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    Nissan Patrol (Armada) Leaked Out On Facebook

    ...Time for a refresh...

    The current generation of Nissan Armada came out in 2016 for model year 2017. As we're already into the 2020 model year it seems it was about time for a refresh. Someone in Saudi Arabia snapped shots of a Nissan Patrol, the same vehicle as the Armada, and leaked them out on Facebook.
    Nissan's big body-on-frame SUV gets some updated headlights and updated grille.  It could just be the angle, but the hood looks more horizontal and the lower side air inlets are a different shape.  Around back the bumper gets smaller and more integrated into the body and new tail lamps show up that remind one of an Expedition.
    On the inside, the shape of the interior looks familiar, though the center stack is now flat rather than having a bulge in the middle.  There also appear to be two screens as in many Infiniti models. Red quilted leather seats and the badge on the back indicate that this is a Platinum model.
    Under the facelift, expect the hardware to remain the same with a 390 horsepower, 5.6-liter V8 and a 7-speed automatic.
    We expect to see the 2020 Nissan Armada at the Los Angeles International Auto Show in November.

    General Motors to use Google Software in Infotainment systems

    "Okay Google!"...

    General Motors will be using Google Software for its embedded infotainment systems starting in 2021. This is in contrast to the Amazon Alexa capability found in some new Ford vehicles starting this year.
    The systems from GM will offer Google assistant, Google Maps, and certain other applications that are available in the Google Play app store in all of its brands except those in China.
    GM and other automakers have resisted demands by consumers for this type of software built in out of a fear of losing control of data and the possibility that the Silicon Valley brands eclipse their own. Consumer demand has forced the manufacturers’ hands however.
    Google will not have access to any of the data regarding driving style or vehicle maintenance needs, so consumers need not fear tracking or monetization by Google based on vehicular data.
    Through Google Assistant, GM hopes to offer additional services such as scheduling service appointments. Some of the services Google Assistant supplies are duplicates of offerings by GM’s own OnStar service. However, OnStar still is able to respond to an accident whereas Google Assistant cannot. Furthermore, Android Auto and Apple CarPlay will continue to be offered.
    Expect the Google Assistant packages to be an additional cost item, and prices will be released closer to launch date. The agreement with Google allows for the installation in up to 3.6 million vehicles annually, the number of vehicles sold outside of China last year.
    Other manufacturers using Google’s systems are Renault-Nissan-Mitsubishi and Volvo.

    Sales Figure Ticker: August 2019

    ...in the dog days of summer, who found a bone?...

    Ford Motor Company - Not Reported
    General Motors Co. - Not Reported
    Tesla - Not Reported
    FCA US LLC - Not Reported
    Audi of America -  Up 3.0% for the month, Down 3.9 for the year
    BMW of North America -  Up 6.6% for the month, Down 0.3% for the year
    Genesis Motor America - Not Reported
    Honda Motor Co. -  Up 17.6% for the month, Up 1.2% for the year
    Hyundai Motor America -  Up 12.0% for the month, Up 4.3% for the year
    Infiniti USA - Down 14.9% for the month, Down 12.7% for the year
    Jaguar Land Rover North America - Not Reported
    Kia Motors America - Up 12.7% for the month, Up 4.6% for the year
    Mazda North American Operations - Up 6.5%  for the month, Down 11.5% for the year
    Mercedes-Benz USA - 24.9% for the month, Down 0.9% for the year
    Mitsubishi Motors North America -  Down 3.3% for the month, Up 2.5% for the year
    Nissan Group - Up 13.2% for the month, Down 5.9% for the year
    Porsche Cars North America Inc. -  Up 13.5% for the month, Up 6.2% for the year
    Subaru of America, Inc. - Up 9.3% for the month, Up 6.1% for the year
    Toyota Motor North America - Up 11.3% for the month, Down 0.7% for the year
    Volkswagen of America -  Up 9.8% for the month, Up 6.6% for the year
    Volvo Cars of North America, LLC - Up 2.5% for the month, Up 4.4% for the year

    Brands (Quarterly):
    Alfa Romeo - Not Reported
    Buick -  Not Reported
    Cadillac -  Not Reported
    Chevrolet - Not Reported
    Chrysler - Not Reported
    Dodge - Not Reported
    Ford - Not Reported
    Fiat - Not Reported
    GMC - Not Reported
    Jeep - Not Reported
    Lincoln - Not Reported
    Ram Trucks - Not Reported
    Tesla - Not Reported

    Brands (Monthly):
    Acura - Up 0.8% - 15,189 MTD / 101,715 YTD
    Audi - Up 3.0% - 21,531 MTD / 142,341 YTD
    BMW - Up 7.2% - 25,505 MTD / 204,960 YTD
    Genesis - Not reported
    Honda - Up 19.6% - 158,804 MTD / 990,569 YTD
    Hyundai - Up 12.0% - 63,737 MTD / 454,405 YTD
    Infiniti - Down 14.9% - 9,185 MTD / 80,903 YTD
    Jaguar - Not Reported
    Kia - Up 12.7% - 60,730 MTD / 418,979 YTD
    Land Rover -  Not Reported
    Lexus - Up 4.6% - 29,931 MTD  / 190,691 YTD
    Mazda - Up 6.5% - 27,482 MTD / 189,329 YTD
    Mercedes-Benz - Up 21.8% - 24,771 MTD / 196,779 YTD
    Mercedes-Benz Vans - UP 43.5% 5,373 MTD / 24,276 YTD
    MINI - Up 1.0% - 3,838 MTD / 24,248 YTD
    Mitsubishi - Down 3.3% - 8,139 MTD / 85,693 YTD
    Nissan - Up 16.2% - 118,045 MTD / 862,243 YTD
    Porsche - Up 13.5% - 4,636 MTD / 39,849 YTD
    Smart - Down 31.5% - 74 MTD / 626 YTD
    Subaru - Up 9.3% - 70,039 MTD / 473,670 YTD
    Toyota - Up 12.3% - 248,334 MTD / 1,609,646 YTD
    Volkswagen - Up 9.8% - 35,412 MTD / 251,208 YTD
    Volvo - Up 2.2% - 8,970 MTD / 65,214 YTD

    Porsche Puts Tesla in the Crosshairs

    ...After 4 years of Mission E, we get the real thing...

    After four years of watching Porsche's Mission E concept go through the stages to production, the final product has finally arrived in the Porsche Taycan. In doing so, Porsche has its sights set directly on Telsa. 
    At launch, the Taycan will be available only in the top trims of Taycan Turbo and Turbo S.  Being fully electric, neither of them actually has a turbo of course. Packing a 93.4 kWh battery pack in its floor, the Taycan has a lower center of gravity than a Porsche 911. The top-line Turbo S can generate up to 750 horsepower with overboost mode engage and that will get the 5,100 lb car from 0 to 60 in 2.6 seconds. The standard Turbo makes do with 670 horsepower and a 0 to 60 of 3.0 seconds. Top track speed is limited to 161 mph for both. The Taycan is AWD using a dual motor system with one motor at each axle. Unlike EVs from Tesla and Nissan, Porsche uses a two-speed transmission to gain maximum acceleration and easy highway cruising.
    The Taycan is the first production EV with an 800 volt system instead of the more common 400 volts for other electric cars. With the fastest charging available on the market, the Taycan can recharge from 5% to 80% in just 22.5 minutes under ideal conditions when connected to a 270 kW charger that will be found at all Porsche dealerships.  Home chargers will use a more common 9.6 kW charger.  Higher speed charging using Electrify America's network is available for free for the first 3 years. While EPA ratings for range have yet to be released, the Turbo is rated for 236 miles to 279 miles on the EU cycle and the Turbo S is rated for 236 miles to 256 miles on the same cycle. Assume somewhere in the mid-250s once the EPA gets their hands on one. 
    While the Taycan does get a traditional hydraulic braking system, Porsche says that the regenerative system can handle 90 percent of all braking. A standard adaptive air suspension is also there with Porsche Dynamic Chassis Control. 
    On the interior Porsche mounted 5 screens that surround the front occupants with tech. Up front is a 2.8 cubic foot glove box storage space, and out back is a bit more roomy 12.9 cubic foot storage. Porsche put indents into the floor for rear passengers to give more legroom. 
    The Taycan is expected to go on sales towards the end of this year.  Launch pricing is $154,660 for the Turbo and the Turbo S starts at $186,350.  Cheaper models will come later. 

    Honda E Released for Europe

    ...We finally see the specs for this Europe only car...

    Ahead of its official debut at the Frankfurt Motor Show, Honda has unveiled the full specs of their Honda E small electric car. Honda developed the E with a focus on design simplicity and usability for the needs of modern urban lifestyles.  The clean external lines are helped by the use of exterior cameras replacing the traditional side mirrors.  The mirrorless design allows for better aerodynamics.  The interior has a full width digital dashboard with dual 12.3 inch LCD touch screens for infotainment and driver information. Owners are able to access the car via a digital key on a smartphone app.  The app can also report on things like battery charge control, range monitor, and navigation search results can be sent from the phone to the vehicle or have control of remote climate control.
    The Honda e makes use of contextual speech recognition to use natural language to provide access to a range of online services.  Occupants can activate the system by saying "Okay Honda"
    The power for the Honda E comes from a choice of two motors driving the rear wheels with either 134 horsepower or 151 horsepower. Torque comes in at 232 lb-ft. The 35.5 kWh battery is among the smallest in its class but still offers a range of about 137 miles. The e can recharge up to 80-percent of its battery in 30 minutes. The 0-62 mph run takes about 8 seconds. 
    Pricing has yet to be announced, but interested buyers in UK, Germany, France, and Norway and reserve their car online. The car remains Forbidden Fruit for the US. 

    Jeep Adds Diesel to Wrangler

    ...finally able to get an oil burner in your Wrangler...

    Jeep is finally offering the 3.0-Liter EcoDiesel from the Ram 1500 in the Jeep Wrangler as a late availability option for 2020.  For the Wrangler, the engine will produce 260 horsepower and 442 lb-ft of torque. The diesel will be offered on Sport, Sahara, and Rubicon editions, and only on 4 door models. The only transmission available to pair with the diesel is the 8-speed automatic. Electronic Start-Stop (ESS) is standard on the diesel and all other engine options. 
    Other changes for the Wrangler include the addition of the mild-hybrid 48 volt eTorque system to either the 2.0-liter 4-cylinder turbo or the 3.6-liter Pentastar V6. The eTorque system takes the place of ESS and also smooths out the torque band. The 3.6 Pentastar produces 285 horsepower and 260 lb-ft of torque while the 2.0T produces 270 horsepower and 295 lb-ft of torque. These numbers hold true with or without the eTorque system. Only the Sahara trim gets eTorque.
    Two special editions take their place in the Wrangler lineup. The Willys edition is aimed at the off-road enthusiast. As far as hardware, it comes with a limited-slip differential, Rubicon rock rails and shots, heavy duty brakes, two-speed transfer case, and big 32-inch all-terrain tires. Visually, it gets 17-inch wheels with grey accents, all-weather floor mats, LED headlights and foglights, and a gloss black grille, along with the Willys badging.  The Willys edition can come either in a 2-door for $35,235 or the 4-door for $38,735.
    A second special editions is primarily cosmetic. Called the Black & Tan edition (pictured above), it is mainly a retro looking that gets a tan soft-top, 17-inch Machine Granite wheels, tan cloths seats, side steps, and more.  The Black & Tan edition is available on both 2-door and 4-door models. 

    Lamborghini Unveils 808 Horsepower Hybrid

    ...But it is only a limited run vehicle...

    Lamborghini has pulled the sheet off their first hybrid in the for of the Lamborghini Siån ahead of the Frankfurt International Auto Show. The 808-Horsepower hyper-car take the V-12 from the Aventador SVJ and uprates it to 774 horsepower. Then the addition of a 48-volt electric motor adds an additional 34 horsepower.  The motor is located in the gearbox and can be used for low speed parking maneuvers.  The regenerative braking sends power to a supercapacitor unit during deceleration which then supplies a power boost to the car at speeds up to 81 mph.  
    The electric motor also smooths out the acceleration curve, working during gear changes it smooths out the shift points. This allows the car to gain a 43-75 mph time 1.2 seconds faster than the Aventador SVJ.
    As far as design, the Siån is very futuristic and aggressive. The large air intakes increase downforce.
    Only 63 Siåns will be built and all of them have already been sold. So if you didn't get your deposit in already, you're too late. 

    India was Toyota's Top Incentive for Alliance with Suzuki

    ...India is kind of a big deal...

    Last week we reported that Toyota and Suzuki are forming an alliance to share technology and small-car platforms between the two companies. The deal, however, looked great for Suzuki but with not much in it for Toyota. Today brings some clarity to the arrangement. 
    India is currently the 4th largest new car market and is expected to leapfrog Japan to number 3 in the near future.  Being such a large and growing market has outsiders clamoring to get in, but one company is already there in a big way.  Suzuki's local subsidiary Maruti accounts for 46 percent of the sub-contienent's new-vehicle sales.  We reported earlier that Suzuki agreed to provide Toyota with two compact vehicles to sell in India and will produce one of its SUVs in a Toyota factory in India. 
    Toyota has taken a rather hands-off approach to the companies it buys a stake in. Subaru, Mazda, Daihatsu all enjoy relative autonomy from the Toyota juggernaut. The same remains to be seen with this tie up with Suzuki.

    Fiat 500 Dropped from 2020 Lineup In North America

    ...Once a launch vehicle, now is dropped...

    The Fiat 500 that helped re-launch the brand in North America has been dropped from the 2020 Fiat lineup according to FCA. The 500 has lingered on with poor sales for years, selling just 1,692 copies in the first six months of 2019. Existing supplies of the Fiat 500 will sustain what demand there is for the little car for months. Continuing on, though unsure as to why, will be the 500X, 500L, and 124 Spider. Why any of those vehicles are continuing while the 500 gets the scythe is unknown... all of them sell even worse than the 500 does. 
    The 500 first came to the US in 2011 when gas prices were in the $4.00 range in certain parts of the country.  It initially enjoyed a bit of a sales rush with over 43,000 sold in 2012, the first full year on the market. That year, however, also turned out to be the best year as sales have been downhill since. We think this announcement, along with the fact that there is unlikely to be a followup to the 124 Spider, could be the beginning of the end of Fiat in the U.S..... again. 

    Bugatti Breaks 300 mph Barrier; Retires from Record Breaking

    ...They've gone as fast at they'll go...

    A near-production prototype Bugatti Chiron on special Michelin tires has broken the 300 mph barrier in Germany at the Ehra-Lessien proving ground. Though full specs were not announced, but it is suspected to have 1,578 horsepower, carbon fiber components, taller gearing, lowered suspension, and specialized Michelin tires. 
    The test mule received a clip on rear tail with a more aggressive diffuser. If the car makes it into production, it will hold the record as the fastest production cars. The current holder is the Koenigsegg Agera RS that maxed out at 277 mph.
    Just after the record setting run, Bugatti's president Stephan Winkelmann has said that the brand is done chasing speed records. He added, "From now on, we will focus on other areas". 

    2021 Jeep Grand Cherokee Interior Leaks Out

    ...Decidedly more upscale...

    An interior shot of the next generation Jeep Grand Cherokee has leaked out via a user on Instagram and by the looks of it, its going much more upscale.  The interior looks wide and sleek with the center stack flowing into the center console. The standard dash cluster gets a new 7-inch screen or an optional 10.5-inch cluster will be available. For the center stack, 7-inch, 8.4-inch, and 10.1-inch Uconnect screens will be available, much like in the latest RAM trucks.  There will be a new heads up display and the gear selector goes from being a shift lever to a rotary dial found in other FCA vehicles. 
    The chassis code for this generation Grand Cherokee is WL and is expected to be on the Giorgio platform that underpins the Alfa Romeo Giulia and Stelvio.  It is likely that there will be a 3-row version of the Grand Cherokee, but it may go by a new name. The biggest engine news is there is likely to be a turbo-charged inline 6-cylinder of about 3 liters in size. The Pentastar V6 could carry over, while a turbocharge 2.0-liter 4-cylinder joins at the bottom of the range. Also expect the Hemi V8 and the newest version of the 3.0-liter EcoDiesel to reappear. 
    The next Grand Cherokee is expected as a 2021 model and will likely debut next June at the Detroit Auto Show.

    Review: 2019 Lexus ES 350 and Toyota Avalon Hybrid

    Will the real Lexus please stand up?

    When Toyota introduced the last-generation Avalon for the 2014 model year, I was shocked by how Toyota had built the better Lexus ES. On the surface, this seems a bit crazy. But Toyota had put a lot of effort into shedding the image of Avalon of an old person’s car by bringing a modern and sleek look; luxurious interior, and a balance between a relaxing ride and sporty dynamics. This became more apparent when compared to the ES launched a couple of years earlier, looking very dated in terms of looks and driving like a cream puff.
    The times are a changing and the two brands have launched new versions of their respective sedans within the past year. I find myself wondering if Toyota still builds the better Lexus or if the ES has finally stepped up and can give the Avalon a real challenge.
    Toyota stuck with the shape of the previous Avalon but gave it some refinement. The low roofline and sloping rear glass shape are paired with more aggressive rear end featuring a full-length taillight. Where the new design falls apart is in the front. Toyota must have taken some of the pages out of Lexus’ design book on grille design as the Avalon has a massive grille. Lower trim models make do with black slats for the insert, but my Hybrid Limited tester features chrome slats that make it more polarizing. I understand Toyota wants to give the Avalon a bit more presence on the road, but this new grille design is a bit much.
    The ES 350 is a different story as Lexus’ designers pulled off an extensive transformation. Wearing a toned-down version of the brand’s current design language, the new ES has an overall look of something formidable and elegant. The spindle grille is front and center, but Lexus has made it slightly smaller to have fit in with the flowing lines. Other design traits include a sloping roofline and shortened rear deck.
    Like the exterior, the ES’ interior is completely unrecognizable from the outgoing model. Gone are the cheap feeling and mismatch plastics. In their places is a combination of leather, soft-touch plastics, and wood trim that brings forth a sense of premium uniformity. Ergonomics are also top of the class with such touches as control knobs sitting on either side of the instrument panel, and controls for the climate and audio being in easy reach for driver and passenger.
    Those sitting in the front are treated to leather-covered seats that provide an excellent balance between support and coddle. Those sitting in the back seat might complain about the low position, but will like the ample amount of head and legroom.
    Stepping inside the Avalon Hybrid, Toyota has given it a major makeover. Gone is the flowing and rounded center stack with capacitive touch controls. Instead, the Avalon uses a narrower and blocky center stack with actual buttons. I’m sad to see the touch controls go away as I found them to be quite responsive. Toyota likely dropped them as buyers complained there was no feedback - a click sound or pulsation - to whoever was using it. Other changes include a slim chrome bar running along the dash vents and more color choices.
    Finding a comfortable position in the Avalon was no problem due to the numerous amount of power adjustments available on the Limited. Like the ES, the Avalon’s seats strike the balance of comfort and support just right. In the back, there is an abundance of legroom that allows passengers to stretch out. Headroom is fine for most adults.
    Toyota has installed the latest version of Entune for the 2019 Avalon. While looking somewhat dated with a muted color palette and dull screen, Entune retains its ease of use. The menus with large touchscreen buttons make it very easy to move around the system, along with clearly marked buttons and knobs sitting on either side. Toyota has also got with times and made the Avalon the first model to feature CarPlay integration. Those wanting Android Auto will need to wait until 2020.
    If there is an Achilles heel to the ES 350, that would be Lexus’ Remote Touch. I have written numerously about how using this system is not only a pain, but very distracting when driving. Take for example changing an XMSirius station.
    Look at the screen to see where the cursor is. Use the touchpad to move the cursor to the station you want, making sure to keep an eye on the screen. Press down on the touchpad to make the selection, hoping you’re finger doesn’t slip and causes something else to happen. This whole routine plays out time and time again whenever you want to do something. Even Apple CarPlay which was introduced for 2019 is a pain to use with Remote Touch. There is salvation on the horizon. Earlier this year, Lexus unveiled an updated RX crossover with a touchscreen for the infotainment system. The automaker said that it will be available on other models in the coming years. Here’s to hoping the ES is one of the first recipients. 
    Both vehicles come with the choice of either a 3.5L V6 or hybrid system using a 2.5L four-cylinder. An eight-speed automatic is teamed with the V6. The hybrid uses a CVT.
    The 3.5 V6 has been given a bit more power for 2019, now producing 302 horsepower and 267 pound-feet of torque. This bump makes for a noticeable improvement in overall acceleration, feeling slightly quicker than the last ES 350 I drove. Power builds on a smooth and linear fashion. The engine is also noticeably refined, with barely a rumble coming from underneath the hood. 
    With only a total output of 215 horsepower, the hybrid system in the Toyota Avalon may seem underpowered. This is only an issue when climbing a steep hill or needing to make an immediate pass. Otherwise, the hybrid system provides plenty of oomph for the daily drive. I like how the system seamless transitioned from electric to hybrid power with only a minimal buzz coming from the engine bay. Like other Toyota hybrids, the Avalon Hybrid can travel on electric power alone - albeit a short distance and at speeds below 25 mph.
    In EPA testing, the ES 350 returns 22 City/33 Highway/26 Combined and the Avalon Hybrid returns 43 City/43 Highway/43 Combined. I clocked averages of 25 in the ES 350 and 40 in the Avalon Hybrid.
    Ride and Handling
    Aside from engines, the Avalon Hybrid and ES 350 share another vital component. Under the skin of both models is a version of Toyota New Global Architecture (TGNA) known as GA-K. This variant provides the stiffer structure and lower-center of gravity found on other TGNA models, but allows both Toyota and Lexus to build larger front-wheel drive vehicles.
    In the Avalon Hybrid, the move to GA-K doesn’t change much. The last-generation model showed that you could have good driving dynamics and retain a mission of comfort. The new model continues that with slightly improved handling and sharper steering response. The ES 350 is a different story. Changing over to GA-K transforms the model from a creampuff on wheels to a luxury sedan with that can take corners without embarrassing itself. Body roll is significantly reduced and the steering responds to inputs without fuss. Neither one of these sedans will challenge the likes of the Germans or the Kia Stinger GT, but they will not fall over and cry uncle when pushed.
    Ride quality is still one of the impressive points for both models. On some of roughest, pothole-ladened streets that the Metro Detroit has on offer, the Avalon Hybrid and ES 350 made it feel like mere ripples. Not much outside noise comes inside the cabin of either model, making them a perfect place to decompress after a long day.
    Let’s begin with the 2020 Avalon Hybrid. This updated sedan didn’t surprise me and that’s fine. Aside from the styling, Toyota made small changes to address certain issues of the previous-generation and build upon its strengths. Getting 40 MPG is still an impressive trait for such a big sedan. With a starting price tag of $35,560 for the gas version and $36,650 for the hybrid, the Avalon is still the one to buy if you want the luxuries of the ES without the luxury tax.
    The ES 350, on the other hand, is the more impressive of the two. You have to wonder if Lexus was motivated by what Toyota was able to pull off with last-generation Avalon. In a lot of ways, the ES 350 looks and feels like a proper luxury car. Add in a new platform that doesn’t make you feel like you’re going to tip over and Lexus is very close to that idea of “Experience Amazing”. The only fault is Remote Touch which sours many of the dramatic improvements. If Lexus can get that new touchscreen into the ES ASAP, I would gladly give it my “Most Improved Car of the Year” award. 
    How I would configure a 2019 Lexus ES 350 or Toyota Avalon Hybrid
    Starting with the ES 350, I would skip the base model and go with the Luxury trim. This adds such items as leather upholstery, heated and ventilated seats, and ambient lighting. On top of this, I would add Blind Spot Monitoring package and a power rear sunshade. With destination, I'm out the door with a final price of $45,540.
    For the Avalon Hybrid, I would pick the XSE. This is positioned as the sporty model with various exterior treatments including a mesh insert for the grille. Other standard equipment includes a moonroof, leatherette and suede upholstery, and wireless phone charging. The only two options I would tick are the Ruby Flare Pearl paint and 14-Speaker JBL Audio System. Add destination and the final price comes to $41,480.
    Genesis G80: A perennial favorite, the G80 slots between the Avalon Hybrid and ES 350 in terms of price - $41,750. It comes showered with loads of standard equipment and an excellent engine lineup. It cannot match the ES and Avalon in terms of interior design, but provides a more modern and easier to understand infotainment system. Ride quality is similar in all three vehicles, but the ES and Avalon have a slight edge in handling. Disclaimer: Toyota Provided the vehicles, Insurance, and One Tank of Gas 
    Year: 2019
    Make: Lexus
    Model: ES 350
    Trim: Luxury
    Engine: 3.5L DOHC 24-Valve with Dual VVT-i V6
    Driveline: Front-Wheel Drive, Eight-Speed Automatic
    Horsepower @ RPM: 302 @ 6,600
    Torque @ RPM: 267 @ 4,700
    Fuel Economy: City/Highway/Combined - 22/33/26
    Curb Weight: 3,649 lbs
    Location of Manufacture: Georgetown, Kentucky
    Base Price: $42,755
    As Tested Price: $45,955 (Includes $1,025 Destination Charge)*
    Blind Spot Monitor with Rear Cross-Traffic Alert, Intuitive Parking Assist with Auto Braking - $1,065.00
    18-Inch Split Five-Spoke Alloy Noise Reduction Wheels - $950.00
    Wood and Leather Trimmed Steering Wheel - $300.00
    Power Rear Sunshade - $210.00
    *No window sticker was provided for the ES 350. This is me taking a guess as to final price and options.
    Year: 2019
    Make: Toyota
    Model: Avalon Hybrid
    Trim: Limited
    Engine: 2.5L 16-valve DOHC with Dual VVT-i Four-Cylinder, 650V Electric Motor
    Driveline: Front-Wheel Drive, CVT
    Horsepower @ RPM: 176 @ 5,700 (Gas);  118 (88 kW) (Electric); 215 (Total Output)
    Torque @ RPM: 163 @ 3,600-5,200 (Gas)
    Fuel Economy: City/Highway/Combined - 43/43/43
    Curb Weight: 3,715 lbs
    Location of Manufacture: Georgetown, Kentucky
    Base Price: $42,800
    As Tested Price: $45,118 (Includes $920.00 Destination Charge)
    Advanced Safety Package - $1,150.00
    Carpet Mat Package - $248.00

    GMC Acadia AT4 Gets Priced

    ...close to an SLT...

    The GMC Acadia AT4 pricing has been released and it will start at $42,495, just $500 more than an SLT with all-wheel drive.  The next jump up is a big one, an astounding $7,000 more to get into an Acadia Denali.
    The AT4 has some advantages over the SLT and Denali.  First, it comes with AWD standard, and second and most importantly, it comes with a much more powerful engine as standard.  Both the SLT and Denali get the 2.0-liter turbo 4-cylinder rated for 230 horsepower and 258 lb-ft of torque. The AT4 however, gets the 310 horsepower 271 lb-ft V6. In addition to the extra hardware, the AT4 comes with black chrome on the grille, special wheels, and all-terrain tires.  The base model still has to suffer with a 2.5 liter naturally aspirated 4-cylinder making just 193 horsepower and 188 lb-ft of torque. 
    With the AT4 model being just a $500 increase over the SLT-1, and since it comes standard with the much more powerful V6, we thing GMC will sell a lot of the AT4 trim.

    2020 Ford Explorer Hybrid Mileage Rated

    ...about what you'd expect from a big crossover...

    The Ford Explorer hybrid got its EPA ratings finally. They're an improvement over the base 2.3 liter 4-cylinder delivering 27 city, 29 highway, 28 combined for the most efficient RWD model. That is an improvement of 6 mpg for city and 4 mpg combined. The AWD model comes in a bit lower at 23 city, 26 highway, and 25 combined. Unlike the Lincoln Aviator GT, the Ford Explorer Hybrid is not a plug-in model. 
    Powered by a 3.3 liter V6 plus the electrified drive train, the Explorer hybrid has a lot more power than the 4-cylinder with 318 horsepower and 322 lb-ft of torque. It comes with the same 10-speed automatic that all Explorers come with. Compared to the 2.3 liter turbo with 300 hp and 310 lb-ft of torque, we expect the Hybrid to feel faster and more refined due to the extra torque at the low end from the electric motor. 
    The Explorer Hybrid has more power and torque than its only direct competition, the Toyota Highlander Hybrid.  The Highlander does slightly better in fuel economy, but comes up 1,500 lbs short in towing capacity, though the next generation Highland Hybrid is supposed to get 34 mpg in front-wheel drive form.
    The Explorer Hybrid is available as a Limited trim model and starts at $51,780 after delivery charge, a $3,555 increase over an equivalent Limited trim. 

    Mercedes-AMG Unveils the AMG GLB 35

    ...More power for the GLB Crossover...

    Back in June, Mercedes introduced the Mercedes-Benz GLB crossover.  That car came configured with 221 horsepower and 258 lb-ft of torque, and a 8-speed automatic transmission. Now AMG is getting their hands on the GLB and making some performance improvements. 
    First up is the engine, still a 2.0 liter transversely mounted turbo-charge unit, but it now produces 302 horspower and 295 lb-ft from 3,000 - 4,000 rpm. The engine block is made from a lightweight die-cast aluminum to reduce overall weight. AMG also swapped out the standard 8-speed automatic for an 8-speed dual clutch transmission.  During upshifts, partial ignition interruption produces a sporty sound experience, while the double-declutch function during downshifts improves shifting comfort.  If you're racing for pink-slips, it AMG GLB 35 comes with a Race Start function that offers higher RPMs from a standstill and alters shift points to produce maximum possible acceleration. Race Start stays active as long as the accelerator is kept fully engaged. 
    AMG tuned the all-wheel drive system as well to allow a variable torque split from completely front-wheel drive to a 50:50 front:rear split. The suspension is an adaptive, electronically controlled damping is adjusted depending on the settings of Comfort, Sport, or Sport+.
    AMG put their final touches on the appearance. An AMG specific grille, AMG specific MBUX screens that feature a "super sport" mode, and a flat bottom steering wheel. 
    The 2021 AMG GLB 35 will make its official debut at the Frankfurt International Motor Show and enter the US market sometime in late 2020. 

    Porsche Taycan to Overboost to 700 HP

    ...coming from two electric motors...

    The Porsche Taycan, which is due to be officially revealed next week, got some track time with a reporter from Autocar.  The Taycan will be Porsche's offering to compete with the Tesla Model S, and like the Model S will come in a variety of flavors.  No matter which Taycan chosen, it will come with a 90 kWh battery pack capable of recharging up to 60 miles of range in just 4 minutes and free high speed charging for the first 3 years. 
    On the faster of the Taycan flavors, there will be an overboost option that will hold for two and a half seconds that boost the horsepower to "well over" 700 hp and over 750 lb-ft of torque. That power will rocket the Taycan from 0-62 mph somewhere under 3 seconds. 
    For those who miss the sounds of a car, the Taycan will offer something new.  It will electronically enhance the sound of the electric motors' whine and pump it into the cabin. 
    Base price for the Taycan will be around the $75,000 mark, but expect the model with the overboost to be substantially more. 

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