9/38.5 in 37.7/37.7 in LEGROOM, F/R 41.1/40.3 in 41.0/37.8 in SHOULDER ROOM, F/R 57.6/55.1 in 57.8/56.4 in CARGO VOLUME 54.7/25.8 cu ft 69.8/37.5 cu ft TEST DATA ACCELERATION TO MPH 0-30 2.9 sec 3.0 sec 0-40 4.3 4.7 0-50 6.0 6.4 0-60 8.3 8.5 0-70 11.1 11.4 0-80 14.3 14.7 0-90 18.9 18.6 PASSING, 45-65 MPH 4.4 4.5 QUARTER MILE 16.4 sec @ 84.9 mph 16.6 sec @ 85.2 mph BRAKING, 60-0 MPH 128 ft 126 ft LATERAL ACCELERATION 0.72 g (avg) 0.81 g (avg) MT FIGURE EIGHT 28.6 sec @ 0.57 g (avg) 27.5 sec @ 0.62 g (avg) TOP-GEAR REVS @ 60 MPH 1,200 rpm 2,200 rpm CONSUMER INFO BASE PRICE $35,440 $33,945 PRICE AS TESTED $41,125 $38,865 STABILITY/TRACTION CONTROL Yes/Yes Yes/Yes AIRBAGS 8: Dual front, front side, f/r curtain, front knee 8: Dual front, front side, f/r curtain, driver knee, passenger thigh BASIC WARRANTY 3 yrs/36,000 miles 3 yrs/36,000 miles POWERTRAIN WARRANTY 5 yrs/60,000 miles 5 yrs/60,000 miles ROADSIDE ASSISTANCE 5 yrs/60,000 miles 2 yrs/unlimited miles FUEL CAPACITY 15.9 gal 14.5 gal EPA CITY/HWY/COMB ECON 18/24/21 mpg 26/33/29 mpg ENERGY CONS, CITY/HWY 187/140 kW-hrs/100 miles 130/102 kW-hrs/100 miles CO2 EMISSIONS, COMB 0.96 lb/mile 0.67 lb/mile RECOMMENDED FUEL Unleaded midgrade Unleaded regular

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Categories: Property

We Drive the 503-HP BMW X3 M and X4 M: Are They Real-Deal M Cars?

Sun, 06/16/2019 - 23:01

“Don’t know why I have to drive so fast, my car has nothing to prove,” country superstars Alabama harmonized in their 13th number one single “I’m in a Hurry (And Don’t Know Why),” an upbeat commentary on the pace of modern life. Even still, lead singer Randy Owen brags about how quick that car is two lines later. That’s the nearly-as-Southern, South Carolina–built BMW X3 M and X4 M in a nutshell: fast because they want to be, not because they have anything to prove.

At this point, BMW doesn’t need to convince anyone it can build fast SUVs. The X6 M was the production SUV lap record-holder at Willow Springs International Raceway’s notorious Big track until very recently. The X5 M is no slouch, either, and the X3 M40i is as quick as any average commuter really needs. The only expectation you can really put on the new X3 M and X4 M is to not screw it up, and BMW didn’t.

Just to be sure, though, BMW had us out to Monticello Motor Club—a private track in southern New York state—to see for ourselves. Monticello’s a tricky track. It seems deliberately designed both to look like an old-school track and to have a number of artificially difficult corners. Many of them are blind just because, and the runoffs are all grass so you won’t slow down before you’re introduced to the wall. It’s a fast one, too, with two long and two short straights each ending at a very sharp corner. Not really the kind of place you want to come in too hot with 4,600 pounds of SUV and 8 inches of ground clearance. BMW’s either confident or crazy.

You haven’t seen any news reports about a fleet of BMW SUVs wrecked at a New York track because BMW’s confidence is well placed. If you’re the kind of person who puts an SUV on a racetrack, you can do far, far worse than an X3 M or X4 M. When you look at the build sheet, though, it’s no surprise. Forget dirt, these things have the same all-wheel drive system as the M5, complete with active rear differential. Add underrated twin-turbo I-6, adaptive dampers, variable ratio steering, four-piston 15.6-inch steel front brakes, and a carbon-fiber strut tower brace, and you’ve got yourself a real-deal M Car.

Alabama might’ve been proud of that old car back in ’92 for hitting 60 mph in 5.2 seconds, but V-6 Camrys do that today. For its part, BMW says the X3 M Competition and X4 M Competition, which get an extra 30 hp over the standard M models, will do it in 4 seconds flat (standard cars need an extra tenth). Turbocharged BMWs are notoriously underrated from the factory, though, and the 473 to 503 hp and 442 lb-ft of torque these things claim to make is more likely what’s hitting the ground, with a lot more going on upstream at the crank. Expect high threes when we get one on our own test track, because it sure feels that way behind the wheel. For comparison, a 2016 M3 Competition needs 4.3 seconds.

Put that power on a track, and you’re going to see some big speeds, though it’s hard to believe them. You’re well isolated in the cabin, divorced from the sensation of speed, and quickly find yourself going much faster than you expected. This is a monster of an I-6, absolutely charging to redline without slowing down. M engineers say they’ve done a ton of work optimizing the twin intake tracts, and it shows in the seeming absence of turbo lag and stout midrange torque. Pooh-pooh the eight-speed automatic’s torque converter all you want, but it shifts more than quickly enough for track work.

Really making things happen, though, is that active rear differential. There’s no way you won’t feel it working as you flatten the throttle on your way out of a corner. It wants to rotate the car, and the only thing holding it back is the stability control computer. In M Dynamic mode, it’ll give you just a taste of oversteer under power to rotate the car, and the nice BMW people assure me if you turn the computer off this thing will drift real good. They also requested I not do that.

Of course, physics has its limits, and a high center of gravity and hefty curb weight mean you can only do so much. The big anti-roll bars and active dampers keep the body pretty flat, but there’s a lot of weight moving around under you. The brakes do an even better job, refusing to fade under moderately hard hot laps despite the weight. Less impressive is the electrically assisted power steering, which is accurate and precise but fairly lifeless for an M vehicle. Business up front and a party in the back, just like those mullets the Alabama boys were rocking back in the ’80s.

For that other 100 percent of the time you’re not tracking your SUV, the X3 M and X4 M are private jets with afterburners. Pro tip from someone who used to work on them: Most private jets aren’t especially fancy, just expensive. Only the biggest ones are flying presidential suites. The X3 M and X4 M are still X3s and X4s at their core, in the middle of the BMW SUV size and luxury hierarchy. The interiors get carbon-fiber trim and annoying shifters that emulate BMW’s obnoxious dual-clutch shifter, plus color inserts in the seats. It’s all perfectly nice, but there’s no doubt your $70,895 (X3 M) or $74,395 (X4 M) is going to performance parts, and if you want all the ponies, it’s $77,895 (X3 M Competition) or $81,395 (X4 M Competition).

Get on a real road, and the X3 M and X4 M are stonking fast and still isolated. The adaptive dampers are the real heroes here, giving them a moderately firm but never harsh ride in Comfort setting. Few vehicles that can do these track times are this pleasant to drive to and from the track. Meanwhile, that same separation from the world around you that lets your speed sneak up on you at the track is all the more effective on the street. You and every car around you on the interstate can be doing 90 mph, and you’ll still feel like everyone else is driving too slow.

You’ll pay for it, though. Regardless of which model you pick, you won’t get better than 14/19/16 mpg city/highway/combined, and you better believe it’s premium gas only in these puppies.

It’s the money that’s the real kicker here. If you’re in a hurry and need to hit 60 mph in under 4 seconds, then I guess you need an X3 M or X4 M. If you can spare an extra second, an X3 M40i will do it in 4.8 seconds, starts at $55,645, and gets 20/27/34 mpg city/highway/combined. But hey, it’s your 15 grand plus gas to spend.

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2019 Volkswagen Golf: Why I’d Buy It – Kelly Pleskot

Sat, 06/15/2019 - 09:00

“What car should I buy?” It’s a question consumers ask themselves every day, but what would online editor Kelly Pleskot drive? Keep reading for the answer, and see other editors’ picks here.

The Volkswagen Golf isn’t on most people’s radar when shopping for a small car. When it won our 2015 Car of the Year award, I remember getting some puzzled looks. “Does anyone actually buy this car?” people would ask me about the seemingly obscure choice. It remains a small player in the compact segment, with 42,271 Golf family vehicles sold in the U.S. last year, including just 6,642 copies of the standard Golf hatch. But it’s a true hidden gem, and it’s the car I would pick if I were in the market.

The current-generation Golf is remarkably competent given its age, even my favorite version, the standard hatch. After five years on the market, it still holds its own with other compacts thanks to its stable ride, agile handling, confident braking, and smooth powertrain. Perhaps the most significant change the hatch has received in its current iteration is a 1.4-liter turbo-four making 147 hp and 184 lb-ft of torque. Although that doesn’t seem like much, the engine packs a strong punch while saving on gas. It nets 29/37 mpg city/highway no matter whether you pick the purist six-speed manual or the quick-shifting eight-speed automatic.

About Kelly: I’m an online editor at MotorTrend and enjoy hiking, rock climbing, traveling, and reading classic literature. 

It’s that kind of balanced performance I’m looking for in a car. I also enjoy the Golf’s easy maneuverability when I’m parking in tight spaces in my native Orange County or even tighter spots in my work home of Los Angeles. At the same time, I need plenty of cargo room for weekend luggage, athletic gear, grocery runs, and the semi-complete sweater collection I keep in my car so I’m ready for any weather on the go. The Golf more than fits the bill for my married, kid-free lifestyle. And call it vanity, but I can’t own a car that everybody else has. That means very solid competitors like the Honda Civic and Hyundai Elantra are off my list. And I’m just not interested in a luxury car.

How I’d Spec My 2019 Volkswagen Golf

Sadly, VW may no longer offer the standard Golf and SportWagen in the U.S. as it moves into a new generation. As of May 2019, only the GTI and Golf R have been confirmed for North America. But for now, I would pick the standard hatch for its value proposition. Only two trim levels are available on the 2019 Volkswagen Golf: S ($22,740) and SE ($25,040). I would stick with the base model because it has all I need including a 6.5-inch touchscreen, cloth seats, automatic headlights, and the peace of mind that comes with autonomous emergency braking, blind-spot monitoring, and other key safety features. The SE upgrades to an 8.0-inch touchscreen, leatherette seats with front seat heating, and a panoramic sunroof. If the regular Golf disappears, I could be strong-armed into a GTI, which benefits from a more powerful engine currently making 228 hp.

The eighth-generation Golf will be revealed at the end of this year, and we hope the standard hatch makes its way to the U.S. It’s expected to sit on a lighter version of the existing MQB platform, so it should feature even sharper driving dynamics.

Two other cars I would consider: Volkswagen Beetle, Subaru Impreza

The post 2019 Volkswagen Golf: Why I’d Buy It – Kelly Pleskot appeared first on MotorTrend.

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2020 Chevrolet Silverado HD Is More Truck for Less Money

Sat, 06/15/2019 - 00:21

Chevrolet has announced pricing for the 2020 Silverado HD, and despite offering greater capability and technology than the model it replaces, the heavy-duty pickup comes at a lower starting price.

Before we get into the numbers, let’s have a quick overview of the Silverado HD range. The heavy-duty truck is offered in strong 2500 or stronger 3500 guise, the latter of which is available as a dually. Trims, from entry-level to high-end, are Work Truck, Custom (exclusive to 2500), LT, LTZ, and High Country. All come standard with a 6.6-liter gasoline V-8 that makes 401 hp and 464 lb-ft backed by a six-speed transmission, but any can be had with a 6.6-liter turbodiesel V-8 producing 445 hp and a mighty 910 lb-ft of twist through a 10-speed transmission.

Now, about money: The 2020 Silverado HD 2500 will start at $35,695, $300 less than the previous equivalent model. That’s for the entry-level Work Truck trim in regular cab/long bed, with the LT of the same configuration starting at $39,595.

Double cab/standard bed configuration is available for Work Truck at $38,095, Custom at $40,595, LT at $41,595, and LTZ at $50,295. Adding the long bed increases those prices by $200.

Crew cab/standard bed starts with Work Truck at $39,895, Custom at $42,395, LT at $43,395, LTZ at $52,095, and High Country at $62,695. Again, the long bed brings a $200 premium.

The 2020 Silverado HD 3500 brings different bed/cab combinations, and optional dually rear wheels add $1,200 over standard. Regular cab/long bed starts at $36,895, and LT at $40,795. Double cab/long bed Work Trucks go for $39,495, and LTs for $42,995.

Crew cab/standard bed Silverado 3500s in Work Truck trim start at $41,695, LT at $44,595, LTZ at $53,295, and High Country at $63,895. Like Silverado 2500s, the long bed costs an extra $200.

These trucks are built for work and have impressive towing and hauling capability. Gas-powered Silverado HDs are rated to carry a 7,466-pound payload and tow up to 17,400 pounds. Payload rating for diesel Silverado HDs isn’t yet available, but Chevrolet is proud of its 52-percent increase in towing capacity, now at 35,500 pounds.

Between the different cab, bed, rear axle, and engine combinations, 80 variants are available—and that’s before optional extras. With pricing now available, 2020 Silverado HD is making its way to dealer lots—and to our Truck of the Year contest in a few months.

Source: Chevrolet

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Refreshing or Revolting: 2020 Kia Telluride vs. Toyota Highlander

Fri, 06/14/2019 - 21:21

Kia finally entered the three-row SUV market when it introduced the Telluride this spring. One of its most formidable competitors will be the upcoming 2020 Toyota Highlander, which sheds its staid image thanks to a recent makeover. Does the Telluride’s quirky design compete with the newly elegant Highlander? Let’s examine the design differences between the two models before you make up your mind.

If you see the Telluride on the street, you’ll probably be able to tell it’s built from the company that makes the Soul. Like the small hatch, the 2020 Kia Telluride adopts an exceptionally boxy look. Up front, it features a squared-off face with rectangular headlights and a rectangular grille with a honeycomb pattern. You could say the Highlander adopts a softer look, with wedge-shaped headlights and rounded grille with a 3D-effect lattice design. A decorative wing element is attached to the Toyota badge for a little flair. Not content with a simple Kia logo, the Telluride sprawls its name out in silver letters across the hood.

The boxy theme continues when you look at the side profile of the Telluride. The Highlander gets a more car-like nose, and instead of sharp straight character lines on the Telluride, it features a fluid hip line. It also gets a floating roof design, and the window tapers off dramatically from the front to back, further contributing to its windswept look. The Telluride stands out for its extensive body cladding, giving it an off-road-ready look.

Both vehicles feature simple rear designs without too many embellishments. In the rear, the Telluride features its name in wide lettering once again, this time in between the taillights. The quote mark-shaped lights have vertical lines as lighting signatures. In contrast, the Highlander sports thin, wide taillights. The Telluride has a chunky bumper, complemented by a bold rear skid plate with integrated twin exhaust pipes.

Hop inside the Telluride, and you’ll find the cabin feels wide. It gets a stretched-out dash with a wide 10.25-inch touchscreen available, plus a row of buttons and vents all oriented in a straight horizontal line. The Highlander features a more cluttered array off buttons, and a more layered dash design. The dash is set off by ambient lighting in pockets under the screen and in the passenger side compartment. The Highlander offers a massive 12.3-inch touchscreen.

Which three-row SUV is the better looker: the 2020 Kia Telluride or Toyota Highlander? Let us know in the comments on Facebook.

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Best Father’s Day Gifts for Your Car-Loving Dad

Fri, 06/14/2019 - 18:45

My first memory behind the wheel is of steering my father’s 1998 Ford Taurus down our little dead end street and turning into our driveway. Notice I said steering, not driving. I was sitting on his lap. Many of us wouldn’t be anywhere near as enthusiastic about the automotive world without the presence of our car guy dads, so this Father’s Day, grab your rad dad some sweet car-related gifts he’ll never forget.

And if you’re more of a last-minute shopper, MotorTrend On Demand has quite the Father’s Day offer! Your choice of $2.99 for the first month or $29.99 for the first year will get Dad access to our entire collection of automotive programming, plus a bonus Father’s Day episode of Roadkill and a whole bonus season of Wheeler Dealers. This Roadkill episode should be a fun one; Freiburger and Finnegan are battling Ford vs. Chevy in a cheap beater battle. It’s full of V-8s and burnouts and drag races and all the vehicular madness you and your dad love. Plus, if he’s a racing fan, we’ll be streaming live from Le Mans all weekend.

We might be biased, but we think a MotorTrend On Demand subscription is your best bet. In case you want something to pair with it, here are some other Father’s Day gifts your dad will also love.

Autoart Scale Model

What would your dad enjoy more than looking at his car all weekend? Looking at a lovingly crafted 1:18 scale model of his car all day, every day because it’ll fit on his desk! Plus he won’t make you sleep in the backyard if you scratch the fender. The folks at Autoart make exactly what we look for in a scale model: millimetrically precise interior and exterior details that celebrate each and every tiny car they build.

Turo car for the weekend

A unique rental car is the perfect temporary vacation from your dad’s practical daily driver, and Turo is probably the best place to find one. Because Turo vehicles are owned by real drivers (not rental agencies), the rides available for booking are a lot more interesting and more varied than the sea of white Mitsubishi Mirages or similar at your average rental lot. Outdoorsy dads would love a weekend in a doorless Wrangler, sporty dads could live out their boy racer dreams in a Porsche 911—the possibilities are nearly endless. Want to get an idea of what’s available? Check out our article here.

Hot Wheels ID Smart Track Kit

Yes, this box of fun might be more targeted toward children than fathers, but hear me out: how many years has your dad been buying Hot Wheels for you? Isn’t it time to give back? Hot Wheels ID might be the biggest product launch for the Mattel-owned toy brand in the last 50 years. The new line of Hot Wheels cars and tracks incorporates the capability to track and log each individual car’s performance, and the new Smart Track has the most powerful booster Hot Wheels has ever made! Bonus point: the Hot Wheels ID line goes on sale June 14, so Dad will probably be the first kid on the block to have one.

Automotive Wall Art

Your car-guy dad needs more automotive art in his life—he’s just too busy wrenching and doing other car-guy things to buy some for himself. The folks at Blipshift seem to have a direct artery into what we love about cars and their always-changing collection of posters (and t-shirts!) would make great gifts for Dad.

Lego Speed Champions

Lego struck gold with the Speed Champions collection. It consists only of real licensed cars, rather than generic car-like figures in Lego sets of old. These sets start at only $14.99, but if you’ve got a little extra money to spend, check out one of their automotive pairings like the 2018 Dodge Challenger SRT Demon and 1970 Dodge Charger R/T.

Linear Edge Track Sculpture

Is your dad a racing fan? A track nut? If he has a favorite track, we can’t think of a better way to celebrate it than a hanging sculpture from Linear Edge. Their built-to-scale wooden track sculptures are minimalist enough to pass as modern art, but you and dad will know the deal. Linear Edge has 100 different tracks to choose from, and if they don’t have the circuit you’re looking for (say Mario Kart 64’s Moo Moo Farm, a track I distinctly remember racing with my dad back in the day) they’ll custom build it for you at no extra cost. He’ll love it.

Autodromo Group B

Put ‘yer dang phone away! Your dad still remembers the days when a small clock on your wrist was still the easiest way to check the time, and he probably still wears one. Wristwatches and race cars have a long history and there are plenty of motorsport-inspired timepieces to choose from, but we’re recommending the Autodromo Group B Series 2. It’s a 1980s rally–inspired time-teller that will definitely look rad on Dad’s wrist, and the robust Miyota 9015 automatic movement will last a lot longer than ‘yer phone.

Xbox One X and Game Pass Ultimate

Racing games are a blast for any car fan, and the 4K-capable Xbox One X may be the best machine out there for taking a virtual drive. Spring for an Xbox Game Pass subscription for dad so he’ll have access to racers like Forza Horizon 4 and F1 2018. Is your dad a little too old to be proficient with a modern controller? Consider splurging for a simulation-grade wheel and pedal setup from Fanatec.

Detailing Equipment

If Dad’s got an old classic in the garage, chances are he likes to keep it clean. Get him a bucket of detailing products and microfiber towels from Meguiar’s Ultimate Line so he can toss the old t-shirt he’s been using to buff the hood. Maybe enough paint correction could get rid of that fender scratch he “isn’t” still mad about.

Coffee table book

Your dad isn’t just a gear head, he’s a brilliant intellectual thinker and he’s better than everyone else’s dad—and there’s no better way to let the world know than a serious flex of a coffee table book. Check out the Luftgekühlt Book, a three-part telling of the origins of the Luftgekühlt story. It’s perfect for any person who loves Porsche, and it would look fabulous on your dad’s coffee table.

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Hot Wheels ID Is the Classic Toy Reimagined for a Connected Age

Fri, 06/14/2019 - 14:00

I can’t remember how I got it, but I can vividly recall my very first Hot Wheels. It was a red double-headed dragon on four chrome wheels. I remember how the contrast of smooth plastic and cold metal felt in my hands, and being certain it could roll forever if only my kitchen floor were bigger. That was over 30 years ago, and since then Hot Wheels has expanded to include many more designs and features, but the way you play with them hasn’t changed much. Not until today.

Hot Wheels ID is Mattel’s vision for the future of the die-cast toy line, which just celebrated its 50th anniversary in 2018. A project three years in the making, the Hot Wheels ID series takes the classic 1:64-scale cars we all know and grants the ability to download digital versions of them into a mobile game (launching first on iOS). It’s a concept that’s been done before in the toy industry by the likes of Skylanders and Lego Dimensions, but because you play with Hot Wheels differently from either of those the experience is unique.

Like others in the toys-to-life genre, Hot Wheels ID cars use Near-Field Communication (NFC) to scan the toy and retrieve the information needed to create an avatar for it in the game. Each Hot Wheels ID car has a chip on the bottom, visible through a layer of clear plastic, that stores information specific to that toy. Like a virtual VIN, the data tells you what number your car is in the series. As with real cars, you can expect Hot Wheels with low sequence numbers to be prized. The chip also stores performance data and racing history (more on those later), which stay with the car its entire life. If you trade a car, its new owner can see everything it’s ever done once they scan it, at which point it will disappear from your virtual garage.

The scanning can happen one of two ways: by tapping the car to your iPhone (7 and up) or by passing it through a Hot Wheels Race Portal, which is sold separately. The portal runs on a rechargeable battery, and uses Bluetooth to relay info to your device. What’s cool about it is there’s a pair of infrared sensors that record speed and count laps. The game shows you scale speed, so you can achieve some ridiculous numbers (we saw up to 800 mph in a demo). You can attach the portal to any Hot Wheels track, but if you connect it to the Hot Wheels ID Smart Track, whatever you build in real life is mirrored in the game.

Your virtual track can be raced using cars you’ve scanned or digital-only cars you earn or buy in-game. In campaign mode, there are challenges that get harder as you progress, and each offers a chance to earn ID Coins to upgrade your car or purchase blueprints for digital cars. Mattel will hold live events where you can scan NFC tags for exclusive digital cars, and there will be global events in the game bringing new challenges periodically.

You can of course still play with the physical track and cars when you’re not on the app–and if you’re like us, you’ll have plenty of fun without the digital aspect. The Smart Track Kit includes Hot Wheels’ most powerful launcher ever, which is what enables the above mentioned ridiculous scale speeds and will send a car flying off the track if you overcharge it. Adding multiple cars increases the challenge and the fun. The data recorded by the portal will appear the next time you connect to the game.

At launch, the Hot Wheels ID line will have eight cars, the portal, and Smart Track available exclusively at select Apple Stores, with the game available for download on the App Store. The Android version will be released a month later on Amazon Prime Day, along with another eight cars. In total, 51 cars are planned for 2019, with 100 more on the way in 2020, including designs licensed by more than a dozen OEM brands. Hot Wheels ID lands at Target stores this October, just in time for the holidays.

The cars retail for $6.99 each—more than the $0.99 we’re used to paying for a regular Hot Wheels, but not outrageous considering production will be limited. The cars also get fancier packaging better suited for collectibles. But the other two products in the ID line are significantly pricier. The portal goes for $39.99 and the Smart Track Kit asks a whopping $179.99. Kids better be extra-good this holiday season if they put that on their list.

Mattel says today’s kids expect more from their toys, and Hot Wheels ID certainly delivers more. But crucially, the added features also don’t take much, if anything, away from the original toys. Kids can still create lasting memories like the ones I have, plus a few more. But if you get nostalgic for good, old-fashioned die-cast metal and plastic wheels, don’t worry. Traditional Hot Wheels cars aren’t going anywhere anytime soon.

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Here’s Every Tesla We’ve Tested So Far

Fri, 06/14/2019 - 09:00

We can largely thank Tesla for making electric vehicles exciting. From the original Roadster to the more practical and mass-market Model 3, Tesla hasn’t missed a beat in creating vehicles that are quick, nimble, and technologically advanced. While other automakers will be flooding the market with high-performance EVs in the coming years, we’ll always appreciate Tesla for beginning the charge. And though there’s no shortage of turmoil at the company these days, Tesla remains committed to high performance, promising a host of new vehicles including the Model Y SUV and next-gen Roadster. To see how the carmaker has evolved over the last decade, keep reading for a list of all the Tesla vehicles we’ve ever tested.


2010 Tesla Roadster Sport

0-60: 3.7 seconds
¼ mile: 12.6 seconds at 102.6 mph
Figure eight: 24.6 seconds at 0.81 g (avg)
60-0: 113 feet

Tesla nailed it with its first product, the Roadster. In 2009, we clocked this sinewy sports car hitting 60 mph in an impressive 3.7 seconds. The Sport model we tested produced the same 288 hp as the standard Roadster but at 600 fewer revs (4,400 rpm) and 295 lb-ft of torque, up from 273 lb-ft. The feeling behind the wheel was almost otherworldly. “It’s such an unnatural thrust that it actually brings to mind that hokey Star Trek star-smear of warp-speed,” we wrote in a First Test. “The quick, linear accumulation of velocity makes you smile and hold on, shake your head, and eventually learn to carve unimaginable moves through traffic that’s populated by completely flat-footed internal-combustion cars.” Predictably, the performance came with a high price tag of $130,000.

We can’t wait to test the new 2020 Tesla Roadster, which the automaker claims will be able to hit 60 mph in 1.9 seconds.


2012 Tesla Model S P85

0-60: 3.9 seconds
¼ mile: 12.5 seconds at 110.9 mph
Figure eight: 25.3 seconds at 0.70 g (avg)
60-0: 105 feet

The next time we tested a Tesla, it was Elon Musk’s personal Model S. Tesla had just introduced the electric luxury sedan, and this performance version made 416 hp and 443 lb-ft of torque. Weighing almost 2,000 pounds more than the Roadster we tested, this car took 3.9 seconds to hit 60 mph. We managed to travel from Fontana on the eastern edge of the L.A. basin to San Diego and all the way back on one charge, pushing the car’s 265-mile range to the limit.


2013 Tesla Model S P85

0-60: 4.0 seconds
¼ mile: 12.4 seconds at 112.5 mph
Figure eight: 25.6 at 0.77 g (avg)
60-0: 113 feet

The Model S was a contender for MotorTrend’s Car of the Year award—and it won. Like our last Model S tester, this model had the performance bits that helped it make 416 hp.

The vote was unanimous among the 11 judges. “The mere fact the Tesla Model S exists at all is a testament to innovation and entrepreneurship, the very qualities that once made the American automobile industry the largest, richest, and most powerful in the world,” we wrote. “America can still make things. Great things.”


2013 Tesla Model S

0-60: 5.0 seconds
¼ mile: 13.2 seconds at 110.9 mph
Figure eight: 25.7 seconds at 0.76 g (avg)
60-0: 124 feet

During our Car of the Year evaluation, we also tested a less powerful version of the Model S. It still had the biggest 85-kilowatt-hour lithium-ion battery option, but output was limited to 362 hp and 325 lb-ft of torque. The sedan hit 60 mph in 5.0 seconds, making it a full second slower than the performance models we had tested.


2013 Tesla Model S P85+ Long Term

0-60: 4.0 seconds
¼ mile: 12.7 seconds at 107.8 mph
Figure eight: 25.3 seconds at 0.74 g (avg)
60-0: 108 feet

After the Model S won our Car of the Year award, we drove one for a more than a year to get a better idea of how it performs over the long run. We came away impressed, despite the model getting a new power unit when technicians noticed a clicking sound in the single-speed reduction gears—it proved an easy swap-out. Over the course of 38,000 miles, the car’s battery experienced little degradation.


2014 Tesla Model S P85+

0-60: 3.9 seconds
¼ mile: 12.5 seconds at 108.4 mph
Figure eight: 24.8 seconds at 0.80 g (avg)
60-0: 102 feet


In 2014, we pitted a Model S against the BMW i8 in a comparison test. Although the i8 proved more nimble, the Model S took the crown for its impressive power, everyday livability, and excellent efficiency.


2015 Tesla Model S P85D

0-60: 3.1 seconds
¼ mile: 11.6 seconds at 115.2 mph
Figure eight: 25.0 seconds at 0.77 g (avg)
60-0: 113 feet

By this point, Tesla had made significant updates to the Model S, including improved seats and upgraded powertrains. Thus, Tesla’s new P85D model boasted a significant power increase over previous Model S sedans. It had a new dual-motor setup—one motor at the front and one at the back—good for a combined 691 hp and 687 lb-ft of torque. We were pleased with the upgrades, noting in our First Test: “The torque impacts your body with the violence of facing the wrong way on the train tracks when the whistle blows.”


2015 Tesla Model S P85D

0-60: 3.2 seconds
¼ mile: 11.7 seconds at 113.7 mph
Figure eight: 25.2 seconds at 0.79 g (avg)
60-0: 104 feet

Later, we tested the model again, pitting it against a Dodge Charger SRT Hellcat. Surprisingly, the Tesla was heavier (4,944 pounds versus the Hellcat’s 4,562 pounds).


2015 Tesla Model S P90D Ludicrous

0-60: 2.6 seconds
¼ mile: 10.9 seconds at 122.7 mph
Figure eight: 24.7 at 0.81 g (avg)
60-0: 109 feet

Now, Tesla was making a version of the Model S with an insane 762 hp and 713 lb-ft of torque. This combined output comes courtesy of a more potent version of the new all-wheel-drive, dual-motor setup. In our tests, the Model S with the Ludicrous update zipped to 60 mph in 2.6 seconds, making it the quickest four-door on the market at the time. This time was even good enough to beat top sports cars. It was quicker to 60 mph than the Nissan GT-R, Lamborghini Aventador, and Bugatti Veyron, and it was tied with the McLaren P1.


2016 Tesla Model X P90D Ludicrous

0-60: 3.2 seconds
¼ mile: 11.7 seconds at 116.0 mph
Figure eight: 25.1 seconds at 0.78 g (avg)
60-0: 106 feet

Tesla took the Ludicrous magic of the top Model S and repackaged it in SUV form. The Model X, known for its falcon-wing doors, is ridiculously quick when equipped with a dual-motor powertrain making a total of 532 hp and 713 lb-ft of torque. Its 5,516-pound curb weight didn’t hinder its performance; the SUV cosseted drivers with excellent ride quality and cornering ability, plus very solid braking performance. It became the quickest SUV we had ever tested at the time, and it was even 0.2 second quicker than a Ferrari Enzo to 60 mph.


2016 Tesla Model X 75D

0-60: 5.5 seconds
¼ mile: 14.1 seconds at 100.6 mph
Figure eight: 26.7 seconds at 0.70 g (avg)
60-0: 113 feet

Without the dual-motor setup of our previous tester, this version of the Model X had more modest performance. The 328-hp SUV hit 60 mph in 5.5 seconds, putting it on par with the Jaguar F-Pace S AWD. In a review, we noted you get 90 percent of the adventure of the top P90D model for more than $40,000 less.


2016 Tesla Model S 60

0-60: 5.0 seconds
¼ mile: 13.6 seconds at 103.5 mph
Figure eight: 26.5 seconds at 0.70 g (avg)
60-0: 121 feet

Finally, it was time to test the “budget” version of the Model S sedan. Making 315 hp, this sedan managed to hit 60 mph in 5.0 seconds, which was still quick compared with many other EVs on the market. Range was limited to 200 miles, but buyers could pay for a software upgrade that unlocked an extra 40 miles of range. It had a bit more body roll than higher-trim Model S sedans equipped with stickier tires and an air suspension. But for less than $70,000 before tax credits, you were still getting a technological marvel with a solid ride and great steering.


2017 Tesla Model S P100D (Ludicrous+)

0-60: 2.3 seconds
¼ mile: 10.5 seconds at 125.0 mph
Figure eight: 24.6 seconds at 0.82 g (avg)
60-0: 109 feet

Tesla outdid itself again. The Tesla Model S P100D featured a new 100-kW-hr battery pack with enough juice to propel itself to 60 mph in 2.28 seconds. To this day, it remains the quickest production car MotorTrend has ever tested. P100D models could travel 315 miles on a single charge.


2017 Tesla Model 3 Long Range

0-60: 4.8 seconds
¼ mile: 13.4 seconds at 104.9 mph
Figure eight: 25.7 seconds at 0.74 g (avg)
60-0: 119 feet

The Model 3 was “make it or break it” for the automaker. It was a test to see if Tesla could build affordable cars with enough range to serve as someone’s one and only vehicle. So far, it has been a big sales success. When it arrived on the scene, Tesla’s small sedan proved more capable in many ways than a segment favorite, the BMW 330i. For instance, with a 0-60 time of 4.8 seconds, it was 0.7 second quicker to 60 mph. This rear-motor, rear-drive model made 271 hp and 307 lb-ft of torque.


2018 Tesla Model 3 Dual Motor Performance

0-60: 3.2 seconds
¼ mile: 11.8 seconds at 115.2 mph
Figure eight: 24.3 seconds at 0.84 g (avg)
60-0: 99 feet

This Model 3 variant is far from entry level. Packing 450 hp and 471 lb-ft of torque from a dual-motor, all-wheel-drive powertrain, this small sedan made it to 60 mph in 3.2 seconds. Just as notable, it managed to brake from 60 mph in 99 feet, putting it on par with the Alfa Romeo Giulia Quadrifoglio.


2018 Tesla Model 3 Dual Motor Long Range

0-60: 4.0 seconds
¼ mile: 12.5 seconds 113.1 mph
Figure eight: 24.9 seconds at 0.78 g (avg)
60-0: 113 feet

This model combined the best from the two-motor Model 3 with the longer-range model. Most consumers will not be wanting for power. With a total of 346 hp and 376 lb-ft of torque from its two motors, this sedan hit 60 mph in 4 seconds flat. That time put it in good company with the Ford Mustang GT, Chevrolet Camaro SS, and Dodge Charger and Challenger Hellcats.

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2020 Mercedes GLB-Class: 5 Things You Should Know About the New Luxury Crossover

Fri, 06/14/2019 - 09:00

At Mercedes-Benz’s press drive of its new 2020 GLS-Class (stay tuned for the review), the German brand used the opportunity to show U.S. journalists its newest crossover—the 2020 GLB-Class. With a boxier design, space for up to seven passengers, and the latest technology, the GLB will slot between the GLA and the GLC crossovers. We already covered a lot of ground in our 2020 Mercedes-Benz GLB-Class First Look, but here are a few things we found out after the compact crossover was presented in Park City, Utah.

EQB Coming in 2021

As Mercedes pushes to bring more electric vehicles to market, it will be producing new nameplates based on current internal combustion engine models. And the EQB will be no exception. The EQB will arrive to market in 2021 on the same platform as the GLB but with an electric powertrain. Details are scarce at the moment, but we just drove the first electric SUV from Mercedes—the EQC. Our impressions? We thought the steering didn’t offer good road feel, but we liked the interior finishes and user experience from the MBUX infotainment system. We’ll have to wait and see what’s in store for the EQB.

Built in Aguascalientes, Mexico


The GLB is the first Mercedes-Benz passenger car to be built in Mexico. The compact SUV will be produced in Aguascalientes, Mexico—in the same plant where the Infiniti QX50 is built, though the two SUVs won’t share a single part. The plant was part of an alliance between Daimler and Renault-Nissan to build Mercedes and Infiniti vehicles. China will also be producing the GLB for the Chinese market.

It’s just a bit shorter than the GLC

It might look much smaller in person, but the GLB is only a tad shorter than the GLC. The GLB has a 111.4-inch wheelbase (compared to the GLC’s 113.1 inches) and is 182.2 inches long (the GLC is 183.3). But in person, its boxiness gives it a more compact look, and it reminded me of the size of the first-gen Volkswagen Tiguan (now known as the Tiguan Limited in the U.S.).

The third row is for emergencies only

As a 5+2 vehicle, the GLB can carry seven passengers. But the optional third row is only good for young children. The very tight third row is difficult to get into, and if you do get in, your knees will be high, as legroom is pretty compromised. When I talked to designers about offering a third row, they said Chinese customers are always looking for a third row, so they decided to offer it in the U.S. in case there are any takers. But trust us: Only small children should sit back there. In contrast, the second row is pretty spacious and can comfortably seat three adults.

Pricing should start at about $38,500

It’s a big estimation, but the GLB’s price should be between that of the GLA and GLC, or somewhere between $34,945 and $41,545. Given that it’s closer to the GLC’s size, we expect the price to be closer to the GLC. We expect to have more information when the GLB makes its debut at the end of this year.

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Tested: Is the Genesis G70 Still a Driver’s Car With the 2.0T Engine?

Fri, 06/14/2019 - 09:00

Here’s a story you’ve heard before: “[Upstart manufacturer] creates sports sedan to take on the BMW 3 Series.” It’s a tale as old as the 3 Series itself, with new chapters added every few years as ambitious brands take their turn at rivaling the German standard-setter. With the Genesis G70, 2019 marked the shortest time from brand establishment to Car of the Year win. The Genesis G70 win is especially impressive considering it’s the three-year-old brand’s first effort in the segment. Recently, we spent time in the base-engine G70 2.0T and wondered: Would the G70’s prowess as a driver’s car still shine through? And, crucially, could it hold its position against the 3 Series?

Our G70 2.0T tester’s 2.0-liter turbo-four produces 252 hp and 260 lb-ft of torque, compared to 365 hp and 376 lb-ft from the 3.3T model’s 3.3-liter twin-turbo V-6. Acceleration drops accordingly; its 0–60 time of 6.2 seconds is a second and a half behind the six-cylinder version of our Car of the Year champ. It’s also slower than all-wheel-drive Audi A4s we’ve tested; those cars hit 60 in 5.0–5.4 seconds despite having identical displacement and horsepower.

The four-cylinder G70 completed the quarter-mile sprint in 14.7 seconds at 93.9 mph, falling behind the Mercedes C 300’s 14.1 seconds at 99.9 mph. Supposedly the Genesis has launch control, but road test editor Chris Walton found it didn’t help—enabling it produced “a little chirp from the tires, then the engine bogs a bit. Trying various rpm brake releases produced nearly identical runs.”

Outside of a dragstrip, however, the 2.0T model doesn’t leave the driver wanting for acceleration. Clearly it’s turbocharged; there’s a bit of lag as power arrives a moment after the driver’s input. Keep it on boost, though, and it rushes toward its 6,200-rpm horsepower peak. Genesis attempts to amplify the experience by playing an artificial engine note inside the cabin, but its organic delivery had us wondering what effect it had.

In casual driving, the Genesis-designed eight-speed automatic transmission shifts with just enough feeling to let the driver know something’s happening. Hit the upshift paddle under generous throttle, and it responds with a satisfying kick into the next gear. However, the downshift paddle wasn’t so reactive. In real-world and track testing, multiple taps often wouldn’t engage a lower gear while braking.

Annoyingly, there’s no manual mode—the G70 returns to automatic shifting if you hold a gear too long, or whenever you come to a stop. For permanent manual mode, Genesis notably offers the G70 2.0T with a six-speed stick. The company knew the take rate for the manual would be low, and to date it’s only sold a handful of cars so equipped. Still, the automaker did it to capture the attention of enthusiasts, who would hopefully recognize the newcomer brand keeps their interests in mind.

The 2.0T drivetrain didn’t wow us like the 3.3T did, but the smaller engine cuts 119 pounds of mass over the front axle, yielding an improved 51/49 percent front/rear weight distribution. That seemed to parlay the balance we praised in our Car of the Year writeup. However, in figure-eight handling testing, testing director Kim Reynolds found where the G70 might concede to the 3 Series. Despite the Genesis weighing only 13 pounds more, its steering feels heavier and less natural than the BMW’s: “A bit wonky and more artificial, but I don’t want to be too critical—it’s fun,” he wrote.

That weighty steering complements the excellent chassis tuning, an element that’s continuously evident in the G70’s drive. The taut suspension and stiff body communicate what the tires are passing over, but the ride is supple, not harsh or crashy. We might not call it nimble, but it’s always poised. This isn’t a car you toss around, rather one in which you plot a flow down the road—equally enjoyable in highway cruising and backroad exploration. This is where the G70 earns its sport sedan credentials. The overall feeling it provides is one of connection, refinement, and solidity.

Those adjectives describe the interior, too. It looks and feels high quality, with hardly a surface that could be described as cheap. Our car’s lovely black-over-brown interior was a hit among testers and passengers. Quilted leather seats have bolstering that strikes harmony between sport and luxury. The door panel, center console lid, and transmission tunnel are comfortably padded where the driver might rest their extremities. Brightwork on trim, knobs, and buttons isn’t genuine metal but—like everything in the cabin—presents a substantial feel.

Genesis’ decision to forgo a dial or touchpad for infotainment control is appreciated. A fixed 8.0-inch screen centrally mounted on the dashboard responds quickly to touch inputs. Graphics aren’t among today’s best, but integration with Apple CarPlay or Android Auto is fairly seamless. The screen’s positioning may be suboptimal for shorter drivers, but its location and function seems natural and sensible. Sensible, too, is how the instrument cluster display between the gauges works; toggles on the steering wheel let the driver access key functions on the move. All climate tasks can be controlled by physical dials and buttons on the center console.

A few quirks and confusions indicate this is a first-effort car. The navigation system SD card, which will almost never be accessed, is smack in the center of the dashboard, displacing more useful buttons next to it. Several times on our tester, switching drive modes while using Apple CarPlay garbled our music, requiring an on-off of the audio to fix. The head-up display spontaneously disappeared between drives. We eventually found it, positioned in a way that couldn’t be safely viewed while driving. It wouldn’t adjust back into sight, as if the projector shifted entirely. Adaptive cruise control cut out at the same time, and no number of vehicle restarts got it going again.

Although Genesis is a subbrand of Hyundai, little about the G70 indicates that it shares parts with a non-luxury brand. Yes, the lower door cards are plastic, and the infotainment is what you’d find in any Hyundai. But if Genesis saved development dollars there and spent more on improving the way the car drives, it’s a worthwhile trade-off. At $44,895, our fully loaded G70 2.0T Dynamic rings up many thousands of dollars less than similarly equipped competitors.

We summed up our 2019 Car of the Year report by praising Genesis for “accomplishing the near impossible: It built a better 3 Series.” Again, in a recent comparison, the G70 2.0T beat the 330i (but was bested by the Tesla Model 3), our testers saying the Korean car “represents the pinnacle of a segment.” To answer our earlier questions, yes, the G70 is still excellent even with the smaller engine. And yes, it still beats the 3 Series.

2019 Genesis G70 2.0T BASE PRICE $35,895 PRICE AS TESTED $44,895 VEHICLE LAYOUT Front-engine, RWD, 5-pass, 4-door sedan ENGINE 2.0L/252-hp/260-lb-ft turbo DOHC 16-valve I-4 TRANSMISSION 8-speed automatic CURB WEIGHT (F/R DIST) 3,659 lb (51/49%) WHEELBASE 111.6 in LENGTH x WIDTH x HEIGHT 184.5 x 72.8 x 55.1 in 0-60 MPH 6.2 sec QUARTER MILE 14.7 sec @ 93.9 mph BRAKING, 60-0 MPH 106 ft LATERAL ACCELERATION 0.94 g (avg) MT FIGURE EIGHT 25.2 sec @ 0.72 g (avg) EPA CITY/HWY/COMB FUEL ECON 22/30/25 mpg ENERGY CONS, CITY/HWY 153/112 kW-hrs/100 miles CO2 EMISSIONS, COMB 0.78 lb/mile

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2019 Honda Accord Hybrid: Why I’d Buy It – Zach Gale

Fri, 06/14/2019 - 09:00

“What car should I buy?” It’s a question consumers ask themselves every day, but what would senior production editor Zach Gale drive? Keep reading for the answer, and see other editors’ picks here.

When I turn the knob, I giggle. It’s stupid, I know, but turn a 2019 Honda Accord’s temperature dial, and watch as the accent lighting turns blue or red, depending on whether you made the air hotter or colder. Cool, right? If I were in the market for a new car, however, green is the most important color to me. Because I believe humans are doing serious damage to the planet, my new-car purchase would be limited to hybrids, plug-in hybrids, and full EVs. But as I mentioned in my Toyota RAV4 Hybrid fantasy-SUV buying story, I’m cheap. So regardless of my personal budget, I’m not interested in cars that cost too much to begin with and then slap you with enormous maintenance bills down the road.

The smaller Insight hybrid sedan would probably meet my needs most of the time, but I prefer the Accord’s interior and higher seating position. Upgrading to a midsize sedan means more rear-seat space. And since I haven’t selected the gorgeous-for-a-midsize-sedan Ford Fusion Energi plug-in hybrid, my new car will actually come with a full-size trunk. That’s right, if you go for the hybrid version of the spacious Accord, trunk space goes from 16.7 cubic feet to … 16.7 cubic feet. The Ford’s many hybrid displays make commuting more fun, but the Fusions aren’t as roomy for people or cargo. So I’ll stick with Honda even though I’m tempted to snag a great deal on a Fusion before they disappear from dealer lots.

The Accord Hybrid has another advantage over the more attractive Ford: acceleration. The Honda hits 60 mph in a MotorTrend-tested 6.7 seconds, quicker than any hybridized Fusion. That’s also quicker than a base-engine Accord or Clarity plug-in, which is the other car I’d strongly consider. I remember being impressed by the Clarity’s ride, and its EV range is exceptional. The overstyled Clarity plug-in will get you 47 EPA-rated miles on EV power before the gas engine turns on to power you through another few hundred miles.

The truth is that I wavered between the Clarity plug-in and Accord hybrid while writing this story. The Clarity’s matte wood-like trim and suede-like trim feel upscale, but I prefer the Accord’s higher infotainment screen placement and volume knob for when my husband is serving as in-car DJ. Driven back to back on the world-class driving roads near me in Southern California, I bet the Accord—which is about 700 pounds lighter—will be more fun. With no stylistic middle ground between these two cars, I’ll drive the more subdued Accord even though I prefer the last-gen model’s wheel design to the current one.

The Clarity would be better for avoiding visits to the gas station, but as it is, the Accord Hybrid’s 48/48 mpg city/highway rating and 600-plus-mile driving range mean I won’t need to refuel often. I’ll take mine in Touring form (for the ventilated front seats), wearing Obsidian Blue Pearl paint and a black-chrome grille to avoid the Accord’s overchromed stock look.

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