FEED - MotorWeek
Engine: 2.0 liter
Torque: 269 lb-ft.
EPA: 20 mpg city / 27 mpg highway,
Energy Impact: 14.3 barrels of oil /yr
CO2 Emissions: 6.4 tons/yr
8-years is a long time for a vehicle lifecycle these days. But that’s how long the first gen Land Rover Range Rover Evoque has been around. One reason, it’s look was clearly ahead of its time, and it’s a look that’s still more modern than most of its compact luxury crossover rivals. But to some it was still too much form over function. So let’s see if the all new second generation Evoque changes that reality..
The Range Rover Evoque has always been a looker. But now that it has everyone’s attention; for its long anticipated 2nd generation, Land Rover focused their attention on putting a lot more functionality into the 2020 edition.
Not that they’ve neglected Evoque’s breakout styling. Land Rover calls the new direction “reductionist”, which is to say they kept the same basic sloped floating roof and high belt-line, but essentially took a buffer to it, reducing most of the sharp lines and angles of the original.
The overall footprint remains almost the same; just a few millimeters of wheelbase stretch. Yet, they were able to reconfigure and make a better interior package. It’s not quite Tartus-like inside, but there’s noticeably more legroom for back seaters.
The space is clean and uncluttered looking, with most controls falling readily to hand, and of course materials are prime plus “eco-friendly”.
Tech upgrades include a Clear Sight Ground View camera that allows you to see “through” the front of the Evoque for navigating tricky off-road situations. And, a Clear Sight HD rear view mirror; so you can pack the cargo area full, and still be able to monitor your “6”.
Doing so, will mean you’ve got 21.5 cubic-ft. of stuff; folding the rear seatbacks will expand the space to 50.5 cubic-ft.
The latest version of Land Rover’s InControl Touch Pro is available to handle multimedia duty; and there’s more front storage space for all the things we seem to bring along these days.
There’s new tech under the hood as well. Output from the base 2.0-liter I4 turbo is 246-horsepower. That’s up 4% over last year; torque output jumps even higher, at 269 lb-ft. up 7%. But, choose the optional 48-volt mild hybrid system and you not only boost around town efficiency, but add 50-horsepower as well.
Our first drive was not exactly the toughest assignment we’ve had recently; exclusive front seat time in Greece.
“The Evoque is all-new for 2020, and it’s a much more refined vehicle in terms of ride and handling and interior noise. They’ve strengthened and stiffened the body structure in key areas like suspension mounting points so it soaks up bumps better. We tackled some pretty challenging off-roading through the olive groves here in Greece, and with a full complement of terrain response systems, it’s pretty capable. The Evoque may have a pretty face, but it’s no cute-ute.”
That more substantial presence, comes courtesy of a new Premium Transverse Architecture; and it goes a long way towards making the ride a lot less choppy than before.
Not only is all-wheel-drive standard, but Land Rover’s Terrain Response 2 is available in the Range Rover Evoque for the first time. It does a remarkably effective job of maximizing available traction in just about every situation.
The only thing that hampered the whole process was an occasional inopportune thrust of turbo boost, just when you’re trying to be easy on the throttle to navigate through a delicate situation.
While it doesn’t have the ground clearance of other Land Rover products, we still forded streams, drove through deep ruts, and bounced along rocky paths and dirt roads without worry. Feeling very comfortable while doing so, with no teeth-rattling thumps through the suspension.
The Highway ride was equally composed, with very little wind noise seeping into the cabin.
We spent much of time with the base 2.0-liter, and found power adequate; but not exactly effortless at higher speeds. The mild-hybrid managed much better.
Government Fuel Economy Ratings are 20-City, 27-Highway, and 23-Combined; the mild-hybrid does one better in the city, but one worse on the highway. That makes for an Average Energy Impact Score; 14.3-barrels of yearly oil use, with 6.4-tons of CO2 emissions.
Pricing starts at $43,645; the R-Dynamic mild-hybrid, at $47,595.
Few SUV lineups are as instantly recognizable as that of Range Rover, and the 2020 Evoque continues to be the tiny terror that sticks out the most. Yes, it’s now a little more practical, and has legitimate off-roading chops. Still, it’s the Evoque’s ability to cram Range Rover luxury and Land Rover capability, into a tiny, beautiful, cohesive package that makes it again a winner for us.
Engine: 2.0 liter
Torque: 184 lb-ft.
0-60 mph: 8.1 seconds
1/4 mile: 16.2 seconds @ 89 mph
EPA: 26 mpg city / 33 mpg highway
Energy Impact: 11.4 barrels of oil/yr
CO2 Emissions: 5.1 tons/yr
As excited as we were to say hello to the new Beetle when it returned for 1998, we’re just as sad to be saying goodbye to it…again…in 2019. Yes, we’ve been down this road before. So maybe it’s not so much goodbye, as see you later. Whatever the case, here’s a look at the Volkswagen Beetle Convertible Final Edition.
A lot is made in the sports world about players hanging on too long, verses retiring on their own terms when they’re seemingly in the prime of their careers.
Well, the 2019 Volkswagen Beetle Convertible is not exactly at the top of its game right now; but neither is it merely a shadow of its former self. Regardless, it’s going off the field with a special Final Edition.
Last revived for 2012, when Volkswagen dropped “New” from the name, and attempted to inject some testosterone into the bug; pushing the proportions rearward, and sharpening the edges, replacing the cute look for more of a hot rod vibe.
This Final Edition Beetle Convertibles sports alloy wheels, 17’s on our SE tester, and a special trunk “Beetle” badge.
Top operation is simple enough, with a single button to press in the windshield header. It folds behind the rear seats, and off you go, unless you want to protect it, or maintain a snappy look, then pause and snap on the tonneau cover.
Front seats are spacious and comfortable as always, here wearing unique cloth. Other notable extras are Beetle logoed steering wheel, stainless trim on the pedals and door sills, distinctive dash-pad and black trim, and upgraded Composition Media infotainment.
Rear seats remain a difficult proposition even for children. And the cargo area is even more modest, at 7.1–cubic-ft. It does beat the Miata though.
But, the Beetle Convertible has always been about leaving your baggage and cares behind, catching some rays, and searching out new experiences.
If the weather “harshes your mellow”, no need to worry, top up the Beetle’s interior is surprisingly quiet at speed, with very little wind noise working its way inside.
Unlike the good old days, there’s no diesel engine or manual transmission; just one powertrain combo and it’s a good one. The 2.0-liter 4-cylinder turbo outputs 174-horsepower and 184 lb-ft. of torque; and works through a 6-speed automatic.
At our test track, they provided the means to get to 60 in 8.1–seconds. Now, that won’t win you too many stop light Grand Prixs, but it does feel quicker than that, and even spins up the tires a little bit at launch.
Shifts are smooth and timely, helping us finish out the ¼-mile in 16.2-seconds at 89 miles-per-hour.
There’s a soft feel to the Beetle, whether in Coupe or Convertible form; but still very little body roll, and it’s responsive enough to remind you that this platform carried many a sporty Golf and Jetta back in the day.
It all makes you wonder why the Beetle is going away. Well, the truth is, Volkswagen was never able to keep the momentum going after the original New Beetle fanfare died down. And Volkswagen just doesn’t see a good business case for it going forward. But, we’ve learned to never say never; especially when the Beetle is concerned. It would make a darling EV.
Right now Government Fuel Economy Ratings are 26-City, 33-Highway, and 29-Combined. We averaged a great 34.6 miles-per-gallon on Regular. Rating a better than average Energy Impact Score, burning 11.4-barrels of oil yearly and emitting 5.1-tons of CO2.
Perhaps the most confounding thing about this Final Edition, is not that the Beetle’s going away, or the fact that it’s available in both SE and SEL trims; it’s that even with all of the updates, it is actually cheaper than a comparable non-Final Edition Beetle. A Beetle SE Convertible goes for $29,290. This Final Edition SE, $28,190; the SEL, for $30,890. And of course, you can get a Coupe as well for just $23,940.
So, this review of the 2019 Volkswagen Beetle Final Edition may have been done purely based on nostalgia and desire to give it one last ride. Or, it could be that we’re just suckers for cute and entertaining convertibles. Doesn’t matter, its way more fun than it should be. And, if a VW Beetle Convertible is speaking to you, you’d better act now before it’s gone for good…we think.
Probably the most abused part of the interior of any car is its carpeting. Let’s face it, it gets dirty, it gets chemicals from your shoes, you scuff around on it as it moves and so on. That means even relatively late model cars are going to need replacement. Now is it a do it yourself? Yeah, could be, but there are some things you need to know.
First, you need to buy molded carpeting such as we have here. This is molded so that fits around the curves. Flat carpeting, unless you’re an expert at cutting and trimming and so on you’re never going to get it to fit all the lumps and bumps on the inside of your car.
Alright now, the molded carpeting, some of it will be like we have here. This has a rubberized back to deaden more sound… keep the inside of the car more livable. Some pieces of our kit came in actually two parts. The padding, which is separate from the carpeting itself… so you install it was two pieces.
Also you can upgrade, our kit has the heal rest for the pedals, the original did not. And here’s a trick, you may have to use a knife to trim the carpeting. And the thing you have the most problem with is really simple to overcome, and that’s finding the holes where the bolts go back through the carpeting. The trick is you take the bolts, you screw them back into the floor, and you leave them there… lay the carpeting… then use the knife to cut a cross over the bolt so they can be pulled up through the carpeting. That way you have the proper position for the holes for the bolts.
We let the professionals and Paymer and Phillips, Maryland’s biggest trim and upholstery shop handle this job for us and here’s one of the reasons why. They have the tools and experience to handle any problems that may arise with the installation. And in our case, they applied steam to the rubber backing of the carpet to make it more pliable and to make it conform better to the shape of the wheel wells. That’s a nifty trick. They also reuse the backer board and padding for the tailgate and rear side panels and installed the new carpet on those. The carpet makes a nice finish to the interior of our restoration on the Jeep.
Now this could be a do it yourself project, but before you get into doing it yourself make sure you have all the tools necessary and you really know what’s involved, and that you have the capability of doing it yourself. And if you have a question or comment drop me a line right here at MotorWeek.
People tend to forget that it was motorcycles, not cars, that originally brought Honda to America. Their 1960’s “you meet the nicest people on a Honda” add campaign, not only did wonders for them, but for motorcycling in general. We sent Two Wheelin’ Brian Robinson to find out if that still rings true; but as usual, we found him just monkeying around.
“Yes, it’s street legal; and yes you want one. It’s called the Monkey, and along with the Super Cub it’s a 1-2 punch of nostalgia from Honda.
It’s hard not to get emotional when you see this 2019 Honda Monkey. After all, chances are good your first exposure to motorcycling was a Honda Mini Trail that was used to terrorize your neighborhood.
Yes, it was Honda that brought backyard motorcycling to the masses with the Z50. What we have here is not an exact copy, but the fun and friendly spirit of it lives on in the Monkey.
And thankfully it’s not a copy, as while 125ccs is not a lot these days, it beats the Mini Trail’s 50; still just a single cylinder of course.
There’s an additional gear in the transmission as well, now 4 speeds.
And with nostalgia-seeking adults the intended buyers, not kids; it’s bigger as well. I wouldn’t say it’s perfect for my 6-foot frame, as I do tend to feel like the monkey here, but it works better than I thought it would.
Top speed is around 60 miles-per-hour, so you’d be wise to avoid the interstates; but it has no problems keeping up with traffic on two lane byways and city streets.
While we usually save pricing information for the grand finale, it’d be prudent to mention it here. Only to say that you can’t expect much in the way of a sophisticated suspension for a bike that costs $4,000.
And indeed, if there’s a minor bump in the road, chances are it’ll soak it up; anything more, you’re on your own. Keep your eyes on the road and plan accordingly.
There is a nice digital gauge display with speedometer and fuel gauge, and LED lighting to reinforce the fact that this Monkey is inspired by the Z50, not a rebirth of it.
But, much like the original Mini Trail, the Honda Monkey is the perfect gateway drug to quickly get you addicted to the thrills and freedom that motorcycling provides. The only problem I had? Fighting the urge to cut through everyone’s backyard on the way home from work every day.
Now, your chances of actually meeting one of those nice people on a Honda, is much better with this Super Cub 125. It is also inspired by, but not a direct copy of the Super Cub or CA100 that took California by storm in the 60s; while also showing up in Life magazine and Beach Boys songs.
While it disappeared from our market in the mid-70s, some version of the Super Cub has been sold in other parts of the world ever since.
Now, it returns here as the C125; featuring the same 125cc single cylinder engine as the Monkey.
Even more modern than the Monkey, here you get keyless ignition; and a trick clutchless manual 4-speed transmission.
It feels much different to ride too, thanks to its 17-inch wheels and skinny 90-series tires.
And Price. It’s even cheaper than the Monkey, starting at just $3,599.
All told, these are two tiny Hondas that have big appeal, whether you’re old enough to remember the originals or not.
According to Adweek, Liberty Mutual Insurance is testing an unusual olfactory concept to see if the proverbial 'new car smell' can lead one to buy auto insurance. Hoping to entice new car buyers, the print advertisement includes a peal-back strip that exposes a scent that tries to duplicate the cocktail of gases from new fabrics and plastics that are almost universally regarded as that 'new car smell'. Created by Goodby, Silverstein & Partners, the ad recently ran in the Sunday edition of the Chicago Sun Times. The concept is that when people buy a new car, they seldom give much thought to how they plan to insure it. Liberty hopes that when they detect the ‘new car smell’ after hoping inside, they will connect it to the insurer’s advertisement. It is indeed a new way of attracting customers, and only time will tell if customer’s follow the scent and sign up.
You may remember the Honda Passport, the Isuzu designed 5-passenger SUV that Honda sold in the 1990s. It was actually their first SUV, until their own, smaller CR-V arrived for ‘97. But when Honda’s Isuzu partnership went away, so did the passport. Well, the passport is back. This time, Honda kept the design in house for the new mid-size 2019 Honda Passport. In reality, it is basically a 2-row version of the Honda Pilot. Indeed, most of the hardware is pretty much the same, including the identical 111.0-inch wheelbase, although overall length is 6.2 inches shorter. Perhaps in an effort to market it more to the adventure types instead of soccer moms, lots of exterior black trim has been added for the Passport. Ground clearance is more than an inch higher than the Pilot, when equipped with all-wheel drive. And indeed most of Honda’s current advertising involves backwoods excursions. Passport uses Honda’s i-VTM4 all-wheel drive system, with modes for mud, sand, and snow; plenty capable for what most Passport owners will get into. The same 3.5-liter V6 as the Pilot delivers 280-horsepower. But, the only transmission is the 9-speed automatic. Similar to the Pilot, tow rating is 3,500-lbs. with front-wheel drive, 5,000-lbs with AWD. One change, there is no longer a 3rd row to store in the cargo area floor. That means you’ll find a large underfloor bin instead. It alone holds 2.5 cubic-ft. of stuff. Cargo floor capacity, rear seats up, is 41.2 cubic-ft. It maxes out at 77.9 with the seats folded. The Passport interior is well-equipped too. The available 8-inch Display Audio system allows both Apple CarPlay and Android Auto integration; and has the added benefit of a good old volume knob. All but base Sport trim has a moonroof, heated leather-trimmed seats, and a power liftgate. Here’s another plus, rear seaters have over an inch more legroom compared to the Pilot. Honda Sensing safety is standard and includes Collision Mitigation Braking as well as Road Departure Mitigation. For our complete road test of the 2019 Honda Passport, be sure to catch MotorWeek episode #3838 that begins airing May 24, 2019. For a listing of the public television stations that broadcast MotorWeek, go to motorweek.org and click the “About The Show” tab at the top. MotorWeek is also seen Tuesday evenings and throughout the week on the MotorTrend cable network. It only makes sense that a 2-row variant of the popular Honda Pilot now exists. While it makes a little less sense that it took this long. Bringing back the Passport name, and giving it a more rugged stance, will make it appeal to a slightly more adventurous buyer. In typical Honda fashion, we think it will sell quite well.
Road Test: 2020 Jeep Gladiator
FYI: McPherson College Auto Restoration
Goss' Garage: Two Tricky Fixes
Motor News: 2019 New York International Auto Show
Long Term Update: 2019 VW Jetta
Road Test: 2019 Kia Niro EV
It’s Spring and the 2019 New York International Auto show was in full bloom. The fourth generation Toyota Highlander 3-row crossover arrived with more dynamic styling. It rides on a new platform with V6 and revamped hybrid powertrains. New too, the Toyota Yaris becomes a more useful 5-door.
New York is the first public showing for the redesigned Ford Escape. Looking more civilized, power includes the first I3 with cylinder deactivation, and a hybrid.
Much more dynamic is its stable mate the new Lincoln Corsair. Replacing the MKC, while compact, it includes most of the interior refinement of the full-size Navigator.
Speaking of big SUV’s, Volkswagen’s Atlas Base Camp Concept looks ready for any wilderness walkabout.
They’ll only be 1,948 “production” Porsche 911 Speedsters. This latest open top icon sports 502-horsepower from a naturally aspirated 4.0-liter flat-six.
The all-new Subaru Outback combines ruggedness, a more premium interior, and a new global platform. A turbo flat-4 returns, replacing last year’s optional six.
The all-new Hyundai Venue will be the brand’s smallest crossover. It’s upright shape and simple interior deliver a little “Bronco-style” vibe.
New York’s best-looking new car was the eighth-generation Hyundai Sonata. Its “Sensuous Sportiness” design could breathe new life into mid-size sedans.
Meanwhile, Dodge paid tribute to U.S. armed forces with Stars & Stripes Editions of the Challenger and Charger.
New York City has a Lux factor all its own, and auto makers exhibited plenty of prestige.
Alfa Romeo displayed Giulia and Stelvio Quadrifoglio NRING limited editions, recognizing the brand’s performance at the world-renowned Nürburgring.
Cadillac brought the new CT5 luxury-sport sedan, replacing both the ATS and CTS.
An updated Jaguar XE sedan made its New York debut as well.
Just like the NSX supercar, the very limited run Acura TLX and MDX PMC Editions will be hand assembled at Honda’s Performance Manufacturing Center in Ohio.
Mercedes-Benz made multiple global debuts at New York. The all-new GLS three-row utility arrives with top drawer luxury, the latest MBUX personal assistant, and new mirror folding “car wash” mode.
Other world debuts included an updated Mercedes-Benz GLC Coupe…
Along with the Mercedes-AMG GLC 63 4MATIC+ in both SUV and Coupe forms…its 302 AMG horsepower for the CLA…and A-class four-doors.
And the limited edition Mercedes-Benz EQC Edition 1886 to mark the EV sub-brand’s first SUV.
A new EV contender is the Qiantu K50 by Mullen. This electric sports car looks production ready with 402-horsepower and 230-mile range.
The all-electric two-passenger Genesis Mint Concept is specifically designed for cities just like New York.
Kia spiced things up with the HabaNiro concept, an all-electric, autonomous, 4-seater with butterfly-wing doors.
While the Korean brand hopes to entice more driving enthusiasts with the Stinger GTS.
Audi celebrated ten years of its R8 V-10 supercar with a host of 20-20 updates.
The 2020 Nissan 370Z, and GT-R 50th Anniversary Editions celebrate a half a century since the Datsun 240Z made its U.S. debut in New York.
While the 2020 Nissan GT-R NISMO will be their most powerful production GT-R ever.
For tame drivers it’s the longer, lower, and wider third-gen Nissan Versa.
The Mazda CX-5 will finally be available here with a Skyactiv-D diesel option.
While GMC’s three-row Acadia arrived with added high tech and a new turbo engine.
And that’s it from the Big Apple and this week’s Motor News.
This time I got a couple a problems that well they’ll drive ya nuts trying to find 'em.
First is certain Ford vehicles that use this little critter right here it’s called a fuel control module and it controls the fuel pump on these vehicles. Now on pickup trucks this thing is mounted on a cross member back by the spare tire.. some of them are actually almost above the spare tire. So you may not even know it’s there.
You have symptoms of a bad fuel pump, where the car doesn’t start or it intermittently stalls, or something like that. Make sure you find out if you have one of these fuel control modules and if the vehicle does then pull it off and check the backside of it for corrosion such as we see here. These things are mounted directly against the cross member or parts of the body and dirt and salt can get in there, they hold moisture, they corrode the back of it and eventually it falls apart --the vehicle doesn’t run.
Alright now here’s a trick: years ago I figured out that we could put washers on the bolt, longer bolts in there, space it all away and then the dirt doesn’t build up behind it. This one is from Dorman Products and it comes with rubber spacers with it. So if you have to replace it make sure you buy one that has spacers or space it out yourself so the problem doesn’t happen again.
Alright next lots of cars come into my shops with check engine lights and one of the codes that we pull is if the engine is too cold. Well everyone seems to think of thermostats as being relative to engines running too hot, well there are lots things that could cause a thermostat to go bad and the engine run cool. Things like here we have a seal or gasket that went bad and it got trapped between the moving part of the thermostat and the seat on the thermostat held it open-- engine too cold.
Over here we have one where the do-it- yourselfer-- was tight spaces in there, there’s a little trick to it… Well what he did was pull it into place and when he did that he bent it and it couldn’t close. Check engine light: Too cold.
Another thing to keep in mind a lot of these automobiles today have plastic thermostat housing make sure you don’t use these worm drive clamps on anything that’s plastic because they can cause pressure points over time and that can cause hairline cracks and you lose coolant very slowly. Use the spring type that comes with the car, there’s a reason the manufactures use those.
And if you have a question or a comment, drop me a line, right here at MotorWeek.
In the specialized work of automotive careers, one midwest college is doing something unique. They’re educating and promoting the next generation of automotive restorers. That’s right…McPherson college is the only institution of higher education in America that offers a bachelor’s degree in restoration technology. As our FYI reporter Stephanie Hart explains, graduates are schooled in all aspects of the car collecting world.
STEPHANIE HART: An hour north of Wichita, Kansas… nestled not far from a working farm and a windswept lavender field, sits McPherson college…. where students can major in restoration technology.
AMANDA GUTIERREZ: “We combine the technical aspects with the liberal arts. Our students are not only in the shop learning historical restoration skills, but they’re also involved across campus so they’re taking courses in English, in business and arts.”
STEPHANIE HART: Courses focus on the techniques required to work on cars built before 1970. Comedian Jay Leno was an early supporter of this program and still is. 800 students attend McPherson college. 160 are in the automotive restoration program.
SEAN ROBINSON: I love cars so much because I was doing woodworking all of my life and just being able to put woodworking and my love for cars together is just like the greatest thing I can do here.
STEPHANIE HART: Sean Robinson is restoring a 1959 Austin Healey Bugeye Sprite to give to his mother.
SEAN ROBINSON: I’m planning all of my courses around the aspect of the build so I’m taking trim classes where I will work on the trim of the car, metal work classes to help me with body spots and then ultimately I will do the paint and full restoration.
STEPHANIE HART: Enthusiasm that’s fueled by faculty members. Most are alumni of the program.
GARRICK GREEN: We really strive for maybe not perfection at first, but always caring and sharing craftsmanship in the work that is done knowing that somebody else is going to follow you and say you know, ‘wow great job on whoever made this part’ or ‘wow who made this part?
STEPHANIE HART: Skills they’re learning here, are becoming a lost art - so they’re in high demand especially when it comes to crafting metal.
ED BARR: This is a 1954 Jaguar D Type. Original D Types are worth tens of millions of dollars and shops realize students who can do this kind of work are ready to work on the real car so I have built a skeleton for them to work on called a buck and the students have been shaping the sheet metal to go over that
STEPHANIE: From the shop to the street, it’s a campus tradition and a lot of fun… seniors get in cars like this one and drive through the gazebo to celebrate graduation.
NATHANIEL MCLAUGHLIN: I love old cars and my passion is painting so i want to be an automotive painter doing concours level restoration.
NICK NAVARRO: My goal, once I graduate, is to be able to talk about vehicles with people. The importance of vehicles and how classic vehicles have to be preserved and restored so they can continue to bring joy to the next generation.
STEPHANIE HART: What’s been the most rewarding experience for you as a professor here at the college?
ED BARR: When I get a call on a Saturday night from a student who’s now restoring priceless Jaguars and Ferraris and they send me pictures of the beautiful work their doing - that’s the best reward.
STEPHANIE HART: The next generation of auto artisans are restoring this 1953 Mercedes-Benz 300 S Cabriolet. It will look like this when it’s complete. The automotive restoration program set a bold goal: by 2023 it will compete and win the Pebble Beach Concours. Good luck!
Engine: 3.6 liter
Torque: 260 lb-ft.
Well, it was a long time coming. After years of spy shots, concepts, and test mules; the Jeep Gladiator pickup truck is finally a living, breathing, all-terrain thing. Best news of all, FCA didn’t fool around by simply slapping a bed on a four-door Wrangler. They’ve built the most capable midsize truck ever!
We often hear folks lamenting how little the Jeep Wrangler has changed over the years. Well, we would strongly disagree. Sure, it still mostly looks the same, but it wasn’t that long ago that the only Wrangler you could get was a 2-door. Now the 4-door Unlimited make up the majority of Wrangler sales. And this 2020 Jeep Gladiator mid-size pickup clearly signals that business as usual has come to an end for good.
Don’t think of the Gladiator so much as a Wrangler Unlimited with an open bed tacked onto the back; think of it more as a Jeep version of the Ram 1500.
FCA did start with the Wrangler frame, and cab; with mostly the same front suspension fastened to it. But then they lengthened that frame, wheelbase is up 19.4 inches, and bolted much of the Ram 1500’s suspension under its 5-foot bed.
The result is a smooth riding truck that can tow 7,650-lbs. or haul 1,600–lbs. of payload. That’s tops for a midsize truck. And once you’re done blowing the doors off of the competition; don’t forget, you can actually remove the doors on this one. No other truck, regardless of size offers that.
2020_jeepMuch like the Jeep Gladiator auto show concept that was shown way back in 2005, the front end of the 20-20 edition clearly says Wrangler.
But the grille slots are wider to allow for better engine cooling. Bed depth is shallow enough that, unlike most trucks these days, you can actually reach over the side to grab stuff.
Under the hood is the same 3.6-liter Pentastar V6 found in the Wrangler, with the identical 285–horsepower and 260 lb-ft. of torque.
True to form, a 6-speed manual trans is standard. You’ll pay 2-grand more for the 8-speed automatic.
Four-wheel-drive is standard, with three trim levels at launch: base Sport, the Overland, and of course a Rubicon.
The Rubicon gets the upgraded Rock-Trac 4X4 system with disconnecting front sway bar, locking diffs, and 4:1 low gear ratio. Standard tires are 33s, and you can get either all-terrains or mud terrains. 35s will fit without any modifications, and Jeep even allowed room for a 35-inch spare tire.
Our Northern California drive time, coincided with the high amounts of rain the area has been getting this Spring. So what was a well-prepared off-road course, turned into a sloppy mess of mud and rocks; but all the better as far as the Rubicon was concerned.
No matter what we encountered, planned or otherwise, was a match for the Rubicon’s 11.1–inches of ground clearance, 84.2:1 crawl ratio, and rock rails which they’ve extended all the way back to the end of the bed.
Further proof that they thought of just about everything; since you can remove all of the three available roofs as well as the doors, there’s a place to store all of the bolts when you remove bodywork, a lockable underfloor storage bin with multiple dividers, and the seatbacks themselves lock into place so you can even protect valuables that you stash behind them.
Rear seat space is exactly the same as the Wrangler Unlimited, which is to say better than most midsize crew cabs, but it’s still not the easiest to get into.
Up front, seats are very comfortable, and the environment is a mix of new Wrangler with old CJ flair. All materials are authentic, meaning if it looks like metal with real bolts, it is, not molded plastic.
All Gladiators are 4-doors with only one bed length; pricing starts at $35,040, the Overland for $41,890, and Rubicon for $45,040. Big spending early adopters can order one of 4,190 Launch Editions, which are fully loaded Rubicons with some unique extras for $62,310.
So, while it seems like it took forever for the 2020 Jeep Gladiator to become a reality; FCA didn’t want to just show up at the resurging midsize truck party with a hastily-assembled Wrangler pickup. They wanted to introduce the most capable midsize pickup truck that money can buy. And that’s how the Gladiator rolls.
torque: 291 lb-ft
0-60 mph: 7.0 seconds
1/4 mile: 15.5 seconds @ 91 mph
Despite our misgivings of considering the front-wheel-drive only Kia Niro a true crossover utility; there’s no denying its practicality, or its comforting nature, whether in standard hybrid guise or as a plug-in PHEV. Well, the Niro family is expanding with a full EV. So not only is their family getting bigger, but a lot more efficient, too.
Everybody knows the revolution will be battery powered, or at least the automotive one anyway. And Kia continues to change the social order of their lineup with this 2019 Kia Niro EV, a fully-electric version of their Niro hybrid.
The Niro EV runs silent and runs deep; boasting 239–miles of range from its 64–kWh liquid-cooled battery pack. Providing the power to do so, is a large 170-kW electric motor, shared with the Hyundai Kona EV. Output rates 201 hp and 291 lb ft of torque.
With no gas engine or transmission to account for, Kia was able to mix things up inside.
The center console is unique, with a rotary shift dial and some additional storage options. Likewise, the Supervision gauge panel, with 7-inch TFT, gets updated to provide relevant EV information.
Same UVO infotainment system, which is great; just additional EV screens, and unique navigation to route you to charging points.
Good comfort continues up front, with the seats sporting EV-specific materials; and there’s more than ample room for passengers in back.
Steering wheel paddles allow you to select one of four regen braking modes, and even bring the car to a stop for one peddle driving.
Amazingly, even though it shares a chassis with the gas-hybrid versions, including the same 106.3-inch wheelbase; Kia was able to package batteries low in the chassis like a dedicated EV, for a mostly uncompromised cargo area, losing only about one cubic-ft., 18.5 cubic-ft., expanding to 53.0 with the rear seatbacks folded.
Also like most other EVs, the near soundless driving experience is almost surreal; and there’s torque-a-plenty that makes it quite enjoyable to drive.
So yes, if you need another reason to check out the Niro EV, it’s also a heck of a lot quicker than any other Niro. And we know that because we took our long term Niro PHEV along on the EV’s track day for some head-to-head action.
And the EV beat it right from the hole shot, at least when we could find decent traction. And we sure didn’t have to battle burnouts in the PHEV. Once the EV’s tires were warmed up and gripping a little better, we were able to leap off the line to 60 in 7.0–seconds flat. That’s over two seconds faster!
Even better, no shifting, no CVT-induced engine screaming, just silent jet-like power throughout the ¼-mile for 15.5–seconds, ending at 91 miles-per-hour.
And that’s with some 400-lbs of extra motor and battery weight compared to the PHEV.
Through the cones, that does allow a little more oversteer than we remember, as well as some additional body roll. But, kudos to Kia for keeping the fun-factor high with well-weighted steering and traction control that allows for plenty of aggression before stepping in.
Braking performance is also very good. Stops from 60 averaged 115-feet, just 3-feet more than we saw in the original Niro.
In addition to the usual eco-blue accents; setting the EV apart from other Niros outside, is a whole new front end that’s been smoothed out; with no need for a grille to allow in air for engine cooling.
It also harbors a new charging port; moving to the front compared to the PHEV, to allow for a DC Fast Charge plug, in addition to the standard Level 1&2 plug.
And to further prove they haven’t forsaken all utility in search of efficiency; standard roof rails remain.
In regards to charging, the Niro EV can be quick charged to 80% in as little as 60-minutes. Regular Level 2 charging will take will take about 9½-hours if fully drained; and if you’re stuck with 110, plan on a lengthy 59-hours.
Kia has delivered a fantastic EV; and while official pricing has not been released, it will be available in two trims. We figure the base EX will fall well under 40-grand, in order to get it under 30, with the usual Government tax credits.
Kia already seemed to have just about all of the car and crossover bases covered. But now that this “player to be named later”, the 2019 Kia Niro EV has arrived, it just might turn out to be the MVP of the team.