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B&M 80642 Universal Auto / Automatic Trans T-Handle Shift Knob (BLACK)
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Archive for the ‘minivans’ Category

PostHeaderIcon 1970s Hotrod Van Culture Needs to Make a Comeback

Full-size vans aren’t cool these days. Something like 99.9994 percent of all new Chevrolet Express, Ford Transit, and Ram ProMasters are sold to businesses or fleets for the thankless job of hauling stuff or mobs of people from point to point. Nobody buys vans for personal use anymore. But back in the 1970s, vans were the psychedelic alternative to muscle cars, boxy sedans, and fuel-sipping imports. Guys even modded their rigs performance parts, side pipes, Cragar wheels, and custom paint jobs. Oh… those custom, air-brushed paint jobs.

Even Mr. T of the A-Team drove a muscle van. You can’t argue with Mr. T!

The thing is, I’ve always admired the muscle van, but the stereotypes surrounding van ownership just isn’t appealing – well, except for Mr. T, of course. Still, it’s just a cool and different class of vehicle. Add in the practicality of being able to haul stuff or people around, and the appeal grows even stronger. And it’s not like they handle much worse than muscle cars of that era, anyway. Thankfully, Hot Rod Garage saw the beauty within a Chevy van. The only problem, the Chevy G10 van wasn’t the right year. By the mid-1980s, the Chevy van had taken on a new, more straight-laced persona with a new grille, bumper, and larger side mirrors. But rather than dumping this otherwise clean van, the guys swapped those parts for ones from the right era. They also swapped in some suspension and brake upgrades, the necessary side pipes, retro graphics, and of course, a bubble window in the walls.

The result is nothing short of amazing. Check the video then tell us if you think muscle vans should make a comeback.

PostHeaderIcon Rinspeed Snap Mobility Concept

From the maker of some of the most bizarre vehicular creations in recent automotive history, Rinspeed is back at it with another, well, futuristic offering. It’s called the Snap Mobility Concept, and its name doesn’t do enough justice to what exactly it’s capable of doing. No, there’s no garden growing inside of it like the Oasis Concept from 2016, but it does have a chassis that can connect to different cabins, or “pods,” as Rinspeed likes to call them.

The whole concept isn’t at all different from how trucks can carry different trailers, but the Snap Mobility Concept takes that approach on an entirely different level because an entire cabin can be removed and replaced with another, resulting in a concept that’s not at all too different from the Surus platform concept that General Motors unveiled earlier this week. Rinspeed’s whole objective with the concept is to reduce congestion and pollution in crowded cities, so it’s no surprise that the Snap Mobility Concept is completely autonomous and runs on a fully electric powertrain. The actual details and figures are still being withheld though rest assured, there’s a lot more to this concept than meets the eye. Keep an eye out for it when it makes its debut at the Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in January 2018.

Continue after the jump to read more about the Rinspeed Snap Mobility Concept

Exterior


2018 Rinspeed Snap Mobility Concept - image 738659

The Rinspeed Snap Mobility Concept does not have a traditional exterior. In fact, a case can be made that the exterior of the concept is limited to its platform, which looks like an oversized skateboard. According to the Swiss company, these platforms, or “backbones,” come equipped with “long-lasting IT components that are not bound to be outdated quickly” and are free from any mechanical wear. The box-like front and rear sections have their traditional automotive features like headlights and taillights, but everything else looks different, including the biggest design wild card of all them: the pods themselves.

I honestly don’t know how to describe it because, on its own, it looks like an elevated office that can be connected to the platform through some means that Rinspeed has yet to describe. If an owner decides to switch pods, he can remove the existing one that he has on the concept and replace it with another pod that serves a different purpose. These pods are the main attraction of the whole concept because according to Rinspeed, they can keep swapping them out without having to worry about turning them obsolete. Even the the platform is designed to function long-term, but in the event, they do get outdated, owners can just swap them out for a new platform, and their vehicle is good as new again.

Interior


2017 Rinspeed Oasis - image 697643

Note: Rinspeed Oasis Concept pictured here.

I suppose the interior of the Snap Mobility Concept is fluid, as it all depends on the kind of pod that’s being used at a given point in time. What I can surmise at this point is that each of these pods come with plenty of space – enough to at least create different environments. If an owner wants to design his pod like a living room, he can do that. If he wants to design it like an office, he can do that too. A kitchen perhaps? A movie theater? There are no limits to what kind of pod can come out from Rinspeed’s concept. There are even pods that can be created for commercial purposes, whether it’s something like a delivery truck, cargo transport, or maybe even a mobile restaurant. Everything’s up to the imagination of the owner, supposing that the whole concept does progress far enough to actually become something tangible.

Rinspeed even says that owners can set up their pods like offices and set them up in a specific location in the center of the city. It’s literally like your office has the ability to be stationary and on the move at any given point in a day.

Drivetrain


2018 Rinspeed Snap Mobility Concept - image 738666

This section is clouded in mystery because Rinspeed hasn’t said anything about the concept’s powertrain other than saying its autonomous and fully electric. That said, we can at least surmise that some kind of electric motor will be powering the platform and the pods. I do think that it should at least be a powerful enough battery to accommodate some of the purposes an owner may have for his pod. It would be a bummer if somebody decides to turn a pod into a personal office and have to charge the batteries every few hours so that he doesn’t run out of power.

Conclusion


2018 Rinspeed Snap Mobility Concept - image 738647

And, here I thought that the Rinspeed Oasis Concept was outlandish enough with its own interior garden. Obviously, I completely underestimated what Rinspeed is capable of doing because the Snap Mobility Concept is unlike anything I’ve seen in quite some time. I get the whole point of it, but there are other aspects of it – the feasibility of the whole switching platforms routine – that make me wonder if the people over at Rinspeed just had far too much time on their hands that they decided to create something as curious as this concept. It’s definitely interesting, that much I’m willing to concede. But, as far as viability is concerned, I need to learn more about the purpose and objective of this concept to have a better understanding of what exactly we’re dealing with here. In that regard, the Consumer Electronics Show can’t come soon enough.

  • Leave it
    • What’s the point?
    • Is it really feasible?
    • Not counting on it becoming anything more than a concept

References


2017 Rinspeed Oasis - image 697634

Read our full review on the Rinspeed Oasis concept.


2015 Rinspeed Etos Concept - image 659883

Read more Rinspeed news.

PostHeaderIcon Chrysler Pacifica S Appearance Package

There you are – sitting in the parent pick-up line at the kids’ elementary school. You’re looking at the never-ending row of gray and silver SUVs, crossovers, and sedans. You feel trapped – stuck in a rut of perpetual boredom fed by routines and complacency and made worse by cookie-cutter transportation. You need to escape this automotive purgatory. But you’re a good parent and know you can’t shuck the responsibilities of chauffeuring your brood to and from their various activities. What’s the solution? The Dodge Charger SRT Hellcat or Jeep Grand Cherokee Trackhawk? No, those are just horsepower overkill and underwhelming on people room. No, you need space. You need seven or eight seats. You also need vogue styling. You aren’t the average PTA parent, after all. Well, Chrysler has a solution. Meet the 2018 Chrysler Pacifica S and its murdered-out appearance package.

For the 2018 model year, the Pacifica can be had with the S Appearance Package for an extra $595. It’s available on the Touring Plus, Touring L, Touring L Plus, and the Limited model. It’s blacked-out appearance spans from its black paint and Gloss Black accents to its 18-inch wheels in a hue called Black Noise. Tim Kuniskis, head of Dodge, SRT, Chrysler, and Fiat, said, “The Chrysler Pacifica definitely stands out in the school drop-off line, and its class-leading style has won over many new customers. The Pacifica’s S Appearance Package takes that style to the next level and offers our customers yet another unique personality that further differentiates Pacifica from the rest of the segment.” Kuniskis is right about that – no other minivan offers such a blacked-out appearance package.

Continue reading to learn more about the Chrysler Pacifica S Appearance Package.

What makes the Chrysler Pacifica S Appearance Package special


2018 Chrysler Pacifica S Appearance Package - image 737869
“The 2018 Chrysler Pacifica S offers a wholly sinister look to an otherwise unassuming minivan”

The 2018 Chrysler Pacifica S offers a wholly sinister look to an otherwise unassuming minivan. The black paint is complemented by Gloss Black accents on the grille surround, headlight eyebrows, side window trim, available roof rack, door handles, and wheels. As mentioned, 18-inch wheels come standard, but 20-inch wheels in the Black Noise color are available for $995. Regardless of wheel size, the Pacifica S comes with Black Noise-colored exterior badges.

Inside, the Pacifica S comes with black leather seats with Light Diesel Gray accents. The seatbacks are embroidered with an “S,” which is outlined in that Light Diesel Gray accent color. Fiat Chrysler has made anodized aluminum its accent of choice, and the Pacifica S is no different. Here, the metal is colored in “Ice Cave,” a dark satin chrome color. These accents are found around the air vents, surrounding the gauge cluster, along the rim of the steering wheel, the door handles, and on the center console.


2018 Chrysler Pacifica S Appearance Package - image 737870
“Inside, the Pacifica S comes with black leather seats with Light Diesel Gray accents.”

Chrysler says the S Appearance Package is available to order starting this week and deliveries will begin later in the fall.

What do you think? Do you like the murdered-out look of the Pacifica S or is it too much for a family-oriented minivan? Let us know in the comments below.

References

Chrysler Pacifica


2017 Chrysler Pacifica - image 661192

Read our full review on the 2017 Chrysler Pacifica.


2017 Chrysler Pacifica Hybrid - image 662017

Read our full review on the 2017 Chrysler Pacifica Hybrid.


2017 Chrysler Pacifica Hellcat - image 668902

Read our full review on the 2017 Chrysler Pacifica Hellcat.

PostHeaderIcon Toyota Tj Cruiser

Toyota has debuted a concept vehicle designed to not only showcase innovation but to also create an entirely new vehicle class. It’s called the Toyota Tj Cruiser, and it’s basically the cross between a minivan and crossover SUV. Toyota says the overall theme is one of work meets play, which led to the Tj Cruiser name. It literally stands for Toolbox Joy. Wait, what? Yeah, Toolbox for its functionality and van-like hauling capability and Joy for the “joy of visiting various places by car.” Wow. Of course, the Cruiser name is borrowed from retro-redo of the iconic FJ series, the FJ Cruiser. As fans of the Jeep Wrangler, it just makes us think about the 1997-2006 Wrangler TJ. What’s worse, the Tj Cruiser’s design makes us think Toyota took a Honda Element, Chevrolet Astro, the Volkswagen Thing, and some weird early-2000s Chrysler concept all squished together like different colors of Play-doh.

Needless to say, the Tj Cruiser’s visuals leave much to be desired.

Once past the questionable styling, the Tj Cruiser’s thesis actually works – a no-holds-barred functional vehicle with available AWD for unpaved roads, room for objects 10 feet long with the seats folded, and four people with the seats in place. There are even aluminum rails with movable tie-down cleats on the ceiling and walls, much like those in a pickup’s cargo bed. Toyota Says the Tj Cruiser rides on the next-generation global architecture and uses a stronger-style suspension system with all-terrain tires. Power is hybrid, of course, paring a 2.0-liter gasoline four-cylinder with an electric motor and a battery pack. Front-wheel drive is planned as standard, while AWD will be optional. Toyota has mentioned no firm plans for production, but the Tj Cruiser will be on display at the 2017 Tokyo Motor Show October 25 through November 5.

Continue reading for more information.

Exterior


2017 Toyota Tj Cruiser - image 736625
“It would be really cool if you could make a photo collage of the Astro, Element, and VW thing across the top and a larger photo of the Tj Cruiser at the bottom.”

Wow, what can we say? It looks like Toyota spent all its time designing the Tj Cruiser’s interior and forgot about the exterior until 20 minutes before the project’s deadline. Like we said above, this concept looks like some odd amalgamation of a Chevy Astro minivan, a Honda Element, and the designed-with-a-ruler VW Thing. Heck, the Tj Cruiser even shares the VW Thing’s round headlights!

QUOTE “This concept looks like some odd amalgamation of a Chevy Astro minivan, a Honda Element, and the designed-with-a-ruler VW Thing.”

The Tj Cruiser’s squared-off front has that sloping minivan-style hood with a lifeless, flat grille, bumper, and headlights. Aside from those headlights and the wheels, the only round shapes seen here are the fenders and the door handles. The angular lines continue out back, with a nearly-square liftgate flanked round taillights perched in blacked-out, negative space left by the open fenders. Come to think of it, the Tj Cruiser looks almost the same coming and going.

It’s not all bad news, though. The Tj Cruiser has respectable ground clearance with short overhangs. Toyota uses some sort of “special coating” on the hood, roof, and fenders to protect from scratches, though the rest of the body apparently offers free reign to door dings, gouges, and nicks. The van/crossover hybrid rolls on 20-inch wheels with all-terrain tires.

Interior


2017 Toyota Tj Cruiser - image 736622
“The interesting interior is filled with functionality and forward-thinking design.”

Open the front doors and slide the rear doors open like a minivan, and you’re greeted with an interesting interior filled with functionality and a forward-thinking design. While the seat count seems a little low for a family-friendly vehicle, four people have plenty of room in their individual bucket seats. The tall roofline makes for plenty of headroom and the flat floor should offer tons of legroom. Entry in and out seems incredibly easy thanks to the large door openings and taller hip-height.

When it comes time to haul stuff, all but the driver’s seat folds flat, creating a massive load floor. Holes in the cargo area floor and pipes along the seatback edges provide plenty of places to strap down cargo, not to mention those adjustable cleats on the aluminum rails in the ceiling and on the walls. There are even canvas straps on the seatbacks for holding stuff. Toyota says objects 10 feet long will easily fit in the Tj Cruiser, citing surfboards as the cool cargo of choice.

Being built for the Tokyo Motor Show, the Tj Cruiser uses a right-hand-drive setup, though with its squared-off, mirror-style dashboard design, it wouldn’t take much to produce a left-hand-drive version, too. The dash features even more storage space. The passenger side has a cubby hole with an elastic band keeping items in place. The gauges are located in an upper tier above the main dash, much like the Toyota Prius.

Overall, the interior seems well conceived and highly functional. It will certainly be interesting to see if Toyota actually puts something like this into production.

Drivetrain


2017 Toyota Tj Cruiser - image 736627
“It uses a gasoline-electric hybrid system with a 2.0-liter four-cylinder.”

Toyota was pretty quiet with details about the drivetrain, though the Tj Cruiser is more of a design study at this point. Nevertheless, we know it uses a gasoline-electric hybrid system with a 2.0-liter four-cylinder, an electric motor, and a battery pack. FWD would be standard and AWD could be added. Beyond that, Toyota could give more information at the Tokyo Motor Show coming October 25 and running through November 5, 2017. If anything develops, we’ll update you here.

Pricing


2017 Toyota Tj Cruiser - image 736626

Being a concept vehicle, Toyota didn’t talk money. However, with the Tj Cruiser’s aim towards active families and its utilitarian nature, Toyota would surely keep pricing reasonable. If a production version were to hit U.S. shores for 2019, we might see prices start around $24,000. Of course, that’s a pure educated guess.

Conclusion


2017 Toyota Tj Cruiser - image 736620

Well, it’s hard to dis the Tj Cruiser’s rather useful and well-conceived interior, but boy is it oh-so-easy to knock on its half-baked exterior design. It’s tough to imagine Toyota selling this beside the curvy new Camry or the slick 86 Coupe – both of which look meticulously sculpted. Even Toyota’s FT-4X Concept is far more appealing than the Tj Cruiser. Then again, perhaps this van/crossover thing isn’t intended for America. Perhaps the outside is just a placeholder for something better while allowing Toyota to preview its swanky new interior. Who knows?

All told, the Tj Cruiser is different. Yeah, it’s odd, but I do have to give Toyota credit for thinking outside the box. And since some of our favorite vehicles are unconventional, hey, maybe we will grow to like it.

What do you think about this concept? Let us know in the comments below.

  • Leave it
    • Boy, it its an ugly duckling
    • Only four seats
    • Will it enter production?

PostHeaderIcon Toyota Tj Cruiser

Toyota has debuted a concept vehicle designed to not only showcase innovation but to also create an entirely new vehicle class. It’s called the Toyota Tj Cruiser, and it’s basically the cross between a minivan and crossover SUV. Toyota says the overall theme is one of work meets play, which led to the Tj Cruiser name. It literally stands for Toolbox Joy. Wait, what? Yeah, Toolbox for its functionality and van-like hauling capability and Joy for the “joy of visiting various places by car.” Wow. Of course, the Cruiser name is borrowed from retro-redo of the iconic FJ series, the FJ Cruiser. As fans of the Jeep Wrangler, it just makes us think about the 1997-2006 Wrangler TJ. What’s worse, the Tj Cruiser’s design makes us think Toyota took a Honda Element, Chevrolet Astro, the Volkswagen Thing, and some weird early-2000s Chrysler concept all squished together like different colors of Play-doh.

Needless to say, the Tj Cruiser’s visuals leave much to be desired.

Once past the questionable styling, the Tj Cruiser’s thesis actually works – a no-holds-barred functional vehicle with available AWD for unpaved roads, room for objects 10 feet long with the seats folded, and four people with the seats in place. There are even aluminum rails with movable tie-down cleats on the ceiling and walls, much like those in a pickup’s cargo bed. Toyota Says the Tj Cruiser rides on the next-generation global architecture and uses a stronger-style suspension system with all-terrain tires. Power is hybrid, of course, paring a 2.0-liter gasoline four-cylinder with an electric motor and a battery pack. Front-wheel drive is planned as standard, while AWD will be optional. Toyota has mentioned no firm plans for production, but the Tj Cruiser will be on display at the 2017 Tokyo Motor Show October 25 through November 5.

Continue reading for more information.

Exterior


2017 Toyota Tj Cruiser - image 736625
“It would be really cool if you could make a photo collage of the Astro, Element, and VW thing across the top and a larger photo of the Tj Cruiser at the bottom.”

Wow, what can we say? It looks like Toyota spent all its time designing the Tj Cruiser’s interior and forgot about the exterior until 20 minutes before the project’s deadline. Like we said above, this concept looks like some odd amalgamation of a Chevy Astro minivan, a Honda Element, and the designed-with-a-ruler VW Thing. Heck, the Tj Cruiser even shares the VW Thing’s round headlights!

QUOTE “This concept looks like some odd amalgamation of a Chevy Astro minivan, a Honda Element, and the designed-with-a-ruler VW Thing.”

The Tj Cruiser’s squared-off front has that sloping minivan-style hood with a lifeless, flat grille, bumper, and headlights. Aside from those headlights and the wheels, the only round shapes seen here are the fenders and the door handles. The angular lines continue out back, with a nearly-square liftgate flanked round taillights perched in blacked-out, negative space left by the open fenders. Come to think of it, the Tj Cruiser looks almost the same coming and going.

It’s not all bad news, though. The Tj Cruiser has respectable ground clearance with short overhangs. Toyota uses some sort of “special coating” on the hood, roof, and fenders to protect from scratches, though the rest of the body apparently offers free reign to door dings, gouges, and nicks. The van/crossover hybrid rolls on 20-inch wheels with all-terrain tires.

Interior


2017 Toyota Tj Cruiser - image 736622
“The interesting interior is filled with functionality and forward-thinking design.”

Open the front doors and slide the rear doors open like a minivan, and you’re greeted with an interesting interior filled with functionality and a forward-thinking design. While the seat count seems a little low for a family-friendly vehicle, four people have plenty of room in their individual bucket seats. The tall roofline makes for plenty of headroom and the flat floor should offer tons of legroom. Entry in and out seems incredibly easy thanks to the large door openings and taller hip-height.

When it comes time to haul stuff, all but the driver’s seat folds flat, creating a massive load floor. Holes in the cargo area floor and pipes along the seatback edges provide plenty of places to strap down cargo, not to mention those adjustable cleats on the aluminum rails in the ceiling and on the walls. There are even canvas straps on the seatbacks for holding stuff. Toyota says objects 10 feet long will easily fit in the Tj Cruiser, citing surfboards as the cool cargo of choice.

Being built for the Tokyo Motor Show, the Tj Cruiser uses a right-hand-drive setup, though with its squared-off, mirror-style dashboard design, it wouldn’t take much to produce a left-hand-drive version, too. The dash features even more storage space. The passenger side has a cubby hole with an elastic band keeping items in place. The gauges are located in an upper tier above the main dash, much like the Toyota Prius.

Overall, the interior seems well conceived and highly functional. It will certainly be interesting to see if Toyota actually puts something like this into production.

Drivetrain


2017 Toyota Tj Cruiser - image 736627
“It uses a gasoline-electric hybrid system with a 2.0-liter four-cylinder.”

Toyota was pretty quiet with details about the drivetrain, though the Tj Cruiser is more of a design study at this point. Nevertheless, we know it uses a gasoline-electric hybrid system with a 2.0-liter four-cylinder, an electric motor, and a battery pack. FWD would be standard and AWD could be added. Beyond that, Toyota could give more information at the Tokyo Motor Show coming October 25 and running through November 5, 2017. If anything develops, we’ll update you here.

Pricing


2017 Toyota Tj Cruiser - image 736626

Being a concept vehicle, Toyota didn’t talk money. However, with the Tj Cruiser’s aim towards active families and its utilitarian nature, Toyota would surely keep pricing reasonable. If a production version were to hit U.S. shores for 2019, we might see prices start around $24,000. Of course, that’s a pure educated guess.

Conclusion


2017 Toyota Tj Cruiser - image 736620

Well, it’s hard to dis the Tj Cruiser’s rather useful and well-conceived interior, but boy is it oh-so-easy to knock on its half-baked exterior design. It’s tough to imagine Toyota selling this beside the curvy new Camry or the slick 86 Coupe – both of which look meticulously sculpted. Even Toyota’s FT-4X Concept is far more appealing than the Tj Cruiser. Then again, perhaps this van/crossover thing isn’t intended for America. Perhaps the outside is just a placeholder for something better while allowing Toyota to preview its swanky new interior. Who knows?

All told, the Tj Cruiser is different. Yeah, it’s odd, but I do have to give Toyota credit for thinking outside the box. And since some of our favorite vehicles are unconventional, hey, maybe we will grow to like it.

What do you think about this concept? Let us know in the comments below.

  • Leave it
    • Boy, it its an ugly duckling
    • Only four seats
    • Will it enter production?

PostHeaderIcon Toyota Tj Cruiser

Toyota has debuted a concept vehicle designed to not only showcase innovation but to also create an entirely new vehicle class. It’s called the Toyota Tj Cruiser, and it’s basically the cross between a minivan and crossover SUV. Toyota says the overall theme is one of work meets play, which led to the Tj Cruiser name. It literally stands for Toolbox Joy. Wait, what? Yeah, Toolbox for its functionality and van-like hauling capability and Joy for the “joy of visiting various places by car.” Wow. Of course, the Cruiser name is borrowed from retro-redo of the iconic FJ series, the FJ Cruiser. As fans of the Jeep Wrangler, it just makes us think about the 1997-2006 Wrangler TJ. What’s worse, the Tj Cruiser’s design makes us think Toyota took a Honda Element, Chevrolet Astro, the Volkswagen Thing, and some weird early-2000s Chrysler concept all squished together like different colors of Play-doh.

Needless to say, the Tj Cruiser’s visuals leave much to be desired.

Once past the questionable styling, the Tj Cruiser’s thesis actually works – a no-holds-barred functional vehicle with available AWD for unpaved roads, room for objects 10 feet long with the seats folded, and four people with the seats in place. There are even aluminum rails with movable tie-down cleats on the ceiling and walls, much like those in a pickup’s cargo bed. Toyota Says the Tj Cruiser rides on the next-generation global architecture and uses a stronger-style suspension system with all-terrain tires. Power is hybrid, of course, paring a 2.0-liter gasoline four-cylinder with an electric motor and a battery pack. Front-wheel drive is planned as standard, while AWD will be optional. Toyota has mentioned no firm plans for production, but the Tj Cruiser will be on display at the 2017 Tokyo Motor Show October 25 through November 5.

Continue reading for more information.

Exterior


2017 Toyota Tj Cruiser - image 736625
“It would be really cool if you could make a photo collage of the Astro, Element, and VW thing across the top and a larger photo of the Tj Cruiser at the bottom.”

Wow, what can we say? It looks like Toyota spent all its time designing the Tj Cruiser’s interior and forgot about the exterior until 20 minutes before the project’s deadline. Like we said above, this concept looks like some odd amalgamation of a Chevy Astro minivan, a Honda Element, and the designed-with-a-ruler VW Thing. Heck, the Tj Cruiser even shares the VW Thing’s round headlights!

QUOTE “This concept looks like some odd amalgamation of a Chevy Astro minivan, a Honda Element, and the designed-with-a-ruler VW Thing.”

The Tj Cruiser’s squared-off front has that sloping minivan-style hood with a lifeless, flat grille, bumper, and headlights. Aside from those headlights and the wheels, the only round shapes seen here are the fenders and the door handles. The angular lines continue out back, with a nearly-square liftgate flanked round taillights perched in blacked-out, negative space left by the open fenders. Come to think of it, the Tj Cruiser looks almost the same coming and going.

It’s not all bad news, though. The Tj Cruiser has respectable ground clearance with short overhangs. Toyota uses some sort of “special coating” on the hood, roof, and fenders to protect from scratches, though the rest of the body apparently offers free reign to door dings, gouges, and nicks. The van/crossover hybrid rolls on 20-inch wheels with all-terrain tires.

Interior


2017 Toyota Tj Cruiser - image 736622
“The interesting interior is filled with functionality and forward-thinking design.”

Open the front doors and slide the rear doors open like a minivan, and you’re greeted with an interesting interior filled with functionality and a forward-thinking design. While the seat count seems a little low for a family-friendly vehicle, four people have plenty of room in their individual bucket seats. The tall roofline makes for plenty of headroom and the flat floor should offer tons of legroom. Entry in and out seems incredibly easy thanks to the large door openings and taller hip-height.

When it comes time to haul stuff, all but the driver’s seat folds flat, creating a massive load floor. Holes in the cargo area floor and pipes along the seatback edges provide plenty of places to strap down cargo, not to mention those adjustable cleats on the aluminum rails in the ceiling and on the walls. There are even canvas straps on the seatbacks for holding stuff. Toyota says objects 10 feet long will easily fit in the Tj Cruiser, citing surfboards as the cool cargo of choice.

Being built for the Tokyo Motor Show, the Tj Cruiser uses a right-hand-drive setup, though with its squared-off, mirror-style dashboard design, it wouldn’t take much to produce a left-hand-drive version, too. The dash features even more storage space. The passenger side has a cubby hole with an elastic band keeping items in place. The gauges are located in an upper tier above the main dash, much like the Toyota Prius.

Overall, the interior seems well conceived and highly functional. It will certainly be interesting to see if Toyota actually puts something like this into production.

Drivetrain


2017 Toyota Tj Cruiser - image 736627
“It uses a gasoline-electric hybrid system with a 2.0-liter four-cylinder.”

Toyota was pretty quiet with details about the drivetrain, though the Tj Cruiser is more of a design study at this point. Nevertheless, we know it uses a gasoline-electric hybrid system with a 2.0-liter four-cylinder, an electric motor, and a battery pack. FWD would be standard and AWD could be added. Beyond that, Toyota could give more information at the Tokyo Motor Show coming October 25 and running through November 5, 2017. If anything develops, we’ll update you here.

Pricing


2017 Toyota Tj Cruiser - image 736626

Being a concept vehicle, Toyota didn’t talk money. However, with the Tj Cruiser’s aim towards active families and its utilitarian nature, Toyota would surely keep pricing reasonable. If a production version were to hit U.S. shores for 2019, we might see prices start around $24,000. Of course, that’s a pure educated guess.

Conclusion


2017 Toyota Tj Cruiser - image 736620

Well, it’s hard to dis the Tj Cruiser’s rather useful and well-conceived interior, but boy is it oh-so-easy to knock on its half-baked exterior design. It’s tough to imagine Toyota selling this beside the curvy new Camry or the slick 86 Coupe – both of which look meticulously sculpted. Even Toyota’s FT-4X Concept is far more appealing than the Tj Cruiser. Then again, perhaps this van/crossover thing isn’t intended for America. Perhaps the outside is just a placeholder for something better while allowing Toyota to preview its swanky new interior. Who knows?

All told, the Tj Cruiser is different. Yeah, it’s odd, but I do have to give Toyota credit for thinking outside the box. And since some of our favorite vehicles are unconventional, hey, maybe we will grow to like it.

What do you think about this concept? Let us know in the comments below.

  • Leave it
    • Boy, it its an ugly duckling
    • Only four seats
    • Will it enter production?

PostHeaderIcon Honda Odyssey Type R

There’s no harder transition in the world than for a car guy to move away from his prized bachelor car to daily drive a mom-mobile, aka the dreaded minivan. So, what happens when you want the best of both worlds? Well, you convince Honda to build you a Honda Odyssey Type R. Is it crazy? Sure. But are you going to tell me you would pass up an Odyssey Type R to drive a Chrysler Pacifica, Toyota Sienna, Kia Sedona, or a Mercedes Metris? I doubt it, and you know why? Because this thing is intense in all the right ways. You get all of the Type R goodies, including things like the Championship White paint, Type R wheels and body kit, and even the classic Type R red accents inside. But, what will power a beast like this? Well, we’ll discuss that in a bit.

So here we are, talking about something as crazy as an Odyssey Type R. All the goodness of the ultimate people hauler paired with the aggressiveness, style, and clout of the Type R badge, plus more than enough power to keep you from sacrificing your manhood on days when you have to tote the family around. So with that said, let’s dive in and speculate a bit about the Honda Odyssey Type R and why Honda should greenlight a project like this. You know it will appeal to the tuner and gearhead in all of us.

Exterior


2020 Honda Odyssey Type R - image 733296

I was at the 2017 Detroit Auto Show when Honda pulled the covers off of the Honda Odyssey. It was literally a show stopper. Across the way was the new Chevy Traverse. It was a beautiful ride, and as a photographer, I had to get good shots of it. Of course, there was so much excitement around the Traverse that I had to circle around a few times before I got my chance to pull the trigger on my Camera. A few hours later, it was just about time for Honda to kick off the show and, while I expected it to be a busy debut, I didn’t expect it to be so outrageously popular. If I didn’t know better, I would say everyone at the show had to come over and check out the new Odyssey.

“Naturally, the Type R Odyssey has to rock out the same styling as the Civic Type R, and we’ve got it all”

Naturally, I did what I could to take pictures, but hours passed and I couldn’t even get close – even playing my usual photographer tricks to get up in there ahead of the crowd. Eventually, the day was over, and security was set to drag me out. So, I had to return to the show the next day to check out what all the hype was about. Well, I was nice and early, so I finally got a good look and man was I impressed. I knew right then that we needed to render up a Type R Odyssey, and here we are.


2020 Honda Odyssey Type R - image 733294

Naturally, the Type R Odyssey has to rock out the same styling as the Civic Type R, and we’ve got it all. We’ve got the gloss black grille up front, the red Honda emblem, the Type R emblem and those big vents in the corners that also serve as home to the big fog lamps because this is still a family car, right? To round off the front end, we threw in a scoop on the hood and the spoiler up front, complete with the red pinstripe. Moving to the sides, we’ve swapped out the standard mirrors for gloss black units to go along with the window trim. The fender vent is another nice touch that really stands out above those Type R wheels. New side skirts with a red stripe and black door handles round out the exterior package.

“The rear fascia gets a diffuser element that wraps around the edges to tie the sides to the rear, and twin, and a triple exhaust outlet screams Type R music on take off.”

Around back is where it really gets interesting, though. See, we’ve managed to modify the Civic Type R’s spoiler so that it can mount to the rear hatch, and it looks pretty mean. The rear fascia gets a diffuser element that wraps around the edges to tie the sides to the rear together and a triple exhaust outlet screams Type R music on take-off. Finally, we blacked out all of the rear windows and the moonroof to give it that midnight look, which somehow looks really good against that Champion White finish. And, don’t forget about the red calipers down below – you’ve got to have the red calipers!

Interior


2017 Honda Civic Type R - image 708056
“On the inside, you know Honda would blend the perfect balance of family functionality and Type R goodness”

On the inside, you know Honda would blend the perfect balance of family functionality and Type R goodness. The first things to get swapped out are the front seats, the instrument cluster, and the infotainment display. All three from the Civic Type R carry right over, with some minor modification to the dash to support the different electronics. A new center console is thrown into place to allow for the six-speed gear shifter – that’s right, it’s not a Type R without a six-speed. The dash is adorned with black leather and Red piping, while the Type R steering wheel gets the traditional red emblem to go with the red inserts in the bottom half. Aluminum pedals are added to the floor – yes all three – and the Type R racing seats replace the standard seats up front. Thanks to Honda’s engineering genius, all of that family functionality carries over, including the rear cabin monitor, reverse camera, and DVD player. Type R floor mats round out the front of the cabin.


2018 Honda Odyssey - image 718504
Honda Odyssey – second row shot

Around back, all of the trim is replaced with higher quality materials so that this funky minivan carries the Type R legacy correctly. When the doors open automatically, a bright red ambient light illuminates the ground while displaying a Honda emblem and the Type R logo. The outboard seats in the second row look almost identical to the seats up front, including the excessive bolster support and holes for the five-point racing harnesses – that’s right, you can take the whole family down the strip in this bad boy. The center seat remains and is easily removable just as it is in the standard version. It carries over unchanged in design but gets the same red and black layout with Type R embroidery for consistency.


2018 Honda Odyssey - image 702281
Honda Odyssey – third row shot
“When the doors open automatically, a bright red ambient light illuminates the ground while displaying a Honda emblem and the Type R logo”

The third row carries over unchanged and features the same amount of support as seen in the standard model, but in this case, they are also wrapped in red and black and feature that Type R logo. The entertainment center in the rear has been replaced with a slightly larger screen that also has Type R graphics as expected and the trim panels by the third row get backlit Type R logos (red of course) from front to rear. A large Type R floor mat is placed ahead of the second and third rows while a special Type R cargo mat can be found in the rear cargo area. When the rear hatch opens, a red Honda logo is projected above the Type R lettering to complete the interior package. Tell me you wouldn’t feel at home in this thing. Go ahead; I’ll wait.

Drivetrain


2017 Honda Civic Type R - image 719407

Now, this is where things really get interesting. If you know Honda, you’re probably thinking that this is where it will drop in that 2.0-liter from the Type R, right? 306 horsepower and 295 pound-feet of torque would be an improvement over the standard 3.5-liter V-6 with 280 ponies and 262 pound-feet, but it’s not quite good enough for a vehicle this heavy. After all, if it’s wearing that Type R badge, it needs to live up to a legacy and rewrite the definition of quick. As such, that 2.0-liter stays where it belongs in the smaller car, and instead, Honda is going to tap into its luxury arm, and take advantage of that 3.5-liter twin-turbo V-6 from the Acura NSX. Of course, it won’t deliver the full 500 horsepower and 406 pound-feet of torque, but it will be detuned to deliver 445 horsepower and 373 pound-feet of twist – and the Odyssey Type R comes to life.

“Honda is going to tap into its luxury arm, and take advantage of that 3.5-liter twin-turbo V-6 from the Acura NSX”

Of course, this is a different setup, so it doesn’t get the AWD hybrid system, but a simple adapter plate allows for that six-speed trans to bolt right up, and with the right modification of the chassis the engine can be positioned far enough to one side so that it will fit under the hood – it’s just a very tight fit. But, hey, that’s okay when you’ve got a 445-horsepower Odyssey, right? Finally, the dual air intakes have been repositioned to suck air directly from the vents in the corners of the front fascia for a true, CAI system. The end result is a minivan that can make the 60-mph sprint in a matter of 4.1 seconds, while top speed sits at an insane 186 mph.


2020 Honda Odyssey Type R - image 733295

As far as suspension goes, the Odyssey Type R will get a standard MacPherson setup up front and a double-wishbone system out back with double lower control arms for better stability at high speeds. The suspension itself is dropped by just over an inch to provide better aerodynamics. Active traction control keeps the wheels from breaking loose on take-off while electromechanical brakes handle braking duties. Sounds pretty wild for a minivan huh? Well, here’s the cool part. Honda knows your wife doesn’t need to be doing a 180 mph to get little Tommy to his football practice or Molly to her band recital, so “Dad’s” key unlocks the Odyssey’s full potential, while ”Mom’s” key limits output to just 280 horsepower.

Pricing


2020 Honda Odyssey Type R - image 733293

As you’re well aware, that Type R badge comes at a price, and we’re not talking about a few extra bones here, either. The standard range-topping model. The “Elite” commands $46,670, so you can expect the Odyssey Type R to set you back by at least $56,000, but hey that’s okay – we’re talking about the most powerful type R in existence as of the time of this writing. Good luck getting the wife to approve, but we are talking about a family car here, so sweet talk her a little, will ya?

Competition

At this point, there’s nothing that would really compete with an Odyssey Type R, so it would sit in a niche all its own and would likely inspire a whole swath of high-performance minivans to come to light. Until then, your only option would be to go with the range-topping version of the Toyota Sienna, Chrysler Pacifica, or Kia Sedona, none of which offer up anywhere near as cool a setup as the Odyssey with Type R treatment. But, let’s look anyway…

Chrysler Pacifica Hellcat


2017 Chrysler Pacifica Hellcat - image 668902

Of course, we once speculated that Chrysler would put together a Pacifica Hellcat, so that’s most definitely the No. 1 competitor for the Odyssey Type R. Featuring a more aggressive look on the outside it will also get the Hellcat independent rear suspension, and will, in fact, be all-wheel drive. This, of course, requires the removal of the stow-n-go seating to make way for the transmission tunnel, but hey, that’s a pretty fair trade-off, right? All seats will get Nappa leather and Alcantara trimmings to go with Hellcat embroidery, and you can bet it’ll come complete with the special crate in the rear as well.

Under the hood will sit the supercharged 6.2-liter V-8 and is actually positioned in a front-mid-ship location to allow for an all-wheel-drive up front. All told, it will deliver 707 horsepower and 650 pound-feet like a true Hellcat but will be able to hit 60 mph in just 3.6 seconds. Yikes – I guess that will top the Odyssey Type R, huh? Of course, it’ll also start out a bit higher at around $70,000, so you’ll be paying a little extra for the AWD and V-8 lineup.

Read our full speculative review on the Chrysler Pacifica Hellcat.

Toyota Sienna Limited


2018 Toyota Sienna - image 711005

2018 Toyota Sienna - image 711006

This is the range-topping trim of the Toyota Sienna. The Sienna doesn’t even compete in looks really as it’s got a fairly boring exterior look, but it does offer seating for eight, LED running lights, Blue Ray infotainment system, a JBL audio system with integrated navigation and app access, leather seating, and a smart key system. Under the hood, you find a 3.5-liter that’s good for 296 horsepower and 263 pound-feet of torque, nowhere near what you get with an Odyssey Type R but not bad for your normal back and forth driving. An eight-speed auto controls shifting duties while AWD with active torque control makes driving in rough weather even easier. The range-topping model in this lineup, the Limited Premium AWD, starts out at $47,310, really putting it close to the theoretical price of the Odyssey Type R.

Read our full review on the Toyota Sienna Limited

Kia Sedona SXL


2015 Kia Sedona - image 548816

2015 Kia Sedona - image 548819

The Sedona is the only one of the three competing models that offers a truly similar look to the Odyssey, as it has that zig-zag waistline, too. The model you would need to shoot for to compete with an Odyssey Type R is the SXL trim, which resides at the top of the lineup. The cool thing about the SXL is that it rides separately in the looks department, thanks to a sportier front and rear fascia as well as sleeker fog lights too. It also stands out by means of larger and sportier wheels.

Inside it gets an eight-inch infotainment system with phone connectivity via Android Auto and Apple CarPlay to go with an eight-speaker audio system that features an external amp and eight-inch subwoofer – we’ll just call this the 888 package. Essentially a fully loaded model, the SXL includes all of Kia’s advanced safety systems, and can even be options with Nappa leather upholstery and first-class seating.

Under the hood, you’ll find a 3.3-liter V-6 that’s good for 276 horsepower and 248 pound-feet of torque and efficient enough to offer up 19 mpg combined. Pricing starts out at $41,900 but easily climbs closer to $50,000 with all the right options.

Read our full review on the Kia Sedona SXL.

Conclusion


2020 Honda Odyssey Type R - image 732980

Let’s be honest, the chances of Honda actually coming out with an Odyssey are pretty damn slim, let alone one that totes around the NSX’s twin-turbo engine. Even if Honda moved forward with a Type R version of the Odyssey, it would get that same 2.0-liter found in the Civic Type R, but hey, this was about speculating and having fun, so I went all out. And, you have to admit that it would be awesome minivan to drive around if you had to drive a minivan right?

On a side note, we once speculated that Chrysler would come up with a Hellcat version of the Pacifica, and of course, that was shot down a long time ago. But, if Honda came out with a Type R, Chrysler wouldn’t have much of a choice, now would they? So, at the end of the day, we need to convince one brand to take a leap of faith so that the other will. Just imagine a time where you and the wife both daily drive minivans with extreme looks and power – now that would be kind of fun, don’t you think?

So, tell me what you think about the Odyssey Type R. How would you want Honda to configure it? More power, less power, or just as I’ve described? Would you want a true-to-life six-speed or would you prefer the dual-clutch automatic transmission with shift paddles from the NSX? Let us know in the comments section below!

  • Leave it
    • Will probably never happen
    • Chrysler would kill it with the Hellcat Pacifica
    • Even if it did happen, it would never get a true manual transmission

References

Honda Odyssey


2018 Honda Odyssey - image 718512

Read our full review on the Honda Odyssey.

Honda Civic Type R


2017 Honda Civic Type R - image 719420

Read our full review on the Honda Civic Type R.

Honda Accord Type R


2019 Honda Accord Type R - image 728542

Read our full speculative review on the Honda Accord Type R.

PostHeaderIcon Volkswagen Camper XXL Concept

Summer is as good a time as any to go out and enjoy the outdoors. It’s just too bad that the Volkswagen California XXL Concept isn’t a real thing yet; it would make an incredible companion for a weekend of camping. It’s unlikely to be made available anytime soon, however, but that doesn’t mean can’t wish for it to arrive in some form at some point in the future. For now, we’ll have to be content seeing the concept motorhome at the Caravan Salon Düsseldorf later this month. Who knows, if the concept’s reception ends up being as good as we hope it is, Volkswagen may end up green-lighting the possibility of offering conversions like it for the Crafter.

Before I start getting ahead of myself, it’s important to establish what the California XXL Concept is first. It’s basically a Volkswagen Crafter, the same vehicle that VW launched in 2006 as a commercial van to compete against the likes of the Ford Transit and the Nissan NV400, albeit one that has gone through a massive transformation courtesy of Volkswagen Commercial Vehicles. It even takes the look of the Volkswagen T6 California now, but even that isn’t the biggest talking point about the concept. It’s everything else about it, really, and the final product speaks to the potential of the Volkswagen Crafter as more than just a commercial van. Apparently, it can be turned into a hotel on four wheels, too.

Continue after the jump to read more about the Volkswagen California XXL Concept

PostHeaderIcon Ford “Autolivery” Concept

Given the direction the auto industry seems to be headed, we’re at a point where self-driving cars roaming our streets is far less improbable as it once was. Automakers like Tesla are pioneering this movement, and while the industry itself is still in the embryonic stage of this technological tipping point, enough progress has been made that ideas like self-driving delivery fans like the one Ford presented earlier this year are no longer being scoffed at. Heck, if Amazon can start using drones to deliver packages to its customers, there’s little reason to imagine a future without something like the Blue Oval’s “Autolivery” Concept.

First of all, this concept vehicle isn’t what you’d consider a traditional concept as defined by the auto industry. It’s futuristic in nature, sure, but it doesn’t provide anything concrete that can be adapted to real-world production cars of the future. Instead, the “idea” of the Autolivery Concept is the concept itself. It’s the idea of a self-driving van that works in concert with drones to deliver and transport everyday items on the ground, be it parcels, groceries, or even medical supplies. Think of it as a UPS van without a driver driving it. That’s the ethos of the Autolivery Concept, which takes its name from an amalgam of the words “automatic” and “delivery.” The concept itself is intriguing, in large part because of the potential of its real-world application. There’s no denying that there’s something inherently appealing about a delivery process that’s far more efficient than the ones we have right now and Ford aims for the Autolivery Concept to be a big part of reaching that solution.

Continue after the jump to read the full story.

PostHeaderIcon A Look Back at the Mercedes Utility Vehicles that Preceded the X-Class Truck

Mercedes-Benz just unveiled the X-Class, its first mass-produced pickup truck, and while it may seem weird for a premium company to build a car like this, the German brand is actually a big producer of utility vehicles. And it all started more than 100 years ago!

Long before his company developed into a luxury car manufacturer in the 1930s, Karl Benz actually built buses. He unveiled the world’s first motorized bus back in 1895 and actually competed against Gottlieb Daimler, soon to become his partner, in this field, with both exporting vehicles to England and Wales. Daimler and Benz merged into one company in 1926 and the success story of Mercedes-Benz began.

Continue reading for the full story.

PostHeaderIcon Faraday’s Future Looks Bleaker By The Day

From mounting debts to supplier lawsuits, and all-around mismanagement, Faraday Future’s once-promising trajectory has all but crashed. And now, after all the setbacks the California-based company has faced in the past year, the last straw appears to have snapped. The company is abandoning its massive $1 billion production facility in Las Vegas, Nevada. Might as well throw in the white flag and fade into the shadows because there appears to be no turning back after this latest debacle.

Of course, Faraday needs to keep a positive face and its chief financial officer, Stefan Krause, appears to be the one who’s doing it. In a statement to the Nevada Independent, Krause confirmed that the company remains “committed to the Apex site in Las Vegas for long-term vehicle manufacturing.” Hollow words at this point, but you have to admire the man’s dedication to the company’s increasingly fragile future. What’s clear is Faraday is in a lot of trouble and recent news from China revealing that a Shanghai court froze $183 million in assets of Jia Yueting, the company’s main financier, is another headache that it has to deal with. It is more than just a coincidence that the company abandoned its massive Nevada factory a week after Jia’s latest round of legal and financial woes made the news. It’s a shame because the car the company produced – the FF91 – has shown a lot of promise, even setting a record at the 2017 Pikes Peak International Hill Climb for its segment. Now it appears that Pikes Peak will be the only highlight of the FF91’s short life as Faraday Future teeters on the verge of collapse, if it isn’t there already.

Continue after the jump to read the full story.

PostHeaderIcon Don’t Get Excited Yet, But Volkswagen Is Preparing To Bring Back The Microbus

For those who have lived long enough to remember the original Volkswagen Microbus, the sight of seeing all these new T2-inspired concepts must be disheartening, especially with Volkswagen resisting the tug of bringing back the beloved the nameplate. Well, it turns out that decision-makers within the company have had a recent change of heart because finally, a modern iteration of the Microbus is now headed to production. Don’t jump for joy just yet, though, because this model isn’t so much an actual successor to the iconic T2 as it is a model that will be heavily inspired by it.

Details are scarce on how VW plans to approach the model, but it is expected to be included in the “ID” range of electric car models that the German automaker is seriously pushing in the wake of the diesel-gate scandal it was embroiled in. Fortunately, the automaker already has a few concepts lined up to use as pegs in the event it decides to go in that direction. The most prominent of these concepts is the I.D. Buzz, which Volkswagen introduced at the 2017 Detroit Auto Show back in January. Despite its concept status, the I.D. Buzz provides the closest credentials to what an electric Microbus could turn into. It certainly has the inspired look of the classic transporter, and just as important, it carries a pair of electric motors that combine to produce 369 horsepower to go with a range of up to 270 miles. The power numbers also help the concept accelerate from 0 to 60 mph in five seconds before reaching a capped top speed of 99 mph.

Continue after the jump to read the full story.


PostHeaderIcon Volkswagen Van

Aside from the Type 1 Beetle, the Type 2 Bus is Volkswagen’s undisputed most widely recognized vehicle. Some might say it’s one of the most recognizable vehicles of all time. Much credit can be given to the Type 2’s social influences during the 1960s and 1970s in American pop culture thanks to the hippie movement. But sadly, Volkswagen has left the Bus and its classic styling to the pages of history.

Interestingly enough, the last Type 2 Bus, otherwise known as the T2 Kombi, rolled off the production line on December 31, 2013 in Sao Paulo. The Brazil-only model died at the hands of safety legislation mandating ABS and dual front airbags – changes Volkswagen was unwilling to make on a 63-year-old model. Other versions of the Bus existed, of course, changing names with each generation. The Type 2 Bus, or Microbus, Transporter, Kombi, or camper, depending on whom you ask, transformed into the Type 3, Type 4, and Type 5 in other parts of the world.

Starting in 2015, Volkswagen has been building the Type 6, known as the Transporter, in Germany. However, this van is modern in every sense of the word, with no cues hinting at its storied past. Rather, it’s just a forgettable van built to haul passengers or cargo that blends into the rolling European countryside.

American automakers, on the other hand, are busy building modern cars with retro cues, recalling glory days of moments forever past. That begs the question: what if Volkswagen did the same? What if Volkswagen built a special version of its Transporter that harked back to 1969 when shirts were tie-dyed, hair was long, love was free, war was bad, and Woodstock was the place to be?

We send those thoughts to our in-house rendering specialist to be constructed into form. It had to be modern – including all the safety technology of today – yet still capture the feel of the original Type 2. This is what he came up with.

Continue reading for the full review.


PostHeaderIcon Toyota Sienna

The Toyota Sienna has been in its third generation since 2010. While models like the Honda Odyssey and Chrysler Pacifica have since been updated and gone through generational shifts, the Sienna has soldiered on with relatively mild updates. In 2017, Toyota did upgrade the 3.5-liter engine and dropped the six-speed automatic for an eight-speed unit, but otherwise, it’s been pretty much the same van all this time outside of some minor changes to the exterior in 2015. Well, Toyota is bringing a revamped Sienna to the 2017 New York Auto Show, but it’s not a new-gen model. Instead, Toyota is adding new “swagger” with a new front fascia, new side skirts, some noise and vibration enhancements, and some additional technology like extra USB ports, an updated rear entertainment system, and a semi-digital instrument cluster.

But, don’t get it twisted. The Sienna may be pretty old, with the 2018 model year being the 8th year this generation is on the market, but it does pull its own weight as far as sales go. Sales have been well over the 100,000 mark from 2011 forward, with 2015 seeing 137,497 examples sold and 2016 accounting for 127,791 examples sold. That’s a pretty big deal considering the market it bursting with SUVs of every shape and size you can imagine. So, let’s see what these new enhancements do to liven up the third-gen Sienna and how it might help it stack up against some of the competition.

Continue reading to learn more about the 2018 Toyota Sienna.


PostHeaderIcon Volkswagen I.D. BUZZ

Caught red handed cheating on emissions tests, Volkswagen is still struggling to obtain settlements in the “Dieselgate” scandal. However, the German firm is also looking to create a more sustainable future for itself by embracing electrification. Having announced a plan to launch several EVs over the next few years, Volkswagen is unveiling an increasing number of concept cars that feature electric motors instead of standard gasoline or diesel mills. One such vehicle is the I.D. BUZZ, which made its official debut at the 2017 Detroit Auto Show as an electric, multi-purpose vehicle based on the I.D. Concept hatchback.

Described as a next-generation vehicle that “forges links between the origins of the Volkswagen brand and its electrifying future,” the I.D. BUZZ is based on the company’s new Modular Electric Drive Kit (MEB) platform and pays homage to the original Volkswagen Type 2, commonly known as the Microbus in the U.S. According to Volkswagen, the “BUZZ” name is a phonetic word play on “bus” and refers to the silent buzzing of the electric drivetrain.

“The Volkswagen brand’s big electric offensive begins in the year 2020 with a completely new vehicle architecture. That is when we will be launching an entirely new generation of fully connected, all-electric vehicles to the market. By 2025 we want to be selling one million of these vehicles annually. We are making electric mobility the new trademark of Volkswagen,” said dr. Herbert Diess, Chairman of the Board of Management for the Volkswagen brand.

There’s no word whether the I.D. BUZZ will become a production model anytime soon, but given that the Frank Welsch, who’s in charge of development of future models, referred to it as a “next-generation vehicle,” it’s safe to assume that the Microbus will return sooner or later, albeit in all-electric form.

Continue reading to learn more about the Volkswagen I.D. Concept Van.


PostHeaderIcon Is Volkswagen Ever Bringing Back The Microbus?

The debut of the Volkswagen I.D. Buzz Concept represented two different things for the company. The first takeaway is that the German automaker is serious about pushing its way into the electric car and autonomous driving conversations. After all, the I.D. Buzz is the second model bearing the I.D. nomenclature, a nod to Volkswagen’s intention to break into these rapidly developing markets and move as quickly as possible past the Dieselgate scandal that rocked the entire auto industry. But we’re not here to talk about any of that. We’re here to ask an equally important question: is Volkswagen ever going to bring back the Microbus?

You might have noticed that the I.D. Buzz Concept was intentionally designed to look like the Microbus of yesteryear. It’s a smart strategy considering that the van remains an icon amongst icons in its segment. The Volkswagen Microbus, otherwise known as the T2, Kombi, and Transporter, is one of the rare cars that can still tug at the nostalgic heartstrings of bell bottom-wearing, peace sign-making baby boomers while also drawing interest from retro-loving hipsters.

But as much as there appears to still be a healthy market for a modern version of the Volkswagen Microbus, it is a little surprising that the German automaker hasn’t capitalized on that sentimentality. In fact, a quick trip down memory lane reveals that since 2001, Volkswagen has made five different concept vehicles that were all inspired, in one form or another, by the Microbus. The past few years alone has given us two of these five concepts, including the Budd-E Concept and the aforementioned I.D. Buzz Concept. As for the others, the 2001 Microbus Concept was a hit when it was unveiled, as was the Bulli Concept that was unveiled at the 2011 Geneva Motor Show. The closest Volkswagen actually get to bringing back the Microbus was when it introduced the T6 cargo van and used a similar two-color scheme that the Microbus made famous.

Other than that, a lot of us have been left high and dry by Volkswagen and at one point, the frustration and disappointment of getting teased with all these Microbus-inspired concepts will catch up to Volkswagen. One day, we’re not going to care about the Microbus anymore and if Volkswagen ever decides to bring it back then, I’m afraid that it’s going to be a little too late for that var to make an impression.

Hopefully, it doesn’t come down to that because the Microbus really is a quintessential Volkswagen. A modernized version of the van can still be offered in a number of different markets and have some success there. The only question is whether Volkswagen is even willing to see if it can turn that possibility into reality.

Continue reading for the full story.


PostHeaderIcon The New Honda Odyssey Stole the Show from Chevy in Detroit

One of the nice things about working for an outlet like TopSpeed is being able to check out the various auto shows during the press preview days, long before the general public is allowed into the show. This year, all of the auto manufacturers had their press events scheduled on the first day, so it was very busy. But, that also gave me the unique opportunity to see the reaction people have toward all of the new cars making their debut. With the Detroit Auto Show being an international event, there’s never a dull moment – that you can be sure of – but I never thought I would see the day that a minivan took precedence over an SUV. More specifically, I’m talking about the Honda Odyssey.

Both Honda and Chevy had big debuts scheduled for Monday and were situated catty-corner from each other. Chevy was pulling the sheet off the redesigned Chevy Traverse pretty early on Monday while Honda was gearing up to show off its all-new Odyssey. When it came to shooting the Chevy Traverse, I had to circle back a few times to get as many shots as I could but, when it came to the Honda Odyssey, I didn’t even have a chance to get close to it the first day of the show. Come the second day, and it took me five passes to finally get a good look inside. And it was, in every sense of the word, amazing. But, as I was waiting for the opportunity to get in there on the second day of the show, I noticed something. The Odyssey was still getting tons of attention while the Traverse’s time in the limelight had come and gone. Have pigs actually grown wings?

To be honest, I think so. I made one final stop at the Honda booth Tuesday before leaving the show for the last time, and Honda was still buzzing like crazy. Don’t get me wrong; people were still interested in the new Traverse, but not like they were when it came to Honda’s redesigned minivan. It was pretty wild to see, and all of the representatives seemed to be pretty happy with the turnout. We’ll have a full review of the new Odyssey up in the coming days, but until then, keep reading to learn a little about it and to see a few pictures I took of it during my time at the show.


PostHeaderIcon Volkswagen I.D. Concept Van

Caught red handed cheating on emissions tests, Volkswagen is still struggling to obtain settlements in the “Dieselgate” scandal. However, the German firm is also looking to create a more sustainable future for itself by embracing electrification. Having announced a plan to launch several EVs over the next few years, Volkswagen is unveiling an increasing number of concept cars that feature electric motors instead of standard gasoline or diesel mills. One such vehicle is the I.D., which made its official debut at the 2016 Paris Motor Show. Only two months have passed since then, and VW will unveil a new electric concept, this time around at the 2017 Detroit Auto Show.

Described as a “multi-functional vehicle for a new era,” the car in question doesn’t have a name yet, but Volkswagen confirmed that it will be part of the I.D. family. This means it will also be based on the Modular Electric Drive Kit (MEB) that Volkswagen wants to launch in the future, as well as gain many of the features seen the first I.D. concept.

Volkswagen also mentioned that the new concept vehicle “forges links between the legendary origins of the Volkswagen brand and its electrifying future” and that “it combines ample space for travel with a long electric driving range, to usher a new feeling of freedom — with zero emissions — and a new era of mobility.”

There’s no word as to when this concept will move into production, but given that the first I.D. is set to hit dealerships by 2020, the van shown here should follow soon after that. Stay tuned for updates on this car from the Detroit Auto Show.

Continue reading to learn more about the Volkswagen I.D. Concept Van.


PostHeaderIcon Honda Odyssey

The Honda Odyssey was born in a time of need during Japan’s economic crisis in the 1990s. As such, the first-generation model was much smaller than the model that we know today. That model lasted just long enough for Honda to build a U.S.-based production facility and the Odyssey has been getting better ever since. Each generation of Honda’s resident minivan has been short lived, with the longest being the current and fourth-generation which will run through the 2017 model year. For 2018, Honda is introducing the fifth-generation model that includes aggressive exterior styling with LED lighting, powered rear doors, and an evolution of the “lightning bolt” beltline that has been a subject of controversy in the past. On the inside, the new Odyssey benefits from an all-new infotainment system, camera monitoring system, digital instrument cluster, and a new take on age-old problem of accessing that third row of seats. It gets even better yet, however, as Honda also saw fit to provide more power from its resident 3.5-liter V-6 – effectively raising output to 280 horsepower – and two new automatic transmissions that will help put the Odyssey at the top of its class in the fuel economy department.

So, with an updated and aggressive design, new innovative technology, and a 32 horsepower increase over the outgoing model, the new Odyssey is ready to hit showrooms and bring more stability to the once crumbling foundation of the minivan segment. But, regardless of this new design, Honda is still showing up late to the party as Chrysler redesigned the Pacifica (the Odyssey’s main competition) for the 2017 model year and it’s already established a pretty decent foothold. So, does the new Odyssey have what it takes to compete with models like the Pacifica, or even the aging Toyota Sienna? Well, I spent some time with the new Odyssey when it made its long-awaited debut at the Detroit Auto Show, so let’s dive on in to take a better look and see if we can come up with a good answer to that question.

Continue reading to learn more about the 2018 Honda Odyssey.


PostHeaderIcon Honda Teases 2018 Odyssey Ahead of Detroit Auto Show Debut

The 2017 Detroit Auto Show is just around the corner and, as it happens before each major event, automakers are already teasing the cars that are set to debut at the Cobo Center. Honda is the latest to join the ranks by releasing a teaser picture of the fifth-generation Odyssey. Set to replace the current, six-year-old model at the end of the 2017 model year, the new minivan takes its cues from the JDM-spec version, which has been available in Japan since 2013.

The teaser shot suggests that the upcoming Odyssey will also retain some of the familiar styling cues of the existing model, including the lightning-bolt character line under the side windows, the V-shaped D-pillar, and the large taillights. However, the latter appear to be larger and heavily based on the Japanese model, while also featuring a new C-shaped LED signature. The side panels also seem to have a more sculpted design just above the side skirts, while the vehicle feels lower and wider overall. On the other hand, this is a conceptual rendering and likely depicts a car that’s more aggressive than the actual production model.

Honda has yet to launch a photo of the front fascia, but the Odyssey should carry a sportier design here too. Here, I expect it to borrow some cues from the Pilot SUV, including the angular headlamps and the large grille that descends deep into the front bumper. It should also have a more aggressive bumper design with LED daytime running lights and a wide mesh grille between them.

Inside, the Odyssey will get Honda’s latest technology and a design based on what we’ve seen in recently launched vehicles, including the Pilot. Hopefully the fifth-gen minivan will also get a vacuum cleaner integrated into the trunk. Under the hood, look for a revised version of the current 3.5-liter V-6 connected to either a six-speed manual or a nine-speed automatic transmission. Output should see a mild increase over the fourth-gen models’ 248 horsepower and 250 pound-feet of torque.

Continue reading for the full story.


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