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For car companies, it was all lights, camera, action at the 2018 LA Auto Show.
In the spotlight, the new Mercedes-Benz GLE literally danced onto stage using its E-ACTIVE BODY CONTROL suspension. Followed by a world debut twin-turbo V8 rush from the 469-horsepower Mercedes-AMG GT Coupe… the 550-horsepower Mercedes-AMG GT C Roadster… and the limited edition 577-horsepower Mercedes-AMG GT R PRO.
No headliner was brighter in LA than the all-new 2020 Porsche 911. While the look remains classic, this 9-9-2 Carrera S touts 443 horsepower from its twin-turbo flat-six.
Nissan drove into frame with an update of their flagship Maxima sedan…and luxurious Murano crossover. Both with more tech and eye appeal than ever.
Appealing to large families is the BMW X7 Sports Activity Vehicle, complete with standard three row seating. For more intimate driving there’s the 382-horsepower M340i xDrive sedan. The BMW 8 Series convertible joins the coupe. And, the Z4 roadster and futuristic Vision iNEXT Concept.
A huge crowd gathered for the most anticipated new Jeep in decades. The Gladiator midsize pickup joins the rugged line-up with V6 and diesel power.
Honda’s staring roll was taken by the return of the Passport. This 5-passenger utility slips in between the compact CR-V and three-row Pilot.
The Hyundai Palisade is the Korean brand’s new flagship utility. An all-new chassis provides room for 8. Using your phone as the key adds to the luxury of the redesigned mid-size Lincoln Aviator.
Its official, an even more sporty Mazda3 will be available with a new SkyActive-X gasoline-compression engine, and all-wheel drive.
Audi debuted the e-tron GT concept to EV hungry Californians. The all-electric four-door coupe promises 590-horsepower and all-wheel drive.
Toyota is adding more electrified models with the Corolla Hybrid. And for the first time the hybrid Prius will send power to all four wheels.
Kia’s big star was a cooler than ever, third generation Soul compact urban utility. Gas power now…EV to come. Subaru too plugged in with its Crosstrek Hybrid.
Three electric motors power the rugged looking Mitsubishi e-Evolution Concept.
And, Volkswagen’s electric ambitions include the I.D. BUZZ CARGO concept. All three 2019 Green Car Journal award winners can turn their wheels with electricity. The Honda Insight hybrid is Green Car of the Year. The Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV is Green SUV of the Year. And, Green Luxury Car of the Year goes to the Jaguar I-PACE. Finally, two possible future Green winners arrived, the Rivian R1T pickup, and R1S SUV concepts. U.S. based Rivian says their Electric Adventure Vehicles will have a range of up to 400 miles when sales start in 2020.
As you can see, LA was a really big auto show! And that’s it for this week’s Motor News.
Engine: 3.6 liter
EPA: 32 MPG Combined / 84 MPGe Combined
Energy Impact: 4.0 barrels of oil/yr
CO2 Emissions: 1.8 tons/yr
You may have never caught yourself thinking, “wouldn’t a plug-in minivan be cool?” Yet, it only seems logical that the brand that created the front-wheel drive minivan, would also be the first to produce a plug-in hybrid version. That would be the Chrysler Pacifica hybrid. Now, we know it’s a greener Pacifica, but does it take the ultra-family friendly minivan concept to the next level?
The 2018 Chrysler Pacifica Hybrid is a plug-in hybrid, although, it’s not specifically labeled as a PHEV since there’s currently no non-plug-in hybrid model.
Added to a revised version of the standard Pacifica’s 3.6-liter V6, is a dual-motor eFlite electrical variable transmission. Total output is 260-horsepower; far from astronomical, but some additional EV grunt down low, makes up for any shortcomings.
16kWh of battery storage, enables a quite good 33-miles of EV-range before the Pacifica begins operating as a conventional hybrid. Although, you have no control over when that EV power is used. Also, due to that battery’s location, you will have to sacrifice one of the Pacifica’s best features, the 2nd row Stow ‘n Go seating. And, we really missed it!
Otherwise, every other family friendly feature you buy a minivan for is still here, including loads of practical and easy to access storage for people or cargo. That means a maximum of 140.5 cubic-ft.; 87.5, behind the 2nd row, and 32.3 behind the 3rd.
Starting midway up the trim tree means the Hybrid gets the larger 8.4-inch Uconnect touchscreen. It remains one of the most user friendly systems out there, and adds some unique screens for monitoring this hybrid’s powertrain.
On the road, the Pacifica Hybrid remains very carlike to drive; and is also exceptionally quiet and serene. You can sense the additional battery weight, but with it placed down low, there’s virtually no top heaviness. We actually found the 33-mile EV-range estimate fairly conservative, as driven kindly, you can easily do much more. Charge time is as little as 2-hours, with 240-volts; and you can monitor progress with an app of course.
According to Chrysler, the Pacifica Hybrid has a sculpted exterior with athletic proportions. OK, but it’s still your basic 2-box minivan, although a quite handsomely styled one. Unique hybrid features include a different grille, special wheels, unique badging, and some exclusive exterior colors.
Inside, there’s new “Anodized Ice Cave” accents, as well as Ice Blue stitching; because we all know that Ice anything screams hybrid.
Government Fuel Economy Ratings are 32-Combined for the MPG, 84-Combined for the MPGe. Our loop came in just under the Combined at 31.0 miles-per-gallon of Regular. Still, that’s a solid 30% better than we managed with a long term Pacifica. The Pacifica Hybrid also has an excellent Energy Impact Score, with consumption of 4.0-barrels of oil annually, and CO2 emission of 1.8-tons.
This hybrid starts at Touring Plus trim; so at $41,090 it will cost you $7,400 above a comparably equipped non-hybrid. But, the best news of all, being a plug-in opens up government rebates of at least $7,500; making it pretty much a wash.
Was anyone really asking for a plug-in minivan? Don’t know. Bottom line, plugging in whenever you can, is still more efficient than topping off the tank, so money saved. Plus, the 2018 Chrysler Pacifica Hybrid still has most of its family and hauling features intact, along with new efficiency few crossover utilities can approach. So, the makers of the original front-drive minivan have indeed ushered in the next level of the same…all aboard!
Road Test: 2019 Nissan Altima
Goss' Garage: You Don't Know Jack
FYI: Greenbrier Concours
Quick Spin: 2018 Jeep Wrangler Rubicon
Quick Spin: 2019 Hyundai Veloster N
Road Test: 2019 Honda Insight
Jaguar will make history this weekend with the debut of the Jaguar I-PACE eTROPHY, the world’s first international championship for production-based electric cars. It will be the first time women compete against men in a race in Saudi Arabia, and Katherine Legge, Célia Martin and Alice Powell will be amongst the first women to take part in a motor race in the Kingdom. In the ancient surroundings of Ad Diriyah, Saudi Arabia, 11 drivers from five continents will take on the 21 twists and turns of the 2.495km track, which starts and finishes in the heart of the old town. Entrants will be joined by VIP driver and British racing star Alice Powell. The 25 year old was the first ever female to win a Formula Renault Championship, the first female to score points in the GP3 Series and in 2014, was Champion in the Formula Renault Asia Championship. Alice was recently named in the first selection for the upcoming W Series. As a Dare to be Different Ambassador, she supports and develops young female karting talent, as well as coaching up-and-coming young female drivers.The race is on Saturday 15 December at 12:50 local time, before the main ABB FIA Formula E race. A shakedown and free practice session will take place on Friday, and qualifying is at 07:55 on Saturday. The race is 25 minutes + 1 lap of full power racing. Fans around the world will be able to watch the action free on Jaguar Racing’s Facebook and Twitter channels with TV presenters Vernon Kay and Amanda Stretton hosting live from Saudi Arabia.
SAE International announces a new visual chart for use with its J3016TM “Levels of Driving Automation” standard that defines the six levels of driving automation, from no automation to full automation.The new chart offers more “consumer-friendly” terms and definitions for the levels, which are frequently cited and referred to by industry and media. The infographic will help to eliminate confusion by providing clarity and using terms more commonly used by consumers.
Engine: 2.0 liter
Torque: 280 lb-ft.
0-60 mph: 6.1 seconds
1/4 mile: 14.6 seconds @ 98 mph
EPA: 25 mpg city / 34 mpg highway
Energy Impact: 11.4 barrels of oil/yr
CO 2 Emissions: 5.1 tons/yr
We’ve gone on enough about dwindling midsize sedan sales here in the U.S.; so we’ll skip that here, and just say that some carmakers are still forging ahead with new family-sized four-door entries, including Nissan. Indeed, Nissan’s 6th generation 2019 Altima is now ready for the road. So, let’s find out how much of an impact the all-new Altima can have in a SUV world.
The Nissan Altima has had its ups and downs over the years; looking up at Honda Accord and Toyota Camry just like the rest of the midsize sedan segment. But, it has also gathered quite a following over its previous five generations thanks to its high reliability and affordable pricing. 2019 launches a new chapter, and with it comes a host of meaningful changes.
There’s a full-frontal Maxima attack for starters, with an even larger version of what Nissan calls their V-motion grille. The new Altima even shares the Maxima’s floating roof look; though the black plastic trim pieces that makes it happen, just blends in with the Super Black paint of this Edition One. It’s a limited release trim package that includes 19-inch dark alloy wheels, rear spoiler, unique lighting and badging outside; while the interior gets special floor mats, illuminated sill plates, as well as exclusive Nissan Concierge service.
The space inside has gotten a little more open feeling, and designers seem to have come from the same school as Kia and Hyundai, as there’s a very similar infotainment touchscreen shape and placement on top of the dash. That’s not a complaint, as it is in easy line of sight and works very well. We’re big believers in Nissan’s Zero gravity seats, providing some of the best comfort you’ll find in the midsize family car field. Trunk space is also quite good at 15.4 cubic-ft.
Base engine is a naturally-aspirated 2.5-liter as before, but it has been highly updated; gaining 9-horsepower to 188. But there’s something even more special available, Infiniti’s VC-Turbo. This variable compression 2.0-liter I4 outputs 248-horsepower and 280 lb-ft. of torque, and replaces the V6 in the lineup.
Both engines are saddled with Nissan’s latest Xtronic CVT; but for the first time, all-wheel-drive will now be available in an Altima. You can add it for $1,350 more, though right now, only to the base 2.5-liter.
The basic chassis is the same as before, but there’s an all-new suspension bolted to it, independent struts up front, multi-link in the rear; as well as additional chassis reinforcements, and new monotube rear shocks. Combine all of that with a new Integrated Dynamics Module, and you have another way that the Altima is very close to the Maxima.
We found plenty of grip through the cones; from a chassis that behaves light on its feet, not at all bloated as before; yet it also feels very solid. Nissan’s Intelligent Trace Control uses selective braking to aid on turn-ins, and mostly does so without being obvious or intrusive.
Just as impressive, is the response from the VC-Turbo. It leaps off the line, roaring to go; delivering plenty of torque, and hitting 60 in 6.1-seconds.However, from there, the CVT throws a wet blanket on the process; enter droning engine noise, somewhat alleviated by simulated shifts, and an overall lazy attitude towards power delivery.
Yet numbers don’t lie. 14.6-seconds at 98 miles-per-hour in the ¼-mile is quite notable for the family car; and a big second and a half quicker than the last 4-cylinder Altima we tested.
Automatic Emergency braking is standard on Altima, and it performed well in our barrier tests. It can also be outfitted with automatic rear braking and Nissan’s ProPILOT Assist hands-on-the-wheel semi-autonomous driving system.
Government Fuel Economy Ratings for the 2.0-liter are 25-City, 34-Highway, and 29-Combined; we averaged a quite good 32.4 miles-per-gallon on Regular. For an Energy Impact Score that’s slightly above average at 11.4-barrels of yearly petroleum consumption with 5.1-tons of CO2 emissions.
Altima pricing starts at $24,645 for the for the 2.5-liter, $30,045 for VC-Turbo. So, if a much better than traditional family sedan driving experience is what you’re after, you’ll get a healthy dose of style to go along with it, in the 2019 Nissan Altima.
British exotic car builder McLaren Automotive is expanding its Super Series family with the introduction of its most accomplished convertible supercar ever: the new 720S Spider. Just revealed, the new 720S Spider delivers the exhilaration of open-air driving and levels of day-to-day usability unseen in the convertible supercar class. The design foundations of the new McLaren Spider are the seamless and organic forms introduced in 2017 with the 720S Coupé. Combining to maximize downforce, minimize drag, enhance powertrain cooling and optimize aerodynamic performance, these shapes produce an overall appearance akin to a futuristic sculpture. A new, electrically actuated Retractable Hard Top is seamlessly integrated into the design, as are new buttresses.Like all McLaren cars, the new 720S Spider has a carbon fibre structure at its core, in this case designated Monocage II-S. The strength, rigidity and light weight of the McLaren Monocage is the base for the dynamic excellence for which McLarens are renowned. The Monocage II-S is a development of the Coupé ’s Monocage II, without the central ‘spine’ running front to rear above the cabin. The rearmost section of the upper structure is also unique to the Spider, to accommodate the Retractable Hard Top; additionally, the header rail across the top of the windscreen has been revised, to integrate the central latching mechanism.The new 720S Spider is just 108lbs heavier than the 720S Coupé. With a lightest dry weight of 2,937lbs, the 720S Spider is comfortably the lightest car in its competitive set. It is powered by 4.0-liter twin-turbocharged McLaren V8 engine producing 710 bhp and 568lb ft of torque. Deliveries to customers commence March 2019; US prices start from $315,000.
Volkswagen owners are known for their brand loyalty, but few can surpass Kathleen Brooks. The 73-year-old bought her red Beetle, nicknamed “Annie” in 1966, and has used it as a daily driver ever since, racking up over 350,000 miles along the way. To reward this incredible dedication, Volkswagen officials borrowed Annie for 11 months and treated her to a complete restoration at its Puebla, Mexico factory. Despite Brooks’ careful maintenance over the past 51 years, Annie had some serious floorpan rust, along with other cosmetic and mechanical issues that needed to be addressed. Now returned to showroom-new condition, Annie has been reunited with Kathleen, and both are looking forward to many more years of motoring memories together.
Road Test: 2019 Genesis G70
Goss' Garage: Replace Your Rockers
Long Term Update: Honda Odyssey | Toyota Camry
Road Test: 2019 Mercedes-Benz CLS
In Podcast 194, John Davis and the MW crew talk about all the news from the 2018 L.A. Auto Show, including the Jeep Gladiator pickup truck, Lincoln Aviator Hybrid, new Porsche 911, and Rivian EVs.
In the continuing wake of the “Dieselgate” exhaust emissions scandal, Volkswagen is doubling down on its commitment to electric vehicles by saying that their next generation of vehicle designs, that will start to arrive in 2026, will be the last engineered for gasoline and diesel powertrains. After those run their normal lifespan, around 2050, VW says it will only make CO2 neutral vehicles. In other words, those using some form of battery electric or fuel cell power. This is quite a statement from the world’s largest automaker and it does come with some caveats. It is possible they will still make some fossil fuel vehicles beyond that time frame for countries or rural areas that lack abundant electric charging infrastructure. Regardless, Volkswagen has committed $50 billion for future EV and autonomous vehicle development over just the next five years, with the launch of their first I.D. sub-brand electric model is due late in 2019. VW showed the I.D. Buzz Cargo, a concept for an electric utility van, at the recent 2019 LA Auto Show.
Teen drivers may be anxious to get behind the wheel but the choices their parents make can greatly improve their chances for survival if they get into a car accident. The insurance institute for highway safety suggests larger used cars over smaller less expensive models for young teenagers.
Their studies find size and weight are important factors when it comes to occupant crash protection. This helps mitigate another teenage driving trait, their lack of experience. For these reasons the IIHS has compiled a list of 115 vehicles rated as either good or best choices. All of which come in under 20,000 dollars. All of the options also scored well on the institutes safety test’s.
Volkswagens view of the future now includes another pick-up truck. But without their most iconic car.
VW unveiled the Tarok concept at the Sao Paulo international motor show. The compact 4 door cab seats 5 and comes with a 147 horsepower 4 cylinder TSI engine.
The most interesting feature is a variable length bed. A hatch to the cabin folds down for loading long intems. A production version Tarok launches soon in the Brazilian market but it’s unlikely to come to the US.
The VW Atlas Tanoak concept truck show this past spring at the new York international auto show is much larger than the Brazilian Tarok. However VW has not said when or if an Atlas based truck will be made here.
Meantime, VW will stop producing the iconic beetle. Atleast for now. The original people’s car designed by Ferdinand porche went into production in Germany in 1938. Sales in the US began in 1950, ending in 1979.
Then the new Beetle arrived in 1998 and was redesigned again for 2012. VW says the Beetles fate is part of their focus on family oriented vehicles and electrification. Two new final edition models will mark this bugs last chapter.
Production ends in Mexico July of next year. And that’s it for this week’s Motor News.