For sheer enjoyment and hilarity, the Polaris Slingshot is about the most fun one can have with their clothes on in a road-going vehicle. Three wheels, a ripsaw engine, and a seating position seemingly an inch above the ground all conspire to create one heckuva grin machine. For the upcoming 2023 model year, Polaris is giving its rocket a few tweaks.
You’ve probably seen them, especially if you live in a big city. Three-wheeled vehicles that straddle the line between car and motorcycle that often travel in packs, driven mostly by men in their 30s and 40s.
Adult toys of the non-sexual variety.
Can-Am Spyders. Morgan 3 Wheelers. And Polaris Slingshots. I was loaned one of the latter last year.
I know – we rarely (if ever) cover powersports on this site, given our mission to bring you news about cars and shine lights on dusty corners of the automotive industry. However, the new Polaris Ranger XP Kinetic is worth your attention, simply for the change it is signaling in terms of electric vehicles.
Polaris aimed to broaden the appeal — and hopefully sales volume — of its three-wheeled Slingshot by adding creature comforts and a new engine for the 2020 model year. Customers can now plug in their phones and find a place to set their beverage as they cruise down the boulevard while confused onlookers ask each other what the hell they just saw rumbling down the road.
Attempting to outdo itself, the brand has now introduced the limited-edition Slingshot Grand Touring LE. Painted in an exclusive Fairway Green with contrasting bronze trim/wheels, the model also receives an upgraded wind deflector, color-matching “Slingshade” roof, and more-comfortable quilted seats. The mandatory inclusion of the company’s AutoDrive transmission further explains what this particular variant is all about — mainstream accessibility.
Retirement stands to become even more special in the just-revealed 2020 Polaris Slingshot. Revamped and re-engined for the coming year, the oddball three-wheeler that may or may not require you to wear a helmet (check local laws) remains a colorful choice for weekend outings.
Forgive the author for noting the age of your average Slingshot driver.
With the new model, buyers receive not just an in-house engine, but a transmission designed to atrophy your left leg muscles.
The Texas DMV has refused to register the new Polaris Slingshot, saying that motorcycles must be ridden from in a saddle, not driven from on a seat. The Slingshot and proposed Elio trike are both being marketed as motorcycles, as three-wheelers do not have to meet Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standards for automobiles. Elio has told TTAC that they’re exempt from the Texas standard because their vehicle has an enclosed cab. We asked them if they’ve had discussions with the Texas DMV about their status. Elio’s vice president for governmental affairs, Joel Sheltrown, told me in an email,
Yes.. I confirmed this with TX DMV. Also the helmet and m[otorcycle] license exemption. We qualify in every instance to be registered in TX ..as a motorcycle. We will easily meet their requirements.
The makers of the spate of reverse three wheelers now on, or about to be on, sale including the Morgan 3 Wheeler, the proposed Elio Motors vehicle, and Polaris’ Slingshot, now just arriving at dealers, have used the fact that their vehicles are legally considered motorcycles, not cars to ease their passage through regulatory waters. As some critics of the Elio project have pointed out, those that live by their legal classification as not-cars, may also find legal realities that get in the way of selling their “motorcycles”. For example, will drivers be required to wear helmets in those jurisdictions that require them on motorcycle riders? With some already considering the Elio to be a form of birth control for single guys, having to wear a helmet inside it would make it even dorkier. Elio claims those problems are moot. Perhaps so, but just as Polaris is launching the Slingshot, a reverse trike starting at $20K, powered by a 2.4 liter GM Ecotec 4 cylinder engine, they have discovered that the State of Texas will not let the vehicle be registered there.
I’ve been fascinated by reverse trikes for a long time. As young teens, my older brother and I made a reverse trike go-kart (he designed the frame and the drivetrain, I did the brakes and steering) because we didn’t have the money for a proper live axle setup in the back. The first hard turn taught us something about the inherent instability of three wheel vehicles. The inside front wheel lifted about 18″ off of the pavement (maybe that’s why I like the photo of Jim Clark’s Lotus Cortina cornering on three wheels so much). It took a bit more than a “dab of oppo” to settle it back down. I don’t remember if either one of us ever completely rolled it, but it was exciting to drive. Now comes word that Morgan’s revived 3 Wheeler, a car that seems to be able to drift and donut effortlessly while still keeping both front wheels planted firmly on terra firma, has become their best selling vehicle, prompting word of expanding the 3 Wheeler line. With that success my attention has once again been drawn to reverse trikes. I’m not the only one. Based on design patent drawings, it looks like Polaris will be soon introducing the Slingshot, a side by side reverse trike powered by a GM Ecotec 2.4 L four cylinder. From the styling the Slingshot looks to be aimed more at Ariel Atom fans than the traditional stringback driving glove set, so I don’t think the Morgan will lose any sales to Polaris, but either way, I think the Polaris will increase the popularity of three wheelers in general.
Curbside Classic: 1963 Tempest LeMans- Pontiac Tries To Build A BMW Before BMW Built Theirs And Almost Succeeds
In the thirties and forties, GM pioneered and brought to market some of the most innovative, successful and lasting new technologies: diesel-electric locomotives, the modern diesel bus, automatic transmissions, refrigeration and air conditioning systems, high compression engines, independent front suspension, and many more. But GM’s technology prowess was just one facet of its endlessly warring multiple personalities. Planned obsolescence, chrome, fins and financial rationalization were the real moneymakers, especially during the technically conservative fifties. But in the period from 1960 to 1966, GM built three production cars that tried to upend the traditional format: the rear engined 1960 Corvair, the front-wheel drive 1966 Toronado, and the 1961 Tempest. And although the Corvair and Toronado tend to get the bulk of the attention, the Tempest’s format was by far the most enduring one: it was a BMW before BMW built theirs. If only they had stuck with it.
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- Jeff S A June 22, 2020 article by Steph Willems on this website titled Foresome American Shuns Non-Crewcabs Like Never Before. To paraphrase as follows:"In the eventful 2020 model year, it seems the buying public has never had less use for once-common body styles. It’s four doors, or get lost.According to data posted by JATO Dynamics, the 2020 model year — thus far — has seen the take rate of regular and extended cab trucks sink to new lows. In the U.S., crew cab pickups made up 83.1 percent of 2020MY pickups sold through May of this year. That’s up from 77.8 percent for the 2019 model year, and a significant jump from the 69 percent seen back in the hazy, long-forgotten year of 2016.""In Canada, a full 88.9 percent of 2020 pickup rolling stock has been crew cab in nature, once again showing that, despite their tireless environmental smugness, Canadians like their trucks a lot. Last year’s take was just 80.5 percent, and 2016 shows crew cabs eating up 79 percent of the market. A big gain for 2020, clearly." 'For the current model year, regular cab pickups made up only 3 percent of the U.S. mix, down from 6.6 percent in 2016. Extended cabs account for 14 percent of sales in the U.S., down from 18.7 percent in 2019 and 24.4 percent in 2016.''In Canada, extended cabs make up 9.6 percent of the market, meaning that true two-door, backseat-lacking models account for just 1.5 percent of all pickup sales. That’s half that of the United States.'Vulpine I found this article and even though I agree with you this article gives a compelling reason why manufacturers are not offer regular and extended cabs. Manufacturers have been simplifying and cutting costs offer less variations in body styles, colors, and limiting more options to higher trim packages.
- 3SpeedAutomatic "...to make room for reality TV reruns..."What an insult!! Shows how far broadcast TV will stoop for a few extra bucks.I much appreciate Jay for keeping the "motor head" world alive in a Zoom society. However, maybe it's time for him to retire or semi-retire. There's enough material for him to do YouTube with most auto related companies willing to underwrite....but the number of shows would be at his own pace.I wish him well!!
- Gregtwelve I had an '88 Turbo Coupe with 5 spd bought used and really liked it. I loved the looks, it had decent power for the time and a nice interior. Unfortunately the head gasket went at around 60K miles. I repaired it myself and sold it.
- Mattwc1 I bought a Maverick specifically because I wanted utility and great fuel economy. My wife has a RAV4 hybrid that we really like. I think Toyota would print money with a smaller RAV4 based truck.
- Varezhka Dunno. Looking at Maverick and Santa Cruz, having the engine in the front of the driver and a crew cab layout will mean the rear bed will be about the same size as kei trucks. And it will still be more than 16ft long. I'd rather get a Tacoma and/or a Hilux at that point.If we actually want a small truck with usable bed, it will have to be cab over layout with standard cab like Toyota TownAce Truck. We already know how popular that would be, even without getting into federal safety requirements.