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2020 Ford Mustang Shelby GT500 Officially Rated for 760 HP

Wed, 06/19/2019 - 16:22

Ford today finally dropped the bomb we’ve all been waiting for since the new 2020 Mustang Shelby GT500 was announced in January: its output figures. In fact, that’s all the release said. Here it is in its entirety:

“Venomous strike: The all-new 2020 Mustang Shelby GT500 will produce 760 horsepower and 625 lb-ft of torque, making it the most powerful street-legal Ford ever—with the most power- and torque-dense supercharged production V-8 engine in the world.

Enough said.”

Indeed. The original line at the car’s debut—where nearly every other detail was released—was that the engine would make “at least 700 horsepower,” as the company said it was attempting to wring every last pony from the 5.2-liter supercharged V-8. But we assumed that meant 710, maybe 725 if we were lucky. It seems Ford was sandbagging. The announcement puts the GT500 43 horsepower up on the Dodge Challenger Hellcat, but 37 down on that car’s stupidly powerful Redeye variant. The Chevrolet Camaro ZL1 trails the pony-car pack at 650 horsepower, which suddenly seems like a pittance.

Ford did add in an italicized postscript that the GT500’s staggering output numbers are made on premium fuel. Previously, the company said it expects the latest super ‘Stang to hit 60 mph in the mid-three-second range and to run a quarter-mile in the 10s. The power will flow through a Tremec seven-speed dual-clutch automatic to a mechanical limited-slip rear differential, and then on to the rear wheels. (For a manual Shelby, you’ll need to stick with the recently updated GT350; read our review here). Multiple chassis modes will affect the transmission, powertrain calibration, and magnetorheological dampers, while—you know what? For everything else you need to know about the GT500, check out the stories below:

• 2020 Shelby GT500 First Look: Get All the Details
2020 Ford Mustang Shelby GT500: 12 Tech Tidbits
GT500 vs. GT350: How They’re Different
Details on the GT500’s Airflow and Aerodynamics
First 2020 GT500 Sells for $1.1 Million

Now we just wait on pricing, which will be unveiled ahead of the car’s on-sale date this fall.

Source: Ford

The post 2020 Ford Mustang Shelby GT500 Officially Rated for 760 HP appeared first on MotorTrend.

Categories: Property

How Our Volvo XC60 Shines After an Acura RDX Weekend

Wed, 06/19/2019 - 09:00

I have grown accustomed to the XC60’s soft manners, including its easy handling, unassuming powertrain, and airy cabin. When I took home our long-term Acura RDX one weekend, the Volvo’s focus on comfort became apparent. Sharper steering makes the RDX feel like a smaller vehicle than the Volvo, and I enjoyed the Acura’s sporty throttle response. The sport seats on our RDX A-Spec tester, donning leather with faux suede inserts, feel more comfortable and supportive, plus they have ventilation. Side note: I appreciate the storage space underneath the center console. At $46,895, our Acura tester seems like it has quite a few advantages over our $52,740 Volvo.

But by the end of the weekend, I was glad to take back the Volvo. Press down on the Acura’s brakes, and there is little feel. Visibility is better in the Volvo, too. And although I’m not a fan of Volvo’s touchscreen, which can be slow to respond on start-up, it’s easier to navigate than the Acura’s infotainment system, which has finicky touchpad controls that make it easy to scroll to the wrong place. The RDX doesn’t offer Android Auto, either, although this feature is apparently on the way.

We have commended the XC60 for its smooth powertrain, though it does have a bit of turbo lag. Packing 250 hp under the hood, the 2.0-liter inline-four propels the crossover to 60 mph in 6.5 seconds, slightly behind the RDX at 6.4 seconds. It’s also behind the 2018 Audi Q5 (5.9 seconds) but ahead of the 2017 Mercedes GLC300 4Matic (6.9 seconds).

In the quarter mile, the Volvo underperformed: 15.2 seconds at 89.5 mph instead of the Acura’s 14.8 seconds at 94.7 mph. The Volvo’s also bested by the Audi (14.5 seconds at 94.6 mph) and on par with the Mercedes (15.2 seconds at 89.6 mph).

But Volvo had the advantage in the figure eight. The XC60 rounded the bends in 27.3 seconds at an average 0.62 g, putting it ahead of the Acura’s 27.6 seconds at 0.61 g. The Audi and Mercedes performed better than both: 27.2 seconds at 0.65 g and 27.3 seconds at 0.65 g, respectively.

Read more about our 2019 Volvo XC60 T5 AWD long-termer:

The post How Our Volvo XC60 Shines After an Acura RDX Weekend appeared first on MotorTrend.

Categories: Property

2020 Kia Soul GT-Line Turbo: Why I’d Buy It – Stefan Ogbac

Wed, 06/19/2019 - 09:00

“What car should I buy?” It’s a question consumers ask themselves every day, but what would associate online editor Stefan Ogbac drive? Keep reading for the answer, and see other editors’ picks here.

I really love oddball cars, especially ones that wholeheartedly embrace their quirkiness. That’s one of the reasons why I would gladly buy a 2020 Kia Soul. Well known for its boxy shape, the Soul capitalizes on its ability to stand out in a crowd in its new third generation, all while sporting the latest tech and a fun driving experience.

More about Stefan Ogbac: Stefan loves cooking, finding great food in Los Angeles, driving, playing video games, and rarely leaves Ikea without buying something. His list of must-haves for personal vehicles includes tech, great handling, well-packaged interiors, strong value, and design.

Because I have a tendency to impulsively buy flat-pack furniture and go on shopping sprees at markets to feed my cooking habit, I appreciate that the Soul’s boxy shape provides plenty of space to haul my goods. The adjustable rear floor and 60/40 split-folding rear seats also help. In case friends want to tag along, the 2020 Soul easily accommodates four adults thanks to its generous head- and legroom.

Great handling allows you to have fun through the corners, maneuver through traffic, and confidently make emergency maneuvers to avoid dangerous situations. For those reasons, I’d opt for the Soul GT-Line Turbo, which gets a sport-tuned suspension, wider tires on 18-inch alloy wheels, and larger front brakes. These give the funky hatchback surefooted handling and keeps the ride reasonably comfortable for the daily trek through traffic.

Hyundai-Kia’s proven 201-hp 1.6-liter turbo-four has plenty of grunt for all driving situations, and the seven-speed dual-clutch automatic reacts swiftly. In Sport mode, the gearbox willingly does your bidding and even holds lower gears longer. With its 27/32 mpg city/highway EPA rating, you also get solid fuel economy, so you can have your cake and eat it, too. During our testing, the Soul GT-Line Turbo hit 60 mph in 6.5 seconds before hitting the quarter mile in 15.0 seconds at 93.7 mph.

Kia’s commitment to user-friendly multimedia systems and great safety tech wins the 2020 Soul brownie points. With standard Android Auto and Apple CarPlay, an optional 10.3-inch touchscreen, a sweet-sounding 640-watt Harman Kardon sound system, and multi-color ambient lighting that can pulse to the music, the Soul brings next-level infotainment for under $30,000. The Drive Wise driver assistance suite, which comes standard on the Soul GT-Line Turbo, adds an extra layer of safety, lessening the stress of the daily commute.

Fun, practical, and character-packed, the 2020 Kia Soul GT-Line Turbo has plenty to offer. At $28,735 with the accessory floor mats, it remains a strong value, especially with Kia’s long warranty. Is the Kia Soul a perfect all-around vehicle? To this millennial, it’s definitely close.

Other cars I’d consider: Hyundai Veloster R-Spec, Volkswagen Golf GTI

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Categories: Property

Tested: The Toyota Tacoma TRD Just Wants to Play in the Desert

Wed, 06/19/2019 - 09:00

The soaring temperatures and tough terrain of the Mojave Desert can prove burdensome for any four-wheeler. In the summer, the thermometer easily reaches triple digits; the area is also prone to flash floods and wind gusts of more than 60 mph. Although the geography is mostly flat, hills and rocks increase the chances of getting stranded. But when Toyota developed the Tacoma TRD Pro, it did so with that type of terrain in mind—its shocks needed to absorb the vibrations from the rocks, its beefy Goodyear Wrangler All-Terrain tires had to withstand the rough ground, and the undercarriage had to be protected from whatever the truck tried to cross. To test the Taco’s capabilities, we drove a few hours from L.A. to the Mojave Road and spent a couple of days overlanding in the desert.

The 2019 Tacoma TRD Pro is based on the TRD Off-Road truck, which means it’s powered by a 3.5-liter V-6 that sends 278 hp and 265 lb-ft of torque to the rear wheels via a six-speed automatic. In addition, the Taco TRD Pro comes equipped with 2.5-inch Fox shocks; a 1-inch suspension lift; a TRD Pro skidplate; Rigid Industries LED foglights, headlights, and taillights with black bezels; TRD Pro badges; a TRD Pro hood scoop; and 16-inch TRD black alloy wheels. For 2019, the truck got a meaner look—with a black grille, hood stickers, the letters in the Toyota logo spread out, and a new snorkel that raises the engine’s air intake. Our truck was also equipped with rock rails with attached side steps, which hurt it during our off-road ride.

The current-gen Tacoma feels old, but it felt at home in the desert, and its Fox shocks did a great job keeping the bumps in the cabin to a minimum. “The Fox shocks are pretty spectacular; the Taco ate up all the whoop-de-doos, rocks, and soft sand without complaint,” features editor Christian Seabaugh said. The cabin had pretty good insulation, too, keeping the noise down while on the trail. Nonetheless, we noticed a lot of brake dive and powertrain flaws. “There’s nothing but slop in this drivetrain,” he added. “Even the simple act of shifting the Toyota from park into drive results in a massive lurch from the truck.” One of our consistent complaints about other Tacoma trims is the brake dive, and the TRD Pro is no exception—it feels like the whole cabin moves forward when you’re trying to stop.

On the trail, the 3.5-liter felt in its element while the transmission shifted at the right rpms. “On the trail, poor transmission programming and ride quality weren’t factors,” features editor Scott Evans said. “The Tacoma had the power and suspension articulation it needed to get the job done.” The smooth power delivery allowed the Tacoma to easily climb over an obstacle, and holding the gas pedal nice and steady was a simple task—something that’s essential when you’re climbing rocks or navigating through difficult terrain. The crawl control is also a pretty good standard feature; it controls the braking on each wheel when going downhill. All the driver has to do is control the steering and select the speed at which he or she wants to go, and the Tacoma does the rest. I tested it on a steep downhill on Mojave Road, and the Taco did a flawless job. The truck’s capability was disrupted by the rock rails, which essentially lower the ground clearance; they hit the ground a few times on the trail. Although no major damage was done, the forward step on the passenger’s side suffered a small dent when we came down from a rock. We questioned why Toyota had equipped the Taco TRD Pro—a truck made for off-roading—with these steps that only limited its capability off the pavement. Our suggestion: Save the $649 and don’t buy them.

Whereas the exterior design still looks good, the outdated interior is another story. The 7.0-inch touchscreen uses Toyota’s old infotainment system, so you don’t get Apple CarPlay or Android Auto. The seating position is a bit weird, forcing your legs to stand more upright than relaxed. Christian, Scott, and I complained about the lack of headroom in the front; we all hit our heads when leaning over to see an obstacle during our off-roading. “Couple the headroom issue with the Toyota’s uncomfortable carlike seating position and barely telescoping steering wheel, and you’ve got an overlander that I frankly don’t want to spend a lot of time in,” Christian said. We also found that the rear seats aren’t very versatile. Instead of folding up, the seat cushions fold forward, taking up more space. This was inconvenient when we put our gear in the second row, as we had to play Tetris to accommodate our equipment.

As with all updated Toyota models, the Taco TRD Pro comes with many standard safety features. Radar cruise control, lane departure mitigation with alert, a pre-collision system with pedestrian detection, blind-spot monitoring with rear cross-traffic alert, and automatic high-beams come standard.

As far as on-road driving dynamics, the Tacoma offers a smooth ride. During our trip we had five spare tires in the bed, which added some weight and probably helped with the smooth ride. The engine still felt like it had good punch, and the transmission held gears longer. The cabin is mostly quiet, though there is some noise from the engine and transmission.

For $51,150, the 2019 Tacoma TRD Pro isn’t cheap, but that’s where most of the midsize trucks stand today. What really stood out is the Taco’s capability in the desert, where it delivered a smooth ride and good power. “This truck is perfectly capable and has good base off-road dimensions and specs, so I completely understand why it’s the basis for so many overland builds,” Christian said. The Taco has its flaws, but the desert is where it truly feels at home.

2019 Toyota Tacoma 4×4 TRD Pro BASE PRICE $44,055 PRICE AS TESTED $51,150 VEHICLE LAYOUT Front-engine, 4WD, 5-pass, 4-door truck ENGINE 3.5L/278-hp/265-lb-ft DOHC 24-valve V-6 TRANSMISSION 6-speed automatic CURB WEIGHT (F/R DIST) 4,694 lb (55/45%) WHEELBASE 127.4 in LENGTH x WIDTH x HEIGHT 212.3 x 75.2 x 70.6 in 0-60 MPH 7.7 sec QUARTER MILE 16.0 sec @ 86.9 mph BRAKING, 60-0 MPH 133 ft LATERAL ACCELERATION 0.70 g (avg) MT FIGURE EIGHT 29.3 sec @ 0.56 g (avg) EPA CITY/HWY/COMB FUEL ECON 17/20/18 mpg ENERGY CONS, CITY/HWY 198/169 kW-hr/100 miles CO2 EMISSIONS, COMB 1.06 lb/mile

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Categories: Property

2020 Cadillac CT6 Gets Big Price Bump, But More Standard Content

Tue, 06/18/2019 - 23:38

Cadillac’s large luxury sedan is hanging in there despite slowing sales. And for 2020, it’s about to become a lot pricier, according to a report from CarsDirect.

Dropping the 2.0- and 3.0-liter engines, Cadillac will offer the CT6 with two powerplants: the 3.6-liter V-6 and twin-turbo 4.2-liter Blackwing V-8. This move puts the cheapest CT6, the V-6-powered Luxury model, at $59,990, an increase of $8,500 from the starting price of the 2019 model. The Luxury model gains a Driver Awareness and Convenience package, which adds automatic emergency braking, blind spot monitoring, and other features. This package was previously a $3,500 option.

In a statement to MotorTrend, Cadillac said about the price changes, “The important thing to note is the increased standard content for the various trims—it’s not simply a jump in price,” adding that “The new standard content features high penetrating options that are in most demand from customers.”

The mid-level Premium Luxury is $11,900 more expensive than last year’s model that cost $63,590. But for the extra money, it gains Super Cruise; a 34-speaker Bose Panaray sound system; a Rear Seat package, which currently includes a rear-seat infotainment system and quad-zone climate controls; and Comfort and Technology package, which nets heated rear seats and ventilated front seats. The top Platinum model will be priced from $97,490 and will only be available with the Blackwing V-8 making 500 hp and 553 lb-ft of torque. It gains special 20-inch wheels that were once optional.

After selling out quickly the first round, the CT6-V will return. But prices will go up $3,100 to $95,890. The 550-hp sedan gains the previously-optional Driver Assist package, which boasts adaptive cruise control, night vision, and front and rear automatic emergency braking.

Cadillac confirmed to MotorTrend it has extended production of the CT6 at the Detroit-Hamtramck plant through January 2020. But after that, it’s unclear what will happen to the sedan. Meanwhile, Cadillac is filling out its sedan lineup with the CT4, CT4-V, CT5, and CT5-V. Looking farther ahead, Cadillac has been tapped to become GM’s lead EV brand, and will launch an electric SUV by 2022.

Source: CarsDirect

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Categories: Property

Revealed! Is the 2020 BMW 8 Series Gran Coupe the Variant to Get?

Tue, 06/18/2019 - 23:01

Some cars are secrets, their reveals big surprises. The 2020 BMW 8 Series Gran Coupe is not. You remember it from the 2018 BMW M8 Gran Coupe concept (which wasn’t really a concept), a litany of spy photos, and a teaser last month that pretty much gave it all away. After two years of teasing and nearly three months after BMW previewed it to the media, the four-door Gran Coupe version of the excellent 8 Series is finally here.

You didn’t need the concept or the teasers to guess what the Gran Coupe might look like, though. As it’s done in the past with the 4 and 6 Series, BMW simply stretched the 8 Series Coupe we know and love 9.0 inches to make room for rear doors. In fact, the entire car ahead of the windshield is exactly the same as the Coupe. It’s the same general structure in the rest of the car, too, just longer. And don’t worry, this stretch was baked into the engineering plans from day one.

Naturally, there were a few details in addition to the rack. The windshield is laid back slightly, but the roof is 2.4 inches higher than the Coupe’s. You’ll never notice it unless you park next to one, though. The rear track is also 1.2 inches wider, a change BMW claims was necessary to maintain the shape of the Coupe’s rear fenders while accommodating the Gran Coupe’s new roofline and extra doors.

Like the Coupe, the Gran Coupe will be offered in two trims and two drivetrain configurations. Most will go for the M850i xDrive with its 523-hp 4.4-liter twin-turbo V-8 and all-wheel drive, though the price- or weight-conscious will prefer the new 840i trim level (also newly announced for the Coupe) and its 3.0-liter twin-turbo I-6 with 335 hp and either rear- or all-wheel drive. Expect an M8 Gran Coupe, in line with the concept and packing either 600 or 617 hp from an uprated 4.4-liter twin-turbo V-8. No matter the engine or driven wheels, you’re working through an eight-speed automatic.

Things are just as familiar inside. In fact, the front half of the cabin is again identical to the Coupe’s, so hopefully you already like it. The view in the rearview mirror is little more than a mail-slot view of the world behind thanks to a tall trunk. It’s a deceptively large trunk with a smallish opening, sort of like opening a shoebox at the end rather than the top.

In between is the Gran Coupe’s reason for being. An extra 7.9 inches of wheelbase makes for substantially more rear-seat legroom. What it doesn’t make is a fifth seat—the roof is just too low to make that work. As such, you sit low and deep in the rear buckets with fairly generous headroom for such an aggressive roofline. You won’t be sharing that legroom, either, as there’s a massive console separating the prom dates.

Although it’s indisputably more comfortable for the rear-seat passengers, don’t think the 8 Series has gone soft in Gran Coupe guise. BMW says the long wheelbase may make it ride a little better than the Coupe, but it’s tuned for the same mission. The 7 Series is the luxury barge; as a BMW rep put it, the Gran Coupe is a “large sports car for the buyer who wants a coupe but needs four doors.”

If that sounds like you, you’ll be able to pick one up in September 2019 starting at $85,895.

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Categories: Property

Honda Celebrates its Heritage by Restoring…a Chevy Pickup?

Tue, 06/18/2019 - 21:57

Honda is celebrating its 60th anniversary in the United States with a blast from the past with classic motorcycles and a replica of the delivery truck it used during its early years. When it first arrived into the U.S. market back in 1959, Honda bought a fleet of Chevrolet Apache 10 pickups to use as delivery vehicles for the products it was importing over from Japan. Back then, Honda only sold motorcycles and would use its trucks to ship its two-wheeled goods across its dealership network in Southern California. Last week, Honda celebrated its 60th anniversary in the U.S.

In an attempt to recreate a photo of one of the delivery trucks parked in front of its old headquarters on 4077 Pico Boulevard in Los Angeles, CA, Honda bought a 1961 Chevrolet Apache pickup and restored it to like-new condition, painting it in the same livery as the original delivery trucks by referencing archival images and getting insight from employees of that era. The truck was powered by a 160-hp V-8 engine mated to a three-speed manual transmission. Additionally, two restored classic motorcycles, a Honda 50 and CB160, are placed on the truck bed, and the recreation is now on display at Honda’s headquarters in Torrance, CA.

It took a few years before Honda expanded into the automobile sector. From 1959 to 1968, the company only sold motorcycles. The first Honda vehicle imported to the U.S. was an N600, a modified version of the N360 kei car that went on sale as a 1970 model.

The Chevrolet Apache delivery truck with the two vintage Honda motorcycles in its bed will also be displayed at the 2019 SEMA Show. Additionally, Honda is planning to showcase its retro creation at classic car gatherings around Southern California before it moves to the American Honda Collection Hall, which is located in Torrance. There, a replica of the front of the automaker’s Pico boulevard office will be built to serve as a backdrop for the truck.

Source: Honda

The post Honda Celebrates its Heritage by Restoring…a Chevy Pickup? appeared first on MotorTrend.

Categories: Property

Say Hello to Truckla, a Tesla Model 3 Pickup

Tue, 06/18/2019 - 21:10

Inventor and YouTuber Simone Giertz, a.k.a. “The Queen of Shitty Robots,” didn’t want to wait for Tesla to build its electric pickup, so she built one herself. Chopping up a Model 3, she turned it into what she says is the “world’s first functional Tesla” electric pickup.

“I got tired of waiting for Tesla to release their pickup truck, so I cut up my Model 3 and made my own,” said Giertz on Instagram. She calls her new wheels “Truckla” and fitted it with a personalized California black plate to match.

Giertz had been planning to build a Tesla pickup with artist/mechanic Marcos Ramirez for more than a year, but a noncancerous brain tumor she previously suffered returned and scuttled the project for several months, according to Wired and several of her videos that chronicled her ongoing health battle. While battling the tumor, she continued to post videos and discuss her plans, eventually ordering a base model Tesla 3 in April. You can watch a half-hour summary of the build here:

The video details her online order of the Model 3, its delivery, and the strategy for the build. Giertz rented a garage for 12 days of initial conversion work, first keying “Truckla” into the EV’s trunk lid to keep from turning back. Day two sees the crew removing the rear window, stripping the interior, and Giertz cutting into the Model 3’s structure. Later the team added support beams, a roll bar, a used Ford F-150 bed, roof rack, a rear window from a GMC Canyon, an LED light rack, and more.

According to Giertz, Truckla is usable now but will be fully drivable and finished in July once it receives additional waterproofing for the battery pack, a bed liner, final interior and body work, and paint. She also wants to add a lift kit, which we wholeheartedly endorse. Your move, Elon.

The post Say Hello to Truckla, a Tesla Model 3 Pickup appeared first on MotorTrend.

Categories: Property

2020 Lexus GX Gets a Makeover, New Off-Road Package

Tue, 06/18/2019 - 18:42

Having been introduced for model year 2010, the current-generation Lexus GX is quite an old vehicle. And it continues this way into the 2020 model year, although the three-row SUV gets a few key updates.

First up are the design changes. The 2020 Lexus GX dons an updated version of the brand’s signature spindle grille, with a new 3-D pattern inside. Complementing the bolder mouth are new triple-beam LED headlights. Inside the cabin, Premium and Luxury models receive new Gray Sapele wood with aluminum trim. A new interior color theme available in the lineup is Rioja Red with a black headliner. On the tech front, there are now a total of four USB ports.

Luxury models are available with a new Off-Road package, which includes crawl control, transmission cooler, fuel tank protector, and multi-terrain select, which offers different driving modes for different surfaces including loose rocks, mud and sand, and moguls. Also included are the Multi-Terrain and Panoramic View monitors, which will prove handy while navigating off-road obstacles. These monitors provide a view of the front, rear, side, and now underneath the vehicle on the navigation screen.

Lexus Safety System+ is now standard on all versions of the GX. This package includes a pre-collision system with pedestrian detection, lane departure alert, intelligent high beams, and high-speed adaptive cruise control. Some of these safety features were previously offered only on top-trim models.

The 2020 Lexus GX still has the same engine: a 4.6-liter V-8 making 301 hp and 329 lb-ft of torque. In a 2017 First Test, the SUV hit 60 mph in 7.4 seconds. While the powertrain and interior design can use an update, the GX boasts a comfortable ride and strong off-road capability despite its age, we noted.

Source: Lexus

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Categories: Property

Review: New Ford Explorer Goes Telluride and Highlander Hunting

Tue, 06/18/2019 - 11:00

After selling more than 7.7 million to date, one of the most iconic three-row family SUVs of all time has been reinvented yet again. The 2020 Ford Explorer gets a major overhaul, as the latest in a line of SUVs that stretches back three decades.

The 2020 Explorer is now on a new platform, and surprisingly, it’s a rear-drive architecture with all-wheel-drive capability available on all trims. And the Explorer family has exploded into new realms. In addition to the regular trim levels, the 2020 lineup includes the first Explorer hybrid and adds an ST performance variant.

Needless to say, we were extremely intrigued when we headed to Portland, Oregon, for our first drive.

There are still 3.6 million Explorers on the road, and the ones arriving in dealerships this month are arguably Ford’s best effort to date.

The look is sleeker with a different grille for each trim level, starting with black mesh and adding more chrome with each upgrade and then blacked out for the ST. It has a wider stance and a sloping roofline for a racier side profile. A huge single body side panel extends to the middle of the C-pillar, which is split down the middle, and the rear quarter panel cuts into the metal. Passive entry on all four door handles add to a sleeker look, and the face is brightened by standard full LED headlights. Overall, the look is not as boxy, but it does pale in comparison to its luxury counterpart, the Lincoln Aviator, or the new Kia Telluride in terms of wow factor.

Benefits of the short overhang were abundantly clear on an off-road course on a hill with an 18-degree grade. The outgoing Explorer’s nose would have received a snootful of dirt at the bottom.

Base engine is a four-banger

The base engine is Ford’s 2.3-liter turbo I-4 that generates 300 hp and 310 lb-ft of torque. That proved to be enough power to pass, and the 10-speed automatic transmission easily found the right gear for each task. It was adequate and uneventful in its performance.

The top-end Platinum gets a 3.0-liter twin-turbocharged V-6 that produces 365 hp and 380 lb-ft of torque. That engine is tweaked for the Explorer ST to coax 400 hp and 415 lb-ft of torque. Driving impressions of the ST will be coming June 20, so check back with us later this week.

Although the new Explorer has roughly the same dimensions as the 2019 model, it has lost 200 pounds, and being rear-drive, there was a higher expectation of agility. It feels like a race car compared with the old model, an engineer said. We wouldn’t go that far, but the rear-drive platform and lightening do liven up the drive.

We started with a rear-drive Limited, which has a base price of $49,225. This particular one, however, was optioned to $52,820 with 20-inch wheels and a tow package. The cabin was quiet enough and the suspension adequately supple. Although there’s little body roll, the Explorer is a big vehicle and felt that way. It was not sluggish, but it was no track imp, either.

The hybrid that could

The capability of the Limited Hybrid was impressive. With a 318-hp, 336-lb-ft 3.3-liter V-6 mated to a 10-speed modular hybrid transmission, this is the first hybrid for Explorer—and the first hybrid the Ford brand has offered in six years.

The electric motor is packaged between the engine and the transmission’s torque converter and can drive about 3 miles in electric-only mode. The liquid-cooled 1.5-kW-hr battery pack is under the floor between the front seat and second-row footwell on the passenger side, so there is no encroachment on cabin space.

The hybrid claims a range of 500 miles. We only averaged 22.4–22.5 mpg. Other colleagues reported as little as 18 mpg or as much as 32. It speaks to different driving styles and that the vehicles were used in a variety of ways, including off-roading and towing. EPA certification is expected any day; we’ll see how it competes with the Toyota Highlander hybrid, which gets 29/27 mpg city/highway but is only rated to tow 3,500 pounds.

Surprisingly, the engine does not run on the Atkinson cycle. Engineers tell us the twin independent cam timing is already close to the Atkinson cycle, that it would not work well with the 10-speed, and that the small improvement in efficiency would come at the expense of performance. Ford did not want to sacrifice horsepower or torque on the Explorer. It’s an even bigger issue for police vehicles, which would have lost horsepower, torque, and pursuit performance. The Explorer and Aviator are the firsts to use this new powertrain architecture, which includes the engine, disconnect clutch, e-motor, torque converter, and transmission. The F-150 hybrid will use a version of this architecture next year.

At times the pedal felt a little heavy and the ride a bit jerky, but the brakes were smoother than many hybrids. And it has some serious capability. It’s rated to tow 5,000 pounds and was not even breathless during a stint with a 3,500-pound trailer behind us. It’s not much of a compromise, as the regular Explorer with the I-4 and a towing package brings towing capacity to 5,300 pounds and the V-6 tows 5,600 pounds.

Equally impressive was the hybrid’s off-road prowess, where it was as capable as its regular counterpart. With optional AWD and a tight turning radius, it tackled a challenging course in Trail mode. With hill descent control activated, it led the SUV down a steep decline with controlled speed. The vehicle also held firm on a bank with a 25-degree incline and forded a water hazard 12 inches deep with a rocky and unstable river bottom. Washers keep the cameras on the front and rear clean.

More room inside

While the Explorer stayed roughly the same size, the wheelbase grew 6.3 inches, which makes the cabin more spacious—a big improvement over the outgoing model, which felt cramped despite being such a large SUV. Designers rectified the complaints with thinner doors and a redesigned center console so the driver is better positioned and less cramped even though the vehicle did not get any wider. Space is also freed up by switching to a rotary-dial gearshift dial, which took some getting used to.

The 12.3-inch customizable digital cluster on the top trims has graphics that change to reflect which mode you’re in. The standard screen is 6.5 inches.

An 8.0-inch touchscreen replaces the old 4.0-incher; the upgrade is a 10.1-inch capacitive screen that is upright like a tablet. Designers chose a portrait layout because it mimics the way people use their phones and it’s easier to stack CarPlay and other information. The screen is well integrated into the dash, and designers used the extra inches below the smaller screen to create a shelf for phones. A number of USB ports and wireless charging are placed cleverly against the outside wall of the center storage bin.

The Sync 3 system was slow to load on the preproduction vehicles, but Ford is already sending an over-the-air software update. Hopefully the fix also addresses the nav system, which would shout out instructions late enough to induce frequent last-minute tire squealing or overshooting the mark and turning around during our evaluation drive.

The heated and cooled eight-way adjustable seat is comfortable. All but the base model has standard bucket seats in the second row instead of a bench. Second-row passengers can place their iPads in the ridges in the center storage area. Second-row cupholders are square to accommodate juice boxes.

Getting in and out

The Explorer sits high, so those with short legs can be challenged getting in and out. Passengers get a grab handle. To ease entry into the second and third rows, the scuff plate was widened for a sturdier step. And the second row folds and slides forward with the single push of a button. The Limited trim and those above it have buttons in the cargo area to fold the power third-row seats flat.

A nice touch is a lip to keep items from rolling out the back, and the carpeted cargo cover is reversible; the underside is a rubber mat. The cover can also be slotted at different heights to create assorted-sized storage areas. There is a standard power liftgate, a handy little triangle in the bumper so you know where to put your hand to activate it, and a skidplate to prevent scratching the rear bumper when loading and unloading.

Co-Pilot360 is standard, offering an array of driver assistance safety features such as pre-collision alert with automatic emergency braking, blind-spot monitoring, and lane keep systems and a rear camera.

All flavors of Explorer continue to be built in Chicago and are shipping to dealers now, with the exception of the hybrid, which awaits EPA certification. The base model starts at $33,860, XLT starts at $37,770, Limited is $49,225, Platinum is $59,345, and the ST starts at $55,835.

Overall, the 2020 Explorer has more style, capability, and breadth than its predecessor. Whether it vaults to the top of the segment is the subject of future comparisons, but this latest model packs enough goods to retain its status as an American sweetheart.

The post Review: New Ford Explorer Goes Telluride and Highlander Hunting appeared first on MotorTrend.

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2020 Cadillac CT4: Why I’d Buy It – Frank Markus

Tue, 06/18/2019 - 09:00

“What car should I buy?” It’s a question consumers ask themselves every day, but what would technical director Frank Markus drive? Keep reading for the answer, and see other editors’ picks here.

What? I gotta buy a new car now? I just “bought” an SUV (2019 Chevrolet Blazer AWD Premier), and my two-car household rule is to keep each vehicle for eight years, buying a new one every four so there’s only ever one payment. But fine, we’ll pretend my better half’s Smart ForTwo suffers a breakdown I can’t fix, forcing us to junk it now that our local Benz dealers have pretty much forsaken the brand. We will, however, need to limp that Smart (or use Lyft) for a few more months until the 2020 Cadillac CT4 arrives on the scene.

Mike’s two cars prior to the Smart were an Infiniti G20 and an Acura TSX, so the CT4 puts him right back in the compact luxury segment he briefly detoured out of. We’ve both been fans of Cadillac’s Art & Science aesthetic ever since it first appeared on the 1999 Evoq concept car. Mike looked long and hard at the first-gen CTS but chose the TSX because its interior was vastly nicer. Cadillac has upped its interior game substantially since then, and even the user interface is coming around to perfectly acceptable status nowadays.

We’ll be opting for the tried-n-true base 2.0-liter turbo-four and ten-speed automatic, not the zoomy V-Series. The base engine propels the much bigger CT6 adequately, so in a CT4 it should feel like an absolute g-sled—at least by comparison with a ForTwo. (I’m also a little skeptical of how smooth and refined that crazy-big 2.7-liter turbocharged truck motor is going to feel in the CT4 V-Series.) Should we opt for all-wheel drive? Michigan winters are plenty snowy, but our corner of the lower peninsula is flat enough that I’m going to spend a fraction of the likely $2,000 AWD option price on a dedicated set of winter tires and wheels I can swap on and off as necessary. The budget will see a likely 1-mpg highway fuel savings, and Mike might even detect marginally improved steering feel with rear-wheel drive.

An option we’re hoping makes the order sheet by the time the CT4 bows this fall: Super Cruise. It’s confirmed for the V-Series cars, so it seems likely Cadillac will at least offer it on the up-level base cars, as well. Having fallen in love with the early beta version of Tesla Autopilot, I’m eager to get more experience with GM’s fully fledged riff on that idea. Speaking of Elon-tech, the swift and stylish comparison-test-winning Tesla Model 3 for $42,900 (base rear-drive with the optional white-leather interior) would be a great candidate vehicle for Mike. Its range is sufficient to manage all the round-trip journeys he typically makes, and our garage is wired for EV charging. But having already tired of the 56-minute drive to Ann Arbor for Smart service, there’s no selling him on a 3-hour drive to our nearest Tesla dealer in Cleveland (Michigan’s dealer franchise laws still prevent Tesla from setting up shop in the mitten state).

If circumstances dictate that we buy before the CT4 is available (or if pricing proves too dear), either of MotorTrend’s last two Car of the Year winners would also serve our household needs with distinction. A base Alfa Romeo Giulia outfitted with all driver-assist features and a sunroof would cost us $43,990 including current regional incentives and would more strongly appeal to Mike’s aesthetic sensibilities. A $40,895 Genesis G70 2.0 with the Elite trim would make me a bit more comfortable on the things-gone-wrong front during the post-warranty end of our eight-year ownership window. Of course, the way things are going, I’m probably going to be telling you about yet another new vehicle I’d buy WAY sooner than eight years from now…

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Categories: Property

2020 Porsche 718 Boxster Spyder First Look: It Weighs How Much?

Mon, 06/17/2019 - 23:47

The Boxster has always seemed like an underdog that showed promise, but never quite lived up to its potential. It’s the little sibling to the Porsche 911 and the softer, roofless sidekick of the sharper Cayman. The mid-engine layout of the Boxster and Cayman is inherently better handling than that of the 911, thanks to centralized weight yielding a shorter moment arm and aiding rotation, but for years Porsche reserved proper powerplants for the 911. Even when Porsche did decide to grace its mid-engine cars with a 385-hp flat-six from the 991.1 Carrera S in 2016, the best bits were saved for the fixed-roof Cayman GT4 while the Boxster Spyder made due with 10 less horsepower and inferior braking and suspension components. No more.

In steps the 2020 Porsche 718 Spyder, alongside the 718 Cayman GT4. Both cars receive a brand new 4.0-liter naturally aspirated flat-six in the same state of tune—414 hp and 309 lb-ft of torque—there’s no advantage for the Cayman here. Compared to its predecessor, development for the new 718 Spyder had stronger involvement from Porsche’s GT department, the folks that build 911 GT3s and the like. That same division was heavily involved in the building of the last-generation Cayman GT4, but much less so with the Boxster Spyder. The 718 Spyder inherits its front axle from the 911 GT3 and its rear end is an updated unit from the last-gen Cayman GT4. Brakes come courtesy of the GT3 as well. The 718 Spyder and 718 Cayman GT4 are mechanically identical, and the Spyder is officially a car born from Porsche Motorsport.


The biggest difference between the mid-engine Porsches is an aerodynamic one. Because Porsche expects Cayman GT4 owners to frequent the race track more often than those who opt for a Boxster Spyder, the coupe’s aerodynamic profile demands more downforce for increased grip in high-speed corners. The Spyder also offers luxury options including the Burmester audio system and heated steering wheel that aren’t available in the GT4.

About that engine: it’s not a detuned 911 GT3 engine. The new 4.0-liter flat-six hails from Porsche’s 9A2 Evo engine family—Porsche speak designating the engines developed for the 992-generation 911. It’s the first of its family without turbochargers and the first with a displacement above 3.0 liters. The 4.0-liter is mated exclusively to a six-speed manual, the same unit used in 718 GTS models and before you ask, yes, the gearing is just as long as it was in the last-gen cars, and yes, we’re a little sad about it. But the new engine revs to 8,000 rpm and its power figures make this the most muscular mid-engine Porsche to date, excluding the Carrera GT and 918 Spyder.

Problem is, it’s not the lightest. Although the 718 Spyder has its manually operated tent-like roof and fabric door pulls to save weight, it still weighs 3,206 pounds. For context, that’s 174 pounds more than a manual 718 Boxster GTS, only 24 pounds lighter than the big-boy 911 Speedster, and a considerable 306 pounds heavier than the last Spyder. This could be part of why the 718 Spyder is estimated to hit 60 mph in 4.2 seconds; 0.3 second slower than Porsche’s estimate for a PDK-equipped 718 GTS. But that’s not the point of this car. It’s about offering the unique experience of revving a naturally aspirated engine out to 8,000 rpm and hearing it sing as you blast through a long tunnel. With emissions regulations only getting stricter, free-breathing engines and manual transmissions are getting harder and harder to produce. Porsche understands what we love about driving, and they worked against those hardships to put a manual-shifting, free-breathing, motorsport-bred roadster into production. We’re grateful this car exists.


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Categories: Property

2020 Porsche Cayman GT4 First Look: 414 HP, Hardcore Hardware

Mon, 06/17/2019 - 23:01

At last, the all-new Porsche 718 Cayman GT4 is here! Short of the new Toyota Supra or the forthcoming mid-engined Corvette, we can’t think of a more anticipated sports car of late, and after endless speculation, tons of rumors, frenzied spy shots, and late-night debates among our staffers, the newest junior member of the Porsche GT family ticks all the right boxes.

For starters, it packs an all-new 4.0-liter naturally aspirated flat-six. That’s right, in the era where only 10 percent of 911 variants are naturally aspirated, and 100 percent of the Cayman/Boxster lineup is turbocharged, the free-breathing Cayman GT4 (and its Boxster Spyder sibling) stands alone. The sublime first-gen GT4 pulled power from a 3.8-liter, 385-hp naturally aspirated six sourced from the 991.1 Carrera S, so there’s precedent for this 4.0-liter model. The lineage of the powertrain is a bit more muddled this time, though, as Porsche claims this is a completely new engine and not at all related to the wild 4.0-liter in the 991.2 GT3.

Porsche tells us that this new powerplant is based on the 9A2 generation of engines that power the soon-to-be-replaced 991.2 Carreras. This is quite a leap from the regular 9A2, however, considering all 991.2s from base Carrera through Carrera GTS pack the same 3.0-liter twin-turbo flat-six. At minimum, this new engine has had the turbos and attendant plumbing removed, its displacement enlarged by a full liter, and been packed with a new crankshaft, pistons, connecting rods, valvetrain, air intakes, and cylinder heads. Against this work, it was allegedly too costly and complex to make the GT3’s 4.0-liter work here, which is hard to imagine. Regardless, that impressive build sheet allows for an 8,000-rpm redline, higher than the 992-generation 911’s.

As to why the engineers in Flacht, where Porsche’s race cars and GT road cars are developed, stuck with natural aspiration, GT boss Andreas Preuninger says it’s sticking to its guns. “We believe in [these] engines and in hard work. There’s always a way and we will continue going the naturally aspirated route for GT cars. The right way is not always the easy way.” Alright then.

A total of 414 horsepower and 309 lb-ft of torque are sent to the rear wheels through a six-speed manual transmission sourced from the current 718 GTS. Porsche admits it has future plans to bring the snappy PDK dual-clutch automatic gearbox to the GT4, but for now, you’ll need to shift it yourself or find another car. Performance is strong, with the zero-to-60-mph run taking just 4.2 seconds and a top speed of 188 mph.

There’s also a whole paddock’s worth of handling hardware to go along with the power. Porsche Active Suspension Management (PASM) with active dampers is standard, dropping the GT4 1.2 inches lower than the regular 718 Cayman. For the true track rats, the suspension allows for manual camber, toe, ride-height, and anti-roll-bar adjustments. It might not share the same engine as the GT3, but as a consolation prize, it plucks the front axle and brakes from big brother, offering either 15.0-inch iron rotors or a set of ceramics that measure 16.1 inches in the front and 15.3 inches in the rear. Considering this a bit of a purist machine, it only makes sense the rear differential is mechanical only, though it has the trick Porsche Torque Vectoring (PTV) functionality. More to the point, Porsche usually reserves its active, electronically controlled differential for cars equipped with PDK.

Aesthetically, it’s a refreshed last-gen GT4, now wearing aggressive variations of the current 718 bodywork—essentially what we pictured in our mind prior to its premiere. However, those good looks aren’t just for show; according to Preuninger, the updated rear wing and front diffuser help the car generate 50 percent more downforce than the last-gen model. It also doesn’t hurt that the wing and front diffuser are manually adjustable.

We’re in love, but our bank accounts are bracing for impact. The 2020 Porsche 718 Cayman GT4 starts at $100,450, a sizeable $16,000 jump over the previous car. Of course, this is also a more cohesive product, with more specific engineering and bespoke componentry. Order books are open now, with deliveries scheduled to begin next spring.

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Categories: Property

Toyota Confirms it’s Building a Limited-Production Hypercar

Mon, 06/17/2019 - 22:02

Toyota has confirmed that it will produce a hypercar and even teased the model in a recently released video. The Japanese automaker is producing such a vehicle so it can race in the 24 Hours of Le Mans. Starting in 2020, the series will introduce its new hypercar class, a segment that requires road-based models to have a production run of at least 20 units over two years.

The Toyota GR Super Sport will be the automaker’s entry in that new class, which will replace the current LMP1 category as the top class. A concept version was shown at the 2018 Tokyo Auto Salon powered by a 986-hp twin-turbocharged V-6 hybrid powertrain. However, the race car will be limited to around 750 hp and weigh roughly 2,425 pounds due to class regulations. Hybrid systems are limited to 200 kW and its location must be the same as in its road going counterpart or on the front axle in entries that aren’t based on production models. The powertrain is taken straight out of the TS050 race car that recently won the 24 Hours of Le Mans for the second time.

Much of the GR Super Sport’s styling remains true to the concept except for the addition of conventional side mirrors mounted on the front fenders. There are plenty of styling cues taken from the TS050 like the rear-mounted central fin, though that design feature isn’t as prominent as the one on the Le Mans-winning race car. The cockpit also appears to have smaller windows, and has a sweptback greenhouse with a rear wing mounted lower and closer to the body. Even the headlight pattern is different and the front air intakes appear wider than the TS050’s.

The last time Toyota created a road-going version of a Le Mans racer was in 1998 when it built the TS020 GT-One. It featured the same 600-hp 3.6-liter twin-turbo V-8 and six-speed sequential transmission as the race car. Versus the race car, the road-going GT-One rode higher, had a lower rear wing and included creature comforts like climate control and hazard lights. Toyota reportedly built only two examples of the GT-One, with one on display in Japan and the other at Toyota Motorsport GmbH’s headquarters in Cologne, Germany.

Expect production of the Toyota GR Super Sport to start sometime next year ahead of the 2020 Le Mans 24-Hour race and continue for two years.

Source: Toyota

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How to Build a 7-Second, 175-MPH Nissan GT-R

Mon, 06/17/2019 - 21:07

Kenny Tran and the folks at Jotech Motorsports in Dallas were the first to develop twin-turbo kits for the VQ engine powering the 350Z, so they were more than prepared when Nissan released the GT-R in 2009. Jotech cars were running 10-second quarter miles by 2010, much quicker than the 11.6 seconds we recorded in our first test of Godzilla, though we do not test acceleration on adhesive-treated drag strips.

In the intervening years, Tran and his team continue to refine R35 GT-Rs—and they’ve only gotten better at doing so. Alongside the shop’s six available stages of power tuning, Tran recently bought back a GT-R he had built for a friend and customer he calls DK. (No, not the DK my dad always chooses in Mario Kart.) DK wanted a car that showcased the best of modern GT-R tuning tech but mandated that it maintain street drivability because he had no interest in running it on the dragstrip. That meant the GT-R’s creature comforts like air conditioning, power steering, Bluetooth, and a full interior with heated seats had to be retained. With these stock parts, DK’s car isn’t some power-to-weight-watchers miracle; Tran says it weighs 3,950 pounds fully fueled. That’s close to stock.

Not close to stock is its astonishing 2,200-hp maximum output. But Tran doesn’t think you should be impressed. “Anybody with the right parts and the right tuning can make loads of power under wide-open throttle,” he says. The team at Jotech went to extensive lengths to make this car drivable on the street. They did so by softening the dual-clutch transmission to slip in first and second gear to ease pulling away from a stop, installing two sets of fuel injectors for startup and high-boost scenarios, and even fitting a suspension lift system so DK could get the monster up his driveway. He would actually pick up his kids from school in the thing.

Of course, there’s no denying that the power output is a huge engineering accomplishment. The R35’s stock transmission and connecting rods are the first parts to go when you start adding power, but those bits need swapping out just to push past the 750-hp mark. To achieve the levels of power on DK’s car, the Jotech team installed a 4.3-liter fully built engine in place of the stock car’s 3.8-liter unit, swapped in bigger turbochargers, completely revamped the fuel system, and beefed up the transmission with stronger gears. Despite DK’s disinterest in taking this car to the track, under Tran’s ownership it was only a matter of time before he launched it down a dragstrip. After an encouraging series of runs on street tires, Tran mounted drag radials and recently brought the car to RaceWars in Ennis, Texas. The result? A quarter-mile run in 7.971 seconds at 175 mph.

Looking forward, Tran understands how hard it will be to improve upon the R35 GT-R. “The original designer already had in mind that the aftermarket was going to mod this car, and they really made everything very strong, very sturdy, and very tunable,” he says. As far as the R36, he’s hoping for more displacement and bigger turbos out of the box. “If you’re not above 700 [horsepower], you’re not even in the ballpark.” On the subject of hybridization, Tran says it’s definitely possible to tune a hybrid, as long as the motors are limited to the front axle; modern NSX-style hybrids with electric motors integrated into the drivetrain have a much lower power ceiling due to transmission restrictions. That said, Tran and the team at Jotech Motorsports aren’t planning to slow down anytime soon.

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SUV Showdown: 2020 Ford Explorer vs. 2020 Kia Telluride

Mon, 06/17/2019 - 18:00

Editor’s note: This story originally ran in January and has been updated with new information.

Three-row crossovers aren’t sexy, but they’re sure gaining lots of attention lately. Introduced at the 2019 Detroit auto show in January, the 2020 Kia Telluride joins the Volkswagen Atlas, Subaru Ascent, and Hyundai Palisade as another completely new nameplate in the segment. Also new is the sixth-generation 2020 Ford Explorer, which benefits from a significant redesign. So how does the ambitious newcomer compare against to the segment staple? Take a look below to find out.

Exterior Design

In terms of design, the Explorer builds off the previous model. The headlights and grille take on a more rounded shape, the roofline appears more sloped, and the rear end is new, though it keeps the old model’s blacked-out A-pillars and D-pillars. The Telluride receives more unexpected design cues that give it a quirky vibe. Square headlights, curved taillights, muscular wheel arches, and boxy proportions contribute to the Telluride’s unique personality. Oversized “Telluride” badging can be seen on the edge of the hood and on the liftgate.


The Explorer comes with a choice of four engines while the Telluride offers just one. The base engine on the Explorer is a 2.3-liter EcoBoost turbo-four making 300 hp and 310 lb-ft of torque. Platinum models receive a 3.0-liter EcoBoost twin-turbo V-6 good for 365 hp and 380 lb-ft on 93-octane gas. A more powerful 3.0-liter engine makes 400 hp and 415 lb-ft in the ST. Finally, there’s a hybrid Explorer that uses a 3.3-liter naturally aspirated V-6 making a total of 318 hp. All engines come paired to a 10-speed automatic.

The Telluride is less powerful than even the base Explorer. The 3.8-liter V-6 makes 291 hp and 262 lb-ft of torque, and it’s mated to an eight-speed automatic.

There’s another big difference between the two vehicles. Although both are available with all-wheel drive, the Explorer comes standard with rear-wheel drive, and the Telluride is standard with front-wheel drive. The latter has an available self-leveling rear suspension that automatically adjusts the ride height based on the vehicle load.

Fuel Economy

The Telluride maxes out at 20/26/23 mpg city/highway/combined, or 19/24/21 mpg when paired with all-wheel drive. The Explorer’s 2.3-liter turbo-four is more efficient than the Telluride, netting 21/28/24 mpg with rear-wheel drive and 20/27/23 mpg with all-wheel drive. The EPA’s website also lists a 18/24/20 mpg rating for the Explorer’s 3.0-liter engine. We’re still awaiting full fuel economy information for the new Explorer.

Drive Modes

The Explorer offers up to seven driving modes. These include normal, sport, trail, slippery, tow/haul, and eco modes; all-wheel-drive models with the advanced terrain management system add a deep snow and sand mode. The Telluride has four driving modes: smart, eco, sport, and comfort. Two special settings include one for snow and another called “AWD lock,” which delivers power evenly to all four wheels.

Interior Design and Features

The Explorer (pictured above) can seat up to seven, depending on the trim level chosen. The Telluride offers seating for up to eight occupants.

When you step inside the Explorer, you’ll notice the buttons are arranged in an orderly fashion. An 8.0-inch touchscreen is standard, but a tablet-style 10.1-inch screen is available. The Telluride’s 10.3-inch screen is oriented horizontally, unlike the similarly sized unit in the Explorer. The Explorer offers a rotary shifter to the Telluride’s more traditional gear selector. Grip handles on the Telluride’s center console hint that the model is capable of venturing off the beaten path.

Both models share a number of important creature comforts, such as Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, wireless phone charging, and multiple USB ports. The Explorer has up to four, and the Telluride has five standard and up to six available.

Among the Telluride’s unique features is a “quiet mode,” which makes sure the audio playing in the front row doesn’t reach the back rows. When the driver wants to communicate with those in the rear, an available microphone can help. Third-row occupants will enjoy reclining seats. Meanwhile, the Explorer features a nifty 12.3-inch digital instrument cluster that has special 3-D animated graphics for each driving mode.


The Telluride can tow up to 5,000 pounds. Towing numbers for the Explorer vary from model to model. Platinum models with the 3.0-liter V-6, for instance, can tow 5,600 pounds. The standard 2.3-liter engine can tow up to 5,300 pounds with the Class III Trailer Tow package.


The Ford and Kia look different but are sized similarly. The Telluride measures 196.9 inches in length, slightly shorter than the Explorer’s 198.8 inches. The Telluride is 78.3 inches wide compared to the Explorer’s 78.9 inches. The differences in the wheelbase are more noticeable: 114.2 inches for the Telluride and 119.1 inches for the Explorer.

Depending on the trim, ground clearance is 7.9 or 8.0 inches on the Telluride. The Explorer comes in at 7.9 inches, though Platinum models stand at 8.2 inches and ST models at 8.3 inches.

The Telluride wins when it comes to cargo space behind the third row: 21.0 cubic feet compared to the Explorer’s 18.2 cubic feet. If you drive with the third-row seat folded, however, the Explorer pulls ahead, with 47.9 cubic feet of space to the Telluride’s 46.0 cubic feet. Of course, we’ll have to compare the cargo bays for ourselves before we decide which one feels roomier.

Now how about legroom? The Explorer lags behind in the second row with 39 inches compared to the Telluride’s 42.4 inches of legroom. But the Explorer makes a comeback in third-row legroom, which measures 32.2 inches, ahead of the Telluride’s 31.4 inches.


Both the Explorer and Telluride offer a slew of safety features. They each get collision avoidance tech, pedestrian detection, forward collision warning, lane keep assist, blind-spot monitoring, and rear cross-traffic alert. Ford offers evasive steering assist, which provides steering support to help avoid a crash.

Pricing and Availability

The 2020 Kia Telluride began sales this spring, while the 2020 Ford Explorer enters the market in June. As we reported earlier, the base Explorer starts $33,860, putting it well above the Telluride’s starting price of $32,735. The most expensive Explorer in the lineup, the Platinum model, goes for $59,345, while the Telluride’s top trim only comes in at $42,535.

The post SUV Showdown: 2020 Ford Explorer vs. 2020 Kia Telluride appeared first on MotorTrend.

Categories: Property

2019 Mazda6: Why I’d Buy It – Alisa Priddle

Mon, 06/17/2019 - 09:00

“What car should I buy?” It’s a question consumers ask themselves every day, but what would Detroit editor Alisa Priddle drive? Keep reading for the answer, and see other editors’ picks here.

I’m mad that automakers aren’t making as many sedans any more. My choices are limited, and that makes me angry.

Ideally, I want a small car that looks luscious, has a manual transmission, lets me take the top off, and is affordable. And I am stymied.

I love Lincoln’s styling these days, but Ford has all but gotten out of the sedan business. FCA has nothing for me short of a muscle car. GM is also cutting back on its sedan offerings, but I’m intrigued by Cadillac’s new CT4 and CT5, which come out this fall with softer lines and the long hood of a rear-driver.

Toyota’s Corolla hatch has a manual, but I want more power and styling. The new Sonata’s styling has plenty of wow factor—the headlights that run up the hood are especially cool—but I have yet to drive it.

As for convertibles, most of the shopping is higher-end German luxury that exceeds my price ceiling. I can’t even justify them as a midlife crisis. A Mazda Miata is every journalist’s choice, but I need room for passengers and enough clothes, food, gear, and sundries for a week at the cottage so it’s just not practical enough. And even with winter tires, it would be challenged in deep snow in northern Michigan and Canada.

More about Alisa: Alisa Priddle is the Detroit editor for MotorTrend and does not like hot weather. Even Detroit is too warm a clime, which sends her scurrying to cottage country in northern Ontario as often as humanly possible, with an overstuffed SUV and a trailer hitch to get the boat in the water.

So I would likely wax nostalgic and head to the Mazda dealer for a 2019 Mazda6. I loved my 2004 Mazda6, which dealer staff begged to test-drive because it was the first to be delivered with the five-speed manual transmission.

I can’t get a stick shift in the Mazda6 anymore. But I’m still smitten with the sedan, especially the side profile where the A-pillar flows into the hood. It’s sexy, like the curve of a lower back.

I would spec up a Grand Touring trim, which starts at $30,420, in Soul Red Crystal Metallic (extra $595 for the paint) with a Sand leatherette interior. The Grand Touring includes the 250-hp 2.5-liter turbocharged engine, six-speed automatic transmission with sport mode, and all-wheel drive. It also includes must-haves such as heated seats, power-adjustable driver’s seat, and Apple CarPlay, along with other features also included on lower trims such as blind-spot monitoring, adaptive cruise control, and lane departure warning and assist. My trim choice means I get a sunroof I don’t need, and there are a few extras I’d like but don’t get such as cooled seats, a wiper deicer, and heated steering wheel. But I have to be prudent and can’t jump to the highest trim levels.

Mazda keeps it simple. There are no packages to add to the Grand Touring, though there are some option choices. I would add the $125 all-weather floor mats because this car will see all kinds of weather including deep snow. And I’d spend $475 on rear parking sensors to alert me of obstructions that could easily be trees and stumps given the cottage life I lead on the side. Here is my car configured.

Total cost: $31,615. Well worth it for the perky engine, sporty suspension, premium materials, and smiles per ride—even if it doesn’t have a manual transmission or convertible top.

The post 2019 Mazda6: Why I’d Buy It – Alisa Priddle appeared first on MotorTrend.

Categories: Property

What to Buy: BMW X3 M or BMW X4 M?

Mon, 06/17/2019 - 09:00

It’s 2019 and 500-hp SUVs are a normal part of life now, so you’d better get on board. You used to want that M3 coupe, but reality got in the way and an SUV just fits you and the family better now. That doesn’t mean you can’t have fun, though. With 70 to 80 grand financed for a few too many months, you could be getting the kids to school at a top speed of 174 mph with either the 2020 BMW X3 M or X4 M, but how do you choose between these almost identical SUV rocket ships? We’re here to help.

Read our 2020 BMW X3 M and X4 M review HERE.

Money Matters

If the bottom line is priority one, the standard X3 M is the best bang for your buck with 473 hp, 0 to 60 mph in 4.1 seconds, and a starting price of $70,895. The X4 M is an extra $3,500 for the same performance and fuel economy, and adding the Competition package to either vehicle only nets you an extra tenth of a second to 60 mph for $7,000. Of course, if money is that much of a concern, the X3 M40i is only seven-tenths of a second slower for $55,645 and doesn’t drink nearly as much gas.

I Wanna Go Fast

Can’t totally let go of that M3 Coupe dream? We can get you close. The X4 M Competition gives you that swoopy, coupe-like styling you prefer with rear doors for the kids and an easy-to-load trunk. The Competition package gets you an extra 30 hp and knocks a tenth of a second off the official 0–60 time, too. That’s actually three-tenths quicker than the last M3 Competition we tested. Have your kid’s birthday cake and eat it, too.

Practicality is King

We get it—you bought an SUV because you need to haul stuff. Although BMW has done a lot of work to make the X4 M more practical this time around, there’s no getting around that sloping roofline. You need an X3 M with an extra 1.6 inches of rear headroom and, crucially, an extra 10.2 cubic feet of cargo space behind the rear seat. The X3 M also gets reclining rear seats and rear window shades to keep the sun off the kids. The good news is, getting the Competition package on your X3 M doesn’t affect cargo capacity, so feel free to go for the big gun.

In Your Face

Let’s face it, you’re not getting an M car to be subtle. Both the X3 M and X4 M make a statement, but if you really want to stand out from the crowd, it’s the X4 M Competition. Coupe-like SUVs are less common to begin with, so you won’t fade into the crossover crowd. Competition models also get snazzier V-spoke wheels standard and “Competition” badges to let people know you mean business.

Gas Guzzler

Fuel economy isn’t generally a top priority for those considering a 500-hp vehicle, but gas still costs money and the price is going up again. Good news for you: All X3 Ms and X4 Ms, Competition or not, get the same dismal fuel economy. It’s 14/19/16 mpg city/highway/combined no matter which body style you pick, so get the one you want.

Add Lightness

Sure, you’re buying an SUV, but you’re also buying a high-performance vehicle, and we all know weight is the enemy of performance. Plus, the heavier it is to start with, the more important weight savings are. If that’s your credo, then you need the Competition package. On either the X3 M Competition or X4 M Competition, it’ll save you 30 pounds compared to the standard X3 M or X4 M. It’s not much, but every little bit counts, right?

Tight Fit

Small garage? No problem. If it’s short front to back, you need an X3 M or X3 M Competition, which is 1.3 inches shorter in length. It’s the same story if your garage is narrow. The X3 M and X3 M Competition are 1.2 inches narrower. If height is the issue, go for the X4 M or X4 M Competition. They’re 1.9 to 2.0 inches shorter in height.

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Categories: Property

2019 Jeep Cherokee Trailhawk vs. 2019 Toyota RAV4 Adventure: Trailhawk Adventure

Mon, 06/17/2019 - 09:00

In January, we Big Tested eight compact SUVs and ranked the aging Jeep Cherokee seventh, adding this caveat: “If you’re planning to take your compact CUV off-roading, bump the Cherokee to the top of your list.” But then we got to wondering, is the Cherokee still the king of the soft-roader hill? The Toyota RAV4 Adventure trim level now gets a Jeep-ish Multi-Terrain Select dial of its own, Mud & Sand and Rock & Dirt settings, hill descent control (HDC), a new dynamic torque-vectoring all-wheel-drive system, and increased ground clearance (8.6 inches versus other RAV4s’ 8.4). Is this enough to dethrone the Cherokee in this segment of the segment? To find out, we ordered up one of each and headed to our local off-road park to find out.

Pre-trip Inspection

Before setting out, we carefully examined each ute from top to bottom (using our lift) to assess their off-road bona fides. Our going-in assumptions about the Jeep were reinforced by its two front and one rear recovery hooks, all of which are open so they can accept a fabric loop or a metal hook on the end of a recovery strap. It carries a full-size spare tire of the same specification as the tires on the ground, mounted on a steel wheel (note that this eliminates the bi-level cargo floor, which adds 1.8 cubic feet on Cherokees with mini-spares). Off-road buttons actuate a genuine 2.92:1 low range, a rear differential lock, HDC, Selec-Speed control (off-road cruise control to maintain a steady, slow pace), and a five-position Selec-Terrain knob (Auto, Snow, Sport, Sand/Mud, Rock). The transfer case even includes a neutral mode to allow flat-towing. The engine air intake is located high in the right front fender to enable deep fording (the spec is 20 inches, but we went deeper), and nearly every vulnerable component, hose, or line running underneath the Cherokee is protected by steel skidplates. Of course, all of this gear adds weight—some 740 pounds of it relative to the Toyota—which explains its 8/9-mpg city/highway fuel economy penalty with our tester’s base 3.2-liter V-6. (Spending $500 for the optional 2.0-liter turbo only shrinks those deficits by 2 mpg.)

The RAV4 by contrast features a compact T165/90D18 spare tire and no skidplates; that silver thing in front is a plastic falsie, and the plastic underbody sheathing is strictly for aerodynamics. Worse yet, it offers no recovery points whatsoever—no screw-in recovery eyelets in the bumpers and no shipping tie-downs underneath. (Ours was built in Canada.) All Adventure models are prepped for 3,500-pound trailer towing (bigger radiator, oil and trans-fluid coolers), but ours had no hitch, either. So before pulling the RAV4 off the rack, I attached a tow strap to the rear suspension subframe and vowed to have the Toyota lead the way into any potentially “sticky situations” so the Jeep or our Toyota 4Runner recovery vehicle could tug it out using this strap. Doing this after getting stuck would be super un-fun. On the upside, there is a 110-volt outlet in the cargo area for powering campsite compressors and the like.

Advantage: Jeep

1st Challenge: Fist-Size Rock Pile

This seemingly innocuous low pile of roundish rocks looks easy, but the rocks don’t interlock much, making it a little treacherous to climb even on foot. Both vehicles made quick work of scaling and descending this obstacle, and the RAV4 had a chance to impress us with its rear-axle torque distribution, reversing up one section with one wheel well up in the air and the diagonally opposite front momentarily airborne.

Advantage: Tie

2nd Challenge: Hell’s Steps

This massive rock staircase is designed to challenge lifted Wranglers and Defenders, so our expectations were minimal for either of these car-based entries. We started out in the Jeep, set to low range, diff lock, and Rock mode. The knobby, tall-sidewall (245/65R17) Firestone Destination all-terrain tires plus approach and departure angles that, at 29.9 and 32.2 degrees, are at least 10 degrees steeper than the RAV4’s allowed us to ascend about four “stairs” in the Jeep (with spotters assisting), with its impressive 48.4:1 low-range crawl ratio making it easy to scale rocks very slowly. Chin clearance ultimately stopped us from climbing the fifth step. The RAV4 valiantly climbed up onto the first full stair before its 19.0-degree approach angle stopped it. We contemplated placing a loose rock or two under the left front tire to clear the next step, but as the Jeep required no such assistance, we stopped here.

Advantage: Jeep

3rd Challenge: Sharp Downhill Left Hook

This dirt trail involved a steep incline with a sharp crest and decline around a very tight left turn to avoid a fallen tree. The Toyota’s suspension can’t articulate quite as much as the Jeep’s, so in the middle of the sharp left, its left front and right rear tires spent a moment or two airborne, with the front spinning a bit as the torque-vectoring rear end helped maintained forward motion. The Jeep’s front tire spun momentarily, too, but the Cherokee suspension keeps its feet on the ground better. On the downside, slightly larger wheelbase and turning circle dimensions required the Cherokee to reverse and reposition a bit before negotiating this turn.

Advantage: Tie


4th Challenge: Splash Pond

After wading through this pond in my Wellington Boots to verify it wasn’t bottomless and dialing up each vehicle’s mud setting, we motored through at about 15 mph, discovering a low spot my recce-wade had missed. Hitting this spot in each ute prompted an impressive windshield-high splash and subsequent bow-wake over the hood. Then just to make sure momentum hadn’t covered for a lack of grip from the RAV4’s less aggressive 235/55R19 Yokohama Avid GT tires, we drove that one back through, stopping in the middle, then slowly accelerating out. No problem.

Advantage: Tie

5th Challenge: Boggy Waterways

Feeling somewhat vexed that none of our challenges had managed to get either vehicle stuck, we found a waterlogged, mud-bottomed “canal to nowhere” that didn’t devour or fully submerge my Wellies, so I set the Jeep up for max-attack Mud mode and entered with Selec-Speed set to 5 mph. Nice as you please, it trundled right through and up the other side, with the engine rpm only rising once, briefly toward the end. OK, surely this challenge will confound the Toyota. Nope! Granted, with less aggressive tire treads and no low range torque multiplication assisting, I had to work the throttle a lot more than Jeep’s cruise control had. But the plucky RAV4 popped out the other side, too. Feeling bound and determined to make use of the four tow straps we’d brought along, I decided to try the canal lane next door, which was just slightly deeper than my Wellie boots but seemed passable. I entered in the Jeep with the Selec-Speed set to 5 mph, but within about 40 feet, with the exhaust burbling from beneath the surface, I felt the skidplates high-center on the submerged muck. Selec-Speed revved fruitlessly until I braked and shifted to park. With water halfway up the doors, I exited via the windows to link our three remaining tow straps to the 4Runner after easily locating the Jeep’s tow hook in the murky water and slipping my loop over it. Minutes later, the Jeep was back on dry ground. We were impressed to note that not a drip of water came in through the door seals, and although the doors themselves filled with water, the stereo speakers in them were unaffected. We knew better than to bother sending the RAV4 into that canal.

Advantage: Jeep

Bonus Challenge: Slick Clay Ditch

Desperate to use the Toyota’s subframe-mounted tow strap, I attacked one last slippery clay ditch and indeed managed to get the RAV4 into hopeless wheelspin mode, but backing up and changing the angle of attack got me through this obstacle, too.


We were right. If playing in the dirt like you see us doing in these pictures holds any allure to you, the Jeep Cherokee Trailhawk is the compact SUV for you. If you’re just outdoorsy and want an economical compact that will get you back out of your state park bivouac after a storm, the RAV4 Adventure offers an impressive leg up on all the other competitors in the space. And please. If you’re neither of the above, pick a different version or vehicle altogether, because on pavement the equipment added to make these two do what you see them doing here makes them heavier, noisier, and less efficient than you need.

2019 Jeep Cherokee Trailhawk 2019 Toyota RAV4 Adventure DRIVETRAIN LAYOUT Front-engine, 4WD Front-engine, AWD ENGINE TYPE 60-deg V-6, alum block/heads I-4, alum block/head VALVETRAIN DOHC, 4 valves/cyl DOHC, 4 valves/cyl DISPLACEMENT 197.7 cu in/3,239cc 151.8 cu in/2,487 cc COMPRESSION RATIO 10.7:1 13.0:1 POWER (SAE NET) 271 hp @ 6,500 rpm 203 hp @ 6,600 rpm TORQUE (SAE NET) 239 lb-ft @ 4,400 rpm 184 lb-ft @ 5,000 rpm REDLINE 6,500 rpm 6,750 rpm WEIGHT TO POWER 16.2 lb/hp 17.9 lb/hp TRANSMISSION 9-speed automatic 8-speed automatic AXLE/FINAL/LOW RATIO 3.52:1/1.69:1 3.18:1/2.14:1 SUSPENSION, FRONT; REAR Struts, coil springs, anti-roll bar; multilink, coil springs, anti-roll bar Struts, coil springs, anti-roll bar; multilink, coil springs, anti-roll bar STEERING RATIO 15.4:1 14.4:1 TURNS LOCK-TO-LOCK 2.7 2.7 BRAKES, F; R 13.0-in vented disc; 12.6-in disc, ABS 12.0-in vented, disc; 11.1-in disc, ABS WHEELS 7.5 x 17-in, cast aluminum 7.5 x 19-in cast aluminum TIRES 245/65R17 105T M+S Firestone Destination A/T 235/55R19 101V (M+S) Yokohama Avid GT DIMENSIONS WHEELBASE 107.1 in 105.9 in TRACK, F/R 63.6/63.5 in 62.6/63.3 in LENGTH x WIDTH x HEIGHT 182.9 x 74.9 x 67.8 in 181.5 x 73.4 x 68.6 in GROUND CLEARANCE 8.7 in 8.6 in APPRCH/DEPART ANGLE 29.9/32.2 deg 19.0/21.0 deg TURNING CIRCLE 38.1 ft 37.4 ft CURB WEIGHT 4,380 lb 3,640 lb WEIGHT DIST, F/R 58/42% 57/43% TOWING CAPACITY 2,000 lb (4,500 lb w/$795 trailer pkg) 3,500 lb SEATING CAPACITY 5 5 HEADROOM, F/R 37.9/38.5 in 37.7/37.7 in LEGROOM, F/R 41.1/40.3 in 41.0/37.8 in SHOULDER ROOM, F/R 57.6/55.1 in 57.8/56.4 in CARGO VOLUME 54.7/25.8 cu ft 69.8/37.5 cu ft TEST DATA ACCELERATION TO MPH 0-30 2.9 sec 3.0 sec 0-40 4.3 4.7 0-50 6.0 6.4 0-60 8.3 8.5 0-70 11.1 11.4 0-80 14.3 14.7 0-90 18.9 18.6 PASSING, 45-65 MPH 4.4 4.5 QUARTER MILE 16.4 sec @ 84.9 mph 16.6 sec @ 85.2 mph BRAKING, 60-0 MPH 128 ft 126 ft LATERAL ACCELERATION 0.72 g (avg) 0.81 g (avg) MT FIGURE EIGHT 28.6 sec @ 0.57 g (avg) 27.5 sec @ 0.62 g (avg) TOP-GEAR REVS @ 60 MPH 1,200 rpm 2,200 rpm CONSUMER INFO BASE PRICE $35,440 $33,945 PRICE AS TESTED $41,125 $38,865 STABILITY/TRACTION CONTROL Yes/Yes Yes/Yes AIRBAGS 8: Dual front, front side, f/r curtain, front knee 8: Dual front, front side, f/r curtain, driver knee, passenger thigh BASIC WARRANTY 3 yrs/36,000 miles 3 yrs/36,000 miles POWERTRAIN WARRANTY 5 yrs/60,000 miles 5 yrs/60,000 miles ROADSIDE ASSISTANCE 5 yrs/60,000 miles 2 yrs/unlimited miles FUEL CAPACITY 15.9 gal 14.5 gal EPA CITY/HWY/COMB ECON 18/24/21 mpg 26/33/29 mpg ENERGY CONS, CITY/HWY 187/140 kW-hrs/100 miles 130/102 kW-hrs/100 miles CO2 EMISSIONS, COMB 0.96 lb/mile 0.67 lb/mile RECOMMENDED FUEL Unleaded midgrade Unleaded regular

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Categories: Property

We Drive the 503-HP BMW X3 M and X4 M: Are They Real-Deal M Cars?

Sun, 06/16/2019 - 23:01

“Don’t know why I have to drive so fast, my car has nothing to prove,” country superstars Alabama harmonized in their 13th number one single “I’m in a Hurry (And Don’t Know Why),” an upbeat commentary on the pace of modern life. Even still, lead singer Randy Owen brags about how quick that car is two lines later. That’s the nearly-as-Southern, South Carolina–built BMW X3 M and X4 M in a nutshell: fast because they want to be, not because they have anything to prove.

At this point, BMW doesn’t need to convince anyone it can build fast SUVs. The X6 M was the production SUV lap record-holder at Willow Springs International Raceway’s notorious Big track until very recently. The X5 M is no slouch, either, and the X3 M40i is as quick as any average commuter really needs. The only expectation you can really put on the new X3 M and X4 M is to not screw it up, and BMW didn’t.

Just to be sure, though, BMW had us out to Monticello Motor Club—a private track in southern New York state—to see for ourselves. Monticello’s a tricky track. It seems deliberately designed both to look like an old-school track and to have a number of artificially difficult corners. Many of them are blind just because, and the runoffs are all grass so you won’t slow down before you’re introduced to the wall. It’s a fast one, too, with two long and two short straights each ending at a very sharp corner. Not really the kind of place you want to come in too hot with 4,600 pounds of SUV and 8 inches of ground clearance. BMW’s either confident or crazy.

You haven’t seen any news reports about a fleet of BMW SUVs wrecked at a New York track because BMW’s confidence is well placed. If you’re the kind of person who puts an SUV on a racetrack, you can do far, far worse than an X3 M or X4 M. When you look at the build sheet, though, it’s no surprise. Forget dirt, these things have the same all-wheel drive system as the M5, complete with active rear differential. Add underrated twin-turbo I-6, adaptive dampers, variable ratio steering, four-piston 15.6-inch steel front brakes, and a carbon-fiber strut tower brace, and you’ve got yourself a real-deal M Car.

Alabama might’ve been proud of that old car back in ’92 for hitting 60 mph in 5.2 seconds, but V-6 Camrys do that today. For its part, BMW says the X3 M Competition and X4 M Competition, which get an extra 30 hp over the standard M models, will do it in 4 seconds flat (standard cars need an extra tenth). Turbocharged BMWs are notoriously underrated from the factory, though, and the 473 to 503 hp and 442 lb-ft of torque these things claim to make is more likely what’s hitting the ground, with a lot more going on upstream at the crank. Expect high threes when we get one on our own test track, because it sure feels that way behind the wheel. For comparison, a 2016 M3 Competition needs 4.3 seconds.

Put that power on a track, and you’re going to see some big speeds, though it’s hard to believe them. You’re well isolated in the cabin, divorced from the sensation of speed, and quickly find yourself going much faster than you expected. This is a monster of an I-6, absolutely charging to redline without slowing down. M engineers say they’ve done a ton of work optimizing the twin intake tracts, and it shows in the seeming absence of turbo lag and stout midrange torque. Pooh-pooh the eight-speed automatic’s torque converter all you want, but it shifts more than quickly enough for track work.

Really making things happen, though, is that active rear differential. There’s no way you won’t feel it working as you flatten the throttle on your way out of a corner. It wants to rotate the car, and the only thing holding it back is the stability control computer. In M Dynamic mode, it’ll give you just a taste of oversteer under power to rotate the car, and the nice BMW people assure me if you turn the computer off this thing will drift real good. They also requested I not do that.

Of course, physics has its limits, and a high center of gravity and hefty curb weight mean you can only do so much. The big anti-roll bars and active dampers keep the body pretty flat, but there’s a lot of weight moving around under you. The brakes do an even better job, refusing to fade under moderately hard hot laps despite the weight. Less impressive is the electrically assisted power steering, which is accurate and precise but fairly lifeless for an M vehicle. Business up front and a party in the back, just like those mullets the Alabama boys were rocking back in the ’80s.

For that other 100 percent of the time you’re not tracking your SUV, the X3 M and X4 M are private jets with afterburners. Pro tip from someone who used to work on them: Most private jets aren’t especially fancy, just expensive. Only the biggest ones are flying presidential suites. The X3 M and X4 M are still X3s and X4s at their core, in the middle of the BMW SUV size and luxury hierarchy. The interiors get carbon-fiber trim and annoying shifters that emulate BMW’s obnoxious dual-clutch shifter, plus color inserts in the seats. It’s all perfectly nice, but there’s no doubt your $70,895 (X3 M) or $74,395 (X4 M) is going to performance parts, and if you want all the ponies, it’s $77,895 (X3 M Competition) or $81,395 (X4 M Competition).

Get on a real road, and the X3 M and X4 M are stonking fast and still isolated. The adaptive dampers are the real heroes here, giving them a moderately firm but never harsh ride in Comfort setting. Few vehicles that can do these track times are this pleasant to drive to and from the track. Meanwhile, that same separation from the world around you that lets your speed sneak up on you at the track is all the more effective on the street. You and every car around you on the interstate can be doing 90 mph, and you’ll still feel like everyone else is driving too slow.

You’ll pay for it, though. Regardless of which model you pick, you won’t get better than 14/19/16 mpg city/highway/combined, and you better believe it’s premium gas only in these puppies.

It’s the money that’s the real kicker here. If you’re in a hurry and need to hit 60 mph in under 4 seconds, then I guess you need an X3 M or X4 M. If you can spare an extra second, an X3 M40i will do it in 4.8 seconds, starts at $55,645, and gets 20/27/34 mpg city/highway/combined. But hey, it’s your 15 grand plus gas to spend.

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Categories: Property