2018 Mercedes-Benz Sprinter
Mercedes-Benz has debuted its third-generation Sprinter van in Duisburg, Germany, appropriately at a portside warehouse. This marks the first all-new Sprinter since 2006 and represents a huge leap forward for the utility vehicle. The van sports a new exterior design, a classy interior with touches from the E-Class, and Mercedes’ new MBUX infotainment system that recently debuted at the 2018 Consumer Electronics show. What’s more, the Sprinter is going electric with the eSprinter variant. Preliminary specs say it uses a 41.4 kWh battery pack with a range of roughly 100 miles.
The Sprinter has enjoyed a very successful run since its introduction in 1995. The van is currently sold in 130 markets and has a lifetime sales figure exceeding 3.4 million. Just last year, Mercedes sold 200,500 Sprinters globally. The new 2019 model replaces the aging second-generation Sprinter, which has been around since 2006. Unfortunately for the U.S., the new Sprinter won’t arrive until late 2019, likely making it a 2020 model.
Continue reading for more information.
Though the badge says “Hybrid,” the important thing to know about the Chrysler Pacifica Hybrid right off the bat is this: It’s actually a PHEV. You plug it in, and it runs on electricity for the first several miles of your day.
As I found during a week at the wheel of the electrified minivan, if you have the right commuting or parking situation, you might find yourself using little or no gasoline.
It’s noteworthy Chrysler is the first automaker to put a PHEV minivan on sale in America. For a brand with only three models in its showroom nowadays, this was an even bigger home run than the non-hybrid Pacifica that birthed it. The hybrid takes a great, competitive minivan and makes it truly special — even buzzworthy.
Best of all, it’s the kind of plug-in vehicle that just makes sense for a huge number of families. It’s not much more expensive than any comparably equipped competitive minivan, yet it gets an EPA-estimated 84 MPGe. It’s remarkable because the Pacifica Hybrid squeezes that kind of efficiency out of a big, practically sized, attractive family hauler instead of a small, weirdly styled car wrought with compromises.
After spending a week with the Pacifica Hybrid, I find myself hoping I see a lot more of them on the roads — and hoping FCA has the good sense to adapt this powertrain to other vehicles we might not normally associate with hybrid efficiency. Chrysler 300? Ram 1500? Jeep Grand Cherokee? All have the potential to be transformed into segment-changing vehicles if they can incorporate the Pacifica’s hybrid system.
2018 Rinspeed Snap Mobility Concept
From the maker of some of the most bizarre vehicular creations in recent automotive history, Rinspeed is back at it with another, well, futuristic offering. It’s called the Snap Mobility Concept, and its name doesn’t do enough justice to what exactly it’s capable of doing. No, there’s no garden growing inside of it like the Oasis Concept from 2016, but it does have a chassis that can connect to different cabins, or “pods," as Rinspeed likes to call them.
The whole concept isn’t at all different from how trucks can carry different trailers, but the Snap Mobility Concept takes that approach on an entirely different level because an entire cabin can be removed and replaced with another, resulting in a concept that’s not at all too different from the Surus platform concept that General Motors unveiled earlier this week. Rinspeed’s whole objective with the concept is to reduce congestion and pollution in crowded cities, so it’s no surprise that the Snap Mobility Concept is completely autonomous and runs on a fully electric powertrain. The actual details and figures are still being withheld though rest assured, there’s a lot more to this concept than meets the eye. Keep an eye out for it when it makes its debut at the Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in January 2018.
Continue after the jump to read more about the Rinspeed Snap Mobility Concept
2018 Chrysler Pacifica S Appearance Package
There you are – sitting in the parent pick-up line at the kids’ elementary school. You’re looking at the never-ending row of gray and silver SUVs, crossovers, and sedans. You feel trapped – stuck in a rut of perpetual boredom fed by routines and complacency and made worse by cookie-cutter transportation. You need to escape this automotive purgatory. But you’re a good parent and know you can’t shuck the responsibilities of chauffeuring your brood to and from their various activities. What’s the solution? The Dodge Charger SRT Hellcat or Jeep Grand Cherokee Trackhawk? No, those are just overkill on horsepower and underwhelming on people room. No, you need space. You need seven or eight seats. You also need vogue styling. You aren’t the average PTA parent, after all. Well, Chrysler has a solution. Meet the 2018 Chrysler Pacifica S and its murdered-out S Appearance Package.
For the 2018 model year, the Pacifica can be had with the S Appearance Package for an extra $595. It’s available on the Touring Plus, Touring L, Touring L Plus, and the Limited model. It’s blacked-out theme spans from its black paint and Gloss Black accents to its 18-inch wheels in a hue called Black Noise. Tim Kuniskis, head of Dodge, SRT, Chrysler, and Fiat, said, “The Chrysler Pacifica definitely stands out in the school drop-off line, and its class-leading style has won over many new customers. The Pacifica’s S Appearance Package takes that style to the next level and offers our customers yet another unique personality that further differentiates Pacifica from the rest of the segment.” Kuniskis is right about that – no other minivan offers such a blacked-out appearance package.
Continue reading to learn more about the Chrysler Pacifica S Appearance Package.
2017 Toyota Tj Cruiser
Toyota has debuted a concept vehicle designed to not only showcase innovation but to also create an entirely new vehicle class. It’s called the Toyota Tj Cruiser, and it’s basically the cross between a minivan and crossover SUV. Toyota says the overall theme is one of work meets play, which led to the Tj Cruiser name. It literally stands for Toolbox Joy. Wait, what? Yeah, Toolbox for its functionality and van-like hauling capability and Joy for the “joy of visiting various places by car.” Wow. Of course, the Cruiser name is borrowed from retro-redo of the iconic FJ series, the FJ Cruiser. As fans of the Jeep Wrangler, it just makes us think about the 1997-2006 Wrangler TJ. What’s worse, the Tj Cruiser’s design makes us think Toyota took a Honda Element, Chevrolet Astro, the Volkswagen Thing, and some weird early-2000s Chrysler concept all squished together like different colors of Play-doh.
Needless to say, the Tj Cruiser’s visuals leave much to be desired.
Once past the questionable styling, the Tj Cruiser’s thesis actually works – a no-holds-barred functional vehicle with available AWD for unpaved roads, room for objects 10 feet long with the seats folded, and four people with the seats in place. There are even aluminum rails with movable tie-down cleats on the ceiling and walls, much like those in a pickup’s cargo bed. Toyota Says the Tj Cruiser rides on the next-generation global architecture and uses a stronger-style suspension system with all-terrain tires. Power is hybrid, of course, paring a 2.0-liter gasoline four-cylinder with an electric motor and a battery pack. Front-wheel drive is planned as standard, while AWD will be optional. Toyota has mentioned no firm plans for production, but the Tj Cruiser will be on display at the 2017 Tokyo Motor Show October 25 through November 5.
Continue reading for more information.
2017 Renault Symbioz Concept
While there’s certainly no shortage of automakers out there offering visions of our inevitable all-electric autonomous future, Renault is one of the few that’s actually taking the idea into new, unexpected directions. For example, what if your car could integrate with your home as a spare room, a smart electric energy grid, and a mobile multimedia center? It’s called the Symbioz, which is a play on the word symbiosis, and it was recently on display alongside a full-size model home at the 2017 Frankfurt Motor Show. Renault frames it as a vision of things to come in the year 2030, offering passengers a chance to “enjoy a cabin that feels like home and has been designed for autonomous motoring. On the road, the car becomes an extension of the home. When parked inside the home, it doubles as an extra mobile, modular and multi-purpose room,” adding, “The car is complementary to the home and also an extension of it,” finding common themes of “major architectural design choices, common materials and styling.”
Indeed, Renault is the first automaker to bring a full-size home to a car show, but it goes a long way to proving a point. The Symbioz project brought together “designers and engineers, academics and architects, startups and sociologues,” all in the name of finding out how to make the most of upcoming technologies. Interested in learning how your car could become an integral part of the Internet of Things? Read on for the details.
Continue reading to learn more about the Renault Symbioz.
2020 Honda Odyssey Type R
There’s no harder transition in the world than for a car guy to move away from his prized bachelor car to daily drive a mom-mobile, aka the dreaded minivan. So, what happens when you want the best of both worlds? Well, you convince Honda to build you a Honda Odyssey Type R. Is it crazy? Sure. But are you going to tell me you would pass up an Odyssey Type R to drive a Chrysler Pacifica, Toyota Sienna, Kia Sedona, or a Mercedes Metris? I doubt it, and you know why? Because this thing is intense in all the right ways. You get all of the Type R goodies, including things like the Championship White paint, Type R wheels and body kit, and even the classic Type R red accents inside. But, what will power a beast like this? Well, we’ll discuss that in a bit.
So here we are, talking about something as crazy as an Odyssey Type R. All the goodness of the ultimate people hauler paired with the aggressiveness, style, and clout of the Type R badge, plus more than enough power to keep you from sacrificing your manhood on days when you have to tote the family around. So with that said, let’s dive in and speculate a bit about the Honda Odyssey Type R and why Honda should greenlight a project like this. You know it will appeal to the tuner and gearhead in all of us.
2017 Volkswagen Camper XXL Concept
Summer is as good a time as any to go out and enjoy the outdoors. It’s just too bad that the Volkswagen California XXL Concept isn’t a real thing yet; it would make an incredible companion for a weekend of camping. It’s unlikely to be made available anytime soon, however, but that doesn’t mean can’t wish for it to arrive in some form at some point in the future. For now, we’ll have to be content seeing the concept motorhome at the Caravan Salon Düsseldorf later this month. Who knows, if the concept’s reception ends up being as good as we hope it is, Volkswagen may end up green-lighting the possibility of offering conversions like it for the Crafter.
Before I start getting ahead of myself, it’s important to establish what the California XXL Concept is first. It’s basically a Volkswagen Crafter, the same vehicle that VW launched in 2006 as a commercial van to compete against the likes of the Ford Transit and the Nissan NV400, albeit one that has gone through a massive transformation courtesy of Volkswagen Commercial Vehicles. It even takes the look of the Volkswagen T6 California now, but even that isn’t the biggest talking point about the concept. It’s everything else about it, really, and the final product speaks to the potential of the Volkswagen Crafter as more than just a commercial van. Apparently, it can be turned into a hotel on four wheels, too.
Continue after the jump to read more about the Volkswagen California XXL Concept
2017 Ford "Autolivery" Concept
Given the direction the auto industry seems to be headed, we’re at a point where self-driving cars roaming our streets is far less improbable as it once was. Automakers like Tesla are pioneering this movement, and while the industry itself is still in the embryonic stage of this technological tipping point, enough progress has been made that ideas like self-driving delivery fans like the one Ford presented earlier this year are no longer being scoffed at. Heck, if Amazon can start using drones to deliver packages to its customers, there’s little reason to imagine a future without something like the Blue Oval’s “Autolivery” Concept.
First of all, this concept vehicle isn’t what you’d consider a traditional concept as defined by the auto industry. It’s futuristic in nature, sure, but it doesn’t provide anything concrete that can be adapted to real-world production cars of the future. Instead, the “idea” of the Autolivery Concept is the concept itself. It’s the idea of a self-driving van that works in concert with drones to deliver and transport everyday items on the ground, be it parcels, groceries, or even medical supplies. Think of it as a UPS van without a driver driving it. That’s the ethos of the Autolivery Concept, which takes its name from an amalgam of the words “automatic” and “delivery.” The concept itself is intriguing, in large part because of the potential of its real-world application. There’s no denying that there’s something inherently appealing about a delivery process that’s far more efficient than the ones we have right now and Ford aims for the Autolivery Concept to be a big part of reaching that solution.
Continue after the jump to read the full story.
2020 Volkswagen Van
Aside from the Type 1 Beetle, the Type 2 Bus is Volkswagen’s undisputed most widely recognized vehicle. Some might say it’s one of the most recognizable vehicles of all time. Much credit can be given to the Type 2’s social influences during the 1960s and 1970s in American pop culture thanks to the hippie movement. But sadly, Volkswagen has left the Bus and its classic styling to the pages of history.
Interestingly enough, the last Type 2 Bus, otherwise known as the T2 Kombi, rolled off the production line on December 31, 2013 in Sao Paulo. The Brazil-only model died at the hands of safety legislation mandating ABS and dual front airbags – changes Volkswagen was unwilling to make on a 63-year-old model. Other versions of the Bus existed, of course, changing names with each generation. The Type 2 Bus, or Microbus, Transporter, Kombi, or camper, depending on whom you ask, transformed into the Type 3, Type 4, and Type 5 in other parts of the world.
Starting in 2015, Volkswagen has been building the Type 6, known as the Transporter, in Germany. However, this van is modern in every sense of the word, with no cues hinting at its storied past. Rather, it’s just a forgettable van built to haul passengers or cargo that blends into the rolling European countryside.
American automakers, on the other hand, are busy building modern cars with retro cues, recalling glory days of moments forever past. That begs the question: what if Volkswagen did the same? What if Volkswagen built a special version of its Transporter that harked back to 1969 when shirts were tie-dyed, hair was long, love was free, war was bad, and Woodstock was the place to be?
We send those thoughts to our in-house rendering specialist to be constructed into form. It had to be modern – including all the safety technology of today – yet still capture the feel of the original Type 2. This is what he came up with.
Continue reading for the full review.
2018 Toyota Sienna
The Toyota Sienna has been in its third generation since 2010. While models like the Honda Odyssey and Chrysler Pacifica have since been updated and gone through generational shifts, the Sienna has soldiered on with relatively mild updates. In 2017, Toyota did upgrade the 3.5-liter engine and dropped the six-speed automatic for an eight-speed unit, but otherwise, it’s been pretty much the same van all this time outside of some minor changes to the exterior in 2015. Well, Toyota is bringing a revamped Sienna to the 2017 New York Auto Show, but it’s not a new-gen model. Instead, Toyota is adding new “swagger” with a new front fascia, new side skirts, some noise and vibration enhancements, and some additional technology like extra USB ports, an updated rear entertainment system, and a semi-digital instrument cluster.
But, don’t get it twisted. The Sienna may be pretty old, with the 2018 model year being the 8th year this generation is on the market, but it does pull its own weight as far as sales go. Sales have been well over the 100,000 mark from 2011 forward, with 2015 seeing 137,497 examples sold and 2016 accounting for 127,791 examples sold. That’s a pretty big deal considering the market it bursting with SUVs of every shape and size you can imagine. So, let’s see what these new enhancements do to liven up the third-gen Sienna and how it might help it stack up against some of the competition.
Continue reading to learn more about the 2018 Toyota Sienna.
2017 Volkswagen I.D. BUZZ
Caught red handed cheating on emissions tests, Volkswagen is still struggling to obtain settlements in the "Dieselgate" scandal. However, the German firm is also looking to create a more sustainable future for itself by embracing electrification. Having announced a plan to launch several EVs over the next few years, Volkswagen is unveiling an increasing number of concept cars that feature electric motors instead of standard gasoline or diesel mills. One such vehicle is the I.D. BUZZ, which made its official debut at the 2017 Detroit Auto Show as an electric, multi-purpose vehicle based on the I.D. Concept hatchback.
Described as a next-generation vehicle that "forges links between the origins of the Volkswagen brand and its electrifying future," the I.D. BUZZ is based on the company’s new Modular Electric Drive Kit (MEB) platform and pays homage to the original Volkswagen Type 2, commonly known as the Microbus in the U.S. According to Volkswagen, the "BUZZ" name is a phonetic word play on "bus" and refers to the silent buzzing of the electric drivetrain.
"The Volkswagen brand’s big electric offensive begins in the year 2020 with a completely new vehicle architecture. That is when we will be launching an entirely new generation of fully connected, all-electric vehicles to the market. By 2025 we want to be selling one million of these vehicles annually. We are making electric mobility the new trademark of Volkswagen," said dr. Herbert Diess, Chairman of the Board of Management for the Volkswagen brand.
There’s no word whether the I.D. BUZZ will become a production model anytime soon, but given that the Frank Welsch, who’s in charge of development of future models, referred to it as a "next-generation vehicle," it’s safe to assume that the Microbus will return sooner or later, albeit in all-electric form.
Continue reading to learn more about the Volkswagen I.D. Concept Van.
2017 Nissan NV
Nissan is giving its NV passenger and cargo van a new heart – the all-new 5.6-liter Endurance V-8 and heavy-duty seven-speed automatic transmission found in the new Titan pickup and Armada SUV. This makes the Nissan NV vans the most modern body-on-frame vans in the industry, although its competition is becoming slim, with the Chevrolet Express and its corporate twin, the GMC Savana being the last holdouts in the segment.
For those who might not remember, the NV debuted for the 2012 model year and is based on the first-generation Nissan Titan. In fact, the NV shares the Titan’s front frame section, suspension parts, and steering gear. The NV also shares much of its front-end styling with the original Titan.
The original Titan is no longer, thanks to the introduction of the 2016 Titan XD and 2017 Titan pickup. That means Nissan had the perfect chance to update the NV with new components. Sadly, only the V-8 powertrain is changing, despite the opportunity of grafting the second-generation Titan’s face onto the chassis. Perhaps customers looking at full-size commercial vans aren’t too worried about aesthetics.
Nevertheless, the 2017 Nissan NV is getting the Titan’s new powerplant. That means horsepower jumps by 58 and torque improves by two pound-feet. The Titan’s seven-speed automatic transmission replaces the NV’s old five-speed automatic. The more powerful yet efficient V-8, paired with the new transmission, should help the NV vans achieve better fuel efficiency while delivering a better driving experience. The EPA doesn’t rate heavy-duty vehicles, so there is no official data to list.
So, let’s take a deep look at the 2017 Nissan NV van and its closest competitor.
Continue reading for more information.
2016 Toyota Extreme Sienna
The Toyota Sienna may not be one of the first models anybody associates with the SEMA Auto Show, but Toyota’s resident people mover has been a showstopper in Las Vegas over the past few years. Anybody remember the R-Tuned Concept from last year’s show? How about the SpongeBob Edition? While we’re at it, let’s not forget about the Swagger Wagon Supreme from 2010, one of the most outlandish builds we’ve ever seen at SEMA. This year, Toyota’s booth at SEMA brought the Extreme Sienna. While it’s not as mind-blowing as the Swagger Wagon, it still upholds the oftentimes audacious nature of SEMA.
Regardless of what you think of the Sienna, you can’t deny that it’s an incredibly popular car among aftermarket tuners. This time around, Toyota brought in Rick Leos, hot rod builder extraordinaire from Real Time Automotive to put his aftermarket touch on the Sienna. “We wanted to go to a place no one else would think of with this build,” Leos said, referring to what he and his team decided to do on the minivan. “This Extreme Sienna is our contribution to the van culture movement that’s happening right now. People are showing a lot of vision and adapting vans to serve for almost any purpose. We wanted to take this idea all the way to the next level.”
That “next level” can be interpreted in so many different directions, but as far as Leos and Real Time Automotive were concerned, it was a license to go crazy on the Sienna, which is exactly what they did to the minivan, most notably the infusion of luxury to the vehicle’s interior. The result is as impressive a build for the Sienna as we’ve seen in a long time. Even SpongeBob can’t say anything about it.
Continue after the jump to read more about the Toyota Extreme Sienna.
2019 Tesla Minivan
Tesla’s “Master Plan, Part Deux” includes a wide range of future vehicles, including a pickup, a compact SUV, and even a semi-truck. Sadly however, Tesla might be missing an important segment niche – the minivan. Sure, sales of minivans have dwindled with the exploding popularity of the crossover, but families continue to rely on the minivan’s unparalleled interior volume and downright handiness for hauling the kids and their stuff.
With that in mind, we decided to render what a Tesla minivan might look like. However unlikely, the idea is an interesting one. Think about it – interior volume would be nearly unimpeded thanks to the battery pack being incased in the flat floor with relatively compact electric motors at either end. Its “frunk” gives space to store items separate from the passenger cabin. And there would be no more smelly, greasy gas pumps to operate. Sounds great, right mom?
A similar chassis as the Model X SUV would likely underpin Tesla’s version of a minivan. Perhaps the wheelbase would be slightly stretched to accommodate for a larger third row and the inevitable sliding rear doors. Maybe Tesla engineers would develop some sort of hidden track system for those doors, eliminating the unsightly gap in the rear quarter panels. The potential for innovation is boundless.
Let’s check out the details below.
Continue reading to learn more about the Tesla Minivan.
2016 Toyota Sienna – Driven
The minivan segment might not be the most glamorous vehicle category, but you’ll be hard-pressed to find a more functional, practical, and economical ride when it comes to transporting seven of your closest friends and family. Yep, the minivan can haul people and their stuff in glorious comfort while making most SUV crossovers look cramped and poorly designed. Sadly, the minivan gets a bad rap. It’s pigeon holed as the mommy-mobile on it way between soccer and ballet, filled with Cheerio crumbs and at least one soured formula bottle lost in one of the dozens of cup holders.
Looking past that stereotype reveals a rather competitive segment, with hot players from Honda, Kia, Nissan, and of course Toyota. While each of these automakers have respectable offerings, it’s the all-new Chrysler Pacifica that has the minivan segment on fire in 2016. In light of this, we wanted a closer look at Toyota’s offering.
The Sienna has been around since 1998, undergoing three generational changes since then, with its most recent change being a mid-cycle refresh in 2014. Not much has changed since then, but the Sienna still provides a great place for seven or eight passengers (depending on seating configuration), decent fuel economy, and most of the modern tech folks expect these days.
Let’s dive in and see what the 2016 Toyota Sienna has to offer.
Continue reading for the full review
2017 Renault Grand Scenic
Back in March, Renault pulled the sheet off of the all new Renault Scenic based on the R-Space concept. Now, just a couple months later, Renault is pulling the sheet off of its bigger brother – the Grand Scenic.
The Grand Scenic is nine inches longer, almost one inch wider, and just over a half-inch taller than it’s smaller sibling. It comes standard with 20-inch wheels, automatic emergency braking with pedestrian detection, full-color heads-up display, parking assistance, and a host of engines that include five diesel options and two gasoline options.
Furthermore, it offers seating for five or seven people, two-tone livery from the second equipment level up, and an all-new color – Vision Brown – that is exclusive to the Grand Scenic. Compared to the outgoing model, the new Grand Scenic has a completely redesigned front end, more fluidic body lines, and a reworked rear end. The end result: Renault just made the compact MPV segment a little sexier.
Needless to say, the new Grand Scenic is a huge departure from the outgoing model. The body flows smoother from front to rear, there’s plenty of interior room, and the standard features are surprising – even on the entry-level model. Even from a quick glance, you can see that the body was designed to have a look of depth from the side and that the roof doesn’t slope downward as aggressively as it did on the outgoing model. All told, it’s one of the better “redesigns” that we’ve seen in a while.
The new Grand Scenic will go on sale before the end of the year, with the full U.K. model lineup, specifications and pricing announced closer to the official launch. So, with that said, let’s take a closer look at Renault’s new Grand Scenic and all the fine details hidden within.
Continue reading to learn more about the 2017 Renault Grand Scenic.