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Archive for the ‘minivans’ Category

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

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

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

Continue reading for the full story.

PostHeaderIcon Faraday’s Future Looks Bleaker By The Day

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

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

Continue after the jump to read the full story.

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

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

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

Continue after the jump to read the full story.


PostHeaderIcon Volkswagen Van

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

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

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

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

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

Continue reading for the full review.


PostHeaderIcon Toyota Sienna

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

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

Continue reading to learn more about the 2018 Toyota Sienna.


PostHeaderIcon Volkswagen I.D. BUZZ

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

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

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

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

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


PostHeaderIcon Is Volkswagen Ever Bringing Back The Microbus?

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

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

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

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

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

Continue reading for the full story.


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

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

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

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


PostHeaderIcon Volkswagen I.D. Concept Van

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

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

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

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

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


PostHeaderIcon Honda Odyssey

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

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

Continue reading to learn more about the 2018 Honda Odyssey.


PostHeaderIcon Honda Teases 2018 Odyssey Ahead of Detroit Auto Show Debut

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

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

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

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

Continue reading for the full story.


PostHeaderIcon Tesla Minivan

Tesla’s “Master Plan, Part Deux” includes a wide range of future vehicles, including a pickup, a compact SUV, and even a semi-truck. Sadly however, Tesla might be missing an important segment niche – the minivan. Sure, sales of minivans have dwindled with the exploding popularity of the crossover, but families continue to rely on the minivan’s unparalleled interior volume and downright handiness for hauling the kids and their stuff.

With that in mind, we decided to render what a Tesla minivan might look like. However unlikely, the idea is an interesting one. Think about it – interior volume would be nearly unimpeded thanks to the battery pack being incased in the flat floor with relatively compact electric motors at either end. Its “frunk” gives space to store items separate from the passenger cabin. And there would be no more smelly, greasy gas pumps to operate. Sounds great, right mom?

A similar chassis as the Model X SUV would likely underpin Tesla’s version of a minivan. Perhaps the wheelbase would be slightly stretched to accommodate for a larger third row and the inevitable sliding rear doors. Maybe Tesla engineers would develop some sort of hidden track system for those doors, eliminating the unsightly gap in the rear quarter panels. The potential for innovation is boundless.

Let’s check out the details below.

Continue reading to learn more about the Tesla Minivan.


PostHeaderIcon Toyota Sienna – Driven

The minivan segment might not be the most glamorous vehicle category, but you’ll be hard-pressed to find a more functional, practical, and economical ride when it comes to transporting seven of your closest friends and family. Yep, the minivan can haul people and their stuff in glorious comfort while making most SUV crossovers look cramped and poorly designed. Sadly, the minivan gets a bad rap. It’s pigeon holed as the mommy-mobile on it way between soccer and ballet, filled with Cheerio crumbs and at least one soured formula bottle lost in one of the dozens of cup holders.

Looking past that stereotype reveals a rather competitive segment, with hot players from Honda, Kia, Nissan, and of course Toyota. While each of these automakers have respectable offerings, it’s the all-new Chrysler Pacifica that has the minivan segment on fire in 2016. In light of this, we wanted a closer look at Toyota’s offering.

The Sienna has been around since 1998, undergoing three generational changes since then, with its most recent change being a mid-cycle refresh in 2014. Not much has changed since then, but the Sienna still provides a great place for seven or eight passengers (depending on seating configuration), decent fuel economy, and most of the modern tech folks expect these days.

Let’s dive in and see what the 2016 Toyota Sienna has to offer.

Continue reading for the full review


PostHeaderIcon Is Peugeot Already Testing the Next-Generation 2008?

It’s been less than three months since Peugeot unveiled the facelifted version of the current 2008 crossover, and it appears that the French firm is already testing a next-generation version. That’s the word from our paparazzi, who claim that the test mule in the images above is the second-generation 2008.

Although it looks nothing like a Peugeot and its nearly identical to the upcoming Opel Meriva that’s already been spotted testing in Europe, the different front end makes us believe that this could be next 2008. And the reason for that is simple. With GM and PSA having already worked together to develop successors to the Opel Meriva and Citroen C3 Picasso, it makes a lot of sense that the other brand from the PSA Group, Peugeot, to benefit from the new platform.

Both the new Meriva and C3 Picasso will ditch their minivan roots in favor of a more SUV-like approach, which Peugeot already did with the 3008 and likely wants the next-generation 2008 to follow a similar path. The camouflage is obviously too heavy to spot the essential details, but with the Opel and the Citroen prototypes sharing the same body panels except the front fascia, it’s likely that the 2008 will have a similar design and stand out by means of Peugeot’s newly redesigned grille and bold bumper seen on the larger 3008.

The only confusing detail here is the surprisingly low ride height, which wouldn’t make sense for a crossover in this category. This could change as the model gets closer to its launch date and the camouflage becomes thinner to let more details hit the surface. Speaking of the vehicle’s launch date, there’s no official timetable as to when that may happen, but the redesigned 2008 could break cover in 2017 and go on sale for the 2018 model year in Europe.

Continue reading for the full story.


PostHeaderIcon Renault Grand Scenic

Back in March, Renault pulled the sheet off of the all new Renault Scenic based on the R-Space concept. Now, just a couple months later, Renault is pulling the sheet off of its bigger brother – the Grand Scenic.

The Grand Scenic is nine inches longer, almost one inch wider, and just over a half-inch taller than it’s smaller sibling. It comes standard with 20-inch wheels, automatic emergency braking with pedestrian detection, full-color heads-up display, parking assistance, and a host of engines that include five diesel options and two gasoline options.

Furthermore, it offers seating for five or seven people, two-tone livery from the second equipment level up, and an all-new color – Vision Brown – that is exclusive to the Grand Scenic. Compared to the outgoing model, the new Grand Scenic has a completely redesigned front end, more fluidic body lines, and a reworked rear end. The end result: Renault just made the compact MPV segment a little sexier.

Needless to say, the new Grand Scenic is a huge departure from the outgoing model. The body flows smoother from front to rear, there’s plenty of interior room, and the standard features are surprising – even on the entry-level model. Even from a quick glance, you can see that the body was designed to have a look of depth from the side and that the roof doesn’t slope downward as aggressively as it did on the outgoing model. All told, it’s one of the better “redesigns” that we’ve seen in a while.

The new Grand Scenic will go on sale before the end of the year, with the full U.K. model lineup, specifications and pricing announced closer to the official launch. So, with that said, let’s take a closer look at Renault’s new Grand Scenic and all the fine details hidden within.

Continue reading to learn more about the 2017 Renault Grand Scenic.


PostHeaderIcon Toyota uBox Concept

Toyota designers and engineers have spent the last two years collaborating with students at Clemson University’s International Center for Automotive Research to design a new car. The project is called “Deep Orange” and, after two years of work, the team has designed, engineered, and hand-built what it is calling the uBox Concept. The project is intended to develop interested from the “next generation” of car buyers, dubbed Generation Z, and is designed to provide utility and recreation on the weekend but serve as an office space during the week.

Johnell Brooks, an Associate Professor in Clemson’s graduate engineering program, said, “Deep Orange gives students’ hands-on experience with the entire vehicle development process, from identifying the market opportunity through the vehicle build. It’s like automotive boot camp for the real world, and it wouldn’t happen without industry partners like Toyota.”

The uBox Concept made its debut on April 12th at the Society of Engineers World Congress and Exposition in Detroit, Michigan. It features an um… interesting design on the outside and a good portion of the interior components can be customized and created with 3D printing technology. All told, it isn’t a bad design for a group of students embarking on their first major design and engineering project, so let’s take a closer look at the uBox concept and see just how the students did.

Continue reading to learn more about the 2017 Toyota uBox Concept.


PostHeaderIcon Chrysler Pacifica Hellcat Canceled, FCA Reports

Just hours after TopSpeed broke the news that FCA would be building a 707-horsepower minivan, the automaker has abruptly canceled the project. The news comes from a company insider close to the action. “I just know it’s not happening,” the unnamed source said.

Answers unfolded when we contacted Mike Manley, the global head of both Ram and Jeep brands, about the cancellation. “Honestly, I can’t have the Chrysler guys using my Grand Cherokee Trackhawk powertrain and stealing my customers away. The Jeep project was started first, plus I’m not allowing the Pacifica to make my Jeep look slow!”

While this sort of inter-company drama is rarely leaked to the media, it makes sense for the Jeep Grand Cherokee Trackhawk to reside atop the Hellcat heap. Such a vehicle would further boost the Jeep brand’s market presence in preparation for the upcoming Grand Wagoneer launch. That high-end, ultra-luxurious SUV is set to compete with the Cadillac Escalade and BMW X5. FCA would be foolish to thwart its own progress.

Speaking of being foolish, you, our loyal readers, might be considered one should you believe any of this. Yep, happy April Fools day. And no, FCA is not building a Pacifica Hellcat – and it never was. (At least to our knowledge!) We also never had a “candid conversation” with Ralph Gilles, though we’d never turn down the opportunity. We hope you had as much fun reading these jestful Pacifica Hellcat stories as we had writing them.

Continue reading to see our full coverage of the Pacifica Hellcat joke.


PostHeaderIcon The Pacifica Hellcat – Industry Game Changer Or Inevitability?

At this point, you’ve no doubt heard the news that Chrysler is cramming the supercharged Hellcat V-8 into its Pacifica minivan, while also adding AWD, performance suspension, and all the accompanying bells and whistles needed to harness such prodigious output. While it might seem a bit crazy at first blush, we should have seen it coming.

I’ll explain. These days, high-level performance is available in just about every shape and size imaginable. Sure, you still have the traditional lead-sled muscle cars and nippy track carvers – those never went away. But if you look around, you’ll also notice 200-mph luxury cruisers, hot rod SUVs, and all-electric super sedans. With that in mind, the Pacifica Hellcat actually makes sense.

Which raises a few very interesting questions – what should we expect from the competition, and more importantly, what will the future of performance vehicles look like now that the Pacifica Hellcat is a reality?

Continue after the jump to read the full story.


PostHeaderIcon Chrysler Pacifica Hellcat Test Mule Spotted

As Chrysler gears up to release the new Hellcat-powered Pacifica later this year, our spy photographers managed to snag a shot of a pre-production mule undergoing road tests just outside FCA’s Auburn Hills headquarters. While the mule lacks a few of the aerodynamic enhancements we expect to see on the finalized design, the plus-sized wheels and meaty tires are clear indicators of the van’s sporting intentions.

For now, it looks like the tester is equipped with lightweight, five-spoke rollers wrapped in Pirelli P-Zero rubber. Our photographer also managed to catch the tire sizing – 265/40/R22, leading us to believe the Pacifica Hellcat may get larger-diameter wheels than its Charger and Challenger siblings. Looking at the slim fender gap, it’s also obvious this tester is equipped with the Hellcat’s upgraded suspension package, which means Chrysler is already looking into real-world NVH development.

Hopefully, we’ll get to see the supercharged minivan undergoing furthering testing at FCA’s Chelsea Proving Grounds soon, which should point to a timeframe for the debut of Chrysler’s latest performance model.

Continue after the jump to read the full story.


PostHeaderIcon Leisure Travel Vans Introduces The Autonomous RV

Leisure Travel Vans, a family-owned business that has made a name for designing and building some of the sickest recreational vehicles in North America, has launched a new product that it anticipates will revolutionize the experience of RV users moving forward. You might be familiar with the technology since every automaker in the world is feverishly developing their own versions in an attempt to become the first company to hit the road with it.

Yes, I’m talking about autonomous driving and if you haven’t pieced the puzzle by now, Leisure Travel Vans’ latest coupe de grace is the Autonomous RV, otherwise known as the future of self-driving recreational vehicles.

The LTV Autonomous RV is what you’d expect it to be. It drives by itself and can be synced with Apple’s iCloud, giving the RV’s state-of-the-art software system access GPS and navigation routes, leaving the heavy burden of driving the RV on the shoulders of the vehicle’s brain system. This particular feature is a huge step up from the traditional RVs because the driver can now roam about freely inside the RV without having to worry about keeping his eyes on the road. The Autonomous RV also has a handful of unique, voice-controlled features that works with LTV’s on app, allowing the user to literally bark out orders to the RV’s brain system. Whether it’s opening the headlights, washing the windshield, opening the doors, or extending the retractable awning system, every command is voice-controlled.

LTV has yet to announce when the Autonomous RV will hit the market, although it did say that the technology continues to be tweaked by its engineers in Pembina Valley, Manitoba, Canada to improve the RV’s autonomous driving technology.

Continue after the jump to read the full story.


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