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Archive for the ‘minivans’ Category

PostHeaderIcon Toyota’s New E-Palette Concept Can Serve as an Open Platform for Developers

As part of its future autonomous mobility service, Toyota has introduced the e-Palette Concept at the Consumer Electronics Show. If you’re a fan of aesthetically pleasing concept vehicles, now’s the time to turn away because the e-Palette is anything but attractive. The concept is actually just a box on four wheels, albeit one that serves a lot of different purposes depending on who’s using it.


Toyota's New E-Palette Concept Can Serve as an Open Platform for Developers - image 756234
“Toyota sees the concept as a multi-purpose smart mobility vehicle that can be used in different ways, including as a business platform for different sorts of companies”

It may not be the most attractive concept in the world, but don’t sleep on the potential of Toyota’s e-Palette Concept. What it lacks in style, it makes up for in function. Toyota sees the concept as a multi-purpose smart mobility vehicle that can be used in different ways, including as a business platform for different sorts of companies. Whether it’s Uber using it as a ride-sharing service or Amazon using it as a parcel delivery vehicle, the e-Palette Concept is versatile enough to accommodate them. The concept’s potential look to be intriguing enough that companies like Amazon, DiDi, Mazda, Pizza Hut, and Uber have all signed up as partners in the project.

From a physical perspective, the e-Palette Concept has a body that comes in three different lengths, ranging from 13 feet to 23 feet. Its boxy design helps increase usable space in the interior, allowing a business partner to design the cabin in ways it sees fit. In the case of Uber and Didi, that could entail fitting the interior with seats for commuters whereas, in Pizza Hut’s case, it could involve creating a mobile kitchen and delivery service.


Toyota's New E-Palette Concept Can Serve as an Open Platform for Developers - image 756237
“Partner companies are also free to install their own automated driving systems and vehicle management technologies into the concept”

Partner companies are also free to install their own automated driving systems and vehicle management technologies into the concept. Once these systems are installed, Toyota steps into the picture with its Guardian technology, which acts as a “safety net” that helps ensure that the operation of the vehicle is being done properly. Toyota’s goal is to create a business ecosystem around the e-Palette Concept. Partners can also take advantage of shared data that Toyota is offering through its Big Data Center service.

The E-Palette is a fascinating interpretation of what future mobility could look. It might even have a promising future as a real product if Toyota thinks it’s worth building them. Just don’t expect that day to arrive anytime soon because feasibility tests of the concept don’t begin until 2020 in Japan. Coincidentally, that’s also the same year that Tokyo is hosting the 2020 Summer Olympic Games. Coincidence? I don’t think so.


References


maker logos - image 752756

Read more CES news.


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Read more Toyota news.


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PostHeaderIcon Chrysler Pacifica Hybrid – Driven

Though the badge says “Hybrid,” the important thing to know about the Chrysler Pacifica Hybrid right off the bat is this: It’s actually a PHEV. You plug it in, and it runs on electricity for the first several miles of your day.

As I found during a week at the wheel of the electrified minivan, if you have the right commuting or parking situation, you might find yourself using little or no gasoline.

It’s noteworthy Chrysler is the first automaker to put a PHEV minivan on sale in America. For a brand with only three models in its showroom nowadays, this was an even bigger home run than the non-hybrid Pacifica that birthed it. The hybrid takes a great, competitive minivan and makes it truly special — even buzzworthy.

Best of all, it’s the kind of plug-in vehicle that just makes sense for a huge number of families. It’s not much more expensive than any comparably equipped competitive minivan, yet it gets an EPA-estimated 84 MPGe. It’s remarkable because the Pacifica Hybrid squeezes that kind of efficiency out of a big, practically sized, attractive family hauler instead of a small, weirdly styled car wrought with compromises.

After spending a week with the Pacifica Hybrid, I find myself hoping I see a lot more of them on the roads — and hoping FCA has the good sense to adapt this powertrain to other vehicles we might not normally associate with hybrid efficiency. Chrysler 300? Ram 1500? Jeep Grand Cherokee? All have the potential to be transformed into segment-changing vehicles if they can incorporate the Pacifica’s hybrid system.

Design Notes


2018 Chrysler Pacifica Hybrid - Driven - image 756304
“From the outside, there's little to differentiate the Pacifica Hybrid from other Pacifica minivans”

From the outside, there’s little to differentiate the Pacifica Hybrid from other Pacifica minivans. That’s part of the appeal. You’re not driving some weird-looking special model. Though it does have a Hybrid badge or three, they’re not trying too hard to draw attention to the electrified powertrain.

That said, it’s worth pointing out minivans are a lot less “mini” than they were 20 or 30 years ago, and the Pacifica is no exception. It rides on a 121.6-inch wheelbase and is 203.8 inches long overall. It’s 79.6 inches wide without counting the mirrors. It’s 69.9 inches tall.


2018 Chrysler Pacifica Hybrid - Driven - image 756293
“It will haul seven passengers in true comfort, and there's an ample cargo area of 32.3 cubic feet behind the third row”

But Chrysler, like other minivan manufacturers, is giving customers what they want: space. There’s a whopping 165 cubic feet of passenger space inside. It will haul seven passengers in true comfort, and there’s an ample cargo area of 32.3 cubic feet behind the third row — about twice as much cargo space as your typical family sedan. It’s enough to make one wonder why the “crossover” SUV craze is still a thing in America. No SUV has practical, uncompromised space like this. The only compromise made was the second-row seats, which don’t disappear into the floor like non-Hybrid Pacificas. Hey, they had to put the hybrid batteries somewhere.

Chrysler did great work with the exterior of the Pacifica. It has a nose that calls to mind the late Chrysler 200 midsize sedan. The windshield has a lot of sedan-like rake, too. It combines with the low, sloping, sculpted hood, to give driver and front passenger a pretty commanding view of the road. The side view has huge glass area that shrinks a little toward the rear to impart a sense of motion even when the van is parked, plus there’s a bevy of unmistakable character lines and creases. The rear hatch features cleanly integrated taillights and a surprisingly upright, yet narrow, glass.


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“It’s not trying to look like a sporty wagon (wink-wink, Honda Odyssey) but it's also not a boring, utilitarian box on wheels.”

My Pacifica Hybrid was Painted Silver Teal, which is probably the easiest way to spot a Hybrid model because it’s a Hybrid-exclusive color. I found the van very attractive. It’s not trying to look like a sporty wagon (wink-wink, Honda Odyssey) but it’s also not a boring, utilitarian box on wheels.

Drive Notes


2018 Chrysler Pacifica Hybrid - Driven - image 756324
“The Pacifica was so much better-engineered that it made me forget all about those previous disappointments”

This was the first time I had driven a mass-market PHEV, and honestly, it changed the way I thought about electrified powertrains.

My previous experience with PHEVs and Hybrids had suggested that both were best suited to city life, where they could make the most of their batteries. But I live in rural Tennessee, where I have to drive 20 miles round-trip just to get to a grocery store or to my office. Hybrids don’t often achieve their EPA fuel economy numbers when I drive them, perhaps thanks to the hills and highways in my part of the country taxing their gasoline engines.

Meanwhile, the couple of premium-brand PHEVs I have sampled in the past did not have sufficient electric range to even get me to town before the gasoline engine kicked in. That was disappointing since one of those PHEVs was a luxury car that cost more than my house, its price tag pumped to such levels mainly thanks to its tiny array of hybrid batteries and a couple of electric motors.


2018 Chrysler Pacifica Hybrid - Driven - image 756303
“The electric motors — there are two — make enough power on their own to keep the pace with in-town traffic and even drive 70 mph on the highway for several miles in near-silence”

The Pacifica was so much better-engineered that it made me forget all about those previous disappointments. Why can’t every vehicle have a powertrain this well-done?

Its 33-mile electric range is commonsense stuff, given that the average American drives 29 miles a day. The electric motors — there are two — make enough power on their own to keep the pace with in-town traffic and even drive 70 mph on the highway for several miles in near-silence. There’s not much sound from the motors, and what little sound exists is soon squelched by the unintrusive white noise of wind and tires.

A word on the powertrain arrangement: feeding those electric motors is a 96-cell, 16-kWh battery pack hidden under the second row seats. Chrysler says the two electric motors are set up so that one serves as a primary power unit for the front wheels, and the other is used primarily to regenerate energy when the van is braking or coasting. However, unlike most hybrids, that smaller motor can be summoned to provide a few moments of extra oomph when needed, too.


2018 Chrysler Pacifica Hybrid - Driven - image 756320
“I was always able to squeeze about 30 to 35 miles out of the batteries, even when I did a long hill-climb to take my boys to school”

The gasoline half of the powertrain is a highly modified version of FCA’s corporate 3.6-liter Pentastar V6. It makes an estimated 260 total system horsepower when it combines its full efforts with the electric motors. That’s slightly less power than the gasoline-only version of the Pacifica (287 horsepower), but trust me, you don’t miss the power. The instantaneous torque available from the electric motors makes up for it when you need to go deep into the throttle.

This was a surprise: The Pacifica Hybrid largely hit its EPA electric range estimate. I was always able to squeeze about 30 to 35 miles out of the batteries, even when I did a long hill-climb to take my boys to school and the babysitter or when I set the cruise control at 70 mph to travel to the grocery store 20 miles from home.

An even bigger surprise: I was able to drive almost my entire test week on electricity. The Pacifica Hybrid cut my gasoline use by about 75% over the course of a week. Considering the low cost of electricity where I live, the savings over the long term would be tangible. That’s especially true when considering the reduced cost of maintenance over the life of the vehicle. Fewer oil changes would be required because the engine would see relatively little use.


2018 Chrysler Pacifica Hybrid - Driven - image 756322
“When the vehicle depletes its all-electric range, it defaults to hybrid mode, which makes the Pacifica Hybrid behave like a big Toyota Prius”

When the vehicle depletes its all-electric range, it defaults to hybrid mode, which makes the Pacifica Hybrid behave like a big Toyota Prius. The gasoline engine kicks in, but the car is always searching for ways to boost efficiency. Anytime it coasts for more than a few seconds, the engine will shut down as the hybrid battery pack receives a boost from regeneration. The engine also stops when the van stops at a traffic light, and will stay in EV mode for a few seconds after takeoff if the driver’s foot doesn’t get too heavy.

Chrysler did a good job of making the engine startup smooth. I barely noticed it when the engine kicked in. And when it did, the instantaneous fuel economy display — perhaps a bit optimistic, I admit — showed nearly 30 MPG in mostly highway driving. Impressive in a sea of 21-22 MPG minivans.


2018 Chrysler Pacifica Hybrid - Driven - image 756298
“The 10.1-inch screens were tablet-like touchscreens and featured games like checkers and a modern take on the age-old license plate game”

But beyond the gee-whiz powertrain, how is it to live with the Pacifica Hybrid? In a word, easy. There’s plenty of room for six passengers and their stuff. In my case, I hauled two kids in the back who loved the Pacifica Hybrid’s optional dual-screen rear seat entertainment system. The 10.1-inch screens were tablet-like touchscreens and featured games like checkers and a modern take on the age-old license plate game. They also can play Blu-Ray movies from the disc drive, or you can hook up a couple of players via twin HDMI ports for more direct rear-seat control.

While the second row lost its Stow-’n’-Go capability because of the battery pack under the floor, the third row would easily fold into the floor. And accessing the third row — which was roomy enough for me to be comfortable, at 6’3” — was easy because the second-row seats would tilt forward and slide out of the way with an easy pull of a lever. Nicely done, Chrysler.


2018 Chrysler Pacifica Hybrid - Driven - image 756313
“The ride is well-controlled for a big, heavy minivan”

As far as handling? Well, it’s a minivan, so I wasn’t expecting much. But most of the things I liked about the non-Hybrid Pacifica a few months earlier are still here. The ride is well-controlled for a big, heavy minivan. Rough pavement won’t upset the ride too much. The Hybrid’s electric continuously variable transmission is a great addition — smoother and more satisfying than the nine-speed automatic in other Pacificas. Steering feel, to my surprise, was not totally numb.

I ended the week saying I wanted one of these. Coming from a guy who usually says he wants his next car to be something small and weird like a Fiat 500, trust me, that’s high praise.

Competitors

It’s hard to compare the Pacifica Hybrid to other minivans, because so far, at least, nobody else is building a hybrid minivan for America. But with a federal $7,500 tax incentive, the Pacifica Hybrid really isn’t much more expensive than its non-hybrid competitors.

Honda Odyssey


2018 Honda Odyssey - image 718516
“Not surprisingly, it’s fuel economy where the Pacifica Hybrid will win over the Odyssey”

The Honda Odyssey is more sporty-looking than the Chrysler Pacifica, if that matters to you. It won’t really be more sporty to drive. These are minivans, after all.

Honda’s design inside the Odyssey is somewhat more sci-fi than the interior of the Pacifica Hybrid. I find the dashboard design of the new-for-2018 Odyssey less friendly to the eye than the one in the Pacifica Hybrid.

As for passenger and cargo space, it’s more or less a wash. There’s more than 30 cubic feet of cargo space behind the third row seats in the Odyssey, and more than 80 cubic feet if you fold those third-row seats into the floor. Chrysler is not the only minivan manufacturer who knows that party trick nowadays. All three rows of seats are perfectly useful for adult passengers.

Not surprisingly, it’s fuel economy where the Pacifica Hybrid will win over the Odyssey. The Odyssey’s 3.5-liter V6 makes 280 horsepower and 262 lb-ft of torque — slightly more powerful than the 260 combined horsepower of the Pacifica Hybrid’s gas/electric powertrain. But you’re likely to see about 19 MPG city, 28 MPG highway, 22 MPG combined in the Odyssey, according to the EPA. If you’re comparing it to other non-hybrid minivans, that’s perfectly competitive. In fact, that’s what the regular Pacifica gets in EPA testing, too. But the Pacifica Hybrid’s 84 MPGe crushes that.

Odyssey can have a slight edge in price. The Pacifica Hybrid starts at $39,995. Take the $7,500 federal tax incentive and any state tax incentives into account before running the numbers, though. Where I live in Tennessee, we don’t have any state tax breaks for buying plug-in hybrid vehicles, but the federal incentive still lowers the net cost to $32,495. That’s a little more than the sub-$30,000 base Odyssey (starting price $29,990). But considering the fuel you might save, the difference isn’t large.

Read our full review on the 2018 Honda Odyssey.

Toyota Sienna


2018 Toyota Sienna - image 711154
“The Sienna has something no other minivan has in America at the time of this writing: all-wheel drive”

Toyota’s Sienna has aged a lot since the “Swagger Wagon” days. Other than the government fleet queen Dodge Grand Caravan, it’s the oldest minivan design on sale today.

But for some people, that much-respected Toyota reliability is a big selling point — especially when you’re comparing it against Chrysler, who hasn’t had the best reliability record where minivans are concerned.

The Sienna recently got a design refresh that mostly affected its face, with a slightly more aggressive front grille trim serving to give the van another year or two of relevancy before a total redesign, which I hope is coming soon for this aging platform. Inside got a few nice updates, too, including Toyota’s Entune 3.0 infotainment system that is a little easier to use and more up-to-date with the latest technologies. However, Toyota’s Entune still lacks Android Auto/Apple CarPlay capability that Chrysler is starting to sneak into its Uconnect infotainment systems of late.

Like the Odyssey, the Sienna loses on fuel consumption to the Pacifica Hybrid. That’s not a completely fair comparison, but being that it’s the Pacifica Hybrid’s primary selling point, it bears repeating.

However, the Sienna has something no other minivan has in America at the time of this writing: all-wheel drive. If you want it, you can buy a Sienna that drives all four wheels when required. You’ll pay more at purchase time, and there’s a slight penalty in fuel economy, but if you live where snow is a regular feature of winter, it may very well be worth the additional cost.

Other advantages of the Sienna include easier-to-use child anchors and tethers, which you’ll appreciate if you have to move a baby seat in and out of the van frequently, and more cargo room than Pacifica behind the third row (39.1 cubic feet vs. the Pacifica’s 32.3 cubic feet.)

Overall, I find the Chrysler Pacifica — Hybrid or not — more comfortable. And it has better safety equipment by virtue of its more recent design. But the Sienna has definite appeal where practicality and value are concerned.

Read our full review on the 2018 Toyota Sienna.

Kia Sedona


2015 Kia Sedona - image 548812
“The Sedona gets the worst fuel economy in the minivan segment, too, with EPA ratings of 18 MPG city, 24 MPG highway.”

The Kia Sedona came back after a brief hiatus a couple of years ago, so it is more up-to-date than the Toyota Sienna. And, true to form, Kia offers one of the strongest value propositions in the segment if your primary concern is price: The base Sedona starts about $2,000 cheaper than a base Pacifica.

Sedona does well with safety ratings, just like the Pacifica. And it offers competitive space for passengers and cargo. There’s slightly more of both in the Kia, in fact.

But where the Sedona disappoints is in its handling and powertrain. The Kia’s 3.3-liter V6 feels rougher and less-refined than Chrysler’s — doubly so when compared to the Pacifica Hybrid. Its handling is ponderous and feels awkward when hustled or when trying to navigate tight parking lots. The Pacifica feels much nicer to drive, Hybrid or not.

The Sedona gets the worst fuel economy in the minivan segment, too, with EPA ratings of 18 MPG city, 24 MPG highway.

But the pricing is what wins people over to Sedona. Kia dealers tend to be very discount-happy, and some comparison outlets show the base Sedona L regularly selling below $20,000. The difference in price buys a lot of gasoline.

I’m watching with interest to see whether Kia starts adopting its hybrid drive system to more of its models based on the early success of the Niro Hybrid. A plug-in Niro Hybrid is just coming to market at the time of this writing, and could easily lend some of its powertrain design to the Sedona to make a Chrysler competitor.

But that’s something Toyota could easily do, too, based on the preponderance of Prius hybrids and PHEVs it has sold in recent years. And despite persistent rumors that a Sienna Hybrid is “just around the corner,” it has yet to materialize. Will Kia beat Toyota to the punch to become the second hybrid minivan for sale in America? Only time will tell.

One thing is for sure, though: Kia learns quickly. Who would have thought the Soul would be the last of the subcompact boxcars to survive — and that it would survive because it’s nicer to drive, with better features and performance than the other players in that segment? Who would have said, five or 10 years ago, that the brand would build the Niro, one of the most buzzworthy hybrids and PHEVS in the industry?

Read our full review on the 2017 Kia Sedona.

Conclusion


2018 Chrysler Pacifica Hybrid - Driven - image 756312

Chrysler did a great thing when it put a plug-in hybrid powertrain in the Pacifica. I already liked the Pacifica based on my test drive of the non-Hybrid version. But the Pacifica Hybrid made me fall in love.

This is the kind of practical PHEV America needs. It is my sincere hope that the auto industry takes the lessons learned in the Pacifica Hybrid and applies them to more vehicles in more segments. I didn’t realize how little gasoline I would need, even with a relatively modest 33-mile electric range.

What if a next-gen Pacifica Hybrid has a 50-mile electric range thanks to improved battery chemistry? Or what if Chrysler puts a big lump of batteries in the hole where the engine goes and gives us a 300-mile range on a Pacifica EV someday? The future is looking exciting.

If you’re shopping for a family hauler, I cannot recommend this enough: Test drive a Pacifica Hybrid. For about the price of a midsize or large crossover SUV, you can have a much more practical vehicle that will slash your gasoline expenses.

My tester had an MSRP of $47,885. The federal tax incentive would bring my net cost down to just a shade over $40,000. That’s a pretty strong deal in a world where it’s easy to find yourself shopping GMC Acadias or Nissan Pathfinders that often sell for around $40K with a few options.

It’s simple, really: The Chrysler Pacifica Hybrid just makes sense.

Disclosure: Chrysler provided the vehicle, insurance, and a tank of fuel — of which I used only a couple of gallons — for this review.

References

Chrysler Pacifica


2017 Chrysler Pacifica Hybrid - image 662017

Read our full review on the 2017 Chrysler Pacifica Hybrid.

PostHeaderIcon Honda Insight Returning After Four Years; Prototype Ready for Detroit Debut

Discontinued in 2014, the Honda Insight is about to make a comeback for the 2019 model year. The big news comes from the Japanese automakers, which just announced that a prototype model will be shown at the 2018 Detroit Auto Show in January. Described as a precursor to the all-new model, which will go on sale next year, the prototype is will preview a vehicle described as an “upscale, stylish five-passenger sedan positioned above the Civic in the lineup.”


Honda Insight Returning After Four Years; Prototype Ready for Detroit Debut - image 753495
“The new Insight will feature the company's latest-generation, "innovative two-motor hybrid system."”

Honda didn’t release too many details, but it did mention that the new Insight will feature the company’s latest-generation, “innovative two-motor hybrid system.” Honda also promises “fuel economy that is competitive with other compact hybrid models.” The third-gen hybrid should also include “premium features and performance desired by mainstream car buyers” and present an entirely new approach in terms of styling and packaging. Well, this is definitely good news, as the previous Insight lacked some of the modern features available in vehicles from rival brands.


Honda Insight Returning After Four Years; Prototype Ready for Detroit Debut - image 753491
“While precise data isn't yet available, Honda is making a third attempt at competing against the popular Toyota Prius”

While precise data isn’t yet available, Honda is making a third attempt at competing against the popular Toyota Prius. Introduced in 1999, the first-gen Insight was the first hybrid vehicle sold in the United States and had relative success on the market until 2006. Redesigned from the ground up, the second-generation model, launched in 2009, posted far better sales in both the U.S. and Europe, but that didn’t last long. After selling more than 20,000 units per year in 2009 and 2010, and over 15,000 in 2011, North American sales dropped to less than 6,000 in 2012 and less than 5,000 in 2013. As a result, the Insight was discontinued in 2014.


Honda Insight Returning After Four Years; Prototype Ready for Detroit Debut - image 753494

Honda is reviving the nameplate for the third time, and this is good news for the market, but will the new Insight have what it takes to steal customers from the Toyota? We will probably find out more about that in January, so make sure you stick around for updates from the Detroit Auto Show.

References

Honda Insight


2014 Honda Insight - image 542846

Read our full review on the 2014 Honda Insight.


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Read more Detroit Auto Show news.

PostHeaderIcon Renault and Mercedes Debut new 1.3-liter Engine!

Automotive partnerships come in many forms. In the case of Renault and Mercedes, we see that partnership come to life in the form of a newly developed 1.3-liter gasoline engine. The new engine is expected to debut in the Renault Scenic and Grand Scenic MPVs before other Renault models get their turn with it sometime in 2018.


Renault and Mercedes Debut new 1.3-liter Engine! - image 752758
“There is a chance too that Mercedes will also make use of the engine at some point in the future”

The new four-cylinder engine comes to life just in time for both automakers. Renault is getting the first crack at it since the engine is going to debut in the Scenic and Grand Scenic MPVs. There is a chance too that Mercedes will also make use of the engine at some point in the future. It did play a hand in developing it, and its capabilities are in sync with what the German automaker plans to offer with its new A-Class.

Speaking of its capabilities, the engine, called Energy TCe, will come in three different configurations. The base unit is called the Energy TCe 115, and it has 115 horsepower and around 162 pound-feet of torque. Move up the ranks, and we get the Energy TCe 160. As the number implies, this version has an output of 160 horsepower and 192 pound-feet of torque when hooked up to a manual transmission. The range-topping version of this engine unit is called the EDC. It still has the same horsepower output as the TCe 160, but it does get an extra eight pound-feet in torque that brings its total up to 200 pound-feet.


Renault and Mercedes Debut new 1.3-liter Engine! - image 752757
“Speaking of its capabilities, the engine, called Energy TCe, will come in three different configurations”

As much as Renault and Mercedes worked on this engine, the former’s connection with Nissan also played a role in the engine’s development. According to Renault, the cylinder coating technology used on the three-in-one TCe engine was first used on the Nissan GT-R. Apparently, this tech helps boost the engine’s efficiency by cutting down friction within the mill. On top of that, the four-cylinder engine also features Dual Variable Timing Camshaft, a system that helps improve the car’s low-end torque capabilities.

References

Renault Scenic


2017 Renault Grand Scenic - image 677207

Read our full review on the 2017 Renault Grand Scenic.


2017 Renault Scenic - image 668875

Read our full review on the 2017 Renault Scenic.

PostHeaderIcon Fisker’s Newest Project is an Electric Shuttle; Deliveries Start in Late-2018

Proclaimed as an “SUV you actually want to ride in,” Henrik Fisker has finally shown off his newest creation and the second model to be proposed for the Fisker lineup. Meet the Fisker Orbit, a model that Fisker claims will change the future of mobility forever, and has yet to go beyond the rendering stage, but is apparently slated for delivery starting in October of 2018 – that’s less than one year from the time of this writing. The company, via its Facebook page, said its an “electric, connected, autonomous shuttle for smart cities.” According to Boss Magazine, the new Orbit will be built in collaboration with Hakim Unique Group of China, a brand valued at $32 billion with 160 subsidiaries globally.

Want to know more? Keep reading…

The Orbit, a Chinese Company, New Technology


Fisker's Newest Project is an Electric Shuttle; Deliveries Start in Late-2018 - image 749323
“Orbit is something out of what we would see in a science fiction movie based in the distant future”

The rendered images of the Orbit Shuttle come just a few days after a partially blacked out image was showcased on Fisker’s Twitter page. According to the aforementioned Boss Magazine, Fisker and Hakim plan to “set a foundation” for self-driving transportation in U.S. Cities. So, it should go without saying that it will utilize the same technology found in the Fisker Emotion. As you can see from the available images, the Orbit is something out of what we would see in a science fiction movie based in the distant future. The glass can project and display test to give passersby or potential riders necessary information while the inside will likely serve as a platform for entertainment or, probably, advertisements.

“I am very excited about making the impossible, possible with intelligent urban ecosystems– starting with the development of one of the world’s most forward-thinking and uniquely designed electric, autonomous shuttles: The Fisker Orbit,” said Fisker. “Hakim Group is a very large group out of China that is already working on smart cities and many other things as well,” he continued, “They also own some areas of hospitals in L.A., coincidentally. I got to meet one of the group’s directors in L.A., and we got talking about the future of mobility.”


Fisker's Newest Project is an Electric Shuttle; Deliveries Start in Late-2018 - image 749321
“It’s still a little too early to believe that October 2018 delivery date, but you never know, it could very well happen”

With that said, it looks like Fisker may actually be the real deal this time around. With a company like Hakim as a partner, he’ll certainly have the funding needed to keep Fisker afloat. It’s still a little too early to believe that October 2018 delivery date, but you never know, it could very well happen. What do you think? Do you like the shuttle? Do you want to ride in it? Will you ride in it? Let us know in the comments section below.

References


What in the World is Henrik Fisker Working on Now? - image 747624

What in the World is Henrik Fisker Working on Now?

Fisker EMotion


2017 Fisker EMotion - image 693722

Read our full review on the 2018 Fisker EMotion.

PostHeaderIcon Fisker’s Newest Project is an Electric Shuttle; Deliveries Start in Late-2018

Proclaimed as an “SUV you actually want to ride in,” Henrik Fisker has finally shown off his newest creation and the second model to be proposed for the Fisker lineup. Meet the Fisker Orbit, a model that Fisker claims will change the future of mobility forever, and has yet to go beyond the rendering stage, but is apparently slated for delivery starting in October of 2018 – that’s less than one year from the time of this writing. The company, via its Facebook page, said its an “electric, connected, autonomous shuttle for smart cities.” According to Boss Magazine, the new Orbit will be built in collaboration with Hakim Unique Group of China, a brand valued at $32 billion with 160 subsidiaries globally.

Want to know more? Keep reading…

The Orbit, a Chinese Company, New Technology


Fisker's Newest Project is an Electric Shuttle; Deliveries Start in Late-2018 - image 749323
“Orbit is something out of what we would see in a science fiction movie based in the distant future”

The rendered images of the Orbit Shuttle come just a few days after a partially blacked out image was showcased on Fisker’s Twitter page. According to the aforementioned Boss Magazine, Fisker and Hakim plan to “set a foundation” for self-driving transportation in U.S. Cities. So, it should go without saying that it will utilize the same technology found in the Fisker Emotion. As you can see from the available images, the Orbit is something out of what we would see in a science fiction movie based in the distant future. The glass can project and display test to give passersby or potential riders necessary information while the inside will likely serve as a platform for entertainment or, probably, advertisements.

“I am very excited about making the impossible, possible with intelligent urban ecosystems– starting with the development of one of the world’s most forward-thinking and uniquely designed electric, autonomous shuttles: The Fisker Orbit,” said Fisker. “Hakim Group is a very large group out of China that is already working on smart cities and many other things as well,” he continued, “They also own some areas of hospitals in L.A., coincidentally. I got to meet one of the group’s directors in L.A., and we got talking about the future of mobility.”


Fisker's Newest Project is an Electric Shuttle; Deliveries Start in Late-2018 - image 749321
“It’s still a little too early to believe that October 2018 delivery date, but you never know, it could very well happen”

With that said, it looks like Fisker may actually be the real deal this time around. With a company like Hakim as a partner, he’ll certainly have the funding needed to keep Fisker afloat. It’s still a little too early to believe that October 2018 delivery date, but you never know, it could very well happen. What do you think? Do you like the shuttle? Do you want to ride in it? Will you ride in it? Let us know in the comments section below.

References


What in the World is Henrik Fisker Working on Now? - image 747624

What in the World is Henrik Fisker Working on Now?

Fisker EMotion


2017 Fisker EMotion - image 693722

Read our full review on the 2018 Fisker EMotion.

PostHeaderIcon Fisker’s Newest Project is an Electric Shuttle; Deliveries Start in Late-2018

Proclaimed as an “SUV you actually want to ride in,” Henrik Fisker has finally shown off his newest creation and the second model to be proposed for the Fisker lineup. Meet the Fisker Orbit, a model that Fisker claims will change the future of mobility forever, and has yet to go beyond the rendering stage, but is apparently slated for delivery starting in October of 2018 – that’s less than one year from the time of this writing. The company, via its Facebook page, said its an “electric, connected, autonomous shuttle for smart cities.” According to Boss Magazine, the new Orbit will be built in collaboration with Hakim Unique Group of China, a brand valued at $32 billion with 160 subsidiaries globally.

Want to know more? Keep reading…

The Orbit, a Chinese Company, New Technology


Fisker's Newest Project is an Electric Shuttle; Deliveries Start in Late-2018 - image 749323
“Orbit is something out of what we would see in a science fiction movie based in the distant future”

The rendered images of the Orbit Shuttle come just a few days after a partially blacked out image was showcased on Fisker’s Twitter page. According to the aforementioned Boss Magazine, Fisker and Hakim plan to “set a foundation” for self-driving transportation in U.S. Cities. So, it should go without saying that it will utilize the same technology found in the Fisker Emotion. As you can see from the available images, the Orbit is something out of what we would see in a science fiction movie based in the distant future. The glass can project and display test to give passersby or potential riders necessary information while the inside will likely serve as a platform for entertainment or, probably, advertisements.

“I am very excited about making the impossible, possible with intelligent urban ecosystems– starting with the development of one of the world’s most forward-thinking and uniquely designed electric, autonomous shuttles: The Fisker Orbit,” said Fisker. “Hakim Group is a very large group out of China that is already working on smart cities and many other things as well,” he continued, “They also own some areas of hospitals in L.A., coincidentally. I got to meet one of the group’s directors in L.A., and we got talking about the future of mobility.”


Fisker's Newest Project is an Electric Shuttle; Deliveries Start in Late-2018 - image 749321
“It’s still a little too early to believe that October 2018 delivery date, but you never know, it could very well happen”

With that said, it looks like Fisker may actually be the real deal this time around. With a company like Hakim as a partner, he’ll certainly have the funding needed to keep Fisker afloat. It’s still a little too early to believe that October 2018 delivery date, but you never know, it could very well happen. What do you think? Do you like the shuttle? Do you want to ride in it? Will you ride in it? Let us know in the comments section below.

References


What in the World is Henrik Fisker Working on Now? - image 747624

What in the World is Henrik Fisker Working on Now?

Fisker EMotion


2017 Fisker EMotion - image 693722

Read our full review on the 2018 Fisker EMotion.

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.


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2012 Ford Mustang GT Coupe 2-Door 2012 FORD MUSTANG GT FASTBACK 5.0 6-SPD SPOILER 36K MI #281725 Texas Direct Auto
$16,100.00 (17 Bids)
End Date: Thursday Jan-18-2018 7:55:18 PST
Buy It Now for only: $19,419.00
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2014 BMW 4-Series Base Coupe 2-Door 2014 BMW 435I SPORT PREMIUM TECH DRIVER ASSIST NAV 35K #774520 Texas Direct Auto
$1.00 (0 Bids)
End Date: Monday Jan-22-2018 13:14:56 PST
Buy It Now for only: $29,980.00
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2016 Chevrolet Camaro SS Convertible 2-Door 2016 CHEVY CAMARO 2SS CONVERTIBLE LEATHER NAV HUD 22k #166875 Texas Direct Auto
$34,730.00
End Date: Wednesday Jan-24-2018 15:30:00 PST
Buy It Now for only: $34,730.00
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1965 Ford Mustang 4 SPEED 1965 Mustang Fastback A-CODE 4 SPEED Factory Air conditioning
$12,200.00
End Date: Saturday Jan-20-2018 12:26:14 PST
Buy It Now for only: $12,200.00
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2015 Chevrolet Camaro SS Coupe 2-Door 2015 CHEVY CAMARO SS2 COMMEMORATIVE SUNROOF NAV HUD 3K #211182 Texas Direct Auto
$18,100.00 (52 Bids)
End Date: Thursday Jan-18-2018 8:15:00 PST
Buy It Now for only: $31,980.00
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2016 Ford Mustang GT350 LIKE NEW, TRACK PACKAGE 1,129 ACTUAL MILES, SHOWROOM QUALITY
$60,000.00
End Date: Tuesday Jan-23-2018 17:56:12 PST
Buy It Now for only: $60,000.00
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2015 BMW 4-Series Base Coupe 2-Door 2015 BMW 435I XDRIVE SPORT AWD SUNROOF NAV HUD 19'S 20K #189506 Texas Direct
$102.50 (2 Bids)
End Date: Monday Jan-22-2018 20:53:21 PST
Buy It Now for only: $34,480.00
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2017 Chevrolet Corvette Grand Sport Coupe 2-Door 2017 CHEVY CORVETTE GRAND SPORT 2LT RED LEATHER NAV 1K #101720 Texas Direct Auto
$40,500.00 (380 Bids)
End Date: Saturday Jan-20-2018 8:30:00 PST
Buy It Now for only: $62,230.00
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2015 Chevrolet Corvette Z51 Coupe 2-Door 2015 CHEVY CORVETTE STINGRAY Z51 2LT AUTO NAV HUD 4K MI #112474 Texas Direct
$32,300.00 (41 Bids)
End Date: Saturday Jan-20-2018 10:15:00 PST
Buy It Now for only: $49,230.00
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1957 Chevrolet Other Pickups 1957 Chevrolet 3100 Pickup
$5,800.00 (16 Bids)
End Date: Monday Jan-22-2018 21:28:16 PST
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2017 Ford F-150 2017 FORD F150 XLT CREW 4X4 5.0 LIFTED LEATHER 35'S 14K #A48652 Texas Direct
$10,100.00 (26 Bids)
End Date: Thursday Jan-18-2018 8:30:00 PST
Buy It Now for only: $39,480.00
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2016 Ford Mustang Shelby GT350 Coupe 2-Door 2016 FORD MUSTANG SHELBY GT350 5.2L 6-SPEED TECH NAV 5K #521566 Texas Direct
$53,730.00
End Date: Wednesday Jan-24-2018 15:30:00 PST
Buy It Now for only: $53,730.00
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2015 Chevrolet Corvette Z06 Coupe 2-Door 2015 CHEVY CORVETTE Z06 2LZ S/C 7SPD LEATHER NAV HUD 8K #602574 Texas Direct
$65,480.00
End Date: Saturday Jan-20-2018 13:00:00 PST
Buy It Now for only: $65,480.00
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2016 Ford Mustang GT350 2016 Ford Mustang Shelby GT350
$45,000.00 (29 Bids)
End Date: Sunday Jan-21-2018 16:35:38 PST
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2011 Chevrolet Corvette Grand Sport Coupe 2-Door 2011 CHEVY CORVETTE Z16 GRAND SPORT 3LT Z51 HUD 31K MI #101903 Texas Direct Auto
$20,100.00 (9 Bids)
End Date: Thursday Jan-18-2018 8:15:00 PST
Buy It Now for only: $34,357.00
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1967 Ford Mustang Coupe 1967 Ford Mustang Coupe
$3,000.00
End Date: Monday Jan-22-2018 17:31:10 PST
Buy It Now for only: $3,000.00
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2015 Ford Mustang Premium GT Roush Edition 727 HP- Warrior Special Ops - Only one ever made
$35,100.00 (12 Bids)
End Date: Wednesday Jan-17-2018 18:09:16 PST
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2015 BMW i8 Base Coupe 2-Door 2015 BMW I8 HYBRID GIGA WORLD AWD NAV HUD 20'S ONLY 15K #392350 Texas Direct
$55,655.00 (22 Bids)
End Date: Thursday Jan-18-2018 19:59:45 PST
Buy It Now for only: $88,480.00
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2012 Ford Mustang Shelby GT500 Coupe 2-Door 2012 FORD MUSTANG SHELBY SUPER SNAKE 800-HP ONLY 544 MI #227961 Texas Direct
$84,980.00
End Date: Thursday Jan-18-2018 8:00:00 PST
Buy It Now for only: $84,980.00
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1965 Chevrolet Corvette Coupe 1965 Corvette Coupe original red car, numbers matching
$26,100.00 (21 Bids)
End Date: Sunday Jan-21-2018 8:57:17 PST
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1967 Ford Mustang fastback GT 1967 Mustang Fastback GT S Code
$50,500.00 (35 Bids)
End Date: Sunday Jan-21-2018 18:10:37 PST
Buy It Now for only: $72,995.00
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2017 Ford F-150 FX4 Crew Cab Lariat Sport FX4 4X4 Ecoboost Custom Lifted Truck New Wheels Tires Nav
$42,600.00 (29 Bids)
End Date: Friday Jan-19-2018 15:31:03 PST
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2016 Chevrolet Corvette Z06 Coupe 2-Door 2016 CHEVY CORVETTE Z06 1LZ S/C HUD REAR CAM 4K MILES #613401 Texas Direct Auto
$68,480.00
End Date: Saturday Jan-20-2018 9:20:31 PST
Buy It Now for only: $68,480.00
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2016 Ford F-150 2016 FORD F-150 CREW 4X4 LIFTED LEATHER REAR CAM 9K MI #D74031 Texas Direct Auto
$38,980.00
End Date: Saturday Jan-20-2018 14:15:56 PST
Buy It Now for only: $38,980.00
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1965 Ford Mustang 4 SPEED 1965 FORD MUSTANG FASTBACK 4 SPEED
$12,300.00
End Date: Sunday Jan-21-2018 6:36:53 PST
Buy It Now for only: $12,300.00
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2016 Ford F-150 2016 FORD F150 LTD CREW 4X4 ECOBOOST PANO NAV 22'S 9K #D31861 Texas Direct Auto
$1,025.00 (11 Bids)
End Date: Thursday Jan-18-2018 7:56:10 PST
Buy It Now for only: $48,846.00
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