All posts by William West Hopper

An above average middle age guy providing automotive and lifestyle posts from Washington DC USA.

ich bitte um Aufmerksamkeit – The 2020 Toyota GR Supra

May I Have Your Attention Please

The 2020 Toyota GR Supra

It’s a Z4 No, It’s a Toyota, No, it’s a BMW,

No, it Really is a Toyota

Check out our YouTube Video on the new 2020 Toyota Supra

 

2020 Toyota GR Supra LineupWhen the word came out that the iconic sports car from Toyota was going to be made along with BMW as a partner, you would have thought the most horrible thing could have ever happened in the world of autos.

 

BMW Toyota LogosThe Elephant in the Garage is that YES. Indeed, The Japanese and the Germans teamed up to bring America a couple of sports cars. For me, after driving the new 2020 GR Supra, is really a great sports car, with great design, super handling and all at a reasonable price.  I have since driven the BMW Z4, and it too is a nice. As a droptop, BMW is very different from Toyota’s hardtop iteration.  It is not Toyota has never teamed up with other car companies in the past.  Corolla and Prism, joint venture, yep that one built in Freemont California, where electric cars are now, made. BRZ and FRS/86 with Subaru, as well as one coming up with Mazda. Supra, a small batch production, so making it with BMW, using the Magna Steyr plant in Austria, makes sense from a business point of view.   Personally, I think we are going to be better for collaboration between the two companies.

 

Toyota GR Supra and Toyota 86 parked outside Salamander Resort in Middleburg VALuckily,  I found myself on the international media launch in May after Toyota selected group of Washington DC area auto journalists for an up close, and a personal sneak peek of the 2020 Supra in March.  Though the GR Supra was on display at various auto shows, no one had the chance to get behind the wheel of it until the May media event.  My verdict is, no matter where it is made, or who collaborated with whom, drivers around the world will love this new 2020 Supra sports car from Toyota.

 

Do you want another four-door sedan? 

Toyota Supra RearToyota has a history of making cars for everyday people, the brand has not been thought of as a producer of exciting cars, let alone sports cars, though it does have a history of producing outstanding ones. The European inspired Toyota 2000 car in the 1960s, the 2-door Celica in the ’70s, a throwback to the first Ford Mustang. The upper tier Supra of the 1980s and last produced in 1993 that sold for a $50K price tag when new.

While Trucks, SUV’s, crossovers, minivans, and sedans are the mainstay of the Toyota brand. The word exciting is not often used in the same sentence as Toyota. Akio Toyoda has publicly stated “No more boring cars” at the launch of the recent generation Camry, the company is moving forward with that mantra, across their entire platform of products, which for drivers, is going to be worth something.

 

What’s the new Supra Got?

Toyota Supra in SuburbiaA winning combination of a well-engineered and expertly designed vehicle that drives and handles like a sports car.  One that will be as good as a weekend racer as it will be as a daily driver. And one that will not rattle your bones on those long-distance drives.  While getting in and out of it may take some yoga lessons, but this 60-plus found it easy, once inside the car feels right. Seats are extremely comfortable with 14-way adjustability.  GR Supra has all the technology and safety that you find in many Toyota products as well as more expensive cars on the road. And with the power and performance that will provide all the fun that only a GT car can.  This car took me back to a time when I did not need four seats or four doors.

 

Three Trim Levels

Dash of Toyota SupraThe 2020 Supra comes in three trim levels, the Base 3.0, the better equipped 3.0 Premium, and what Toyota kept calling the Track Edition, a limited run of 1500 units, the 3.0 Launch Edition.  There are only a few options available like $1,495 matte finish paint on the nitrous yellow and phantom, a silver. Driver Assist Package is a $1195 option including full-speed adaptive cruise control, blind spot monitor, rear cross traffic alert and parking sonar, $2460 upgraded JBL entertainment and navigation on the 3.0 grade: 8.8-inch wide-format touchscreen display with Navigation, Supra Connect telematics services, wireless Apple CarPlay, premium 12-speaker, 500 Watt JBL audio system.

Why those options? Toyota sees this as a weekend racer for many of its buyers, and items like upgraded nav | stereo, and driver assistance package may not be that useful on the track or autocross.

My take is most buyers will want to put all the tech and safety into the 3.0 premium package, especially since it adds a lot of value for the money.

Supra Pricing and trim levels

2020 Supra Pricing

Pricing is based on equipment, with the base 3.0 – 49,990 – 3.0 Premium – $53,990 – Launch Edition (track edition) $55,250 (only 1500 available) – Does not include a $920, DPH Fee (delivery, process, and handling) nor any dealer charges. Toyota sees the base model as a weekend track car, so it comes without much of what equipment that the Premium and Launch Editions have, as they are seen more as on road daily drivers.

With the initial fifteen hundred of the launch edition already spoken for, there will no doubt be a dealer upcharge to buy one initially. Dealer premiums on cars are something that I personally despise, and customers who want one of these cars will pay to just be able to have the vehicle.

 

Colors

2020 Toyota Supra ColorsEven the colors show that Toyota is backing the No More Boring Cars statement. Absolute Zero, Tungsten, Turbulence Gray, Nocturnal, Renaissance Red 2.0, Downshift Blue, For an additional charge  Nitro Yellow, and Phantom are available. Phantom is a flat finish option that really looks good on the Supra. Interiors have the choice of Interior Black Alcantara & Leather on 3.0 or all Black Leather on Premium and Launch edition (except on the Renaissance Red.

 

Powertrain and Running Gear

2020 Toyota Supra with hatch openAll trim levels of the 2020 GR Supra are powered by a twin-scroll turbocharged 3-liter (2998 cc) 24 valve Double Overhead Cam direct injection gasoline (93 octanes) engine with 8-speed automatic transmission. This performance engine has a chain drive, variable valve timing and lift, producing 335 horsepower and 365 lb of torque and is certified as a ULEV. Fuel mileage is what you would expect for a performance car in the size and a curb weight of  3397: 24 city, 31 highway 26 combined miles per gallon. 13.7-gallon fuel capacity.

2020 GR Supra Premium in RedSupra’s suspension is double joint type MacPherson strut in front and rear multi-link with five-arm construction with front and rear stabilizer bars.  Electric Power Steering and parking brake, which is the norm these days with all the driver assist functions. And Brembo Brakes front and rear are very apparent, with a 4-piston fixed front, single piston floating calipers rear.

 

Standard features

Toyota Supra App
Use the app to manage the 2020 Toyota GR Supra

Inside the Supra you will find the 8.8-inch color, LCD gauge cluster has a more analog look than a digital one, which is impressive. The 14- way power driver and passenger Sport bucket seats with driver side memory are incredibly comfortable for a sports car and come in Alcantara/Leather or All leather depending on the trim level. Dual automatic climate control, leather-wrapped steering wheel with audio controls, cruise control, and paddle shifters. A very well-done carbon fiber interior trim finishes the interior.

2020 Toyota GR SupraOutside you will find the Supra running on the 9-inch-wide front, 10-inch-wide rear forged aluminum wheels (different finish on different trim levels, though the wheels, are essentially the same design.) running 19-inch Michelin Pilot Super Sport Tires 255/35R19 96W Front 275/35R19 100Y Rear.  No Spare you receive a puncture repair kit.  Active exhaust which means it has a lot of audible personality with burbles and pops exits through dual brushed stainless steel tips.  The exhaust burble will not get old on this car as it does on others. The GR Supra features LED lamps all the way around.

The multi-function smart key a bit light in heft and felt that for a specialty car like this, it could use a little more flash and substance.

All of this is within the Supra’s 172.5 inches in length / 73-inch width and the 50.9 inch height and 4.5 inch ground clearance means it is close to the ground, and with the 50/50 weight balance between the 62.8 inch front and 62.6 inch rear tread width it seats 2 with an interior volume of 50.9 cubic feet. And you don’t need rear seats; it’s a sports car.

Warranty

2020 Toyota GR Supra in flat finishToyota’s GR Supra comes with a standard 3-year/36K-mile comprehensive and a 5-year/6K-mile power train warranty. A 5-year unlimited mileage corrosion perforation warranty is also provided. ToyotaCare – Toyota’s complimentary maintenance plan that comes with every new Toyota provides for two-years or 25K miles, whichever comes first. Every new Toyota will be covered for all standard factory scheduled service as well as 24/7 roadside assistance.

BWM or Toyota

20190516_103635Since driving the GR Supra, an opportunity came up to drive the BMW twin the Z4 sDrive30i, which comes with a 2.0-liter twin turbo inline 4-cylinder, 16-valve engine. A soft top convertible priced at $63,845.

 

BMW Z4 Dash
BMW Z4 Dash is clearly different than the GR Supra

While the dash has a similar look, the exterior does not have the muscular lines the Supra has. More feminine in feel than the Supra, having the smaller engine, while capable did not have the spunk of the Supra’s nor did it sound as audacious as the Supra.  While they maybe fraternal twins, the two vehicles are indeed very different, as a hardtop and Cabrio can indeed be.

Thanks, Toyota

IMG_2733We thank Toyota for providing me an opportunity to get to know the new Supra over a day at Summit Point Motorsports Park in Summit Point WV, as well as hosting meals and lodging. Toyota did not provide any compensation for this review.

 

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Words and Images by William West Hopper

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Officer Matt, Pulls Over To Test New Autos

5/16/2019 – 2019 Spring Brake  –  Bear Mountain State Park, Bear Mountain, New York.

Automotive Rally Tents

Upon arrival, approximately 50 different vehicles were grouped by manufacturer. Prior to arrival, I surveyed the list of cars and formulated a plan that would maximize my time to test drive as many vehicles as I could by 1530.

 

 

Officer Matt and the 2019 Acura NSXThe first vehicle driven was Acura’s NSX. Luckily, my teammate had secured a reservation to be the first test driver of this $190K Supercar. By far the most anticipated drive of the day and the NSX did not disappoint.  The sheer power of the car and its ability to stick to the road like glue was absolutely amazing, producing goosebumps on my arms and chills down my spine. The fit and finish were very luxurious. The seats and steering wheel felt as if they were designed specifically for me. The exterior was a statement of beauty with artfully designed curves and creases precisely where they needed to be placed as if Michelangelo himself designed the shell. Everywhere you drove, heads turned to look and listen.

 

2019 GMC Sierra Denali Pickup Truck climing a gravel hill
2019 GMC Sierra Denali Pickup Truck is almost too pretty to take offroad.

The rest of the day was spent testing vehicles ranging from compact sedans to full-size trucks. A notable appearance was the GMC Sierra Denali 1500. As luxurious and useful as a truck could be, it fell short when compared to similar trucks in its class due to the lack of adaptive cruise control and lane keeping assist. The “revolutionary” new tailgate was cumbersome to use after spending ten minutes trying to figure it out.

 

Red 2019 Acura TLX A-Spec
2019 Acura TLX A-Spec made on the same production line as the NSX.

Another vehicle that got my attention was the Acura TLX A-Spec with SH-AWD. This upscale sport sedan had never even registered on my radar as a vehicle that would impress me. Boy, was I ever wrong, as soon as I stepped into the vehicle, the interior design was subtle yet sporty and luxurious all at the same time. Every button and switch was placed exactly where it needed to be. The operating system was incredibly easy to figure out. The sound system was incredible when compared to other

2019 Acura TLX A-Spec Dash
Acura TLX Interior every button and switch was placed exactly where it needed to be.

higher-end luxury vehicles. The mix of leather and suede on the heated and cooled seats, perfectly proportioned. Outside, the pearl coat of burgundy paint complemented the aggressive exterior styling cues perfectly. To finish off, the exterior was a gorgeous set of black rims. I kept finding myself wandering back to the TLX throughout the day, admiring it. At a price of just around $44K for a fully optioned top of the line, model forced me to see how affordable and attainable the Acura really is. I found myself smiling not only while behind the wheel, and even now, each time I think of it.

 

Genesis G90 Parked in front of a rock face
Genesis G90 a worthy competitor to the Mercedes-Benz S class and BMW 7 series.

 

Genesis G90 rear seat controls provide access to the entire entertainment system, climate control, navigation, and audio system.
Genesis G90 rear seat controls provide access to the entire entertainment system, climate control, navigation, and audio system.

The final vehicle that commanded my attention was the Genesis G90. A worthy competitor to the Mercedes-Benz S class and BMW 7 series. Sliding into the rear seat is like entering a private jet. The G90 is a vehicle to be driven around in, not just drive.  Rear seat controls provide access to the entire entertainment system, climate control, navigation, and audio system.  With heated and cooled rear seats, the only thing missing was a massage function. The rear passenger seat had a single button that would turn the seat into a fully functioning lounger, sliding the front seat all the way forward and down towards the dash to allow the rear occupant to stretch out. Feeling as if you were enveloped in an incredibly soft sofa and could easily take a nap.

 

 

Genesis G90 Dash view from rear seat.
Genesis G90 provides a multitude of driving assistance options, and they are phenomenal.

The G90 driver experience was just as luxurious, minus the rear passenger lounge seat. With a quick and responsive engine propelling the car forward from a dead stop to 60mph with barely an effort, and with minimal noise. Genesis provides a multitude of driving assistance options, and they are phenomenal. The lane keep assist and nearly autonomous driving assistant made driving even on twisty mountain roads a breeze.

 

 

Rear of the Genesis G90
Classic Design makes the Genesis G90 a worthy competitor.

At the cost of almost $20,000 to $30,000 below what one would pay for a comparable S Class or 7 Series. The only reason I can think of why wouldn’t you want a G90 before one of its competitors would be the brand badge bragging rights. Perhaps it was wise of Genesis to distance their flagship vehicle from the Hyundai line, creating a new image to compete with Mercedes and BMW.

 

Reflecting on a day driving more than 25 vehicles, this was my first automotive journalist rally,  and for me, it was a resounding success.

Words by Corporal Matthew Rihl,
Photos by William West Hopper
Corporal Matthew Rihl is a Field Training Officer and member of the Honor Guard with a local Virginia police department in Virginia.
Corporal Matthew Rihl is a Field Training Officer and member of the Honor Guard with a local Virginia police department.
Corporal Matthew Rihl has served the public for 15-years with a local county police department in Virginia. In addition, he is also a Field Training Officer and a member of the Honor Guard. Officer Matt is a vital member of the LGBT Fallen Heroes Fund, which its sole purpose is to honor surviving partners and family members of LGBT police, fire, EMS and the military who have been killed in the line of duty during a special ceremony during National Police Memorial Week every year in Washington, DC.

 

Spring Brake is put on by the International Motor Press Association for professional automotive journalist members, offering them the chance to experience many different vehicles in one day. Membership and an entry fee are required to participate. Neither Matthew nor William were compensated for their time or reviews of any automobiles.

Red, Yellow, Green – What does your car see when it encounters a traffic light? Audi Connect knows ahead of time!

Want To Hear More about Audi’s V2I Tech Watch our YouTube Video

The Audi Q5 at CVS in Washington DC, with an Acura RDX

Audi of America sent us a 2018 Audi Q5 with the built-in Audi Connect Green Light Optimization Speed Advisory (GLOSA) to test out their Audi Prime Traffic Light System. This is a vehicle that is equipped with an infrastructure (V2I) communication system. A technology, where the car communicates back and forth with its surroundings. Which means the car talks to things like traffic signals and soon other aspects of the built environment to know what to expect as it drives through.

This system is then able to alert the driver on what to expect, be it an oncoming red or green light. For those of us who drive in an urban environment, that can be a lot better than having to watch to see if the pedestrian walk countdown light is about to flash the yellow hand, indicated that the light will be changing soon.   Am I at 20 seconds or 3 seconds until the light changes?

While it all seems pretty complicated, the basic premise is that the vehicle communicates through the cellular data network, the same one your mobile device uses to connect to the internet, and you use to update your status on social media, stream music, and make reservations via apps.  Audi vehicles (if equipped and turned on in an area that is enabled) then get real-time data about the traffic light ahead.

 

How will this help drivers

Audi Q5 Dash Board displaying Traffic SignsFirst of all, this is not a system that controls the vehicle or the traffic light. There is nothing to switch on to make the lights ahead of you green, nor does the traffic light turning red stop your vehicle automatically.

This informs the driver by way of an alert light on the dash or the heads-up display of what to expect. Being knowledgeable of what to expect as you come upon an intersection, makes you a better driver. Will the light turn red just as you get there?   Drivers have long had to rely on watching the pedestrian walk countdown as well as the traffic light. Am I at 20 seconds or 3 seconds until the light changes?

The GLOSA will provide a recommended speed to minimize stopping at red lights, helping the driver by eliminating the speed up | Slow down cycle that is often experienced on signal controlled streets.

GLOSA is part of an overall U.S.expansion of Traffic Light Information (TLI) technology. Available on Audi vehicles equipped with Audi Connect Prime Feature (on select 2017, 2018 and newer models.) Available in thirteen US cities, Dallas, Houston, Kansas City, Las Vegas, Los Angeles, Phoenix, Portland, San Francisco, and Washington, D.C. and northern Virginia, Denver, Colorado, White Plains, NY,  Gainesville, Florida,  Orlando, Florida.

Audi Connect is more than just using a Smart Phone

2018 Audi Q 5 DashboardWhile the smartphone is one component that is the center of most automotive tech these days. While the debate over which operating system will the car connect to, Android or Apple is no longer much of a debate.  And many manufacturers have apps that connect you through your phone or AI devices like Alexa or Google Home to your car.  Audi has the myAudi app which provides access to the vehicle and an array of features from finding the car, to keyless locking and unlocking of the car.

Today having directions at your command, making reservations, or controlling your home’s lighting, heating and more in preparation for your arrival is all about being better connected.

 

Where Audi Excels

Audi Connect Subscription ExpiredUsing Google Earth ™ seeing your route in 3D has been a staple in Audi’s tech toolbox for years. With the myAudi Navigation route guidance which starts from when you first leave and continues with you upon starting y our vehicle and til you end and exit your vehicle. Guiding you all the way to the final steps of your destination.  Natural voice recognition, using your normal speaking voice, Audi’s system recognizes what you are talking about, and assists you. Audi connect ® CARE A suite of assistance and security services that includes SOS calls11, Online Roadside Assistance2, Stolen Vehicle Locater12and Audi Service Request13. Available without a subscription for a limited time.10

 

 

WIFI connection is key to being connected

Audi at the 2019 Washington Auto Show

Be it the myAudi App, Audi connect CARE, in-vehicle 4GLTE® and upcoming 5G connectivity through the cellular data system provides the ability to support wifi-enabled devices as well as the cars internal devices.

 

New vehicles equipped with Audi connect®

2018 Audi Q5 in Rock Creek Park with DafodilsThe following vehicles come with Audi Connect service, with a complimentary six-month free trial period. After that, they require a prepaid subscription. Plans start at $199 for a basic one and go up from there depending on services included.

2019 – A6 | A7 | A8 |Q8

2018 – A5 | Q 5

2017 – Q7 | A4 Allroad  | A3

2015 to 2018 A3 Sportback e-tron

 

What’s Next?

Aud Etron with Electrify America ChargerAudi will continue to be a leading innovator when it comes to in-vehicle technology. With the soon to be on the market etron all-electric Audi expect expanded services and technologies like the integrated toll module (ITM) a transponder built into the vehicles rearview mirror, eliminating windscreen clutter, and the need to manage multiple toll accounts. This system will operate on select toll roads in the U.S. and Canada.  While toll transponders have been available for a generation, they have been addon boxes affixed to the car. Audi will integrate this digital tool with the V2I technology allowing the vehicle to communicate and interact with the toll authority.

 

The Italians are Coming – And so are the Americans, the Germans, the Brits, all to Virginia this Fall for the 1000 Miglia Warm Up USA

Watch our YouTube Video on the 1000 Miglia Warm Up USA.

Emanuele Manzitti of the Italian Embassy, Franco Gussalli Beretta, 1000 Miglia President , Francesca Parolin, 1000 Miglia General Manager, and Mark Gessler at the Italian Embassy in Washington DC.

The presentation of the second American edition of the 1000 Miglia Warm Up USA was held this morning (April 26, 2019) at the Italian Embassy in Washington DC. Italian Ambassador Armando Varricchio, together with Mille Miglia President Franco Gussalli Beretta, announced: “We started a journey. Today we consolidate this tradition that is part of the sporting and cultural fabric of Italy that for centuries has made beauty, style, creativity and passion for life one of its characteristic traits. I am sure that the 2019 edition will be as successful as the 2018 edition and will contribute to consolidating a prestigious image of our country in the USA”.

 

Goals of the 1000 Miglia Warm Up USA

20190426_121217The aim of the 1000 Miglia Warm Up USA is to involve the participants in a compelling sporting experience in the “Spirit of 1000 Miglia,” This the 2nd American event is reserved for 40 historic cars that meet the eligibility requirements for 1000 Miglia and a limited number of Supercars. Newbies to the race will be offered the opportunity of real “Warm Up” dedicated to those who, not knowing much about 1000 Miglia, will have an overview of the rules and activities that characterize the participation in the most beautiful race in the world. During the four day event, the participating cars will travel 800 miles through some of the most evocative and iconic areas of Virginia, Pennsylvania, and Maryland to then reach the heart of Washington DC. Ending on Italian soil with the award ceremony hosted at the Ambassador’s residence Villa Firenze in Rock Creek Park.

 

Why is the Mille Miglia Coming to the USA?

Blue 1968 Ferrari GTC and Red Alfa Romero on display at the Italian Embassy in Washington DC.
Blue 1968 Ferrari GTC and Red Alfa Romero on display at the Italian Embassy in Washington DC.

The event is managed by the Italian Government and is designed to show off the best of the Italian culture to the world through this iconic road rally. While historic rallying cars are just one part of the event, engaging in the historic culture of Italy is the main reason.  Bringing it to America, as well as other countries gives others a chance to enjoy the excitement and charm of the Mille Miglia.

 

MM Alfa“The international development of our brand – declared Franco Gussalli Beretta, President of 1000 Miglia Srl – must involve the United States, one of the first and most important countries in the world for the presence of cars of great historical value and it is a great honor, for 1000 Miglia and me, to be here alongside Ambassador Varricchio confirming the inseparable bond between 1000 Miglia and Italy and to present the second edition of 1000 Miglia Warm Up USA. We look forward to involving the participating crews, the fans, and enthusiasts in a week of training and getting to know all the rules, the particulars and the emotions that they can experience when they participate in 1000 Miglia that takes place every year in Italy in May. Finally, I would like to thank Chopard and Alfa Romeo, who has been by our side for many years and who have chosen to support us in this project as well.”

 

Plans for the 2019 Virginia Event

1000 Miglia Warm Up USA 2019 Virginia Route Map
1000 Miglia Warm Up USA proposed 2019 Virginia Route Map

Car and driver teams will be invited to apply, and entries will be submitted for review through the summer. In early September an announcement will be made as to the 40 historic cars and handful of supercars accepted.  The group will gather at the Salamander Resort in the Virginia Horse Country’s quaint village of Middleburg VA. From there they will spend four days broken into a day of training and three days of rallying to points as far north as Fallingwater, Frank Lloyd Wright’s architectural gem in Western Pennsylvania and to the south to Monticello in Charlottesville VA. Trekking over picturesque back roads and the historic Skyline Drive. Ending their rally in Washington DC.

For detailed information on the 1000 Miglia Warm Up USA click here.

WWH and MM photographing historic cars at the Italian Embassy in Washington DC like the blue 1968 Ferrari GTC
WWH and MM photographing historic cars at the Italian Embassy in Washington DC
Word by William West Hopper | Images by Marco Marinucci, 1000 Miglia

Big Bold, And Omnipresent – the Ford Expedition – It is as Big as it Sells

2018 Ford Expedition Ruby Red Metallic head on shotRecently the opportunity came about to take Ford’s big selling Full-Size SUV on a trip to the Work Truck Show in Indianapolis Indiana. A 1200-mile round trip, which was a perfect chance to get the feel of this large station wagon of an SUV. Built like a linebacker and dressed in a tuxedo, this highway cruiser, and a suburban hauler, while big, has all the comfort, safety and features you want for a $72K price

 

2018 Ford Expedition Dash GaugesOur 2018 model year ride was decked out in Premium Trim, Part of Ford’s east coast press fleet it came to us with 24K miles already on the odometer. If you follow my columns, you know I like to get cars with miles racked up, this gives you a clear view of how they hold up. Press vehicles take a lot of abuse, maybe more so than rental cars, just that the fleet companies are paid to detail them better, than a quick wash and vacuum before it is rolled out to the next customer at the airport.  This Expedition had held up well, which shows that it is well made with quality materials and workmanship.

 

First Impressions

right rear of the 2018 ford expeditionThe Explorer is tall, and with the automatically appearing (and retracting) side steps, you can easily climb aboard this massive beast. Once inside you really feel connected behind the wheel of this truck, to the controls, gauges, and switchgear. Everything is well placed and being the size it is, is in easy reach while driving.  Visibility is excellent, you have a good view of the road, in all directions all around you.  While this is an over-sized vehicle, it feels more maneuverable than you might first think.

Cockpit of the Ford ExpeditionInterior space is well detailed and thought out. The driver’s seat is heated, cooled and offered both a bottom and back massage feature, useful on a long haul trip. Passengers also benefit from attention to their needs, no wonder families choose this vehicle. Front, rear, even third-row seats provide more than just a place to sit. Power outlets, HVAC vents and controls, and areas to hold small items are located throughout the cabin.

Bells and Whistles

The Red forward collision warning lightWhen I first got aboard I noticed a red light on top of the dash over the gauge cluster, wondering what it was, it proved itself when a vehicle stopped short in front of me. That bar glowed brightly and started the brake pedal action, much better than my own reaction time, by the time I got my foot on the brake the vehicle was already hard at work slowing down. That red bar gave me notice and proved to be effective, a couple of times during the trip.  The Pilot 360 safety system that Ford provides in its vehicles is useful and more important than ever in today’ sever increasing traffic.

Ford Expedition USB outlets in rear seatsBeyond the smartphone interface and satellite radio options, the vehicle was equipped with a CD Player, hard as that is to believe, such old tech, but listening to books on CD (or as we used to say on tape) was a great use of this (Name of Sound System) in this vehicle. Also USB connections to devices for streaming and connecting to apps, which in today’s world this has become the norm on almost every car.

 

Driving Dynamics

twenty two inch tires on the Ford ExpeditionNo large vehicle is going to handle like a sports sedan, this rolls like a pickup truck, just with more interior room. At times it can be a bit disconnected due to the electrically assisted steering that helps keep it safely in its lane. The ride is quite comfortable, to the point of luxurious. One of the benefits of having 22-inch tires on pothole-filled rough roads.

The all-wheel-drive provided a feeling of being well connected to the road. Never did this vehicle feel that it was not sure-footed even on wet slushy roads. Steering was typical for this size Ford vehicle be it a pickup or SUV, the safety sentries every once in a while made a small tug or steering correction.

 

Fuel Economy

Ford Expedition 3.5 ecoboost 6-cyl engine
Ford Expedition 3.5 EcoBoost 6-cyl engine

While it was not dismal, it was what you would expect from a vehicle of this size and stature, we eeked out almost 19 mpg on this trip on the 3.6 EcoBoost v-6 engine, which for a large 5600- pound piece of metal was pretty good.

Ford Expedition USB outlets in rear seats
USB outlets are abundant throughout the Expedition

Speaking of metal, weight savings is critical in the Expedition, and thus many parts of this vehicle are made from Aluminium, not steel. While you may not notice the difference, you will hear it when there is a strong rainstorm, and raindrops are hitting the roof, it sounds very different than it would in a vehicle with a steel roof.  And with that will come additional expense to do metal body repair, as finding a shop with technicians trained in working aluminum is not as common as steel craftsman/women.

 

Ford Expedition with 2nd & 3rd-row seats folded down.
Ford Expedition with 2nd & 3rd-row seats folded down.

Cargo and Passenger space are plentiful, spacious and comfortable, all three rows of seating provide space to spread out, and even allow for the gear that is brought along on any trip, be it a big box store run, or a cross country trip with luggage.

 

Ford Expedition third row seating
Third-row seating in the Expedition is ample.

Overall, I have to say I was quite impressed with the Expedition, how it drove, how it rode, and how it handled. If you are towing a trailer, or just need a large family hauler, this is a vehicle to consider. After driving the Expedition, you can understand the reason that Ford has increased the production of this vehicle at its Kentucky plant, and why

 

Ford Expedition 2nd row hvac controls and power

customers are buying it. Ford had made this vehicle modern, tech-savvy and safe. Keeping the model fresh with more than just a restyle, putting into it what buyers today want from a full-size SUV.  Want bigger, Yep, Ford can handle that with an extended length version, the Expedition Max, for even a larger vehicle.

While you will not be able to find a lot of discounts on a vehicle that is in demand, by visiting your local auto show, or doing some competitive research with Costco, your credit union or buying service, no doubt you can get a great deal on a new Explorer, or even consider a pre-owned one, as we can tell you they hold up quite well.

 

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Words and images by William West Hopper
The 2018 Ford Explorer Platinum Trim Edition was provided to us for a week of unlimited driving by Ford Motor Company, without any compensation. This review is my own personal opinion from real-time experience behind the wheel.

 

Suzuki’s Mini-Ute Sweeps the World Urban Car Awards In New York City

Check out our Queer4Cars YouTube Channel for a video walk around of the Suzuki Jimny and personal interview at the New York International Auto Show 

 

The Suzuki Jimny takes the Gold at the World Car of the Year Awards for World Urban Car 2019
The Suzuki Jimny takes the Gold at the World Car of the Year Awards for World Urban Car 2019

New York’s International Auto Show is the place many fancy cars and trucks are debuted and shown. Though only a few take the title of a World Car Award winner.

World Urban Car of the Year 2019

Marty Haynes and Suzuki Exec accept World Urban Car for the Jimny
Marty Haynes and Suzuki Exec accept World Urban Car for the Jimny

This year the World Urban Car of the Year Award went to the Suzuki Jimny, one of the two categories in which it was nominated. Here a half-century old 4×4 body-on-frame model, mini-ute brought home an award even when the competition was a lot swankier and modern.

World Urban Car today would have to be attractive, ultra-capable, well-sized and rugged. You can see how the Suzuki took the Gold!  Jimny’s street-cred comes with a strong cute factor, that it can be driven on paved roads or those torn up for construction, and you can park it anywhere.

 

 

Jimny Design Features

The modern Suzuki Jimny dash features 7.0 touch screen analog gauges and a manual transmission
The modern Suzuki Jimny dash features 7.0 touch screen analog gauges and a manual transmission

We were impressed with the modern interior of the this the fourth Jimny. While simple with analog gauges and a five-speed manual and manual engaged 4H and 4L four-wheel drive, it also has a 7.0-inch touchscreen with, Apple CarPlay/Android Auto, satellite navigation, cruise control. Forward and rear facing cameras and many modern amenities. The multi-point injected 1.5L gasoline engine, matched to either a five-speed manual gearbox or a four-speed automatic makes it a fuel-efficient runabout.

 

Suzuki Jimny features a full rear door with fold down rear seats for more cargo space.
Suzuki Jimny features a full rear door with fold down rear seats for more cargo space.

Seating for four with fold down rear seats expands the small cargo space, giving space for passengers and cargo. On the outside, the classic boxy styling and hardcore four-wheel drive credentials give it the go anywhere in any weather appeal. Add retro projector LED headlights, 15-inch alloy wheels, and rear privacy glass, and you have a vehicle that works in any environment.

 

Suzuki Jimny 1.5 liter engine
Suzuki Jimny features a 1.5-liter gasoline engine

Jimny remains a proper body-on-frame with a three-link rigid axle suspension system and part-time four-wheel drive system with manually-engaged 4H and 4L low-range gearing. A brake limited-slip differential function replaces a locking differential redirecting torque to where the traction is if wheels were to spin. Suzuki has a hill-descent control and a hill-hold system for the manual versions.

 

Availability

The 2019 Suzuki Jimny is priced from a reasonable $23,990, add $2000 for the automatic. But Sadly it is not available in the USA.

2019 World Urban Car Award Winner the Suzuki Jimny
2019 World Urban Car Award Winner the Suzuki Jimny

 

Suzuki Jimny’s Tech specs

  • Engine: 1.5 petrol 75kW/130Nm
  • Transmissions: 5MT or 4AT
  • Fuel economy: 6.4-6.9L/100km
  • Fuel tank: 40L
  • Length: 3645mm
  • Width: 1645mm
  • Height: 1725mm
  • Wheelbase: 2250mm
  • Curb weight: 1075-1090kg
  • Ground clearance: 210mm
  • Approach angle: 37 degrees
  • Departure angle: 49 degrees
  • Break over angle: 28 degrees
  • Construction: Body-on-ladder-frame
  • 4WD system: Part-time with 4H/4L
  • Brakes: Disc front, drum rear

 

William West Hopper, VIP Tour Guide at the 2019 Washington DC Auto Show. Photo by Bonnie M. Moret
William West Hopper, VIP Tour Guide at the 2019 Washington DC Auto Show. Photo by Bonnie M. Moret
Words and Images by William West Hopper

 

 

The 2020 Ford Escape Fourth Generation, Now More Tech-Savvy Than Ever Before

Check out our Exclusive Preview of the 2020 Ford Escape on YouTube

2020 Ford Escape HybridAt the turn of the century, the Ford Motor Company saw the opportunity to build a small SUV that was full of modern tech at an affordable price. That four-door Escape has become Ford’s 2nd biggest selling vehicle. And now in its fourth generation for 2020 it is sleeker and more elegant, loaded with technology for safety and more, while still accommodating four full-sized adults in comfort and carrying their luggage too.

 

While the all-new Ford Escape has a more aerodynamic look, it is also built of stronger and lighter weight high strength materials which makes it more efficient. Where the big story is, the technology that comes standard on all trim levels. And tech that is not just the fact that you can connect your Android or Apple device to the car, it is all about safety, efficiency and more.

 

2020 Ford Escape HeadsUp DisplayEscape for 2020 comes standard with Ford Co-Pilot360™ driver-assist technology; available features include a 12.3-inch all-digital instrument cluster and makes available other driver-assist features such as Adaptive Cruise Control with Stop-and-Go and Lane-Centering. Available features like Active Park Assist 2.0 and Evasive Steering Assist, are just part of the driver-assist technologies. Active Park Assist 2.0 allows the driver to park in a parallel or perpendicular spot with the touch of a button, without having to work the steering wheel, gear shifter, gas pedal or brake pedal. Evasive Steering Assist detects a slower-moving or stationary vehicle ahead and provides steering support that can assist the driver to avoid a collision.

 

2020 Ford Escape Transmission SelectorTitanium models are available with an all-new heads-up display. This projects information onto the lower part of the windshield, giving drivers easy access to important information without taking their eyes off the road.

 

 

Escape will offer a selectable drive mode system standard across the lineup, Escape makes it easy for Escape owners to create the ride experience they desire – or the one that conditions demand. Modes are tailored for normal, eco, sport and slippery, plus snow and sand conditions.

 

PowerTrains – Now there are Four!  Including Two All-New Hybrids.

2020 Ford Escape Hybrid at Heinz House Greenfield Village MIEscape offers the new 2.0-liter EcoBoost engine, available on Titanium, is projected to produce 250 horsepower and 275 lb.-ft. of torque using 93 octane fuel capable of towing up to 3,500 pounds.

And an all-new 1.5-liter EcoBoost, standard on S, SE, and SEL, is projected to produce 180 horsepower and 177 lb.-ft. of torque using 93 octane fuel. When properly configured, rated to tow 2,000 pounds. To help conserve fuel, the 1.5-liter EcoBoost debuts cylinder deactivation, which senses when one cylinder isn’t needed and shuts it down automatically. The system can activate or deactivate a cylinder in 14 milliseconds to maintain a smooth ride.

2020 Ford Escape with HitchA new Hybrid and PHEV Plugin with CVT. Both come with a towing capacity of 1500 lbs. And due to new smaller liquid cooled battery technology they do not affect passenger or cargo space like in past models.

An all-new 2.5-liter Atkinson cycle hybrid engine and electronic continuously variable transmission. The front-wheel-drive hybrid model is projected to produce a combined system horsepower of 198, and a top speed of 85 mph in electric-only mode. And has an  EPA-estimated range of more than 550 miles;

The plug-in hybrid variant, available on every trim level except S and SE Sport, projects a best-in-class EPA-estimated range of at least 30 miles in electric-only mode. Escape Plug-In Hybrid has a Level 1 / Level 2 AC charging port. Using a 110-volt Level 1 charge, the estimated time to fully charge the battery is 10 to 11 hours. Using a 240-volt Level 2 charge, charge time drops to roughly 3.5 hours.

 

New Styling Inside & Out

2020 Ford Escape Front Headlamps and GrillTo create a sportier look for the all-new Escape, designers turned to some of the most high-profile Ford sports cars. The shield-shaped trapezoidal grille is inspired by the sixth-generation Mustang, while the lower front end borrows from Ford GT.

The 2020 Escape is the most aerodynamic to date, with a sloped roofline, optimized liftgate spoiler and strake, and efficient underbody. Standing lower, wider and longer than the outgoing model. Shedding more than 200 pounds from the current model, due in part to the extensive use of high-strength, lightweight steel.

 

2020 Ford Escape has plenty of room for luggageInside you will find comfort has increased, especially in the rear with sliding and reclining seats, that even tall passengers will find enough room for their legs, improved headroom, shoulder room, and hip room. With the second-row seat in the full-forward position, the rear cargo area in gas engine-powered models extends nearly six inches to increase the cargo area to 37.5 cubic feet.

 

2020 Ford Excape CockpitChanges in the cockpit too, a center console dial controls the transmission. Drivers and passengers can keep compatible mobile devices charged with an available wireless charging pad in the front center console. Also available are type A and type C USB charging ports as well as three 12-volt charging sockets. An 8-inch touch screen – standard on SE models and above – shares information with the available 12.3-inch all-digital instrument cluster, which displays important vehicle information such as speedometer and fuel level. It uses 3D animated graphics to indicate the drive mode. Available SYNC® 3 is compatible with available features such as Apple CarPlay™, Android Auto™, Ford+Alexa and Waze navigation. For music lovers, Escape offers an available 575-watt 10-speaker B&O Sound System by Bang & Olufsen.

 

And Yes, You Can Connect

 

FordPass Connect™ is a standard feature that provides 4G LTE Wi-Fi for up to 10 mobile devices with compatible wireless subscription service. FordPass Connect also gives drivers remote access to their Escape, allowing them to use their smartphone to lock, unlock, locate and start the vehicle, as well as monitor key vehicle diagnostics.

 

Made In America, Available Early Spring.

The all-new Escape, available in S, SE, SE Sport, SEL and Titanium series trim levels, is built at Louisville Assembly Plant in Kentucky. Vehicles are due to reach showrooms this fall. Plug-in hybrid units are due to arrive next spring.

Invited guests to the 2020 Ford Escape Launch
Words and Images by William West Hopper
Ford Motor Company provided a kind invitation to attend this exclusive preview event, flying me to Dearborn Michigan for the afternoon event.