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Car and Driver occupies a special place in the world of automotive magazines, a position earned by a unique combination of dedication, style, technical expertise, and the ability to put our readers in the driver’s seat. Once they’re in that seat, we do our best to see that they learn something of use. And that they enjoy themselves.
Updated: 1 day 11 hours ago

Owning a New Car Will Cost You $9000 a Year, Says AAA Study

Fri, 09/13/2019 - 15:30
  • AAA has conducted a cost study on new-car ownership every year since 1950 and has just issued results for 2019—and a worksheet so you can figure your own costs.
  • New cars on average cost $9282 per year over a five-year/75,000-mile period, a 5 percent increase over 2018, says the nonprofit insurance agency.
  • Finance charges and longer loan terms contributed most to the increase.

You're not imagining it: New cars are getting more expensive. You're not just paying more once, when you take delivery, but every time you spend money to fuel, fix, finance, insure, register, and watch the car depreciate each year. According to an annual AAA study that the nonprofit insurance group has conducted since 1950, Americans spend on average $773.50 per month on new-car expenses. That's $9282 per year. Where's my raise again?

AAA calculated average costs across 45 popular 2019 models in nine categories, including sedans, SUVs, minivans, trucks, hybrids, and pure electrics. The group's methodology is pretty reasonable in estimating costs over five years or 75,000 miles, such as paying for factory-recommended maintenance, buying a comparable set of new tires, financing for 60 months with 10 percent down, and holding insurance with $100,000/$300,000 limits and a $500 deductible. Sure, your individual mileage will vary—such as how much your town dings you for property tax (which isn't factored into the study), or if you're prone to dinging other cars—but the costs are real, and they're not fun to think about.

Each mile in a new car costs anywhere from 53 to 79 cents, assuming you didn't buy a new Alfa Romeo (in which case, we hope you don't have to go entire weeks without driving at all). Annual finance charges in AAA's 2019 study surged by almost $200 due to higher federal interest rates, longer-term loans (72 months and up), and average transaction prices that are hovering close to $40,000—another number that keeps rising. New vehicles depreciate more than $3300 a year, AAA said, which accounts for more than a third of the total annual cost.

Compared to 2018, small and medium sedans depreciated less than other vehicle segments in the study. Overall, small sedans were the cheapest to own, at an estimated annual cost of $7114. EVs, despite having the lowest maintenance costs, were $8320. Everyone's favorite vehicle, the mid-size SUV, was $10,265 a year. Ask yourself: How prepared are you to pay 50 grand for a new Honda Pilot or Ford Explorer over five years?

The study doesn't include luxury or sports cars, so Tesla owners bragging how they pay nothing for electricity while they just spent $100,000 on a car won't skew the averages. AAA also doesn't account for inflation, so there's a silver lining. Even though nine grand a year is nothing to sneeze at, it's less than what drivers in 1950 had to shell out when adjusted for today's dollars. For a new car logging 10,000 miles per year, drivers back then paid on average the equivalent of today's 95 cents a mile; in 2019, it's 79 cents. Average gas prices in 1950, according to AAA, might seem cheap at an unadjusted 27 cents per gallon. But using the Department of Labor's inflation calculator to compare prices in August 1950 to August 2019 (the latest month available), it's the equivalent of $2.85 per gallon. In AAA's 2019 study, drivers paid an average of $2.68. A full list of all the cars and methodology is here.

AAA does this to remind us that cars, like homes and college and kids, require long-term planning that a dealership's monthly price won't indicate. Used cars will always be the best way to drive an almost-new car at a fraction of the price, but some of us (like this author) like burning cash on new sports cars. There's no one in AAA who can account for that.

Owners Accuse Nissan Rogue of Braking for No Reason; NHTSA Investigating

Thu, 09/12/2019 - 22:00
  • The 2017–2018 Rogue and Rogue Sport have potentially faulty emergency braking systems that can apply the brakes for no reason, according to NHTSA.
  • These false positives, in which the system intervenes to prevent a collision that isn't actually imminent, have led to at least 14 crashes.
  • Nissan has issued technical service bulletins for this problem since January.

Nissan is under investigation for collision avoidance systems on late-model Rogue models that allegedly brake the vehicles for no reason, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA).

At least 843 people have reported problems with their forward emergency braking systems on the 2017 and 2018 Rogue and Rogue Sport. The complaints, which were spurred by a petition sent by the Center for Auto Safety in March, allege that these cars apply their brakes "in cases where there was no obstruction in the path of the vehicle," according to NHTSA. Nissan and NHTSA count at least 14 crashes and five injuries related to the complaints. So far, Nissan has considered the issue strictly as a "performance update" by issuing technical service bulletins—at least three since January—that pertain to reprogramming the radar control unit, according to the agency.

CAS says the issue is safety related and should be conducted via a formal recall. If NHTSA concurs from its investigation—which at this point does not declare that a defect exists— Nissan will be forced to recall these cars and repair them all. At least 553,860 cars are potentially affected. NHTSA said it is researching if Nissan's service bulletins—which are only sent to dealers and then only performed if a customer complains of the specific problem—are sufficient.

Jeep's Hot-Selling Gladiator under Stop-Sale Order for Driveshaft Problem

Thu, 09/12/2019 - 20:36
  • Fiat Chrysler is temporarily stopping sales of the popular Jeep Gladiator pickup truck because of a manufacturing defect.
  • Certain models built between December and June may have a driveshaft joint that was built without the proper grease, NHTSA reported.
  • If the joint fails due to friction, it could cause a fracture that could lead to a crash.

Jeep's hot-selling and long-awaited Gladiator pickup truck has been on sale for just a handful of months, but it's already being recalled for a serious flaw. The recall, which was first reported by Jalopnik, is for driveshafts that were somehow manufactured without the requisite grease to keep them lubricated and has resulted in a temporary stop-sale of affected Gladiator models.

According to the recall report issued by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), the affected vehicles "may have a rear driveshaft that was assembled without grease in the monoblock joint portion of the driveshaft."

The safety concern here is due to the driveshaft's constant velocity joint, which, without the proper grease, might overheat, seize, and fracture.

"A fractured rear driveshaft could separate, which may result in loss of motive power, if the vehicle is in rear-wheel-drive mode, or potential road debris, if the driveshaft completely separates from the vehicle," NHTSA's report said. "Either condition can cause a vehicle crash without prior warning."

Luckily, only 3427 vehicles are impacted by the recall; owners of Gladiator models built between December 15 and June 25 should enter their Jeep's VIN into NHTSA's recall website to see if it is one of them. NHTSA's report indicates that Fiat Chrysler will be notifying owners on October 18 and inviting them into their local dealership for the repair, which will involve swapping the driveshaft and its CV joint for one that has been verified to be assembled with the correct amount of grease.

2020 Cadillac CT4 Sedan Lineup Comes into Focus

Thu, 09/12/2019 - 17:00
  • Cadillac showed the new CT4 sedan in CT4-V form earlier this year, and now it's sharing details for the entire CT4 lineup.
  • A 237-hp turbocharged 2.0-liter four-cylinder will power CT4 models below the CT4-V.
  • The new CT4 models will be available to order "later this year," and Super Cruise semi-automated driving will become available in calendar year 2020, Cadillac says.

When Cadillac introduced the medium-performance 2020 CT4-V in May, it assured us that details regarding the rest of the CT4 lineup would follow. Now, with summer on the wane and winter looming, Cadillac is finally filling in the blanks on how the trim and powertrain particulars will sort out when the order books open later this year. The CT4, you'll remember, is essentially a rebodied and updated version of the previous ATS sedan that now sits under the CT5 and CT6 in Caddy's sedan portfolio.

The CT4-V, or "V-series CT4," as Cadillac sometimes refers to it, will be joined by three additional trim levels: Luxury, Premium Luxury, and Sport. All share the same Alpha rear-wheel-drive platform (AWD is available across the lineup), and the defining elements come down to powertrain, suspension, cosmetic, and technology options and variations.

A turbocharged 2.0-liter inline four-cylinder joins lineup as a supporting player to the turbocharged 2.7-liter inline-four fitted to the CT4-V. Rated at 237 horsepower and 258 lb-ft of torque and relying on an eight-speed automatic transmission for gear swaps, the 2.0-liter is standard kit on the Luxury, Premium Luxury, and Sport trims. It wears a "350T" badge in accordance with Cadillac's new torque-based naming scheme, as 258 lb-ft corresponds to 350 newton-meters of torque.

Buyers looking for a little additional grunt can spec the available 2.7-liter four-cylinder and 10-speed automatic in the Premium Luxury trim, with one caveat: to maintain the pecking order, the 2.7-liter in the Premium Luxury is detuned slightly to 309 horsepower and 348 lb-ft of torque in comparison to the beefy 325 hp and 380 lb-ft it produces in the CT4-V. Active Fuel Management, automatic stop/start, and a three-step sliding camshaft design provide both engines with the potential for improved efficiency.

Four drive modes—Tour, Sport, Snow/Ice, and Track—are said to alter the calibrations for transmission shifting, steering and brake feel, front/rear torque split with AWD, vehicle sound characteristics, and other vehicle attributes as well as the suspension—when equipped with the adaptive dampers, we assume. However, Cadillac hasn't yet detailed the specific parameters as they relate to each trim. A new "My" mode lets drivers personalize their settings, and the V-series has a V mode, which is presumably is the most aggressive.

All trims share the same front-strut-type independent rear suspension, but rear-wheel-drive versions of the V-series car get GM's lauded Magnetic Ride Control 4.0 active damping and a mechanical limited-slip rear differential. Bosch supplies the electric power steering with variable assist; the CT4-V gets specific calibration.

Speaking of turning, the turning radius is 37.1 feet with rear-wheel drive and 38.0 feet with all-wheel drive. Braking hardware gets divvied up accordingly: The Luxury and Premium Luxury trims get 11.8-inch front rotors, while the Sport and CT4-V trims have 12.6-inch front rotors with Brembo six-piston fixed front calipers. All trims get 12.4-inch rear rotors.

Wheel and tire matchups include 17-inch aluminum wheels with 225/45 all-season Continental self-sealing tires on the Luxury, 18-inch aluminum wheels with your choice of 235/40 all-season or self-sealing run-flat tires on the Premium Luxury, and 235/40 all-season run-flat tires on the Sport. A set of 235/40 summer performance tires is standard on the V-series, but the buyers may specify the all-season run-flats with all-wheel-drive models.

Standard equipment across the lineup includes keyless entry and push-button start, a dual driving-information display, a leather-wrapped steering wheel, dual-zone climate control, LED interior lighting, premium audio, and an HD rearview camera. Premium Luxury trim adds leather-trimmed seating and some safety tech; Sport adds dark exterior graphics, body-color door handles and rear spoiler, transparent rear taillamp lenses, synthetic-trimmed (leather is available) bolstered "sport" seating, a sport steering wheel with magnesium shift paddles, and alloy pedals. V-series trim brings a Carbon Flash dark-finish front grille surround, four trapezoid-shaped exhaust tips, and V logos all over the place, form the front doorsill and floor mats to the front brake calipers. Bose premium audio and wireless charging round out the V-series interior upgrades.

As expected, the CT4 will utilize GM's new digital vehicle platform to take full advantage of high-speed signal transmission, over-the-air updates, and evolving cybersecurity measures. Cadillac's much ballyhooed Super Cruise will be available in in the 2020 calendar year.

GM said the new CT4 will be available to order "later this year." Let's hope it's before the snow flies.

Did a Tesla Model S Really Set a Lap Record at Laguna Seca?

Thu, 09/12/2019 - 16:01
  • Tesla released a video showing a Model S running a 1:36.6 at WeatherTech Raceway Laguna Seca, which would be a production-four-door lap record.
  • The car used in the record attempt is not in production yet, although we suspect it will be offered for sale in the near future.
  • Manufacturers routinely make lap record claims, but there is no sanctioning organization to validate the credibility of their claims.

Elon Musk's track record of grand overstatements and broken promises has many observers casting doubt on his claim that a Tesla Model S set the four-door lap record at Laguna Seca. But Musk's boast that the Model S ran a 1:36.6 lap holds water as much as Porsche’s recent claim that its new electric Taycan circled the Nürburgring in 7:42. There’s nothing “official” about either time.

Official lap records can only be set during sanctioned events with an officiating body—in other words, during races and the practice and qualifying sessions that accompany them. There is no such thing as an official production-car lap record, because no organization or protocol exists to validate such attempts. Tesla's Model S record claim is hardly different than when companies such as Porsche, Lamborghini, and Chevrolet tout Nürburgring Nordschleife lap times. And Tesla's record is no more or less official than that of Jaguar, which formerly held the fast time for a four-door production car at Laguna Seca with the XE SV Project 8.

*~ Some personal news ~*

We lapped Laguna Seca @WeatherTechRcwy in 1:36.555 during advanced R&D testing of our Model S Plaid powertrain and chassis prototype

(That’s a second faster than the record for a four-door sedan) pic.twitter.com/OriccK4KCZ

— Tesla (@Tesla) September 12, 2019

Keyboard scrutineers are also pointing out that the Tesla Model S used in the record attempt is not a production vehicle, as Musk admits the car had three motors and the company only sells versions with two motors. In all likelihood, the car used in claiming the record is a Model S Plaid, a six-figure, high-performance version named after a Star Wars spoof that's middle-school funny. The Laguna Seca car is at least similar, if not identical, to the Model S spotted testing at the Nürburgring, and we're fairly certain that it will enter production in the near future. Assuming that's the case, Musk's sin is merely jumping the gun on making the announcement, but not necessarily conducting the record run.

We'll likely never know whether the record Model S is representative of what customers will be able to buy, or if it was meaningfully modified. Without independent verification of lap times and scrutiny of the vehicles used in these unofficial record attempts, we're left to take manufacturers at their word. Reputable manufacturers agree that record-setting production vehicles should wear the same tires that are available to customers from the factory, but even that low standard is easily (and probably more often than we know) ignored. Car and Driver's annual Lightning Lap track test is an antidote to questionable record claims, providing third-party objectivity and allowing the track performance of more than 200 vehicles to be directly compared.

Ideally, production-car records should be established with an unmodified car built on the same assembly line as the production vehicles and badged with a valid VIN (vehicle identification number). The vehicle should make the same power and torque as production models and wear tires that are available from the factory. The suspension alignment should be reproducible on any production version of that model, and all of the original equipment such as insulation, seats, glass, and air conditioning should be intact. If there are safety improvements, such as a roll cage, they shouldn't offer a substantial performance advantage. Given the escalating frequency and often suspect credibility of production-car record claims, it's about time someone wrote up a business plan for a neutral third-party sanctioning organization to track and validate the manufacturers' claims. Or you could just copy and paste this story.

Why Racing Stripes Cost $10,000 on the 2020 Ford Mustang Shelby GT500

Thu, 09/12/2019 - 15:35
  • The 2020 Ford Mustang Shelby GT500 has optional painted-on racing stripes that cost $10,000, and when we spec'd the car for a story, we chose them.
  • Available in black, blue, and white, the stripes cost 10 times as much as the stick-on vinyl stripes Ford also offers on the GT500.
  • Due to the labor-intensive application process, Ford is limiting the option.

Want to inflate the 2020 Ford Mustang Shelby GT500's $73,995 base price by 14 percent with only one option? Buy the optional painted-on racing stripes, of course! They cost $10,000, which seems, um, decadent for a non-performance-enhancing feature on a pony car's option sheet.

But wait, you might be asking: What's the going rate for factory-applied stripes these dayd? The GT500's option sheet provides insight by way of its available stick-on vinyl stripes, which run $1000. On the less powerful GT350, those same vinyl stripes cost $495. Curious what the 1000 percent markup for the GT500's painted-on versions was all about, we reached out to Ford for clarification.

Apparently, the stripes are hand painted onto GT500s so ordered. Per a company spokesperson, the stripe job is "hand-prepped, painted, and then clear-coated." He adds that "Due to the specialized nature of the process, [Ford has] a very limited production capacity." Indeed.

Even though we've yet to experience these hand-painted stripes firsthand, we can say that stripe aficionados shouldn't dismiss their $10,000 price out of hand. Being integral with the car's paint job, the stripes shouldn't peel or start to come off, as those cheaper vinyl ones did on our 2017 Mustang Shelby GT350 test car. (The decals began forming bubbles beneath their surfaces and peeling up at their edges after less than a year.) Granted, that car lived in salty, harsh Michigan—but so does the Ford Motor Company. Our point, besides still feeling salty over our GT350's failed stripes? Get the painted-on stripes if you seek racing-stripe object permanence. They're available in the same colors as the vinyl pieces: black, blue, or white.

Tesla Posts Video Claiming Model S Has Set Fastest-Four-Door Record in Laguna Seca Testing

Thu, 09/12/2019 - 01:20
  • Tesla has posted a short video on Twitter, claiming that a Model S has set a record for fastest four-door, with a time of 1:36.555 at the Laguna Seca racetrack.
  • He didn't give a time, specs on the Model S used in the attempt, or any other information, but he did promise a video is coming this week.
  • Meanwhile, Musk has dialed back on his claim that a Model S will contest the Porsche Taycan's time at the Nürburgring.

9/11/19, 9:30 p.m.: This story has been updated with the video below and the statement from Tesla via a spokesperson and on Twitter that the driver of the Model S in the video was "an amateur driver."

*~ Some personal news ~*

We lapped Laguna Seca @WeatherTechRcwy in 1:36.555 during advanced R&D testing of our Model S Plaid powertrain and chassis prototype

(That’s a second faster than the record for a four-door sedan) pic.twitter.com/OriccK4KCZ

— Tesla (@Tesla) September 12, 2019

Confusion still hangs in the air over Elon Musk’s most recent claims on Twitter. But that hasn’t stopped Musk from making a new round of not entirely clear pronouncements on his favored social-media channel.

Model S just set record for fastest 4 door ever at Laguna Seca, video tmrw

— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) September 11, 2019

Musk tweeted last night that the Tesla Model S had just taken the lap record for four-door production cars at California's WeatherTech Raceway Laguna Seca. He provided no information regarding the specification of the record-breaking Model S or the lap time it achieved. A Tesla representative told C/D "more details" will be forthcoming, although when is not yet clear. Musk claimed on Twitter that a video will be released on Thursday, September 12.

Last night's claim comes hot on the heels of Musk's announcement that a Model S would soon be at the Nürburgring Nordschleife. This was seen as an apparent response to Porsche's recent announcement of its production electric-car lap record with the Taycan Turbo S at the storied German racetrack, an impression strengthened by his goading of Porsche for its use of the word "turbo" as part of the name of its electric car. Technically, Musk never said the car would be at the 'Ring to attempt a record run. And, indeed, after Nürburgring sources noted that Tesla did not have exclusive use of the track this week, something required for a record run, Musk tweeted that the company " . . . probably won't try for a best lap time this week . . ."

But we probably won’t try for best lap time this week, as we need to review & tune Model S thoroughly for safety on Nürburgring, especially Flugplatz section

— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) September 11, 2019

Musk added that Tesla would need to "review & tune" the Model S for safety at the Nürburgring. There's no doubt that the 'Ring is a potentially very dangerous place. Automakers do sometimes add safety gear to their cars for lap times there. Porsche noted that its Taycan Turbo S record car was fitted with a racing seat to protect the driver. The company claims, though, that the car, while a pre-production example, was otherwise entirely stock with regard to its hard- and software.

It should be noted that Nürburgring lap times are self-reported by carmakers and are not subject to the scrutiny of any sanctioning body. So, buyer beware.

Porsche says it welcomes the competition. The company's president and CEO for North America told CNET: "Anyone who’s trying to go [to the Nürburgring] to see how you're doing, we have great respect for. We love the competition."

And it appears, if tweets are to be believed, that there will be more competition there. Musk added that the Tesla Roadster would be making the trip to the ‘Ring next year.

California Could Soon Reclassify Uber and Other Ride-Share Drivers as Employees, Not Contractors

Thu, 09/12/2019 - 01:00
  • California's Uber drivers, DoorDash deliverers, and other members of the "gig economy" could soon become employees instead of independent contractors.
  • Assembly Bill 5, passed by the California Senate on Tuesday, and expected to be signed into law, would require such app-based services to treat (and pay) these workers as full-time employees. It would go into effect on January 1, 2020.
  • California estimates it loses $7 billion per year in tax revenue from companies misclassifying employees as contractors.

Within months, some of the hundreds of thousands of Californians who drive for ride-sharing and delivery services might see their phone alerts go silent. On the other hand, they stand to gain a lot in benefits and protection.

That's because California Assembly Bill 5, which on Tuesday passed the California Senate 29–11, would reclassify potentially a million or more contractors as full-time employees. The bill, backed by labor unions, is headed back to the assembly and then expected to pass by Friday to Gov. Gavin Newsom, a Democrat who intends to sign the bill despite strict opposition from companies like Uber, Lyft, Seamless, DoorDash, and other Silicon Valley tech companies. The law would take effect on January 1, 2020.

Drivers have been split between remaining as independent contractors or lobbying to become full-time, unionized employees. Many of these companies, particularly Uber, have come under fire for compensating drivers unfairly for their time, classifying these drivers as "customers" in financial reports, and setting too many rules and restrictions on contractors—some of whom work full-time hours without benefits or state-mandated protections of full-time positions like unemployment insurance and sick leave.

Democrats in the California legislature want action—not to mention more tax revenue. In 2018, five years after a California class-action lawsuit demanded Uber pay damages to 385,000 contractors who allegedly should have been classified as employees, an appeals court reduced damages to fewer than 14,000 Uber drivers. California estimates it loses $7 billion per year in tax revenue from companies misclassifying employees as contractors. Indeed, despite the fact that tax laws require contractors to pay income tax and a federal self-employment (the employer's contribution to Social Security), one of the first several lines justifying Assembly Bill 5 is to reduce the "loss to the state of needed revenue from companies that use misclassification to avoid obligations."

The bill carves out dozens of exemptions for specific industries, which Lyft has said it would use to overturn the law next year.

"The fact that there were more than 50 industries carved out of AB5 is very telling," the company said to Vox. "We are fully prepared to take this issue to the voters of California to preserve the freedom and access drivers and riders want and need."

At issue for California Democrats is the standard "ABC" test that federal labor laws require employers to review before they can classify a hire as a contractor or an employee. Generally as it stands nationwide, a job where someone can choose to set their own hours, negotiate their own rates, and otherwise produce work for multiple clients without control over their everyday schedules is potentially a contract position. The lines can blur—as they have now in California—as companies from all industries try balancing their payroll costs (full-time employees) with tax-deductible expenses (contractors). For tech companies like Uber which rely heavily on contractors, have never budgeted en masse for employee benefits, and are usually unprofitable, the new bill could send their businesses spiraling.

The bill is unlike any other labor regulation currently in force. Gov. Newsom said he is open to negotiations with the tech companies that have made California rich—for better or worse, depending on your opinion—before signing it into law.

C/D Joins Land Rover Designers for an Analysis of the 2020 Defender

Wed, 09/11/2019 - 21:00

There are few icons in the automotive industry as lauded as the Land Rover Defender, and the new, next-gen 2020 Defender has just been unveiled at the Frankfurt auto show to a great deal of world attention. C/D talked there with the designers responsible for bringing the Defender to life.

For Gerry McGovern, Land Rover's chief design officer, the mission was clear, if not easy: respect the deep heritage while propelling the Defender forward and widening its appeal.

"It's embracing all the relevant technologies for a world that's changing and has changed massively. It's got up-to-the-minute connectivity, the body structure is state of the art, it's got the stiffness as strong as anything you can mention," McGovern tells Car and Driver. "It has the packaging for ergonomics, all embraced in a shape that pays homage, but it's a modern vehicle. There's an elemental quality, but still sophisticated."

The foremost challenge, according to McGovern, was to make sure his team didn't overdesign. "No silliness on the design," he emphasizes. "Not letting the car grow more than it needed to. At Land Rover we've had a lot of success, so it's proving by success. When vehicles have done well financially, it gives people confidence."


To get a sense of the Defender, we first took a walk around it with Land Rover's chief exterior designer, Andy Wheel. For him, Defender really begins with the silhouette, specifically the side view. "Even with the drapes on, before we take the covers off, people go, 'Oh, I know that's a Land Rover.' "

Wheel says elements like the chamfered edge of the very horizontal roof, the sheer vertical rear end, the windshield—which sits prominently angled upright for a modern car—and the definitively horizontal hood are all strong cues that clue people to its purpose. Add in the front end and short front overhangs, and it's clear what this vehicle is about. "You put all those together and you get this silhouette which makes it click for people. [They see it as] inherently a good all-terrain vehicle, and it is absolutely Land Rover."

Wheel says the clearly delineated horizontal nature of the Defender is essential. "We have horizontal lines dividing the roof from the glass, from the lower part of the car, and then everything else. It's all about these very clean but very sophisticated surfaces which send those subliminal messages that say: looks tough, is tough."

The front is a strong departure from the old car, with a reductive, single-bar grille that McGovern believes gives it a modern aesthetic. Familiar round headlights act as a bridge, although now fitted with LED technology. Wheel points out that the headlights are set back as well so it looks like a frown, suggesting cars are very anthropomorphic, often with defined faces. The metallic plates that break up the the hood "make it look like the car has been hewn from solid."

Heading around to the back, you can see very constructed wheel arches. The longer-wheelbase model, the 110, gets the square graphic above the rear wheel, though you can delete that on the short-wheelbase 90s.

"That's to anchor the roof to the body. There's nothing purer than a square; it's the most honest shape. So we've put it on this car to drape the two areas together, to almost magnetize the roof to where we have this glass running all the way through. On the 90 you can have all glass, but some people, especially in the rear, like to have a bit more privacy, and some people will want that visual view all the way through."

Wheel insists the rear end posed a real challenge, because vehicles are not often launched with a spare wheel in the back. "It's very rare, and those cars that are out there tend to be facelifts of facelifts or a refresh of a refresh of a refresh, something that was homologated in the '90s. But if you place the tire anywhere else, you'd need to change the proportions, it would be a much less elegant vehicle, and you would lose off-road capability. So it was a case of we're not going to do the easy thing, we're going to do the right thing. And that was our mantra throughout the whole of this vehicle. Do what respects the past, while looking into the future."

And since those other cars were designed, lighting regulations have changed across the globe, requiring you have to have taillight visibility, 45 degrees on either side, and visibility when the tailgate is open.

"We have the two main vertical taillamps, like an old Defender—they're not squares, they're not circles, we call them 'squircles'—but then that did not meet the legal requirements. So these little lights here which have the indicators and stop function meet the legal requirements, and what it's given us is this unique identity. When you see this car from behind you will know it can only be the new Defender, because it's got this unique arrangement of lights in the back."

While the 110 we're walking around—the same one that Land Rover has been driving around for a year, and drove in Kazakhstan for its promotional launch video—is fitted with 20-inch wheels, Defender can be optioned with 18-inch steelies like on the stripped-down commercial model, or even 22s.

For Wheel, he says his favorite feature is actually on the inside: the third seat in the first row. "The fact that we've done the three-across seat, like the very first Land Rover in 1948," he tells us, "makes it a much more sociable car. Most of the time it's three people in cars rather than four or five. So with that we haven't got two people in the front, and one person consigned to the back. It plays into the car as an enabler to live your life and do it in a social way."

McGovern says that's also a favorite feature, insisting that he would spec one for himself fitted with the three-seat front-row. Specifically, a First Edition with black wheels, green exterior, a white roof, and the center optional seat.

One of the unique things about the Defender—we've now seen half-a-dozen different Defenders in-person, not to mention many photos of the car—is that each one offers a different visual read. We wondered if this was intentional. For example the Defender we did the walkaround with looks distinctly different from the two-tone versions on the show floor, and the 90 has quite a different feel than the 110. Some look more rugged, others more sleek.

"Yes that's very much intentional," Wheel says. "We want the car to be treated as a blank canvas whether the owner be the first, or fifth, or sixth, they can personalize it in their own way. They can make it fit for whatever purpose they are looking for, whether that be urban use or professional all-terrain."

For McGovern, this fits the ethos of his latest project perfectly. "There's a super poster in the early days of Defender that shows it in various proliferations, in a lot of utilities: electricity board, gas board, ambulance, forestry commission, fire truck. And you can argue that this isn't necessarily going that way, but we've seen the proliferation of the different lifestyles that people are getting involved in now, that are different than years and years ago. Cycling, hiking, climbing, and on, whatever it is. And this thing bridges all of those. The personalities set out for Defender—Explorer, Adventure, Country, and Urban—span those different lifestyles. And with 170 accessories, there's a lot of thought going into all of that stuff."

This applies to the interior as well, where you can configure a forthcoming Commercial Defender 90 with as few as just two seats, or a 110 with three rows and as many as seven seats. The range and possibilities of customization are numerous. McGovern recalls an expression that says that no two Defenders are alike, and he admits that while that may have been an exaggeration, if you really want a unique one, that's very possible to do. The Defender 110 will arrive in the U.S. this coming spring.

Porsche Cayman GT4 RS Spied Looking Menacing and Ready for Track Duty

Wed, 09/11/2019 - 20:40
  • The future RS version of the Porsche Cayman GT4 would be expected to employ a naturally aspirated flat-six engine producing in excess of 450 horsepower.
  • Defining elements shown in these spy photos include a bold rear wing, NACA ducts on the hood, and louvers on the rear quarter-windows.
  • Expect it to debut in the fall of 2020.

Talk about synchronicity. Just hours after Frank Steffen-Walliser, Porsche head of sports cars, told Autocar that Porsche is considering a Cayman GT4 RS, our wily spy photographers checked in with this set of photos depicting what appears to be a 718 Cayman GT4 RS undergoing testing.

We can't say these events come as a surprise, as the GT4 RS has been rumored since the 2020 718 Cayman GT4 was revealed earlier this year. Porsche indicated at the time, unofficially of course, that the GT4's 414-hp 4.0-liter flat-six held some untapped potential even without resorting to forced induction. While it's anyone's guess how much could reliably be milked from the engine, estimates of 450 horsepower are likely within reach.

As for transmission choices, the GT4 RS could go either way; the 718 Cayman GT4 is offered exclusively with a six-speed manual transmission, but the GT3 RS gets a PDK as the sole option. We’re leaning toward the latter, as the fast and intuitive action of the PDK makes it a natural for track duty.

In addition to the louvers—which could be temporarily mounted over the windows or outright replace them— along with the NACA ducts and a boisterous rear wing that appears to be suspended by universal struts to allow for various positioning options, we expect the Porsche to try and trim some weight wherever possible to make the GT4 RS as quick as possible. We also expect slight tweaks in the steering suspension and braking departments, although the extent of these items is not clear from the spy photos.

If everything goes according to expectations, look for the Cayman GT4 RS to appear in the fall of 2020 with a price significantly higher than the $100,450 ask of the 2020 718 Cayman GT4.

2020 Land Rover Defender Lego Technic Kit Has High to Low Gears and Working Winch

Wed, 09/11/2019 - 18:33
  • New 2020 Defender Lego Technic kit was unveiled alongside the real SUV at the Frankfurt auto show.
  • The kit is based on the short-wheelbase 90 variant of the revived, ultra-rugged SUV.
  • It costs $200 and will be available on October 1.

Earlier this summer, U.K. retailer Smyths prematurely posted a listing for a 2020 Land Rover Defender Lego Technic set, which had us on the edge of our seats for the return of the off-road SUV as well as its toy counterpart. Now, the full details of the set have been revealed alongside the actual SUV at the Frankfurt auto show. And this is one of the most functional Lego sets yet.

The kit, part of the more difficult and complex Technic lineup, has 2573 pieces, and the final build looks pretty close to the real thing. The Lego Defender sits on the Style 6010 six-spoke rims, has authentic body panels, a fully independent suspension, and a four-wheel-drive system with three differentials and operable steering. No surprise here.

But here is where it gets impressive: Under the hood is a working six-cylinder engine with a functional valvetrain, a gearbox with a switchable high to low range via two selectors in the interior, and you get a working winch, roof rack, and storage boxes from the Adventure Pack. We’re not sure what more you could want.

When assembled, the steering wheel can be moved via a gear on the roof, the hood is opened manually with the winch cable being pulled back in with a gear inside the engine bay, the transmission is revealed by flipping the rear seat forward, and the trunk is opened by twisting the spare tire.

The Defender joins a lineup of Technic models, which includes cars such as the Bugatti Chiron, Chevrolet Corvette ZR-1, and Porsche 911 GT3 RS. The set will cost $200 and will be available to buy online on October 1, 2019. Hey, you can't buy the 90 in the U.S. for another year, since only the longer-wheelbase 110 is coming here at launch—another reason to want this Lego kit.

How We'd Spec It: 2020 Ford Mustang Shelby GT500

Wed, 09/11/2019 - 12:00

The 2020 Ford Mustang Shelby GT500 configurator is finally up and running. We were looking forward to learning how much it would cost to buy our preferred spec of the most powerful Mustang ever, so we headed over to Ford's website to build and price our own GT500.

The 760-hp fire breather from Dearborn starts at $73,995 and comes standard with a seven-speed dual-clutch automatic transmission paired to a 5.2-liter supercharged V-8 that's derived from the magnificent Voodoo engine found on the GT350 and GT350R. The standard features list includes Michelin Pilot Sport 4S tires, 20-inch aluminum wheels, active exhaust, launch control, and a 12-inch customizable driver display. But this is the no-frills variant we're talking about here, which is less expensive than the 2020 GT350R from the perspective of base price.

Model We’d Choose
  • GT500

In our spec, we’d add the $18,500 Carbon Fiber Track Pack, a semester of college tuition worth of go-fast goodies. The package includes 20-inch exposed carbon fiber wheels, wheel locks, Michelin Sport Cup 2 tires, exposed carbon fiber GT4 rear wing, exposed carbon fiber instrument panel, splitter wickers, a rear seat delete, and Recaro leather-trimmed seats. The upgraded hardware will help the GT500 lose weight and set some blistering lap times and run even quicker at the drag strip, so they are essentials. Sure we get rid of rear seats, but who needs them?

The other package we would add on is the $3000 Technology package, which tacks on a 12-speaker system with a subwoofer by Bang and Olufsen, a CD player and HD radio, blind-spot monitoring with cross-traffic alert, heated exterior mirrors with integrated turn signals, and LED door-projector courtesy puddle lamps (in the shape of the Shelby Cobra), voice-activated touchscreen navigation, SiriusXM satellite radio with Travel Link, and a three-setting memory seat, but only if you don’t have the Carbon Fiber Track Pack. This package is great because of the creature comforts that come with it, like the blind-spot monitoring and hands-free voice-activated navigation. We probably won't use the speaker system, though, and we'll let the tailpipes serenade us instead.
As far as color choices go, we’d pick the Grabber Lime, for the sake of making sure no one misses us as we fly past. It’s also a no-cost option, unlike the Twister Orange color, which costs an extra $495. We’ll save that money for gas, thank you very much. The other paint option we’d go for is the $10,000 Absolute Black painted racing stripes, which complement the green quite nicely.

Options We’d Pick
  • Carbon Fiber Track Pack ($18,500)
  • Technology Pack ($3000)
  • Grabber Lime ($0)
  • Absolute Black Painted Racing Stripes ($10,000)

So equipped, our car comes to $105,495. Is this a bit much? Perhaps, but just take a look at the car: it looks like it eats commuters for breakfast, racetracks for lunch, and drag strips for dinner. We can’t wait to get behind the wheel of the GT500 and see if it lives up to the hype.

Sportsmobile Turns Ford's Classic E-Series into a Rugged Camping Rig

Tue, 09/10/2019 - 22:00
  • Built on Ford's E-350 chassis cab cutaway, the Sportsmobile Classic 4x4 Overlander looks the business.
  • This is not just a cosmetic package; it features tried-and-true driveline and suspension hardware from well-respected vendors.
  • This Sportsmobile van is capable, unique, specialized, and it's priced specially high to match.

Ford pulled the plug on its venerated E-series van in 2014, but the crafty artisans at Sportsmobile have found way to the keep the spirit of the Econoline alive in the form of the Classic 4x4 Overlander.

While the Transit took over for the E-series vans, Ford continued to offer the old-school E-series in chassis cab form to serve RV and commercial upfitters who appreciate the E-series' rugged ladder frame and familiar running gear. Sportsmobile (which has been around since 1961) did a little figuring and realized it could re-create that iconic E-series bodywork while incorporating numerous improvements to meet the needs of the overlanding community. Constructed of steel reinforced fiberglass bodywork from the cab back, the Classic 4x4 features a roof-mounted pop-up, retractable "penthouse."

Ford's aging 6.8-liter modular V-10 is the recommended engine choice, but the order sheet indicates the 6.2-liter V-8 is also available at a $350 discount; both use the Torqshift six-speed automatic transmission. Sportsmobile doesn't mention it, but it's likely that the recently announced Ford Godzilla 7.3-liter V-8 will supersede both in coming months.

From there on out, Sportsmobile outfits the Classic 4x4 with a comprehensive list of equipment from some of the most respected names in the off-road biz. An Advance Adapter Atlas II gear-driven transfer case (3.0 or 3.8:1 gear ratio) distributes the torque to a Dynatrac ProRock 60 front axle, with a Dana 60 in the rear and a 4.10:1 gear ratio. There's a choice of an open, limited-slip, or locking differential. Spicer 1350 one-ton-rated driveline components provide durability, and the beefed-up brake rotors are sourced from Ford's F-550 truck. A set of Fox 2.0 Performance Series dampers keep body motion under control while permitting travel, and 285/70R-17 BFGoodrich All-Terrain tires scramble for grip. Optional equipment includes front and rear ARB air-lockers ($2085 front, $2675 rear), a rear sway bar, a full-floating rear axle, and an onboard compressed-air supply for airing tires, running tools, and other dirty work.

All told, this is a nearly 20-foot long, 7.8-foot-tall camper-type vehicle with 16.5 inches of ground clearance and a 44-degree approach angle that can tow 10,000 pounds, specs that put it in a very tiny subsegment of vehicles.

According to Sportsmobile's latest figures, an E-350 cutaway with the V-10 starts at $32,850. The recommended option package (power locks and windows, a headliner, captain's chairs, and insulation) adds $1950. Sportsmobile asks $36,195 to fit it with the Classic body with penthouse top, Line-X exterior paint, and Bushwacker flares. The baseline four-wheel-drive package, which would be a crime to omit, is $20,945, bringing the total to $91,940.

The caveat, of course, is that you now have a nearly $100,000 four-wheel-drive van without an interior. Spending that kind of money to camp out in a sleeping bag on a cold floor seems silly to us, so you'll want to budget approximately $35,000 to $45,000 to kit out the interior, bringing the final price to around $140,000 just for starters.

The options, like the big sky you will ostensibly soon be bedding down under, are seemingly limitless. If this luxury vagabond lifestyle sounds appealing, head on over to the Sportsmobile (Since 1961!) website and get busy.

Jaguar Teases Its Upcoming Electric XJ

Tue, 09/10/2019 - 17:08
  • Jaguar has confirmed that the next-generation XJ luxury car will be electric, offering neither gasoline nor diesel engines. And it might not be a traditional sedan, either.
  • Jaguar executives have confirmed that the next XJ will be built on electric architecture utilizing the knowledge and technology gleaned from the company's electric-only I-Pace SUV.
  • The company flashed a teaser image (above) of the next XJ's rear deck and taillights during the launch event at the Frankfurt auto show for the Land Rover Defender, promising that the new luxury car will be sumptuous, roomy, and lust-worthy.

In line with previous Car and Driver prognostications, the next generation Jaguar XJ will be a pure electric vehicle like the company's I-Pace SUV. But will it be a conventional four-door luxury sedan in the mold of the current XJ or Mercedes-Benz S-class?

Very possibly not. We will find out sometime in 2020, when the new XJ is slated to go on sale, probably in Britain and across Europe first—when it will reach American dealerships is not clear. The company created an audaciously handsome design for its electric I-Pace, which looks like a mashup of a sports sedan and an SUV. That could be the blueprint for its New Age luxo-electric.

Our illustration of a possible XJ sedan (above) admittedly has it looking like the logical successor to the current 10-year-old sedan. But Jaguar slipped a teaser photo of the next SJ's rear deck and taillights into the the Land Rover Defender media-launch video at the Frankfurt show, and it's anything but conclusive. Squint and you can see the tail of an XJ sedan. Squint again and it could belong to a tall and sleek luxury SUV.

According to the U.K. publication Autocar, Jaguar execs promised that the new XJ won't be a conventional size-large luxury sedan that's simply had its internal-combustion engines swapped for an electric powertrain. They noted how an EV's different construction and layout has led them to reimagine what "luxury car" means. Our take: it means "sexy-looking luxury SUV-like thing." Which is exactly what the I-Pace is—the vehicle that the execs say informed their plan for the new XJ.

With the engineering, tooling, and validation of the I-Pace's architecture and electric powertrain already completed and financed, it makes perfect sense for Jaguar to leverage those assets for a relatively low-volume, range-topping luxury car. To put that in perspective, the I-Pace we tested weighed 4951 pounds, delivered 394 horsepower and 512 lb-ft of torque, accelerated to 60 mph in 4.3 seconds, and boasted an EPA driving range of 234 miles. All of those stats would be more than adequate in an ultraluxury vehicle.

Rumors have swirled for some time that Jaguar has been considering converting its entire lineup of of conventionally powered cars and SUVs to electric-only propulsion. The upcoming XJ indicates those rumors could well be true.

How We'd Spec It: A $65,000 Land Rover Defender with Steel Wheels

Tue, 09/10/2019 - 16:26

Land Rover's iconic Defender SUV—sold in more or less the same basic form since 1983, with a lineage traceable to the end of World War II—finally has a modern successor. And the just-revealed 2020 Defender is modern, ditching its predecessor's body-on-frame construction, old-school solid axles, and available V-8 engine for a unibody, fully independent suspension, and smaller engines.

That's all nifty, but we can't get over one thing: that the Defender still offers classic-looking steel wheels. We wouldn't buy a 4x4 like the Defender without these, simply because they are rad as hell. Luckily, Land Rover allows customers considerable leeway in optioning their new Defenders while keeping these usually base-model rims in place. How much leeway? By the time we were done with our build on Land Rover's online configurator for the Defender, our example (steel wheels and all!) nearly came to $65,000. Here's how we did it:

Model We'd Choose
  • Defender 110 P300 AWD ($50,925)

Since we're basing this entire piece around the Defender's wheels, we should point out that the only way to get those sweet steelies is with the base P300 powertrain. Translated from Land Rover–speak, that means a 296-hp turbocharged four-cylinder engine, an eight-speed automatic transmission, and all-wheel drive. The spicier mild-hybrid V-6 engine (P400) kills the steel wheels in favor of less interesting aluminum rims. Boring!

With the engine choice sorted, Land Rover gives you the option of a First Edition trim and the X trim—we chose neither, again, in the service of keeping those excellent wheels from being replaced by fancier aluminum jobs. Ideally, we'd choose the two-door Defender 90, but it won't be coming to the U.S. for a while. For now, every U.S.-bound Defender is the longer, four-door 110, so that's what we had to stick with for this build. The upside, of course, to purchasing the lowest-grade Defender 110 trim is that it's the least expensive—well, before you start adding options, that is.

Options We'd Pick
  • Explorer Pack ($4286.55)
  • Pangea Green ($710)
  • Satin protective paint film ($3800)
  • White contrast roof ($870)
  • Front jump seat ($900)
  • White-colored interior trim ($200)
  • Off-Road Pack ($1345)
  • Advanced Off-Road Pack ($735)
  • Cold Climate Pack ($700)
  • ClearSight digital rearview mirror ($450)

We must admit it's rare to see new-car options listed in not-whole-number form, as is the Defender's Explorer Pack, which runs not $4286, not $4287, but $4286.55. Okay, weirdo price aside, the Explorer kit is one of several themed "accessory packs" buyers can add to their ride, and the bundle includes front and rear mudflaps, a matte-black hood sticker, a spare tire cover, beefier fender flares, an intake snorkel, a roof rack, and an unusual external cargo box fitted over the passenger-side rear quarter window.

We chose the Explorer Pack mainly because it looks amazing; depending on your wants and needs, the Adventure Pack (similar look, but camping-inspired), Country Pack (less off-road-y), and Urban Pack (simply exterior trim) may be more to your liking. Anyway, we augmented the Explorer Packs' outdoorsy gear with the retro-appearing Pangea Green paint ($710) and a white-painted roof ($870). For a dash of (pricey) practicality, we ordered up the $3800 whole-body matte-finish protective paint film. You'll note the continued presence of the 18-inch, white-painted steel wheels on our spec. They're free.

For the interior, we kept the rugged vibe going with only a single comfort-focused option: the $700 Cold Climate package, which includes a heated windshield, windshield washer jets, and steering wheel. Land Rover offers a variety of seating configurations, too. The baseline setup is two front seats with a three-across rear bench. A set of jump seats in the cargo area (bringing the seating capacity to seven) is available, as is the $900 front middle seat we selected (yes, that makes the Defender a six-seater with, essentially, three-across front seating!). We capped off the interior with two minor visual flourishes, the white-painted dashboard trim ($200) to match the white-painted roof, and a $450 rearview mirror that can be switched to a rear-facing digital camera feed.

To back up the Defender's look, we gave it the full plethora of off-road options Land Rover offers to boost its capability in the rough stuff. The Off-Road Pack ($1345) adds off-road tires, an electronic rear differential, and a 110-volt AC outlet; we augmented it with the Advanced Off-Road Capability Pack ($735), which adds All Terrain Progress Control, a sort of low-speed traction/cruise control for slippery surfaces, and Terrain Response 2 feature with multiple drive modes for various terrain. That brings our grand total—remember, for a steel-wheeled, four-cylinder Defender—to $64,921.55. Steep? Absolutely. But damn does this Land Rover look the business, and we'll remind you that the next-level trim (First Edition) starts just under $70,000, while the X runs over $80,000.

Audi AI:Trail Quattro Concept SUV Has Lunar Rover Styling, Zero Emissions, and Guardian Angels

Tue, 09/10/2019 - 16:01
  • Audi adds to its roster of AI concept vehicles (the AI:ME and Aicon were others) with the AI:Trail Quattro off-road-style EV.
  • Like the earlier concepts, this one is an EV that's conceptually far along the road to autonomous driving.
  • It's all theoretical, of course, but Audi claims a range up to 311 miles between charges.

If the future of personal personal transportation is to be carried out by autonomous driving pods, then Audi has the off-road game nailed with its AI:Trail concept car. This all-electric, Level 4 autonomous vehicle is focused on all-terrain capability, offering a lounge-like atmosphere for adventurers.

Although its overall footprint is smaller than a Q3's, the AI:Trail's massive 33.5-inch off-road tires and almost nonexistent front and rear overhangs make it look more like a lunar rover than any SUV in Audi's portfolio. It has 13.4 inches of ground clearance and can ford water 1.6 feet deep. It's a regular Tesla/Wrangler mashup and is precisely what every overlanding hippie has always wanted.

Audi missed the boat with the hardest-core off roaders by giving the AI:Trail strut suspension rather than solid axles, but, hey, it should ride well. And its sensor-controlled tire pressure regulation, which adjusts pressure based on the terrain, will find love in off-road circles.

Instead of headlights, the AI:Trail has drones that fly ahead of the vehicle to illuminate the road or lack thereof. It also comes with a brigade of fairies and guardian angels which act as a halo of safety during extreme rock bouncing should the AI:Trail happen to channel its inner Tim Cameron while you're not behind the wheel.

Audi says that the interior is meant to evoke nature with its recycled materials and roughly grained wood. Just watch the splinters. The rear seats are removable and can be used as a sort of chair/hammock when not driving off-road is just too big a burden. There are almost no controls inside aside from a yoke-style steering wheel and a mount for a smartphone in place of a gauge cluster, and the layout is remarkably open, with huge glass areas.

Off-road, the AI:Trail isn't fully autonomous. In fact, except for some low-speed Level 3 assistance on benign gravel roads, it's not really autonomous at all. Which does make sense given that the entire endeavor of off-roading is experiential and because people who drive in those environments make doing so a destination because they enjoy it. Audi, however, leaves no stone unturned when it comes to ensuring the electronic overlords are always on duty. It dedicates an array of sensors, including ultrasound, radar, optical systems, and lasers—lasers, we say!—to detecting road surfaces and obstacles, guarantying that every last bit of fun is liberated from the experience.

Audi says to expect a range between 155 and 311 miles from the AI:Trail depending on the terrain. Its lithium-ion battery propels the four-motor-equipped, 429-hp off-roader to a maximum of 81 mph. Audi presents all of this—plus the notion that the AI:Trail will be available for order through an Audi on-demand vehicle pool—with a straight face. But like the fairies and guardian angels we mentioned above, we're pretty sure they're making it up.

BMW i Hydrogen Next Fuel-Cell Concept Previews the 2021 X5 M

Tue, 09/10/2019 - 15:37
  • The BMW i Hydrogen Next concept foreshadows a fuel-cell production vehicle based on the X5 coming in 2022.
  • The i Hydrogen Next’s front fascia is the same as what we've seen in leaked photos of the 2021 BMW X5 M.
  • BMW envisions a future where hydrogen fuel cells, battery-electric powertrains, and plug-in hybrids coexist.

Officially, BMW’s i Hydrogen Next concept previews a hydrogen fuel-cell vehicle that will go into limited production in 2022. Unofficially, the 2019 Frankfurt auto show concept also offers an early glimpse of the gas-swilling 2021 BMW X5 M. The i Hydrogen Next’s larger intakes are an exact match for those seen in recently leaked photos of the BMW X5 M Competition.

The next-gen hot-rod X5 M should beat the hydrogen model to market, arriving sometime next year, likely as a 2021 model, and making about 600 horsepower from a twin-turbo 4.4-liter V-8. The Competition model should turn the power up to roughly 620 horsepower.

The styling of the hydrogen concept diverges from that of the X5 M at the rear. Where the M model will have four exhaust outlets, the i Hydrogen Next hides the fuel cell's exhaust, which only emits water vapor, out of sight. The concept drives the rear wheels with a single electric motor that a BMW representative would only describe as "very powerful."

The fuel-cell stack is another result of the collaboration between Toyota and BMW that spawned the excellent Toyota Supra and BMW Z4 roadster. Hydrogen tanks fit under the rear seat and in the central tunnel, and cargo volume is the same as in the BMW X5 xDrive45e iPerformance plug-in hybrid. BMW says the i Hydrogen Next can refuel in less than four minutes and delivers a range between 310 and 370 miles. We expect the 2022 production model to be mechanically and stylistically similar to this concept, as BMW acknowledges it, too, will be based on the X5 crossover.

BMW, along with several other automakers, sees hydrogen fuel cells as another pillar in an electrified future that is also built around battery-electric powertrains and plug-in hybrids. But as the i Hydrogen Next concept reminds us, the company won’t be abandoning gas-fueled vehicles anytime soon.

2019 Frankfurt Auto Show Live Updates

Tue, 09/10/2019 - 15:00

Read everything else we have to say about the Frankfurt auto show.

The Frankfurt auto show, also known as the Internationale Automobil-Ausstellung (IAA), is Europe's largest auto show—we mean physically, as it's spread among multiple halls and each of the German automakers has a building all to itself—and is held every other year. The show plays host to major debuts mostly from the Germans—duh—including Mercedes-Benz, BMW, and the Volkswagen Group's many brands. We are on the ground, wearing our best walking shoes, and will be bringing you live updates. Stay tuned! –Joey Capparella and Tony Quiroga for Car and Driver


Here is one of the 63 Lamborghini Siáns that will ever be. Lamborghini's hybrid looks vaguely like the Aventador upon which it's based, but the design is more striking and somehow more angular.

The gold wheels are a cool throwback to the supercars of the '70s and although the design is busy, it pulls off menacing and exotic. Power is from Lamborghini's 774-hp 6.5-liter V-12 with an electric motor boosting it to 807 horsepower. A supercapacitor feeds the motor and Lamborghini uses it to boost acceleration and smooth gearshifts.—Tony Quiroga

Electric cars are puttering around the huge Frankfurt Messe serving as shuttles, and they’re so silent that they keep sneaking up on me as I walk between the halls. There’s been lots of talk about artificial sounds to make EVs more noticeable to pedestrians, but this is the first time I’ve been confronted with the issue in real life. — Joey Capparella


The trippy rotating LED headlights of the Mercedes-Benz EQS Vision concept show off the strangest of its many novel lighting elements. Rotating headlights.

Mercedes says the rotating lens modules, which appear to float, can display holographic images.

The EQS is larger in person than we expected. It is an S-class sedan, which I suppose shouldn’t surprise us since the S part of its name hints at the EV S-class of the near future. —Tony Quiroga

At Last, We See the Land Rover Defender

The new Defender is one of the biggest reveals of the show. In person, it’s less toylike and tougher than it looks in photos. It looks especially cool on its 19-inch steel wheels.

While it's a fully modern design, the Defender has a few retro cues that link it to the past. In particular, from the rear, the fenders have the shape of the old Defender. —Tony Quiroga

Hyundai 45 Concept: Those Wheels

Hyundai's 45 Concept is a real surprise in person. Angular and clean with more than a little Lancia Delta Integrale in it, the car looks both Italian and Audi-like. It's futuristic, but not so outlandish. One particular piece that caught our eye is the complexity of the wheels. While they're virtually impossible to clean, similar wheels have been spotted on G90 prototypes. —Tony Quiroga

VW "Group Night" Has Technical Difficulties, but Not with the Cars

The Volkswagen Group conglomerate used its traditional Group Night to usher in the new ID.3 electric car that kicks off a whole family of VW EVs. The reveal itself hit a bit of a snag early on, as the large white curtains throughout the hall—meant to come down all at once in dramatic fashion to reveal several different ID.3s on multiple levels of the display—did not function as intended. The presenters awkwardly stalled for a bit and then continued on with the presentation, all while noisy cranes were brought out to manually dismantle the curtains, which did, eventually, come down. —Joey Capparella

Volkswagen Showed a Glimpse of the ID Electric SUV That's Coming to the U.S.

Tue, 09/10/2019 - 10:55
  • During the debut of the Europe-market Volkswagen ID.3 electric hatchback, the company also showed off a prototype version of the upcoming ID SUV model.
  • Essentially a production version of the ID Crozz concept car, this compact crossover EV will arrive in the U.S. market in 2020.
  • Volkswagen also says that this upcoming ID model will eventually be built in Chattanooga, Tennessee.

Volkswagen's new, hugely important ID.3 electric car won't be sold in the U.S., but we have now seen our best look yet at the company's first U.S.-bound ID electric car. A short teaser video was shown at the end of VW's press conference at the Frankfurt auto show, and a camouflaged prototype of the upcoming ID SUV is on display at VW's stand behind some highly reflective glass.

The real thing looks remarkably similar to the ID Crozz concept car. A compact crossover similar in size to the Tiguan, this as yet unnamed ID model (we're guessing ID.4) is somewhat more stylish and has an almost crossover-coupe-like sloping rear end.

It is based on the same MEB platform as the ID.3 and will offer either a rear-wheel-drive version with a rear-mounted electric motor or an all-wheel-drive version with an additional motor on the front axle. Expect slightly bigger battery options than the ID.3, which offers multiple sizes ranging from 45.0 kWh up to 77.0 kWh, to compensate for the ID crossover's larger size. Quoted Europe-market range numbers for the ID.3 of 205 to 342 miles aren't likely to have any bearing on the ID SUV's EPA-rated numbers, but we think Volkswagen will need to offer a variant with at least 250 miles of range on our shores in order to be competitive in the EV space.

Look for more information about when VW will begin importing the new ID crossover to the U.S. from its plant in Europe. The car will eventually be built in VW's plant in Chattanooga, Tennessee, a few years from now, but there's plenty of retooling that needs to happen before U.S. production begins.

See the 2020 Land Rover Defender from Every Angle

Tue, 09/10/2019 - 08:00

This is the four-door Defender 110, which will be the first to arrive in the U.S.

Land Rover

While the 110 name used to correspond to the wheelbase in inches, the new car's wheelbase actually measures 119.0 inches.

Land Rover

A 296-horsepower turbocharged 2.0-liter inline-four is the standard engine and claims a zero to 60 mph time of 7.7 seconds.

Land Rover

Land Rover's hybrid-assisted, electrically supercharged 3.0-liter inline-six is optional, producing 395 horsepower and 405- lb-ft of torque.

Land Rover

An eight-speed automatic transmission is standard on all models.

Land Rover

A two-speed transfer box is standard to help with off-roading and towing.

Land Rover

This two-door Defender 90 model will come to the U.S. after the four-door 110, likely by the end of 2020.

Land Rover

The 90 model has a wheelbase measuring 101.9 inches.

Land Rover

The rear-mounted external spare tire is a nod to tradition.

Land Rover

It's possible to choose all sorts of add-ons for the Defender via various accessory packs.

Land Rover

The roof rack and side panniers you see here are optional extras.

Land Rover

Some of the Defender's off-road capability figures include a 38-degree approach angle and a 40-degree departure angle.

Land Rover

The four accessory packs include Adventurer, Explorer, Urban, and Country.

Land Rover

Land Rover has emphasized utility over luxury inside the Defender, with rubberized materials and naked finishes throughout.

Land Rover

There's an available jump seat in front to increase seating capacity to six in two-row models, and 110 models also offer an optional third row of seats.

Land Rover

The Defender's infotainment system is said to be an updated version of Jaguar Land Rover's InControl Touch unit.

Land Rover

Higher trim levels can be equipped with leather upholstery, or with an alternative wool fabric.

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