History is told through objects, and automobiles are important in telling the story of American life, the triumphs, and turmoil that were experienced in the twentieth century.
For fifteen days in September 2019, on America’s front lawn, the National Mall will be displayed two very different vehicles telling two very distinctly different stories of the USA in the 1960s. A 1969 Chevrolet Corvette Stingray owned by Astronaut Alan Bean, and a 1966 Volkswagen Type 2 bus owned by Esau and Janie B. Jenkins, who worked to educate and better African Americans in South Carolina.
Aerospace – 1969 Chevrolet Corvette Stingray. On Display September 12 to 20.
Starting in 1961, General Motors offered a program to all astronauts – lease a Chevrolet Corvette for $1/year. Of the three custom-ordered 1969 Chevrolet Corvette 390-hp, 427 Stingray coupes, only this one formerly owned by Alan Bean survives.
The fourth human to walk on the moon, Alan Bean, the Apollo 12 Lunar Module Pilot in 1969, took part in the lease program. Alan Bean, along with his colleagues (all of which had a hand in designing the color scheme) chose a gold and black color combination. On the front left fender of each car was a red, white and blue plaque, in each square were: LMP, CDR, and CMP, to stand for the positions they held on the mission.
The 1969 Corvette Stingray will be displayed on the National Mall in Washington D.C. September 12 to 20 as a part of the fifth annual Historic Vehicle Association (HVA) Cars at the Capital exhibition. After the exhibition, the vehicle will return to its private collection.
Civil Rights object – 1966 Volkswagen Type 2 bus on display September 20 to 27
A 1966 Volkswagen Type 2 bus, a now well-known 1960s symbol of freedom and peace, was used by Esau and Janie B. Jenkins. The couple worked to improve the lives of their African-American neighbors on Johns Island, South Carolina from the 1940s through the 1970s. Starting out by owning a farm and selling produce were troubled by the lack of opportunity and rights in his community.
The Jenkins taught Africa-Americans, aspects of the South Carolina state constitution. This was a requirement at the time for becoming registered voters, so they could pass the racial literacy exams required in the State of South Carolina. In addition to launching businesses that employed and served their community.
The couple launched businesses that employed and served their community, organized citizenship schools, and used their Volkswagen Type 2 bus to further their initiatives and advocacy. When Esau Jenkins died in 1972, the 1966 Volkswagen the Jenkinses had last used was parked in a backyard, where it remained until it was retrieved by the Historical Vehicle Association in 2019. In 2014, the family donated the back hatch, along with the engine cover, that sported their famous motto: “Love Is Progress; Hate Is Expensive.” to the Smithsonian National Museum of African American History and Culture in Washington, D.C. where it remains on permanent exhibit.
The 1966 Type 2 will be displayed on the National Mall in Washington D.C. September 20 to 27 as a part of the fifth annual Historic Vehicle Association (HVA) Cars at the Capital exhibition. After the exhibition, the Historic Vehicle Association and professional conservators, working with Volkswagen, will work to preserve the bus to help keep a memento of the Jenkins’ work alive.
About the Historic Vehicle Association
“Ensuring our automotive heritage is never lost nor forgotten is paramount to the HVA mission. We are delighted to partner with Volkswagen and B. R. Howard to preserve this important microbus, and to fully document its rich history as part of our National Historic Vehicle Register,” said Diane Parker, Vice President of the Historic Vehicle Association.
The HVA is dedicated to preserving and sharing America’s automotive heritage. In 2014, The HVA established the National Historic Vehicle Register in partnership with the U.S. Department of the Interior, Heritage Documentation Programs and Library of Congress, respectively, to document historically significant automobiles in America’s past. The HVA is supported by over 400,000 individual historic vehicle owners, key stakeholders and corporations as well as individual benefactors. Please visit www.historicvehicle.org.
A Queer4Cars Video will be coming on the Ford Raptor
Have you ever watched a muscle-bound guy walk into a gym full of other muscular men? It is done with a swagger and an air of confidence. That is much how the 2019 Ford Raptor rolls down the road, as it shows off its buff and very well-defined body. This boy has some serious tats too on his defined body. We took it on the road for a week to see what he could do. Sadly our trip did not include any off-road adventure. Though the thought of cleaning this bulky pickup with its bulging fenders afterward might have been a deterrent.
It was those well-defined bulges in the body parts that kept making me think that there were dents in the truck after parking it in a parking lot. But nope, that is part of the overall design of this aluminum-bodied beast. The Raptor Exterior Graphics Package graphics – tats – are a $1,075 option that has ink all over the pickup bed and cab body, even on the taillights. But they were telling you that it has extra safety sensors built-in.
Is this F-150 Different From The Others?
Indeed, it is! In all the Raptor is an F-150 on steroids, so it is bigger than a standard pickup truck. Size-wise it is on par with the Super Duty F250 pickups on the road. With Raptor there is just more of everything.
The suspension is beefed-up and lifted with Fox Live Valve shocks and skid plates. The Raptor has Ford’s Elect 4X4 shift on the fly with hill descent and off-road mode, and a terrain management system. While the engine is a Raptor unique 3.5 Ecoboost High Output, twin-turbo. Raptor rolls on knobby 17-inch LT315/70R17 BF Goodrich TA KO Baja Champion Tires. That can be set up, so they stay on the rim even if you pressure down the tires for climbing over rocks and rougher terrain.
Our test vehicle was the SuperCrew® though I hear the shorter SuperCab is what is thought to make this a rig even tougher looking. Both cab versions come with short a 5 ½ foot pickup bed. No matter what size the cab is, the interior was exceptionally well designed and finished. The red ring on the top center of the leather-covered steering wheel was a nice touch, especially in the blue accent interior with the Recaro blue accent front seats.
Driving the Raptor
Indeed it is big, you are high up, with a commanding view of all around you. From the moment you make that big step (and it is a big one) up onto the black cast Aluminum Raptor designated running board. Over the Ford Performance doorsill, and slip into the cab’s blue suede-like Recaro seat with the Raptor insignia on the headrest, you know this is not just a run of the mill F-150.
The Baja-bred F-150 Raptor is fine on a typical paved road, though the 17-inch BFG KO tires give a rougher ride than if were on an all seasons or even winter tires. And tires like this are a part of the overall image of a go-anywhere, do-anything off-road capable truck.
The full-size 4-door Raptor SuperCrew® comes standard with the extended-range 36-gallon fuel tank; an option on all other models. I finally figured out how to use Ford’s remote start system that comes as part of the $9,365 802A equipment package. (you have to lock it first then hit the start button, even if it is already locked. Know that once inside, you have to turn it off and turn it on again.) This package has a lot of desirable features that include the B&O™ Premium Sound System by Bang & Olufsen. Creating a customized audio experience by incorporating specifically tailored speaker placement, tuning, and calibration for this vehicle. Among its features are an integrated microphone monitoring background noise to ensure outstanding playback, up to 1,000 watts of amplified power, and 10 premium speakers. You get several other niceties, from LED Bed lighting to voice-activated navigation and a heated steering wheel, to name only a few.
Unique to the Raptor is a twin-turbo, intercooled DOHC 24-valve, 3.5L EcoBoost® with port fuel and direct injection system and Ford’s Electronic 10-speed automatic. This high-output EcoBoost generates more power than the previous 6.2L V8 – 450 horsepower and 510 lb.-ft. of torque, and provides better overall fuel economy, we got just under 20 mpg overall.
F-150 EcoBoost® and the advanced 10-speed automatic transmission delivered perfectly acceptable performance in low and mid ranges of the powerband with enhanced acceleration provided plenty of performance and power when needed. The selectable modes: Normal, Tow-Haul, Snow-Wet, EcoSelect, and Sport provide plenty of options no matter where you are driving, or what the conditions might be.
Hauling and Towing
Our unit had the $595 tough-bed spray-in Bedliner as well as the included Box Link™ system that offers a flexible, configurable way to secure items in the pickup bed. This tester was equipped with the $375 Tailgate Step with Tailgate Lift Assist an F-150 class-exclusive feature. That made getting up into the bed easier, though still a darn big first step up.
While this is designed as a sport truck, it does have an 8000 lb tow capacity. With BLIS trailer tow monitoring, trailer sway control, integrated trailer brake control, and Pro trailer backup assist, you have a lot to help out if you do end up hauling something.
This is definitely a Playboy Truck that will garner plenty of attention and comments. It is a fun one to drive, and you need to have space for it. It barely fit in my parking space.
The Raptor is showy, and it is quite popular even at a final sticker $74,955. If you want one, they are out there, you will have to negotiate your own discounts with a dealer who has one and wants to sell it.
Would I buy it? As much as I enjoyed my week in it, for my lifestyle, no. Though if I lived in the mountains or out in the country and had a barn to park it in, maybe. But as just a work pickup, probably not. You just do not want to get it dirty or damage it.
I thank Ford Motor Company and North American Vehicle Services for providing this truck for my week in Gettysburg, Pennsylvania. They provided the truck and a full tank of fuel, but no compensation for this review.
Words and images by William West Hopper.
Mr. Hopper is a lifelong auto enthusiast. As a member of the Washington Automotive Press Association – WAPA he currently serves as their President. Mr. Hopper is also a member of The International Automotive Press Association IMPA.
When Kia announced a new larger SUV at the North American Auto Show in 2016, They let the world know that they are not following the pack on the SUV mountain, instead, carving their own trail when it comes to vehicles that families will love. Showing that indeed, customers want a family-friendly car that is more like a car, just with style and space. Something different but familiar.
Thus, Kia introduced and let it be known that the Telluride would be built right here in the USA in West Point, Georgia.
We took the 2020 Kia Telluride SX V6 AWD out for a week, finding that this is anything but a rehashed SUV family van makeover. A very refined well-sized AWD that provides a lot of the technology and safety features buyers want in a timely classic package with touches of luxury.
Consumers want space for people and cargo, Telluride has that! Consumers want a surefooted ride that is comfortable and easy to drive, Telluride has that! And while consumers know they need all the latest safety features, it is hard to get them to pay to order then as options. Kia just includes them in the reasonably priced option packages that buyers will order.
Kia has always been a price-focused high-value content provider and has interpreted the 3-row Telluride in a multitude of ways starting with the LX at $31,690 and going up to the $41,490 with the S and EX models priced in between. Our top of the line SX stickered at $46,680 with freight was impressive for an under $50K car that had a lot of things on it that you only find on higher-priced vehicles.
While you can get it in a basic economical front-wheel drive package, the Telluride comes with plenty of standard features.
What Kia is doing, is interpreting what today’s buyer wants in an all-wheel-drive seven-passenger (8 is available) plus cargo-hauling capacity vehicle, well outfitted and nicely appointed at an affordable price.
This 2020 model year vehicle is already out on dealer showroom floors, and it is quite impressive. While it may not stunning in overall looks with its somewhat mundane breadbox shape, and some classic Kia styling cues, where it shines is where all Kia vehicles do, in the details. Those are the little ones that most manufacturers either do hurriedly or charge extra for or forgot about altogether.
Ones that stood out for us were:
Upon engine shut down, the driver seat retracts allowing for more room to exit, a boon to many who have mobility issues, or for expectant Moms who need that extra room to maneuver.
A safety visual, center video on the dashboard, of what is in the blind spot you have your turn signal activated for. While this imagery may be information overload on the highway, on a suburban street, the kid on the bike could be right there.
In our three-row seat model, the fact that the 2nd row was two captains chairs instead of a spit bench, with the option of moving to the third row through the middle or folding up one of the seats was a nice touch, because how many times do you use your car as a bus?
Who is going to buy this 48K wagon?
Pretty much anyone who needs a versatile and dependable vehicle. Families, seniors, people who want a vehicle that handles and rides like a car but has the capabilities of an SUV without the perceived size. Or that person who is driving for a shared-ride service that wants to offer their passengers plenty of space and the opportunity to bring luggage or other items as well.
Families will like it with the USB power ports in the front seatbacks so kids can power their own devices in the 2nd row, as well as additional power ports in the 3rd row. We were surprised and pleased that the Telluride did not have built-in screens for the 2nd row, as those can become quickly outdated and add not only to price, but maintenance, especially as remotes and headphones get lost in the busy family life shuffle. The Telluride had HVAC controls for the rear passenger. On upper-trim models, those 2nd-row sears can be optioned for heated and ventilated seats. Something that all passengers in those rear seats will appreciate. The rear passenger compartment is as well detailed as the front, with nice door panel and seat materials, but most importantly plenty of legroom.
Let’s face it from the dawn of the station wagon era to that of the minivan and SUV, people are buying these vehicles for more than just to bring additional passengers with them, they want to carry stuff. Be it a shopping trip to the mall or big box store, the family dog, or luggage for a trip. Behind the 3rd row seats is actually useable space. And with power, 2nd-row seat releases from the cargo area for putting those seats down is easy when there is a need for a more extended cargo area.
Telluride runs a naturally aspirated Korean made 3.8L 6-cylinder direct-injection gasoline engine with an American made 8-speed automatic transmission with a real center console shift lever that offers a manual mode. The test model we had included the active on-demand all-wheel-drive, other models AWD is an option. This non-turbo model provided an average of 21 miles per gallon with 19 city and 24 highway on regular fuel. We found it to have enough power for urban and highway driving and found it to be responsive and well balanced.
Telluride Pros & Cons
Attention to detail for me is the biggest pro on the Telluride, those little added things that you can tell someone thought about things beyond just a design nicety. Real control buttons on the center console that are bigger to control features, not only touchscreen points. A sizeable wide center infotainment screen that is not overpowering providing all the information one might need. Regular readers know I am not a fan of those screens, this one was perfectly functional and nicely designed.
Safety is a BIG Pro on the Telluride; the sightlines are excellent and the added feature of the side camera becoming active when the turn signal is on so the driver can see what is down at the curb level and above in their blind spot. A bright easy to read heads up display that you can see even while wearing progressive sunglasses helps keep the driver’s attention to what is on the road, not what is on a screen. All the assists, from cross traffic to the adaptive cruise control, the Telluride knows what is going on and lets the driver know. And not with an annoying haptic vibration, but with one that is gentle and not distracting.
Intuitive technology, Kia may not always use the most recent generation tech in their vehicles, it is the best of the current generation. Kia does keep it simple and useful without a lot of fuss to figure out how to use it.
Cons are very few on the Telluride, in my opinion. Some of what makes it a pro makes it a disadvantage, only because it takes some getting used to how Kia interprets things; like the retracting driver’s seat, which I understood its use, but it took me a while to disable it. Fuel economy of lower 20’s is not impressive. Kia vehicles are adequately powered, are not known for high fuel efficiency. Overall exterior design is somewhat understated, but also timeless. If you are looking for a flashy car, this is not it, at least not in the dark moss green with black wheels that were on our test model.
This is an excellent car for anyone who needs a vehicle to haul both people and items. Someone who needs space and wants a comfortable car-like driving experience with the security of all-wheel drive. I would indeed buy this vehicle and will suggest others to do as well. Especially since Kia offers a ten year/100K mile limited power train warranty, a 5 year/60K mile limited basic warranty and five years 60K mile roadside assistance.
Word and images (unless otherwise noted) by William West Hopper
What once was considered a truck, is now more luxurious and safer than could have been imagined.
With the American consumer purchasing more SUVs each year, Mercedes-Benz continues to lead the pack. Little did we know twenty years ago when the first ML rolled out of the new US factory in Alabama that SUVs were beginning a market battle with the minivan. Now in 2020, Mercedes-Benz offers more SUV models in all sizes than ever before. From the smallest-GLA up to the old-school and completely redesigned G-Wagen. These “utility” vehicles are laden with technology and even more luxury touches, meeting every need, except for the drop-top one.
SUVs with Expanded Safety Technologies
Mercedes-Benz pioneered the premium SUV segment in 1997 with the launch of the M-Class and continues to redefine the segment to this day. After driving all the different M-B SUV models, they are as different, and just as good, as that first generation W163. Now offering more comfort and safety – but what makes this upcoming crop stand out, even more, is the technology. Especially in the area of safety, which Mercedes-Benz has always pioneered – the high-tech features have become standard equipment in many vehicles.
It’s easy to forget how prevalent autonomous vehicle technology is in new vehicles. Growing in commonality are driver assistance systems (like M-B’s Intelligent Drive), active stop-and-go assist, active brake assist, cross-traffic detection, and even the new exit warning which alerts upon opening the car door (even when the car is turned off), if the passenger might encounter a motorcyclist, cyclist, or another vehicle. Some new 2020 Mercedes-Benz vehicles have the option to know what is coming up on the road ahead, by communicating with the other cars as well as the connected infrastructure. Digital interactions are providing up-to-date information and warnings of hazardous situations ahead and informing the driver visually and acoustically, letting them know more than mirrors and cameras could ever have.
While we are on the cusp of big changes in both propulsion and safety technology, it comes at an ever-growing price tag. Buyers are willing to pay for visually pleasing options; the harder sell is getting them to accept and purchase the unseen life-saving features. After driving a car with this new tech, once the car jerks to a stop to avoid a collision, the driver will be immediately reminded of the valuable technology investment.
You often see these with the Car2Go logos – Daimler’s shared-ride platform. Rent one using a smartphone app for a quick trip or a long weekend. The GLA is the Baby-Benz SUV – perfect for urban driving, A beefed-up hatchback that comes in either front-wheel drive, or all-wheel-drive, this mini-ute is great for the one or two-person family who needs the utility of an easy in-and-out vehicle with limited cargo space.
Seniors are finding it sized right with not too much new technology to learn. Of course, if you want to upgrade a GLA, there are plenty of safety and luxury options: active lane-keeping assist, distance pilot DISTRONIC®, a panorama roof, the Harman/Kardon LOGIC7® sound system, 12-color ambient lighting, and more. You can also include a few AMG tricks like the GLA 45’s night package; for a sportier ride, add the AMG ride control sport suspension with ‘RACE’ mode for a top speed of 167-mph.
The GLA is the gateway to luxury and sporty SUV and is due soon for a refresh. For 2020 there are no changes from the ’19 model. Pricing is from $33k to $51K.
The compact luxury SUV market is hot, and the all-new GLB offers aggressive proportions and a strong off-road character. Powered by an efficient four-cylinder gasoline engine and available variable torque distribution 4MATIC, the driver can use the “Dynamic Select” for a sportier all-wheel-drive configuration. It is the first compact SUV to include the versatility of an optional third row with two additional seats, giving the flexibility of room for up to seven passengers, something customers are seeking from all manufacturers.
The GLB features advanced technology along with an extensive list of standard equipment. Being the newest SUV in the lineup, it features Mercedes-Benz’s MBUX (Mercedes-Benz User Experience) infotainment system, the latest driver assistance systems, and an impressive list of options like Burmester® surround sound, and 64-color ambient lighting, because of course, you want to look down and see your shoes lit up in various hues of pink.
The GLB is a lot of luxury and technology in a compact SUV; it will go on sale by the end of the year, prices have yet to be announced.
GLC SUV & Coupe
GLC has become Mercedes-Benz’s largest-selling SUV, originally introduced about a decade ago as the GLK, it is Mercedes-Benz’s C-Class of mid-sized SUV. Recently updated with a host of new technology and safety features, users can choose between a traditional breadbox exterior or a four-door-coupe. The German four-door coupe styling may be controversial, but the GLC has it in just the proportions and looks better than it did in the GLE Coupe.
GLC 300 comes in rear-wheel drive or you can option it in all-wheel-drive 4MATIC. Both come with Mercedes-Benz’s next-generation 2.0-liter inline-4 turbo offering increased output (255 hp and 273 lb-ft) and lower fuel consumption, as well as reduced CO2 emissions. Its 9G-TRONIC automatic transmission provides a dynamic driving experience.
The new GLC has all the most recent technology available – MBUX, the combination of the standard touchscreen multimedia display, optional Augmented Video for Navigation, standard intelligent Voice Control available via the standard “Hey Mercedes” prompt, and yes, even the newest vehicle-to-X communication, presenting the driver with up-to-date information and warnings of what to expect on the road ahead. LED headlamps and a new 10.25″ Center Touchscreen are standard. Upgrade to the AMG GLC63 for more goodies like the growl of the AMG performance exhaust system, and control of the electronic limited-slip differential. Add-on options include the AMG aerodynamics package, new upholstery in magma grey/black with yellow accents, and AMG performance seat options. On the inside is a standard 12.3″ digital instrument cluster, 64-color ambient lighting, and AMG-illuminated door sills as well as a standard multimedia package. Pricing for 2019 runs from $42,500K to $80K with the Coupe running $47K to $84k (prices excl. $995 destination & delivery).
Once called the ML, this is the vehicle that put Mercedes-Benz US manufacturing on the map. Now, as the GLE, it continues to be a trendsetter, representing the level of design, comfort, and safety not found in other SUVs. The GLE steps up the game with more technology, like the EQ boost – taking hybrid and electric technology to a new level. GLE is larger and wider, with a longer wheelbase and wider track, running on 19″ to 22″ wheels. The list of standard equipment is impressive. The MBUX user interface includes voice control, navigation, 12.3″ digital display with touchscreen and matching instrument cluster, a center console touchpad, active parking assist, blind-spot assist, keyless-go with hands-free access, and LED headlamps.
Options are plentiful: AIR-BALANCE Package, Head-Up Display, 4-Zone Climate Control, 3rd Row Seat Package, an enlarged panoramic sliding sunroof, Wireless Charging, and MBUX augmented reality among other features. How about electrifying the drive train with E-ACTIVE BODY CONTROL the world’s first 48-volt active suspension system?
New driver assistance systems further enhance the level of safety of the GLE. The interior is more spacious and comfortable, with an available third-row seat. The Infotainment system boasts larger screens, and along with “Hey Mercedes,” you can talk with your hands using the MBUX interior assist, which detects hand and arm movements to control functions. Not sure how one keeps hands on the wheel while doing so, but it’s now a thing! I was more impressed than expected when I took the GLE on mountain roads with its new 3.0L inline-6 turbo. Numerous packages added to the $61,550 base price of the GLE I drove, pushing it to $96,930 including destination and delivery.
The All-New GLS for 2020
Once called the ML, this is the vehicle that put Mercedes-Benz US manufacturing on the map. Now, as the GLE, it continues to be a trendsetter, representing the level of design, comfort, and safety not found in other SUVs. The GLE steps up the game with more technology – like EQ boost – taking hybrid and electric technology to a new level. Built right here in the U.S.A., the S-Class of the SUV was known simply as the GL; it continues to be the largest and most luxurious of Mercedes-Benz’s SUVs.
GLS offers a choice of engines. A new in-line six-cylinder engine intelligently electrified with EQ Boost and Integrated Starter Generator allows for fuel savings that were previously only possible with high-voltage hybrid technology and producing 362 hp and 369 lb-ft of torque, with a further 184 lb-ft of torque and 21 hp available via EQ Boost over short periods. Or bump it up to a 4.0-liter V8 Biturbo engine with EQ Boost for immediate, smooth power with high levels of efficiency. A redesigned interior includes the dual 12.3″ digital touchscreen display with the MBUX infotainment system.
GLS provides agile dynamics and extensive safety with comfort for up to seven passengers in three fully electrically adjustable rows. All passengers get generous amounts of space and outstanding comfort. The GLS can be ordered with executive seating package: a six-seat option with Captain’s chairs, and up to five zones of climate control. Its price starts at $75,200 and easily tips over the $100K mark with optional equipment.
Redesigned for its 40th anniversary year, the G is still big and boxy with distinctive door handles, round headlights (now LED), exposed door hinges, and a spare wheel on the rear door. But now it rides and handles more like a Mercedes-Benz than a military transport, all while still carrying the cache of what celebrities choose as a daily driver. The doors are very solid, with the characteristic closing sound, clear evidence of that hallmark “G” functionality. The G’s multi-contour seats feature massage
functions and are equipped with numerous seat conveniences: memory seating,
heating and cooling in the front and rear, and luxury head restraints in the front. The rear seats can be folded down to 60, 40 or 100 percent. And if you want to trick your G out, make it a 4X4 Squared with massive ground clearance and just about anything else you want to add, from design to a new G Manufaktur Program, which allows for more interior and exterior customization, and of course, all the AMG touches.
A run of the mill G550 features a 4.0L V8 bi-turbo engine, and the G 63 raises the bar with a handcrafted AMG 4.0-liter V8 bi-turbo that sends the G up to 60 mph in 4.5 seconds.
Pricing for the G550 starts at $124,500, with the AMG starting at $147,500. With the right options, the final price falls well into the $200K plus range.
By William West Hopper
Reprinted from the August 2019 Greater Washington Section Mercedes-Benz Club of America, Quarterly News Roundup.
Photos courtesy of MBUSA
We are Queer4Cars, not just because we are LGBT! Come celebrate the automotive world through our eyes.