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2018 Volkswagen Atlas SE Long-Term Update 1: Tire Killer!

Sat, 02/16/2019 - 09:00

The light goes green. The front tires jump, chirp as they lose traction, then settle as I pull away from the line. Such has been my experience with the Volkswagen Atlas. And before you jump to conclusions and assume I’m gunning it at every stoplight, let me assure you that I am not being overly aggressive in my acceleration. Unfortunately, our V-6-equipped brute is not equipped with the $1,800 optional 4Motion all-wheel-drive system, which means the entirety of the 266 lb-ft is directed forward overwhelming the limits of the front tires. And that’s when the ground is dry. When it rains, luckily a rare event in Southern California, you really have to let the Atlas begin to roll without giving it any throttle input in order to mitigate tire slippage. I would hesitate to drive in wetter, colder climates that could see snow or ice without replacing its current 245/60R18 Continental CrossContact LX Sport tires.

The front-end traction is not the only driving characteristic that reduces my confidence in the Atlas’s overall handling. Like a 4,200-pound Great Dane puppy, it bounds places, full of unnecessary movements and unsure of how to control its enormous extremities. My commute includes a section of rough coastal road, and once the bumps, drops, twists, and turns start, I never feel like the Atlas settles until I get back to a smooth, level road.

Despite the Atlas’s shortcomings, the generously sized VW has become a favorite of our video crew, who regularly uses it to haul multiple people as well as countless cases of equipment. The cavernous Atlas, with its 96.8 cubic feet of cargo room, provides ample room to store their stuff and still have room to work out of on the road. With two USB ports servicing the front passengers, two for the second row, and one 12-volt plug per row, the Atlas has plenty of power options to support the needs of passengers in the first two rows. Absent from the Atlas’ interior: USB ports for the third row as well as a 110-volt outlet, which is much handier than 12-volt plugs requiring inverters in order to plug most electronics in. The missing USB and 110-volt outlets are what keep the Atlas from joining the true family hauler ranks alongside minivans and full-size SUVs.

The cavernous cargo area is truly impressive with the second and third rows folded. Read more about our long-term 2018 Volkswagen Atlas SE:

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Categories: Property

Refreshing or Revolting: 2020 Subaru Legacy

Sat, 02/16/2019 - 00:00

Subaru has fully redesigned the Legacy sedan, but you’d never know it. The model sits on a new platform and features new technologies, but the exterior design changes are pretty minimal. That’s not surprising given Subaru’s conservative attitude toward vehicle styling. The question is: Is the subtle approach effective or not? Let’s take a closer look at the design updates on the 2020 Subaru Legacy.

Up front, the headlights look smaller, although very similar to the old design. There is no longer a frame around the grille, giving the new model a more streamlined appearance. The new grille also has sharper corners than the old one. The model pictured here has new black trim around the lower intake area.

When looking at the side profile, you’ll notice the biggest change is the new set of wheels. The two main character lines that run across the doors have also been redesigned. The top character line is softer, and the bottom one curves upward toward the rear wheel. Subaru revamped the design of the side mirrors for improved aerodynamics. Also, notice the shape of the window has altered near the rear. The roofline drops down more sharply when it reaches the trunk compared to the old model. In the rear, you’ll find slimmer taillights with a new lighting signature. This change is complemented by a redesigned license plate area and bumper. Overall, the rear looks more upright.

The most important updates happen inside the cabin. The previous model featured an optional 8-inch screen oriented horizontally. Now, Subaru has adopted an 11.6-inch screen oriented vertically like a tablet. If you want to change the cabin temperature, there are new haptic controls at the bottom of the screen, as well as physical buttons off to the side. The air vents are now positioned to the side of the screen instead of on top. You’ll also find the shifter is new.

Is the 2020 Subaru Legacy refreshing or revolting? Let us know in the comments on Facebook.

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Categories: Property

The Hyundai Santa Cruz Pickup Truck’s Design Has Changed

Fri, 02/15/2019 - 23:43

Remember the Hyundai Santa Cruz lifestyle pickup concept from the 2015 Detroit auto show? Well ,that was a long time ago, and it no longer looks like that.

The unibody compact truck for young buyers was well-received and the automaker started work on a production model. It was even given the board’s blessing to add it to the product plan for sale in 2018 as a 2019 model. But a sales slump, the ouster of CEO Dave Zuchowski who was its champion, and a focus on other vehicles pushed Santa Cruz down the priority list.

Time has passed and the design strategy at Hyundai has changed. As the brand has matured, there is no longer the need to give every product in the lineup the same look. No more Russian dolls, says SangYup Lee, head of the Hyundai Global Design Center in Namyang, Korea. He wants new vehicles to be striking and different, forcing customers to take a closer second look at which point they discover it is a Hyundai.

It means that the Santa Cruz, a concept penned five years ago, was designed under the old family-resemblance regime. The design had to be updated, while keeping the basic look that made it popular.

The new Santa Cruz “will be a lot more distinctive” and have “a lot more character,” said Lee in an interview with MotorTrend. It is still a crossover pickup “but the look of it is a lot more progressive.” The new look has been finalized and locked in.

Santa Cruz is still expected to ride on the same platform as the Hyundai Tucson which is also due to be redone. The pickup will not hit the market until 2020 at the earliest. Lee would not confirm a timeline. A Kia pickup could follow later.

The original concept was shown with a large cab with suicide doors and a short bed that could be extended. It had a 2.0-liter turbodiesel engine. We would expect a four-cylinder gas engine for the U.S. market where diesels are not popular beyond large pickups and SUVs. Hyundai originally planned to offer an optional 2.2-liter turbodiesel in the Santa Fe but cancelled those plans, citing low demand.

Pictured is the Hyundai Santa Cruz concept from 2015.

The post The Hyundai Santa Cruz Pickup Truck’s Design Has Changed appeared first on Motortrend.

Categories: Property

Ford Recalling 1.26 Million F-150s for Shifting Issue

Fri, 02/15/2019 - 22:50

Ford has issued three recalls, the largest of which affects certain F-150 trucks.

2011-13 Ford F-150

The Problem: Ford is recalling certain late-model F-150s with six-speed automatic transmissions. Some vehicles can experience an intermittent loss of the transmission output speed sensor to the powertrain control module. These vehicles may unexpectedly downshift into first gear, regardless of vehicle speed. Obviously, this issue could cause drivers to lose control of the vehicle. There have been five reports of accidents related to the issue, with one report citing whiplash.

The Fix: Dealers will reprogram the powertrain control module in affected vehicles. Ford will notify owners of the recall, which is expected to begin on March 4.

Number of Vehicles Potentially Affected: The Ford F-150 recall affects around 1.26 million F-150 trucks in the U.S. and federalized territories and about 221,000 in Canada. The vehicles are 2011-2013 model-year F-150s built at the Dearborn Assembly Plant from April 28, 2010 to October 28, 2013, and the Kansas City Assembly Plant from May 18, 2010 to November 18, 2013.

2017-19 Lincoln Continental

The Problem: Lincoln is recalling certain Continental vehicles because a door could unexpectedly open while driving. The vehicles may have a faulty door latch motor that functions only intermittently due to the buildup of “silicon contamination,” Lincoln says. The automaker is not aware of any accidents or injuries related to the problem.

The Fix: Dealers will replace the door latch assemblies on all four doors of the affected vehicles.

Number of Vehicles Potentially Affected: The recall involves 27,000 vehicles in the U.S. and federalized territories, and about 1,200 in Canada. The affected vehicles were made at the Flat Rock Assembly Plant from November 30, 2015 to November 14, 2018.

2019 Ford Mustang, Lincoln Nautilus, Lincoln Navigator


The Problem: This is a more minor safety compliance recall. The instrument panel cluster assemblies may appear blank when the driver starts up the vehicle.

The Fix: Dealers will update the software in the instrument panel cluster.

Number of Vehicles Potentially Affected: There are 4,200 vehicles in the U.S. and its territories under the recall, as well as about 150 in Canada. The affected Mustangs were built at the Flat Rock plant from November 5, 2018 to January 15, 2019; the Nautilus vehicles at the Oakville Assembly Plant from November 6, 2018 to December 21, 2018; and the Navigator vehicles at the Kentucky Truck Plant from November 4, 2018 to December 15, 2018.

Source: Ford, NHTSA

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Categories: Property

15 of the Hottest New Car Deals This Presidents’ Day Weekend

Fri, 02/15/2019 - 22:30

The holiday season may be over, but there are still good deals out there if you’re looking for a new car. This Presidents’ Day Weekend, you can save thousands when buying certain vehicles from Infiniti, Volkswagen, and other automakers.

We gathered data from ALG, a subsidiary of TrueCar, to find the cars that offer the biggest savings. Looking at TrueCar’s TruePrice Average, which is based on what customers paid for similar vehicles in February 2019, we narrowed down to models that saw double-digit percentage drops from MSRP.

Read on to learn about some of the hottest car deals this weekend. Note that deals may vary by region.

2019 BMW 740i RWD

MSRP: $84,645
TruePrice Average: $72,836
Savings off MSRP: $11,809, 14.0%

BMW is refreshing its flagship sedan for 2020 with 15 extra horsepower, a larger grille, a redesigned digital instrument cluster, and other updates. Still, the pre-refresh model has a lot to offer as a comfortable cruiser, with high-tech features such as gesture controls. Getting 14 percent off MSRP isn’t a bad deal, although we can’t help but feel the S-Class is a more luxurious car overall.

2019 Infiniti Q70L 3.7 Luxe RWD

MSRP: $52,795
TruePrice Average: $45,718
Savings off MSRP: $7,077, 13.4%

The Infiniti Q70 is a luxury sedan alternative that may not have crossed your mind. But buyers can save up to 13.4 percent off the MSRP this weekend when opting for the long-wheelbase version in Luxe guise. On the standard-wheelbase version of this trim, TrueCar estimates savings of $6,112, or 11.9 percent off the MSRP.

2019 Acura TLX 2.4L FWD

MSRP: $33,995
TruePrice Average: $29,629
Savings: $4,366, 12.8%

It may look like a sedate sedan, but the Acura TLX is sportier than you think, particularly in A-Spec guise. It handles well on windy roads and produces a healthy 206 hp from its base four-cylinder engine. Standard features are plenty and include sport-oriented seats, heated front seats, dual-zone climate control, adaptive cruise control, and Android Auto and Apple CarPlay.

2019 Volkswagen Passat 2.0T Wolfsburg Edition Auto

MSRP: $26,190
TruePrice Average: $22,904
Savings: $3,286, 12.5%

Volkswagen has fully redesigned the Passat for 2020. But deals can be had if you have your eye on the old model, which sits on the same platform as the new one anyway. The base 2.0-liter turbocharged four-cylinder engine makes 174 hp and 184 lb-ft of torque, allowing it to hit 60 mph in 8.4 seconds in our tests. It’s a bit slower than a comparable Accord, but it has a spacious rear seat and trunk.

2019 Infiniti QX60 Pure FWD

MSRP: $44,995
TruePrice Average: $39,357
Savings: $5,639 , 12.5%

Infiniti’s midsize crossover offers a comfortable ride. For 2019, a number of safety features become standard on the base Pure trim. These include blind spot warning, forward emergency braking with pedestrian detection, and forward collision warning. Under the hood is a hearty 3.5-liter V-6 good for 295 hp.

2019 Infiniti Q50 2.0t Pure RWD

MSRP: $36,545
TruePrice Average: $32,172
Savings: $4,373, 12.0%

Refreshed for 2018, the Q50 sedan is priced competitively in the small luxury sedan category. The base Pure model comes with a 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine making 208 hp.

2019 Alfa Romeo Stelvio RWD


MSRP: $41,590
TruePrice Average: $36,640
Savings: $4,950, 11.9%

If you want the SUV with the most performance for your buck, the Stelvio is a good choice. You don’t have to get the 505-hp Quadrifoglio trim to have fun. The base model produces a healthy 280 hp from its 2.0-liter turbocharged four-cylinder. That’s enough to take the SUV to 60 mph in 5.4 seconds, according to our tests. Along with scintillating acceleration, the Stelvio benefits from a controlled ride, effortless handling, and a smooth shifting eight-speed automatic transmission.

2019 Mitsubishi Mirage LE Hatchback CVT


MSRP: $16,790
TruePrice Average: $14,876
Savings: $1,914, 11.4%
Additional customer cash: $500

It’s a tough market for minicars out there, but sales for the Mirage were up significantly last year compared to 2018. The car is a steal at this price, but you’ll have to be willing to put up with slow acceleration and a good deal of interior noise and vibration. Fuel economy is excellent at 36/43 mpg city/highway when paired with the CVT.

2019 Audi A4 Premium Plus FWD


MSRP: $38,395
TruePrice Average: $34,033
Savings: $4,362, 11.4%

This well-rounded sedan features a stable ride, smooth engines, and one of the nicest interiors in its class. Its virtual cockpit digital dash trumps the competition, featuring crisp Google Earth maps. This deal applies to the mid-trim Premium Plus model, which comes standard with full LED headlights, a 7.0-inch screen, Bang & Olufsen sound system with 19 speakers. Oh, and this sleeper sedan is surprisingly quick, hitting 60 mph in as little as 5 seconds.

2019 Alfa Romeo Giulia RWD

MSRP: $39,590
TruePrice Average: $35,174
Savings: $4,416, 11.2%

We love the Alfa Romeo Giulia sedan—so much so that we named it our 2018 Car of the Year—which is why the idea of getting one at the above price has us so excited. We say it’s the most fun-to-drive car in its class, with razor-sharp handling and an incredible chassis that smooths out bumps in the road. And it has proven to be a practical commuter thanks to its 21.7/37.9 mpg city/highway rating in our Real MPG tests.

2019 Mercedes-Benz C 300 Sedan RWD


MSRP: $42,395
TruePrice Average: $37,669
Savings: $4,726, 11.1%

Recently refreshed, the Mercedes-Benz C 300 now makes 255 hp from its 2.0-liter turbocharged four-cylinder engine. Although tuned for luxury more than sport, with somewhat vague steering, the C 300 benefits from a quick throttle response off the line when you tune in to Sport+ mode. Fuel economy is another plus: Our Real MPG tests showed a result of 24.5/40.3 mpg city/highway.

2019 Mercedes E 300 Sedan RWD

MSRP: $54,495
TruePrice Average: $48,646
Savings: $5,849, 10.7%

The E-Class sedan can get quite expensive when you pack on the options, but buyers now have the chance to get more than 10 percent off MSRP. The deal featured here applies to the base model with the 2.0-liter turbocharged four-cylinder sedan making 241 hp. Standard features are abundant, including dual-zone climate control, remote start, and an interior lighting feature that allows users to turn the cabin one of 64 colors.

2019 Volkswagen Tiguan S FWD

MSRP: $25,290
TruePrice Average: $22,659
Savings: $2,631, 10.4%

Volkswagen has brought prices down on the Tiguan over the past few years, and prices could be even more enticing this weekend. The model has grown in size since the previous generation, and if you can forgive its somewhat slow acceleration from 0-60 mph, you’ll enjoy the Tiguan for its more spacious interior an high-quality materials.

2019 Chevrolet Silverado LT Crew Cab Long Box 4WD

MSRP: $50,195
TruePrice Average: $44,977
Savings: $5,218, 10.4%
Additional customer cash: $500

The mid-range LT trim level of the Chevrolet Silverado benefits from standard features including chrome exterior accents, LED headlamps, an 8.0-inch touchscreen, and Android Auto and Apple CarPlay integration. Chevy’s full-size pickup was redesigned for 2019, and was a 2019 Truck of the Year finalist.

2019 Toyota Camry L Automatic


MSRP: $24,875
TruePrice Average: $22,331
Savings: $2,544, 10.20%

Once king of the automotive landscape, the Camry has been supplanted by the RAV4 as Toyota’s best-selling model in the U.S. Nevertheless, Toyota managed to sell 343,439 copies, proving the resilience of the popular sedan. The current generation has improved significantly from its predecessor when it comes to driving dynamics, but it faces stiff competition from the very capable new Honda Accord.


The post 15 of the Hottest New Car Deals This Presidents’ Day Weekend appeared first on Motortrend.

Categories: Property

2020 Ford Explorer Will Start at $33,860

Fri, 02/15/2019 - 21:15

When Ford officially revealed the 2020 Explorer at the Detroit auto show this year, it had some big news. For the first time since the 2011 model year, the Explorer would be built on a rear-wheel-drive platform. It also added a hybrid version and replaced the Sport with the ST. At least on paper, it looked like great news, but we had to wonder how much the new Explorer would actually cost. Thanks to an email from Ford, now we know.

If you want the base Explorer, it will now run you $33,860 including destination, an increase of $400 compared to the 2019 model. That’s not a lot considering the new base engine makes 300 hp and 310 lb-ft of torque instead of the old V-6’s 290 hp and 255 lb-ft. You also get a 10-speed transmission instead of a six-speed automatic, which should mean better acceleration and fuel economy.

Upgrade to the Explorer XLT, though, and it comes with a much bigger price increase. Its $37,750 starting price is $2,275 more expensive than before. You do, however, get a number of features the previous XLT didn’t offer, such as power-adjustable front seats, captain’s chairs in the second row, and a total of four USB ports (two more than the base Explorer).

The next step up is the Explorer Limited. For $49,225, $5,365 more than the 2019 model, you get a number of extra features such as wireless charging, a surround-view camera system, and rain-sensing wipers. You can also add the hybrid powertrain for an extra $3,555, which comes with a 3.3-liter hybrid engine and 20-inch aluminum wheels.

The fanciest Explorer in the lineup, the Platinum, rings up at $59,345. That’s $4,085 more expensive than it was in 2019, but you also get a 3.0-liter turbocharged engine that makes 365 hp and several more features. 

Finally, for the sportiest driving experience, Ford now offers the Explorer ST. Its $55,835 price tag is $8,115 more expensive than the 2019 Explorer Sport it replaces. But for your money, you get the Platinum’s engine tuned to make 400 hp and 415 lb-ft of torque. There’s also a quad exhaust, 21-inch wheels, a sport-tuned suspension, and more.

The Explorer’s base price is higher than the 2019 Dodge Durango ($31,690) and 2019 Chevrolet Traverse ($31,125), but is somewhat in line with other competitors like the 2019 Honda Pilot ($32,445), 2019 Mazda CX-9 ($33,325), and 2019 Subaru Ascent ($32,970).

Source: Ford

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Categories: Property

Spied! Next-Gen Mercedes-Benz S-Class Caught with Massive Touchscreen

Fri, 02/15/2019 - 20:25

The Mercedes-Benz S-Class is still the best full-size luxury sedan, but considering it has been on sale since the 2014 model year, it’s time for a redesign. From what we’ve heard, it will go on sale next year as a 2020 model, potentially with an SAE Level 3 driver-assistance system. Now, thanks to our spy photographer’s latest shots, we also know it will come with a massive touchscreen.

We actually got our first glimpse at the 2020 S-Class’ cabin last summer. But while we could clearly see the digital gauge cluster, the center console remained completely covered. And even though there was no way to tell how large it would be, the cloth camouflage looked like it was hiding a Tesla-like vertical touchscreen. Now we know. It’s huge.

That said, it’s probably not quite as large as it appears at first glance. If you look closely, it looks like there’s a pretty thick bezel surrounding the screen itself, potentially cutting the total screen size by a couple inches. Underneath the screen, you can see a row of what appear to be capacitive-touch buttons, including a touch control area that likely replaces a volume knob.

The good news is, the lack of a volume knob probably won’t affect the driver much since the steering wheel appears to still use a scroll wheel to control volume. And while the layout of the steering wheel controls looks pretty similar to what we get on the current S-Class, it seems Mercedes has gotten rid of physical buttons for those controls. The German automaker also appears to have kept its column-mounted shift lever, although the stalks themselves are clearly all-new.

Considering how far from production this prototype looks, we’re pretty sure the production version won’t be revealed in Geneva next month. If we had to bet, we’d put our money on a Frankfurt Motor Show reveal this September.

Photo Source: CarPix

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Categories: Property

Amazon Confirms Huge Investment in EV Maker Rivian

Fri, 02/15/2019 - 18:30

One day after Amazon saved itself untold millions—or more likely billions—of dollars by cancelling its secondary headquarters in Long Island City, Queens, the online retail giant confirmed it was the leading contributor to a $700 million round of investment in 10-year-old electric truck start-up Rivian.

“We’re inspired by Rivian’s vision for the future of electric transportation,” Amazon Worldwide Consumer CEO Jeff Wilke said in a prepared statement. “RJ [Scaringe, Rivian CEO] has built an impressive organization, with a product portfolio and technology to match. We’re thrilled to invest in such an innovative company.”

In a few years, Rivian-based EV trucks could be quietly picking up and delivering Amazon packages at the secondary Amazon headquarters still being planned for Crystal City, Virginia, near Washington, D.C. Although the Rivian R1T unveiled at the Los Angeles Auto Show last November is a pickup truck, the skateboard-style electric-vehicle architecture underneath easily could accommodate a cube-van “top hat” to make it a Mercedes-Benz Sprinter–style delivery vehicle. A Rivian sport-utility vehicle called the R1S was also unveiled. Rivian says it will offer battery capacities that will allow for ranges of up to 400 miles on a single charge.

No word yet from General Motors, which on Wednesday Reuters reported would also invest in Rivian along with Amazon. The deal with GM and Amazon would make Plymouth, Michigan–based Rivian worth $1 to $2 billion, according to the Reuters report.

“We admire Rivian’s contribution to a future of zero emissions and an all-electric future,” was all GM would say in a prepared response to the Reuters report.

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Categories: Property

Special Edition Range Rover Sport HST Showcases New 395-HP Inline-Six

Fri, 02/15/2019 - 13:00

This week, Land Rover added a new special edition to its U.K. lineup. Called the Range Rover Sport HST, it gets carbon-fiber accents on the hood, grille, side vents, and tailgate. Inside, there’s some HST-specific trim and HST badging, which doesn’t sound particularly special. And since the release says nothing about it being offered in the U.S., there’s probably no point in converting its £81,250 base price to dollars. So why would we cover a Europe-only not-so-special edition? Because of what’s under the hood.


Land Rover chose the Range Rover Sport HST to be the first vehicle in its lineup that gets its brand new, turbocharged and electric-supercharged 3.0-liter inline-six. This engine will replace Jaguar Land Rover’s dated V-6 that was more or less a V-8 with two cylinders missing. In the HST, it’s good for 395 hp and 405 lb-ft of torque, which Land Rover says is enough to launch the Range Rover Sport from 0-60 mph in 5.9 seconds. For comparison, the 380-hp HSE Sport hits 60 mph in a claimed 6.8 seconds. Eventually, a 355-hp version will be offered, as well.

Like the four-cylinder Ingenium engine it’s based on, the new inline-six uses a twin-scroll turbocharger. But it also gets an electric supercharger that needs only half of a second to provide maximum boost, a feature Land Rover says virtually eliminates turbo lag. To improve efficiency by about 20 percent, the engine has been paired with a 48-volt mild-hybrid system.

“Inline six-cylinder engines are inherently better balanced than V-6 designs and our all-new Ingenium unit builds on that promise to optimize efficiency in all operating conditions,” said Nick Rogers, JLR’s head of product planning, in a release. “Advanced features, including an electric supercharger, ensure distinctive Range Rover Sport performance and responses, while the intelligent MHEV system harvests energy to improve fuel economy and reduce emissions.”

We’re still waiting to hear when JLR plans to introduce its inline-six here in the U.S., but hopefully, we find out soon.

Source: Land Rover

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Categories: Property

Countdown to Our Electric, Autonomous Future: How Soon Is Now? – The Lohdown

Fri, 02/15/2019 - 09:00

Pop quiz: do you know what they call Thai food in Thailand? Food. Do you what they’ll call electrified cars in an electrified future? Cars. And autonomous cars in an autonomous futur- you get the point.

Recently I was pushed to defend MotorTrend’s take on electric vehicles (EVs) and the burgeoning autonomous car segment. It was a bit awkward and uncomfortable, because I do very much believe that the world is moving in both of these directions and that someday, there will be more electric and autonomous vehicles than cars powered by internal combustion engines (ICE) that we pilot ourselves. How soon is the question.

I’m conscious of the fact that for all the hype of the two plus decades, progress in both arenas has been less leaps and bounds, but fits and sparks. And I should know, because MotorTrend was there from the beginning, with our first test drive of GM’s new for 1997 all-electric EV1 in the June 1996 issue.

Over 10 years later, we followed up with a road test of a funky new electric roadster backed by a Silicon Valley nerd interloper with a funny name. Elon Musk’s initial salvo, the 2008 Tesla Roadster, was impressive enough but the real shock came an election year later, in the fall of 2012, when MotorTrend was the first major media outlet to recognize the triumph of the Telsa upstart, by awarding Model S Car of the Year 2013. A year later, after Model S took the world by storm, Tesla’s CMO at the time, told me our COTY award was “the inflection point” that turned the tide of public and business opinion. While the electric + autonomous buzz is real, nowadays, seeing a Tesla Model whatever auto-piloting through your ‘hood is no longer Instagram-worthy.

You’ve probably heard this story before. Remember when all phones were just, you know, phones? Maybe it had a dial or push buttons, but it certainly wasn’t cordless, mobile or smart. And then phone companies added things like call waiting (oh hey, can you hang on a sec?) while manufacturers threw in answering machines while removing pesky cords. Don’t get me started on how quickly we went from Motorola pagers to RAZRs, and then from texting in alphanumeric shorthand (43770) on Nokia 3310s to group FaceTiming on the latest iPhone. And yet, it’s difficult to recall the pre-smartphone era; how did we ever get around without Waze or Lyft? Or eat without Yelp, OpenTable or PostMates? And check-in with friends before Facebook or Instagram?

The other day, I watched a YouTube video (on my phone, no less) that had gone viral: two teenagers had been given the task of dialing a simple 9-digit phone number on a rotary telephone. They had 4 minutes to complete the task and failed hilariously. It’s fun to eyeroll and laugh, but there will come a day when parking by hand, guiding a car down on a highway, and filling a car’s fuel tank with liquid petrochemicals will be just as comically mystifying.

Just before our latest issue went to press, I was in Detroit for the last wintery North American International Auto Show (it moves to summer in 2020.) Ironically, it was unseasonably warm; press days saw clear skies and none of the expected snow or slush on the ground. Though it was relatively quiet as the NAIAS goes, there were still a couple of long-awaited debuts of ICE-powered rocket ships. The long-awaited, much anticipated Toyota Supra and Ford Mustang GT 500, with well over 1,000 gas-burning horsepower between them, led’s coverage by a significant margin. The third-place finisher? Ram’s new Heavy Duty line of trucks. That these bad boys dramatically outperformed a couple of exclusives we landed on new EV concepts, both with tales of autonomous whiz-bangery baked in, shouldn’t be a huge surprise. It’s still early yet; the most compelling EV and autonomous stories have yet to be written.

But rest assured, MotorTrend will be here, telling car stories for as long as they are called, you know, cars.

More from Ed Loh:

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Categories: Property

2020 Volvo V60 Cross Country First Drive: Swedish Fish

Fri, 02/15/2019 - 09:00

While an Arctic chill shut things down in Michigan, we headed to the Arctic Circle for comparative warmth. And while Americans continue to unabatedly love SUVs and crossovers, we were in northern Sweden because, to our great joy, Volvo continues to make wagons. Delicious dichotomies.

We flew to Lulea, Sweden, to get behind the wheel of the 2020 Volvo V60 Cross County, a hiked-up wagon for those who want their daily driver to double as a toy in the wild with all-wheel drive, hill descent control, extra ground clearance, and lots of room for gear and other playthings.

Volvo is on an upswing with a string of beautifully styled vehicles on new architectures that leave the old partnership with Ford far in the rearview mirror. In addition to SUVs or crossovers, the Swedish brand remains committed to cars, including even lower-volume wagons, in the U.S.

American demand for wagons is so low that Volvo dealers don’t stock them in all sizes—you have to order the larger V90 online. But the midsize V60 is in a sweet spot, and dealers will have it and its Cross Country cousin shipped from Torslanda, Sweden, and in stock.

The Cross Country, being more rugged and closer to the almighty crossover, is expected to outsell the regular V60 4:1. Dealers will start taking orders in March for delivery in July. Pricing has not been announced, but expect the rugged wagon to start in the $45,000 range.

Return of the V60 Cross Country

Volvo last offered a V60 Cross Country for the 2018 model year. There was a conventional 2019 V60 but no Cross Country.

So for the return of the V60 Cross Country for 2020, we packed our long johns and fur-rimmed hats and headed to a fairy tale land of ice and snow to test its mettle. Temperatures were in the -17 degree Fahrenheit range just south of the Arctic Circle. Ironically back home in the U.S., Detroit was registering -11, nearby Chicago was -23, and parts of Minnesota registered an eye-popping -48 courtesy of a Polar Vortex that brought frigid air down from Canada.

For northern Sweden, icy temperatures are the norm, which resulted in ice so thick on the Gulf of Bothnia this year that when we attempted to measure it, the depth exceeded the normal 32-inch measuring tool and we were left to guess how much deeper it went. The Gulf, which stretches to neighboring Finland, and other frozen bodies of water served as ice roads and handling courses for our two days of frozen fun with the newest Cross Country.

We had a fleet of T5 AWD models with the turbocharged version of the 2.0-liter engine in all Volvos. It generates 250 horsepower and 258 lb-ft of torque. The U.S. will only get the T5 powertrain with an eight-speed automatic transmission, but we found the power to be more than adequate.

Our T5 was outfitted with Michelin X-Ice North studded tires. Ice caught in the wheels created an imbalance that made it hard to really gauge the vehicle’s on-road manners. But they should not differ much from the V60 wagon that MotorTrend found to be more relaxed than a BMW 3 Series wagon, with little urgency and often seeking more power than the transmission is delivering. It shines in Comfort mode. The 60-series has left behind the old Ford EUCD architecture and has joined the 90-series on Volvo’s global Scalable Product Architecture.

Clear That Snowbank

Much of our evaluation was centered on how well the wagon handles snow and ice. The Cross Country has almost 8.3 inches of ground clearance compared with 5.8 inches on the regular wagon. Some of that comes from bigger wheels (we were on 235/45R19); the rest is from the raised chassis. A track extender allowed Volvo to set the wheels about 1.2 inches wider. The wheelbase remains the same as the regular V60.

The Cross Country has 8 percent softer spring rates to prioritize comfort over rough roads. It has a control-arm front suspension, but where bigger brother V90 Cross Country has rear air suspension, V60 Cross Country gets a transverse composite leaf spring at the rear axle, which kept the cruising comfortable in all conditions. The electric power-assisted rack-and-pinion steering was tuned to match the elevated chassis and made both control and drifting easy tasks. Although we were on 19-inch wheels, the Cross Country is also available with 18s and 20s in Europe.

All-wheel drive is standard on the Cross Country. No buttons to push; it’s an updated version of the fifth-generation BorgWarner (formerly Haldex) system. The improvements largely reduced weight and cost while making it more fuel efficient.

Reindeer Alert

We were warned of the region’s ample moose and reindeer population—a perfect way to test the vehicle’s large animal mitigation system, which warns of large, often-antlered creatures at the side of the road and automatically brakes if a collision is deemed imminent. Alas, no such sightings occurred on our drive. We had to simulate sudden lane change maneuvers with cones on a frozen sea. The only reindeer was on our plate. In Scandinavia it’s the prevalent protein source and is consumed with a lovely gravy and spoonfuls of lingonberries to juice up the lean meat.

City Safety is the umbrella term for Volvo’s standard collision avoidance systems. Pilot Assist provides steering, braking, and accelerating assistance as part of the adaptive cruise control and lane keep assist systems.

On a 1.2-mile handling track on pure ice, we did laps with traction control engaged to feel the back end try to slide out, only to be forcibly—but not abruptly—pulled back into line again and again and again. Volvo takes its reputation for safety very seriously.

Then we tuned the Swedish nanny off and got to really play. The takeaway: Wagons are an incredibly fun body style to drift. The long back end acts as the tail wanting to wag the dog. But the vehicle is also adept at transitioning from one curve to the next with a little throttle and hands working to resist overcompensating and spinning into the snowbanks lining the course.

An obstacle course built of ice and snow showcased hill descent control, which kicks in automatically when in Off-Road mode to control the wagon down a steep hill while the pedals are foot-free. It’s notable how quiet the Volvo system is. Many competitors have noisy descent control akin to tennis players grunting to telegraph the effort involved. Similarly, the hill start assist is seamless in its ability to stop, hold in place, and continue on up the hill with no action needed by the driver. Snow obstacles twisted the long body of the wagon and left no marks while giant snowbanks created a faux halfpipe and showed how well the tires can keep a heavily tilted vehicle from toppling over.

Just Cross Country

There are no Momentum or Inscription or R-Design trims to choose from—it’s just Cross Country. Our evaluation vehicles were white with a black interior and attractive metallic trim to brighten it up. Volvo has become known for its open-pore woods, but designers also developed an edgier and more modern ambience with the careful use of metals and leathers with pearl stitching. The seats are darn comfortable, too.

A personal gripe: USB ports hidden in the covered console you have to open to access. Given the inability of society to part with devices, new vehicles should offer easily accessible and exposed outlets and a spot to rest the charging phone. Volvo did design slats into the cupholder section to stand up two phones, so Brownie points for that. And infotainment is via the Sensus system with its large screen and often-slow-to-load software.

Many luxury vehicles have a single setting to heat the steering wheel, but the V60 Cross Country has three. Birthed in a cold nation, Volvo understands the value of heat. I dare you to stay on the highest setting for a lengthy drive. There are also three degrees of heated seats.

Cross Country variants date back to the original 1997–2000 Volvo V70 XC, followed by a second-generation V70 XC in 2001, and a third generation debuted in 2008. The introduction of a V90 Cross Country for the 2017 model year marked the fourth generation, made possible by the flexibility of the new architecture.

V60 T8 teaser

We also spent a little time in the V60 T8 with Volvo’s plug-in hybrid Twin Engine powertrain providing all-wheel drive. Global T8 production is not scheduled to begin until the spring of 2020, and at this point there are no plans to sell it in North America. Volvo is taking a deliberate wait-and-see attitude to gauge demand for the V60 overall. The U.S. could get the T6 plug-in hybrid instead of the T8, but again, no green lights yet.

The T8 we drove briefly had Nokian Hakkapeliitta 8 studded tires and the telltale grabby brakes of a hybrid. The plug-in felt heavier and not as spirited to drive. Nor is its battery-only range groundbreaking at only 27 miles, though it beats the XC90’s 19 miles on electricity alone. Push a button for permanent all-wheel drive to be engaged with the help of the gas engine augmenting the electric motor already supplying power to the rear wheels.

At the Lulea University of Technology, a research project classifies different types of snow. It is this focus on elements that forged a car like the V60 Cross Country. We can now attest to its abilities in harsh conditions and look forward to spending more time with it on regular tires, in regular conditions, and on regular roads.

2020 Volvo V60 Cross Country BASE PRICE $45,000 (est) VEHICLE LAYOUT Front-engine, AWD 5-pass, 4-door wagon ENGINES 2.0L/250-hp/258-lb-ft turbocharged DOHC 16-valve I-4 TRANSMISSION 8-speed automatic CURB WEIGHT 4,000-4,150 lb (mfr) WHEELBASE 113.2 in LENGTH X WIDTH X HEIGHT 188.3 x 72.8 x 59.0 in 0-60 MPH 7.0 sec (MT est) EPA CITY/HWY/COMB FUEL ECON Not yet rated ON SALE IN U.S. July 2019

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The 2020 Kia Soul EV Has a Range of 243 Miles

Fri, 02/15/2019 - 01:30

Kia recently showed off the newly redesigned third-generation Soul, and one of the most interesting changes had to do with the fully electric version. Using a 64-kWh lithium-ion battery borrowed from the Hyundai Kona EV, the Soul EV promised to pair boxy practicality with electric efficiency. But until today, we still didn’t know what kind of range the Soul EV would offer.

According to the Environmental Protection Agency, the 2020 Kia Soul EV has a total range of 243 miles. That works out to a fuel economy rating of 127/101/114 MPGe (city/highway/combined), as well as an estimated $3,250 in savings over the course of five years, by the EPA’s estimates.

But most likely due to the Soul’s less aerodynamic styling, its corporate cousin the Hyundai Kona EV actually manages to squeeze a longer range out of the same battery pack. The Kona EV earned a 258-mile range rating from the EPA back in August. But as we found in our 2019 SUV of the Year test, the Kona EV’s longer range comes at the expense of cargo capacity and rear passenger comfort.

And even though the 2020 Soul EV’s range comes up a bit short compared to the Kona EV, it’s still a huge improvement over the outgoing version. When Kia last updated the previous-generation Soul EV, its 30-kWh battery only provided a 111-mile range. Its motor was also only good for 109 hp and 210 lb-ft of torque. The 2020 Soul EV, on the other hand, gives you 201 horsepower and 291 lb-ft of torque, likely making it quite a bit quicker.

Source: EPA

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Hyundai to Debut Tiny Crossover at New York Auto Show

Thu, 02/14/2019 - 23:30

Hyundai will use the New York auto show to unveil a tiny addition to the lineup, a crossover smaller than the Kona, and it will be sold in the U.S.

The A-segment crossover will go on sale later this year. While the larger B-segment Hyundai Kona is on the sportier side and well-contented, the smaller A-segment vehicle will have a more traditional body style but will not look like a mainstream utility vehicle.

“It’s smaller and it’s distinctively different than Kona,” said SangYup Lee, head of the Hyundai Global Design Center in Namyang, Korea, in an interview with MotorTrend.

Being so small, there are limitations to design because it must be functional space. Lee said it has a “very very distinctive two box area. So imagine Kona as a really fast profile, distinctive, iconic character to it, but this one is almost very boxy, bold, bull-doggy character.”

The A-segment vehicle will be more entry level, for an even younger buyer than the Kona. It will not sit on the same platform as the Kona.

“We see it as a niche market,” said Lee said, confirming it will be offered in North America, a market that has not had much of an appetite for such small cars—think Fiat 500. But Lee thinks there is demand for such a small car, and it represents an opportunity for growth. The market has a lot of players in the mainstream utility segments from compact to full-size, but the A-segment is white space where Hyundai can be more ambitious and create its own niche market, he said.

“We want to be ambitious with CUVs,” he said. For years, Hyundai lacked a full complement of crossovers—relying on Tucson and Santa Fe—and its car-centric lineup cost it sales and the jobs of a couple U.S. CEOs who oversaw the automaker during the sales downturn.

The lineup has grown with the addition of new nameplates at both ends of the spectrum: the small subcompact Kona and Kona EV as well as the large three-row, eight-passenger Palisade coming this summer. There is also the Nexo fuel cell vehicle. Genesis will add its first SUV, the GV80, this year.

The Hyundai Kona is pictured above.

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Apple’s Autonomous Cars Require a Lot of Human Intervention

Thu, 02/14/2019 - 23:30

California’s Department of Motor Vehicles released its annual report outlining how frequently humans had to take over driving responsibilities from each company’s autonomous prototypes while testing on public roads. As you might expect, if you measure the number of miles per disengagement, Google’s Waymo is at the top. But you might not expect Apple to be at the bottom of the list…the very bottom of the list.

Bloomberg reports that Waymo’s prototypes were able to travel 11,000 miles between disengagements, with GM’s Cruise coming in a distant second with 5,200 miles. And Apple? Apple’s autonomous prototypes clocked in at an incredibly brief 1.1 miles per disengagement. That means Waymo’s vehicles travel 10,000 times farther than Apple’s before encountering a situation they couldn’t handle without human help.

To be fair, miles per disengagement isn’t the only metric that matters when it comes to developing autonomous technology. A mile of highway driving is a lot less difficult than a mile of city driving, and you’ll probably see a lot more disengagements in poor weather testing than you will when it’s clear and sunny. One company may have different standards than another for deciding how much risk it’s willing to take to avoid disengagements. But the fact that Apple’s prototypes have been disengaging every mile is still concerning.

The news coincides with Apple’s decision last month to lay off 200 people working on its self-driving car project, known internally as Project Titan. It’s also a great reminder that autonomous cars still have a way to go before they enter the mainstream.

Source: Bloomberg

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Tesla Launches Dog Mode and Sentry Mode Across Lineup

Thu, 02/14/2019 - 22:00

Tesla is rolling out a new advanced alarm system called Sentry Mode, as well as new protection for pets left in the vehicle called Dog Mode, which sets a comfortable cabin temperature while the car’s owner is away.

Sentry Mode might just be what the Viper alarms of the 1970s and ’80s would have become had they been updated by the likes of Tesla CEO Elon Musk. The system continuously monitors the vehicle’s surrounding environment when it’s left unattended. It starts with a “standby” state, which uses the vehicle’s external cameras to watch for potential threats, the automaker says. It moves itself into “alert” status if there is a “minimal” threat, whereby a message on the vehicle’s huge center touchscreen warns onlookers that the cameras are recording.

If the threat escalates to the likes of a broken window, the alarm activates, the brightness of the center display is cranked up, and the audio system plays music at maximum volume, while the owner is alerted on his or her mobile app. The owner can download a video recording of the incident remotely. The video recording begins 10 minutes before the incident, provided the owner has inserted a formatted USB drive into the car before enabling Sentry Mode.

Tesla began adding Sentry Mode to its owners’ vehicles beginning Wednesday via over-the-air updates, according to a press release.

Introducing Dog Mode: set a cabin temperature to keep your dog comfortable while letting passersby know they don't need to worry

— Tesla (@Tesla) February 14, 2019

Tesla’s huge center screen also is key to its new Dog Mode, which the company announced on Twitter. Dog Mode sets a cabin temperature that keeps the owners’ pets comfy when the driver makes a stop and leaves the car. The center screen lets any concerned passersby know the pets are safe with messages like “My owner will be back soon” while prominently displaying the interior temperature.

Dog Mode also is being added to all Teslas via wireless update.

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The 2020 Kia Telluride Gets up to 20/26 MPG

Thu, 02/14/2019 - 21:00

Fuel economy numbers for the 2020 Kia Telluride has cropped up on the EPA’s website. Kia’s new large crossover is rated 20/26/23 mpg city/highway/combined, when paired with front-wheel drive.

That rating is in line with key competitors. The 2019 Honda Pilot tops out at 20/27/23 mpg, while the Highlander gets 21/27/23 mpg when paired with a V-6. The Telluride comes standard with a 3.8-liter V-6 engine making 291 hp and 262 lb-ft of torque. Power is routed through an eight-speed automatic transmission.

The Telluride performs better than comparable versions of the Chevrolet Traverse and Volkswagen Atlas. When paired with a V-6, the Traverse tops out at 18/27/21 mpg while the Atlas gets 17/24/19 mpg. These two crossovers are on target with the Telluride when they are paired with four-cylinder engines.

When equipped with all-wheel drive, the Telluride dips to 19/24/21 mpg. That’s slightly lower than the Pilot (19/26/22) and Highlander (20/27/23). But the rating is higher than the Traverse (17/25/20) and Atlas (17/23/19).

The Telluride is expected to arrive with limited availability this spring. Prices will start at $32,735 on the base model, although the top trim will go for $42,535. In the summer, Hyundai will introduce its own three-row competitor, the Palisade. Both three rows share the same basic architecture and drivetrains. Fuel economy ratings for the Palisade haven’t been announced on the EPA’s website, so we will keep our eyes peeled.


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2019 Ram 1500 Classic Warlock Takes It Back to 1976

Thu, 02/14/2019 - 20:15

Back in 1976, Dodge introduced the Warlock Macho Power Wagon as part of its “Adult Toys” line. According to the original press release, the Warlock could “fill today’s need for ‘fun trucking'” thanks to its “bucket seats, decorative striping, fancy wheels and tires, and real oak sideboards.” Today, Ram announced the Warlock Macho Power Wagon is back in the form of the 2019 Ram 1500 Classic Warlock.

Starting with the Ram 1500 Classic, the previous-generation truck that Ram still sells, the Warlock gets the old Ram Rebel’s grille, 20-inch black aluminum wheels, powder-coated bumpers, a 1-inch lift, black fender flares, and LED foglights and taillights. Ram then added blacked-out badges, tow hooks, upgraded rear shocks, and big Warlock decals. And while it doesn’t come standard, a sport hood is also available.

Inside, you get gray cloth upholstery, parking assist, and the Luxury Group package. Heated seats, a larger touchscreen with a navigation system, side steps, and a spray-in bed liner are all optional. The Warlock can be ordered with a 305-hp V-6 or 395-hp V-8 in 4×2 or 4×4 configurations. Quad cab and crew cab versions will both be offered, each with your choice of 10 paint colors.

The Warlock will go on sale next month with a base price of $37,040 including destination.

Source: Ram

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Bentley Bentayga Speed Can Hit 190 MPH

Thu, 02/14/2019 - 17:48

Three years after introducing the Bentayga, Bentley is announcing full details on the hotted-up Speed version. The Bentley Bentayga Speed makes more power than the regular model, although not as much as we had expected from previous reports. It also has a higher top speed, which Bentley says is enough to make it the world’s fastest production SUV.

The 6.0-liter W-12 engine in the Speed makes 626 hp and 664 lb-ft of torque. Last month, Autocar first broke news of the new variant, although it predicted 650 hp. According to Bentley, the extra 26 ponies will be enough to hit 62 mph in 3.9 seconds. Power is routed through an eight-speed automatic transmission. Top speed comes in at 306 km/h (190 mph), putting it just a sliver ahead of the Lamborghini Urus at 305 km/h (189.5 mph). That’s despite the fact the Urus makes 641 hp.

The Speed is available with the largest and most powerful ceramic brakes Bentley has ever used. Not only do they have a maximum braking torque of 4,425 lb-ft, but they save more than 44 pounds compared to iron brakes and they can withstand temperatures up to 1,832 degrees Fahrenheit.

To differentiate the Speed visually, Bentley has given the lights dark tinting in the front and rear. The automaker also gives the dark treatment to the bumper and radiator grilles. The front and rear bumper splitters are body-colored, and there is a new tailgate spoiler. Finishing off the look are 22-inch wheels, as well as Speed badges on the doors.

The Bentley Bentayga Speed will debut at the Geneva Motor Show in March. It goes on sale globally later this year.

Source: Bentley

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The 2020 Hyundai Sonata Aims to Create Buzz

Thu, 02/14/2019 - 13:00

The 2020 Sonata will not be instantly recognizable as a Hyundai, but it is designed to be a head-turner and create buzz similar to the impact of the 2011 Sonata, says SangYup Lee, head of the Hyundai Global Design Center in Namyang, Korea.

The next-generation Sonata is one of 13 new vehicles coming this year for the Hyundai, Kia, and Genesis brands. It will be on display at the New York auto show in April with production set to begin soon.

This is an important year as Hyundai works to rebrand itself as more emotional and sporty while still offering value and retaining its commitment to cars—more are coming next year—even as Hyundai expands its crossover lineup and still plans to add the Santa Cruz car-based pickup.

Hyundai Le Fil Rouge Concept

Designing the eighth-generation Sonata was a challenge knowing it must excite consumers who continue to forgo sedans. “The new Sonata is quite challenging for us obviously just because we all know that market is shrinking and taken over by SUVs,” Lee said in an interview with MotorTrend.

As companies such as Ford, FCA, and General Motors cut their car lineups, Hyundai found itself deciding whether to proceed with a new car. But the Sonata is integral to the brand, accounting for almost a sixth of its sales as it competes with juggernauts such as the Toyota Camry and Honda Accord.

Hyundai chose to make a new Sonata but knew it had to be more appealing, with progressive design—no big-box sedan. “It’s almost like a four-door coupe style without compromising the usability inside,” Lee said.

“We will make big statements this year,” Lee said, akin to the 2011 Sonata, the sixth generation that made people take notice. It was one of the first coupe-style sedans, a provocative design at the time. Lee was a designer at General Motors working on Camaro and Corvette when he saw that Sonata with its distinctive profile. “I was looking at it, and I was like, ‘Wow. That is something else. And it’s going to be a hit with this market.’ As soon as I saw it, I sensed it, and second thing is, ‘why didn’t I think of that?’”

Lee thinks the 2020 Sonata can have the same impact. The design is inspired by the Le Fil Rouge concept (pictured above) shown a year ago in Geneva. Some Hyundai signature cues will remain, such as a hint of the cascading grille and the composite lens in the headlights.

But the face will not be recognizable as a Hyundai. Lee wants people to like it and take a second look and see that it’s a Hyundai. Rather than Russian nesting dolls, the goal is a portfolio of chess pieces that look and behave differently, but when they’re all together, their roles are clear.

Powertrains are uncertain. The current 1.6-liter turbocharged I-4 could be dropped while keeping the base 2.4-liter I-4 and 2.0-liter turbo-four. A Sonata N performance variant could be a candidate for the third-generation Theta turbocharged 2.5-liter. The six-speed automatic transmission could be retired with the eight-speed to fall back on as well as the seven-speed dual-clutch transmission. And we expect hybrids and plug-in hybrids.

Sonata dates back to 1985 when the midsize car was first produced in Korea. It was essentially a face-lifted Hyundai Stellar with more power sold in Korea, Canada, and New Zealand to little success. The second generation in 1988 was part of Hyundai’s expansion in North America, including the U.S., and the design was by Giorgetto Giugiaro of ItalDesign. In addition to Ulsan, Korea, there was a plant in Bromont, Quebec, until it closed in 1993.

The current seventh-gen Hyundai Sonata

Over its various generations it has used Mitsubishi engines, migrated to a platform shared with the Kia Optima and the first Hyundai Santa Fe, and was the first host for the new Theta I-4 engine and part of the production launch in 2005 at the first U.S. plant in Montgomery, Alabama. After the eye-catching 2011 model, the current seventh-generation model was unveiled at the 2014 New York auto show with more conservative styling to bolster sales in Korea. A plug-in hybrid with a 27-mile electric-only range was added in late 2015 in 10 states. The outgoing sedan got a refresh for the 2018 model year.

Lee does design work for both Hyundai and Genesis. Although Genesis was born from Hyundai, the luxury brand has a different legacy. As Hyundai positions itself as the sporty and emotional value brand, the infant Genesis brand must be progressive and daring and strives to celebrate Korean culture.

The current G70, G80, and G90 sedans will be followed up with the first SUV, the GV80, which is coming this year. Genesis has more new vehicles coming this year, but Lee is tight-lipped about the other products on tap.

He does confirm that work continues on a production version of the Essentia sports car. It is an iconic statement to define the brand, and he says it will be even better than the concept.



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Porsche 911 GT2 RS or GT3 Touring? Here’s Our Take

Thu, 02/14/2019 - 09:00

Money no object, which would you choose: the Porsche 911 GT2 RS, or the 911 GT3 Touring? Turbo and PDK versus naturally aspirated and six-speed stick shift; two different solutions to the same challenge, each quintessentially 911. In truth, there’s no wrong answer here. But, like medieval scholars arguing over angels dancing on the head of a pin, it’s something on which few enthusiasts  would choose not have an opinion. Here’s mine …

The GT2 RS is the alpha-dog of the 911 lineup, and as I wrote after first driving the car in Portugal last year, it’s an intoxicating mixture of tradition and technology, defined by its brawny twin-turbo, 3.8-liter flat-six. The tradition is in the concept: a turbocharged, high-horsepower, two-wheel-drive 911 that recalls the spirit of the fearsome 930 of the late 1970s and builds on the reputation of the formidable 2010 GT2 RS. The technology is in the execution: This latest GT2 RS is the distillation of everything the best and the brightest engineers at Porsche know about making their iconic sports car go fast in the early 21st century.

And, man, is it fast. Punch the gas, and the 691-hp GT2 RS streaks past 60 mph in 2.7 seconds, 124 mph in 8.3 seconds, and 186 mph in 22.1 seconds, en route to an electronically limited top speed of 211 mph. It is the quickest road-legal car we’ve ever had around Laguna Seca, with Randy Pobst posting a 1 minute 28.3 second lap during our 2018 Best Driver’s Car shootout, outpacing the mighty McLaren 720S by more than 1.4 seconds.

The GT2 RS redefines the art of the possible, and not just in terms of a road-going 911. I don’t think I’ve ever driven a road car with the mid-corner grip and tenacious traction of this Porsche, apart from the preternaturally fast McLaren Senna. And I’d argue it trumps the Senna on the slower corners where the Big Mac’s trick active aerodynamics can’t generate maximum downforce.

All wing and splitter, vents and and pumped fenders, the GT2 RS looks ready to devour the Nürburgring Nordschleife, with Bathurst and Spa-Francorchamps for dessert. By contrast, the GT3 Touring is a stealth street racer. It gets all the GT3 go-fast bits—the 500-hp naturally aspirated 4.0-liter flat-six that revs to a sizzling 9,000 rpm, the track-tuned suspension, the big brakes—but without the arrest-me-now rear wing, and with leather instead of Alcantara interior trim. Oh, and the six-speed stick shift is standard. The spiritual successor to the breakout 911 R, this is the ultimate 911 for drivers who like to do it themselves.

The feeding frenzy over the 911 R made the business case for the manual GT3, because making the six-speed available was no simple task, says Porsche’s GT car boss, Andreas Preuninger. “It’s not just developing a gearbox,” he insists. “You have to address damping rates, stability systems, ABS, everything, because the car weighs 33 pounds less with the manual transmission. It behaves differently, and you have to adjust all the systems, as well for the new gearbox.”

That the hardcore 520-hp GT3 RS and the GT2 RS are only available with the PDK automated manual tells you something else about the stick-shift transmission: It makes a 911 slower. Porsche’s own numbers put the six-speed GT3 six-tenths of second slower to 60 mph than the PDK version. But about four- to five-tenths of the PDK-equipped car’s advantage is in the launch control, says Preuninger. The other tenth or so in the first-to-second shift.

Beyond the 0–60 sprint? “It’s more work in the manual,” Preuninger concedes, “but I don’t think you can run away from a GT3 manual with a GT3 PDK just anywhere. You would need a racetrack for that, as the electronic diff in the PDK car also delivers more traction than a limited-slip diff.”

More work. After a 500-mile day in the GT3 Touring on some of California’s most challenging backroads, I agree. After the ferocious GT2 RS, it feels oddly languid, partly because the 4.0-liter engine’s power delivery is so linear and it never seems to run out of revs. But then you look at the speedo and realize with a shock that you’re covering ground very quickly indeed. And the noise! The urgent, edgy snarl of the flat-six gets a steely, manic edge over 7,000 rpm. It’s epic, almost vintage 911, with a digitally remastered hint of air-cooled clatter. There is nothing else like it.

The six-speed manual has a lovely oiled metal action: solid, precise, satisfying. And, as you’d expect in a car engineered by a company that’s spent more than half a century honing its products on racetracks around the world, the clutch action is beautifully weighted, the brake pedal perfectly placed for heel-and-toe downshifts. Quick, and with the remarkable poise Porsche chassis engineers have dialed into modern 911s, the stick-shift GT3 is unquestionably entertaining and engrossing to drive—to about eight-tenths. Then you have to start working at it.

There are those who argue the PDK takes the involvement out of driving a 911 fast, dilutes the skill. Nonsense. When you’re in the GT2 RS and making the most of its stupendous turbo power and torque, trust me, you’re involved. And, like a lion tamer, you need to be on your game when you start tickling its growling underbelly and wanting it to play. With so much weapons-grade grunt—that 691-hp at 7,000 rpm is accompanied by 553 lb-ft of torque from 2,500 rpm—being funneled earthwards only through the rear tires, the GT2 RS chassis feels more alive, more adjustable than that of any other road-going 911. Thing is, it’s all happening at warp speed.

The PDK transmission enables you to better work with the GT2’s sheer speed, to brake later and deeper and get on the gas earlier, making the most of that power and torque and the superb traction. What’s more, it allows you to totally focus on what the chassis is doing, on taking the tires to the absolute limit, on using the throttle to initiate precise dollops of weight transfer precisely when you need them. Just because you’re not tugging a lever and punching a pedal doesn’t make driving this 911 fast less of a challenge.

Nor does it make you less of a driver. As F1 driver, Le Mans winner, and DTM champ Hans-Joachim Stuck once drily observed to me: “Think of the three greatest racing drivers of the modern era—Aytron Senna, Michael Schumacher, and Lewis Hamilton. They all learned their car-control skills in karts, which have no transmission at all.”

GT2 RS or GT3 Touring? Turbo and PDK, or naturally aspirated and stick? Like I said, there’s no wrong answer. But …

As rewarding and aurally intoxicating as it is to drive, the GT3 Touring is for me the lesser of these two 911s. Yes, the throttle response is surgically precise, and to the point where the stick shift starts slowing things down, it’s easier to drive because it has less power, and the power delivery is more linear. But ultimately, the GT3 Touring, for me, delivers more sound, less fury than the GT2 RS.

The GT3 Touring demands aggression as you approach the edge of its performance envelope, especially to keep that manic engine in its happy place between 5,000 and 8,000 rpm. By contrast, patience is just as important as aggression in the GT2 RS; understanding this, knowing when to unleash the turbomotor’s power and when to hold back, is the key to speed in this car. And it builds speed so explosively and grips so hard, the effects of its unique weight distribution are amplified; you’re aware of the mass of the engine slung out behind the rear wheels more than in any other modern 911.

With turbo boost that came on with all the subtlety of a shovel to the back of the head, and a chassis that demanded a constant sweaty tightrope walk between terminal understeer and hair-trigger oversteer, the original Porsche Turbo, the 930, was a car that inspired awe and fear in equal measure, like a made man among the wise guys. By contrast, the GT2 RS is an infinitely more mature, astoundingly more accomplished 911. But the 930’s animal spirit still lurks deep within. And that’s what I love about it.

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