2020 Corvette Stingray

Front Three-Quarter with gentleman trying to hug the car…

The rumors proved to be true. All the automotive world is abuzz about the new eighth-generation Corvette Stingray that was just announced. It is mid-engined with a look more like a super exclusive exotic than a mundane Chevrolet. And you will supposedly be able to get one for under $60k!

Rear Three-Quarter

Here’s what Chevy has to say about it: “The 2020 Chevrolet Corvette Stingray is re-imagined to bring customers new levels of performance, technology, craftsmanship and luxury. It’s lean and muscular, with an athletic sculptural shape conveying a sense of motion and power from every angle. The Stingray’s heart is Chevy’s next-generation 6.2L Small Block V-8 LT2 engine, producing up to 495 horsepower (369 kW) and 470 lb-ft (637 Nm) of torque — the most horsepower and torque for any entry Corvette.”

Engine Bay

This complete redesign morphs the seventh-gen into a more race-car like stance with more obvious air ducting, especially for the engine. In my opinion, the front of the seventh-gen Corvette looked very Ferrari-like. Now, the rest of the car follows, looking more Italian than before.

Chevrolet is touting a new “3D” tool to help customers get their best car. It’s not unlike other manufacturers’ site and it is a bit slow but it works and I really like all the color options available!

Here’s my Ideal 2020 ‘Vette:

Elkhart Lake Blue Metallic…Too Cool!!!
Inside Ol’ Cool Blue

Or, maybe this:

Yowzaaaa!!!!

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…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.

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Fiat 124 Spider

2017 Fiat 124 Spider Abarth†It’s always a good day when you can get behind the wheel of a little convertible on a warm sunny day. it’s even better if that car is performance oriented, with good handling accompanying good power and great looks.

2017 Fiat 124 Spider Abarth†The FIAT 124 Spider Abarth is a fine automobile with a long history, but most here in the United States have no clue about it. FIAT pulled out of this market way back in the early 1980s so those born around that time and after have not heard of the brand or the poor quality and low sales that were the demise of FIAT in the US.

2017 Fiat 124 Spider Abarth†Thankfully, the brand is making a resurgence in the US in the early 21st century times we are in. The breakthrough model was the 500 and it now has three different variants; 500, 500L, and 500X. All three share components and a common look, with the 500 being the little car that could and the L and X models wearing larger clothes as they are small SUVs.

The odd duckling is the 124 Spider. It is a collaborative effort between FIAT and Mazda, which is a wonderful thing for you and me. With handling and all-around goodness of the MX-5 Miata and Italian styling based on the original 124, this new car has got a lot going for it.

2017 Fiat 124 Spider LussoPowering the 124 is a turbo-charged inline 4-cylinder making 160 horsepower and torque of 184 pound-feet. The Abarth gets a five horsepower boost and the same torque. Both versions get a choice between two 6-speed transmissions, one manual and one automatic.

Yes, it resembles the Miata, mostly in the side profile, but there’s only so much you can do to change the look. I think Fiat did a great job of differentiating the 124 from the Miata on the outside. Inside, you get Mazda, which is not a bad thing. Comfy seats and a tight cockpit make for an exhilarating ride!

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…See you down the road!

2018 Ford EcoSport

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As the decline of the sedan in the American market continues, automakers are scrambling to meet the demand for the fastest growing segment, the small SUV (AKA, CUV). Honda has the HR-V, Toyota has the CH-R, Chevy has the Traxx, and even Buick has the Encore, to name a few. One of the last car makers to offer a smaller SUV is Ford. They plan to fix that for 2018 with the EcoSport.

The first thing you notice about the EcoSport is its Ford-ness. The front is unmistakably Ford, with a version of the grill that’s found on most of Ford’s product line these days. That rear, however, is unlike almost everything currently for sale…it’s not the looks, it’s the rear hatch that is actually a side-hinged door. That door is hinged on the Driver’s side (in the US) and is quite large, the better for garages that have height issues according to Ford. Other than that big door, EcoSport keeps the family resemblance to the Escape, just a bit smaller.

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As with any new launch, EcoSport comes with a bevy of tech features that should keep all those millennials out there satiated for at least a four-hour road trip. One of the more interesting upgrades is an available B&O Play (by HARMAN) premium audio system. If you’ve ever heard their speakers then you know that this is a very good thing. There’s also Ford’s ubiquitous SYNC, currently in version 3, SiriusXM, and also Apple Car Play and Android Auto viewable on the standard 4.2-inch touch screen or the available 8-inch touchscreen!

Ford EcoSport

Powering EcoSport is a couple of smallish inline engines; a 1.0-liter EcoBoost® (123 horsepower/125 lb.-ft. of Torque) three-cylinder with Auto Start-Stop is standard with six-speed automatic transmission. Then there’s the available 2.0-liter Ti-VCT (166 horsepower/149 lb.-ft. of torque) four-cylinder with Auto Start-Stop which comes standard with all-wheel drive. The EPA expects EcoSport to get 27 city and 29 highway on the 1.0-liter. As of this writing, mileage figures for the 2.0-liter are not available but shouldn’t be too far off the 1.0-liter.

There are four EcoSport models to choose from in 2018. Here are the starting prices for each trim level: S ($19,995), SE ($22,905), Titanium ($25,740), and SES ($26,740)

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…See you down the road!

 

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.

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…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!

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…See You Down The Road!

Tesla Model 3

model-3-tesla.jpg
Photo: Tesla

The Tesla Model 3 is now for sale and on the road! (In California and a few other states as of this writing.)

The first iterations were “delivered” to a captive audience at the world headquarters in Mountain View, California, at the end of July 2017.

Not only is the car finally in production but we finally have finalized specs for the Baby T: Starting with size, the Model 3 is 184.8 inches in overall length compared with 196 inches for the Model S, and a 113.2-inch wheelbase compared with 116.5 inches for the Model S.

 

model-3-motortrend
Photo: Motor Trend

 

Power in the Baby T is down as well but definitely no slouch. Tesla says the Model 3 will get to 60 miles per hour in 5.1 or 5.6 seconds (depending on battery size). Speaking of which, battery size is now in range, rather than kilowatt hours, of either 220 or 320 miles (standard and long range, respectively).

Speaking of changes…totally free, unlimited Supercharging is out of the question for all Teslas that were purchased after January 1, 2017 (unless you purchased the vehicle using another owner’s referral, or paid a large, one-time fee). What those owners do get is annual “credits” that equate to around 1000 miles of free supercharging. For the new Model 3 owner, though, it seems as though those credits are not in play as, according to the Tesla website, Model 3 Supercharging is “pay per use”.

So the Model 3 definitely looks like a Tesla but it has a different look with almost a smile on its face but it’s definitely not a hatchback, which is a bummer since the trunk opening isn’t as big as the hatch on the Model S.

 

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Photo: Motor Trend

 

Another notable difference between the Model S and Model 3 is the center touchscreen in the Model 3. It’s the instrument panel/HVAC/radio/everything screen that will take some people a while to get used to.

 

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Photo: CNET

 

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Photo: The Verge

 

Here’s all the specs currently from the Tesla website:

 

Safety

  • Automatic emergency braking and collision avoidance
  • Eight airbags
  • Electronic stability and traction control

Convenience

  • 15″ touchscreen with onboard maps & navigation
  • Wi-Fi and LTE internet connectivity
  • Keyless entry and remote climate control with app
  • Voice activated controls
  • 60/40 split folding rear seats

Standard Interior

  • 15” touchscreen display
  • Dual zone climate control system
  • FM/Internet streaming radio
  • Textile seating
  • Center console with open storage and two USB ports

Premium Upgrades

  • Premium heated seating and cabin materials throughout, including open pore wood décor and two rear USBs
  • 12-way, power adjustable front seats, steering column and side mirrors, with custom driver profiles
  • Premium audio system with more power, tweeters, surround speakers and subwoofer
  • Tinted glass roof with ultraviolet and infrared protection
  • Auto dimming, power folding, heated side mirrors
  • LED fog lamps
  • Center console with covered storage and docking for two smartphones

Warranty

  • 4 year, 50,000 mile limited vehicle warranty
  • 8 year, 100,000 mile battery warranty (Standard)
  • 8 year, 120,000 mile battery warranty (Long Range)

Here is one of the more comprehensive looks at the Model 3

Me? I’m still waiting for the Tesla Minibus!

tesla_minibus_render

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…See You Down The Road!