3-Wheeled Wonders

We live in a great time today, where the startup culture is making life more interesting and shaking up the stodgy, entrenched establishment. Nowhere is this more evident than in the automotive industry.

The biggest player at this point is Tesla. The Model 3 is selling swiftly and the anticipation of them announcing a new, smaller SUV is growing every minute.

Elio

Another company looking to make a splash is Elio Motors. Their three-wheeled, two-person gasoline commuter vehicle was poised to make a huge impact but manufacturing setbacks have all but killed their momentum.

Elio Inside

Enter Electra Meccanica. What began in Italy as a company(Intermeccanica) built to deliver high-end custom cars(specifically Porsche 356s) has evolved into a Canadian manufacturer of electric vehicles.

Solo

Their first product is called the Solo and it’s strikingly similar to the Elio in concept but different in execution. Where the Elio has it two front wheels as open nacelles the Solo looks more like a traditional car, with the wheels under the main fenders.

Solo Inside

Another big difference is the use of electricity to propel the Solo. It’ll go an estimated 100 miles on a full charge where the Elio, with it’s small and efficient gasoline engine projected to get 84 miles per gallon. If the tank is 3 gallons, which has not been specified yet, then you can go around 250 miles on a tank. Of course, this is all theoretical since neither vehicle has made it to mass production mode as of this writing.

The other big design difference between the two is in the name…Solo. It’s a vehicle for exactly one person. The Elio sports two seats, in tandem, so you can take your bestie along for a fun time.

So what do they cost? Well, I’m glad you asked. The Elio is supposed to start at around $7500 US. Not bad for a commuter car and sometimes beach ride. The Solo, however, has a US MSRP of $15,500.

So let’s break this down…For half the price of the Solo, you can buy an Elio, have more fun because you won’t be waiting 3 hours to charge your battery, bring a friend, and use your savings to take some nice experience-minded trip.

The choice is yours.

Thanks for reading!

…See You Down The Road!

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2020 Ford Explorer

Ford has done it again by enhancing their storied vehicle known as Explorer. The update brings some goodness back to the marque in the form of standard rear-wheel drive (RWD). This makes me happy and sad all at once. Happy because I’m a huge supporter of RWD. Sad because there are people out there who would rather have front-wheel drive. But I digress.

The 2020 Explorer has a slightly more aggressive look with its bolder styling and edgier lines but the overall shape hasn’t changed much. The front end is probably the most-changed, and most noticeable. A little more angular, a little more aggressive. It’s a subtle change that might put off some people.

Then there’s the profile…the creases and cuts are a striking departure from the old, more organic, styling. Think of this result as someone with six-pack abs; they worked hard to get them and want to show them off all the time.

The stance is a little more aggressive, which belies its new RWD architecture.  It’s another good change made to the vehicle.

Inside, the most noticeable  change is the addition of a tablet-looking display, not unlike the one found in the new Ram pickup. The biggest difference between Ford and Ram’s execution is the Ford tablet looks tacked on, whereas the Ram is integrated into the dash lie it was designed to go there from the beginning. An 8-inch version with SYNC 3 comes as part of the standard equipment and there’s an optional 10.1-incher in portrait (taller rather than wider) for more ways to see what you want to see. Think Navigation on top radio on bottom. There’s also Apple Car Play and Android Auto and Waze navigation. Nice.

Power delivery comes from either a 2.3-liter EcoBoost inline four cylinder (300 hp, 310 lb-ft), a 3.0-liter EcoBoost V6 (Platinum: 365 hp, 380 lb-ft; ST: 400 hp, 415 lb-ft), or a 3.3-liter V6 hybrid (318 hp combined output). All models come with a 10-speed automatic and either RWD or “intelligent four-wheel drive with front axle disconnect”.

On pricing, according to Ford, there are “more than a dozen new standard features for only $400 more over the previous model”. Sounds like a bargain.

Thanks for reading!

…See You Down The Road!

2019 Kia Niro

Kia has come a long way, baby. The new Nero is a cool little car that promises a lot of niceties in its hybrid packaging.

New in 2018, it carries over mostly unchanged for 2019. This means it’s a well-put-together hybrid will all the goodies you’d expect from Kia.

The nose is very Kia-esque, with the familiar, almost kidney-like grill, flanked by the headlights and turn signals. The profile is of a small hatchback, not an SUV as you might expect, with a prominent character line and lower rub strip. Out back there is a generously-sized hatch with large tail lights And a blacked-out license plate area. And don’t forget the large spoiler that finishes off the sporty look.

Inside is a comfy cabin will all the modern accoutrements you’d expect with almost any newer hybrid like a trick instrument cluster that can show you how much, or not, you are driving economically and saving the planet with bright green leaves, or barren twigs.

Pricing for the Niro starts just under $23,500 and goes up to over $32,000 for the top-of-the-line…without options.

The Ranger Has Returned

2019_ranger_1.jpgIt was only a matter of time. When Ford left the mid-size pickup segment a few years ago, they were retiring an old platform in the Ranger and it was time for something different. Only Ford’s crystal ball did not reveal the newfound popularity of the “small” truck segment, led by the Chevy Colorado/GMC Canyon twins, along with the Nissan Frontier, Honda Ridgeline, and Toyota Tacoma.

I wrote about how I wanted to see a new Ranger way back in 2011…

2019 Ford RangerSo let’s ring in the New Year with some new sheet metal! The newly announced 2019 Ford Ranger follows current Ford styling DNA with Fusion-like headlights and large blue oval embedded in the grill. (It’s almost Edge-like, so you know it’s a Ford) Add to that a handsome character line and high wheel arches in profile and you have an attractively styled pickup to compete with the rest of the pack and complement the current F-150.

2019 Ford RangerI for one am excited about the return of Ranger since I owned one for about 12 years and put almost 200k miles on it. The new Ranger is quite a bit larger than my 1997 single cab with the same size engine? Yes, you read that right, my 1997 had a 2.3-liter four-cylinder, just like the 2019 Ranger! The major difference is the intercooled turbocharged EcoBoost engine and 10-speed automatic transmission. I had to live with just five forward gears that I had to shift myself! Can you imagine??

2019 Ford RangerExpect three trim levels at launch (XL, XLT, and Lariat) with different appearance packages on SuperCab and SuperCrew models (Chrome, Sport, and FX Off-Road).

2019 Ford RangerThe interior is another place where Ford has excelled. From the pics, it sure looks like it belongs in today’s world of mid-size pickups, including navigation and available Bang & Olufsen sound!

On the safety front, the most impressive new feature has got to be automatic emergency braking. Think about this…AEB was not even a thought back in 1997!

Pricing was not announced as we’ve got almost a whole year to wait on the production model.

Thanks for reading!

…See You Down The Road!

2019 Jeep Cherokee

2019 Jeep Cherokee Front

‘Tis the season, as they say. No, not for gift giving or getting, for a slew of new vehicle introductions from all over the world.  It’s also the season for the auto show, which is where most manufacturers announce said new vehicles. But, contrary to this assumption, we received an email today announcing the 2019 Jeep Cherokee, which will be completely introduced at the 2019 North American International Auto Show (NAIAS)!

It’s kind of fun to teased like this. Maybe the auto makers are learning from the tech industry that any hype is good hype.

According to Jeep, the new Cherokee (it’s a mid-size SUV) “boasts a new, authentic design, along with even more fuel-efficient powertrain options.”

And that’s all folks…save for the below pics.

As you can see in the first one, the front fascia is all new and Jeep has forgone the strange eyelid lights in favor of a more traditional design. It’s a giant leap forward if you are not a fan of the old design!

The rear, as seen in the second pic, has not changed much. The license plate is in a new spot and the rear valence is more tidy.

2019 Jeep Cherokee Rear

The profile has not changed much at all, though.

2019 Jeep Cherokee Profile

Alas, the interior is not much different either…but why mess with a good thing?173091_0050_Ds8et5sinrd3lvaomkev7m4d7n7We can’t wait to see what all the new goodies are for this new Jeep!

Thanks for reading!

…See You Down The Road!

Cadillac Escala Concept

2016-Cadillac-Escala-Concept-Exterior_1Perusing through the news after a long weekend, trying to find the gumption to dive into beast-mode at work, I came across a story about a new concept from Cadillac that was shown out west for the Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance. It’s a sharp looking car with less of the sharp lines of previous Caddys and is definitely more streamlined.

2016-Cadillac-Escala-Concept-Exterior-005What really caught my attention was the first thought that came to me as I was ogling…I mean viewing…the wonderful pics from the press launch.

…This thing screams Lincoln to me.

The Escala Concept introduces the next evolution of Cadillac des
The Escala Concept introduces the next evolution of Cadillac design.

There’s something about how the roofline meets the rear in the side view…or how the tail lights come together. I can’t put my finger on it but it’s there.

2016-Cadillac-Escala-Concept-Exterior-002I first saw the Escala on TheVerge.com and the headline read “Cadillac’s fantastic Escala concept is more New York than Detroit”. I think the author maybe meant to say “more Lincoln than Cadillac” but you be the judge.

Cadillac’s Escala concept previews craftsmanship and technical
Cadillac’s Escala concept previews craftsmanship and technical ideas in development for future models.

Watch the unveiling here:

 

Here’s the official press release in all it’s glory:

  • Concept showcases future design and technical systems in development
  • Flagship Sedan is a concept for a more expressive, expansive companion to the recently launched CT6
  • Dual-Theme interior includes Curved OLED displays, next-gen connectivity designs, ingenious details

The Escala Concept debuts in California tonight, introducing the next evolution of Cadillac design and previewing the craftsmanship and technology being developed for many future models. Following a series of private previews, Escala will be displayed this weekend at the annual Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance.

The Escala Concept previews the design and technical ideas driving the next phase of Cadillac’s ongoing expansion.

“Escala is a concept with two clear objectives,” said Johan de Nysschen, president of Global Cadillac. “First, Escala is a statement of intent for the next iteration of the Cadillac design language, and also technical concepts in development for future Cadillac models. Secondly, Escala builds Cadillac’s aspirational character, signaling the brand’s return to the pinnacle of premium.”

Cadillac has released a new slate of models bristling with expressive design and exhilarating performance, driver’s cars taking Cadillac into a new chapter of its storied 114-year history.

“Escala is a concept car, but one based upon the unrelenting rise of our product substance,” de Nysschen said. “Depending on the development of market segment for large luxury sedans, Escala is a potential addition to our existing product plan.”

Escala — Spanish for “scale”— is a concept for a larger, more elite and expressive companion to the recently launched 2016 Cadillac CT6, the brand’s remarkable new range-topping prestige sedan. Escala is also the third in a series of concepts Cadillac has debuted at Pebble Beach in recent years, following the Ciel convertible (2011) and Elmiraj coupe (2013).

Escala is designed to be both a driver’s car and an indulgent flagship sedan. The large 4-door sedan features an expansive liftback design emphasizing the car’s considerable scale and versatility. At 210.5 inches in overall length, Escala is roughly 6 inches longer than today’s CT6.

Escala features a new and evolved face of Cadillac design that will begin appearing on production models soon. This includes a new expression of Cadillac’s vertical lighting, a brand signature since 1948. Organic light emitting diode (OLED) lighting elements are thinner and set deep within the fascia, creating a sinister look, day and night.

The concept’s details invite closer inspection, including a three-dimensional precision pattern in the grille design and 22-inch wheels with two layers of spokes.

“This concept shares how Cadillac will bring forward a new experience that is uniquely American, and unmistakably Cadillac,” says Andrew Smith, executive director of Cadillac Global Design. “Escala is an expressive symbol of reward and an exhilarating driving experience. On the interior, we pushed further. It’s about precision and ingenuity in craftsmanship, and the artistic integration of technology.”

Escala features a “dual personality” interior crafted with distinctly different zones: The front is about intensely focused modern technology, while the rear delivers relaxation.

“My brief to the designers was to create a car you desperately want to drive, and also one in which you want to be driven,” Smith said. “So rather than a single design, this interior consists of two themes. It was an opportunity for our designers to break the rules a little bit, exactly what Cadillac should do from time to time.”

An array of three curved OLED screens is a prominent feature in the front of the cabin. The very thin, curved displays are layered in front of the driver, with the back sides wrapped in hand-stitched leather embossed with the Cadillac script. The array of screens consolidate the traditional “cluster” of driving gauges with the “center stack” into one integrated unit.

Escala includes new designs for connectivity and control, providing a prototype for the user experience in development for future production models. The system features a central control module that enables the driver to execute tactile commands across the spectrum of connectivity functions, in addition to voice and gesture control technology. Inside the controller sits a new edition of Cadillac’s “flying Goddess” icon, a nod to the brand’s illustrious heritage.

Like all Cadillac models today, the interior is assembled using hand cut-and-sewn techniques. However, Escala presents several new and unique touches, blending overt luxury with covert technology. Escala makes broad use of hand-tailored fabric on the door trim and seating areas. Inspired by suiting material used by Cadillac’s partners in the fashion industry, the fabric provides a new level of hand-applied craftsmanship and color, unique in today’s auto interior landscape.

The Escala Concept utilizes Cadillac’s new RWD-centric large luxury car architecture, featuring one of the world’s most advanced body structures, which debuted on the new CT6. The mixed-material construction enables unprecedented agility and efficiency.

Escala uses a new 4.2-liter twin-turbo V-8 engine, a prototype of a new system in development for future Cadillac models. The advanced engine utilizes Active Fuel Management technology, enabling fuel-saving 4-cylinder operation.

###

Cadillac Escala Concept Basic Specifications

Model Escala Concept
Body Style 4-door expressive flagship sedan, with lift-back rear opening
Height 57.3 in / 1455 mm
Width 76.7 in / 1948 mm
Length 210.5 in / 5347 mm
Wheelbase 127.1 in / 3228
Engine 4.2-liter Twin Turbo V8

…See You Down The Road!

2016 Dodge Dart GT (non-turbo)

041316_0153_2016DodgeDa1.jpgThe original Dart was a stylish (for the time) car but it was killed off in the mid-70s. The irony is that in its first few years of life the Dart was a full-size sedan. Its 3rd year brought something interesting; they shrank it, making it into a compact car…something that is pretty unheard of today!

041316_0153_2016DodgeDa2.jpgI was pretty sad when I heard that FCA was killing off the Dodge Dart and Chrysler 200. They seemed like very well put together cars that were also stylish and fun to drive. But unfortunately, the car landscape is changing and with low gas prices all around people are buying more small or medium crossovers than passenger cars, not even taking pickups into consideration as the Ford F-150 is still the top selling vehicle in the US some 30+ years running. Another factor is ease of ingress/egress in today’s crossovers compared with small sedans and the amount of money car makers are putting into the small crossover realm.

2016 Dodge Dart
2016 Dodge Dart

The real shame is that FCA has that styling thing down pat. Good looks and sporting intentions abound in the lineup and the Dart is no slouch in either aspect. We got to drive a Dart in a closed-loop urban setting and were happily surprised with how well it handled and how nice the car actually is.

2016 Dodge Dart Limited
2016 Dodge Dart Limited

With plenty of power on tap from the start, we were able to get through city traffic with little effort and the suspension soaked up the bumps with ease.

Surprisingly quick and very comfortable. The interior is very nice and the instrument cluster is top-notch. Seriously, the design of these is crazy good.

2016 Dodge Dart GT
2016 Dodge Dart GT

Look to pick up one starting at $22095. Just hurry as the Dart is short on life these days.