utility vehicle

utility vehicle

Needing the right tool for the job often requires ingenuity. That’s exactly the case at Nissan’s Stanfield, Arizona proving grounds. The team of engineers needed a truck-like vehicle to haul test gear, but something that got great gas mileage around the 3,050-acre complex.

Meet Sparky, the wild idea a few Nissan engineers cooked up while trying to solve the dilemma. The team started with a stock Nissan LEAF, the all-electric hatchback and combined it with several parts scavenged off a Nissan Frontier pickup. The combination is something of a Frankenstein, but it gets the job done.

Not using a drop of fuel, little Sparky makes his way across the grounds and helps out with testing of future Nissan products. "I needed a project for a team building activity so we can bring the team together. We had a need for a truck . Something to drive around, a shop truck," says Roland Schellenberg, one of Nissan’s masterminds behind Sparky.

Helping build Sparky was Arnold Moulinet. “I went home and stayed up till like four in the morning making all kinds of designs for what would work,” he says. “We basically got the stock Leaf, and after reviewing a bunch of designs of pickup trucks that we have here at Nissan, we decided to go with a Frontier bed.”

Now the Nissan development team has an electrically powered mini truck that functions as park of the team. “It’s something that we all put together,” says Schellenberg. “We all share, so it has a little bit of everybody in there.”

In the land of the Interwebz where exaggeration is the norm and idiocracy runs rampant, there lies this video : Monster Energy’s Ballistic BJ Baldwin Recoil 2 – Unleashed in Ensenada, Mexico. I kid you not; this video contains the most ridiculous driving I’ve ever seen. Period.

Let me back up.

‘Ballistic BJ Baldwin’ is a five-time national off-road racing champion and driver of the Monster Energy Trophy Truck. BBB has more than 17 years of off-road racing under his belt with impressive back-to-back wins at The Best in The Desert Trophy Truck Championship in 2010 and 2011. His other wins include a 2006 and 2008 victory at the SCORE-International Trophy Truck competition. Needless to say, he lives up to his ‘ballistic’ title.

His latest publicity stunt comes a year after the first ‘Recoil’ flick. Unlike Hollywood, BBB’s second Recoil totally outdid the first. There’s more slow-motion suspension action happening here than a Stephen King book has suspense. If you’ve ever wanted to see an independent front suspension and a live rear axle with a long-arm kit work, this is your video.

BBB’s 800-horsepower Chevrolet Silverado trophy truck careens through the little seaside town of Ensenada, Mexico, hitting incredible jumps and diving from impossible heights. Ensenada is no stranger to trophy trucks, however, as the town is home to the Baja 1000.

There’s a bit of a story line to the whole sequence, if the ridiculous action doesn’t enthrall you. So follow along for the most insane seven minutes of your life.

Click past the jump to watch the original Recoil

Source: SpeedSociety

Volvo is the king of the family-hauling luxury SUV . When the XC90 hit the scene, it began a slow domination of the three-row market. Soon after, the Swedish automaker moved into the smaller market with the XC60 and once again, Volvo had a relative hit for the brand. Now for the new 2015.5 model, the XC60 is updated, upgraded and supposedly better than ever, and I was going to drive the new, more fuel efficient T6 Drive-E model.

As someone who ordinarily hates family hauling crossovers, but loves nicely designed cars like those from Sweden, I was interested in giving this car a run for its money. One of my favorite small hatches of all time is the Volvo C30 , so would Volvo be able to make me like a crossover ?

It is great to look at, has lots of nice details and features, plus it has 300 horsepower under the hood. I took the keys for a week and a few hundred miles to see if it was worth buying. Would the fuel saving features ruin the fun? Would the generally boring driving dynamics of a family car make me hate driving it?

Read on to find out more about the new 2015.5 Volvo XC60 T6 Drive-E.

It appears Toyota is readying a new iteration of its famed Hilux midsize pickup truck . Our spy photographers grabbed these images along a mountain road in southern Europe as the Japanese automaker put this test mule through its paces.

Absent from the pictures but present on-site was a Volkswagen Amarok , a direct competitor for the Hilux. While the two trucks aim at the same market, the VW is regarded as more spacious and comfortable than past Hilux trucks. Since Toyota brought it along, perhaps we can expect a more civilized and roomy Hilux.

We can expect the upcoming Hilux to include a bevy of gasoline and diesel engine options, along with both manual and automatic transmissions and two- and four-wheel-drive. At this point, no details exist about its powertrain options.

Considering the new offerings coming to the U.S. by way of the Chevrolet Colorado , GMC Canyon , Nissan Navara , and a rumored Honda Ridgeline , Toyota may elect to bring the new Hilux to the States as the Tacoma . If this possibility becomes a reality, then we could see a new Tacoma by 2017, if not sooner.

Then again, Toyota could stick with its current U.S.-spec Tacoma, opting for a heavy refresh with new looks, new underpinnings, and generously updated powertrain options. Only time will tell, but rest assured TopSpeed will cover it.

Click past the jump to read more about the 2016 Toyota Hilux.

The 2015 Cadillac Escalade is one of largest and boxiest full-size SUVs nowadays. I’m not saying it is not stylish, but that thing is huge, heavy and seemingly slow, but once its 420-horsepower V-8 comes to life, the Escalade is anything but slow. In fact, it takes only 6.4 seconds to charge from naught to 60 mph, which is faster than a Subaru BRZ or Scion FR-S , and it reaches the end of a quarter-mile strip in 14.8 seconds.

On the other hand, we know that some potential buyers would like the 2015 Escalade to be a tad quicker. This is where Hennessey Performance and its HPE550 package comes in. The upgrade places a supercharger atop the 6.2-liter V-8 and adds performance-enhancing parts, including a high-flow intercooling system. The result? Output goes up to a whopping 552 ponies and 565 pound-feet of torque, while it 0-to-60-mph drops to 4.9 seconds. Although the Texas-based company hasn’t released quarter-mile figures yet, it’s safe to assume the Escalade HPE550 is in the low 13-second range.

One thing’s for sure, the supercharged Escalade is definitely faster than a base model, and the video above proves just that. Hit the play button to find out why Hennessey charges a $15,950 premium to tweak the 2015 Escalade.

It appears Ford is taking extra measures to ensure its new 2015 F-150 will withstand the test of time and unfavorable weather conditions, including harsh sunlight. The automaker has announced its practices for testing both interior and exterior parts, and it’s rather interesting.

A majority of testing took place at Ford’s own Central Lab, where individual parts were subjected to a Thermatron. Like a scene from an old Sci-Fi film, the Thermatron blasts the parts with UV rays over an extended timeframe, simulating five years of sun exposure in a fraction of the time.

Ford is paying a lot of attention to the F-150’s interior in terms of its anti-glare properties. Washed out gauges, infotainment screen, and reflective materials on the dash have all been eliminated – preventing the driver from getting shot in the eye with a beam of sun reflecting off a chrome trim piece.

Special attention is also being paid to the exterior badges. A quick look at any mid- to late-2000s F-Series truck will reveal Ford had serious issues with its badges fading. Ford says it tested all its exterior badges under some 3,000 hours of sun-like conditions, along with temperatures as cold as -40 degrees Celsius followed by a steam bath of 100 degrees Celsius. That’s serious stuff.

Click past the jump to read more about the 2015 Ford F-150.

University of Texas fans can now get their jollies with this UT-branded edition Chevrolet Silverado . The truck is decked out in Sunset Orange Metallic paint and features prominent Texas Longhorn logos above the rear tires and on the tailgate. Onlookers and fans of other teams will have no doubt which college football team this Chevy’s owner is for.

The special edition truck will be sold nationwide for an extra $795 on select Silverado trim levels, but the real story is that Chevrolet is its second year of a multi-year contract with the University of Texas as a sponsor for the school’s athletic program. “There is no more appropriate place to showcase the stronger, smarter, more capable Chevrolet Silverado than in the heart of truck country,” says Sandor Piszar, Chevrolet director of Truck Marketing.

Chevy is also the official truck of Bevo, the Texas Longhorns’ mascot. A Silverado HD gets the honors of hauling Bevo’s trailer around from game to game, all over the country.

As for the University of Texas edition Silverado, the package can only be ordered on two- or four-wheel-drive Double Cab trucks with the LT or LTZ trim package; or the larger Crew Cab version in LTZ trim. The truck also must be ordered with the Texas Edition Package.

Click past the jump to read more about the 2015 Chevrolet Silverado University of Texas Edition.

Land Rover is set to embark on a massive and admittedly ambitious expansion the likes of which we haven’t seen from the British SUV maker. The company’s Range Rover brand has always been its meal ticket, but there’s a good chance that it might soon share honors with the Discovery and Defender models, each of which is set to expand into its own family of models.

Car Magazine is reporting that that Land Rover is laying the groundwork to create a separate line of models for the Discovery and the Defender, effectively creating three sub-families under the Land Rover name. The British magazine discussed this development with Land Rover’s design director and chief creative officer, Gerry McGovern. According to McGovern, Land Rover is aligning its brands to create three separate families - Range Rover, Discovery, and Defender - with each family having one standout characteristic.

The Range Rover will be a luxury sub-brand, that was established a long time ago. The Discovery, however, will be all about "Leisure," something Land Rover began with the arrival of the sportier-than-usual Discovery Sport, which is apparently taking the place of the Freelander . Discussions within the company are also on-going regarding the development of the fifth-generation Discovery that was showcased in preview guise by the Discovery Vision Concept at the 2014 New York Auto Show .

Land Rover will also work on differentiating the Range Rover models from the Discovery models.

Then there’s the Defender. McGowan described it as the dual-purpose sub-brand that will be markedly different from the Range and Discovery brands. Don’t expect the new lineup of Defenders to be similar in aesthetics to its brothers, as these models will retain the same utilitarian character best associated with the roots of Land Rover. McGown specifically pointed to the importance of having multiple Defender models, largely because it’s the brand that will cater to traditional fans of Land Rover.

“The Defender is about durability,” McGowan told Car. “You kick the hell out of them and they get up for more.”

Click past the jump to read more about Land Rover’s future plans.

Source: CAR

Toyota’s commemorating the 30th anniversary of the Land Cruiser 70 by doing something it’s never done before. The Japanese automaker is reintroducing the model, except that it’s going to be limited to its local market. I don’t know if I speak for everybody here, but I’m completely jealous that Japan’s getting exclusive dibs on the re-released Toyota Land Cruiser 70 . All 200 planned models, to be exact. It doesn’t seem fair, does it?

To make things interesting, Toyota’s also producing a double-cab pickup version of the Land Cruiser 70, which will also be limited to the Japanese market.

Granted, I’m not that excited about the pickup version as I am about the traditional enclosed body classic. The latter model speaks to a level of nostalgia you don’t see in today’s models anymore. I’m counting those retro-inspired ones, too.

If I knew that Toyota was considering re-releasing the model due to widespread requests in Japan, I’d be screaming for the model to go Stateside. Unfortunately, it’s unlikely that Toyota will do that, leaving me with no other choice than to just drool over these photos. Such a shame.

Click past the jump to read more about the Toyota Land Cruiser

Land Rover has always stood for adventure and exploration of the most remote places on earth. Now Land Rover is raising the bar higher — much, much higher — with a chance to win an adventure into space. Together as a partner with Virgin Galactic, Land Rover is hosting a contest to find the most adventurous person and three of his or her friends.

The lucky contest winner and the three friends will have seats aboard the space ship Virgin Galactic, the crown jewel of the free-enterprise space program ran by Sir Richard Branson.

To enter, contestants must create a 30 second video showing how they embody the spirit of adventure and what it means to them. Rock climbing, camping, midnight drives, are all on the list of examples. Once completed, the video gets uploaded online and a short explanation of why you’re a good choice for a space adventure must be posted to your Facebook page.

All this is to help Land Rover celebrate its all-new 2016 Land Rover Discovery Sport . The new SUV combines the sportiness and silky lines of the Range Rover Evoque with the ruggedness of a Land Rover Discovery.

If you’re looking to enter, you’ve got just over 50 days before the contest closes. So hop to it, adventure lovers!

Click past the jump to read more about the new Land Rover Discovery Sport.

Source: Land Rover

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