Category Archives: Truck

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.

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The Enviable Proper British Bloke – The Land Rover Discovery HSE Luxury Td6

Land Rover Classic
Classic Land Rover Prototype, Photo by Land Rover

Check out our Queer4Cars YouTube Video on the Land Rover Discovery HSE Td6

How does today’s refined Land Rover Discovery live up to the reputation of the great British trekker brand? One known for rugged adventure over all terrain in exotic places? The Land Rover brand has become synonymous with sophisticated luxury and has become an aspirational luxury car for many suburbanites, and it can tow and explore like the Royal leader it is.

Mom Envy

Land Rover Discovery parked in a suburban setting
Land Rover Discovery parked in a suburban setting

The first thing that I heard as I got into the 2018 Land Rover Discovery parked on my suburban Washington DC Street, was how envious the local Moms will be as this is the SUV to aspire too. Moms are one tough demographic to make happy, so the Disco has a tough job on its hands. I asked a local Mom who owns one to go for a spin with me. The first question was: “What model is this?”  My response was, “You drive one of these, and I hear this is the car that all the Mom’s in the ‘hood want.” “No, this one is much nicer than mine, Mine is very basic.” Indeed, they turned out to be very similar, just a year and a trim line apart.

A local Dad, the owner of a five-year-old Ford Explorer, commented on the similarities of touch feel and operation of this model to the upline classic American SUV. Finding out that much of the drive controls were similar showed me that though Ford’s ownership was a number of years past, the influence is still strong today, and in many ways timeless. Which is good for a brand that had the reputation of being in the shop more than it was on the road.

Land Rover Diesel Cap
Running the bad-boy diesel engine returned great fuel mileage.

Driving the Discovery around town as well as taking it on an extended highway trip shows this is one comfortable cruiser, even for its large size. Did I mention that this test model was powered by a turbo diesel engine?

 

 

Diesel Driver Envy

Land Rover Discovery at an Exxon Diesel Synergy Pump
Discovery returned 30 plus miles per gallon on diesel.

Almost as soon as I pulled into a country fueling station, and the first thing I heard when I got out to pump, “Is that a diesel?” from a bearded, big pickup driving local. “That is the quietest diesel I have ever heard.” Which generated a long discussion of what diesels he had owned. “I used to have that,” he said proudly, though with a sense of sadness in his voice as a Ford Power Stroke® pulled in behind us, loudly clattering away. I shared with him that the Land Rover was at one time owned by Ford. That made him smile, as he jumped back into his mud covered burly pickup.

Td6 Land Rover Diesel engine
The Td6 Land Rover Diesel engine

While here in the USA, diesel engines are thought to be for trucks and the oddball who wants one in a luxury car has only a few options. Land Rover has put this bad-boy of automotive engines to work in its line up including the Range Rover and Range Rover Sport. The diesel-powered Discovery Td6 achieves 21 mpg city 26 highway with a combined 22.5 combined fuel economy for the powerful 254HP 3.0-liter turbocharged V-6 diesel engine.  And this diesel is tow-ready with the Rover® Tow Package, 7,716 lbs maximum permissible towing capacity.  class two hitch and all the connections

Pristine and Refined

Left Rear Side of Land Rover Discovery
The slab rear flanks of the Land Rover Discovery looked right for the size vehicle it is.

No doubt Land Rovers have seen their share of muck boots, Wellies, and fine leather, as this is the brand of choice for the equestrian crowd. And with the towing capacity of this diesel-powered Landy, it could easily have been towing a horse trailer to field trails, fox hunts, and horse shows. Though back at the stable any number of farm pickups would be keeping the barn’s field operation in motion.

 

 

What we liked

Land Rover Discovery Digital Dash
The digital dash of the Discovery was very informative, though the in-depth review was not easy while driving.

What is not to like about the elegance of Land Rover’s line of vehicles?  A British Icon that was granted a Royal Warrant in 1951 and has been providing rugged off-road capable vehicles since. Today the brand is part of Jaguar Land Rover with that added luxury, an air of elegance, on top of the proven Land Rover toughness, Rovers attract owners of an income level who are less concerned about the cost of ownership and more about the sense of luxurious style the brand offers.

Classic Landy’s as they are called from the original British Leyland era are quite collectible and still on the road due to their aluminum bodies and determined mechanics who keep them running. You even see models from the years they were thought to be mechanical nightmares because Land Rover owners love them so much, and do not want to part with one.

Overall Fit and Finish

Land Rover Discover Center Console
Lots of controllability with the Discovery, from ride height to all-wheel drive.

We were quite impressed with this vehicle. The fit and finish, as well as the quality of materials, are top notch. While we heard from other auto journalists that the slab rear loins of the vehicle were a bit chunky, it did not appear out of proportion to our eye, considering that it covered a large well-appointed interior that had a very good use of space.

We liked the design of both the exterior and interior and especially the feel of the dash material. And impressed with the thought that went into the storage areas and power outlets throughout the vehicle. Heated and cooled seats are available in the front, middle and the third row. Up front, seats with a massage function and 16-way adjustment are also available. Since this is a family vehicle, a total of four ISOFIX mounting points make it possible to fit child safety seats in the rearmost row.  And for those who do not require the added versatility of folding third-row seats, Discovery comes standard in a five-seat, 2-row configuration.

land rover discovery 3rd row seats up
With the 3rd row seats in place, there is not much cargo space in the discovery.

With three rows of seats, the second row slides forward and backward allowing access to the Discovery’s distinctive high roof and trademark stadium seating in the third row. This allows for even for 74.8” tall passengers to sit comfortably with visibility as well as leg and shoulder room.

 

Driveability of the vehicle

land rover 21 inch goodyear tire
The discovery rides on 21-inch good year tires

While this vehicle is roomy on the inside and large on the outside, 195.7 in. long, 87.4 in. wide (mirrors out) and 72.7 in. tall. The Discovery rides capably on large 21-inch tires. We found driveability and highway handling excellent, tracking well and holding the road, and very maneuverable with a tight 40.4-foot turning radius. Visibility is very good on the vehicle in tight spaces or out on the open road, with plenty of glass space, and the added modern safety feature of cameras and sensors.

A taut suspension is quite comfortable even on rough roads, and the Four-Corner Air Suspension adjustable advanced integral-link rear suspension system suspension makes it easy to get in and out of and provides adjustable ride height for on and off-road conditions.

land rover discovery cargo control panel
Control the 3rd-row seats as well as the rear air suspension with this controller in the Discovery.

Air suspension is designed to improve on-road ride quality and greater capability when off-roading. The automatic system is able to vary between two ride heights of +1.57 in. and +2.95 in. At speeds below 31mph the +2.95 in. the setting is available; for faster speeds on rutted dirt roads, between 31- 50mph the vehicle will operate at +1.57 in. A new Speed Lowering function cuts drag and enhanced fuel economy by automatically reducing the ride height at cruising speeds above 65mph. Other functions include enhanced tuning to prevent the suspension from lowering in deep wading conditions, as well as preventing belly-out situations where the center of the vehicle rests on the ground.

Permanent four-wheel drive with standard locking center differential and Terrain Response™, optional locking rear differential provided traction no matter the weather or terrain.

Comfort

land rover discovery 3rd row seat view
Discovery’s 3rd-row seat sits higher than the first and second row.

Front seats were extremely comfortable, while the 2nd and 3rd were hard and plank-like.  The third row is not easy to crawl into, though with its raised stadium style seating once back there you have a commanding view of the cabin, being higher, over the rear axle than the 2nd or 1st row. This is the reason for the trademark Land Rover stepped up Roofline, giving 3rd-row passengers headroom. Both rear seating rows had access to power and to HVAC controls, as well as plenty of storage, and heated seats. Nice Touch!

What we found odd and irritating

land rover discovery display screen
The Landy’s very detailed and in-depth screens were sometimes hard to drill down to get the info you needed quickly.

The unintuitive controls, and very in-depth on-screen menus.  This is not a vehicle that you want to try and figure out what the different controls do while driving, as they can distracting as they are long and involved.  The start-stop button is large, just that it is hidden behind the right side of the steering wheel, and a smaller button that opens a cubby button behind the center dash is visible, we found ourselves opening that cubby when thinking it was the start-stop button.

 

land rover discovery sales sticker and key
We got great fuel mileage from the Discovery, better than the sticker stated.

The unpredictability of turning the engine off after putting the vehicle into park, sometimes, it would just decide on its owns to shut the engine off beyond just pushing the ignition start-stop button, and do it without rhyme or reason. Maybe it was because we had done something else that told the vehicle to shut down, never quite figured that out. Speaking of random, recognition of the key fob was intermittent. Sometimes the key would be behind a phone in a pocket, and by pulling would be enough for the car to recognize it. It could have needed a new fob battery.

Warranty

Land Rover logo in the Velar
Land Rover is known the world over

Land Rover Dealers have been focused on the brand through thick and thin, and through a number of corporate owners. Now Land Rover/Range Rover is owned by Tata along with Jaguar, a very focused group who are making the brand better with each vehicle they produce.

 

 

 

Let us not forget the Royal Land Rover

70 years of Land Rover
First designed in 1948 Land Rovers have been trekking the world for 70-years.

launched in 1948 and simply called Land Rover, the design for the original vehicle was started in 1947 by Maurice Wilks with early choices limited to various shades of light green colour as dictated by supplies of military surplus aircraft cockpit paint. Land Rover was granted a Royal Warrant by King George VI. Since then you often see the brand being used by Royalty the world over.

 

 

 

Overall

cargo space in the land rover discovery
With the 3-row down, there is plenty of room for cargo in the Land Rover Discovery.

The essence of the brand, you have to like what you drive, and driving a Land Rover has some cache to it, a brand that has contoured and explored the world. We found ourselves at home in the 2018 Land Rover Discovery. For $68K, you get a powerful and attractive vehicle that has a timeless design, and with the diesel powerplant, a great tow vehicle. Take it to the stable, off road, the concert hall, or to the school carpool line, sign us up, we will be glad to drive this one again.

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

Land Rover USA provided us the opportunity to test drive this vehicle for a week-long evaluation to produce this report. We were not compensated for this article.

 

 

Rolling in Luxury, Style and Utility – 2019 RAM 1500 Pickup Truck

2019 RAM 1500 Laramie Longhorn
2019 RAM 1500 Laramie Longhorn

With a choice of Full-size Pickups on the market today, all providing plenty of utility, they are a far cry from the job-site work vehicles they originally intended for.  Once, a basic hood, cab and cargo box configuration, today’s pickups are well styled and luxuriously appointed, fuel efficient and filled with technology. Some even have become high-horsepower sport trucks.

 

What makes the 2019 RAM 1500 stand out is the level of luxury, technology, and styling.  RAM’s long history for hard working rugged pickups under the Dodge and Power Wagon name, the brand is known more for its brawn than beauty. A quarter of a century ago, when RAM was just a model designation within the Dodge lineup, they did something no other pick up had done. They made the exterior more muscular in appearance with a big-rig front hood and fender style.  For 2019, RAM has again stepped ahead, producing a pickup that is stylishly well appointed, inside and out, even in its lowest work truck trim.

 

Models

2019 RAM 1500 Rebel
2019 RAM 1500 Rebel

No matter what model: Tradesman; Big Horn; Long Horn, Laramie; Rebel; Laramie Long Horn; or Limited, each has added touches of luxury and technology. The iconic RAM articulated fenders are now smoothed and more rectangular as the brand defines what a pick up can be. Add to that a well-appointed interior, large 12-inch infotainment touch screen, and plenty of storage, a hallmark of its FCA heritage. The rotary dial gear shifter, pushbutton start is just some that you notice right away. The design of the interior with comfortable seats will reward you for short or long trips.

QuadCab or Crew Cab

2019 RAM Rear Quad Cab SeatWhile the original single cab pickup is still available in the Tradesman, a work truck model with just a front seat. Most buyers are using pickups like a family car and want more car-like amenities. And why not? Full-size car comfort and seating for five, a cargo bed for carrying cargo and towing capacity makes the pickup quite versitle. While both have full-size rear seats, the Crew Cab has a shorter cab with smaller rear doors. While the Quad Cab offers four full-size doors that open into an enormous amount of interior space.

 

Powertrain Choices

2019 RAM InteriorThe gasoline powerplants have been given plenty of refinements, including gains in fuel economy as well as power. Technology like eTorque, a mild hybrid system, in the 3.6-liter Pentastar V-6 and optional in the HEMI® V-8. The eTorque combines a belt driven motor generator with a 48-volt battery pack enabling quick and seamless start/stop function and short duration torque addition to the crankshaft in certain driving conditions. An advanced cylinder cutoff system on the 5.7-liter HEMI keeps fuel consumption down while still providing the power of a V-8 when needed. At this writing a diesel option has not been announced.

New generations of the TorqueFlite eight-speed automatic transmission provide improved efficiency. Frame-mounted active vibration dampers and active noise cancellation provide a quieter cabin making engine vibrations practically nonexistent.

You still have the option of 2-wheel drive (rear drive wheels) and 4-wheel drive.

 

Technology

2019 Ram 1500 8" Center Display
2019 Ram 1500 8″ Center Display

RAM uses advanced technology throughout the vehicle with more powerful engine control computers and mechanicals. What drivers and passengers interact with is what will sell this vehicle.

RAM 1500’s HUGE 12” tablet like center display is an option, though the smaller 8.4-inch and 5-inch displays are nothing to dismiss. The Uconnect® System provides a direct link between handheld devices and the truck. So be it just the entertainment controls, or expanded navigation and data, you are connected to the world around you.

2019 Ram 1500 rear power outlets
2019 Ram 1500 rear power outlets

Ram understands that in today’s connected world everyone brings a device with them, and sometimes more.  The need to recharge has not been ignored. Four advanced USB ports (regular and micro USB, two up front and two in the rear,) as well as 12v outlet and a inverter to power 110v outlet inside and there is an option for it in the rear RamBox®.

 

Build

20180517_144017

With fuel economy always importnat, building lighter vehicles has led some manufacturers to focus on lightweight materials like carbon fiber, aluminum, and plastic. RAM, on the other hand, has taken to using 98 percent high-strength steel which improves durability and helps with weight reduction.

 

Cargo

2019 Ram 1500 – RamBox
2019 Ram 1500 – RamBox

The RAM will move most anything you ask it to. Payload means not only hauling but towing. RAM’s maximum payload has increased to 2,300 pounds, and maximum trailer tow to 12,750 pounds. The pickup bed in the Ram 1500 has a maximum cargo bed volume of 61.5 cubic feet, with dimensions perfectly sized to hold 4×8 sheets of plywood, even with the RamBox® option.

Available RamBox® cargo management system, is a no-brainer, using the wasted space on the flanks of the cargo bed with two lockable (available with remote access via the key fob) storage bins. Use them as a cooler, they have drains. Use them for storing tools, they can be lit with optional LED lighting and have a 115-volt power outlet (for plugging in chargers and more.)

 

Pricing

2019 RAM 1500 KeyStarting at $31,695 a new 2019 RAM 1500 can easily top out pushing seventy grand. The good thing is that you can pick and choose trim levels and options. With a number of factory incentives and deals from buying services, you may have access to.

While RAM dealers are giving tremendous savings on the outgoing 2018 RAM models, the 2019 Ram is well worth serious consideration due to the amount of engineering that has gone into improving it over the previous generation.

 

 

Words and images by William West Hopper

What is New at Ford Motor Company?

March 15 – Dearborn, MI, U.S.A Ford Motor Company held a Ford Uncovered event today to bring the media up to speed with the upcoming vehicles, systems, and process that the Blue Oval Brand is bringing to market over the next few years.

Ford’s products will be some of America’s freshest lineup by 2020, replacing more than 75 percent of its current portfolio and adding four new trucks and SUVs.

Ford is investing in new propulsion systems and delivering full connectivity to pave the way for over-the-air updates and the Transportation Mobility Cloud. Including an all-in push on hybrid-electrics and battery electric vehicles with rollout starting in 2020, and performance utility as well as six BEVs by 2022.

Bronco

Ford Bronco coming soon
Ford Bronco coming soon

And YES, There is a Bronco!  We have been hearing about it for well over a year now. And Yes it is going to be in dealer showrooms.

Bronco Instagram

 

BEV and Next-Gen Hybrids

New Ford Explorer ST
New Ford Explorer ST

Battery electric vehicles: Battery electric vehicles (BEVs) represent more than a different
powertrain – they represent a lifestyle change for consumers, especially for those who have never driven an electric vehicle

Next-Gen Hybrid Electrics: Part of Ford’s new strategy includes going all-in on hybrids to bring more capability to customers of our most popular and high-volume vehicles like F-150, Mustang, Explorer, Escape and Bronco – and serve as a hedge for customers against higher gas prices.

Pickup Trucks

Current Ford F-Series Truck
Current Ford F-Series Truck

Ford’s truck business will continue growing as the company adds new models and powertrains with an eye toward continued growth in high-end trims. Some highlights include:

  • 2018: New 3.0-liter Power Stroke® diesel engine for F-150, an updated version of the popular F-150 Raptor
  • 2019: Ranger returns to the midsize truck segment; new F-Series Super Duty debuts
  • 2020: New F-150 debuts with new hybrid powertrain featuring a mobile generator

Technology

FordCoPilot360

Ford Co-Pilot360TM, a package that includes standard automatic emergency
braking, blind spot warning, and other driver assist features.

Manufacturing

Ford also shared that new manufacturing tools and technologies. With the increased use of augmented and virtual reality helping reduce Ford’s plant changeover time by an estimated 25 percent. Simulating various production processes and assembly line configurations in the virtual world help to identify potentially hazardous maneuvers and fine-tune workflows before construction even begins, saving an estimated 20 percent of tooling cost on each vehicle program. The company also is increasing its use of collaborative robots that can perform jobs quickly and repetitively, helping reduce the risk of injury to employees, freeing them up for more high-value jobs.

 

Content from this was taken from the Ford Uncovered Press Release

 

 

Powerful Full-Size Pickups, Perfect for Father’s Day

With Father’s Day coming up there is nothing like talking about something that guys appreciate, a good pickup truck. Attending a recent Automotive Media multi-line drive event, it was the full-sized pickups that got my attention. Diesel powered full-size pickups from GM and RAM as well as a gas powered Ford F-150 in studly Raptor trim, each was very different to drive, and for a different lifestyle.

While each had pretty much the same footprint, dual cab, standard bed, it really is the options and the lux touches that make today’s trucks so mainstream. No longer are these just for the man who makes his living working with his hands who needs a truck as a tool for hauling. Today these trucks are ready for the loading dock or to the porte-cochere, hauling towing, or going out to show off.

 

The bed is really the heart of a Pickup Truck as it is for hauling things. GMC's Sierra Denali shown.While pickups were once only a tool for hauling and towing and wearing muddy boots and scruffy clothes is fine, now you might have to shower & shave when driving some of these trucks.  Like the driver, these pickups also hang up the work gloves and clean up for date night.

 

 

20170518_113520Dodge RAM Big Horn Crew Cab 4X4 a hands down favorite of mine, because it is exactly what a pickup is supposed to be, a hard working truck. This one was well trimmed out for passenger comfort, and not overly dressed up. If you jumped in in mudy boots, dirty jeans and a perspiration soaked shirt, you will feel at home, and the power 40/20/40 leather sport bench seat will welcome those clean chinos and a sporty polo shirt for a non-work drive.

The RAM 2500 with the Crew Cab is truly a massive behemoth, With the extended cab and full size bed it is big and long making it not the most maneuverable in tight quarters.  Powered by a 6.7-liter I6 Cummins® Turbo Diesel Engine with a 6-Speed Automatic and full 4-wheel drive. No question this truck will get the job done, just like a rugged working man would, with a price tag as tested of just under $66K.

The RAM's key is what you have known and used since Pickup Trucks came on the scene.
The RAM’s key is what you have known and used since pickup trucks came on the scene.

The Big Horn Package is $1800 option combined with the $2795 Night Special Edition includes both functional and attractive accessories. 20 x 8 inch Black painted wheels replace the Big Horn’s Polished Aluminum Wheels, Anti-Spin Differential Rear Axle, Fog Lamps, Remote Start power 10-waydriver seat and a lot more niceties that will quickly become necessities the more you use them.

Luxury Group added $1045 to the bottom line with added lights, some LED and a color 7-inch Multi-View Driver Info Display. The Off-Road Package brings forth a Transfer Case Skid Plate, Bilstein® shocks tow hooks, spray-in bed liner and hill decent control which proves this vehicle is already set up as a towing rig.

While work may be the focus, as brute power are this truck’s strength. But there are plenty of niceties that make it fine for going out on Saturday Night.

 

GMC Sierra has a BIG Grill showing who is in charge of the Job Site!
GMC Sierra has a BIG Grill showing who is in charge of the Job Site!

GMC Sierra Denali 2500 HD Diesel, Full size and dressed up for both work and play.  While not as flashy in sheet metal as the Ram or the Ford, it has well-tailored lines that hide the massive brute strength, like a guy in a well fitting suit. The Sierra’s muscles are all there under the nicely pressed shirt, with work gloves tucked neatly in the pants pocket. No need here to be a showoff!

The quite capable Sierra is the right mix of comfort and luxury as well. Ready when needed, to get down and dirty. At a price tag just shy of $70K no question it has a few more fancy touches, though you can take some of those off, why would you do that?

Powered by an HD Duramax 6.6-liter diesel providing the highest horsepower in the segment. The Sierra comes across as capable and well-mannered as they come. Loaded this one has everything from the leather seats and 8” color touch screen with IntelliLink.  Onstar with built in Wifi to make the rolling field office fully functional. A wireless charging spot for the phone (not all devices are compatible) and built-in gooseneck hitch capability shows us that GM is thinking like the offshore competition. Twenty-inch wheels (pretty fancy ones) and a corner step rear bumper along with capless fuel filler are just some of the features that make the GMC stand out.

 

Ford F150 Raptor, lots of bulges in all the right places
Ford F150 Raptor, lots of bulges in all the right places

Ford F-150 Raptor – While the others developed their bulk from working hard, this dude is the really good looking guy in the tight muscle shirt that catches everyone’s eye on a Saturday Night out at the bar. The Raptor had all the right bulges, in all the right places, though when it came to laying pipe this is more of a show truck than a work truck.

Ford F150 Raptor has plenty of switch gear for the gadget obsessed
Ford F150 Raptor has plenty of switch gear for the gadget obsessed

Mostly because it was running the 3.5 Liter Ecoboost gasoline engine, and the others were running oil burners. This test vehicle was very pretty to look at and lots of fun to fondle, with all of its buttons and switches! Just not sure I how comfortable I would be putting this truck out in a muddy job site, the other trucks might call him a prissy-truck. While he has the muscle, he got it in the gym, not sweating it out on the job site.

 

Ford F150 has very bold strong clean lines inside and out!The Raptor is very much the other side to pickup truck ownership that is not designed for work, it is designed as a show truck, one that you would not want to take out in the field and load it with scrap iron, but rather take it out of the garage for a Friday Night on the town or to the

Cruise-in. The Raptor is the perfect example of how the Pickup Truck has evolved in America, and how Americans are flocking to pickups not just for doing the tough jobs, but to be a part of an American lifestyle that drives pickups for shopping trips to the big box store. Hey, no matter what, the Raptor can park in my driveway anytime!

Three very different Pickups, for three very different lifestyles.  All can haul and tow, all can carry passengers, all look good, it just depends on what you want out of your Pickup. Me, I like all three, and once you have owned a pickup, it is hard not to own one! Or at least crave owning one!

GMC’s 2018 Terrain, Hearing from Mark Cieslak, GMC’s Chief Engineer, Global Compact SUV’s.

GMC Terrain for 2018 comes with three engine choices and several trim levels.
GMC Terrain for 2018 comes with three engine choices and several trim levels. Photo GMC.

The new 2018 GMC Terrain defies the image of old line General Motors being a staid automaker. GMC is showing that it is all that is modern in the automotive industry, from powertrain to safety, from styling to the latest in-car technology.

Hearing from the GMC Terrain’s Chief Engineer

March Cieslak GMC's Chief Engineer for the 2018 Terrain presents the vehicle to auto journalists in NYC.
Mark Cieslak GMC’s Chief Engineer for the 2018 Terrain presents the vehicle to auto journalists in NYC.

Recently we got to spend some time with GMC’s Chief Engineer, Global Compact SUV’s, Mark Cieslak in New York City over lunch, to hear more about the new GMC Terrain as well as the brand’s dedication to the future.

Clearly, the ’18 Terrain is a premium SUV that provides the performance one expects from GM’s premier SUV and truck brand. While the exterior of the Terrain is classic GMC with all the design cues of bright grill work and distinctive lighting, Cieslak shared that the engineers, stylists, and designers are paying attention to the smallest details of this vehicle. While you can identify a GMC from a distance, it is this attention that makes the vehicles even better close up.

 

GMC Intelligent Engineering is all inclusive of the brand, and from the wheels up.
GMC Intelligent Engineering is all inclusive of the brand, and from the wheels up.

GMC’s intelligent engineering provides better aerodynamics, fuel economy, powertrain performance, ride, handling, and maneuverability with the 2018 GMC Terrain. This vehicle is 400 pounds lighter, 34% stiffer, 10% improved turning radius, up to 3500 pounds towing capacity. You can get the Terrain configured with either Front Wheel Drive (FWD) or All Wheel Drive (AWD). Both have snow and trailer/tow settings, the AWD models are engineered to be able to engage just two wheel drive for better fuel economy, with AWD for off-road or when traction is most needed.

The 2018 GMC Terrain is all new from the Ground Up.

2018 GMC Terrain offers three turbo engine choices, including a whisper quiet diesel.
2018 GMC Terrain offers three turbo engine choices, including a whisper quiet diesel.

What is new for the ‘18 Terrain? Three engine choices, two gasoline, and one diesel powered. Yes, I said, C12H23, Diesel Power! Though GM’s luck with diesel passenger vehicles has been less than stellar in years past, it has had a strong reputation in the truck segment, with this power plant. Diesel power has dedicated fans, of which I am one! With the new Terrain’s whisper quiet 1.6 turbocharged 4-cyl diesel connected to a 6-speed automatic, there is no doubt this powerplant will develop a cult following with its 136 hp and 236 lb-ft of torque. The two gasoline engines: a 1.5 turbocharged 4-cyl with 170 hp 203 lb-ft of torque and a 2.0 liter 4-cylinder turbocharged with a 9-speed transmission with 252 hp 260lb-ft of torque, both provide users with both fuel economy as well as enough power to tow, the 2-ltr is rated to tow up to 3500 lbs.

Safety is as important as performance and fuel economy.

GMC Terrain offers many standard safety features including many new to the model for the 2018 model year.
GMC Terrain offers many standard safety features including many new to the model for the 2018 model year.

New safety technology has been built into a ‘18 GMC Terrain; Low-Speed front automatic braking; Lane keep assist; Forward Collision Alert with Following distance indicator; Lane change alert with side blind zone alert; Automatic Park Assist; Rear seat reminder; Teen Driver Control; and Tire Pressure Monitoring system. This in addition to the long list of standard safety features: Six standard airbags, Rollover sensing protection, Front passenger seat occupancy sensing, Three-point safety systems, Saftey Belt Retractor Pre-Tensioner, LATCH – Child Seat latching and Rear vision camera all standard. While available on all Terrain models the following come standard on Denali models: Surround Vision Camera; Safety Alert Seat Available; Rear Cross Traffic Alert Available; Rear park assist®.

 

Inside the 2018 GMC Terrain 

Premium feel and attention to detail were key in the engineering of the 2018 GMC Terrain.
Premium feel, and attention to detail is part of the engineering of the 2018 GMC Terrain. Photo GMC.

Signature interior design with subtle interior design touches shows the Terrain’s premium vehicle status with timeless design, fine touch materials, and an advanced use of space in this mid-sized SUV segment. A new electronic precision shift technology features the transmission selector on the dash. This frees up the open flying buttress design center console uncluttered, with two side-by-side cupholders above and a storage area underneath.

 

Spacious Passenger Vehicle or Cavernous Cargo Hauler? 

GMC has designed the interior of the 2018 Terrain to be very versatile with seats that fold down flat.
GMC has designed the interior of the 2018 Terrain to be very versatile with seats that fold down flat.

The Terrain can be configured as a spacious passenger vehicle or reconfigured to haul cargo. Fold-flat front passenger seat provides the driver a mobile office and easy access to power outlets in USB, 120v, and the conventional cigarette lighter aux outlet. Add to that GMC’s optional in-car hotspot internet, and you have a mobile office. Rear seat passenger comfort is not ignored, with best-in-class 2nd-row seating featuring a two-position seat with spacious leg room.

Rear ventilation has been improved in the '18 GMC Terrain, along with plenty of power outlets for rear passengers.
Rear ventilation has been improved in the ’18 GMC Terrain, along with plenty of power outlets for rear passengers.

More than just the seating, the HVAC and improved airflow for rear passengers. Second-row passengers have access to their own USB power outlet, as well as an optional 120-volt outlet and heated rear seats are available on higher trim models.

Shrink wrapping the rear cargo area has provided more interior space. The two-tier cargo storage with underfloor cargo storage for added security. Atop of that, the rear cargo floor provides a flat, uninterrupted rear cargo floor when the rear seats are stowed.

 

Apple Carplay and Android Auto are integrated into the 2018 GMC Terrain's advanced entertainment system.
Apple Carplay and Android Auto are integrated into the 2018 GMC Terrain’s advanced entertainment system.

Technology abounds within the 2018 GMC Terrain, with safety and convenience items, such as surround camera, side object detection. Infotainment features both Apple Car Play® and Android Auto® capability, Bluetooth® audio streaming, available navigation, and available OnStar® wi-fi hotspot accommodates seven mobile devices.

 

 

We are looking forward to driving and experiencing the new GMC’s in person, later this summer.

William West Hopper


Photos are from GMC’s online pressroom and the author.

 

Big, Burly, & Handsome, the Nissan Titan X D 4X4 Diesel Pickup Truck!

How does shopping for a full-size pickup truck compare to the reality show The Bachelor? The smart, well educated, girl, can have her choice of any one of a number of strapping, macho, attractive, strong, and smart, men. Just like today’s pickup buyer.

The 2016 Nissan Titan XD SL 4WD CC in Deep Blue Pearl w/ running board lights and splash guards out in the fields of New York State.
The 2016 Nissan Titan X D SL 4WD CC in Deep Blue Pearl w/ running board lights and splash guards off road in the fields of New York State.

 

We went out on a date with the 2016 Nissan 4×4, Titan X D SV CC, powered by a Cummins 5.0 L V-8 Turbo Diesel.  “It’s BIG!” “and thirsty” was the comment I heard from a colleague. Before the truck arrived, I thought, great, I will have a huge fuel bill!  Heavy duty pickups are not required to list fuel consumption on the sticker, though we were impressed with the mid 19 mpg with the Titan with the Turbo Diesel engine averaged. Impressive for a truck of this size and with the Nissan’s new square shouldered styling.

 

The 5.0 Liter V-8 Cummins Turbo Diesel Engine powering the 2016 Nissan Titan XD SL 4WS CC
The 5.0 Liter V-8 Cummins Turbo Diesel Engine powering the 2016 Nissan Titan X D SL 4WS CC, delivered 19 plus mile per gallons over an 1100 plus mile trip at a variety of speeds.

Big, and Strong, is not a bad thing when you have to do the hard work this truck has been designed for: hauling, towing, all the while carrying five full sized passengers. While we never asked the Titan to flex its muscles, we could see them bulging and ready whenever we needed them. Everywhere it went the Titan got looks of admiration, and sometimes, jealousy from other diesel pickup drivers.

The Nissan Titan XD and the Ford F250 Heavy Duty are the same size.
The Nissan Titan X D and the Ford F250 Heavy Duty are the same size. Both feature a lot of chrome on their grills.

 

While a truck this size is most at home where there is plenty of space, it also was well mannered in town. We used the front and rear parking sensors and a rear camera to help guide it into tight spaces along the quaint streets of Cooperstown and Sharon Springs, in New York State. Taking this big-boy out on unpaved country roads, as well off road across a farmer’s field, was a lot of fun.

Everywhere we went, the Titan made us feel safe and secure within its comfortable cab. The off road, the heavy duty suspension and four-wheel drive came in handy. During a particularly rough summer storm that shut down the interstate we were driving along, the Titan’s size and weight gave us a feeling of comfort in the midst of a raging rain and hail that had other vehicles pulled over to the roadside waiting for the storm to pass.

Inside we really appreciated the seating for five full-size men, with Man-Cave heated leather Captain’s Chairs with 8-Way Power Driver’s Seat w/Adjustable Lumbar Support and 4-Way Power Passenger Seat, and a 60/40 split Rear Flip Bench Seat. No seat fatigue in these extremely comfortable seats, even after hours of a long drive. Though power outlets were limited, with a single USB  on the dash.

The Nissan Titan XD features Leather Captain's Chairs w/heated seats. 8-Way Powerd Driver Seat w/ Adjustable Lumbar, and 4-Way Power Passenger Seat.
The Nissan Titan X D features Leather Captain’s Chairs w/heated seats. 8-Way Powerd Driver Seat w/ Adjustable Lumbar, and 4-Way Power Passenger Seat.

It was nice to have a 110v in the rear, and 3 old style lighter outlets for chargers, which meant you need USB adapters if you wanted to plug modern devices. Big boys like to have cup holders, and the Titan has four large gulp sized ones, two for the front and 2 for the dudes in the rear bench seat.(That third guy will have to hold his.) That rear seat is not skimpy, while it is not as ample as the front seats, it is still large enough for the guys. When not in use, you could fold it back for carrying things in the cab, or use it as a platform. Underneath the rear seats featured small, partitioned lockable compartments.

Speaking of interior storage, the center console is very large, enough to fit a lap-top in, with plenty of cubbies in and around the console as well as on both the driver and passenger door pocket, bigger than simple map pockets, that will fit log books or other things. And a normal size glove box. A well detailed dash and controls, no funny modern gear shifter here! The Titan features a trusted, olde style, steering column mounted shift lever with a tow mode and manual gear select to control the Alsin®6-Speed Automatic. When you wanted to go from 2-wheel drive into 4WD or 4-Lo, it is simple to control with the dash mounted rotary dial for the Shift-on-the-Fly system.

The Titan’s Sight lines were excellent, we could see everything around us with the extendable and heated outboard side mirrors. This ensured you saw all the little cars sneaking up beside you. Blind spots were few, except right beside the truck’s front fenders. Though parking in normal parking spaces took some practice. Sometimes big guys don’t fit in small spaces.

The Chevrolet Silverado 4x4 (front) and the Nissan Titan XD (Rear,) are both full size 4X4 Pickup trucks and take up plenty of space.
The Chevrolet Silverado 4×4 (front) and the Nissan Titan X D (Rear,) are both full size 4X4 Pickup trucks and take up plenty of space.

While we did not put the Titan to work as a heavy hauler, this big boy was built with an integrated gooseneck receiver as well as a class IV hitch receiver mounted under the rear bumper. Combine that with a trailer light check and brake management system from inside the vehicle, and extendable, folding, heated, tow mirrors, and you are ready to tow just about anything out there. The factory installed bedliner combined with the Util-track® system with 4 adjustable Tie-Down cleats, and plenty of LED lighting, in the bed, under the step rails, even a puddle light built into the mirrors, to make loading at night simple and safe.

The bed of the Nissan Titan XD Pickup has a factory installed spray-on bedliner, and a factory built, integrated Gooseneck hitch receiver, as well as a Class IV hitch receiver on the rear frame.
The bed of the Nissan Titan X D Pickup has a factory installed spray-on bedliner, and a factory built, integrated Gooseneck hitch receiver, as well as a Class IV hitch receiver on the rear frame.

No American truck is complete without big tires and nice wheels, the Titan is rolling on twenties, with nice looking factory rims, and a full-size spare tire. To make sure you see the Titan has bright headlamps, low mounted fog/driving lights and LED lights all over the truck..

Nissan Titan XD features On/Off headlights, with integrated DRL's, Fog lights, and LED lighting.
Nissan Titan X D features On/Off headlights, with integrated DRL’s, Fog lights, and LED lighting.

So while you have a lot of big strong good looking trucks to choose from, the Nissan Titan X D is worth a look if you want a full-sized heavy duty pickup that has a lot of niceties and is pretty to look at.

Check out Nissan’s website or a dealer near you for more information.

Just as we turned this 4-door cab Titan back, Nissan released a 2-door cab version, more like the work trucks of old. Still full of the goodies and extras we like, outfitted with the V-8 engine (gas or diesel), and full-size pickup bed. Just without the extra interior space of the rear seating area. So now there is a Nissan Titan in a couple of muscular sizes to fit your needs.

An update from Nissan, is that the 2017 Titan and Titan X D models will come with a bumper to bumper 5-year 100K mile waranty. So this hot hunk of truck, and his family will be committed to you for a good long while. When a manufacturer puts this kind of warranty behind their vehicle, you know it is going to be a long lasting vehicle.

 

The author William West Hopper with the 2016 Nissan Titan XD SL 4WD CC Pickup.
The author William West Hopper with the 2016 Nissan Titan X D SL 4WD CC Pickup.

    Photos and article by:      William West Hopper