2019 Infiniti QX50 Prototype Quick Drive

Infiniti claims that its new VC-Turbo engine delivers the power of a six-cylinder engine and the fuel economy of a four-cylinder. This is a claim many other manufacturers have made over the years, but no other manufacturer has had such groundbreaking technology to back it up.  Multi Link Variable Compression Ratio system (VCR) is the name of the technology developed by parent company Nissan, and it’s a beautifully complex array of mechanical linkages connected to a fancy actuator and combined with the most current thinking in turbocharging, variable valve timing, and fuel injection.

We drove a prototype for the 2019 Infiniti QX50 equipped with the new VC-Turbo engine that makes 268 hp and 288 lb-ft of torque.

First let’s level set; if you understand the basic operation of a four-stroke internal combustion engine, the underlying concept behind Nissan’s variable compression ratio technology is easy to grasp. For as long as car engines have been mass produced, their compression ratios—the volume of the cylinder when the piston is at the very bottom of the stroke compared to the volume at the very top of the piston’s stroke—has remained fixed. Traditionally, changing the compression ratio requires tearing apart the engine and swapping out pistons, connecting rods, and even the crankshaft. The holy grail for automotive engineers around the world for the last few decades has been to figure out a way to manipulate this volume on the fly, with an eye toward increasing power and fuel efficiency, on demand.

My esteemed colleague Frank Markus, Motor Trend’s resident automotive engineer and technical director, has deftly explained the inner workings of the multi-link VCR system several times, and I encourage you to read his first look at Infiniti’s new engine here and then go here for a deeper dive on the topic.

To summarize, I pulled Frank’s recap of VCR from his third piece on the topic:

“Compression is altered by moving the range of motion of each piston up and down within the cylinder. In the upper position the ratio is 14:1, and in the lower position it’s 8:1. This is accomplished by an elaborate set of intermediary links between the crankshaft and the piston connecting rods, the positions of which can be altered by a control shaft mounted below the crankshaft and another set of control rods. A glance at the cutaway photos should help demystify this mechanism. Low compression is desirable during periods of peak boost and engine output, and the high ratio (along with Atkinson cycle operation that closes the intake valves partway up the compression stroke) greatly improves efficiency during low-load steady-state operation. The engine also employs direct, multipoint, or a combination of both fuel injection strategies as best befits the operating conditions.”

To provide a better idea of what is going on, Nissan has given names to all the links and rods in its multilink system, and the easiest way to remember the sequence is, oddly, ACLU, starting outside the engine, at the VCR actuator. This high-tech softball-sized motor precisely controls the compression ratio by first shifting the position of a dogleg-shaped actuator-link (A-link). At the VC-Turbo’s highest compression ratio of 14:1, the A-link sits at 9 o’clock, if you imagine the actuator shaft to be the hour hand. To lower compression, the actuator shifts the A-link clockwise to about 2 o’clock, which pushes up on the control-link (C-link) and the corner of the lower link (L-link) to which it is attached. This trapezoid-shaped L-link oscillates about the crankshaft, so as one corner goes up, the opposite corner comes down. That corner is connected to the upper-link (U-link), which you’ll recognize as the piston connecting rod. As the piston’s top-dead-center location falls to its lowest point, more volume is created in the combustion chamber, and the lowest compression ratio of 8:1 is achieved. (The difference in piston heights required to drop compression from 14:1 to 8:1 is approximately 6mm.) As Frank notes, a lower ratio creates nearly ideal conditions for the wonders of turbocharging and direct fuel injection, and a high compression condition maximizes fuel efficiency under light loads, thanks to variable valve timing trickery and a balance of port and direct injection.

So how does it drive? Stunningly … seamless. All the beautifully complex engineering described above is almost entirely undetectable during our brief laps in a preproduction QX50, Infiniti’s all-new premium midsize SUV in which the Multi-Link Variable Compression Ratio system will make its debut. Because the settings of many of the vehicle’s other systems were not finalized, Infiniti asked us to reserve comments about dynamic attributes, aside from the powertrain performance. So, all we’ll say is that it steers, handles, and rides just as you’d expect from a camouflaged, late-stage prototype, premium SUV.

But that new VC-Turbo 2.0-liter 4-cylinder engine certainly does hum. Infiniti’s claims of 268 horsepower and 288 lb-ft of torque seem in-line with our inner-ear and seat-of-the pants dynamometers (though torque will be slightly less in the production QX50, roughly 280 lb-ft). We performed several launches from a stop and simulated merging and passing situations, with the throttle floored from various engine speeds. Acceleration in every instance could be described as brisk but not breathtaking or neck-snapping.

Part of the issue is the transmission, which is the carryover CVT currently used in the Infiniti QX60. A CVT’s reason for being is better fuel consumption and smoothness, and for the purposes of trying to evaluate a new engine’s performance, its relaxed response has a dampening effect. This is especially evident when toggling through the Sport, Standard, and Eco drive modes; in Eco mode, the throttle response and power delivery felt particularly languid. To be clear, these modes only influence throttle response and transmission parameters, not the engine or any part of the VCR system.

So the fundamental takeaway is that the VC-Turbo delivers smooth, seamless acceleration in all the limited conditions we drove the QX50 prototype. This is not like other engine tweaks or power adders that produce a noticeable boost or have a cam-lobe change over point at a proscribed rpm. You might be able to feel Honda’s VTEC kick in (yo), but VC-Turbo technology is largely hushed and refined.

The only clue that anything is going on is a little vertical gauge set between the instrument cluster’s main dials, labeled Compression Ratio. (Infiniti representatives told us the details on this gauge were yet to be finalized.) During our on-ramp merging simulation, with the throttle firmly planted on the floor, the bar on this gauge pegs the highest level, indicated by the word POWER. In this situation, the VC-Turbo should be operating at 8:1 compression, allowing the turbocharger to cram in charge air (at a peak boost pressure of 23.2 psi) without fear of detonation, while the direct-injection fueling system fires in optimally timed pulses of fuel into the combustion chamber.

Once we reach cruising speed and ease off the throttle, both bars on the turbocharger and compression ratio gauges drop precipitously, the latter to the lowest level labeled ECO. Because the VCR system is continuously variable (not just on/off like a light switch), how much the compression changes depends on the lightness of your foot. Infiniti engineers tell us rapidly lifting off the throttle typically sends the VCR system swinging from Power/8:1 to Eco/14:1 in about 1.5 seconds and vice versa. At the eco side of things, the turbo is quietly spinning, sending little to no boost to the combustion chambers because, hey, it’s not needed—we’re cruising to the beat of the Miller & Atkinson (cycle) bands.

So do Infiniti’s opening claims ring true? Yes, and we’ll see. Generally speaking, the 2.0-liter VC-Turbo’s performance does feel on par with current naturally aspirated V-6 engines displacing up to, say, 3.5-liters. That’s convenient because Infiniti reps are eager to compare the VC-Turbo’s output and fuel consumption to the family’s long-running 3.5-liter V-6. At 268 horsepower and up to 288 lb-ft of torque, in a smaller, significantly lighter (up to 55 pounds) package, the VC-Turbo makes only 2 less horsepower and up to 73 lb-ft more torque than that old 3.5 V-6 while returning a claimed 27 percent better fuel economy. But that engine is no longer used in the Infiniti product line and only sprinkled about the Nissan family. The comparison is a little more challenging if you put the VC-Turbo up against Infiniti’s 3.7-liter V-6, which makes 325 horsepower and 267 lb-ft of torque in the current-generation QX50 while delivering and EPA-estimated 17 mpg city and 24 mpg highway.

Against four-cylinder rivals, the early read is that Infiniti has a winner on its hands. Infiniti claims the its VC-Turbo returns 10 percent better fuel economy over four-cylinder rivals from Germany and Japan and should deliver class-leading acceleration. Infiniti’s benchmark testing shows its new QX50 delivers as much as 3 mpg better fuel economy and 1-second faster acceleration to 60 mph over comparably equipped rivals from Audi and BMW.

But that’s all bench racing. When we’re able to perform our instrumented performance and EquaAir RealMPG fuel economy tests, you’ll be the first to see the results. Stay tuned.

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Original author: Erika Pizano
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Volvo V90: 2018 Motor Trend Car of the Year Contender

We Like: Styling inside and out, Bowers & Wilkins stereo

We Don’t Like: Road noise, ignition knob interface

We continue to swoon before this lovely wagon and nestle into a cabin Mark Rechtin called a “cocoon of comfort.”

“Boasting the same extravagant dash-to-axle ratio, taut surfacing, and crisp character lines as the S90 sedan, the V90 wagon exudes the same confident stance and studied elegance,” Angus MacKenzie said.” Though this time it’s infused with just a dash of sportiness, thanks to those rakish D-pillars and the slightly shorter rear overhang.”

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The 2.0-liter engine’s initial surge of boost from the supercharger is addicting, with the turbo kicking in just as the supercharger wanes, Christian Seabaugh noted.

The V90 handled uneven surfaces better than the other wagons in the field and had less tire squeal and body roll on the handling course, Frank Markus said. But the ride could be more refined. It is rock-solid and stable at high speeds, and Pilot Assist skillfully keeps the wagon safely between the lane markings.

Thoughtful inside touches include the pop-up cargo area divider with integrated straps and hooks. The second-row seats fold electrically. And the front seats might be the most comfortable in the business.

Oddly, this low-volume wagon can only be special-ordered. And as fabulous as the V90 is, our tester cost almost $70,000, which Ed Loh called “a bit eye-watering.”

Lieberman contended that had the S90 and V90 arrived simultaneously last year, Volvo could have had a strong chance of walking away with the Golden Calipers. But as a low-volume stand-alone vehicle, the wagon didn’t sufficiently advance Volvo’s cause.

2018 Volvo V90 T6 Inscription
BASE PRICE $58,945
PRICE AS TESTED $69,340
VEHICLE LAYOUT Front-engine, AWD, 5-pass, 4-door wagon
ENGINE 2.0L/316-hp/295-lb-ft turbo DOHC 16-valve I-4
TRANSMISSION 8-speed automatic
CURB WEIGHT (F/R DIST) 4,253 lb (54/46%)
WHEELBASE 115.8 in
LENGTH x WIDTH x HEIGHT 194.3 x 74.0 x 58.1 in
0-60 MPH 6.1 sec
QUARTER MILE 14.6 sec @ 94.6 mph
BRAKING, 60-0 MPH 110 ft
LATERAL ACCELERATION 0.88 g (avg)
MT FIGURE EIGHT 26.3 sec @ 0.67 g (avg)
EPA CITY/HWY/COMB FUEL ECON 22/31/25 mpg
ENERGY CONS, CITY/HWY 153/109 kW-hrs/100 miles
CO2 EMISSIONS, COMB 0.77 lb/mile

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Original author: Alisa Priddle
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Nissan Leaf: 2018 Motor Trend Car of the Year Contender

We Like: Attractive design, superb semi-autonomous driving option, killer pricing

We Don’t Like: Borderline range improvement, CHAdeMO fast-charging plug

Although electric vehicle historians will inevitably point to GM’s EV1 as the dawn of the modern electric car, its real origin—at least as far as the mass public is concerned—was the appearance of the original Nissan Leaf in 2011. It’s the best-selling electric vehicle in history (with roughly 115,000 sold in America since day one). All of which has created a hushed anticipation for its follow-up, this second-generation Leaf (particularly in light of the 238-mile Chevrolet Bolt EV, which grabbed last year’s COTY Calipers).

So when the car’s specs were recently released, one number among them eclipsed everything else. It’s range: 150 miles from its 40-kW-hr battery. (A 60 is expected next year.) Back in the BB-era (Before Bolt), this would have ignited celebrations.

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Now, we question if it’s enough. Nissan has fortified the Leaf’s defense with an excellent styling update, more power, much better steering quality, and its amazing ProPilot Assist option (think single-lane Tesla Autopilot–like capabilities for $2,200).

The new Leaf delivers a supple ride and a focus on tech that makes driving easier. Its e-Pedal is its prime example—a high-regen, hill-holding, one-pedal solution that could eliminate 90 percent of brake pedal use in real-world driving, Nissan says.

Still, the car failed to generate much enthusiasm. But the Leaf’s fall seems to come from Nissan’s decision to retain the original car’s platform. Observed Christian Seabaugh: “In ride and handling, the Leaf rolls and flops way too much through corners, and the ride is just generally too soft.”

2018 Nissan Leaf SL
BASE PRICE $36,853
PRICE AS TESTED $37,738
VEHICLE LAYOUT Front-engine, FWD, 5-pass, 4-door hatchback
ENGINE 0.0L/147-hp/236-lb-ft
TRANSMISSION 1-speed automatic
CURB WEIGHT (F/R DIST) 3,503 lb (58/42%)
WHEELBASE 106.3 in
LENGTH x WIDTH x HEIGHT 176.4 x 70.5 x 61.4 in
0-60 MPH 7.5 sec
QUARTER MILE 15.8 sec @ 87.6 mph
BRAKING, 60-0 MPH 129 ft
LATERAL ACCELERATION 0.76 g (avg)
MT FIGURE EIGHT 27.9 sec @ 0.61 g (avg)

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Original author: Erika Pizano
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Honda Odyssey: 2018 Motor Trend Car of the Year Contender

We Like: Slick 10-speed, ride/handling, Cabin Watch & Talk

We Don’t Like: No-fold middle row, lightning-struck exterior

Minivans frequently serve as innovation incubators, and Honda’s own imagineers are following up their fourth-gen Odyssey HondaVac breakthrough with Cabin Watch and Cabin Talk. The former lets parents keep a fisheye on middle- and third-row kiddos even when they’re in rear-facing child seats, and the latter broadcasts front-row voices of authority over the rear speakers or headphones. Ed Loh found them “fun, if a bit gimmicky,” while Mark Rechtin likened Talk’s fidelity to “doing a sound check onstage at Cabaret Metro in Chicago.”

Honda’s fabulous 10-speed automatic earned big Engineering Excellence points by helping the Odyssey outrun a Chrysler Pacifica Limited by 1.1 seconds to 60 mph while ranking 1 mpg better in the city. Of course, the plug-in Pacifica Hybrid arguably overcompensates for such engineering deficits.

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Performance of Intended Function rules in the minivan category, and Chrysler’s foldaway middle row trounces Honda’s 69-pound (each) side-sliders with nonfolding backrests. We don’t buy the argument that Honda’s customers never carry big stuff. “Lots of customers don’t use turn signals, either,” Christian Seabaugh said, “yet we still need them.” Furthermore, Alisa Priddle worried that “once gummy bears get in those side-sliding tracks, kids will not be able to push them easily, if at all.”

And finally, on the design front, we’re not fans of the lighting bolt beltline. Angus MacKenzie felt there were “too many lines heading in too many directions, many simply dying of despair on a random section of panel.” He sealed the Odyssey’s fate, summarizing: “Chrysler’s more practical, more elegant Pacifica is better.”

2018 Honda Odyssey Elite
BASE PRICE $47,610
PRICE AS TESTED $47,610
VEHICLE LAYOUT Front-engine, FWD, 8-pass, 4-door van
ENGINE 3.5L/280-hp/262-lb-ft SOHC 24-valve V-6
TRANSMISSION 10-speed automatic
CURB WEIGHT (F/R DIST) 4,582 lb (55/45%)
WHEELBASE 118.1 in
LENGTH x WIDTH x HEIGHT 182.8 x 70.8 x 55.5 in
0-60 MPH 6.6 sec
QUARTER MILE 15.0 sec @ 94.6 mph
BRAKING, 60-0 MPH 127 ft
LATERAL ACCELERATION 0.73 g (avg)
MT FIGURE EIGHT 29.1 sec @ 0.58 g (avg)
EPA CITY/HWY/COMB FUEL ECON 19/28/22 mpg
ENERGY CONS, CITY/HWY 177/120 kW-hrs/100 miles
CO2 EMISSIONS, COMB 0.87 lb/mile

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Original author: Erika Pizano
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Kia Niro: 2018 Motor Trend Car of the Year Contender

We Like: Impressive fuel efficiency, useful interior room, value price

We Don’t Like: Lack of torque, sharp ride

Although Toyota’s egregiously weird Prius Prime shrieks “Hybrid!” Kia’s vanilla Niro whispers “small, practical family wagon.” The Niro’s design is utterly conventional and oddly nondescript for a Peter Schreyer–era Kia. The badges are the only clue it rolls on a dedicated hybrid platform shared with the Hyundai Ioniq hatchback.

Interior room is the Niro’s strong suit. The tall roofline really helps the interior package, allowing plenty of rear-seat leg- and headroom. As with the exterior, the interior execution is pragmatic, especially in the entry-level EX model. “Lots of relentless hard-grain plastic almost everywhere I touch,” Frank Markus said. The load space is wide but shallow.

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The drive experience falls short of that of the Ioniq. “It’s adequately powered, but passing power just isn’t there,” Christian Seabaugh said. Mark Rechtin noted the suspension transmitted a lot of sharp upward impacts into the cabin. But Markus said the Niro deserves plaudits for making a six-speed dual-clutch transmission work well with a hybrid powertrain and a usefully configured family wagon that delivers an impressive 51 mpg on the EPA city cycle, all for less than $30,000.

Kia is betting there is white space in the market for a family-friendly, high-efficiency vehicle without the wacky futurist styling of a Prius and that there are buyers who will appreciate the low-key Niro’s unique combination of fuel economy and interior room at an affordable price. “It just feels so normal,” Ed Loh said. “Like a regular car but with amazing efficiency.”

2017 Kia Niro EX EcoHybrid 2017 Kia Niro Touring EcoHybrid
BASE PRICE $26,595 $30,545
PRICE AS TESTED $28,895 $32,445
VEHICLE LAYOUT Front-engine, FWD, 5-pass, 4-door hatchback Front-engine, FWD, 5-pass, 4-door hatchback
ENGINE 1.6L/104-hp/109-lb-ft plus 43-hp/125-lb-ft front electric motor; 139-hp/195-lb-ft combined 1.6L/104-hp/109-lb-ft plus 43-hp/125-lb-ft front electric motor; 139-hp/195-lb-ft combined
TRANSMISSION 6-speed twin-clutch auto 6-speed twin-clutch auto
CURB WEIGHT (F/R DIST) 3,200 lb (60/40%) 3,271 lb (60/40%)
WHEELBASE 106.3 in 106.3 in
LENGTH x WIDTH x HEIGHT 171.5 x 71.1 x 60.8 in 171.5 x 71.1 x 60.8 in
0-60 MPH 8.9 sec 9.9 sec
QUARTER MILE 16.8 sec @ 83.0 mph 17.4 sec @ 80.3 mph
BRAKING, 60-0 MPH 138 ft 122 ft
LATERAL ACCELERATION 0.78 g (avg) 0.82 g (avg)
MT FIGURE EIGHT 28.6 sec @ 0.58 g (avg) 28.3 sec @ 0.58 g (avg)
EPA CITY/HWY/COMB FUEL ECON 51/46/49 mpg 46/40/43 mpg
ENERGY CONS, CITY/HWY 66/73 kW-hrs/100 miles 73/84 kW-hrs/100 miles
CO2 EMISSIONS, COMB 0.40 lb/mile 0.45 lb/mile

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Original author: Angus MacKenzie
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Hyundai Ioniq: 2018 Motor Trend Car of the Year Contender

We Like: How polished, high quality, and good to drive both versions are

We Don’t Like: Baked in from the start engineering compromises

The Hyundai Ioniq is available in three flavors, a gas-electric hybrid version, a plug-in hybrid (not yet available), and a fully electric car. We mostly liked the Ioniq, but no one fell in love with it. Why? Have you ever heard the old saying that a camel is a racehorse designed by committee? That applies here.

“To fit both a gas tank and an internal combustion engine meant that Hyundai had to put the battery under the rear seats, which means the electric version doesn’t have as much range as it could have, and the hybrid/PHEV versions have to have structural accommodations for the bigger, heavier battery that they don’t have,” Christian Seabaugh said. Long story short, the Prius Prime is better as a hybrid, and the Tesla Model 3 is a better electric car.

So what did we like? Basically everything else. Angus MacKenzie praised Hyundai’s design restraint. “Hyundai is to be commended for not making its hybrid—and its battery electric sibling—look weird because … Prius,” he said. “Both are cleanly and conventionally styled, and we’ll take that all day long.” The looks were described as “freakishly vanilla” by one judge, though.

Moving on. “These drove surprisingly well, had nimble steering, not too much body roll on the winding road, but the tires are squealers,” Alisa Priddle said. “I love the one-pedal driving, and, man, is this car quiet. It rides so well, too.” Perhaps the home-field advantage helped its ride and high-speed stability, Chris Walton noted, as the Ioniq was tuned on the same roads as our COTY evaluations.

2017 Hyundai Ioniq Electric 2017 Hyundai Ioniq Hybrid
BASE PRICE $30,385 $23,085
PRICE AS TESTED $36,835 $25,960
VEHICLE LAYOUT Front-engine, FWD, 5-pass, 4-door hatchback Front-engine, FWD, 5-pass, 4-door sedan
ENGINE Permanent Magnet Synchronous Motor 1.6L DOHC 16-valve I-4
TRANSMISSION 1-speed automatic 6-speed twin-clutch auto
CURB WEIGHT (F/R DIST) 3,280 lb (49/51%) 3,085 lb (61/39%)
WHEELBASE 106.3 in 106.3 in
LENGTH x WIDTH x HEIGHT 176.0 x 71.7 x 57.1 in 176.0 x 71.7 x 56.9 in
0-60 MPH 8.7 sec 8.8 sec
QUARTER MILE 16.8 sec @ 83.8 mph 16.7 sec @ 83.0 mph
BRAKING, 60-0 MPH 129 ft 133 ft
LATERAL ACCELERATION 0.77 g (avg) 0.77 g (avg)
MT FIGURE EIGHT 28.2 sec @ 0.59 g (avg) 28.4 sec @ 0.58 g (avg)
EPA CITY/HWY/COMB FUEL ECON 150/122/136 MPGe 55/54/55 mpg
ENERGY CONS, CITY/HWY 22/28 kW-hrs/100 miles 61/62 kW-hrs/100 miles
CO2 EMISSIONS, COMB 0.00 lb/mile 0.36 lb/mile

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Original author: Erika Pizano
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Toyota Prius Prime: 2018 Motor Trend Car of the Year Contender

We Like: Value, huge visual differentiation from regular Prius

We Don’t Like: Tight rear-seat headroom, body roll

If you want the best Prius Toyota offers, is the plug-in Prime the way to go? Opinions were divided on whether the Prime’s aesthetic changes from the standard Prius transformed the car into one that was less ugly or just a different ugly. Still, we admire Toyota’s dedication to differentiation—especially those too-cool taillights.

Looks debate aside, the Prime is a decent performer on efficiency and range considering a base price comfortably below $30,000. The Prius Prime can go up to 25 miles on EV power alone before the gas engine kicks in to help, for a total driving range well over 600 miles.

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The Prius Prime drove around a winding road “with less tire squeal and drama than the Hyundai Ioniq and Kia Niro,” Frank Markus said. That doesn’t mitigate the Prime’s substantial body roll. “I’m not sure it’s going any faster; it might even be going slower. There’s just less drama.”

Inside, the weird styling continues—occupants are awash in a sea of shiny white plastic—and the ersatz Tesla infotainment screen washes out quickly in sunlight. Plus, it has only two rear seats. However, bonus features include a full suite of active safety tech, LED headlights, and navigation.

But the prime mover to someone who primarily wants a hassle-free commute is avoiding the gas pump. Because the Toyota’s battery is relatively small, charging only takes about 2 hours at 240 volts. And if your commute is short, you can go gas-free for days at a time if you plug in at night.

2017 Toyota Prius Prime
BASE PRICE $27,995
PRICE AS TESTED $33,995
VEHICLE LAYOUT Front-engine, FWD, 4-pass, 4-door hatchback
ENGINE 1.8L/95-hp/105-lb-ft DOHC 16-valve I-4 plus 121 hp electric motors; 121-hp combined
TRANSMISSION Cont variable auto
CURB WEIGHT (F/R DIST) 3,435 lb (56/44%)
WHEELBASE 106.3 in
LENGTH x WIDTH x HEIGHT 182.9 x 69.3 x 57.9 in
0-60 MPH 10.0 sec
QUARTER MILE 17.4 sec @ 79.9 mph
BRAKING, 60-0 MPH 125 ft
LATERAL ACCELERATION 0.78 g (avg)
MT FIGURE EIGHT 28.5 sec @ 0.56 g (avg)
EPA CITY/HWY/COMB FUEL ECON 55/53/54 mpg
ENERGY CONS, CITY/HWY 61/64 kW-hrs/100 miles
CO2 EMISSIONS, COMB 0.36 lb/mile

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Original author: Zach Gale
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Meet the SCG 004S, the More Affordable Followup to the $2 Million SCG 003

Late last month, Scuderia Cameron Glickenhaus teased a new car on its Facebook page. Glickenhaus said he was targeting a price around $400,000, a power output of 650 hp, and a weight of about 2,500 pounds. He also promised a six-speed gated manual transmission. Today, SCG revealed the car, which we now know will be called the 004S.

Design-wise, you can see styling elements from quite a few different cars. There’s a bit of Ford GT in there, some Porsche 918, and even a good bit of Glickenhaus’s Ferrari P4/5. Viewed as a whole, though, the 004S has a cohesive look to it that will still stand out even when parked next to other supercars. The greenhouse looks taller and more rounded off than you might expect, but it will probably also provide great visibility. With huge air intakes, an aggressive aero kit, and a large greenhouse, and a road-scraping ride height, we also don’t doubt SCG’s claim that this is a “fully legal race car for the road.”

Perhaps the most notable design element, however, requires you to look inside the cabin. Instead of offering seating for two or four, the 004S seats three, just like in the McLaren F1. The driver sits front and center, while passengers sit farther back to each side. That also means all the gauges and controls are laid out specifically for the driver, not anyone else. Speaking of the gauges, they appear to all be analog, not digital. In fact, other than a rearview camera and an iPhone dock, there doesn’t appear to be much digital technology in the cabin.

SCG says that with a carbon-fiber body and chassis, the 004S will weigh in at about 2,600 pounds. The 5.0-liter twin-turbo engine has an 8,500-rpm redline and will make around 650 hp and 531 lb-ft of torque. Power will be sent to the rear wheels via a standard six-speed gated manual transmission. A paddle-shifted option will be available, as well. With a base price of $400,00, it certainly won’t be cheap, but only 250 will be produced per year, making it an extremely rare car.

SCG also says the NHTSA has given it Low Volume Manufactures Status, allowing it to issue VINs for the 004S. As a result, the car will be street-legal. If a buyer is interested in racing the car, though, SCG says it plans to also build GT3 and GTE/GTLM competition versions of the 004S. 

Expect to see a running prototype in 2018, with the first 25 Founders Edition cars delivered as early as late 2018. By the end of 2021, though, SCG says it should be up to full capacity.

Source: Scuderia Cameron Glickenhaus

 

 

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Original author: Collin Woodard
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Refreshing or Revolting: 2020 Tesla Roadster

The 2020 Tesla Roadster stole the long-awaited semi-truck’s thunder in a surprise debut last night. With its unheard-of performance and range claims, the new 2020 Roadster leaves its predecessor in the dust. But how does its styling compare? Take a look below and decide for yourself.

The new Roadster looks like it will easily slot into the Tesla lineup, wearing curvy styling cues seen on the Model S, Model X, and Model 3. When the Model S first debuted, its styling didn’t really jibe with that of the old Roadster. That’s because the first-gen Roadster was essentially a rebodied Lotus Elise. This new model was designed from the ground up, so the look is more cohesive.

The 2020 Roadster’s front fascia is smooth and sleek, with only a single trapezoidal opening at the bottom—perhaps the only thing the front end has in common with its predecessor. The headlights are narrow and sit below the fender arches, giving the nose an aggressive, low-slung look.

From the side, the new Roadster now looks the part of a supercar with a narrow greenhouse opening, raked roofline, and small retractable wing. The Roadster again features a targa top, with a removable roof panel that opens up the cabin to the elements. The rear end is just as dramatic as the front, with wide fenders and well-defined shoulders. The taillights almost meld into the bodywork, and are incredibly slim. The rear bumper has an integrated diffuser, which is probably necessary if the car can indeed hit speeds above 250 mph.

Inside, the Roadster continues the minimalist theme of other Tesla models with a Model S-like central screen, futuristic airplane yoke-style steering wheel, and not much else to clutter the dash. There are very thin displays in the dashboard on both the driver and passenger sides that can be configured to show vehicle speed, g forces, or other performance data. The new Tesla Roadster also has rear seats for the first time, bringing total seating capacity to four.

What do you think of the 2020 Tesla Roadster? Is it a worthy successor to the original electric sports car? Tell us on our Facebook page!

The post Refreshing or Revolting: 2020 Tesla Roadster appeared first on Motor Trend.

Original author: Alex Nishimoto
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Jaguar Land Rover Begins Testing Autonomous Vehicles in U.K.

Earlier this month, Google’s Waymo launched a trial program to allow the general public to use its driverless vehicles in limited areas around Phoenix, Arizona. General Motors, meanwhile, is still testing its Cruise autonomous vehicles on the crowded streets of San Francisco. Today, Jaguar Land Rover announced that it’s begun testing autonomous vehicles on public roads, making it among the first to do so in the U.K.

Testing is currently taking place on the roads of Coventry, near the Jaguar Land Rover headquarters. But JLR says it isn’t only testing autonomous technology. It’s also testing out both vehicle-to-vehicle and vehicle-to-infrastructure tech. That means that even before the vehicles become fully autonomous, it’s working to find ways for them to communicate with each other, as well as with traffic lights and other roadside infrastructure.

“Testing this self-driving project on public roads is so exciting, as the complexity of the environment allows us to find robust ways to increase road safety in the future. By using inputs from multiple sensors, and finding intelligent ways to process this data, we are gaining accurate technical insight to pioneer the automotive application of these technologies,” said Nick Rogers, JLR’s head of product engineering, in a release. “Jaguar Land Rover is proud to be a leader in collaborative research projects for autonomous and connected cars. We are supporting innovative research that will be integral to the infrastructure, technology and legal landscape needed to make intelligent, self-driving vehicles a reality within the next decade.”

Earlier this year, JLR announced that it had completed tests of an autonomous Range Rover Sport on private roads in its Horiba Mira test facility. Previewing the Level 4 autonomous vehicle it hopes to begin selling within the next 10 years, the British automaker has said it doesn’t necessarily intend to replace the driver. It does, however, want to increase driver safety and automate the least enjoyable aspects of driving, like commuting in stop-and-go traffic.

Source: Jaguar Land Rover

 

The post Jaguar Land Rover Begins Testing Autonomous Vehicles in U.K. appeared first on Motor Trend.

Original author: Collin Woodard
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