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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: 5 days 17 hours ago

The RS America Was the Cheapest Porsche 911 You Could Buy in 1993

Thu, 08/15/2019 - 01:00

In 1992, Porsche Cars North America felt the wild Carrera 3.8 RS was too aggressive for its market, but it did bring over a handful for a single-make race series, all federalized with correct lighting elements and an airbag. But after the American Carrera Cup was canceled due to lack of funding, the cars were quietly sold off.

Then, to keep the Americans happy, Porsche came out with the 1993 RS America. It was milder than the Carrera RS and sold only for two years. To save weight, it did without power steering, rear seats, door pockets, and most of its sound deadening. It did, however, get 17-inch wheels, a sport suspension, and a fixed ducktail spoiler replacing the motorized unit in the Carrera 2. Power Recaro seats, an optional sunroof, a cassette player, and air conditioning made sure the car would still meet American expectations. But who would pay for a sunroof instead of a limited-slip differential?

Sporting the Carrera 2's 247-hp 3.6-liter flat-six, five-speed gearbox, and ABS brakes, the RS America was 77 pounds lighter than the standard 911. That meant it would reach 60 mph in 5.4 seconds and run a quarter-mile in 13.9 seconds at 105 mph. But what really made it stand out was its handling, the noise it made, and a price cut of $10,000 over a standard 911. No wonder four-time Spa 1000 Kilometers champ Brian Redman also found it "magnificent."

2020 Dodge Charger SRT Daytona 50th Anniversary Gets a 717-HP Hellcat V-8

Wed, 08/14/2019 - 20:05
  • The 2020 Dodge Charger Widebody Daytona 50th Anniversary Edition marks the arrival of the 717-hp version of the Hellcat to the Charger lineup.
  • The car is an obvious and loving tribute to the 1969 Dodge Charger Daytona.
  • Ordering starts in the fall, with only 501 units to be produced, and vehicles will arrive in dealerships in early 2020.

Here's an existential query: When you've already got 707 horsepower, can 10 more make a tangible difference? Dodge certainly thinks so, and with the introduction of the—take a deep breath—2020 Dodge Charger SRT Hellcat Widebody Daytona 50th Anniversary Edition, the Charger is finally collecting those bonus 10 ponies that the Challenger SRT Hellcat received for the 2019 model year.

Although it'd be nearly impossible to recreate the bulbous nose and high-flying wing of the 1969 Dodge Charger Daytona for a current production vehicle, the 2020 Charger Daytona 50th Anniversary Edition does co-opt the rear stripe graphic treatment. It also gets a unique “Daytona” decklid and a coat of Daytona-exclusive B5 Blue paint. The car will be available with Pitch Black, Triple Nickel, or White Knuckle paint, too, but the exclusive B5 Blue will probably be the one that collectors zero in on. (On White Knuckle cars, the Daytona decal and spoiler are blue, and the Hellcat badge has a bright finish.) A set of 20-by-11-inch Warp Speed wheels with a unique satin carbon finish wrapped in 305/35ZR Pirelli all-season performance tires (three-season tires are optional) provide traction, while black Brembo six-piston front and four-piston rear brakes with vented rotors do their best to erase speed.

As with the Challenger, the Charger Daytona's extra 10 horsepower come via a revised powertrain calibration. Dodge hasn't mentioned if the calibration will migrate to the rest of the Charger Hellcat lineup, but it seems like an obvious move.

As a reminder, the 1969 Charger Daytona was designed specifically for NASCAR competition, and a prototype of the car was the first to post a 200-plus-mph average lap speed, a record that stood for 17 years. Only 501 units, just enough to meet production homologation requirements for the series, were produced. Fittingly, Dodge will only make 501 copies of the 2020 Dodge Charger SRT Hellcat Widebody Daytona 50th Anniversary Edition.

Interior nods to the original Daytona include blue accent stitching on the black heated and ventilated leather and synthetic leather performance seats that feature "Daytona" embroidered seatbacks. The blue accent stitching continues throughout the interior, appearing on the center console armrest, door panels and armrest, dashboard, and shifter. The flat-bottom steering wheel has contrasting silver and blue stitching accents, while velour-bound floor mats have a touch of blue stitching. Both are unique to the Daytona 50th Anniversary Edition. The instrument panel and console bezels are carbon fiber, and a faux-suede headliner completes the look. And because any limited edition is pointless without a callout, a custom IP badge located on the passenger side with Hellcat and Daytona logos identifies each vehicle as X out of 501.

The special edition is slated to make its official in-the-metal debut on Saturday, August 17, at the Modern Street Hemi Shootout event during the annual Woodward Dream Cruise in Pontiac, Michigan. Dealer orders for all 2020 Dodge Charger models, including this one, open in the fall, and vehicles will start arriving in Dodge/SRT dealerships in early 2020.

40 of the Most Beautiful Places in America

Wed, 08/14/2019 - 16:01

You know, they don't call it "America the Beautiful" for nothing. Of course, you could venture to all ends of the earth to see some impressive places, but you don't have to travel far at all to see the most beautiful places in America. Odds are, one of these stunning sites is close enough for a little weekend road trip. (Or maybe even a cross-country vacation!) This list is filled with the most breathtaking places you almost have to see to believe. No matter which incredible spot you choose to visit, prepare to be dazzled by the wonders of the world that are conveniently located right in the U.S. Featuring popular tourist attractions, remote hideaways, and even a few national parks, this group of gorgeous locales will make you want to pack your bags ASAP. Even if a getaway isn't in your budget at the moment, you can still enjoy all the beauty nature has to offer by scrolling through these gorgeous photos (or just pitch a tent in your own backyard and enjoy the outdoors that way).

Getty ImagesAmerica's Most Beautiful Fjords

Where: Seward, Alaska

Why We Love It: If you're unfamiliar with the term "fjord," it's a steep inlet created by glaciers, and Alaska features some of the most breathtaking examples. Kenai Fjords National Park is where you'll find nature's iciest creations. You'll want to plan your trip as soon as possible, though: The park's website notes that climate change is causing the glaciers to shrink.

Getty ImagesAmerica's Most Beautiful Hills

Where: The Palouse

Why We Love It:
Located in Idaho, Washington, and Oregon, the Palouse is a lush area that features rolling hills. According to The Seven Wonders of Washington State website, "The hills were formed over tens of thousands of years from wind-blown dust and silt, called 'loess.' "

Getty ImagesAmerica's Most Beautiful Tree

Where: Johns Island, South Carolina

Why We Love It:
The Angel Oak Tree—which is located near Charleston, South Carolina—is estimated to be 400 to 500 years old!. The impressive plant has a height of 65 feet and has a circumference of 28 feet, according to Atlas Obscura.

Getty ImagesAmerica's Most Beautiful Rock

Where: Port Austin, Michigan

Why We Love It:
Turnip Rock is a popular tourist attraction, though it's actually on private property. The only way to get to the formation is by water, but you can plan a kayaking excursion to see it on the Port Austin Kayak website.

Getty ImagesAmerica's Most Beautiful Waters

Where: Key West, Florida

Why We Love It: Dry Tortugas National Park is home to crystal-clear waters filled with an abundance of sea creatures, according to the park's website. The only way to access the remote area is by boat or seaplane, so the island makes for a great getaway from all the hustle and bustle.

Getty ImagesAmerica's Most Beautiful Greenery

Where: Oneonta Gorge, Oregon

Why We Love It: Bountiful plants of any kind are always alluring, but the mix of aquatic and woodland growth is doubly enchanting. The 2.7-mile trail around the gorge is a great place to visit for beginner and expert hikers alike, according to Oregon.com. We also recommend adding a visit to the nearby Triple Falls.

Piriya Photography - Getty ImagesAmerica's Most Beautiful Badlands

Where: Badlands National Park, South Dakota

Why We Love It:
The word "badlands" is probably not the first thing you think of when you're imagining a beautiful place, but this spot is gorgeous. Not only are the rock formations incredible, but they also possess "one of the world’s richest fossil beds," according to the National Park Service website.

Shawn Walters / EyeEm - Getty ImagesAmerica's Most Beautiful Glaciers

Where: Mendenhall Glacier Caves, Alaska

Why We Love It: Although it's not exactly easy to get to the 12-mile stretch of partially frozen caverns, the breathtaking sight of these caves makes it so worth it.

Piriya Photography - Getty ImagesAmerica's Most Beautiful Canyon

Where: Antelope Canyon, Arizona

Why We Love It: Also called "corkscrew canyon," this lesser known area is open for exploration all year round. To get up close and personal with the stunning sandstone, we recommend booking a guided tour.

Sky Sajjaphot - Getty ImagesAmerica's Most Beautiful Well

Where: Thor's Well, Oregon

Why We Love It: Located in the teeny tiny town of Yachats, right by Cape Perpetua, this natural well appears to be a bottomless drain for the surrounding sea. The Atlas Obscura website notes the hole is "most spectacular at high tide."

Lijuan Guo Photography - Getty ImagesAmerica’s Most Beautiful Hiking Trail

Where: Angel’s Landing, Utah

Why We Love It: Both beautiful and thrilling, this hike in Zion National Park provides amazing views. The 2.4-mile trail may not be long, but its steep stairs make it a feat. Trust us, though: Those incredible vistas are well worth the climb.

Getty ImagesAmerica’s Most Beautiful Harbor

Where: Harbor Town, South Carolina

Why We Love It: With its stunning seaside views, lush green golf course, iconic red and white striped lighthouse, and an abundance of restaurants, it’s one of the best spots to sit, relax, and watch the boats go by.

Getty ImagesAmerica’s Most Beautiful Historic Home

Where: Oak Alley Plantation, Louisiana

Why We Love It: Before you even get to the historic home, you’ll be greeted by a long stretch of 300-year-old oak trees, which frame the Greek Revival manor. You can spend a whole day touring the gorgeous estate, which includes grand porches, elaborate decor, and so many more beautiful elements.

Getty ImagesAmerica's Most Beautiful National Park

Where: Glacier National Park, Montana

Why We Love It: Views like this are what make this rugged corner of wilderness one of America's most scenic places (plus it's less crowded than Yosemite and the Grand Canyon).

Getty ImagesAmerica's Most Beautiful Beach

Where: Honopu Beach, Hawaii

Why We Love It: While there are too many beautiful beaches in Hawaii to pick just one, the remoteness of this stretch of sand on Kauai's Na Pali Coast makes it one of our favorites.

Getty ImagesAmerica's Most Beautiful City

Where: Charleston, South Carolina

Why We Love It: With cobblestone-lined streets and antebellum houses in more shades of pastel than you can count, this small city practically defines Southern charm.

Getty ImagesAmerica's Most Beautiful Desert

Where: Death Valley National Park, California

Why We Love It: Located on the eastern border of California, Death Valley is America's lowest, hottest, and driest point. But that doesn't make watching the sunset from Zabriskie Point any less beautiful.

Getty ImagesAmerica's Most Beautiful Island

Where: Mackinac Island, Michigan

Why We Love It: No cars are allowed on this small island on the strait between Michigan's upper and lower peninsulas, making it an idyllic summer getaway.

Getty ImagesAmerica's Most Beautiful Landmark

Where: Thomas Jefferson Memorial, Washington, D.C.

Why We Love It: Dedicated to the third president of the United States, this neoclassical building was inspired by the Roman Pantheon and Jefferson's own design for the Rotunda at the University of Virginia.

Getty ImagesAmerica's Most Beautiful Mountain

Where: Grand Teton, Wyoming

Why We Love It: This mountain is so beautiful that it had an entire national park named after it.

Getty ImagesAmerica's Most Beautiful Waterfall

Where: Multnomah Falls, Oregon

Why We Love It: Located in the Columbia River Gorge, this two-step waterfall is the tallest in Oregon.

Getty ImagesAmerica's Most Beautiful Lighthouse

Where: Cape Hatteras Lighthouse, North Carolina

Why We Love It: While this Outer Banks landmark is the world's tallest brick lighthouse, its graphic black and white spiral is what landed it on this list of beautiful places.

RELATED: The Most Beautiful Lighthouses in America

Getty ImagesAmerica's Most Beautiful Valley

Where: Cades Cove, Tennessee

Why We Love It: When you visit this isolated valley in the Great Smoky Mountains, it feels like you've stepped back in time. Unfortunately, its beauty is no secret, so head here in the off season to skip the traffic jam.

Getty ImagesAmerica's Most Beautiful Lake

Where: Lake Tahoe, California and Nevada

Why We Love It: Surrounded by the mountains of the Sierra Nevada on all sides, Lake Tahoe's waters are so clear you can see 70 feet deep.

Getty ImagesAmerica's Most Beautiful Historic Town

Where: Harpers Ferry, West Virginia

Why We Love It: When Thomas Jefferson visited in 1783, he called this small town where the Potomac and Shenandoah rivers meet "perhaps one of the most stupendous scenes in nature."

Getty ImagesAmerica's Most Beautiful Sand Dunes

Where: Great Sand Dunes National Park, Colorado

Why We Love It: While the Sangre de Cristo Mountains may seem to dwarf them, Colorado's Great Sand Dunes are actually the highest sand dunes in North America.

Getty ImagesAmerica's Most Beautiful Coastline

Where: Florida Keys, Florida

Why We Love It: Florida is home to over 1000 miles of America's coastline, including the string of tropical islands that make up the state's southern tip.

Getty ImagesAmerica's Most Beautiful Farmland

Where: Skagit Valley, Washington

Why We Love It: You don't need to fly all the way to Holland to see some of the world's prettiest tulip fields, which are located just 60 miles north of Seattle.

Getty ImagesAmerica's Most Beautiful Wildflower Bloom

Where: Texas Hill Country, Texas

Why We Love It: The countryside west of Austin and north of San Antonio explodes in a riot of colorful Texas bluebonnets every April.

Getty Images America's Most Beautiful River

Where: Colorado River, Arizona

Why We Love It: While the Colorado River flows all the way from the Rocky Mountains to Mexico, head to Horseshoe Bend near the border of Arizona and Utah for the most Instagrammable view.

Getty ImagesAmerica's Most Beautiful Covered Bridge

Where: Arlington Green Covered Bridge, Vermont

Why We Love It: Vermont has more than 100 covered bridges, but the structure in Arlington is one of the state's oldest and best preserved examples.

Getty ImagesAmerica's Most Beautiful Cavern

Where: Carlsbad Cavern, New Mexico

Why We Love It: Often referred to as "the Grand Canyon with a roof on top," Carlsbad Cavern is part of a massive system of more than 100 limestone caves hidden beneath the surface of the Chihuahuan Desert.

Getty ImagesAmerica's Most Beautiful Swimming Hole

Where: Hamilton Pool, Texas

Why We Love It: Located 30 miles west of Austin, the grotto at Hamilton Pool was created thousands of years ago when the dome of an underground river collapsed.

Getty ImagesAmerica's Most Beautiful Train Ride

Where: White Pass and Yukon Route Railroad, Alaska

Why We Love It: Built in the late 19th century during the Klondike Gold Rush, this scenic railroad climbs nearly 3000 feet in 20 miles, giving riders panoramic cliffhanging views of the surrounding mountains.

Getty ImagesAmerica's Most Beautiful Rock Formation

Where: The Wave, Arizona and Utah

Why We Love It: Only 20 people per day are allowed to hike out to this Jurassic-age sandstone formation in the remote Paria Canyon-Vermilion Cliffs Wilderness, but all of the advance planning required to see this breathtaking place is totally worth it.

Getty ImagesAmerica's Most Beautiful Gorge

Where: Watkins Glen, New York

Why We Love It: Located in New York's Finger Lakes region, this narrow gorge features 19 waterfalls within the space of just two miles.

Getty ImagesAmerica's Most Beautiful Highway

Where: Blue Ridge Parkway, North Carolina and Virginia

Why We Love It: This stretch of road that meanders 469 miles through the Appalachian Mountains is the most visited place belonging to the U.S. National Park Service.

Getty ImagesAmerica's Most Beautiful Hot Spring

Where: Grand Prismatic Spring, Wyoming

Why We Love It: Located in Yellowstone National Park's Midway Geyser Basin, America's largest hot spring gets its name from its striking colors that fade from bright orange to blue.

Getty ImagesAmerica's Most Beautiful Historic District

Where: French Quarter, New Orleans, Louisiana

Why We Love It: The oldest neighborhood in New Orleans is home to some of the city's best architecture, including those famous cast-iron balconies and lush green courtyards.

Getty ImagesAmerica's Most Beautiful Wetlands

Where: Natchez Trace Cypress Swamp, Mississippi

Why We Love It: The Natchez Trace Parkway is a beautiful drive in general, but be sure to make a pit stop at milepost 122 and walk the half-mile boardwalk trail through the water tupelo and bald cypress tree swamp.

Getty Images

This Is Why the 2020 Lincoln Aviator Plug-In Hybrid Now Makes 494 HP

Wed, 08/14/2019 - 14:10
  • The 2020 Lincoln Aviator Grand Touring plug-in hybrid makes 494 horsepower and 630 lb-ft of torque.
  • Lincoln had originally estimated the output at 450 horsepower and 600 lb-ft.
  • The increase is because engineers have finalized the calibration; it's not a hardware change.

If you happen to find a 2020 Lincoln Aviator Grand Touring plug-in hybrid slowing your commute in the future, know that it’s the fault of the driver at the wheel, not the engineers. The three-row luxury SUV makes a mighty 494 horsepower and 630 lb-ft of torque from a twin-turbo 3.0-liter V-6 and an electric motor. Those official output figures, newly confirmed by Lincoln, are significantly higher than earlier estimates of 450 horsepower and 600 lb-ft of torque.

John Davis, chief engineer for the Aviator, says the change is simply a matter of underpromising while the vehicle was under development. Engineers calibrated the hybrid powertrain for drivability, emissions, and other priorities before concerning themselves with the exact combined output of the electric motor and gasoline engine. The plug-in-hybrid model is being positioned as an upgrade—in fuel economy, performance, and refinement—over the Aviator's standard twin-turbo V-6. That base engine also sees its torque increase to 415 lb-ft compared to early estimates of 400 lb-ft. The final power output of the standard engine, 400 horsepower, matches Lincoln’s initial estimate.

While EPA fuel-economy information hasn’t been announced, Lincoln says the plug-in-hybrid Aviator, known as the Grand Touring, will offer about 18 miles of electric driving range from its 13.6-kWh lithium-ion battery. The Aviator replaces Lincoln’s frumpy MKT and competes with the BMW X7, the Cadillac XT6, the Mercedes-Benz GLS, and the Volvo XC90. Gas models are on sale now with a starting price of $52,195. The Aviator Grand Touring plug-in hybrid arrives this fall with a starting price of $69,895.

2019 Mazda CX-5 Diesel Beat the EPA's Highway MPG Estimate in Our Testing

Wed, 08/14/2019 - 13:00
  • In Car and Driver highway fuel-economy testing, Mazda's CX-5 diesel beat the EPA's highway rating by 4 mpg.
  • However, in 400 miles of daily-driving testing, the compact SUV missed the EPA's combined rating by 3 mpg.
  • The EPA rates the AWD CX-5 diesel at 28 mpg combined, 27 mpg city, and 30 mpg highway.

After years of teasing, which again is gaining momentum with the 6, Mazda has finally released its diesel four-cylinder in the United States. It is currently available only in the range-topping all-wheel-drive CX-5 Signature. The 2.2-liter sequentially turbocharged inline-four is rated at 168 horsepower and 290 lb-ft of torque.

On our 200-mile highway fuel-economy test, which is conducted at 75 mph, the CX-5 diesel achieved 34 mph, 4 mpg better than the EPA estimates for the SUV. However, it didn't shine as brightly in daily driving, where during its first 400 miles in our hands it burned one gallon of diesel fuel every 25 miles. The EPA rates the AWD CX-5 diesel at 28 mpg combined, 27 mpg city, and 30 mpg on the highway.

Mazda is asking for an additional $4110 for the diesel over the all-wheel-drive Signature-trim CX-5 with its 250-hp turbocharged 2.5-liter four cylinder, in which we achieved a 22 mpg as-tested mpg number. But a little number crunching using the national average cost of diesel fuel and premium gasoline shows that, given the fuel economy we witnessed, you'd need to drive the diesel more than 170,000 miles before breaking even in fuel-cost savings alone.

So it's not a car for pragmatists, but it is still a CX-5, which we like.

2020 Lexus LC500 Inspiration Series Debuts in Nori Green

Wed, 08/14/2019 - 10:01

Low, wide, and elegant. We get echoes of the Jade Green 1998 Toyota Supra here.

Andreas Smetana - Car and Driver

The 21-inch two-tone wheels look sleek without being a distraction.

Andreas Smetana - Car and Driver

In photos, the Nori Green Pearl paint throws shades of brown, green, and gold. We'll see the car in person later this week.

Andreas Smetana - Car and Driver

The earth tones inside and out help the chrome exhaust tips and roof rails stand out on the Inspiration Series in a way they don't on more traditionally colored LCs.

Andreas Smetana - Car and Driver

The interior is decked out in Saddle Tan aniline leather with Alcantara door-panel trim.

Car and Driver

Too often, black-and-tan interiors wind up looking like skinned Dobermans. Not here.

Car and Driver

Lexus is only building 100 examples of the LC500 Inspiration Series, so act fast.

Car and Driver

We'll be updating this space with more photos when we see the LC500 Inspiration Series in person later this week.

Car and Driver

For 2019, Lexus also brought out a limited-edition Inspiration Series LC500 in Flare Yellow.

Lexus

2019 Ford Ranger FX2 Is the Value Seeker's Tough-Looking Mid-Size Truck

Wed, 08/14/2019 - 10:00
  • The Ranger's new FX2 package gives two-wheel-drive trucks a 4x4 look.
  • Attractively priced, the FX2 kit includes must-have trailering gear in addition to its tougher body cladding and off-road suspension.
  • Buyers can order the FX2 package now, with the first deliveries expected by the end of 2019.

The 2020 Ranger with the FX2 package is what you get when you take the four-wheel-drive, off-road-oriented Ranger FX4 kit and divide it by two. That's not tough math, but to help you along, it means the FX2 is two-wheel drive but shares its, uh, beefy FX (effects, get it?) with the 4x4 FX4.

Wait, a supposedly off-road Ranger with two-wheel drive? What gives? Truck buyers surely are familiar with the concept, but for everyone else, truckmakers have been selling such versions for years in the compact and mid-size segments. Think of the Toyota Tacoma PreRunner or the Nissan Frontier Desert Runner. All were two-wheel-drive and festooned with nifty graphics, off-road suspension bits, and tougher-looking styling add-ons.

To that end, the Ranger FX2 has nearly everything that Ford includes on the FX4 model, right down to its terrain-management system, raised ride height, off-road suspension bits, 17- or 18-inch off-road tires, front skidplate, and pared-back front bumper. There's even a widget in the driver information screen in the gauge cluster that displays the truck's pitch (fore-aft lean), roll (side-to-side lean), and yaw (angle of the car relative to its direction of travel).

Without four-wheel drive, the FX2 likely couldn't chase, say, a Jeep Wrangler up a steep, rocky trail—but it'd probably do just fine blasting around some dunes and beaches or partaking in some light off-roading.

The point, of course, is value. With the Ranger FX2, Ford hopes to appeal to truck buyers who are looking for the FX4's style at a more affordable price point. At $595, the FX2 package is indeed far cheaper than the FX4 gear, which runs $1295. (The FX4 stuff also requires four-wheel drive, which runs $4160 on the base Ranger XL and $4000 on every other trim.) In fact, the FX2's upcharge is worth it because it includes a Class IV trailer hitch and 4- and 7-pin wiring and an electronically locking rear differential—two items that together run $915 when ordered separately. Add in the visual spice, and the FX2 is more than half an FX4 package at less than half the price. That's math we can get behind.

Tesla Changes the Price of the Special-Order-Only Model 3 Standard Range (Again)

Tue, 08/13/2019 - 21:58
  • Tesla has changed the price of the limited-availability, special-order-only Standard Range version of the Model 3.
  • It was initially priced at $36,200, then rose $400 to $36,600, and is now back down to $36,200.
  • The Model 3 Standard Range is available to buy only at physical Tesla stores and cannot be ordered online like other versions of the electric sedan.

The Tesla Model 3's pricing saga continues, as the company now says that it has reduced the price of the cheapest Model 3, the Standard Range, by $400. This means it is now back down to its original price of $36,200. It remains available only by special order at a physical Tesla store, and it is a software-limited version of the Standard Range Plus car that is the least expensive Model 3 that you can order online.

For some context, here is a timeline of what has happened so far with the Model 3 Standard Range:

September 2016: Elon Musk revealed the Model 3, initially promising that it would cost $35,000 to start (not including the mandatory destination charge).

Mid-2017: The Model 3 went on sale but was available at first only with its more expensive Long Range battery option and a Premium Interior option, starting at $50,000.

February 2019: Tesla announced that the $35,000 Model 3 was finally available to order. It was said to be a stripped-out version of the Model 3 with cloth seats and a "Standard Interior" configuration with few standard features, priced starting at $36,200 ($35,200 plus a $1200 destination charge).

April 2019: Tesla removed the Model 3 Standard Range from its online ordering system and announced that it would be a special-order-only model available only at physical Tesla stores. The company also said that the Standard Range model would now be a software-limited version of the Standard Range Plus with the "Partial Premium Interior" and with certain features locked out, rather than the previously announced model with cloth seats and a "Standard" interior setup.

May 2019: Tesla raised the price on the Model 3 Standard Range by $400, making for a starting price of $36,600.

August 2019: Tesla lowered the price on the Model 3 Standard Range back down to $36,200.

Here's How to Clean a Truck Interior after Nine Years of Abuse

Tue, 08/13/2019 - 21:29

Cleaning a car interior can be a truly awful, tedious task. It's why so many people, even fantastically neat people, have disgusting car interiors. This truck is a prime example. The owner bought it new nine years ago. The last time it was clean? Nine years ago.

Luckily, the owner of the truck is friends with professional detailer Larry Kosilla, a man who takes delight in cleaning up the grossest automotive messes.

While this isn't as gross as the time he cleaned an Eagle Talon that had been sitting in the woods for ages, it's amazing to see what a simple bit of decluttering and elbow grease can do to a long-neglected car interior. Check it out.

Acura's Type S Concept Is an Exciting Preview of Future Performance Models

Tue, 08/13/2019 - 19:00
  • The Acura Type S is a sporty concept car that previews the next-generation TLX sedan.
  • Expected to arrive next year as a 2021 model, the new TLX will offer a Type S performance model with a turbocharged V-6.
  • The Type S concept is being shown as part of the 2019 Monterey Car Week festivities leading up to the Pebble Beach Concours d'Elegance.

Acura is looking for a hit. While the strong-selling MDX and RDX crossovers are largely supporting the luxury brand, Acura would really like to gain some enthusiast credibility and make good on the brand's performance claims. Hence the return of the Type S performance badge, applied here on the Acura Type S sports-sedan concept.

This new concept car certainly looks the part. The proportions are stunning. There's an elegance to the design, which is clean and without extraneous affectation. Even Acura's "Diamond Pentastar" grille is nicely integrated and tastefully done. In profile, there's more than a little bit of Audi A7. The striking blue color, called Double Apex Blue Pearl, is said to hark back to a hue offered on the 2007–2008 TL Type S.

The Type S concept, by Acura's own admission, closely previews the next-generation TLX mid-size sedan, which we've already seen in rendered form thanks to leaked images found within Acura's own infotainment system. While the new TLX will almost certainly have a transversely mounted engine, both the concept and the leaked images show us that Acura is working on giving the car a longer dash-to-axle ratio, a design often characteristic of luxury cars with longitudinally mounted engines. We also expect that the concept's taillight and headlight designs will appear on the production car, and we wouldn’t be surprised if the quad exhaust tips also make the transition to reality.

Acura confirmed last year that it will bring back the Type S badge previously applied to performance versions of the TL, CL, and RSX in the 2000s. It seems that the TLX will be the first production Acura to revive this treatment. A turbocharged V-6 is said to be in the cards, although no specs are available yet.

Acura has yet to confirm timing for the next-generation TLX, but we'd wager that it will arrive in about a year as a 2021 model. If it looks like this concept, it just might draw more than a few buyers from the SUVs in Acura's showroom.

The Honda Odyssey Celebrates 25 Years with Lots of Tacky Chrome

Tue, 08/13/2019 - 16:06
  • The Honda Odyssey minivan adds a 25th Anniversary appearance package for 2020.
  • The 2020 Odyssey also has a rejiggered powertrain lineup, as the 10-speed automatic transmission previously offered on higher trims is now standard across the board.
  • Prices start at $31,785 for the 2020 Odyssey LX, and the 25th Anniversary package costs between $1803 and $3999.

The Honda Odyssey has been around for 25 years, so what better way for Honda to celebrate than by slapping a bunch of chrome onto the fifth generation of its tried-and-true minivan? A 25th Anniversary Edition package is newly available for the 2020 model year and it comes with all manner of adornments.

The package, which is essentially a collection of accessories, includes numerous 25th Anniversary badges, a special key, illuminated door sills, and chrome trim for the roof rails, and doors. Two levels of the package are available, one with the badges and chrome trim and another that also adds some gaudy chrome wheels (we’re not sold on the aesthetics). But we admire Honda’s willingness to embrace tackiness. According to the online configurator, the package costs $1803 without the 19-inch chrome wheels and a steep $3999 with the wheels.

The other meaningful update for the 2020 Odyssey is that the 10-speed automatic previously reserved for Touring and Elite trims is now standard across the board. The previous nine-speed automatic for lower trims is no more. In our testing, there were negligible differences between the acceleration times of the two transmissions, but the 10-speed did achieve better fuel economy in the real world.

Pricing for the 2020 Odyssey starts at $31,785 for the base LX trim and ranges up to $48,415 for the top Elite model. The 2020 model will be in dealerships starting August 14.

Crazy-Quick Porsche Cayenne Turbo S E-Hybrid Packs 670 Horsepower

Mon, 08/12/2019 - 22:01
  • Porsche claims the new 670-hp 2020 Cayenne Turbo S E-Hybrid can make the 0-60 run in 3.6 seconds.
  • There will also be a coupe version of the Turbo S E-Hybrid and of less powerful Cayenne E-Hybrid.
  • Both models will arrive in dealerships in the first quarter of 2020.

With the 541-hp 2019 Cayenne Turbo firmly ensconced at the top of the Porsche's SUV hierarchy, there was only one thing left for the automaker to do: knock it off its perch with the 2020 Porsche Cayenne Turbo S E-Hybrid SUV and coupe. We'd be lying if we said we didn't know this top-dog hybrid versions were coming, but we figured Zuffenhausen would let the Cayenne Turbo at least get comfortable before nudging it aside with these 670-horsepower plug-in-hybrid flagship Cayennes.

Cayenne Turbo S E-Hybrid

The Cayenne Turbo S E-Hybrid utilizes a 541-horsepower twin-turbo V-8 and 134-horsepower electric motor for a combined total of 670 horsepower and 663 lb-ft of torque. An eight-speed automatic transmission funnels torque to all four wheels. A 14.1-kWh lithium-ion battery is said to offer 30 percent more capacity than the battery used in previous generation plug-in Cayenne models. Charging time is quoted at 2.4 hours when connected to a 240-volt, 50-amp source. Porsche says the Cayenne Turbo S E-Hybrid coupe will reach 60 mph in 3.6 seconds and reach an electronically limited top speed of 183 mph, figures identical to the SUV version.

Following Porsche's current agenda to make hybrids the top trims of a given lineup, the Cayenne Turbo S E-Hybrid comes with enhanced standard equipment including Porsche Ceramic Composite Brakes (PCCB), Porsche Dynamic Chassis Control (PDCC), Porsche Torque Vectoring Plus (PTV+) and the desirable Sport Chrono Package. The Turbo S E-Hybrid starts at $163,250 and goes on sale in the first quarter of 2020.

Cayenne Hybrid Coupes

Porsche also wedged in the announcement of coupe versions of the Cayenne Turbo S E-Hybrid and the less-powerful Porsche Cayenne E-Hybrid. We can't say we're surprised at the decision, as the current Cayenne, Cayenne S, and Cayenne Turbo all have coupe variants of their own. Aside from unique bodywork, including a 0.78-inch lower roofline and a 0.7-inch wider rear track, the Cayenne hybrid coupes share components with their respective SUV brethren.

The Cayenne E-Hybrid coupe uses a 3.0-liter turbocharged V-6 and electric motor for a total output of 455 horsepower and 516 lb-ft of torque. The Sport Chrono Package is standard, and Porsche claims this model will reach 60 mph in 4.7 seconds with a top speed of 157 mph, numbers unsurprisingly identical to those for the current Cayenne E-Hybrid SUV with which it shares its powertrain.

Both Cayenne hybrid coupe models get standard front adaptive sport seats with 18-way adjustment but replaces the SUV's three-across rear bench seating for a pair of buckets that lower the vehicle passenger count from five to four (the SUV's bench seat is no-cost option in both coupe models). The rear seats also sit lower to accommodate the coupe's rakish roofline.

As with the entire Cayenne Coupe lineup, the Turbo S E-Hybrid and E-Hybrid have a fixed spoiler above the rear window and a new adaptive rear spoiler below it. Extending by 5.3 inches at speeds above 56 mph, the lower spoiler is said to enhance dynamic stability.

A lightweight sport package similar to the versions available on other Cayenne Coupe models also makes the leap to the hybrids. Currently available in two forms, the package can include a carbon-fiber roof, the Carbon Interior Package, a synthetic leather headliner and heated sport steering wheel, and back and silver Houndstooth seat centers. Exterior bits include 22-inch GT Design wheels and various carbon fiber exterior body bits. Combined, the package contents can save up to 48 pounds.

Aficionados of the coupe versions will have to pay a premium for their taste, as the 2020 Porsche Cayenne Turbo S E-Hybrid coupe starts at $165,750, a $2500 increase over the SUV variant. the 2020 Porsche Cayenne E-Hybrid coupe starts at $87,750. Interested parties should find them in dealerships in the first quarter of 2020.

The 2020 Toyota Avalon TRD Starts at $43,255

Mon, 08/12/2019 - 20:41
  • Toyota's lets slip the price of its newest Avalon trim level, the sporty TRD.
  • A new-for-2020 model, the TRD has upgraded handling, braking, and looks compared with lesser Avalons.
  • Look for the 2020 Toyota Avalon to appear in dealerships by the end of this year.

If Migos is "Bad and Boujee," Toyota's upcoming 2020 Avalon TRD could be considered Bad and Beige-ee. Toyota has taken the Avalon, a vehicle most closely associated with its bland, appliance-like image, and given it a promising-looking TRD sport trim. And now we know how much the Avalon TRD will cost.

According to a wrinkle in the Matrix, or space-time, or—in actuality—a prematurely published online configurator on Toyota's own website (pointed out by a Twitter user), it appears as though the 2020 Avalon TRD will cost $43,255. That's a lot of cheese for a Toyota sedan, we know, but the Avalon TRD (that's Toyota Racing Development, the brand's performance offshoot) will bring never-before-seen levels of intensity to the previously milquetoast four-door.

As you can see on Toyota's configurator, the Avalon TRD will offer no options beyond a $1760 package that includes built-in navigation and an upgraded JBL audio system. Simply pick from among the four paint color options—Wind Chill Pearl (white), Celestial Silver Metallic (silver), Midnight Black Metallic (um, black), and Supersonic Red (again, duh)—and ta-da, you get the sportiest Avalon ever. Even fully loaded, the TRD isn't the priciest Avalon you can buy; that honor stays with the Avalon Touring trim.

Toyota's summary of what sets the production Avalon TRD apart from other Avalons is dubbed "TRD Details," which we'll shorten to "TRDetails" here. Those TRDetails include 19-inch matte-black-finished wheels; a TRD aerodynamics package with black-painted side skirts and front and rear spoilers; a TRD-tuned sport suspension; 12.9-inch front brake rotors and red-painted calipers front and rear; and a cat-back TRD-branded exhaust system. The performance upgrades don't impact the Avalon's horsepower, and the 3.5-liter V-6 sends the same 301 horsepower to the front wheels as it does in other Avalons.

TRDetails aside, we're most excited for what the Avalon TRD portends: Toyota's rediscovery of performance and excitement in its products, which is highlighted by the all-new Supra sports car but backed up by the cool lineup of TRD Pro off-roaders (like the 4Runner SUV and Tacoma and Tundra pickups) and the upcoming Camry TRD based on the Avalon's smaller mid-size sibling.

Gorgeous Jaguar XJ13 Le Mans Racing Prototype Reborn and Updated

Mon, 08/12/2019 - 20:00
  • The LM69 is a sports car built by racing team Ecurie Ecosse that's meant to be a continuation of the Jaguar XJ13 race car from the 1960s.
  • It's powered by a V-12 engine and features some notable changes compared to the original race car.
  • Only 25 examples will be built in total, and the LM69 will likely cost close to $1,000,000.

The idea of a "continuation" version of a classic sports car is a trend that shows no signs of abating, with the U.K. at the center of this retro trend. We've seen factory approved models from both Aston Martin and Jaguar, as well as all-new recreations of everything from the original Ford GT to the spectacularly named Lister Knobbly. But this LM69 is different because it is a version of a sports car from the 1960s that never actually made it into production and which has been subtly reworked.

The LM69 is based on the XJ13, the mid-engined, V-12–powered race car that Jaguar built a single prototype version of in 1966 before the project was shuttered.

In reality, the one-off XJ13 was parked in a museum and later suffered an unfortunate crash while being driven by Jaguar's test driver Norman Dewis. (He talked about it in our interview earlier this year, recorded just before he died at the age of 98.) Subsequently rebuilt, that car remains part of the collection of the British Motor Museum.

The LM69 takes the basic design and updates it around the idea that the Ecurie Ecosse team, which won Le Mans twice in the 1950s with privateer D-Types, then developed the car for competition, building it to the FIA homologation regulations that existed in 1969. That's a complicated justification for a car that doesn't need any excuse to exist—it looks stunning.

The most obvious change over the original XJ13 is the switch to coupe bodywork, the fitment of upward-opening doors, aerodynamic spats on the front fenders, and an integrated wing element at the rear. It carries Ecurie Ecosse branding, but despite the fact that team was based in Scotland, it will be built at a small factory in the English Midlands.

The man behind the LM69 is Neville Swales, who already builds XJ13 replicas that have been described as being truer to the original prototype than the car that Jaguar rebuilt. As with the XJ13, the LM69 is powered by a DOHC V-12, with this purpose-built engine inspired by the design of the original engine but with “opportunities to improve gas flow, combustion and efficiency in light of current knowledge.” It will feature mechanical fuel injection as standard, with the option to upgrade this to electronic injection. Buyers will also be able to choose between a variety of different engine capacities ranging from 5.0 liters to 7.3 liters.

In Europe, it will be possible to register an LM69 as a new car with the engine running with catalytic converters. In the U.S., that would likely be more of a bureaucratic hurdle, although Swales tells C/D that he is about to ship an XJ13 race car to the U.S. and is currently building a street-legal XJ13 for a California buyer.

No more than 25 of the LM69 will be built, with the price not confirmed until the car is official unveiled in London next month, but expected close to seven figures when converted to dollars. There are many other automotive jewels that amount of money could be spent on, but would any of them look better?

Data Privacy Goes the Way of the Carburetor

Mon, 08/12/2019 - 19:08

Cars used to be truly stupid. They had carburetors and crank windows and radios were optional. To start one the driver had to actually insert a metal key into a physical switch and turn it. They had cigarette lighters instead of USB ports, and ashtrays big enough to hold a dachshund. There weren't any computers aboard because computers were bigger than houses and only NASA had them. Yup, cars were ignorant, inert slugs and no one knew anything different.

Dagnabit.

Those antiques are all gone. Either they were crushed and recycled decades ago, or they're now weekend playthings most often found parked on lawns at car shows.

A new car spews out something like 25 gigabytes of data every hour it's running and the carmakers, software powerhouses, mechanics, dealerships, insurance companies, tax and toll collectors and several startups now being sketched out on napkins at a Starbucks in Palo Alto are planning to leverage all that to their advantage. Only the owners and drivers of the cars seem to have no revenue-generation scheme in mind. Should they be worried? And if they are, does it matter?

"There's a couple of ways I'd describe the challenge," explains Joseph Jerome, who is policy counsel for the Center for Democracy and Technology. "There's the way that consumers think about ownership. You pay for something and you drive it off the lot. It is yours. Then there's the ways companies are trying to think about data streams. And that's where you get into disputes between aftermarket and the dealers versus the OEMs. Everybody is trying to get their hands on as much stuff as they can for reasons. To make money or for beneficial reasons. It's a laundry list of stuff. They're also trying to avoid liability issues. They don't want to be blamed when something goes wrong or data is breached."

At a fundamental level, your car is just one more device gathering data on your life. After all, that networked doorbell knows when someone is on the porch, a smart refrigerator can monitor your family's dairy consumption, and that "phone" in your pocket is already tracking your every move, sharing photos, recording your texts and monitoring email. Cars are just one more stream feeding a massive data river.

Part of the problem here is that in order to use technologies such as Apple CarPlay or Android Auto or any software that feeds your choice of music or podcasts or whatever into the car, we all kind of mindlessly agree to densely worded, small-print contracts no one reads and many assume are unimportant anyhow.

"We live in a world where all these boilerplate contracts are binding," says Jerome. "There's a serious information and power asymmetry. When you're buying a vehicle or buying anything, sure you can take your time while you're at the car dealer and read dozens and dozens of pages of documents. But also, at the end of the day you have no real ability to say, 'I don't agree to this,' or 'I'm going to cross out that,' and still drive away with the car."

The United States Constitution is elegantly written, not densely packed, and enumerates many individual rights that the government is prohibited from restricting. But we still live in country where most of us rarely petition the government for redress, don't have much to freely say, and haven't had to worry about self-incrimination. The Bill of Rights is there, and most of us manage to get through our lives without calling upon it to protect us. And while rights that aren't exercised are nice to have in case of an emergency, in day-to-day life they're all but academic.

That in mind, does it matter if Apple or Volvo or Google or Ferrari or Tesla claims access to the data our cars generate? Or if police can employ technology that's not even in your car to track your location? As cars grow more electronically complex and connected, maybe it's okay to stop worrying about being monitored and enjoy the GPS-aided suspension tuning, real-time traffic updates, and infinite song selections. So what if Google knows your favorite strip clubs and which fringe political blogs to which you listen? It's not as if they're actually going to do anything with that information. Right?

Accessing a vehicle's electronic data is more critical to those charged with fixing it. Independent shops depend on diagnostic tools accessing a vehicle's electronic nervous system through onboard diagnostics ports. But at some point, it may be that manufacturers and governments will close off that access as maintenance is contained within ownership, lease or car-sharing agreements.

In June of last year California passed the Consumer Privacy Act which guarantees that state's citizens the right to know what information businesses are collecting from them, the right to opt out of allowing a business to sell their information, the right to have a business delete personal information, and that guarantees the right to receive equal service and pricing from a business whether or not it exercises the rights in other ways. It goes into effect in January 2020 and may become the model for legislation around the country.

On the national level, there have been tentative moves toward a national right to privacy law, but nothing concrete has emerged from Congress. In Europe, the EU has determined that automotive data falls under the General Data Protection Regulations and its privacy provisions.

My sophisticated analysis—based on some reading, some fears, and my generalized conjecture—is that buying a new car today is like signing up for a social media account you don't monitor and aren't sure anyone else is minding either. But in the near term, as 5G communication between vehicles, autonomous operations, and different forms of car ownership develop, buying a car will be like buying a condominium. That is, your privacy and your actions will be limited by the agreements you enter. We'll all become members of the equivalent of a massive, car-based homeowners association (HOA).

Anyone who has lived under an HOA knows that they're run by the people who care enough to show up at the meetings. And that the moment when you realize that your HOA is out to get you, it's already too late to change the rules.

Show up for the meetings. Because otherwise, one day, you may really miss stupid cars.

The Man Behind Porsche’s Greatest Modern Car

Mon, 08/12/2019 - 15:14

At the beginning of April, August Achleitner retired after 36 years at Porsche. He worked first at the chassis department, in the 1980s, then on packaging for the first-generation Boxster and 996-generation 911 in the 1990s. He helped bring the Carrera GT to life. But his most important role at Porsche was as chief engineer for the 911, the car that defines the company.

An Austrian who grew up in Munich, Achleitner took over the 911 program in 2001, inheriting the car internally known as 996 during the launch of its second-generation refresh. He oversaw three new generations of 911—997, 991 and 992—each one bringing profound changes to one of the world's favorite sports cars.

This story is compiled from four conversations I had with Achleitner over several months—one at Porsche's Rennsport Reunion last year, mainly focused on the 991; another at the Los Angeles Auto Show in November 2018, the then-new 992; a phone discussion, later, where he reflected more broadly on his legacy; and a final chat at the 2019 Geneva Motor Show this past spring. A picture quickly emerged showing Achleitner to be one of the most consequential figures in the history of the 911—right up there with Butzi Porsche, Hans Mezger, and Dr. Helmuth Bott.

We didn’t talk about the 996 too much. Achleitner inherited that car, the first water-cooled 911, when he joined the sports car program in 2001. And while he oversaw the launches of that platform’s Carrera 4S and Turbo S models, he says that he didn’t have a profound effect on the car. Which means his 911 story really starts with the 997, which arrived in 2004.

The first job was fixing the looks. “At that time, some people weren’t so happy with the styling of the 996—[it was] a little too soft and it lacked the traditional round headlamps,” he said. “The 997 used the platform of the 996, but the exterior was more or less completely new.”

A few older 911 design cues returned, as did a familiar badge: Carrera S. The revived sub-model featured a larger engine, a 355-hp 3.8-liter in place of the old car’s 325-hp 3.6, and a host of chassis and interior upgrades. It quickly became the most popular variant of the 997. "For us, [that car] was very good because it did not cost us too much more money,” Achleitner says, hinting at the model's profitability. In America, the Carrera S cost about $10,000 more than a base Carrera, a lot of coin for a mechanically similar car. The model is now so important to Porsche that the 992 was launched only in S guise—as of summer 2019, we have yet to see a non-S Carrera.

Achleitner highlighted the importance of the 997 Turbo, too, primarily because it introduced variable turbine geometry (VTG) to the marque. A VTG turbocharger has movable turbine vanes that allow quicker boost production at low engine speeds and greater boost pressure at higher rpm. Generally speaking, the technology offers the quick response of a small turbocharger with a large turbo's ability to help make horsepower. VTG was expensive and challenging to develop—Achleitner said that some of the metals involved were borrowed from aerospace technology—but worth it. The 991 Turbo, as well as Porsche’s 718 S and GTS models, now use variable turbines.

Porsche gave the 997 a facelift in 2008, and with its slightly updated looks came a new engine, the 9A1 flat-six. This was the first 911 engine to feature direct fuel injection, and more importantly, a dual-clutch gearbox. Porsche's Doppelkupplungsgetriebe (PDK) was a radically different transmission than the five-speed, torque-converter Tiptronic automatic that it replaced. The new gearbox used two internal clutch packs: one for gears 1, 3, 5, and 7, and another for 2, 4, and 6. PDK marked a huge improvement over Tiptronic, with faster shifts and more intuitive behavior. It brought a new level of easy speed to the 911 and broadened the car’s sales appeal, but it also reset the industry benchmark for performance automatic transmissions. "This was one of the most important developments," Achleitner said.

These and other engineering choices—including the suspension and driveline calibration of the fantastic 997-generation Carrera GTS, one of the most balanced and satisfying 911s in modern history—were early highlights of Achleitner’s watch. But he really made his mark with the next-generation 911, the 991. In one of our conversations, the engineer brought up the 911's historic reputation for tricky handling, noting that older versions of the car required "a specialist at the wheel."

"There have been many discussions on whether the 911 was the right sports-car concept generally," Achleitner said. "I personally have always been convinced that this concept is one of the best—because of the rear engine, you have the weight on the axle where all the forces have been transmitted to the road. You get a lot of mechanical grip.

"With the new platform of the 991, we were able to avoid all the disadvantages of a [rear-engine] layout, and just emphasize the advantages."

The 991, introduced in 2011, wasn't vastly larger than the 997 it replaced, but it grew in significant ways. Length increased by 2.2 inches, but the greater change was in wheelbase—a 3.9-inch increase, one of the largest in 911 history. This served to move the rear axle three inches aft in the chassis, increasing cockpit room and high-speed stability but also making the car a little less rear-engined than it had been.

"This had been a really big change, and one could feel immediately during the first drives that the driving behavior and characteristics were much, much better than the 997 before," Achleitner said.

The 991’s flat-six was carried over from the 997, but it received a few upgrades for more power. And for cost and efficiency reasons, rather than use a six-speed manual gearbox, Porsche chose to adapt its PDK transaxle to work with a clutch pedal, in the process creating the world's first seven-speed manual. But one of the most important changes brought by the 991 was the switch from hydraulic to electric power-assist steering. This was done partly in the interest of fuel efficiency—eliminating an engine-driven hydraulic power-steering pump reduces parasitic horsepower loss—but primarily for reasons of packaging. The move caused trepidation among enthusiasts, who feared the switch to electric assistance would rob the 911 of its famously textured steering feel.

Achleitner wasn’t worried. "We did not have much discussion about the steering systems," he said. "When we drove the first prototypes with the electric power-assistance, we found out it gives you the chance to make the steering even better.” He noted that, while the 991’s steering system prompted much public discussion when implemented, that talk diminished over the model’s life. Today, with electric steering used by virtually the entire industry, the 911 remains a benchmark for feel.

What did give Achleitner pause—along with many others at Porsche—was the car’s engine. The 991 debuted with a revised version of the 997's 9A1 flat-six, a gem. But for the 911’s 2015 facelift, a new engine was developed for all Carrera models: a 3.0-liter flat-six wearing two turbochargers. For the first time, "ordinary" 911s would not offer a naturally aspirated engine—the expensive, track-focused GT3 was the only variant without turbos. "In my opinion, this was a bigger revolution than the change from air-cooled to water-cooled engines," Achleitner said. "This was not a change in cooling system, but a change in characteristic."

Predictably, the change came from a search for efficiency. A smaller engine would help improve fuel economy and reduce emissions, especially on cold starts.

"We had a lot of concern that we [wouldn't] be able to keep the characteristic of the engine as we wanted," Achleitner said. "If you look at most other companies, their turbocharged engines stop revving at about 6000 rpm, or even less… A sports-car engine doesn't just move the car, it has to be fun. Nobody buys a 911 if it's not fun to drive."

Porsche worked hard at achieving that goal. It developed an innovative anti-lag system that made turbo lag virtually imperceptible. Compared with the outgoing naturally aspirated 9A1 six, the new engine lost just 300 rpm, for a 7500-rpm redline. Turbochargers tend to mute all the good noise enthusiasts like, too, and Porsche worked on adding some back in during the rest of the 991's life. The result was an engine that felt vastly different from its predecessors, one with tons of low-end torque that was still willing to rev and sing.

Achleitner also considers the capital-T Turbo a highlight from the 991. "This is, in my opinion, one of the best sports cars ever," he said. "It's a really fast car, but completely easy to drive. Of course, we know for some guys, it's too easy to drive, but for them, we have a GT3."

I asked Achleitner if it was possible for a 911, or any car, to be too easy. "I think you will not find the correct answer, because drivers are different," he said. "If I look at all our customers, really experienced drivers, or guys who go on the racetrack, they are the minority. For, say, 95 to 98 percent of our customers, the good drivability, this easy handling without any problems, is the right way. We offer variants that require a little bit more knowledge and driving skill. For these guys, we have a GTS, a GT3, or even a GT2 or a GT3 RS. But for the majority, the average customer, it's better to have a basic Carrera or a Turbo."

This hints at the core conflict of running a modern performance-car company that made its bones pleasing a small, demanding audience: In order to grow, you have to please more people, but in order to please those people—to say nothing of remaining profitable—you often have to stray from your original mission. A story from the 997 days provides a good example:

"At the beginning of the GTS [project], we planned to only launch this as a rear-wheel-drive car because of the weight, and because it was really a car between the Carrera S and GT3. And, let me say, even a little bit closer to the GT3 than the Carrera S. And then, I got a phone call from my Austrian colleagues. They said to me, 'Oh, Mr. Achleitner, you made a beautiful car with the GTS, but you forgot us. We only sell all-wheel-drive cars.' And it was the same for the Swiss guys—they sell almost no rear-drive [911s].

"I said to them, 'Just wait three months, and you'll get a Carrera 4 GTS.'"

Porsche's customer magazine, Christophorus, once called Achleitner the "keeper of the grail." The more I spoke with him, the more that title made sense. In his time as head of the 911, he accomplished the seemingly contradictory—he broadened the car’s appeal and practicality, while still keeping much of the model's character alive. The 911 is now more of a luxury/GT car than it once was, but it remains a sporting benchmark in the industry.

Achleitner retires having just debuted the 992, the 991’s successor. The car is a refinement and soft evolution of established principles. Track widths and rear-wheel sizes have increased in the name of comfort and handling, and a new electric architecture allows for more driver aids and assistance systems. The 3.0-liter twin-turbo of the outgoing car has also been reworked, and the PDK gearbox now has eight forward ratios. Accommodations have even been made for a hybrid drivetrain, though Achleitner told me at our last meeting that no decision has been made regarding putting such a model into production. (For more on the 992, read our interview with him from last November.)

Now that he's retired, Achleitner has handed the reigns of Porsche’s most famous car to Dr. Frank-Steffen Walliser, formerly the head of Porsche Motorsport and the man behind the 918 Spyder. As for Achleitner, he plans to stay active with skiing and mountain biking. He’s also a motorcycle enthusiast: His Ducati V4 Panigale, he tells me happily, will pull wheelies in fourth gear.

"Some people guess I'm not so happy about it, to leave all this,” Achleitner said. “But I have no problem with it. In the last 18 years, I've been completely booked out, all the time, even during holidays. And you have to work on some things on the weekend. So I'm looking forward to [retirement] quite a bit."

I asked if he felt that, in his time at Porsche, he had accomplished everything he wanted.

"Yeah,” he said. “Absolutely.”

BMW Is Introducing Inductive Charging on the 530e in America

Mon, 08/12/2019 - 15:06
  • BMW is launching a pilot program in the U.S. for an inductive charging system that's compatible with the 5-series plug-in hybrid.
  • This system doesn't require a plug and can charge the battery using a ground pad under the car.
  • The pilot program includes a 36-month lease of 200 vehicles in 13 counties in California, and all installation costs are included.

UPDATE 8/12/19: BMW has finally launched a pilot program for its inductive charging system in the U.S. around a year later than originally planned. The program will be available to 200 California residents provided that they live in one of the thirteen participating counties and live in a location that's qualified for the inductive charging pad installation (the application is here). Once approved, customers will have to go to one of the 33 participating dealerships to begin a 36-month lease of a 2019 530e plug-in hybrid sedan. The lease covers all costs of the inductive charging pad installation, maintenance, and de-installation.

BMW has announced that it will bring inductive charging to market for its electrified 5-series, the 530e iPerformance, starting in Europe and later in other markets, including the United States.

The unit consists of a GroundPad, which can be installed on a garage floor or outside, and a CarPad, which is attached to the vehicle undercarriage and is connected to the lithium-ion battery. The car’s display screen helps guide the driver in positioning the car directly over the GroundPad (the system allows up to three inches of leeway fore and aft and roughly five and a half inches side to side). Once the car is correctly placed, the driver presses a Start button and wireless charging begins; the system switches off automatically when the battery is topped off.

The process to fully recharge the 530e’s 9.2-kWh battery takes about three and a half hours and has a claimed efficiency rate of 85 percent. BMW says that's similar to the speed of its Level 2 home charger.

The inductive charging option will not be offered on any other BMW plug-in models; it’s exclusive to the 530e, and available for leased vehicles only. It’s further restricted to just 200 cars and will be offered only in California.

    Despite automakers’ big push toward electrified powertrains, inductive charging has been lagging. Mercedes-Benz previously announced that the feature would be available on the S550e later this year, but it appears now that it has been delayed. Aftermarket supplier Evatran makes units for the i3 as well as for the Chevrolet Volt, the Nissan Leaf, and the Tesla Model S.

    We might have expected to see wider availability of the technology, but it has been hindered by its high cost, concerns about interoperability, and relatively slow charging times. That’s too bad given the convenience that the technology promises. BMW’s rollout is fairly limited, but at least it’s a start.

    This story was originally published in May 2018.

    2020 Ford Mustang Shelby GT350R Changes Include GT500 Components

    Mon, 08/12/2019 - 14:18
    • Ford is touting the fact that the 2020 Mustang Shelby GT350R now uses the same steering setup as the GT500.
    • The revised steering geometry and software is said to improve handling.
    • The GT350R is otherwise unchanged for 2020 and will go on sale later this year.

    It's only natural for automakers to try and market their lesser products using links to their halo models. Ford's giving it a go with the 2020 Mustang Shelby GT350R, the spicier, even more track-focused GT350 model, which it now claims to have a direct mechanical connection to the upcoming king-of-the-hill GT500. To be fair, though, the 2020 GT350R gets only one hand-me-down from the 760-hp GT500: its revised steering geometry. We know, try not to spit up your coffee.

    The GT350R's updated steering setup includes a new "high-trail steering knuckle" that is acted on by a new electrically boosted steering rack with updated software. There are mentions of elevated driver confidence and enhanced steering precision. Also, Ford has removed the R's exhaust resonators to save weight, which is likely to result in increased driver satisfaction and exhaust loudness.

    The other key connections between the GT350R and the GT500 are threads common to every Mustang: The cars will share their basic body shells, interiors, etc. In fact, the GT500 benefits from some trickle-up tech from the GT350 and GT350R models—its dual-overhead-cam 5.2-liter V-8 engine. Of course, in the GT500, the so-called "Voodoo" engine is supercharged, boosting its output from 526 horsepower to an overkill 760. Also, while the GT350R includes fancy lightweight carbon-fiber wheels as standard, they're a pricey option on the GT500. So, really, Ford should be spitting out headlines about how the new GT500 picks up key bits from its lesser GT350 siblings.

    Take a Ride in This Tank Limo for Just $2000 a Day

    Sat, 08/10/2019 - 18:00

    A company in the U.K. has created the ultimate ride to prom: a “TankLimo.” TankLimo is two British Army armored personnel carriers welded into a single, lumbering beast of a vehicle, capable of taking five teenage couples to their fancy dress party in relative (for an ex-army vehicle, anyway) comfort. Not only is it legal to own, it’s also street legal to drive in Britain.

    The vehicle is based on the British Army’s FV432 armored personnel carrier, which looks similar to and is a contemporary of the U.S. Army’s M113 APC. The FV432 was designed and built by GKN Sankey, with 3000 vehicles produced between 1963 and the 1980s. Like the M113, the FV432 is considered obsolete for frontline use but is still used by combat service support units operating behind the front line.

    The gimmick in this case is that TankLimo is actually two FV432s, cut apart and then welded together, adding five feet to the passenger compartment. The cut is noticeable between the tank’s running gear, ahead of the first armored windowpane. Inside, the two sets of running gear were apparently fused into one single system, an impressive feat of garage engineering. The resulting vehicle is “about 22 feet long” and between seven and a half and eight feet wide.

    TankLimo is powered by a Rolls-Royce K60 two-stroke six-cylinder multi-fuel engine developing 240 horsepower and coupled to a TX-200-4A semi-automatic transmission. Adding weight will reduce the horsepower-to-weight ratio, making it slower and less responsive. That having been said, according to HotCars.com, TankLimo can hit 35 mph.

    TankLimo is unarmed, though it appears to have a turret from an obsolete FV101 Scorpion reconnaissance tank. The barrel appears to be cut down, likely so that it won’t take out a telephone pole while navigating a narrow street. It also has the smoke-grenade dischargers from the original Scorpion designed to hide the vehicle from enemy fire.

    TankLimo is available for rent for about $2000 a day. One interesting detail about the TankLimo, according to its owner: “Every turn you do is a skid,” meaning that it can drift. In other words, you can drift-race a tank. If that won’t make for a memorable prom night, nothing will.

    The 26 Loudest Cars We've Ever Tested

    Sat, 08/10/2019 - 13:04
    2018 Porsche 911 GT3 Touring – 95 decibels (tie)

    Basically a wingless, more civilized 911 GT3, the 2018 Porsche 911 GT3 Touring opens our list with a wide-open-throttle sound level of 95 decibels, comparable to the sound a subway train makes from 200 feet away. These glorious decibels are blasted into the cabin by a 500-hp 4.0-liter flat-six that revs to 9000 rpm.

    Porsche2018 Porsche 911 GT2 RS Weissach – 95 decibels (tie)

    The most powerful production 911 to date is the 700-hp, track-ready 2018 Porsche 911 GT2 RS Weissach. Powered by a twin-turbocharged 3.8-liter flat-six that revs to 7000 rpm, the GT2 RS rips to 60 mph from a standstill in only 2.6 seconds, delivering 95 decibels of auditory assault at wide-open throttle.

    Greg Pajo - Car and Driver2018 McLaren 720S – 95 decibels (tie)

    With its gas pedal pressed to the floor, the 2018 McLaren 720S's twin-turbocharged 4.0-liter V-8 yelps out 95 decibels inside the snug cabin. Meanwhile, it's routing up to 710 horsepower and 568 lb-ft of torque to the rear wheels; that power is enough to make the McLaren one of the quickest rear-wheel-drive cars we've ever tested with a 2.7-second run to 60 mph and a quarter-mile pass of 10.2 seconds.

    Greg Pajo - Car and Driver2017 Ford Mustang Shelby GT350 – 95 decibels (tie)

    The 2017 Ford Mustang Shelby GT350 is the cheapest car on this list, with a then-base price of $57,045. It is propelled by Ford's hand-built Voodoo V-8, a naturally aspirated 5.2-liter flat-plane-crankshaft V-8 with 526 horsepower on tap and, at full throttle, a 95-decibel imitation of a Ferrari V-8's voice.

    Andrew Trahan - Car and Driver2017 Chevrolet Corvette Grand Sport – 95 decibels (tie)

    With "only" 460 horsepower at its disposal, the 2017 Corvette Grand Sport is still capable of making quite the racket, which is exemplified by its peak sound level of 95 decibels. None of the reason it's so loud is due to the Z07 track package, which adds Michelin Sport Cup 2 tires, a more aggressive spoiler, and carbon-ceramic brake rotors. Those bits are just cool—and helpful on a track. It's the Corvette's available dual-mode exhaust that helps its 6.2-liter small-block V-8 sing at maximum volume.

    Chevrolet2017 Chevrolet Camaro ZL1 1LE – 95 decibels (tie)

    It is a little surprising that the 2017 Camaro ZL1 1LE's V-8 belts out the same 95 decibels at wide-open throttle as the '17 Corvette Grand Sport. The ZL1 gets GM's LT4 supercharged 6.2-liter V-8 and makes markedly more power. Oh well, we'll take our small-block rocks where we can get 'em. The track-special Camaro rockets from zero to 60 mph in 3.5 seconds and from a bevy of weight reductions all in the name of going fast around the track.

    James Lipman - Car and Driver2016 Porsche 911 R – 95 decibels (tie)

    Porsche's highly coveted and low production 2016 911 R gave brand aficionados plenty to freak out about, including a six-speed manual transmission, the 911 GT3 RS's suspension hardware, and the GT3's sweet 4.0-liter flat six—and less of that car's ostentatious bodywork. Not only does the 911 R look less conspicuous than a 911 GT3 RS, it's far quieter, producing "only" 95 decibels at WOT; the RS's decibel readings are far, far higher.

    Porsche2015 Lamborghini Huracán – 95 decibels (tie)

    Introduced for the 2015 model year, the Lamborghini Huracán is the Italian brand's "entry-level" supercar. You probably wouldn't think to use that descriptor given the baby Lambo's performance: It hits 60 mph in 2.5 seconds, and its enthusiastic 602-hp 5.2-liter V-10 shouts out 95 decibels from its perch just behind the front seats.

    Charlie Magee - Car and Driver2015 Chevrolet Corvette Z06 – 95 decibels (tie)

    The 2015 Chevrolet Corvette Z06 is another one of GM's fire-breathing monsters. It's motivated by the wondrously powerful 650-hp LT4 engine, so it's not terribly surprising that the engine delivers the same 95 decibels to the Z06's occupants as it does in the Camaro ZL1. The Z06 is good at more than just creating noise; assisted by the Z07 track-handling package, it pulls 1.19 g's on the skidpad and can absolutely devour a racetrack.

    Michael Simari - Car and Driver2011 Ferrari 458 Italia – 95 decibels (tie)

    Everything about the Ferrari 458 Italia is sharp. The steering is superprecise, the seven-speed dual-clutch automatic gearbox shifts ultraquickly, and beneath that sultry bodywork sits an absolute screamer of an engine that barks out an edgy staccato capable of rising to 95 decibels. That V-8, by the way, is a high-water mark—at least in terms of sound: the 458 Italia was replaced by the twin-turbocharged 488 GTB, whose engine sound seemed muffled by the forced-induction setup. The 488 has since been replaced by the also-turbocharged F8 Tributo, but Ferrari claims to have brought back some of the 458's aural magic.

    Mark Bramley - Car and Driver2006 Saleen S7 Twin Turbo – 96 decibels

    The 2006 Saleen S7 Twin Turbo is the brainchild of famed Mustang tuner Steve Saleen. This wild all-American, 750-hp mid-engined race car for the street was created in Irvine, California, and is the oldest entry here. Hey, it can make noise as good as that of the younger whippersnappers that fill the rest of this list.

    Randy Lorentzen2016 McLaren 570S – 97 decibels (tie)

    A destroyer of corners and slayer of back roads, the 2016 McLaren 570S has a twin-turbocharged 3.8-liter V-8 capable of revving to 8100 rpm. Although McLaren considers this machine to be among its lower-level offerings (the 570S is a member of the brand's Sport Series, which is bested by the Super and Ultimate series), it sure doesn't croon like some "base" car—after all, there's nothing basic about 97 decibels.

    Michael Simari - Car and Driver2016 Lamborghini Aventador LP750 SV – 97 decibels (tie)

    The brash and bold 2016 Lamborghini Aventador LP750 SV is blessed with the largest engine on this list, a naturally aspirated 6.5-liter V-12, yet doesn't make the biggest sound on this list. Still, you try a 97-decibel full-throttle rip in the big Lambo and tell us you think anything about the experience counts as "small." The SV's advantage over lesser Aventadors comes thanks to a freer-flowing exhaust and a higher engine redline of 8500 rpm.

    Jim Fets - Car and Driver2015 Porsche 918 Spyder – 97 decibels (tie)

    When most people think of a hybrid, plug-in or otherwise, they think of something slow and bland—like a Prius. Porsche's 918 Spyder is neither of those things, even if it is a plug-in hybrid. This ridiculous, 887-hp supercar remains a standout even today—it first went on sale in 2014 and has since been discontinued—and its gas engine and electric motors can stir up a very un-Prius-like 97 decibels.

    Porsche2009 Lamborghini Gallardo LP560-4 – 97 decibels (tie)

    For a car with a mouthful of a name, the 2009 Lamborghini Gallardo LP560-4 sure doesn't talk like it has its mouth full. The precursor to today's Huracán, the Gallardo was calm and collected at speed yet capable of whipping its longitudinally mounted, naturally aspirated V-10 engine into a 97-decibel frenzy.

    Lamborghini2008 Chevrolet Corvette ZR1 – 97 decibels (tie)

    The 2008 Chevrolet Corvette ZR1 was a cruise missile, unlike today's more knife-edged, track-friendly ZR1. It was a raw Vette with huge horsepower, and it was capable of giving anyone who drove it an unparalleled adrenaline rush and a 97-decibel ear thwacking, thanks to its absurdly powerful, supercharged 6.2-liter V-8 LS9 engine.

    Richard Prince2015 Ferrari LaFerrari – 98 decibels

    Ferrari's entry into the hybrid-hypercar wars was the $1.4 million 2015 Ferrari LaFerrari. When we sneaked in a test of the redundantly named Ferrari, its 6.3-liter V-12 easily outscreamed the electric motor and pushed our sound reading at full throttle to 98 decibels.

    Ferrari2019 McLaren 720S Spider – 99 decibels (tie)

    Just like its hardtop sibling, the 2019 McLaren 720S Spider is a breathtakingly beautiful machine that turns heads as well as it turns lap times. It is, however, louder than the fixed-roof 720S; its folding-hardtop roof lets in more noise from the twin-turbo V-8, showering occupants with 99 decibels. Noise aside, the 720S Spider performs just as well as the coupe at the track.

    McLaren2019 Chevrolet Corvette ZR1 – 99 decibels (tie)

    The loudest front-engined car on this list won't be front-engined for much longer. (Get it? Because the Corvette is going mid-engined.) Anyway, the latest and greatest front-engined Vette is the 2019 ZR1. It (and its 755-hp supercharged V-8) is a 99-decibel swan song for the engine layout Chevrolet has relied upon since 1953 for its all-American sports car.

    Anton Watts - Car and Driver2018 Porsche 911 GT3 – 100 decibels (tie)

    It's only marginally disappointing that Porsche buries the epic 4.0-liter flat-six that powers the 2018 911 GT3 deep in that car's tail, under a tiny trunklid and an innocuous plastic fan shroud. Hey, at least using your senses other than sight to experience the engine is easy. Simply step on the gas and prepare to be assaulted by 100 decibels of race-car-like noise. That isn't the only motorsports connection: the GT3 is assembled in the Porsche Motorsport race-car factory in Flacht, Germany.

    Chris Doane Automotive - Car and Driver2018 Lamborghini Huracán Performante – 100 decibels (tie)

    In taking its fantastic Huracán and adding some more power, spicier aerodynamic bits, and better tires while cutting weight, Lamborghini created the 2018 Huracán Performante. You're welcome, world. Just looking at the thing, it probably isn't surprising that this raging bull snorts 100 decibels into its driver's ears at full chat.

    Marc Urbano - Car and Driver2017 Ford GT – 100 decibels (tie)

    It's no surprise that the 2017 Ford GT looks, drives, and sounds like a race car. It was, after all, developed at the same time as the Ford GT that won its class at the Le Mans 24-hour endurance race in 2016. Its twin-turbocharged 3.5-liter V-6 is noisier than most other forced-induction engines, pumping out 100 decibels at full throttle. It also pumps out 647 horsepower and 550 lb-ft of torque, enough to (briefly) make the GT the quickest car ever to lap Virginia International Raceway in our hands. Its crown was later stolen, but still.

    Michael Simari - Car and Driver2019 Porsche 911 GT3 RS – 102 decibels (tie)

    In creating the 2019 911 GT3 RS, we're glad nobody at Porsche stopped to ask if having a flat-six engine capable of spinning to an insane 9000-rpm redline and delivering 102 decibels was legally okay. Of course, we assume the car passed the U.S. market's necessary drive-by noise regulations—but those tests aren't conducted at full throttle. Truly our only complaint about the GT3 RS is that this everyday, street-legal race car is somewhat quieter than it used to be. A 2016 model registered even more decibels.

    Jessica Walker - Car and Driver2019 McLaren Senna – 102 decibels (tie)

    The 2019 McLaren Senna has a powerful twin-turbocharged V-8 engine, lots of racy aerodynamic features, and launches from a standstill harder than you can say "from zero to 60, and beyond!" It also pumps Saturn V rocket levels of eardrum-shattering noise into its cabin at wide-open throttle, cranking our decibel meter to 102.

    McLaren2009 Ferrari 430 Scuderia – 104 decibels

    In creating the hard-core, track-ready 2009 430 Scuderia, Ferrari removed the sound deadening material from the regular F430 and turned up the wick on its 4.3-liter V-8. In our testing, that series of excellent decisions resulted in 104 decibels of glorious noise while the V-8 chased its 8500-rpm redline. Without the pesky sound deadening, you're free to enjoy every vibration—or suffer hearing damage.

    Andreas Lindlahr - Car and Driver2016 Porsche 911 GT3 RS – 108 decibels

    The 2016 Porsche 911 GT3 RS is a beauty. Whether you find carving apexes to be attractive or are tickled by a thing's actual looks, the RS checks the right boxes. Aurally, it's in a different league. At idle, the Porsche makes a discordant cacophony of sounds, but with its gas pedal smashed to the floor, we measured an earplug-worthy 108 decibels inside the car. Seriously, the RS's 4.0-liter flat-six as it approaches its 8800-rpm redline is not something to be trifled with, and it's definitely something you want to experience in person.

    Michael Simari - Car and Driver