Category Archives: Automobile

The 2020 Toyota Corolla – This is how Age and Beauty Work Together in Harmony.

Check out our Walk-Around Video of the new 2020 Toyota Corolla on location in Savannah GA

2020 Toyota Corolla comes in L, LE, SE, XLE and XSE Trim levels at the Perry Lane Hotel in Savannah GA.Toyota Corolla for 2020 is the prime example that when you grow up and become an adult, it does not mean you have to be old and stodgy.  Here the twelfth generation Corolla, now built on Toyota’s new TNGA platform, brings together timeless interior and exterior styling with advanced safety systems that provide a secure and fun driving experience. Whether you are driving across town or across the country in the new 2020 Toyota Corolla, you will want to do it all over again.

 

What makes the 2020 Toyota Corolla different? 

Photo by Toyota of the TNGA Platform on the 2020Toyota Corolla
Photo by Toyota of the TNGA Platform on the 2020Toyota Corolla

For 2020 the Corolla is built on Toyota’s TNGA platform gives an improved track and balance providing a better driving experience and a more comfortable ride with a multi-link suspension. TNGA has increased the body rigidity by 60%  and lowered the center of gravity, reducing overall length and height. While Corolla’s width has increased, the wheelbase stayed the same. Overall the exterior is more dynamically styled with defined wheel arches and stronger body lines. A new three-dimensional trapezoidal grill is more Lexus than base Toyota.  And Corolla’s interior is more spacious and comfortable with soft-touch materials in a cockpit-like environment. And with an exceptionally spacious trunk, you may not think you are in what was once considered a compact car.

All of Corolla’s trim levels get Toyota’s Safety Sense 2.0 as standard. That means improved pre-collision system with pedestrian detection even in low light situations, added day-time cyclist detection and enhanced speed reduction capability. Active Corning Assist fights understeer (the tendency to turn less sharply than is intended) improves grip while going around corners and is standard on all Corolla models. A full-speed range dynamic cruise control, lane departure with steering assist along with road sign assist means the car’s camera will recognize Stop, Yield, Do Not Enter, and Speed Limit signs displaying up to three of them on the dash.

The 2020 Toyota Corolla is Amazon Enabled along with Apple Car Play.
The 2020 Toyota Corolla is Amazon Enabled along with Apple Car Play and a JBL Sound System option.

Top of the line, the XLE (Luxury) and XSE (Sport) Corollas include the optional adaptive front lighting that provides a wider beam of light with headlights that swivel and auto level to better guide you in the dark. Automatic High Beams with available J LED headlights, 16” Alloy Wheels, 3-location smart key, moonroof give the Corolla touches that make it more desirable. The JBL Sound option with 9-speaker, 800 Watt 8-channel system provides premium concert hall quality on the XLE and XSE models.

Two multi-information displays for the dash, a 4.2 inch standard on the L, LE, and SW, and a larger 7 inch on the XLE and XSE, as well as new colors, Blueprint, and Celeste, join Blizzard Pearl, Classic Silver Metallic, Super White, Black Sand Pearl, Barcelona Red Metallic, and Blue Crush Metallic bring more to the Corolla than we have seen before.

 

Interior

The dash on a 2020 Toyota Corolla XSE
The dash on a 2020 Toyota Corolla XSE

Inside you will find a roomy passenger cabin with plenty of soft-touch materials that will please drivers and passengers alike and a surprisingly large trunk. The 8-inch touchscreen center display provides control for the audio system with apple car play standard as well as connected to Amazon Alexa. USB outlets and in optional upgrade trim you can get a Qi wireless charging as well as JBL premium sound.

Even on the base L model with fabric 6-way adjustable driver’s and 4-way adjustable passenger seat, you still have a premium feel, more so when you upgrade to the LE, SE or above. Topping out with the XLE or XSE trim grades, the value added is well worth the small upcharge.

 

Three Power Plants

2020 Toyota Corolla offers a Hybrid variant
2020 Toyota Corolla offers a Hybrid variant based on the Toyota Prius.

Corolla has plenty of power and performance with three power train choices; a 1.8-liter, 2.0-liter four-cylinder, and a hybrid. Yes, you heard it correctly, Corolla now comes in 50-plus mpg hybrid. Toyota has put their proven Prius hybrid powertrain into the Corolla, this means you get Toyota’s well-known hybrid powertrain in the class-leading Corolla style.  If you are not driving enough to warrant a 50-plus MPG hybrid, there is the base L, or a sporty SE or XSE, or luxury LE and XLE option. Corolla for 2020 is the most refined it has ever been and the safest ever with Toyotas standard Safety Sense the most advanced safety available on the market today.

Corolla has always done well in fuel consumption, and for 2020 fuel economy for the L & LE 30/38/33 SE-CVT, 31/40/34 SE-MT 29/36/42 LE Hybrid 53/52/52 XSE 31/38/34 XLE 29/37/32 on regular gasoline.

 

2020 Corolla Pricing

The 2020 Corolla has a base price of $19.500 for the L and topping out at $25,450 for the XSE. The LE Hybrid starts at $22,950. On non-hybrid models add $2k for the LE and $1500 for the SE.  Audio options start at $815 and go up to $1715 for the JBL Premium system with wireless charging. Adaptative Headlights add $450, and if you want that special color, it will run another $395.

 

2020 Toyota Corolla XLE in Savannah GA
2020 Toyota Corolla XLE in Savannah GA

Corolla indeed is the bestselling nameplate of all time with 46 million global sales. Introduced in Japan in 1966 and coming to the USA in 1968. Corolla quickly became a strong seller both in the new and pre-owned market because of four things: Great price point, well-designed, dependable, and economical to own and operate. Which is why the Toyota Corolla has always been the vehicle of choice for many as their first new vehicle and known as a dependable vehicle for many thousands of miles.  Toyota knows that and has worked hard to continue that tradition.

William West Hopper at the 50th Anniversary of the Toyota Corolla
William West Hopper at the 50th Anniversary of the Toyota Corolla

Words and Images (except where noted) by William West Hopper

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Fiat 500 Lounge – Winner, Winner, Spaghetti Dinner

 2018 Fiat 500 “Cinquecento” Lounge

– The perfect city runabout with a turbo

Check out our Queer4Cars YouTube Channel Video on the Cinquecento

2018 Fiat 500 Lounge Turbo HatchbackFCA offered us a week of Italian car time, sending the 2018 Fiat 500 Lounge, or to be proper in Italian, Cinquecento.

72 Fiat 850 Spider in Yellow courtesy of Hemmings Motor News
72 Fiat 850 Spider courtesy of Hemmings Motor News

This brought back lots of memories of a college-era yellow 1972 Fiat850 Spider. While today’s modern 4-seat two-door hatchback was not a drop top like that classic spider, it did have a retractable glass roof. More important it had a lot more of pick up and go and provided similar fuel economy in the upper 30’s miles per gallon on premium fuel. (Editor’s note: the ’72 got 42 mpg on premium fuel, 9-gallon fuel tank, out of a very tiny less than a 1-liter engine, and the convertible top leaked when it rained, but it was a really cute car.)

 

Fiat 500 Lounge Ivory Seat OptionThis 500 was dressed in Oliva Green Pearl paint with an Avorio or ivory white seats and matching interior that stood out quite well in contrast. At first, there were some feelings of reluctance to like the 500, but as the week went by and the more we drove it, the more we came to like its quirkiness, and how spunky it was. Going downtown on a busy Saturday proved its worth, as the smallness of the Fiat meant no problem parking in a spot that other cars could not have slipped into. Win ONE for the Fiat.

 

Floor It Again Tony

Fiat 500 Turbo 1.4 liter engineThe turbo powered 1.4 inline 4-cylinder multiport fuel injected engine connected to the six-speed automatic transmission (a $995 option, yes, a manual is available,) produced plenty of power for this little runabout for city driving. And while it does not sound noisy on the outside when parked, there seems to be plenty of exhaust noise on the inside, this may be to make you think it is a powerful, sporty European car. While we did not take it out on the highway, there is no doubt this engine would work hard to keep up at top highway speeds.

At city speeds from 0 to 40, we found it had plenty of power and then we became used to the sporty exhaust noise. Fuel economy was in the mid to upper 30’s for us buzzing around town. Win TWO for the Fiat.

 

Cuteness Overload

1960's Fiat 500 Cute Little Car
1960’s Fiat 500 photo courtsey of the Metropolitan Museum of Art.

While the design is hardly flashy it is quite reminiscent of that from the 1960s zipping about European cities with movie stars driving them. You must admit clunky can be cute, and the 500 can be customized to make it even more adorable. When they first came out there was even a Gucci designer edition. We found that mature women swooned over this little car.   Win Two and a half for the Fiat.

 

Interior

Fiat 500 Lounge InteriorWe found the interior to be functional and attractive, using the exterior body color as a splash across the dash in a plastic insert that gives the interior an eye-attracting splash of color. And it does take your eye away from the hard plastics that make up the rest of the interior, which is normal on cars in this price range.  Button placement on the mid and upper center of the dash, are large and easy to engage, as well as know what they are doing.  This is a major WIN for the Fiat.

Fiat 500 Front SeatsSeats are comfortable though not easily adjustable, the front seat back adjustment lever is on the inside, which took some searching for and the front and rear adjustment is in the front and once released is very quick to move, so don’t do it as you accelerate, which we did, finding ourselves at the back of the track very quickly.  Rear seats are not just a covered foam board like in other much higher priced vehicles. Right and left rear seatbacks to fold Fiat 500 Lounge Rear Seat Entrydown individually so you can get someone in the back and carry longer items as well. Don’t expect a lot of leg room, but you would not with a car this small anyway, the good news is there is some leg room, and getting in and out will not turn the rear seat passenger into a pretzel, but if you practice yoga, you will find it easier get in and out of the back of a Fiat 500.

Fiat 500 Lounge Rear Hatchback with seat folded down

Cargo area is big enough to carry groceries or other items, surprising for such a small car. You actually have a space to put things even if you have four people riding in the car, which is helpful as everyone carries stuff with them.

 

Fiat 500 has USB Power and other outletsFiat 500 Lounge USB Power in glove boxPower plugs are a must these days and the 500 had three if you include what at one time was a cigarette lighter. Two USB ports, one tied to the Uconnect Audio system in the center console, and one in the glove box that only provides power. A simple audio jack is also undercover in the center console. These three all are vertical, so something could fall into them and cause issues, which is why they have cover doors over them. Like most cars today you have to add a $30 smokers’ package, which is an insert into a cup holder for an ashtray and a cigarette lighter to go in the leftmost power outlet, to accommodate smokers. We thought all Italians smoked.

 

On-Board Technology

Fiat 500 Lounge Tech Screen BeatsAudio SiriusXM RadioAt this price point, tech is often very low. Though Fiat does give you some trendy pop brand options like TomTom for GPS and Beats audio, and of course Sirius XM Satellite radio. The Uconnect in the Fiat is very basic, we never did connect our Samsung phone to it, as it kept not recognizing the Bluetooth signal. The $595 Fiat 500 TomTom GPS

TomTom GPS is very simple with grainy imagery and clunky operation. The $695 premium Beats audio did not stand out as we thought it might.  This is a loss for the Fiat.

 

What’s not to like

While it is a short list, and the pros are more than the cons, there are some things that we found bothersome about the 500.

Fiat 500 Sunshade and visorThe seating position never quite gives a comfortable driving position for your legs. If you put the seat back to stretch out, the steering wheel was too far away, up close, your legs were uncomfortably bent. So this would not be a good long-distance driving comfort.  The sunroof’s interior sunshade is an open weave screen fabric letting in the bright sunshine even while closed. And the sun visors are tiny, because the front window is small, and do not extend when you move them over to the side covering less than half of the door’s window. And we never did find the door electric lock/unlock button, to unlock the doors you will have to open the door from inside handle. Price is a con, as it is high compared to other automobiles on the market today.  More loss than a win, so be it.

 

What is to love

Fiat 500 Gage ClusterAt first the cuteness of the size of the 500, easily slips into a small parking spot. The rear camera gave a great view of where the bumper was in relation to the car behind and the curb as well. And if you have the wipers on, the rear wiper will activate as well, helping you see.  Visibility was very good for this car, plenty of glass to be able to see out and very little obstructions. Fun to drive in town, we found it zippy and energetic. WIN for the Fiat

 

Fit and Finish

Fiat 500 Fit and FinishFor a small inexpensive car (though the price may not reflect that) that has the carried the Fix It Again Tony line since the brand started, fit and finish is very good both inside and out. And at this price point no one expects premium materials on the inside, nor do you get them, but the design is good for what is in your main line of vision. Exterior parts are well put together and the doors and hatch feel and sound solid.

 

Price

Fiat 500 StickerWhile four models of the 500 are available, Base Pop starting at $16,495, 1957 Retro Edition, $19,745, Lounge (what we drove) $19745, and the awe-inspiring Abarth, $20,495. All of these come in your choice of a hatchback or Cabrio, which is more a canvas sunroof. Our hatchback came with the $795 power glass sunroof.

The Cinquecento that we were loaned by FCA priced out at $24,815 which included the $250 Ivory seats, $995 automatic transmission, $795 power sunroof, $595 Tom Tom Navigation, $695 Premium Beats Audio System and the $445 16-inch bright aluminum wheels, with a $1295 destination charge.

At the time of writing there was a $1250 cash incentive on the Fiat 500. Even with that, it is pricy for this segment of car.  With just about the same amount being a destination charge, larger vehicles have smaller numbers on that line. No doubt you are paying for the brand names of the audio and navigation systems.  Our take on this is to dicker on the price, one and two-year-old models are going for $17K at the big lot used car centers.                                                                      This is a loss for the Fiat

 

Overall

Fiat 500 Turbo Sliding Glass SunroofWhile this would not be a car that we would seek out for ourselves and our lifestyle. It is a fun little city car that is filled with cuteness overload. While it is pricy for the segment, it would be a great car if you needed something for around town driving and short commutes. Fuel economy is not amazing, especially using premium fuel. It does have a four-star government safety rating, though reliability has not been stellar. The 500 does come with a 4-year 50,000-mile warranty. If this is a car you want, and plenty of people do, then get the best price you can, and have some fun.  We recommend the glass sunroof option, and if you like a manual transmission, that is standard.  – Ciao Bambino

 

Word and images (except where noted) by William West Hopper.

FCA, Fiat USA and Motus1 provided us with the use of the 2018 Fiat 500 Lounge Turbo for a week, no other compensation or payment was given to us to review this vehicle.

Rental Car Rodeo – 2018 Hyundai Elantra from Budget – DIA January 2019

Hyundai Elantra in the Colorado MountainsBooking a rental car is always a crap shoot. You go for the best price and choose the rental car company that you feel will give you a decent car though often you have no idea what you will get once you show up at the lot. Sometimes you win, sometimes you lose, and this time it worked out just right.

Reviewing rental cars in this column is a great way to see how cars survived in the tough life of rental service, one of the toughest lives any vehicle can endure. Life as a rental car is not easy, and one that is in the wide open high plains of Colorado often explains high mileage in the short lifespan, which was the case in this rental.

Budget Car Rental was the company that we booked with for a recent trip to Colorado. We needed nothing fancy, just a car big enough to carry three people for five days in the mountains. We find that booking through AutoSlash, a Priceline company, gets a great price, often better by about fifty bucks per rental. And using an upgraded American Express Card provides a better per rental price for insurance, which we have used, and swear by, thankfully not on this trip.

Denver International Airport

DIA Denver International Airport in the snowWe arrived at DIA on a Thursday afternoon, just a snowstorm had coated the landscape with a light dusting, making the many young skiers that were heading up to the mountains thrilled. On the very packed rental-a-car bus, those skier dudes were hoping for F150’s and hot muscle cars, which made me think you guys are driving up to where there will be a lot of snow, Oh yes, that is what it is like to be young, remembering one trip out getting a Jeep was my goal in a Colorado rental.  When we arrived at the counter, being a Fastbreak member, they had a very clean 24K mile 2018 Hyundai Elantra SEL in Electric Blue with beige cloth interior ready to go for us. Surprised that it took longer to wait for the bus than it did to stand in line for a car.

Snow Covered Hyundai Elantra
Snow is a constant in Colorado, and the Hyundai had no problems with it.

Budget had the car cleaned off and all we took a walk around and did our best to disable their tolling device so we could use our own Express pass as we did not want to pay for their daily usage charge plus an inflated toll rate.  The car was remarkably clean and dent free, inside there were a few stains on the seats and headliner, and the faint smell of cigarettes, even though there is a sign on the window saying no smoking.

 

Driveability

20190129_085718This Elantra was made in Hyundai’s Alabama plant and went into rental service about 11 months earlier. With 24K miles on it in under a year, this was going to be an excellent subject for a review.

Hyundai Elantra with Nexen TiresOur first leg of the journey was about an hour on the Tollroad and I25, where the car exhibited tire noise from the P205/55R16 Nexen Tires mounted on 16-inch alloy wheels. The Elantra handled quite well and was still very tight and rattle free after a year’s worth of rental use and 24K miles. The SEL’s Blind Spot Detection (BSD) was very handy and quite accurate, and in a car that you are unfamiliar with it comes in handy. The 147-hp 2.0L 4-cylinder engine performed well with three adults in the car, and the 6-speed automatic transmission with SHIFTRONIC® and Active ECO System gave us over 32 average miles per gallon in real-world driving.

Hyundai Elantra SEL Windy conditions as we drove along the open roads did buffet us around as this is a light car, but not so bad that it made the car uncontrollable. The 4-wheel disc brakes provided confident stopping power. And being it was January in Colorado we got to drive in various snow conditions. Not deep snow, but three to four inches of slush. This is where the Nexen PRIZ AH8 tires all season tires did just fine, even with the mileage on them. Occasional the front-wheel-drive did experience some tire spin, but nothing that got us stuck or in trouble.

 

Things that impressed:

 

  • Impressed that at this price point the Elantra has individual tire readings on the dash tire pressure monitoring system (TPMS.)
  • Blind Spot Detection (BSD) with Rear Cross-traffic Alert and Lane Change Assist came in handy
  • Rearview camera with dynamic guidelines gave us a large image when backing up.
  • AM/FM/HD/SiriusXM Satellite Radio/MP3 Audio System with 6 speakers and kudos to Budget for having the SiriusXM Radio activated beyond the Complimentary 3-month trial subscription.
  • Bluetooth®hands-free phone system with voice recognition recognized the phone and set up quickly
  • Smartphone/USB and auxiliary input jacks were handy for using as a power source. Though I am not a fan of Android Auto, so I did not put that into use.
  • Heated side mirrors in snowy conditions, a great plus.

Hyundai Elantra DashThere were very few things that bothered us, other than having to reach out and grab the wide opening large front doors on this four-door sedan. And the tininess sound of the door closure, and we never really found a way to open the truck without using the interior trunk release or the keyfob trunk release button.

Overall

Hyundai Elantra has a wide swing for the front doorHyundai makes a great car for the price point, well styled, great fuel economy, roomy in both the passenger compartment and the very large trunk.  And seeing how well this Elantra has held up under the tough conditions of being a rental car, we were impressed with that build quality as well as fit and finish.

This is a vehicle we would recommend buying new, and if pre-owned, doing some research, not sure that a used rental version would be a good value, but if the price were right, and you needed solid transportation, then yes indeedy!

The Hyundai Elantra has a base price of $19735 with $885 freight – plenty of offers   For 2019 The price has increased to $19400 plus $920 shipping – $20,320

Words and Images by William West Hopper

 

We reviewed the Elantra back in the summer of 2016 

Mechanical

  • Inline 4-cylinder with a 2-liter displacement 147 horsepower @ 6200 RPM with 132 lb-ft of torque at 4500 RPM DOHC 16-valve with D-CVVT with a Multi-Point fuel Injection (MPI) using regular fuel.
  • Front Wheel Drive (FWD) with a 6-speed automatic transmission with Normal, Eco & Sport Drive Mode Select and a SHIFTRONIC®and Active ECO System
  • Unibody Body construction
  • MacPherson Strut with coil springs Front suspension with front stabilizer bar and  Coupled torsion beam axle Rear suspension:
  • Motor-Driven Power Steering (MDPS)
  • 78 Ft curb-to-curb turning diameter
  • 4-wheel disc brakes
  • 16-inch alloy wheels with P205/55R16 tires

 

Safety Features

  • Blind Spot Detection (BSD) with Rear Cross-traffic Alert and Lane Change Assist
  • Vehicle Stability Management (VSM)
  • Electronic Stability Control (ESC)
  • Traction Control System (TCS)
  • Anti-lock Braking System (ABS)
  • Electronic Brake-force Distribution (EBD)
  • Brake Assist (BA)
  • Advanced dual front airbags (SRS) with Occupant Classification System (OCS)
  • Driver and front passenger side-impact airbags (SRS)
  • Side-curtain airbags (SRS)
    (front and rear passengers)
  • Driver’s knee airbag
  • Energy-absorbing steering column
  • Front seatbelt pre-tensioners and force limiters
  • Rear LATCH (Lower Anchors and Tethers for Children)
  • Power window lock-out button
  • Front and rear crumple zones

 

Ford Shelby Cobra GT500 All Muscles and Mustang for 2020

Watch our YouTube Video – 2020 Ford Mustang Shelby Cobra GT500 Walk around with Melvin Betancourt Chief Designer with Ford  https://youtu.be/THPLarS74QQ

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2020 Ford Mustang Shelby Cobra GT500 with Jim Owens from Ford Motor Company’s Performance Division.

 

 

 

Carroll Shelby is as iconic as the Ford Mustang itself, and his legend lives on with the ford mustang cobra front end2020 Ford Mustang Shelby GT500. For 2020 the engineers and performance fanatics at Ford Motor Company have put more power, performance, and agility into the factory-built Shelby GT500. Making it the most advanced high-performance Mustang GT500 ever in the history of this very limited production vehicle from Ford Motor Company.

ford mustang desgner betancourt and marketing manager owensWe got a very VIP preview of this supercharged 5.2-liter V8 producing more than 700 horsepower pony car from both Melvin Betancourt, the Cobra’s designer and Jim Owens, Marketing Manager for Ford Performance.  And learned that the Shelby Cobra GT500 is capable of a mid-three-second 0-60mpg and sub-11-second quarter mile scores. While the Ford team could not confirm things like horsepower, they were still improving on that, production numbers or selling price. They could share with us that this Mustang will have some amazing road track times because of improved handling and cornering, very quick stopping times, with the largest Brembo Brakes ever on a Mustang. Zero to 60 numbers that are less than 3 seconds a quarter mile in less than eleven seconds.

Yes, a Mustang Cobra that will be even faster off the line, on the drag strip, a twisty road course, or the interstate than ever before.  All this power is brought to you by the same team at Ford, that has brought us the Ford GT and Mustang GT4 racing programs.

 

Exterior Design

ford mustang cobra 67 and 20While you will know it is a Mustang from the classic body at first glance, when you get up close you will see that it has slight differences, more muscular in the haunches, brawnier custom Brembo Brakes, the largest ever grill and hood vent, special Michelin tires, and a choice of spoilers.  Betancourt told us how his team worked with the lines to increase the downforce and maximize thermal management, engine, exhaust, and brake cooling all the while working with a performance race-tuned active chassis. New colors for 2020 include Red Hot, Twister Orange, and Iconic Silver. The Shelby GT500 has an optional black painted roof and painted stripes are available.

melvin betancourt with ford mustang cobraMelvin Betancourt, Ford design manager, shared with us that the front grille opening and massive hood vent provide more cooling airflow “Every millimeter of Shelby GT500’s fastback design is aimed at improving performance,” “Like 007, he looks good in his tux, but he can kick your butt.”

 

5.2 Liter Supercharged Engine

engine_c3Ford has put the most powerful street-legal V8 engine to date into the GT500 with a hand-built supercharged 5.2-liter aluminum alloy engine. To keep the intake air cooler and deliver a lower center of gravity, the team inverted a 2.65-liter roots-type Eaton supercharger with air-to-liquid intercooler tucked neatly in the V8 engine valley. Weight-saving wire-arc cylinder liners and high-flow aluminum cylinder heads, plus larger forged connecting rods, improved lubrication, and cooling passages. Beneath that, a structural oil pan adds strength, reduces vibration, and features a patented active baffle system to keep oil where it’s needed. To channel power and torque to the transmission Ford uses a unique carbon fiber driveshaft.

 

Transmission – Dual Clutch Automatic

20190110_104626A Mustang without the option of a manual transmission may seem like sacrilege to some, Ford Performance leveraged learnings from the tuning of its Ford GT supercar’s dual-clutch transmission with this TREMEC® 7-speed capable of shifts in under 100 milliseconds – markedly faster than any manual gearbox. Designed for a number of drive modes, including normal, weather, sport, drag and track, and activates features like line-lock and launch control through selectable Track Apps.

 

 

Suspension, Wheels, Brakes, and Tires – all dialed in by Ford Performance

2020 Shelby GT500 Carbon Fiber Wheel Brembo Brake Michelin Tire
2020 Shelby GT500 Carbon Fiber Wheel Brembo Brake Michelin Tire

Shelby GT500 takes advantage of revised suspension geometry, a new electronic power steering unit and lighter-weight coil springs front and rear. Next-generation active MagneRideTM suspension along with the latest in advanced drive mode technologies from Ford Performance. provides the highest-ever lateral acceleration from a Mustang for greater track performance and driver control.

Getting power to the asphalt means that Ford has brought cutting-edge active chassis technology to the forefront with custom Ford Performance-spec Michelin Pilot Sport 4S tires and more aggressive Pilot Sport Cup 2 tires feature unique compounds and tread. Brembo® brakes with six-piston calipers and massive custom 16-5-inch (420-millimeter) two-piece rotors – the largest of any domestic sports coupe provide track-ready stopping power. With more than 30 percent additional thermal mass in the front corners.

 

Handling Packages

Shelby GT500 offers an available handling package with adjustable strut top mounts and spoiler with Gurney flap. Racetrack rats will appreciate the available Carbon Fiber Track Package features exposed 20-inch carbon fiber wheels with 0.5-inch-wider rear wheels (11.5-inch), custom Michelin Pilot Sport Cup 2 tires, adjustable exposed carbon fiber GT4 track wing and splitter wickers with integrated dive plane.

 

Inside More craftsmanship, technology and driver comfort

steering wheel for the 2020 ford mustang cobraShelby GT500’s purpose-built cockpit boasts race-inspired premium materials and unique finishes. Premium touchpoints include an available exposed carbon fiber instrument panel appliqué and new door panel inserts in Dark Slate Miko® suede with accent stitching. Available Recaro racing seats with firm side bolstering and pass-throughs for safety harnesses offer the highest level of performance. For those looking for even greater comfort, power-adjustable seating with Miko suede inserts is offered. A rear seat is deleted to reduce weight for those who are truly looking at competition driving.

The all-new Shelby GT500 picks up a 12-inch full-color LCD instrument cluster, while a high-performance custom-tuned 12-speaker B&O® Play premium audio system is available. All of this is controlled via an 8-inch SYNC® 3 touch screen featuring SiriusXM and FordPass ConnectTM.

the 2020 Shelby GT500 has functional track-hero looks to match its performance. New colors for 2020 include Red Hot, Twister Orange, and Iconic Silver. Painted stripes are available for the all-new Shelby GT500 too.  A functional, menacing design tuned with Ford Performance know-how thanks to a cross-functional team of designers, Ford Performance engineers, and motorsports collaborators,

The Shelby GT500 will be in dealers late in the summer and a GT350 will be arriving Fall of 2019.

 

Words and Images by William West Hopper
Ford Motor Company kindly provided us with travel, meals, and lodging to Detroit to see both the new Shelby GT500 and the new 2020 Ford Explorer, we thank them for this courtesy.

A Chicken in Every Pot, and an SUV in Every Driveway – The All New 2020 Ford Explorer

20190109_204700Check out the Queer4Cars YouTube Video on the January 2019 All New 2020 Ford Explorer Press Revel Event in Detroit Michigan  

Ford Motor Company the American car company that put a car in every driveway, also brought to market the first mass appeal SUV, the Ford Explorer. From 1990 until today the demand for SUVs has grown to be the most desired market segment for vehicles.  Drivers want the room of a wagon and the utility of a truck, and Ford has completed the equation with adding luxury, safety, and technology.

When Ford brought Explorer to market in 1990 it was an all of that and more, a comfortable, spacious vehicle with luxurious options and able to haul and tow like a truck, with seating for the whole family.

21 six generations of explorerNow after six generations, 2020 Ford has redesigned from the ground up an all-new Ford Explorer. Explorer’s all-new rear-wheel-drive platform provides improved capability both on and off-road. Adding an additional six-hundred pounds maximum towing capacity when properly equipped, all at just a few hundred dollars more than the outgoing model.

 

Two improved EcoBoost®  Engines

Ford has improved the engines over the previous Explorer models. The all-new 2020 Explorer features the most powerful 3.0-liter turbocharged EcoBoost® V6 in the Platinum model, with a projected 365 horsepower and 380 lb.-ft. of torque using 93-octane gas. Not to be outdone, Ford has reinvigorated the 2.3-liter turbocharged EcoBoost® I- 4, projected to produce 300 horsepower and 310 lb.-ft. of torque. With an all-new 10-speed transmission that is standard on base, XLT, and Limited models.

Rear Wheel Drive with Optional All-Wheel Drive

The Explorer’s new rear-wheel-drive platform provides a sportier and more athletic feel. The main role for RWD is to improve on- and off-road capability and added towing capability, a key ingredient that Explorer drivers want.

Available Intelligent four-wheel drive has improved Explorer’s off-road capability. Now with a Terrain Management System™ featuring seven easy-to-engage drive modes for various road and weather conditions.  Controllable through a center console-mounted dial and if equipped come with a special 3D animated graphics in the available new 12.3-inch digital cluster.

Rear-wheel drive Explorers host; normal, sport, trail, slippery, tow/haul and eco mode. All-wheel drive Explorers add deep snow and sand mode.

Towing

Ford’s design team knows that Explorer drivers are hauling boats and towing trailers. Thus rear-wheel drive enables more towing capability when properly equipped, regardless of engine. Explorer’s equipped with a 3.0-liter EcoBoost can tow up to 5,600 pounds, a 12 percent increase over previous generations. New Explorer’s outfitted with a 2.3-liter EcoBoost and Class III Trailer Tow Package can tow up to 5,300 pounds, versus a similarly equipped previous version’s 3K pounds.

20 explorer st

Cabin Refinements

Ford has refined Explorer’s cabin to be quieter with more space and updated technology. Three rows of seating and a focus on the little details like 123-cubic liters of storage space throughout the cabin accommodating personal items such as everyday drink bottles and cell phones, even a place for drink boxes for the kids.

18 explorer stImprovements like second-row seats that feature a new mechanism allowing for easier one-hand access to and from the third row. Great when you are carrying items or holding onto kids. Available retractable sunshades for the second-row windows make it easier to ensure privacy. Redesigned ISOFIX anchor points allow child seat installation anywhere in the second and third rows.

19 explorer stAvailable PowerFold® third-row seats and new E-Z entry second-row seats provide a flat-floor cargo area that stretches out to offer 87.8 cubic feet of cargo space – wide enough to fit standard 4-foot building materials, depending on seating configuration.

 

Technology

16 ford explorer platinum

The all-new Explorer provides Driver-Assistance with an available 10.1-inch portrait-mounted touch screen with full-screen maps shares information with the available 12.3-inch all-digital instrument cluster. 3-D graphics provide information on the seven drive modes using the available Terrain Management System.

For music lovers, Explorer offers an available 980-watt, 14-speaker B&O premium audio system. Access to SiriusXM™ satellite radio is standard and comes with new touch screen graphics and functionality – including a display of the day’s sports scores.

A wireless charging pad is available, and up to four USB ports, including new type-C outlets, with up to three 12-volt outlets and a 110-volt outlet, are also available.

The all-new Explorer introduces available Active Park Assist 2.0. The class-exclusive feature – standard on Explorer Platinum – allows the driver to park in a parallel or perpendicular spot with a touch of a button without having to work the steering wheel, gear shifter, gas pedal or brake pedal. Available reverse brake assist, also standard on Platinum, uses radar and ultrasonic sensors to detect an object in Explorer’s path and can apply the brakes automatically to avoid an imminent collision when the vehicle is backing up at a low speed – such as when exiting a driveway.

Safety – Traffic-sensing Ford Co-Pilot360

Explorer for 2020 comes standard with Ford Co-Pilot360™, a suite of driver-assist technologies innovations and features that can help reduce stress such as available Reverse Brake Assist and Active Park Assist 2.0, which handles all steering, shifting, brake and accelerator controls during a parking maneuver with a touch of a button.

Ford Co-Pilot360 includes:

  • Pre-Collision Assist with Automatic Emergency Braking, which includes Pedestrian Detection, Forward Collision Warning and Dynamic Brake Support
  • Blind Spot Information System with Cross-Traffic Alert
  • Lane-Keeping System
  • Rearview camera with built-in lens cleaner
  • Auto headlamps with auto high-beams

Other available Ford Co-Pilot360 technologies include Evasive Steering Assist, which provides steering support to help avoid a collision; and Post-Impact Braking provides braking after a collision to lessen injury and damage caused by a secondary crash event

Ford’s all-new Intelligent Adaptive Cruise Control with Speed Sign Recognition is now available on the all-new Explorer. In addition to automatically slowing when traffic ahead slows and helping keep the vehicle centered in its lane, the system uses cameras to read speed signs and, combined with the available navigation system, adjusts cruise control settings accordingly.

Exterior Design

Ford has retained design elements that have helped define Explorer’s heritage. Explorer’s blacked-out A-pillars and D-pillars and body-color C-pillars – are retained. Changes to the overall profile include a more sloping roofline and shorter front overhang, giving the vehicle a stylish and sporty appearance

All New Explorer Model Line Up

explorerfamily_hrExplorer comes with standard features including a power liftgate, 8-inch digital touch screen with SYNC® 3, FordPass Connect™ Wi-Fi service, as well as Ford Co-Pilot360™, a suite of driver-assist technologies. Explorer comes standard with 18-inch painted aluminum wheels, drivers can opt for one of seven wheel designs

Each trim level has additional add-ons like HD Radio™ being standard on Limited and Platinum models. Platinum models also feature a standard twin-panel moonroof, special leather seats, plus leather-wrapped steering wheel, dashboard, door rollovers, and door and front console armrests. Other Platinum differentiators include door handles with satin aluminum insert, liftgate appliqué, lower bodyside cladding insert, available 21-inch aluminum wheels, roof-rack side rails and a unique grille with satin aluminum finish.

Pricing

While exact pricing has not been announced, the all-new Explorer comes packed with more than a dozen new standard features for what we are told is only $400 more over the previous model. The all-new Explorer is manufactured at the Chicago Assembly Plant. New vehicles are due in showrooms this summer.

Ford has meticulously recrafted America’s favorite SUV with capability, comfort, safety, and overall design in mind, improving handling, safety, appearance and passenger accommodations. Check out the all-new 2020 Ford Explorer at an upcoming auto show near you.

Words by William West Hopper, images from Ford Communications and William West Hopper. Ford provided us with our airfare, lodging, and meals during a special trip to Detroit to see the revel for the all-new Ford Explorer.

Today and Tomorrow: Mini’s Future Is Passionate Owners and a Strong Racing Heritage

Mini Electric Concept
Mini Electric Concept – photo from Mini PR

Mini, the brand that has been an icon of everything that is quintessentially and vibrantly British and youthful, is poised to celebrate 60 in 2019. And doing so by being plugged in to their passionate customers who love driving and winning races.

Mini quickly became the car of choice for rock stars, film personalities as well as royals an common folk alike when it was first introduced in 1959. The little cars caught they eye of racing legend John Cooper whose name has become synonymous with the brand. Who then took the brand on to win many races in the 1960’s. Today not much has changed,

What Makes a Mini?

MINI Manager of Product Planning, Ishaan Khatri speaks to auto journalists in NYC in November of 2018, prior to the LA Auto Show.
MINI Manager of Product Planning, Ishaan Khatri speaks to auto journalists in NYC in November of 2018, prior to the LA Auto Show.

At a recent meeting of automotive journalists in New York City, MINI Manager of Product Planning, Ishaan Khatri shared the five essential elements of what makes a Mini.

Emotional: Mini is not a rational purchase, you buy a Mini for the fun of it.

Excitable: The mini makes people excited and has since it was first introduced as an answer to expensive fuel prices.

Fun to drive: Known for go kart-like handling, Khatri stated that the Countryman is no-doubt the best driving SUV on the market.

Personable: 70% of owners name their Mini and make them an important part of the family.

Customization: Even the banner on the outside of the UK factory says 1 in 800K. Mini has always offered customers a high level of customization for their cars.

Customer Loyalty

Mini Line upMini takes its owners and enthusiasts very seriously, involving them in events like Mini Takes The States, a two-week long driving adventure in the USA each year. This is a chance for members of the Mini Corporate Staff, parts of the racing team, and everyday owners of the vehicles get a chance to enjoy time driving the cars together, as well as getting feedback on new and experimental products.

Racing is Heritage

Luis Perocarpi, team owner of LAP Motorsport talks about winning races with stock Minis.
Luis Perocarpi, team owner of LAP Motorsport talks about winning races with stock Minis.

Mini has taken racing seriously since 1960 when John Cooper first raced one of their cars. Mini has both a Professional race team in the USA, LAP Motorsports as well as supporting owners of its cars  by sponsoring them to take it to the track at SCCA and other ametur events that often lead drivers into a full-time racing career. As Luis Perocarpi, team owner of LAP Motorsport found out after taking delivery right off the dealership floor of a couple of JCWorks cars his team would drive to win. He stated “Mini’s street cars are race cars.”

Perocarpi shared that the best kept secret in the automotive sector is how good the JCWorks factory cars are. That in the short preparation time his race shop had to prepare a couple of Mini’s to get out on the track, he found out they needed little tuning, just roll cages.  Though on their first race, how officials made them remove the stock Brembo brakes from their JCWorks Mini and replace them with brakes from a Mini SE, and they still won the race. Not unlike the middle 1960’s when John Cooper’s Motorsports Team’s Mini was disqualified for having double filament light bulbs.

What’s Next?

Mini made up a prototype of a classic powered by all electric
Mini made up a prototype of a classic powered by all electric. (photo by Mini PR)

Electrification, while the rest of the industry was busy looking at hybrids back in the late 2000’s, Mini in 2009 leased an exclusive Mini-E edition of 500 Mini-E cars to the USA and 40 to the UK. Using that experience, Mini’s owner group, BMW, took this real-world experience and developed the 2012 BMW 1-Series Active-e and the I3 as well as BMW’s I8 super car.

Andrew Cutler, Mini Public Relations Manager with Mini shared that the Mini Countryman PHEV and BMW’s I8 shared similar powertrain components, just inverted, Mini’s PHEV Countryman has the 3-cyl in the front and the

Andrew Cutler, Mini Public Relations Manager spoke of the heritage of Mini and the passion of the owners.
Andrew Cutler, Mini Public Relations Manager spoke of the heritage of Mini and the passion of the owners.

electric motors in the back, with the I8 has the ICE (internal combustion engine) in the back and electric motors in the front, both with AWD when needed.

Expect to see a third generation Mini SE EV, built on BMW’s electric architecture, in production and on sale in 2020.  And yes there already is a John Cooper Works GP Concept out there so expect to see the JCW Performance being powered by electricity as well.

 

 

Special Editions

 

Mini is about to release the JCWorks Black Knight Edition at the LA Auto Show in November 2018.
Mini is about to release the JCWorks Black Knight Edition at the LA Auto Show in November 2018. (photo from Mini PR)

Mini developed to be an urban brand does not take its heritage nor future technology for granted. You will find  that they will continue to build fun to drive vehicles after 60 years and plan to do so in the future. Plus Mini is still offering a manual transmission on their internal combustion powered products, a rarity in today’s automatic world.Mini has found special edition limited production vehicles to be part of its success. The latest, a Black Knight Edition, will be debuting at the 2018 LA Auto Show. A JCW 3-door hard top with- custom trim, handles and black color combination of which 150 examples will make it to the USA, arriving in first quarter 2019. An International Orange and Starlight Edition will join the Black Knight.

And they will never take their customers for granted, continuing with a successful enthusiast programs along with racecar driver training.

 

Words and Images (except where noted) by William West Hopper

 

The Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV The non-status symbol Hybrid – an Outstanding Electric Trekker

Check out our Queer4Cars YouTube Video on the Outlander

Mitsubishi Outlander PHEVMitsubishi’s Outlander – Came to market first as a sensible gasoline-powered small SUV Wagon, while pretty vanilla in styling and options, it offers no-nonsense utility with space for gear, cargo and most importantly for many families, the dogs. At the New York International Auto Show in 2016, they launched the PHEV version, which takes this vehicle to another level both as a battery electric hybrid and an all-wheel-drive off-roader.

Much hype has been made by hybrid and EV owners about owning and operating a green vehicle. Somehow, each of them, are single-handedly are saving the planet with their eco-driving habits. Even from the early days, over a decade ago, the hybrid mystic was big. Tax incentives for the purchase and even special commuter lane access, as well as reserved hybrid parking spots and more.

Mitsubishi Outlander 63 cubic Feet of Cargo
Mitsubishi Outlander features 63 + cubic Feet of Cargo

While that is great if you were in need of a 4-door sedan, but what if your life did not make that a practical vehicle for your lifestyle? What if you needed a cargo consuming wagon? Or if you are all about going off the beaten path and wanted to be more off the grid?

 

Until now that was something that was only done by gas or diesel-powered rigs, not hybrids or electrics. The Outlander provides that flexibility with all-wheel-drive, a 74 MPGe, and a 1500 lb towing capacity.

Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV is a very capable PHEV.

Mitsubishi Outlander 2.0 Ltr PHEV Engine
Mitsubishi Outlander 2.0 Ltr gasoline Engine on the PHEV

The Outlander features a highly efficient 2.0-liter gas engine and two high-performance electric motors, front and rear with Mitsubishi’s superior Super All-Wheel Control (S-AWC) system. Mitsubishi has provided what has been missing in that equation, a passenger, cargo, and towing vehicle, with 4×4 off-road capability. Perfect for the eco- friendly hikers and campers.

 

Going beyond the Grid

Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV features Level 1 & 2 plus DC Fast Charge Ports
Level 1 & 2 plus DC Fast Charge Ports only on the Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV.

Rolling in the Mitsubishi Outlander (we tested a GTS-AWD R version with a $42,185 price tag) PHEV an SUV station wagon with seating for five and space in the way back for 63.3 cubic feet of cargo, which could be, the dog, camping equipment, or what have you.  A hybrid EV that you push a switch to put it into four-wheel drive is something that will be great for those folks that want to adventure off into the wilderness, camping fishing, or hunting.  Connect it to a solar or wind charger while parked, and you have yourself a truly granola vehicle

Mitsubishi Charge Cable Not ReadyThe Outlander PHEV has full-time, twin-electric motors to provide quick and optimized torque distribution powering the 4WD system. The motors are mounted separately at the front and rear axles to deliver precise, responsive 4WD performance with the S-AWC system ensuring excellent driving stability and intuitive, linear handling.

Mitsubishi Outlander Plugin hybrid EVThree drive modes are available: EV (full electric mode), series hybrid (electric power with generator operation) and parallel hybrid (engine power and electric motor assistance). The PHEV system automatically selects the most efficient drive mode given the road conditions and other factors. The system also features a regenerative braking mode, where electricity is captured under braking.

The S-AWC system found on the Outlander PHEV is a specialized application of all-wheel drive from their performance car, the Lancer Evolution.  This Super All-Wheel Control is developed specifically for the Outlander PHEV’s unique twin electric motor configuration for maximum performance, efficiency, traction, and safety.

What we liked

Mitsubishi Outlander PHEVOur test vehicle a 2018 Outlander PHEV a GTS-AWD model in R Trim styling, continues to be understated, while practicality and utility are out of this world. Driver comfort and ease of operation are first class.

Driver comfort

Expect a comfortable but taught ride while it may not be as cushy as other upscale vehicles with a $48K price tag, you feel connected to the road surface as you drive.  Outlander provides a command of the road from a well-designed cockpit. Good visibility which is aided by modern tech 360 cameras.

Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV CockpitComfortable seats covered in durable and attractive leather. Car upholstery takes a beating. The Outlanders will resist the elements and whatever your kids and pets will pelt it with.

Safety

Advanced safety and convenience features available on Outlander PHEV include multi-around view camera monitor, forward collision mitigation with pedestrian detection capability, blind spot monitoring with rear cross traffic alert (RCTA), and available smartphone integrations including Apple CarPlay™ and Android Auto™.

Passenger and cargo space

White Mitsubishi Outlander and Blue Subaru OutbackWhile this is not a large vehicle on the outside, interior room is plentiful, with 63 cubic feet of cargo room. It is a nifty little wagon that is a tad bigger than a Subaru Outback, and a tad smaller than a Toyota Rav4.

Mitsubishi Outlander and Toyota RAV4

Power-Inside and Out

Charging both inside and out is well thought out.

Mitsubishi PHEV has two Charge ports for Level 1 & 2 and DC Fast Charging

Outside: You have options at the charger to power the high capacity 12kWh Li-Ion battery pack, as you can plug in the PHEV thorough one of two EV charge ports: for Level 1, 120V home charging, or level 2, 240v as you find at public chargers. What this PHEV has is what you often only find on dedicated EV’s, a DC fast charge port.

Power Outlets on the Mitsubishi Outlander

Inside: plenty of power ports including two 110v outlets with up to 1500 watts of power along with USB outlets make plugging in devices seamless, no matter where you are, or where the Outlander is in the world.

What we did not like – not very much not to like.

What stood out was the tininess sound as the door closed. The Outlander had more than a fair share of warning bells and buzzers. While the controls and displays were simple and easy to use they could be gathered together instead of them spread between the center stack and the center console. The steering felt a bit disconnected on occasion, which was Ok, as no doubt that it was part of the advanced safety system that comes standard on the Outlander.

As a whole, the Outlander provided quite a good experience for our week of driving it. We would say yes to any adventure, on or off road in a Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV. This un-status brand makes going green the right thing to do.

Other Models from Mitsubishi

Mitsubishi Eclipse Cross
Mitsubishi Eclipse Cross

While the Outlander comes in a smaller version the Outlander Sport, there is also an Eclipse Cross, as well as the standard gasoline-powered Outlander. Campers, hikers, have had little choice in taking a vehicle into the wilderness, as there was not truly a minimal eco-impact vehicle that was off-road capable.  Mitsubishi has provided what has been missing in the EV equation, a passenger and cargo hauler with 4×4 off-road capability for the eco- friendly off-road enthusiasts.

 

The Language of the Three Diamonds

Mitsubishi three diamondsA Mitsubishi? What’s that? Lost in the influx of imports, the brand came to the US more than three decades ago, with dependable, though boring sedans, for a while they partnered with a previous version of Chrysler Corporation and supplied sporty cars with a price point that attracted younger drivers.  With the age of SUV and Crossover love,

Mitsubishi Mirage G4
Mitsubishi Mirage G4

Mitsubishi has narrowed their USA offerings to a practical line of SUVs and small cars.

The company Mitsubishi goes back into the early 19th century as a shipping company. The name Mitsubishi (三菱) consists of two parts: “mitsu” meaning “three” and “hishi” (which becomes “bishi” under rendaku) meaning “water caltrop” (also called “water chestnut”), and hence “rhombus“, which is reflected in the company’s logo. It is also translated as “three diamonds”.

100K Mile / 10-year Warranty

Car companies do not warrant their vehicles for long periods of time if they don’t build them with longevity in mind. Mitsubishi has a 10-year 100K mile warranty that covers powertrain, PHEV Components, and the LiIon battery, some limitations do apply, as they always do. New vehicle warranty of 5 years 60K, anti-corrosion of 7 years and 5 years of roadside assistance are all included in the Outlander’s warranty.

Offers

As of this writing, you can get zero percent financing for 60 months, a $2k factory rebate, or  $289 per month lease for 36 months with $4,088 down.

And while Mitsubishi dealers are few and far between, with approximately 360 dealers in the USA. They are often part of larger multi-marque dealership organizations, finding that person in the dealership who speaks the Mitsubishi language, is not hard.

 

Mitsubishi provided us with this test vehicle through Drive Shop, a fleet management company. We received no compensation from them for this article, other than the opportunity to experience the Outlander for a week.

Words by William West Hopper. Images from the Mitsubishi Press Office as well as William West Hopper.