By on December 16, 2019

2020 Nissan Sentra

I was focusing on the road while piloting the 2020 Nissan Sentra down the canyon roads just outside Los Angeles, yet somehow I didn’t notice the previous-generation Sentra headed in the opposite direction that my drive partner pointed out.

In fact, I had a hard time even picturing in my head what the outgoing Sentra looks like. That’s because, like the cheaper Versa, the old Sentra had become quite forgettable.

And just like the newest Versa, the newest Sentra is actually memorable again.

(Read More…)

By on November 22, 2019

Taking a moment away from my cheese sandwich, I looked at the countdown. Only four more minutes. Four minutes were all that separated me from Tesla Motors’ live unveiling of Cybertruck. Another bite while I checked my phone messages; just two minutes left now. Dear Lord, was I ready? Needing to calm myself, I poured a glass of cold water, drinking most of it before splashing a bit on my face. Thirty seconds. Things were serious now. Pretty soon, Elon Musk was going to appear and change the face of motoring once again. This will be the automotive announcement by which all others will be measured for weeks.

An ominous horn sounded as my screen illuminated to show me a blood-red stage. This was it. It was like they were announcing the first Terminator. Dark music subsided to a rowdy crowd, as a hologram told us we were addicted to oil. The solution? Cybertruck. Fashionable. Functional. Electric. Elon Musk walked out on stage like God Himself. Everyone started screaming. Humble, he chatted briefly with the front row.

“We need something different,” said after accusing all other truck models to be largely indistinguishable.

Then Cybertruck blasted on stage and I couldn’t believe what I saw.  (Read More…)

By on November 21, 2019

daimler ag

Before long, there’ll be hip-hop songs written about what went on in the back of Mercedes-Maybach’s largest offering.

Revealed Thursday, the Mercedes-Maybach GLS 600 4Matic is essentially a Mercedes-Benz GLS that’s been to finishing school, put on airs, and is now ready to float above the riff-raff at a cruising altitude of 40,000 feet, sipping on champagne all the way. The automaker provides the silver flutes for just such a drinking experience, as well as the (three-bottle) fridge.

Interestingly, Mercedes-Maybach’s product boss implied that the vehicle’s customers might be used to viewing the world from such a lofty height. (Read More…)

By on November 21, 2019

Kia’s Seltos was probably the worst-kept secret at the 2019 LA Auto Show. Hyundai Motor Group had already confirmed it as a global model earlier this year, teased it numerous times, and featured it on a gigantic banner outside the Los Angeles Convention Center prior to its official debut. But Kia still managed to surprise us.

Along with the U.S.-spec version of the Seltos, Kia also paraded two off-road concepts meant to preview future offerings. Positioned above the Soul, the new crossover is basically an oversized subcompact aimed at fleshing out the brand’s “SUV” lineup. While mostly conventional, it does offer some of the industry’s hottest trends (hidden pillars, contrasting roof, butch plastic cladding, etc) with enough attitude of its own to remain semi-distinctive. Most of that comes from a presumed ruggedness, enhanced by the brand’s edgy marketing.

Kia’s tagline for the vehicle is “Inspired by the Badass in You.”  (Read More…)

By on November 20, 2019

When Dodge first built a Challenger, back in 1959, it was actually a Coronet. A decade later, the car returned as the spiritual foundation of the coupe we know today. Presumably, the name is intended to represent Chrysler rising to meet the Challenges laid by rival manufacturers already building American muscle. But we can nitpick here endlessly, going back to the 1950s and giving the pentastar brand plenty of credit for going bananas on horsepower.

It would actually take decades for us to realize the Challenger’s true purpose — serving as a canvas for a hilarious number of special edition vehicles. Thankfully, they usually turn out to be fairly enjoyable and totally on brand, leaving us with little to complain about.

For the Challenger’s 50th anniversary, Fiat Chrysler Automobiles plans to offer limited production Dodges in new colors with commemorative bling. It’s basically the same recipe Ford used for the 50th Anniversary Mustang but with some additional brashness from Dodge. However, while those Fords only came in Wimbledon White and Kona Blue, the Challenger comes in every high-impact paint color FCA has at its disposal — including Gold Rush.  (Read More…)

By on November 20, 2019

Silly naming convention aside – what’s with the misplace period and the dual z’s/zeds, Volkswagen? – the Volkswagen ID. Space Vizzion Concept is meant to preview something sleek.

A drag coefficient of 0.24 is nothing to sneeze at, indeed. Had my crappy CAD designs gotten that sort of number in eighth grade, perhaps I’ve have earned an A and would be designing cars instead of writing about them.

Ahem.

(Read More…)

By on November 15, 2019

Mach E

Your humble editor made a beeline for In N’ Out Burger upon landing at LAX, as Midwesterners are wont to do, and while I munched on my meal, I discovered via the Twitterverse that the details of the Ford Mustang Mach E, which I am about to see up close tomorrow, were leaked. Spoiled, like a Hollywood movie on Reddit.

Ford flew media out to the Los Angeles Auto Show early so that we could spend time with the Mach E, all for some enterprising forum user to leak the info before showtime.

To be fair, the specs could be inaccurate, or could change. But here’s what hit the Web earlier tonight, thanks to the Mach E Forum.

(Read More…)

By on November 30, 2018

Mitsubishi e-Evolution Concept

There’s a lot of wiggle room in what constitutes a concept vehicle. While they frequently foreshadow production models, there’s nothing stopping a company from gluing together some balsa wood, throwing a lawn chair on top, and telling the press it’s scheduled for production next year. It doesn’t have to be a working car, it doesn’t have to accurately represent real-world technologies, and it doesn’t need to be taken all that seriously by the media when that’s the case.

In fact, this author doesn’t even find it particularly useful to reallocate meaningful childhood memories to free up the room needed to recall some minor detail of a fantastical vehicle that will never be manufactured. Which is why I wasn’t totally surprised when Associate Editor extraordinaire Steph Willems reminded me that Mitsubishi’s e-Evolution Concept debuted at the Tokyo Motor Show last year.

But here we are again, this time in LA, and the brand is literally pulling the sheet off it again while everyone pretends it’s new.  (Read More…)

By on November 30, 2018

After some healthy automotive foreplay, Audi finally took the wraps off its new e-tron GT Concept at the LA Auto Show. Offering the best elements of the brand’s design language, the vehicle previews a production model that’s scheduled to appear late in 2020, as well as Porsche’s upcoming Taycan EV — which will share the Audi’s drivetrain and platform.

Relatively handsome, if you like Audi sedans and oversized grilles on electric cars, the GT avoids getting overly ambitious with the futuristic styling we see on a lot of mainstream EVs. We’d call this “extremely modern” rather than some truly visionary design you’d expect from a concept car. It’s safe but not so safe that anyone should be left fretting.

However, it’s not quite the Tesla destroyer the media is eternally hunting for. Despite boasting some impressive specifications, the e-tron is roughly on par with the Model S when viewed broadly. But it should still make for healthy competition while encouraging the American brand to step up its game.  (Read More…)

By on November 29, 2018

Image: Kia

Forget about the “+” and “!” trim levels you’ve grown used to — they’re gone come the 2020 model year. For its upcoming redesign, the long-running Kia Soul subcompact (dare we call it a crossover?) grows slightly in length but much more in maturity, adopting a meaner visage and a trim roster mimicking that seen on other Kia models.

The new face, which calls to mind the Dodge Charger of all vehicles, is but one of a host of changes for 2020. One thing that doesn’t change is the model’s inherent funkiness. This thing hasn’t become staid. (Read More…)

By on November 28, 2018

Having just unveiled a rather impressive all-electric pickup for the LA Auto Show, Michigan-based automotive startup Rivian is following up with another model. Rivian’s second vehicle will be a seven-passenger SUV, called the R1S, that uses the same platform as the R1T e-pickup.

That results in the pair playing host to nearly identical specs. This isn’t a problem, as the automaker vows to provide between 300 and 562 kW (402 and 753 hp) in combined output. Range is similarly good. The company is also promising figures that would make most other electric vehicles of this size blush, especially if you opt for the bigger battery.  (Read More…)

By on November 28, 2018

Image: FCA

The midsize truck market’s explosive growth has already brought the Ford Ranger back to our spacious skies and amber waves of grain. However, Jeep thinks America the Beautiful wants a midsize truck that tackles the purple mountains’ majesties while looking down upon the fruited plains. Enter the 2020 Jeep Gladiator; the vehicle that Jeep calls the most capable midsize truck ever.

Jeep customers have been vocal about their lust for a Jeep truck ever since the Jeep Comanche ended production 25 years ago. The dream of the capability of a Wrangler in a truck package has been elusive. Customers demanding such a vehicle have been forced to fulfill their desires in the aftermarket. That is, until now. (Read More…)

By on November 27, 2018

Scheduled to make its official debut at the 2018 LA Auto Show later this week, Audi decided to unwrap the e-tron GT Concept early — bringing in  celebrity and friend of the brand Robert Downey Jr. to help do the honors.

While photos of the event were off limits, Audi was kind enough to provide a few media-approved renderings of what appears to be an A7 — sans grille — wearing the company’s signature EV camouflage. This is the e-tron GT, ready to do battle with Tesla’s Model S once Audi puts it into production. According to German outlet Bild am Sonntag, an uncamouflaged version of the concept should appear in Los Angeles on Wednesday — giving the manufacturer an opportunity to parse out the important details. However, we already have some of the pertinent specs.  (Read More…)

By on November 27, 2018

Having already revealed the updated European version, Fiat is unveiling North America’s take on the facelifted 500X. While the subcompact crossover’s official LA Auto Show debut isn’t for another day or so, FCA decided not to sit on it. Likely a wise move, as the model will assuredly be overshadowed by higher profile vehicles appearing later this week.

As with its European counterpart, the North American changes are barely noticeable. While Fiat says the exterior has been updated, with new fascias incorporating LED running lights, the tweaks aren’t immediately apparent to onlookers. In fact, most are unlikely to notice any significant changes to the model before climbing into the driver’s seat or spending some time with a corporate dossier outlining all the alterations.

Fortunately, we can give you the abridged version — a list that includes standard all-wheel drive and a new engine.  (Read More…)

By on November 26, 2018

Despite being in existence for nearly a decade, Rivian has operated in relative obscurity. However the company has finally decided to break cover by debuting its R1T electric pickup slightly ahead of the Los Angeles Auto Show. The American startup is attempting to best other EV manufacturers by filling unoccupied space on the market. While electric pickups do exist, only the Ohio-based Workhorse has a clear production plan and that’s intended to primarily serve commercial fleets.

Meanwhile, the R1T is being designed with the consumer market in mind and boasts some seriously impressive specifications.  (Read More…)

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