Ford Transit Connect Gets Diesel Engine in Chicago
Ford’s smallest van, the Transit Connect, has just received a facelift at the 2018 Chicago Motor Show. Exterior updates are mild and interior upgrades are mostly about new tech and options, but there’s big news under the skin, in the form of a brand-new diesel engine.
The outer shell of the van remained largely unchanged on the sides and around back, but the front fascia now sports the company’s latest corporate face. The large grille seen in the newer models found its way on the Transit Connect, as did slightly bigger headlamps, and a revised, sportier bumper. Inside the cabin, there’s a reshaped dashboard with a cleaner center stack, with a 6.5-inch touchscreen floating on top. The display is optional though. The instrument cluster now has a digital information center. Ford now offers wireless charging, with Waze compatibility to be introduced soon.
Moving over to tech, the Automatic Emergency Braking system comes standard with the segment-exclusive Pre-Collision Assist. The optional Adaptive Cruise Control system makes highway driving easier by automatically slowing the vehicle when radar detects traffic ahead. The available Blind Spot Information System with Cross-Traffic Alert rounds off the driver assist package. Continue reading to find out about the engine lineup.
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Chevy Drops Teaser of Silverado 4500 and 5500 Prior to March Debut
Chevrolet has dropped a darkened teaser image of its upcoming medium-duty truck, the 2019 Silverado 4500 and 5500. The truck will compete directly with the Ram 4500 and 5500, along with the Ford F-450, F-550, and even the F-650. Chevy officially announced the trucks were coming at the 2017 Texas State Fair.
In a statement at the fair back in September of 2017, John Schwegman, Chevy’s U.S. director of commercial product, said, “We are earning new business because we have more solutions to help businesses grow. The Silverado 4500 and 5500 will stand out because we’ve designed the trucks around how customers work. They will be powerful, maneuverable and among the easiest trucks on the market to upfit with specialized bodies, such as dump bodies, rollbacks, freight boxes and more."
The Silverado 4500 and 5500 will be powered by the current 6.6-liter Duramax V-8 turbodiesel and use the Alison 1000 six-speed automatic transmission. Rear-wheel drive and 4WD will be offered, as well as the regular cab and crew cab configurations. Important to upfitter companies, the trucks will come in a variety of wheelbases and GVWRs to accommodate a wide range of jobs. Fleet managers will also appreciate the optional of 4G LTE connectivity, which is great for keeping track of fleet maintenance and vehicle locations.
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2019 Lamborghini Urus
The SUV assault continues, filtering into every niche of every market imaginable. With so much demand out there, just about every automaker on the planet is getting in on the action, including some with a history that deviates quite a bit from the SUV norm. That includes Lamborghini, which just unveiled the Urus, a follow-up to the cult classic LM002. This time around, Lambo is doing it right, giving the Urus super car-esque agility, speed, and performance, all with a sharp (yet jacked-up) body style crammed with luxury and even a little off-road worthiness. Lambo is calling it the first Super Sport Utility Vehicle, but makes like Porsche and Bentley might have a few words to say about that.
Either way, this is a breakthrough moment for the Raging Bull. While the LM002 was arguably the brand’s first “real” SUV, you can’t really compare it to the hyperspeed Urus. While the old Ramboghini got square styling and somewhat plodding performance, the Urus looks and acts like a Lambo should. It’s also got the first-ever turbocharged engine in a Lambo. All told, Lamborghini claims this thing has a “dual personality” and is “multi-dimensional” in what it can do. But the question is this – where does it land amongst the bevy of fast luxury SUVs already on the market?
Continue reading to learn more about the 2019 Lamborghini Urus.
Tesla Should Build an Honest Cab-Over Half-Ton Pickup
Picture this: a high-riding half-ton pickup truck with an all-electric drivetrain hung between hydro-formed, fully boxed frame rails and the center of gravity akin to a BMW 5 Series rather than a top-heavy truck. That’s a far-fetched idea, but it might be something Tesla could build. See, during the debut of Tesla’s new Semi truck and the surprise reveal of the 2020 Tesla Roadster, this little sketch was briefly mentioned by Elon Musk.
“It’s a pickup truck that can carry a pickup truck,” Musk is reported to have said. We wouldn’t know since we’re apparently not cool or hipster enough to get invited to Tesla events. Bearded and skinny jean-wearing millennials also say Muck muttered, “By the way, you will actually be able to drive that with a normal driver’s license. It’s kind of wrong, but I like it.” So apparently this outlandish pickup thing has more traction than a locked differential – well, as much traction as afforded by the wishful dreams of the real-life Tony Stark.
But for real – Tesla could actually start something here. Pickups have maintained the same basic layout since their invention in the early 1900s. The engine goes in front, followed by the cab, and bookended by the cargo bed. Why change what works? Well, if Musk has his way, this cab-over style consumer pickup could revolutionize the way pickups are picking stuff up.
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2019 Chevy Kodiak HD 4500 Caught testing
General Motors and Navistar International announced their partnership to build medium-duty trucks back in October of 2015, but since then, nothing has surfaced regarding the Class 4 and 5 commercial trucks – that is, until now. Spy shots have surfaced of a camouflaged test mule apparently prepped for stability testing. The rig has a beefy roll bar mounted to its flatbed and its front bumper is prepped for outriggers.
The images come via our friends at TFL Truck. The prototype truck clearly has elements of both GM and Navistar International. The hood and front grille are familiar International designs, while the headlights are clearly lifted from the 2015-2015 Chevrolet Silverado 1500 WT. The truck’s cab is also pure GM, likely shared with the Silverado 2500/3500 HD. The trailer tow mirrors, door handles, roof marker lights, and the cab’s overall shape are dead giveaways. Sadly, both automakers have remained quiet about the trucks, though TFL Truck cites reports suggesting the 4500/5500 trucks will debut in March of 2018 and go on-sale shortly thereafter as 2019 models. It’s unclear whether the trucks will have GM nameplate or Navistar International branding – or both. GM’s Chevy and GMC divisions could very easily revive the Kodiak and TopKick names, as both have illustrious histories spanning from 1980 to 2009. International might use the truck to expand its lineup below the DuraStar, currently its smallest medium-duty truck.
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2017 East Coast Defender Project Viper
By today’s industry standards, the Land Rover Defender doesn’t qualify as an SUV. It has a look that remains culled from past generations and it lacks the kind of state-of-the-art tech features that dominate the SUV landscape. But the perceived shortcomings of the Defender are also considered strengths by those who swear by it. And in case there are still people who doubt the affection fans have for the Defender, look no further than Florida-based East Cost Defender’s special edition creation, Project Viper.
While it’s not technically based on the Defender, it’s easy to see where Project Viper’s inspiration lies. There are also hints of inspiration from the Mercedes-AMG G63 6x6, so that shouldn’t be ignored. But don’t mistake the Project Viper for a custom SUV based on either model, because it’s not. The SUV is completely built from the ground-up by the company’s new Ultimate Vehicle Concept (UVC) division, which specializes on limited edition builds to create SUVs that are, in the words of ECD co-owner Scott Wallace, “not limited by a specific Bill of Materials or budget.” That disclaimer is particularly important to anyone who wishes to buy any one of the 10 Project Viper SUVs that ECD plans to build. See, it’s not all about aesthetic inspiration or premium tech for the company. It’s also about providing the most well-suited SUV for customers who are willing to pay the premium price to own one.
Continue after the jump to read more about the Project Viper by East Coast Defender.
Rolls-Royce Just Presented A One-Off Phantom That Comes With An Eye-Popping Price Tag
Rolls-Royce has treated us to a heavy dose of ultra exclusive, one-off models in recent weeks but even with the prestige attached to all of those models, none of them could’ve prepared us for what the British luxury automaker presented at the Concorso d’Eleganza Villa d’Este in Lake Como. This right here is the Rolls-Royce Sweptail, a heavily modified Phantom that brings the company’s level of refinement in the realm of the absurd.
The story behind the Sweptail is as intriguing as the work Rolls-Royce put into giving it a true one-off quality. According to the company, somebody already owns the Sweptail. That man apparently got in the touch with the company and asked Rolls-Royce to build him a one-off model. The automaker obliged to the request, which itself was prefaced by the agreement that both parties wouldn’t discuss prices until after the car was built. This conversation reportedly happened back in 2013 and it took Rolls-Royce a whopping four years to put together the car, culminating in the exquisite beauty that was presented at the Concorso d’Eleganza Villa d’Este. It’s a legitimate, coach-built, one-off model too, one that is also unique for having a customer become so involved in the development of the car. And as far as the price tag of the car is concerned, Rolls-Royce CEO Torsten Müller-Otvös didn’t reveal the actual figure, but he did tell Autocar that the Rolls-Royce Sweptail is “probably the most expensive new car ever.” As far as the rumor mill goes, that figure apparently adds up to an incredible £10 million, or just under $13 million based on current exchange rates. Take that for what it’s worth.
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2017 Rolls-Royce Phantom Inspired By Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque
No matter how big Rolls-Royce’s model expansion gets, the Phantom has always and will continue to remain its flagship model. It’s a status that the luxury sedan has had for almost 100 years, or at least since the first Phantom broke into the auto scene back in 1925. There’s no escaping the fact that the Phantom model is largely credited for Rolls-Royce remaining at the top its game almost a hundred years, so much so that when a new collection of one-off models like the Wisdom Limited Collection arrives, the Phantom enjoys top billing. Such is the case with the Rolls-Royce Phantom Inspired by Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque. The British luxury brand refers to it as the “crown” of Rolls-Royce Abu Dhabi’s Wisdom Collection, and once you see what the one-off model comes with, there’ll be no denying its place among the seven one-offs that make up the whole collection.
The Phantom Inspired by Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque is heavily inspired by the famous mosque, which is considered to be the biggest and important place of worship in Abu Dhabi. The details that Rolls-Royce Bespoke gave to underscore the mosque’s importance is evident in the luxury sedan. From the two-tone body finish of the Phantom to the elaborate work on the interior, the features that Rolls-Royce Bespoke added into the one-off Phantom speak highly of the importance of the Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque in the scheme of Abu Dhabi’s rich cultural and religious history.
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2018 Lincoln Navigator
The days of a worn-out, aging Navigator are gone. Lincoln has finally given its full-size luxury SUV a proper makeover, complete with a high-horsepower EcoBoost V-6, an upscale appearance and perhaps the classiest interior ever seen in the American SUV segment. Of course, the new Navigator is based on Ford’s all-new Expedition. Both share a new high-strength steel frame, aluminum construction for the body, and Ford’s new 10-speed automatic transmission. Cadillac has held the luxury SUV torch for years with its well-regarded Escalade, but Lincoln could soon be taking the lead.
“Quiet luxury is both a look and a feeling. The all-new Navigator embodies both.” That’s what Lincoln president Kumar Galhotra said about the Navigator when it debuted at the 2017 New York Auto Show. He continued, saying, “The sleek styling, spacious interior, and technology are all designed to make each trip effortless.”
Lincoln has worked tirelessly to build back its reputation of class, elegance, and that old-school charm. Take those Matthew McConaughey commercials, for example. He’s wearing a suit – tie gone, collar undone – hand sprawled over the steering wheel after a long day at some white-collar position in a successful career built over time. It’s smooth jazz music playing softly with rain falling on an empty city street; it’s a mellow yet engaging game of poker and coming away with the winning hand. “The feeling stays with you,” the commercial says. It’s this modern, minimalistic yet richly decorated idea of luxury Lincoln is attempting to tie to its brand image. Regardless of the advertisements, if Lincoln keeps building vehicles like the Navigator, the idea should stick.
Keep reading for the full run-down of Lincolns’ newest seven-seater.
2020 Nikola One
Nikola Motors has been in the news lately over its innovative yet seemingly troubled turbine hybrid electric turned hydrogen electric Class 8 semi truck concept. Well, the startup automaker has defied naysayers by actually producing a working prototype and meeting its December 2, 2016 debut deadline. Company founder and CEO Trevor Milton hosted the debut event near downtown Salt Lake City, Utah to a crowd of people from around the globe.
If you recall, the Nikola One was initially designed to be a fully electric truck with a “fuel agnostic” turbine engine acting as a range extender. Only a few months after the Nikola’s announcement of the semi truck in May 2016, the company shifted gears, concentrating on a custom-built hydrogen fuel cell-powered range extender. The change in plans planted seeds of doubt in hopeful onlookers, but Nikola Motors has seemingly made the truck a reality.
The truck is said to be 100-percent zero emissions with an 800 to 1,200-mile cruising range when fully loaded with 65,000 pounds thanks to its 320 kWh battery that generates 2,000 horsepower and 1,000 pound-feet of torque via six electric-drive motors. Nikola Motors is backing its truck with a million miles of free hydrogen fuel. Part of Nikola Motors’ business model is building a network of hydrogen stations. The initial phase has 56 stations planned, with the eventual number growing to 364 across the U.S. and south Canada. Construction is set to begin in January 2018 with an opening date in late 2019. Non-Nikola owners will be able to avail themselves of the hydrogen, but at a cost of $3.50 per kilogram.
The Nikola One is still in the development stage, but production is set to begin in 2019, with units hitting the road in 2020. The truck will be built by a third party manufacturer and will be serviced by Ryder, a current giant in the trucking industry.
CEO Trevor Milton shared a barrage of information at the One’s debut. We’ve compiled the high points in our review below, so keep reading for more. You can also watch the entire 42-minute keynote speech.
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Self-Driving Semi-Truck Takes 120 Miles Trip, Delivers Beer
Surely you’ve seen the iconic 1977 film, Smokey and the Bandit wherein The Bandit (Burt Reynolds) and The Snow Man (Jerry Reed) dodge the hard-nosed Sheriff Buford T. Justice (Jackie Gleason) over hundreds of miles as the boys drive to Texarkana from Atlanta to bring back a load of beer in Snow Man’s 18-wheeler. If not, stop what you’re doing and watch it.
Anyway, the boys would be jealous if they saw this self-driving semi take a load of Budweiser beer from Fort Collins, Colorado to Colorado Springs – all without someone behind the wheel.
The 120-mile journey took place this week thanks to the partnership between Otto and Anheuser-Busch. Otto is a self-driving truck startup founded by ex Google employees and now owned by Uber. Anheuser-Busch, of course, is the long-established brewer of Budweiser beer.
"The initial appeal for us was to see how we could meet the needs of a company like Anheuser-Busch," Otto co-founder Lior Ron told USA Today. "But now after this successful test, we’re eager to see how it will handle other roads and other weather."
James Sembrot, senior director of logistics and safety for Anheuser-Busch, says the company wanted to "see if we could help pioneer technology that will make the jobs of those shipping product easier and safer." Sembrot continued, saying, "We liked the prospect of those folks traveling safer in trucks that help improve environmental impact. There’s no question in our mind that transportation companies will want to make these improvements."
Safety is always a priority and rested drivers are generally better, safer drivers. Secondly, the environmental impact would be the decrease in fuel consumption thanks to the self-driving truck’s smooth operation.
The Otto system isn’t fully autonomous. It does require a driver for city streets and urban areas. On the highway, however, the system can be activated, allowing the truck to pilot itself while the driver can relax or sleep.
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Ford’s Medium Duty Truck Sales Up 59 Percent, Best Year Since 1997
Ford is experiencing a major success with its new 2016 F-650 and F-750 medium duty trucks. Since their launch in August of 2015, the trucks have sold 10,160 units, representing a 59-percent increase in year-over-year sales. It was 1997 when Ford last had this much gain in its medium duty segment.
“We’re seeing growing interest in the new tractor from beverage and hauling fleets,” says Kevin Koester, Ford medium-duty truck and Super Duty fleet marketing manager. “Giving our customers the choice of two exclusive powertrains, available across all body styles and designed specifically for the unique needs of the vocational truck market, has really helped drive sales of our new trucks.”
Ford credits its sales growth to big improvements with the F-650 and F-750. They include a quieter, more insulated cabin, multiple frame designs and wheelbase choices to suit a wide variety of customers, and powertrain improvements that include both gasoline and diesel engines backed by Ford’s heavy-duty automatic transmission.
The F-650 and F-750 remain the only medium-duty trucks to offer a gasoline engine, the 6.8-liter V-10. Added to that is the option for a CNG fuel system, giving customers the choice between running standard gasoline or Compressed Natural Gas. The diesel engine is familiar to Super Duty customers – the 6.7-liter Power Stroke turbodiesel. Ford offers the engine in three stages of tune. The base tune makes 270 horsepower and 675 pound-feet of torque. The mid-rage tune boosts power to 300 horses and 700 pound-feet of torque. Those doing extremely heavy lifting will want the 300-horse, 725 pound-feet version. Fleet bosses also love Ford’s five-year/250,000-mile warranty on the Power Stroke.
“Towing and rental customers have embraced the gas engine, and others are looking at this powertrain for more severe service applications,” Koester says. “Our diesel customers are praising the quietness of the 6.7-liter Power Stroke diesel engine. Not only is it up to 45 percent quieter in the cabin at idle than the outgoing model, it’s so quiet that customers have told us that there have been times when they’ve approached the truck in front of the grille and didn’t even realize it was running.”
While NVH levels aren’t generally selling points for commercial trucks, the quite operation certainly isn’t a detractor.
Ford also builds the F-650 and F-750 at its Ohio Assembly Plant near Cleveland, having moved production from Mexico in late 2015. The automaker invested some $168 million in the Ohio plant before beginning work on the F-650 and F-750.
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2016 Rolls-Royce Wraith Regatta by Eddie Sotto
The past few days have given us a treasure trove of special edition Rolls-Royce models, ranging from the Ghost by Vitesse AuDessus and Bengala Automotive Design to the pair of Porto Cervo exclusives for the Dawn and Wraith models by Rolls’ very own Bespoke customer personalization program. Now we give you yet another exclusive, special edition Rolls-Royce courtesy of American experiential designer Eddie Sotto, who once was the Senior Vice President of Concept Design for Walt Disney Imagineering.
Given his experience and pedigree in design and craftsmanship, Sotto sought to find inspiration to create a special edition Wraith that literally lived by its “special edition” label. He found what he needed in the designs of classic wooden motor yachts so he set about giving the Wraith the full yacht treatment. The coupe’s exterior and interior were treated to an imaginative combination of actual mahogany and a variety of wood-paint combos to create a highly personalized bespoke custom job that speaks to the elegance and luxury characteristics that Rolls-Royce is famous for.
The custom work doesn’t come without its gulp-inducing moments. The whole thing costs more than $1 million, donor car included. Do the math and that adds up to around $350,000 for the actual Wraith and over $650,000 for the full-scale Regatta custom treatment. It’s definitely a king’s ransom, but one that comes with the exclusivity of being one of only a few Rolls-Royce Wraiths to have actual mahogany on the roof.
Continue reading to learn more about the Rolls-Royce Wraith Regatta by Eddie Sotto.