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Episodes: Episode 3825

Fri, 02/22/2019 - 11:39am

Debut 2.22.2019


Track Test: 2019 Lamborghini Urus

Goss' Garage: Wipeout

FYI: REVOLVE Car Sharing

Long Term Update: Honda Odyssey | Kia Niro PHEV

Road Test: 2019 Audi A8L

Categories: Syndicated

This Just In: Preparing Project ‘003’

Fri, 02/22/2019 - 9:49am
Aston Martin is giving us something new to add to our wish list.  The company has confirmed they’re creating their third hypercar codenamed Project ‘003’.  It follows the Aston Martin Valkyrie and Valkyrie AMR Pro. We know Project ‘003’ be powered by a turbocharged gas-electric hybrid engine.  A mid-engine layout, active aerodynamics and suspension will be some of the features that make this something special on the track.  It will also be road-legal including space for luggage. As expected, Project ‘003’ will be very exclusive.  Only 500 coupes will be built for the global market.  If you’re one of the lucky ones, it will be late 2021 before you can park it in your garage.

Categories: Syndicated

Podcasts: 2019 Porsche 911 GT3 RS, 2019 Lamborghini Urus and 2019 Hyundai Veloster N Track Tests

Fri, 02/22/2019 - 8:00am

Podcast #199

In Podcast 199 John Davis and the MotorWeek crew talk about 3 recent track tests: the Porsche 911 GT3 RS, Lamborghini Urus, and Hyundai Veloster N. Then they answer a viewer question about midsize sedans and debate the merits of concept cars.

Categories: Syndicated

This Just In: Pedestrian Safety Ratings

Thu, 02/21/2019 - 10:36am
The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety has released their new pedestrian crash prevention ratings.  Eleven small utilities are ranked based on their ability to automatically avoid or reduce the severity of a crash with pedestrian dummies.  Researchers looked at three different scenarios at different speeds.  The 2018–19 Honda CR-V, 2019 Subaru Forester, 2019 Toyota RAV4 and 2019 Volvo XC40 earn the highest rating of superior. Pedestrian detection systems generally use a combination of cameras and radar sensors to scan the road for people.  Some are designed to detect bicyclists and animals.  The pedestrian autobrake test is one of four ways the IIHS looks at avoiding crashes.  The other three are front crash prevention systems, headlights, and rear crash prevention systems. In 2017, 5,977 pedestrians died in crashes in the U.S.  That’s slightly less than the year before, but 45% higher than 1990 when the least number of pedestrian deaths were reported.

Categories: Syndicated

Road Tests: 2019 Audi A8 L

Thu, 02/21/2019 - 7:00am

Vital Statistics

Engine: 3.0 liter

Horsepower: 335

Torque: 369 lb-ft.

0-60 mph: 5.1 seconds

1/4 mile: 13.7 seconds @ 100 mph

EPA: 19 mpg city / 27 mpg highway

While SUVs are taking up an ever increasing share of luxury carmakers’ portfolios; for many, the traditional large European luxury sedan provides a driving experience that simply can’t be matched by a high-riding, big-wheeled, high-performing hatchback. Count us among those holdouts, and consider the Audi A8L our exhibit A.

The traditional European flagship sedan has lost a bit of its luster recently, with SUVs now seemingly the chrome-clad standard bearers for all luxury brands. This 2019 Audi A8L probably won’t change that, but it is a great reminder of how fantastic a large luxury 4-door can be.

Seemingly driving that point home, it’s this long wheelbase L version that is the only A8 coming to the U.S. for now, and all will be equipped with rear-biased Quattro all-wheel-drive. 

Most exterior measurements are up over last year, but just slightly. Inspect closely, and you will find slightly more defined wheel arches, sharper lines, and of course all-new lighting. 

It was the last generation A8 that really started our love affair with Audi interiors. They did sneak another touch screen in with this new MMI system, making for a few more touch surfaces than we generally appreciate. But the tablet-like interface is fairly intuitive; and it’s hard to complain about anything, in what is such a clean and luxurious space.

As with most luxury rides, you can stick with the high level of standard equipment like Audi’s virtual cockpit, Bang & Olufsen 3D premium audio, and a panoramic sunroof. Or, of course go further with luxuries like massaging seats, premium leather, and even a fragrance ionizer.

As you might expect, back seat passengers, whether in standard 3-across configuration or 2-seat Executive style, get special treatment. Multi-position, heated and ventilated, massaging seats are available for them as well, as part of the Rear Seat Comfort Package.  

Seat comfort for the driver is sublime, and ride quality is splendid; but keep things in comfort mode and there is a lot of body roll. We’re not complaining, there’s certainly a place for some big old-school relaxed luxury feel; and if it bothers you, punch up dynamic mode and things tighten up nicely. Regardless of mode, nothing ever seems to upset this chassis. 

Even with the posh softness here, the A8L is well composed and feels smaller than it is; turn-ins are quick, and grip level is high, with only a slight bit of understeer when you approach the car’s limits. 

Plenty of grip for making a quick getaway as well.  Without much effort at all, this A8L sprints to 60 in 5.1-seconds. 

It’s all business class comfort and efficiency from there. The engine revs freely; and shifts from the 8-speed automatic are hard and fast, though the driver stays isolated from most of the experience. This 4,750-lb. luxury liner completes the ¼ in 13.7-seconds at 100 miles-per-hour. 

Making it all happen is a 3.0-liter V6, only now it gets added boost from a turbo instead of a supercharger as before. Horsepower is up 2, to 335; while torque climbs more significantly, up from 325 to 369 lb-ft.

The Government Fuel Economy Ratings are 19-City, 27-Highway, and 22-Combined; which we just about matched, with an average of 22.3 miles-per-gallon on Premium. 

After all of the high praise, you might expect a base price higher than $84,795; we sure did.  

For the most part, large luxury sedans like this 2019 Audi A8L have been immune to the downturn in sedan sales. That’s probably because, like most luxury items, the people that own them, know exactly what they have when they have one; and nothing else will do, except for perhaps a new one. 

Categories: Syndicated

Road Tests: 2019 Lamborghini Urus

Thu, 02/21/2019 - 7:00am

Vital Statistics

Engine: 4.0 liter

Horsepower: 641

Torque: 627 lb-ft.

0-60 mph: 3.6 seconds

EPA: 12 mpg city / 17 mpg highway

The days of bemoaning the fact that sporty car builders now sell more SUVs than cars are coming to an end. It’s time to face the reality of where we are today. SUVs are win-wins. People can’t get enough of them, and they are highly profitable to build. So it’s no shocker that even Lamborghini now has an SUV…the Urus. 

Studious viewers will of course point out that this 2019 Lamborghini Urus is not the first utility vehicle from the brand; that would be the LM002, which we tested way back in 1988. 

Well, that rugged, military-spec 4X4 was nothing at all like the Urus, having more in common with a tractor than a high performance machine. The Urus on the other hand, manages to look, feel, and yes, drive much like what one expects from a modern Lamborghini supercar. 

Lamborghini was kind enough to drop off a blindingly yellow Urus test vehicle while we were at our winter proving grounds of Roebling Road Raceway near Savannah, Georgia. 

And while there is a clear priority on high-performance, the interior space is very livable as well; with great comfort, and legit room for 4 adults. 

And now here’s the part where we tell you, that being part of the Volkswagen group, the Urus is based on the Audi Q7. Technically that is correct, but needless to say, you won’t be doing a lot of parts swapping between the two; as Lambo started with just the basic architecture, and bolted their own stuff onto it include styling that is far faster than other SUV in the VW corporate stable.  

Likewise, they took just the 4.0-liter V8 twin-turbo engine’s block, and built their own version that whips up 641-horsepower and 627 lb-ft. of torque.

Then of course, Lamborghini engineers had their way with the ZF 8-speed automatic transmission and all-wheel-drive system, which includes torque vectoring, as well as four-wheel steering. 

Bottom line, it’s a 4,800-lb. sport utility that can streak to 60 in 3.6-seconds, with a factory claimed, world’s best 190 mile per hour top end, and out-handle and out-brake numerous exotic sports cars, and even get you through some light off-roading situations as well; thanks to all-wheel-drive traction and drive modes that can pump up the ride height as far as 9.8-inches. 

But nothing about the experience makes you want to direct the Urus to the Rubicon; rather, we took its talents to Roebling’s nine high speed turns. 

It feels tight and fast, no matter how you’re driving it or where you’re driving it to. And all of that’s without even clicking over to Corsa mode, where things get positively intense. 

Urus gets deceptively fast very quickly; almost making you forget you’re in an SUV. But, it can’t quite overcome the fact that your posterior is quite aways off of the pavement. 

Braking is by way of 10-piston calipers, clamping down on standard ceramic discs; performance was borderline epic.

It certainly doesn’t look like that original Rambo Lambo, nor does it really even look like an SUV in the true sense. More of a sleek hatchback that sits way off the ground, has all-wheel-drive, and rides on 21-inch wheels; or these matte finish 22s if you prefer.  

Honestly, few exotic car owners ever drive their car on a race track, or even sniff its performance potential; thus, the Urus actually makes way more sense as a daily driver, and it can still handle itself quite well, if you do get talked into a track day. 

Things inside are all Lamborghini, with no trace of Audi anything. You’ll find plenty of the traditional hexagon and Y-shapes, as well as the same TFT gauge panel used in the Huracan.

The center console features an identical start button with flip up cover, as well; but the drive mode and chassis selectors that bookend it, are more extensive. Above, are two touch screens; one for infotainment, and one for cabin comfort. 

For hauling stuff, there’s 21.8 cubic-ft. of cargo space in back, and you can always lower the air suspension to make loading easier. 

Now for the reality check. Government Fuel Economy Ratings are 12-City, 17-Highway, and 14-Combined. And pricing starts at $203,995. If ya got it, why not flaunt it in a Urus.

There’s no doubt that there are lots of Lamborghini fans that loath the idea of this 2019 Urus. But, trust us, once you drive it, there is absolutely nothing to hate about it. It’s a fantastic, modern performance car in an SUVish body. And here’s where we’d love to end this test with a bad pun about Lamborghini following the SUV herd with the Urus; but actually, they’re now in the lead. 

Categories: Syndicated

This Just In: Lexus Tops Power’s Dependability Survey…Again.

Wed, 02/20/2019 - 12:01am

Every year J.D. Powers publishes a wide range of automotive surveys, but none is more important to the average car consuemr than their annual Dependability Survey.  For 2019, Lexus once again tops the list as it has for eight years. But Porsche was a close second and tied with Toyota in third place.  Two General Motors brands, Chevrolet and Buick, were in fourth and fifth place, dispelling again the myth that U.S. brands trail in vehicle quality. For the first time in the 30-year history of the survey, all German brands finished above average. In fact, the Porsche 911 was named as the single most reliable car. This survey measures the reliability of 3-year-old cars and covers 33,000 respondents. It is the most scientifically and comprehensive survey of its type.

Categories: Syndicated

Goss’ Garage: Wipeout

Tue, 02/19/2019 - 5:14pm

No matter what car you drive, some of the most basic items can have the biggest impact on your driving safety, like your wiper blades for instance. If you can’t see well, then you certainly can’t drive safely. First, keep the blades of the windshield free of leaves and dirt. Even a small leaf caught under the blade of your wipers, well that could prevent the blade from making good contact with the windshield, and leave blurry streaks as the wiper passes on the glass. Exposure to rain, snow, UV rays, and ozone can cause damage to the rubber squeegees on your wiper blade, so periodically you want to check them for cracks or dried out rubber. In extreme cases like this, well the wiping edge can peel away and you’re left with a black spaghetti noodle flopping across your windshield, and that won’t do you any good at all.

Now if your wiper blades appear to be in good condition, you should still clean them with a soapy sponge or a rag every time you wash your car. We have an assortment of wiper blades here from Rain-X.

There are three basic types. First, the conventional wiper blades we all know that have an open skeleton and frame, and multiple attachment points which hold the squeegee to the glass. Now these work fine but they exert pressure unevenly and can let snow and ice and other debris build up in the frame. A step up from that is the hybrid blade that has a plastic cover over the frame for protection and a more modern look.

Now the best type these days are the beam-type blades. Their flexible design allows them to contour to the curve of your windshield. The entire blade has an embedded spring to give even pressure across the entire length for uniform contact and more consistent wiping. The spoiler helps maintain good performance at highway speeds and protect it from buildup of snow, ice, and debris.

Now, beyond that, you also have choices of the type of material the wiper blade is made of. You have different types of rubber: natural, synthetic, and silicone. Of the three, silicon stands up to the harshest weather conditions and temperature ranges and lasts twice as long as natural rubber. In addition, we’re now seeing wipers that feature graphite coating to help reduce friction and wipers that apply a water repellant coating to your windshield.

Finally, buy the right sized blades for your vehicle. One size does not fit all. Pay attention to your wiper blades now, so you can safely pay attention to the road later. And, if you have a question or comment, drop us a line right here at MotorWeek.

Categories: Syndicated

Motor News: 2019 Chicago Auto Show

Tue, 02/19/2019 - 5:13pm

The Chicago Auto Show is known for being a showcase for new trucks. And this year was no exception, starting with some heavy haulers.

Chevrolet arrives with the all-new Silverado HD pickups. They sport an aggressive look, more interior room, new powertrains, and max towing of 35,500 pounds.

This GMC Sierra Heavy Duty pickup has a 15 camera view system including a rear transparent trailer mode.

Ford brought their revamped Super Duty to Chicago with updated front end, interior, and new engines and transmissions.

Custom builder Tuscany revives a legendary tie-up with its Harley-Davidson Ford F-150.

Ram was busy too, showing this optional Multifunction tailgate for the 1500…And, this new HD Chassis Cab destined for custom outfitters.

Toyota’s Chicago headliner is the freshened Tacoma with new front fascia, grille, and lighting, updated interior with more advanced safety.

This Land Cruiser Heritage Edition dons blackout trim, BBS wheels, and cleaned up lower side body so it won’t get too scuffed up handling the rough stuff.

Toyota also unleashed this Sequoia TRD Pro sport utility ready for any off-road family adventure.

Nissan came to Chicago with a restyled Rogue Sport and the latest in safety and infotainment. This Nissan Pathfinder Rock Creek Edition adds dark trim, unique wheels and tires, and two-tone seating for a customized appearance.

The Kia Sportage is refreshed with tweaked styling front and rear. Kia’s new Forte GT Line is mostly a trim package but it sure looks fast.

Subaru unveiled their all-new Legacy mid-size sedan. On a new chassis with slick fastback styling and optional big screen infotainment.

At Lexus smooth and twisty pavement is handled with the dressed-up NX F Sport Black Line. 

While this Flare Yellow Lexus LC 500 Inspiration Series concept is now a limited production model.

Volkswagen continues to display its confidence in sport sedans. This Jetta GLI sports the GTI’s turbocharged engine and an independent rear suspension.

Chicago saw the world debut of the Mazda Miata in 1989. For 2019, the Anniversary Edition MX-5 Miata marks 30 years of this roadster reviver survivor.

The Alfa Romeo 4C Spider is a more recent open air arrival, here in new Italia trim.

And that’s it from the Windy City and this week’s Motor News.

Categories: Syndicated

FYI: REVOLVE Car Sharing

Tue, 02/19/2019 - 5:09pm

It's a car enthusiast's dream! An app that lets you drive the latest super premium vehicles. Like an Aston Martin DB9, for that that trip to a posh ski resort, a Range Rover Sport SVR. Now if this sounds like another car subscription service you're right. But, while others are struggling, this start up thinks success "revolves" around exclusivity. Our FYI report Stephanie Hart tries it out.

STEPHANIE HART: Start with ultra luxury and performance cars… Add in cutting edge digital technology… And you have a unique car subscription service called Revolve…

“It’s almost impossible to get tired of what’s in your garage…”

“You can have a striking AMG GT like this one - one month…”

… and you can have a completely different experience with this incredible BMW i8…watch out south Florida.

Here’s how it works, you download the Revolve app, you get approved, you scroll through their amazing collection of cars, you choose seven of your dream cars to add to your virtual garage.

ASOKA VEERAVAGU: Our optimization algorithms are running behind the scenes and they’re providing access to the ideal cars at the right time for our customers.  From there, through the app, they get notified of their first vehicle delivery and then a member of our concierge team brings the vehicle to their home or their office, walks them through everything they need to know about the vehicle - really gives them a full orientation of the vehicle then they drive it like it is their own for the next one to three months and then after that time they’ll revolve to their next premiere ride.

STEPHANIE HART: Asoka Veeravagu founded Revolve a year and a half ago in South Florida. At about the same time, many luxury auto makers began offering car subscription services. And some of them are still struggling to find the right formula for success. But Veeravagu is confident his model will succeed because it offers brand variety.

ASOKA VEERAVAGU: Real subscription services are very popular today, but you wouldn’t subscribe to one and expect to eat just Italian food everyday similarly with automotive subscription instead of single brand we look at it as a sampling of all the best vehicles in the top brands that’s what consumers really want.

STEPHANIE HART: Consumers like, Award-Winning Chef Michael Schwartz.

MICHAEL SCHWARTZ: I was always one of those guys that you know six months after I got a new car I was like nah I’m starting to get sick of my car so you know I think the Revolve sort of model is brilliant in that you get to experience new cars often.  It’s sort of hard to go like low profile in some of the cars, but I love them.

STEPHANIE HART: A passion for cars fueled the idea behind Revolve... At the time, Veeravagu was working as a General Motors Engineer.

ASOKA VEERAVAGU: At General Motors they had a large fleet of all sorts of different vehicles and your badge would give you access to drive these vehicles on a periodic basis so sort of like having a library card for cars so that’s when the idea sparked for me like why doesn’t this exist in the consumer space.

STEPHANIE HART: Adam Lipman has been a Revolve member for 16 months.

What do you love about cars so much?

ADAM LIPMAN: I truly enjoy the sounds that cars make I like the freedom that they represent and who doesn’t like going fast.

STEPHANIE HART: What has been your favorite cars so far?

ADAM LIPMAN: I had an Acura NSX a true super car and that was really great to drive. Right now I have an AMG GT convertible with the Florida weather it’s perfect and then it was great having an M5 which is performance and luxury.

ASOKA VEERAVAGU: We like to say we are all inclusive for automotive access - so all insurance, maintenance service and fees are rolled into one monthly subscription payment. All you have to do is gas up and drive or charge up if you are in one of our Teslas.

STEPHANIE HART: But this premium subscription service doesn’t come cheap.. The top enthusiast tier is 26-hundred a month. Unlike a typical car lease, there is no long term commitment. Membership is month to month. Next tier down is the luxury car tier which costs 19-hundred a month. Down the line, Revolve wants to create two more tiers that are more affordable for the average consumer.

ASOKA VEERAVAGU: You have to have a passion for what you are doing with starting a new venture but you also have to have the perseverance and grit to be able to stick it out.

STEPHANIE HART: Eventually Revolve will launch in other key states too- like California and Texas… with the end goal of spanning the country, offering cars for every taste and budget.

Categories: Syndicated

This Just In: Honda To Close UK Plant-Home For Civic Type R

Tue, 02/19/2019 - 8:26am
Honda has annonced that it will closed it's plant in the United Kingdom by 2021 at the end of the life cycle for the current Honda Civic compact. The plant makes Civic 5-door hatchbacks for world wide consumption including the vaulted Civic Type R. Honda says the move has nothing to do with Brexit but rather with steamlining production capacity to meet global demand. A plant in Turkey will also close. The Swindon UK plant opened in 1985. It employes about 3,500 workers and produces about 150,000 Civics per year. Honda says the next generation Civic will be made in other plants around the world with production continuing here in the U.S. There is no word yet if a hot rod Type R model will be a part of the Civic redesign nor where it might be assembled.
Categories: Syndicated

This Just In: Swift Style

Fri, 02/15/2019 - 9:59am
The lap of luxury is getting a whole lot faster.  Bentley is unveiling the new Bentayga Speed.  The mighty 6.0-litre W12 engine cranks out 634 horsepower and 664 lb.ft of torque.  Horsepower is up about 25 from the Bentayga without the word speed in its name.  Those numbers translate to a top speed of 190 mph and 0-62 mph in 3.9 seconds.  There are cues of this more performance oriented luxo-ute, including dark-tint headlights, body-colored side skirts and a tailgate spoiler.  Inside, Speed badging hints at what the throttle can do, and Alcantara trim makes its way into the Bentayga for the first time. The list of choices for luxury utilities that can go fast is growing with the Lamborghini Urus and Maserati Levante GTS joining the mix. The Bentley Bentayga Speed will make its global debut at the Geneva Motor Show before going on sale later this year.
Categories: Syndicated

Episodes: Episode 3824

Fri, 02/15/2019 - 9:31am

Debut 2.15.2019


Road Test: 2019 Toyota RAV4

Goss' Garage: Air Filters

Over the Edge: A-Plus Auto Styling

Long Term Update: 2018 Subaru Crosstrek | 2018 Toyota Camry

Quick Spin: 2019 Toyota Prius

Track Test: 2019 Porsche 911 GT3 RS

Categories: Syndicated

This Just In: Warlock Rides Again

Thu, 02/14/2019 - 9:47am
Ram is moving forward with an eye on the past.  They’re announcing the new 2019 Ram 1500 Classic Warlock.  It stands out with a bold grille with R-A-M lettering, front and rear powder-coated bumpers, Warlock decals and an available Sport hood.  The Warlock rolls on 20-inch semi-gloss black aluminum wheels and a 1-inch factory ride height lift. The Warlock’s power comes from a 305 horsepower 3.6-liter Pentastar V-6 or 395 horsepower 5.7-liter HEMI V-8.  They both are paired with a TorqueFlite eight-speed automatic transmission. The idea of a factory-personalized pickup dates back to 1976.  That’s when the first production Dodge Warlock was introduced.  The pickup was originally designed as an auto show concept vehicle. The 2019 Ram 1500 Classic Warlock should go on sale late next month starting at $35,345.
Categories: Syndicated

Goss’ Garage: Air Filters

Thu, 02/14/2019 - 7:00am

There’s a myth about air filters that dirty air filters will affect gas mileage. Well back in the day when cars had carburetors, like this old one here, well yes that was true but carburetors have been gone a long time now and modern cars they have fuel injection and a dirty air filter will not affect fuel economy. The reason being is that when the air was restricted on the carburetor, there was no way to shut down the amount of fuel going into the engine because the carburetor was mechanical.

Today, we have fuel injection, and that’s all electronic. So, we have a device on the backside of the air filter that measures the amount of air coming through the air filter. It tells the computer how much air is coming in, the computer mixes the proper amount of fuel, so it always maintains the proper air/fuel ratio.

Now granted if you have a filter that looks like this you need to replace it because it has to protect your engine, and that isn’t going to do much of a job at that.

Now, next thing, here we have a high performance air filter. Most of these are oiled. They do a great job; they usually last the life of the car. But, will they give a stock engine huge improvements in performance or fuel economy and the answer to that is no. The reason is that an engine only takes in the amount of air that is needed, not the amount of air that is made available to it. So you can make all of this air available, it’s not going to use it. Now, if you modify the engine, what you’re doing is you’re making it take in more air, then you absolutely need a high performance air filter; only way to go.

Alright, another filter on the car you need to be aware of: most cars these days have cabin air filters. This is an extreme example of what we pull out of cars periodically: really nasty and doesn’t smell too good either.

Now, let’s take a little comparison here. We’ll take this one out of this new car. You can see the difference. Now, what you want to do is read your owner’s manual and see how you go about checking this, where it’s located, and so on. And at least a couple times a year check it, or if the owner’s manual says to replace it, at a certain interval, replace it. You’ll be a lot more comfortable in the car. 

And if you have a question or comment, drop me a line, right here at MotorWeek.     

Categories: Syndicated

Road Tests: 2019 Toyota RAV4

Thu, 02/14/2019 - 7:00am

Vital Statistics

Engine: 2.5 liter

Horsepower: 203

Torque: 184 lb-ft.

EPA: 26 mpg city / 35 highway

The original Toyota RAV4 was introduced here in 1996, and went on to play a major roll in launching the crossover craze that continues to accelerate in 2019. Now, the 5th gen of Toyota’s compact ute has arrived. And the all-new RAV’s reviews are already raves, including our pick as a best small utility of the year. So, let’s dive into the details of why.

Hard to believe the Toyota RAV4 has been on the road for well over 20-years now. During that time, the economy has been way up, and of course way down; and that was well before everyone had a smartphone in their hands.

Well, the first thing you’ll notice is that Toyota dialed up a seriously rugged new design for this generation of RAV, more than we’ve ever seen, including plenty of 4Runner cues. Hiking boots and cargo pants aren’t required to drive it, but they certainly wouldn’t be out of place; even if your adventures are limited to car pool lanes and suburban cull-de-sacs.

The front end is bigger and bolder, with a grille patterned after Toyota pickups; while the sides sport chunky fenders and clearly defined shoulders. Wheelbase is up about an inch.

The rear view is manly as well, featuring a big bumper with lots of simulated skid plate cladding.

The macho makeover doesn’t transfer over to the driving experience, however. We headed to California for our first drive opportunity. And while the seating position is high, with a generous amount of hood to look over, giving it a big truck feel; steering is very light, and handling is as predictable as a Camry.

There is plenty of engine noise under spirited acceleration; but once up to highway speed, things quiet down very nicely. While the standard 8-speed automatic transmission seems to quickly and easily find the right gear more often than not.

That noise emanates from the Camry’s 2.5-liter I4 engine; and output here is the same 203- horsepower and 184 lb-ft. of torque.

RAV4’s Government Fuel Economy Ratings are 26-City, 35-Highway, and 30-Combined with front-wheel drive. With all-wheel drive, depending on the model, they range from 25-27 City, 33-34 Highway, and 29-30 Combined. All on Regular gas.

A Hybrid version will also be available later in the model year.

Safety systems get an updrade, Toyota’s Safety Sense fortunately loses the P; now known as TSS 2.0, with Smart Stop Technology standard.

Obviously, sharing the Camry’s TNGA-K platform, means the Rav remains front-wheel-drive based, with all-wheel-drive for an additional $1,400, regardless of trim.

Save for the returing Adventure model, which now comes with AWD standard. That system is a new Dynamic Torque Vectoring one, with Rear Driveline Disconnect, and it’s shared with Limited trim.

All other trims get a more basic system, though it does include Multi-Terrain Select. Ground clearance is as high as 8.6-inches, half an inch more than before.

The interior design is clean, burly, and truck-like too, with a dash that is more horizontal than before, as well as physically lower to improve visibility.

The center stack houses plenty of large controls, while above sits a standard 7.0-inch touchscreen. Entune 3.0 Audio Plus adds another inch to the screen. It may not be our favorite multimedia system, but it’s fairly easy to learn the basics.

Rear seat passengers will get a better experience than before, with easier access and comfier seats; as well as more space due to the wheelbase stretch and reshaped door panels.

The cargo floor is longer, but either it sits higher up or the roof slants more dramatically, as the space is actually down a little from last year from 38.4 cubic-ft. to 37.6; though Toyota claims the available space is more usable than before. Max capacity is down from 73.4 to 69.8 cubic-ft.

Base pricing is up just a tad over last year, at $26,595 for LE grade; top trim Limited stickers for $34,595. A reshuffling of trims will also see a sporty XSE HV Hybrid added into the mix as well.

Making a compact crossover choice is about the hardest of any segment, with literally dozens of great options. But, for over 20-years, the Toyota RAV4 has remained a leader of the pack; with this 2019 version, which includes not only a more rugged design, but more capability than ever, it’s a safe bet that won’t change any time soon.

Categories: Syndicated

Over The Edge: Automotive Force Field

Thu, 02/14/2019 - 7:00am

Our Over The Edge guy has been known to drive up and down the coast in a single weekend, whether it’s for kicks or to pick up the newest addition to his motorized stable. In the past, Zach Maskell used painters tape to protect the finish on his more treasured vehicles while on the road. But recently he ventured into one shop that installs an invisible force field.

ZACH MASKELL: If there’s one thing that we cannot get enough of. It is protection for our cars. Today we’re in Forest Hill, Maryland at A-Plus Auto Styling. And we’re going to figure out how you can get a protective barrier for our paint.

A-Plus is a firm that specializes in preservation of your ride. From window tint, to full color vinyl wraps, and the ever so popular… Paint Protection Film, also known as PPF. This is a thermoplastic urethane film which is applied over paint.

PPF can protect against rock chips and scratches. Now if you want to cover the entire car, in our area it’s about $6,000. To do the front impact zone, it’s about 2 grand. And Xpel which guarantees it for 10 years.

ZAC RITTER: We had a customer with an F type have a driver scuff the bumper of his car leaving a parking lot one day. When he pulled the wrap off there was really no damage to the paint itself. It looked like there was, it was pretty bad when the film was still on there but we pulled it off and to both our surprises all we had to do was essentially replace the film.

ZACH MASKELL: This blotter machine can precisely cut the PPF for many cars, so it’s not usually hand cut.

NICK KRAFT: These precut kits.There’s two different mirror designs.I cut the one with the smaller mirror hole out. Knowing that I’m going to tuck it as close to the mirror stalk as possible and not have any gap there so what I’m doing now is just trying to position it exactly where I want it.

ZACH MASKELL: While color vinyl is installed completely dry, PPF is a polar opposite.

NICK KRAFT: The idea is to not have any dry spots. Any dry spots can create silvering or defects in the actual glue so, got to make sure everything’s nice and wet.

ZACH MASKELL: The guys are making sure there’s no bubbles and no contaminant, as this is like holding a giant piece of fly paper. Then the water is squeegeed out and the edges sit to dry.

ZAC RITTER: It’s not the thickest thing. If it were too thick you would lose the ability to keep it from being visible. So I think they found a perfect niche with it about its effectiveness and aesthetic qualities. 

NICK KRAFT: One of our favorite properties of the paint protection film is the self-healing top which. Which helps with light scratches, any swirls that you may get, maybe with a dirt microfiber.

ZACH MASKELL: The suns heat alone will pull these scratches out. But, you can use a heat gun to expedite that process.

NICK KRAFT: We’re not going to go too heavy with it but we’re going to basically make an area that’s got some scratches on it.

ZACH MASKELL: Voila! Magic. That’s how this Audi R8 owner feels… saying you can’t see even the edges of the film… which has kept his paint spick and span.

MIKE WYSONG: People compliment me all the time about how new the car looks even though the car is a couple of model years old. Aside from that that the car’s also easy to take care of and maintain.

ZAC RITTER: After you get the car PPF’d there really isn’t a whole lot you have to worry about maintenance wise. You can pretty much treat it as though you would have treated the car originally before you had the film installed. You can wax the car, you can get the car ceramic coated. Those two things, not in combination but either or will help prolong the quality of the film itself.

ZACH MASKELL: Don’t directly spray edges with a pressure washer. And while you can take it through the car wash, touchless is preferred. Now, it takes about 40 hours to properly install PFF over an entire car. So, it’s not a one day thing. And, ask around to make sure the shop you choose has a good reputation. But, for anyone who really wants to keep their car looking like new, PFF is a worthy investment.

Categories: Syndicated

This Just In: BMW Introduces First Ever X3 M and X4 M

Thu, 02/14/2019 - 12:01am


BMW introduces the newest vehicles to join the exclusive BMW M line-up; the first-ever 2020 BMW X3 M Sports Activity Vehicle and the first-ever 2020 BMW X4 M Sports Activity Coupe. Powered by the high-revving, 473 hp S58 3.0 liter 6-cylinder M TwinPower Turbo engine, the newest M SAV variants are built with more than 40 years of BMW M’s experience in developing high performance automobiles that are capable on both street and track. For those who want the ultimate in performance, both the X3 M and X4 M will be available in 503 hp Competition versions.The new M models will be built at Plant Spartanburg in South Carolina, the home of X vehicle competency for the BMW Group. Plant Spartanburg is the largest BMW production plant in the world, employing 11,000 people and is supported by 300 suppliers across the U.S. 70% of the vehicles produced at Plant Spartanburg are exported overseas making BMW the largest exporter of vehicles from the U.S. by value.
The new BMW M S58 six-cylinder in-line engine found under the hood of the X3 M and X4 M features a forged crankshaft allowing it to handle extremely high levels of torque. The forged crankshaft’s low weight and reduced rotating mass also allow the engine to rev to a 7,200 rpm redline. The closed-deck design of the six-cylinder engine’s block ensures it is incredibly rigid, paving the way for higher combustion pressure and increased power. The new, high-performance S58 engine is linked up with the latest version of the eight-speed M Steptronic transmission with Drivelogic.The combination of agility and precision, for which BMW M cars are renowned, is built upon sophisticated, model-specific chassis technology carefully tuned to match the engine’s high power and to the capabilities of the M xDrive all-wheel-drive system. This gives both the BMW X3 M and BMW X4 M and their Competition siblings handling capabilities that eclipse their rivals.


Categories: Syndicated

Road Tests: Track Test: 2019 911 GT3 RS

Wed, 02/13/2019 - 4:48pm

Vital Statistics

Engine: 4.0 liter

Horsepower: 520

Torque: 346 lb-ft.

0-60 mph: 3.1 seconds

1/4 mile: 11.1 seconds @ 128 mph

EPA: 15 mpg city / 19 mpg highway

We’ve been testing cars for almost 40-years now. And, over that time we’ve drivensome remarkable Porsches. And while expanding their lineup has certainly been a priority in recentyears, the venerable 911 has not only continued to evolve, but continue to amaze us as well. So, pardon us if you’ve heard this tune before.

Track days with a Porsche 911 are what we live for around here. And when it’s something truly special, like this 2019 911 GT3 RS; well, we call that living the high life.

The la vida loca starts with a naturally-aspirated 4.0-liter flat-6 that revs like its mechanical bits insidearen’t constrained to the normal rules of physics, although we all know that’s not the case. But whatthe Weissach wizards have done, is add a new titanium exhaust system and applied a software update, to get 20 more horsepower out of it, for a total of 520, making this 991 variant the most powerful naturally-aspirated road going 911 ever. Torque output is 346 lb-ft. Its sound is raspier than what fans of the V8 rumble may crave, but it’s music to our ears. Under fullthrottle there’s a distinct intake noise that combines with the exhaust note, for an intoxicating blendthat can be overwhelming in all the right ways.

Even on a freezing track day, with standard 7-speed PDK in launch mode, the RS streaks to 60 in 3.1-seconds. Automatic shifts fire off like mythical clockwork, and the ¼-mile is over in 11.1-seconds at128 miles-per-hour. Now we get that it’s getting harder to keep track of all of the numerous 911 models, but whatseparates the RS from the standard GT3; is while it remains rear-wheel-drive, it’s wider, and comeswith rear axle steering and Porsche Torque Vectoring Plus electronic rear differential.

Further additions are by subtraction of weight, with the use of lighter-weight plastics for the fascias,carbon-fiber for the front fenders and trunk lid, thinner glass for the rear windows, and magnesium for the roof. Minimalist door panels inside, as well as the elimination of sound deadening, gets it under 3,200-lbs.

Diehards, or just those just looking to spend extra dollars, can go even further with a Weissach package to take out another 13-lbs.; yes, at Porsche there’s always an upgrade. 

Suspension gets a thorough stiffening; not exactly, but very close to Cup Car standards.

These wheels are the Lizard Green-lined upgrade, center-lock 20s in front; 21s in rear, sporting 325/30 Michelin Pilot Sport Cup 2 rubber.

The yellow brake calipers behind, indicate you’ve upgraded to the ceramic brake system.

So, enough details, time to reveal what we learned after a few days lapping Georgia’s Roebling RoadRaceway. Porsche has a fantastic way of keeping tech mostly behind the scenes, even though we could spend an entire road test describing all that’s happening without your control, or consent. In short, Porsche is one driver’s car that hasn’t eliminated the driver; having you at least feel like you’rein total control at all times.

Balance is superb. Though the weight is highly rear-biased, all of the aero enhancements have doubled the amount of downforce the car creates; taking grip to astronomical levels, helping that rear stay planted at all times.

No manual transmission is available, but we didn’t miss it at all; it’s just one more inefficiency that Porsche has eliminated. Shifts are so jarringly quick, that it almost rattles you for a moment.

It’s a beast of a car; abundant power, and carbon fiber seats that hold you tight no matter how high the g-forces.

Steering is ultra-fast with terrific feel and feedback from the tires. Brakes were very confidence inspiring, bringing us down from speeds of over 170 miles-per-hour lapafter lap, with no signs of fade.

Government Fuel Economy Ratings are 15-City, 19-Highway, and 25-Combined.Spending $188,550 on a car is not a necessity of course; and whether you think this one is worth it or not, will mostly be determined by what you’re looking for in a performance car.

If you’re looking for true race car performance that you can possibly even set a few track records with, as well as drive on the street every day, then the 2019 Porsche 911 GT3 RS is your ticket to ride.Yes, it looks like a race car; but more importantly, it drives like one too. And, we can’t think of a better way to hit the track and street.

Categories: Syndicated

This Just In: Reliable Rides

Wed, 02/13/2019 - 9:50am
Car buyers consider many factors, including dependability. J.D. Power has released the results of their annual Vehicle Dependability Study.  Lexus ranks highest in overall vehicle dependability among all brands for the eighth consecutive year. Researchers say Porsche and Toyota are tied for second. Chevrolet and Buick round out the top five. The survey is also showing some trends.  For the first time in the 30-years J.D. Power has been conducting this study all Germany brands are better than the industry average.  They rank the Porsche 911 as the Most Dependable Model.  It’s the first year they’re handing out that award. The 2019 J.D. Power U.S. Vehicle Dependability Study is based on responses from 32,952 original owners of 2016 model year vehicles after three years of ownership.

Categories: Syndicated