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    Most of FCA's Vehicles Moving to PSA platforms

    ...going with the more modern stuff...

    In a discussion about their pending merger, Fiat Chrysler revealed that the combined company's future vehicles in the small to mid-size range will be built on two of PSA's platforms.  The reasoning behind it is that PSA's platforms are more modern than FCA's which first debuted in 2003. They are also capable of a wider range of propulsion methods like electrification that are harder to incorporate into the aging platform that FCA is using.  
    The smaller of the two platforms, PSA's CMP, launched last year is found under the Peugeot 208, 2008, DS 3 Crossback and the new Opel Corsa.  The larger platform is called EMP2 and launched in 2016.  It underpins the Peugeot 3008, 5008, 508, DS7 Crossback, Citroen C5 Aircross, and Opel Grandland. Both of these platforms could become the basis for new Jeep, Dodge, and Fiat models. The first possible FCA model to debut on one of these platforms is likely to be a small crossover for Alfa Romeo, due out in 2022.
    On the other hand, the Ram trucks and larger Jeep models will continue to use technology developed by FCA.  The next generation Jeep Grand Cherokee is already well into development and the forthcoming Wagoneer and Grand Wagoneer are set to go into production in early 2021. 
    The primary question mark remains around the larger Chrysler 300, Dodge Charger and Challenger, and Chrysler Pacifica. 

    BMW iX3 Heading to Production Next Year

    ...longer range and more conventional looks than the other "i" cars...

    BMW unveiled the Concept iX3 at the Beijing Motor show in April of 2018.  The overall look of the crossover is somewhat conventional, but with the traditional kidney grille being closed off for aerodynamic reasons and special aerodynamic wheels.
    The production iX3 will be rear-wheel drive only and have a peak rating of 286 horsepower and 295 lb-ft of torque. All of that power comes from a single motor. The motor is BMW's fifth-generation eDrive powertrain developed solely in house. BMW says that the technology used in this motor is scalable and thus can be used in different automotive segments. 
    The battery is a 74-kWh pack that is capable of powering the iX3 for 273 miles on the European WLTP cycle (EPA rating will be lower).
    The iX3 will be built in Shenyang, China through a joint venture BMW Brilliance Automotive starting in 2020.
    Once the iX3 goes on the market, it will be BMW's first vehicle to be available in gasoline, diesel, plug-in hybrid, and pure electric drive configurations.

    FCA and Groupe PSA Sign Merger Agreement

    ...Merger of Equals...

    Fiat Chrysler Automobiles and Peugeot S.A. have signed a binding agreement to a 50/50 merger of their businesses. Once the merger is complete, the combined company will be the fourth largest automobile producer in the world.  Based on 2018 numbers, the business will sell roughly 8.7 million vehicles annually and have revenues near €170 billion. There will be a strong balance sheet that will allow the new entity headroom to execute strategic plans. Geographically, 46% of revenue will come from Europe and 43% from North America.
    A number of operational efficiencies will be gained by the sharing of platforms and engine technology. The number of platforms will be reduced with approximately 6 million cars a year concentrated on just two platforms.The platform consolidations will account for approximately 40% of the estimated €3.7 billion in savings expected from the merger. 
    Peugeot CEO Carlos Tavares will be CEO of the new company and a board member, while John Elkann of FCA will be Chairman of the Board. The completion of the combination is expected to take 12 to 15 months during which time they will be completing items to the satisfaction of antitrust and other regulatory requirements.

    Ask Me Anything: 2020 Toyota Corolla XLE

    ...What do you want to know about this most common of sedan?....

    My wheels for the week are a 2020 Toyota Corolla XLE sedan. This one is well equipped with Toyota Safety Sense now standard, Toyota Entune with Apple CarPlay, Adaptive lighting system with automatic high beams, headed seats, and a JBL Premium audio system. It is rated for 29 city / 37 highway and we'll be putting that highway number to the test. We will be taking the Corolla to Northern Virginia for the weekend to visit family for the holidays. 
    The XLE differs from the 2019 Corolla SE hatchback that @William Maley recently tested in that it has the 1.8 liter engine instead of the 2.0 liter. This engine puts out 139 horsepower at 6100 RPM and 126 lb-ft of torque at 3900 rpm. About a 30 horsepower deficit compared to the SE.
     In my initial drive, I found the car to be snappy around town, but things got a little raucous when I went to merge onto the highway. Though it is a CVT, it has a fixed first gear. The fixed first gear does take away from the rubber band feeling most CVTs have. I took the Corolla on a set of twisty roads that I take all test vehicles on and the sedan, while no sports car, felt firmly planted and predictable around the curves. 
    One thing that is surprising is the sticker price; $28,084 for a Corolla without even the biggest engine seems quite steep. 
    So while I'm loading up the trunk with Christmas cheer, fire off any questions you have about the 2020 Toyota Corolla XLE.

    Cadillac Going Back To Names for EVs

    ...But the ICE cars will keep the alphanumerics....

    Cadillac President Steve Carlisle said that when Cadillac starts rolling out its electric vehicles, it will use actual words for model names instead of the alphanumeric scheme currently used on its cars and SUVs.  Cadillac's move away from names started in 2003 with the Cadillac CTS. Over time, the Seville and Deville were converted to STS and DTS respectively. Later, the scheme was changed to alphanumeric when Johan de Nysschen joined the company as President.
    Cadillac will be taking the lead on GM's push to introduce 20 new all-electric vehicles around the globe by 2023.  Carlisle said that by 2030, the majority, if not all, Cadillacs will be battery electric vehicles. The recently release set of vehicles, CT4, CT5, XT4, and XT5, will get one more round of refreshes before transitioning to a BEV platform late in the decade. 
    The next introduction is the Cadillac Escalade, which will be officially introduced in February, though pictures of the 2021 Escalade have already leaked online. Cadillac's SuperCruise hands-free driver-assist system will eventually be offered on the Escalade with additional functionality not currently included in the system. There are strong hints that this version of SuperCruise will include lane change ability.

    Rumorpile: Jeep Working on "Ultra-Compact" To Slot Below Renegade

    ...Still going to have off-road capabilities...

    Jeep is said to be working on a tiny crossover that will slot below the Renegade in size and will likely launch in 2022. The estimated size would be around 4-meters in length which puts it slightly shorter than a Nissan Juke. The primary competitive target is the Suzuki Jimny, a model not sold in the United States, but a segment important to Jeep globally. 
    Jeep says that the new model would offer day-to-day practicality but still have the off-road prowess that people expect from a Jeep. As FCA is in a big push to electrify its vehicles these days, some form of electrification is likely with even a fully electric model possible. Though not offered in the U.S., FCA does build PHEV versions of the Jeep Renegade and Jeep Compass for the European market. 
    With FCA's merger with PSA looming, the possibility of using one of Peugeot-Citroen's platforms as a base for the new model emerges. Could we potentially see a Jeep on the Opel Corsa platform?  Time will tell. 

    Volkswagen Working on Sub-Tiguan and Updated Atlas

    ...Burning the candle at both ends...

    Volkswagen is working both ends of the SUV size spectrum lately.  Their Atlas model has become an excellent seller, moving 74,108 copies as of November 2019. That an increase of 40% over the prior year to date figures.  Though it's first model year was 2018, Volkswagen feels that it is nearly time for a refresh for 2021. The update will be mostly visual with new head and tail lights, new front and rear bumpers, and a revised grille. Volkswagen says it will also have updated and new driver-assistance features on top of the suits of technology the Atlas already sports.  The changes will bring the full-size Atlas more into visual alignment with the new Atlas Cross Sport  just hitting the market now.
    Also coming will be a new crossover slotted below the Tiguan that will compete more directly with the Jeep Compass, Nissan Rogue Sport, and others in that class. While details are scarce, we do know what it won't be, it won't be the European T-Roc currently on sale overseas.  The new model will be designed specifically for North America and built in Mexico.  It should launch in the U.S. sometime in the Summer of 2021. 
    For those of you lamenting the demise of the sedan, Volkswagen did manage to take a shot at the U.S. manufacturers by saying, "While some brands have walked away from car sales, we are focused on making smart decisions in this segment which is still a big part of the market."

    UAW Approves New Contract With FCA

    ...finalizing negotiations with the big 2.5...

    The United Auto Workers membership has ratified the new four-year agreement with FCA.  The agreement covers 47,000 employees at FCA's manufacturing facilities and parts distribution centers. FCA will expand manufacturing in the US including a new assembly line in Detroit that will produce two new Jeep models as well as the next generation Jeep Grand Cherokee as well a some electrified models.
    The four year contract includes:
    Signing bonus of $9,000 for full-time employees, $3,500 for temporary workers. Full-time workers can now reach the top pay bracket in four years rather than the current eight. FCA will create 7,900 jobs through 2023 which includes the 6,500 jobs already announced for a new plant in Detroit. $9 Billion in U.S. manufacturing investments. Dissolution of the jointly-run National Training Center, the focal point of a federal corruption investigation. An increase in profit sharing from $800 per percent of N.A. profit margin to $900 per percent. "In-progression" employees will now get the same healthcare as senior hourly employees.

    Volkswagen ID Series To Get Unique Driving Sounds

    ...Meet George Jetson!...

    One of the safety issues surrounding electric vehicles is that they are nearly silent at low speeds with only limited tire noise emanating from them. This is a hazardous situation for pedestrians who may not hear an EV creeping up being them.  
    Volkswagen is working on a solution to the issue by hiring composer and music producer Leslie Mandoki to produce a sound for the upcoming ID series of cars to make when operating at low speeds.  One advantage of this is that brands, including Volkswagen, can craft their own voice for their cars to have. The Acoustic Vehicle Alerting System operates both inside and outside of the car and fades away when the car reaches cruising speeds where wind and road noise are sufficient. 
    “An electric vehicle’s sound defines its identity. The sound should be confident and likable. It may well sound futuristic and must also impress with its unique character”, Dr. Frank Welsch explains as the Chief Development Officer of Volkswagen Passenger Cars.
    To hear the sound of the upcoming Volkswagen ID series, click below.

    Fisker Ocean Can Gain 200 Miles Range in 30 Minutes

    ...Will officially debut at Consumer Electronics Show....

    The EV startup Fisker will be officially debuting their Ocean EV on January 4th at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas.  Fisker has been teasing images of the Ocean for months.
    Fisker has also announced that they will be partnering with Electrify America, the charging network born from the Volkswagen Dieselgate scandal.  Electrify America is building out a network of 350 kW rapid chargers to be coming online in 45 states by December 2021.  Fisker says that when using those 350 kW rapid chargers, the Ocean will be able to gain 200 miles of range in at little as 30 minutes. The Electrify America network will automatically recognize the Ocean and be set up for automatic payments. Fisker will also be offering a complimentary charging scheme to go with the vehicle. 
    The Ocean is a direct competitor to the forthcoming Tesla Model Y and Ford Mustang Mach-E. Range is expected to be around 300 miles under ideal conditions from its 80 kWh battery. On the roof is a full-size solar panel that is said to be able to add 1,000 miles of range to the vehicle per year. Fisker is said to be working on solid state battery technology that would increase range to 500 miles and allow for charges in minutes. 
    Fisker claims the Ocean will be the most sustainable vehicle built with many recycled and vegan materials inside. The Fisker Ocean will be offered primarily through leasing rather than purchasing. Pricing for a lease is expected to start around $379 per month after a deposit of $2,999.  The Ocean is expected to go into production at the end of 2021 with full production commencing in early 2022.

    2021 Cadillac Escalade Leaks Out

    ...Big and brawny like its siblings...

    Just a day after the 2021 Suburban and Tahoe debuted the Cadillac Escalade has also leaked out online.  As expected, the side profile still looks like the Tahoe/Suburban, however it apparently does still sport the vertical tail lights of the current generation vehicle.  Inside is a decidedly upgraded interior. The gauge cluster is dual screen and flows into the infotainment system.  Like the Chevy twins, the column shifter is gone, in this case replaced by Cadillac's Precision Control Shift. A dial to control the infotainment system similar to that on the XT6 is visible as well. 

    The Escalade will be powered by the same 6.2 liter V8 offered as an upgrade in the Suburban and Tahoe, but a supercharged version could make its way into the engine room at a later date as well finally giving the Escalade a V version. Expect the same wheelbase and space increases gained on the Chevies. 
    The Escalade will be debuting officially soon, so keep it tuned here for more updates as they come out. 

    BMW brings Android Auto to its cars

    ...it's about time...

    BMW has announced that beginning in Mid-2020, Android Auto with wireless connection will be available to customers in 20 countries for all vehicles with BMW Operating System 7.0 (which is most of their current lineup). Android Auto functions will be viewable in the instrument cluster and heads up display as well as the main infotainment screen. Google Assistant can be activated with the touch of a button on the steering wheel. 
    No word yet on how the upgrade will be applied, but most likely you will need to take your compatible BMW to a dealership to have the software updated. 
    The list of Android phone compatible with the wireless Android Auto connection are below:
    Phone Make and Model Android Version Pixel or Pixel XL Android 8.0 or higher Pixel 2 or Pixel 2 XL Android 8.0 or higher Pixel 3 or Pixel 3 XL Android 8.0 or higher Nexus 5X or 6P Android 8.0 or higher Samsung Galaxy S8 or S8+ Android 9.0 or higher Samsung Galaxy S9 or S9+ Android 9.0 or higher Samsung Galaxy S10 or S10+ Android 9.0 or higher Samsung Note 8, Note 9 and Note 10 Android 9.0 or higher

    Mercedes Debuts the 2021 GLA

    ...new platform and changing dimensions...

    Mercedes-Benz went the unconventional route and debuted their new GLA SUV completely online this morning. The new GLA comes on a new platform and changes up the dimensions a bit to improve interior space.  Overall length is down 0.6 inches, but height has increased 4.1 inches, and wheelbase is up 1.1 inches while width is up 1.2 inches. This translates to some minor improvements in most, but not all, interior dimensions.  (Dimensions chart on Page 2)
    The GLA initially will come in three forms, the GLA 250, GLA 250 4Matic, and AMG GLA 35.  The 250 and 250 4matic some with the same powertrain, a 2.0-liter turbocharged 4-cylinder producing 221 horsepower at 5,500 RPM and 258 lb-ft of torque at 1,620 - 4,000 RPM.  Power is sent to the wheels via an 8-speed DCT.
    The AMG GLA 35 comes with a 2.0-liter 4-cylinder with 302 horsepower at 5,800 RPM and 295 lb-ft of torque at 3,000 - 4,000 RPM. And uses a modified version of the 8-speed DCT. Zero to 60 is estimated at 5.0 seconds.
    GLA 250 models equipped with 4Matic come with an Off-Road Engineering Package as standard.  It is an extra drive mode that adapts the characteristics of the 4Matic system and changes power delivery and ABS intervention.  The gauge cluster will present an animation of gradient, inclination angle, and technical settings to help the driver through the situation. 
    4Matic has been updated from being hydraulically activated to electro-mechanically activated.  In normal mode, the system splits torque 80:20 front:rear.  Sport mode changes that ratio to 70:30, while off-road mode moves it to 50:50. Being electro-mechanically operated allows the 4Matic system to be more efficient by not having to drive hydraulic pumps. 
    The GLA 250 is available with a host of driver assistance packages. They include:
    Active Distance Assist DISTRONIC with the functions: braking for stationary vehicles, extended automatic restarting in traffic jams in conjunction with Active Parking Assist and navigation, activation of "Gliding" in the ECO drive mode, Active Steering Assist with the functions: Active Emergency Braking Assist – with automatic unlocking and placement of an SOS call to the Mercedes-Benz emergency call center after the vehicle has come to a stop (depending on country) Active Lane Change Assist in conjunction with navigation, Emergency lane function: in freeway traffic jams at speeds below approx. 37 mph. Active Speed Limit Assist with reaction to changes in speed limits in conjunction with Traffic Sign Assist, Route-based speed adjustment when approaching bends, roundabouts, toll stations, T-junctions and before leaving highways – reduction of vehicle speed when encountering the end of a traffic jam, in conjunction with navigation, Evasive Steering Assist, Active Lane Keeping Assist, Active Blind Spot Assist, Active Brake Assist with cross-traffic function, PRE-SAFE PLUS: can detect a potential rear impact. If the danger of a collision persists, the system can also firmly apply the brakes of the stationary vehicle, minimizing the risk of whiplash injuries by reducing the forward jolt caused by an impact from the rear. The interior of the GLA is quite similar to the A-Class sedan. Mercedes MBUX is there and can be activated by voice simply by saying "Hey Mercedes". 
    AMG 35
    The GLA AMG 35 gets an AMG tuned suspension, including an optional ride control system that allows the driver to select between three different drive modes.  A high performance braking system with 13.8 inch disks up front and 13.0 inch disks in the rear is included. There is a speed-sensitive variable ratio steering that changes the amount of assistance offered at different speeds. The AMG also gets a special exhaust system with a gas flap to change the sound dynamics of the car depending on mode, engine speed, and engine load. 
    The exterior of the AMG GLA 35 gets a different front fascia from the regular GLA 250, fitting in with the rest of the AMG lineup. 
    The GLA 250 goes on sale Summer of 2020 with the AMG following after that.
    New GLA
    Exterior dimensions
    Width incl. exterior mirrors
    Track, front
    Track, rear
    Interior dimensions*
    Max. front headroom
    Headroom, rear
    Legroom, front
    Legroom, rear
    Elbow room, front
    Elbow room, rear
    Shoulder room, front
    Shoulder room, rear
    Load compartment width, max.
    Load compartment depth, max.
    Eff. width trunk opening
    Trunk capacity (VDA)

    2021 Chevrolet Tahoe and Suburban Debut with Independent Suspension and available Duramax

    ...takes on the looks from the trucks...

    At an event in Detroit this evening, Chevrolet took the wraps off the Tahoe and Suburban SUVs. We don't have specs yet to publish, but wanted to get the pictures out for you to see.  I will be updating the article as more details come out. 
    Six different trims will be offered including the new High Country trim, an RST trim, and Z71 becomes its own trim line instead of being offered as a separate package. LS, LT, and Premier trims carry on. Engines are the 5.3-liter and 6.2-liter V8s, but the 3.0L Duramax will also be joining the lineup. The 5.3 and 6.2 now sport dynamic fuel management. All engines send power to the wheels through a 10-speed automatic. The Duramax is available on every trim except Z71.
    The power ratings are:
    5.3-Liter - 355 Horsepower at 5600 RPM / 383 lb-Ft of torque at 4100 RPM 6.2-Liter - 420 Horsepower at 5600 RPM / 460 lb-ft of torque at 4100 RPM 3.0-Liter Duramax - 277 Horsepower at 3750 RPM / 460 lb-ft of torque at 1500 RPM The column shifter is gone, replaced with a new pushbutton design placed on the dash.  Thanks to a fully independent rear suspension, they both gain room inside. Magnetic Ride Control and an Air Ride Adaptive Suspension (available on Z71 and High Country) are available. The Air Ride suspension offers adjustable height of up to 4-inches at all four corners .
    The dash sports a 10-inch touchscreen infotainment center standard. Buyers can opt for a rear seat entertainment system with twin 12.6-inch displays. Interior room is up; Tahoe sports 40 percent more third-row leg room and 66 percent more cargo volume behind the third row. While maximum cargo room is up 30 percent, the overall length increased only 4 percent. This is done on a wheelbase that is 4.9 inches longer than the 2020 model.  Suburban gets a 4.1 inch increase in wheelbase so that interior cargo volume increases 19 percent while overall length increases 1.3 inches.
      TAHOE SUBURBAN Headroom
    (in / mm): 42.3 / 1074 (first row)
    38.9 / 988 (second row)
    38.2 / 970 (third row)
    42.3 / 1074 (first row)
    38.8 / 988 (second row)
    38.2 / 970 (third row)
    (in / mm):
    44.5 / 1131 (first row)
    42 / 1068 (second row)
    34.9 / 886 (third row)
    44.5 / 1131 (first row)
    42 / 1068 (second row)
    36.7 / 933 (third row)
    EPA Passenger Volume
    (cu ft / L):
    168.4 / 4768
    170.4 / 4826
    Cargo Volume^
    (cu ft / L):
    122.9 / 3479 (behind first row)
    72.7 / 2058 (behind second row)
    25.5 / 722 (behind third row)
    144.7 / 4097 (behind first row)
    92.9 / 2632 (behind second row)
    41.1 / 1164 (behind third row)


    Chevy Trailblazer Pricing Released

    ...Starts just below $20,000...

    Chevrolet has released pricing of the new Trailblazer crossover that is coming to the U.S. market in early 2020.  
    The base L model is the one that will start below $20k at $19,995. It comes with a 1.2-liter turbocharged 3-cylinder, front wheel drive, and a continuously variable transmission.  Inside it carries a 7.0 inch touchscreen with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto as standard. Standard on the L are 16 inch steel wheels with wheel covers. All-wheel drive is not available on the L.
    Moving up to the LS model which starts at $22,495 allows you to option into all-wheel drive for an additional $2,000. Opting for all-wheel drive also means you get a 0.1-liter engine upgrade to the 1.3 liter 3-cylinder that makes 155 horsepower.  Wheels are upgrades to 17-inch alloys.
    The LT will set you back $24,595, again standard with FWD and the 1.2-liter unless you spend an extra $2,000 for AWD and the 1.3-liter. However, you can opt for the 1.3-liter on its own at the LT level. 
    The Activ (pictured, top) which starts at $26,395 is billed as the off-road trim. It comes with a revised fascia with a larger grille opening, unique 17-inch wheels, all-terrain tires, changes to the dampers, and the 1.3-liter standard in both FWD or AWD models. This time, AWD costs $1,500 to select. 
    Then there is the RS (pictured, right) which also starts at $26,395. It also comes standard with the 1.3-liter engine with a $1,500 AWD option. The changes to the RS are mostly appearance changes to make it look more sporty.
    The Trailblazer goes on sale in Spring 2020.

    Rumorpile: Land Rover Considering New Entry Model

    ...watch out Wrangler...

    Land Rover is rumored to be working on a new entry level model believed to be codenamed L860. This new model would draw heavily on the new Defender for design inspiration for both the interior and exterior. It would be placed on a cheaper and more modern version of the platform under the Range Rover Evoque and Land Rover Discovery Sport. Four cylinder engines are expected as well as a 1.5-liter 3-cylinder turbo that would be connected to a mild-hybrid system.
    Feature content for the new vehicle would be, as expected, lower than the Defender given its entry level status.  As of now, the rumor is that the new model could be named Land Rover 80 and have a starting price around $33,000. 
    On the opposite end of the pay scale, Land Rover is also looking at a Land Rover Defender Sport model that would appear at least 4 years from now. This version could get an all-electric powertrain and much more luxury.  It would be the flagship of the Defender lineup.

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