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    William Maley

    Lamborghini CEO Confirms Aventador Replacement Will Be Electrified

      How retain a big V12

    Lamborghini has been toying with the idea of electrification for some time. It would allow them to meet stricter emission regulations while retaining their naturally aspirated engines. Their CEO has made it official, the replacement for the Aventador will have electrification.

    "The next Aventador will be hybrid, with a V12. A decision is made on that and this is something that will keep us different from the others and this is very important," said Stefano Domenicali to Auto Express.

    In addition, the replacement for the Huracan will go down the electrification route by retaining the V10  and adding an electric motor. We got a hint of this back in March during a interview Maurizio Reggiani, Lamborghini's chief technical officer.

    The Urus will be the first Lamborghini to be electrified when the plug-in hybrid model launches towards the end of this decade, followed by the Aventador replacement a few years after.

    Source: Auto Express



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      Source: The Detroit Bureau

      View full article
    • By William Maley
      Fiat Chrysler Automobiles has been lagging behind other automakers in terms of electrification, tending to focus more on how many more vehicles they drop the Hellcat V8 into. But that appears to be changing.
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      “We’re not leaders now,” said Bly, “but we will be soon.”
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      Source: The Detroit Bureau
    • By William Maley
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      "However, as a result of accommodating regional needs somewhat excessively in each individual region, we recognize that the number of models and variations at the trim and option level have increased and our efficiency has declined. So, we will undertake initiatives to further strengthen our inter-regional coordination and collaboration and advance our art of making automobiles in order to simultaneously increase the attractiveness and efficiency of both global and regional models," he said.
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      This will allow Honda to simplify model allocation at their various assembly plants around the road. According to Hachigo, this will allow the company to achieve "100 percent capacity utilization worldwide by 2020" and cut production costs by 10 percent by 2025. 
      Part of that initiative involves a new modular architecture that will debut in a global model next year. No details on the vehicle were provided, but Honda says the goal of the architecture "is to commonize about 70 percent of the components" used in a vehicle such as the engine bay and passenger cabin.
      Honda is also planning to have two-thirds of their global lineup electrified by 2030. Furthermore, it wants 100 percent of its European lineup to be electrifed by 2025. To do this, Honda is readying a new electric city car known as the e, along with deploying their two-motor i-MMD hybrid setup to all of their models in Europe. In the U.S. Honda is planning to launch more hybrid models, and increase their electric car lineup with some help from General Motors.
      “In North America, we will jointly develop battery components with General Motors and introduce highly-competitive battery EVs in the market,” said Hachigo.

      Press Release is on Page 2
      Summary of Honda CEO Speech on Automobile Business Direction
      Remarks by Takahiro Hachigo, President & CEO, Honda Motor Co., Ltd. May 8, 2019
      Honda has been working on two top-priority management challenges in the midst of abrupt changes in the global business environment surrounding the automobile industry: to strengthen the structure of our automobile business and to further increase the speed of business transformation for future generations.
      So, today, I would like to introduce some initiatives we are taking for our automobile business, especially how we are strengthening the structure of our automobile business, the direction we are taking with electrification, as well as some progress we have made to date.
      Strengthening automobile business structure 
      Ever since I became the president of the company, I have been conveying the message that we will make Honda strong by creating strong products and also by strengthening our inter-regional coordination and collaboration. We put special emphasis on the strengthening of our global models, which have been the source of Honda's core competence, and also the enhancement of our regional models.
      As a result, we currently have the five global models, namely Civic, Accord, CR-V, Fit/Jazz and Vezel/HR-V, and these five strong models now account for 60% of our global automobile sales. At the same time, our regional models such as the N Series for Japan, Pilot for North America and Crider for China are playing an important role as a source of growth for each respective region.
      However, as a result of accommodating regional needs somewhat excessively in each individual region, we recognize that the number of models and variations at the trim and option level have increased and our efficiency has declined. So, we will undertake initiatives to further strengthen our inter-regional coordination and collaboration and advance our art of making automobiles in order to simultaneously increase the attractiveness and efficiency of both global and regional models.
      Strengthening inter-regional coordination and collaboration
      As for inter-regional coordination and collaboration, under the new operational structure we adopted for our automobile operations starting from April, we began reviewing and sharing the product lineup by grouping some of our six regions outside Japan based on a similarity of key factors, such as market needs and environmental regulations. With this initiative, by 2025, we will reduce the total number of variations at the trim and option level for our global models to one-third of what we have now. In addition, we will increase efficiency by eliminating and consolidating some similar regional models into even more competent models shared across multiple regions.
      Advancement of our art of making automobiles (automobile development) 
      As for the advancement of automobile development, since I became the president, we have been increasing the efficiency and speed of our Monozukuri (the art of making things) by innovating the entire process, from planning and development all the way through production, by enabling the S-E-D-B (sales, manufacturing, R&D, purchasing*1) functions to collaborate beyond the boundaries of their divisions.
      Moreover, we have already introduced the Honda Architecture in our development.
      The Honda Architecture is a company-wide initiative which will increase the efficiency of development and expand parts-sharing for our mass-production models. The first model being developed with this new method will be the global model we are launching next year. And we will continue increasing the number of models to which we apply this new architecture.
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      Strengthening our operational structure in the area of production 
      In addition to the area of development, we are further strengthening our operational structure in the area of production as well, so that we can create strong products with high efficiency.
      We are making steady progress in optimizing our production capacity in all regions. When this is complete, we are expecting to see that our global capacity utilization rate, excluding China, will increase from 90% recorded in 2018, and we will be producing at full capacity by 2022.
      In China, the third plant of Dongfeng Honda became newly operational, and this put us in a position where we can definitely accommodate market demand in China. We believe that this progress we made paved the way for the optimization of our global production capacity.
      From here onward, we think it is important to increase our competitiveness by increasing the efficiency of our production system in North America.
      For our business in North America, while keeping pace with sales expansion, we enhanced our model lineup and established a flexible production system where our plants sometimes produce various models in duplication to accommodate changes in market demand. However, as a result of the pursuit of high flexibility, an increase in the investment amount and a decline in production efficiency started to become an issue. Therefore, in North America as well, we will reduce the number of variations at the trim and option level, and at the same time, we will simplify the production model allocation at each plant. Through this initiative, we will re-establish a highly-efficient production system and realize the growth of North American business through the pursuit of quality.
      By implementing these initiatives to increase production efficiency in each region, we are expecting to reduce global cost in the area of production by 10% by 2025, compared to the cost recorded in 2018.
      Through all these initiatives I have mentioned, we will steadily strengthen the structure of our automobile business and realize the solidification of our existing automobile businesses by 2025, and, at the same time, we will accelerate our preparation for the future.
      Direction for the electrification of our automobile products
      Striving to realize a carbon-free society, Honda set a goal to electrify two-thirds of our global automobile unit sales by 2030.
      When we talk about the introduction of electrified vehicles, there are two perspectives. One is the improvement of fuel economy, and the other is zero emissions. Regulations for the Corporate Average Fuel Economy (CAFE) standards are becoming increasingly stringent in every country around the world and complying with CAFE standards is one of the most important challenges for the automobile industry. At Honda, in light of the required infrastructure and how people use automobiles, we believe that hybrid technology is, at this moment, the most effective way for us to comply with CAFE standards. Therefore, we will electrify our products mainly with hybrid technologies. By increasing sales of our hybrid models all around the world, Honda will contribute to the global environment through the improvement of fuel economy.
      To this end, we will expand the application of our 2-motor hybrid system to the entire lineup of Honda vehicles. In addition to the 2-motor hybrid system which is compatible with mid-to-large-sized vehicles, we developed a new, more compact 2-motor hybrid system suitable for small-sized vehicles. This small-sized 2-motor hybrid system will be adopted first by the all-new Fit which we are planning to exhibit as a world premiere at the Tokyo Motor Show this fall.
      In addition to the expansion of the lineup of products equipped with the 2-motor hybrid system, we also will expand the application of the 2-motor hybrid system on a global basis. With that, by 2022, we are expecting to reduce the cost of the 2-motor hybrid system by 25% compared to the cost of this system in 2018.
      As for zero emission vehicles, with our battery EVs we will comply with the Zero Emission Vehicle (ZEV) program being adopted by California and other states in the U.S. and China's New Energy Vehicle (NEV) mandate. We will efficiently introduce our battery EVs to the market by selecting the most appropriate partners and resources to satisfy the different needs in each region.
      In North America, we will jointly develop battery components with General Motors and introduce highly-competitive battery EVs in the market.   
      In China, in order to keep up with the fast speed of electrification, we have already begun introducing battery EV models developed together with our local joint venture companies in China. While envisioning the introduction of battery EV models from the Honda brand, we will continue utilizing local resources in China and introduce more battery EV models in a timely manner to fulfill local market needs in China.
      In Europe and Japan, we will introduce the Honda e, a new battery EV model, which was recently introduced as a prototype at the Geneva Motor Show.
      To summarize, Honda will popularize and improve the business feasibility of electrified vehicles by focusing on hybrid vehicles and battery EVs.
      Changes in operational structure
      In order to ensure the solid implementation of these initiatives I just introduced for our automobile business, we renewed our operational structure as of April. The aims of this structural change are to establish an organization which brings all regional operations together to strongly facilitate inter-regional coordination and collaboration and to increase the speed of our business operations by enabling prompt decisions and prompt execution.
      Today, I introduced our initiatives to strengthen our automobile business structure and the direction of our electrification. Under the new organizational structure, we will realize our goals with a keen sense of speed. 
      Closing
      As we stated in our 2030 Vision, Honda is striving to grow through the pursuit of quality so that we can fulfill our vision to "Serve people worldwide with the joy of expanding their life's potential."
      Honda will continue taking on new challenges while being driven by strong passion, so that we can continue to be a company that society wants to exist even in 2050 after Honda becomes more than 100 years old. 
      *1 S-E-D-B: Sales, Engineering (Manufacturing), Development (R&D), Buying (Purchasing)
    • By William Maley
      On Wednesday, Honda CEO Takahiro Hachigo announced plans for the future of the company's automobile division. Efficiency was the theme in Hachigo's speech in terms of their lineup. manufacturing, and driving.
      One of the initiatives put forth by Hachigo was to cut down on the number of variations on offer in their global lineup, along with the dropping of various regional nameplates.
      "However, as a result of accommodating regional needs somewhat excessively in each individual region, we recognize that the number of models and variations at the trim and option level have increased and our efficiency has declined. So, we will undertake initiatives to further strengthen our inter-regional coordination and collaboration and advance our art of making automobiles in order to simultaneously increase the attractiveness and efficiency of both global and regional models," he said.
      "With this initiative, by 2025, we will reduce the total number of variations at the trim and option level for our global models to one-third of what we have now.In addition, we will increase efficiency by eliminating and consolidating some similar regional models into even more competent models shared across multiple regions."
      This will allow Honda to simplify model allocation at their various assembly plants around the road. According to Hachigo, this will allow the company to achieve "100 percent capacity utilization worldwide by 2020" and cut production costs by 10 percent by 2025. 
      Part of that initiative involves a new modular architecture that will debut in a global model next year. No details on the vehicle were provided, but Honda says the goal of the architecture "is to commonize about 70 percent of the components" used in a vehicle such as the engine bay and passenger cabin.
      Honda is also planning to have two-thirds of their global lineup electrified by 2030. Furthermore, it wants 100 percent of its European lineup to be electrifed by 2025. To do this, Honda is readying a new electric city car known as the e, along with deploying their two-motor i-MMD hybrid setup to all of their models in Europe. In the U.S. Honda is planning to launch more hybrid models, and increase their electric car lineup with some help from General Motors.
      “In North America, we will jointly develop battery components with General Motors and introduce highly-competitive battery EVs in the market,” said Hachigo.

      Press Release is on Page 2
      Summary of Honda CEO Speech on Automobile Business Direction
      Remarks by Takahiro Hachigo, President & CEO, Honda Motor Co., Ltd. May 8, 2019
      Honda has been working on two top-priority management challenges in the midst of abrupt changes in the global business environment surrounding the automobile industry: to strengthen the structure of our automobile business and to further increase the speed of business transformation for future generations.
      So, today, I would like to introduce some initiatives we are taking for our automobile business, especially how we are strengthening the structure of our automobile business, the direction we are taking with electrification, as well as some progress we have made to date.
      Strengthening automobile business structure 
      Ever since I became the president of the company, I have been conveying the message that we will make Honda strong by creating strong products and also by strengthening our inter-regional coordination and collaboration. We put special emphasis on the strengthening of our global models, which have been the source of Honda's core competence, and also the enhancement of our regional models.
      As a result, we currently have the five global models, namely Civic, Accord, CR-V, Fit/Jazz and Vezel/HR-V, and these five strong models now account for 60% of our global automobile sales. At the same time, our regional models such as the N Series for Japan, Pilot for North America and Crider for China are playing an important role as a source of growth for each respective region.
      However, as a result of accommodating regional needs somewhat excessively in each individual region, we recognize that the number of models and variations at the trim and option level have increased and our efficiency has declined. So, we will undertake initiatives to further strengthen our inter-regional coordination and collaboration and advance our art of making automobiles in order to simultaneously increase the attractiveness and efficiency of both global and regional models.
      Strengthening inter-regional coordination and collaboration
      As for inter-regional coordination and collaboration, under the new operational structure we adopted for our automobile operations starting from April, we began reviewing and sharing the product lineup by grouping some of our six regions outside Japan based on a similarity of key factors, such as market needs and environmental regulations. With this initiative, by 2025, we will reduce the total number of variations at the trim and option level for our global models to one-third of what we have now. In addition, we will increase efficiency by eliminating and consolidating some similar regional models into even more competent models shared across multiple regions.
      Advancement of our art of making automobiles (automobile development) 
      As for the advancement of automobile development, since I became the president, we have been increasing the efficiency and speed of our Monozukuri (the art of making things) by innovating the entire process, from planning and development all the way through production, by enabling the S-E-D-B (sales, manufacturing, R&D, purchasing*1) functions to collaborate beyond the boundaries of their divisions.
      Moreover, we have already introduced the Honda Architecture in our development.
      The Honda Architecture is a company-wide initiative which will increase the efficiency of development and expand parts-sharing for our mass-production models. The first model being developed with this new method will be the global model we are launching next year. And we will continue increasing the number of models to which we apply this new architecture.
      With the strengthening of global and regional models through inter-regional coordination and collaboration and with the introduction of the Honda Architecture, by 2025, we will reduce the number of manhours we use for the development of mass-production models by 30%, and we will repurpose those manhours to accelerate our research and development in advanced areas for the future. In this way, we can continue creating new technologies which will support the future of Honda.
      Strengthening our operational structure in the area of production 
      In addition to the area of development, we are further strengthening our operational structure in the area of production as well, so that we can create strong products with high efficiency.
      We are making steady progress in optimizing our production capacity in all regions. When this is complete, we are expecting to see that our global capacity utilization rate, excluding China, will increase from 90% recorded in 2018, and we will be producing at full capacity by 2022.
      In China, the third plant of Dongfeng Honda became newly operational, and this put us in a position where we can definitely accommodate market demand in China. We believe that this progress we made paved the way for the optimization of our global production capacity.
      From here onward, we think it is important to increase our competitiveness by increasing the efficiency of our production system in North America.
      For our business in North America, while keeping pace with sales expansion, we enhanced our model lineup and established a flexible production system where our plants sometimes produce various models in duplication to accommodate changes in market demand. However, as a result of the pursuit of high flexibility, an increase in the investment amount and a decline in production efficiency started to become an issue. Therefore, in North America as well, we will reduce the number of variations at the trim and option level, and at the same time, we will simplify the production model allocation at each plant. Through this initiative, we will re-establish a highly-efficient production system and realize the growth of North American business through the pursuit of quality.
      By implementing these initiatives to increase production efficiency in each region, we are expecting to reduce global cost in the area of production by 10% by 2025, compared to the cost recorded in 2018.
      Through all these initiatives I have mentioned, we will steadily strengthen the structure of our automobile business and realize the solidification of our existing automobile businesses by 2025, and, at the same time, we will accelerate our preparation for the future.
      Direction for the electrification of our automobile products
      Striving to realize a carbon-free society, Honda set a goal to electrify two-thirds of our global automobile unit sales by 2030.
      When we talk about the introduction of electrified vehicles, there are two perspectives. One is the improvement of fuel economy, and the other is zero emissions. Regulations for the Corporate Average Fuel Economy (CAFE) standards are becoming increasingly stringent in every country around the world and complying with CAFE standards is one of the most important challenges for the automobile industry. At Honda, in light of the required infrastructure and how people use automobiles, we believe that hybrid technology is, at this moment, the most effective way for us to comply with CAFE standards. Therefore, we will electrify our products mainly with hybrid technologies. By increasing sales of our hybrid models all around the world, Honda will contribute to the global environment through the improvement of fuel economy.
      To this end, we will expand the application of our 2-motor hybrid system to the entire lineup of Honda vehicles. In addition to the 2-motor hybrid system which is compatible with mid-to-large-sized vehicles, we developed a new, more compact 2-motor hybrid system suitable for small-sized vehicles. This small-sized 2-motor hybrid system will be adopted first by the all-new Fit which we are planning to exhibit as a world premiere at the Tokyo Motor Show this fall.
      In addition to the expansion of the lineup of products equipped with the 2-motor hybrid system, we also will expand the application of the 2-motor hybrid system on a global basis. With that, by 2022, we are expecting to reduce the cost of the 2-motor hybrid system by 25% compared to the cost of this system in 2018.
      As for zero emission vehicles, with our battery EVs we will comply with the Zero Emission Vehicle (ZEV) program being adopted by California and other states in the U.S. and China's New Energy Vehicle (NEV) mandate. We will efficiently introduce our battery EVs to the market by selecting the most appropriate partners and resources to satisfy the different needs in each region.
      In North America, we will jointly develop battery components with General Motors and introduce highly-competitive battery EVs in the market.   
      In China, in order to keep up with the fast speed of electrification, we have already begun introducing battery EV models developed together with our local joint venture companies in China. While envisioning the introduction of battery EV models from the Honda brand, we will continue utilizing local resources in China and introduce more battery EV models in a timely manner to fulfill local market needs in China.
      In Europe and Japan, we will introduce the Honda e, a new battery EV model, which was recently introduced as a prototype at the Geneva Motor Show.
      To summarize, Honda will popularize and improve the business feasibility of electrified vehicles by focusing on hybrid vehicles and battery EVs.
      Changes in operational structure
      In order to ensure the solid implementation of these initiatives I just introduced for our automobile business, we renewed our operational structure as of April. The aims of this structural change are to establish an organization which brings all regional operations together to strongly facilitate inter-regional coordination and collaboration and to increase the speed of our business operations by enabling prompt decisions and prompt execution.
      Today, I introduced our initiatives to strengthen our automobile business structure and the direction of our electrification. Under the new organizational structure, we will realize our goals with a keen sense of speed. 
      Closing
      As we stated in our 2030 Vision, Honda is striving to grow through the pursuit of quality so that we can fulfill our vision to "Serve people worldwide with the joy of expanding their life's potential."
      Honda will continue taking on new challenges while being driven by strong passion, so that we can continue to be a company that society wants to exist even in 2050 after Honda becomes more than 100 years old. 
      *1 S-E-D-B: Sales, Engineering (Manufacturing), Development (R&D), Buying (Purchasing)

      View full article
    • By William Maley
      Lexus has some has some big plans in store for the F performance sub-brand. Motor1 is reporting that the luxury brand is planning to keep the Track Edition nameplate for some time.
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      It is unclear what Lexus has planned for the future of Track Edition. Ericksen said everything is up in the air ranging from improving the performance to possibly applying the treatment to other models (LC Track Edition anyone?).
      “We’re having fun with the engineers to figure out what [Track Edition] can look like in the future."
      Another item being talked about for F is building a crossover or SUV. Ericken said that a key topic of discussion is whether or not they should focus on doing an on-road version or buck the trend and do an off-road one.
      “[What] we're currently trying to figure out is [if] the on-road performance aspect [is] more important [for Lexus] to invest in than the off-road performance.” 
      Source: Motor1, 2

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    • DRIVEN: 2020 Subaru Ascent Premium (AWD 2.4 turbo) HIGHS: -Finally, what the market was looking for, a worthwhile Subaru entry into the 3 row crossover segment.  And packaging, size wise, styling, just about perfect for Subaru -2.4 engine can snarl, nice go juice, and the CVT is actually fairly responsive.  Moves out well, or at least feels like it does.  Makes the Ascent feel sporty actually. -As mentioned above, packaging is just about perfect for Subaru.  It might be considered a tweener, but it does not feel hulking or girthy...and it still will be garagable for many of those folks that would shop import brands.  Cabin width not as wide as a Traverse, noticeably so...but conversely feels like a nice size upgrade from an Outback.  Maybe if you try to have three in the second row its a concern but otherwise should be ok.  Plenty of comfort remains and the third row is decent sized for leg room.  This may be the sweet spot size of a 3 row for many customers. -Cloth seats were attractive and did feel nice at the bottom. -Simple clean dash layout, noticeably signature Subaru.  Some interesting trim.   -Open and airy feel inside the cabin, and likewise visibility out.  In particular in front it doesn't feel significantly larger in front then a Forester or Outback. -Carlike ride and handling.  At least in line with the sort of current expectations of a Subaru / Toyota / Honda type of customer.  And reasonably quiet inside. -Nothing particularly egregious, and entirely in line with Subaru and Japanese car in general brand character.  If you are a Subaru fan, this is your manna, this should EXCITE you. LOWS: ...all that said (above) -A few times I caught the CVT with its pants down and it went into slow response / rubber bandy mode. -Dash, to me, did feel plain and basic (and that also is entirely in character for a Subaru).  I will go on record saying that a Traverse is nicer inside and much more interesting.  -Steering felt light and numb enough that I can't say it was anything besides decent.  All while being a huge upgrade in steering compared to other Subarus I have driven the last few years.  It is very much improved compared to those.  And the suspension was composed enough in the Ascent that it didn't bounce and bob and weave like I had when i drove a Forester before. -I didn't dissect the cargo area greatly but I do think maybe it is down a little bit in terms of usable dimensions compared to say, a Traverse or Atlas....probably as useful or more useful than an Acadia. -At the end of the day, apart from the kind of lively powertrain, the whole rest of the vehicle is MILQUETOAST.  Which, if you are a Subaru fan, should EXCITE you.  I mean, I think a Santa Fe may be more appealing emotionally.  I was expecting something to feed the soul here, there is nothing.  How they made it still feel lifeless while still miraculously making this vastly improved over other Subarus, must have required special skill. SUMMARY: At the end of the day, a perfectly innocuous but highly useful device that absolutely fulfills the Subaru brand character while at the same time borders on being something equal to the NPC version of an automobile.  And some will absolutely love that.  While superbly capable, I think I VASTLY prefer my GM's or even the VW Atlas.  Seek those out instead if you want ANY personality in your 3 row family hauler.        
    • DRIVEN: 2020 Ford Explorer XLT 2.3 Ecoboost 4WD   MSRP 39,770 HIGHS:  -Complete redesign is sharp looking in the flesh, while still familiar and identifiable as an Explorer at the same time -Size was not sacrificed in the redesign, the Explorer is still a nice large vehicle in a time where EPA pressures are forcing smaller vehicles. -New RWD architecture dramatically improves space efficiency and driving feel all at the same time.  That combination almost never has been able to exist before.  Truly a complete beneficial ground up redesign. -2.3 Ecoboost now mated to new 10 speed automatic has nice pep and verve for most drivers, sounds good and smooth and refined enough.  New 10 speed worked real well. -Wow, what a change in the view out the hood.  Short front end (how did they do that with a RWD chassis?) and it drops away from line of sight such that your view out the front is open and airy and very easy to see what is going on; really quite awesome as far as that goes.  Fairly good visibility back and sides for an SUV otherwise compared to some others. -LOTS of ergonomic and interior packaging improvements.  The front seats are now farther apart and give a feel of a wider cabin, partially due to much thinner doors.  The seats themselves, while a bit shy of support are typical Ford spacious for wide MUHRICAN bottoms.  Even the base cloth feels of good quality.  The new gauge cluster is very nice, big upgrade over typical Ford (and this the base cluster).  The touch screen is nicely located and responsive and good looking.  The climate controls are simple and nicely within reach.  There is a nice wide console / armrest and a handy slot for phone or pens right below the touch screen.  Easy and get in the rear two seats and move around the cabin.  What a nice change overall in interior environment from past Fords, while still easily feeling like a Ford. -Trunk behind third row has neat flip up for a lower, flatter floor for your grocery bags (like other competitors do).  Not as big behind row 3 as maybe some others, but overall cargo capacity seems just fine. -OK, RWD fans, yes this drives like a RWD vehicle...you feel pushed.  I am not used to that anymore but the feel is such that those who like the feel of RWD, here you go.  A big difference in feel between the 2019 and 2020. -Overall the chassis, ride, etc, the overall feel of the vehicle is that of a rugged, large, solid, sturdy ride.  And decent steering feel.  This does not feel completely like a truck or completely like a typical crossover SUV / car.  It is something inbetween and I think drivers who have been looking forward to this new RWD chassis will like this.  This vehicle feels like it would handle rural and rugged environments better than some other typical competitors.  Perhaps this also partly why this is Ford's new police vehicle. LOWS: -These new Fords coming out this year its been discussed that they may have cheap interior bits.  There is some of that going on here.  The door and dash plastics seem like they might be very thin and the graining I think would come off more expensive looking if the quality of the plastic were better.  We don't always expect much from Ford anyways for interior quality so this may not be terribly egregious anyways.  If i compare it to the Traverse, I don't think you can say the Ford has better interior material quality.  The Traverse IMO may still have the better interior. -The 2.3 engine while working for most people I think there will be plenty of folks drawn to the Explorer because of the RWD chassis, I might recommend they try the ST version with the high power v6....or the upcoming hybrid.  If you like this vehicle and plan to invest in one long term you might see payback in owner satisfaction by upping for the more powerful options.  I do think overall the feel of a six or even 8 cylinder motor would be more at home in this new ride. -While as i said above, that Ford did a good job with the design, it almost already feels old to me.  It is so familiar looking that while still looking new is actually a bit tough for average people to pick out next to the 2019 (which i drove side by side before this).  Color and model may help you get a unique looking Explorer, just keep that in mind.  I guess the evolutionary styling works for Subaru etc.   -Seats could have been more supportive IMO.  I just think automakers are paring away so much at every gram of weight that items like the seats keep getting pared down so they don't feel as solid as maybe they could. -Notice I said above RWD fans will probably like the ride and handling of the Explorer.  I think those that like something more carlike may not care for the somewhat trucky feel.  This will be personal preference.  In addition, the vehicle may feel too large to some.  Also, personal preference.  It felt heavy, not really agile or athletic. SUMMARY: A bellweather, a successful reinvention and repositioning of the Explorer more back to its roots and slightly a bit out of the mainstream of a crossover market segment it purposely worked to fit into with the previous generation.  With its reinvention, it is a breath of fresh air into what has turned into a 'me too' segment.  Still, apart from some typical Ford cheapness inside, this brand new design should sell like hotcakes and please old and new Explorer fans alike.  I see this design carrying on for 8-10 years and being a big profit center for Ford.  My own personal rating is a B+ for interior cheapness and as I prefer the carlike FWD feel of some of the competition, but overall I give big props to Ford for going back to what fits into the Explorer brand character in what will be a hugely successful new design.    
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