Aston Martin Thinks Hypercars Could Save Le Mans Racing

Currently, only Toyota is still committed to LMP1

No Obligation, Fast & Simple Free New Car Quote

With PorscheAudi, and Nissan now out of LMP1, the top level of endurance racing, Toyota is the only manufacturer left to compete at Le Mans. Since it’s not particularly exciting to watch one works team race itself, this has left the sport in an unstable position. But if Aston Martin gets its way, the FIA would try to save LMP1 by allowing road-based race cars.

Speaking to Autocar recently, Andy Palmer, CEO of Aston Martin, said officials from the FIA had approached him about potentially changing regulations to attract more automakers. His suggestion? Open LMP1 up to race cars based on production models.

“My personal perspective is very clear: Aston Martin will never compete in a prototype category because it has no relevance to us,” he said. “But if they allowed racing derivatives of road cars, that would be very interesting to us and, I suspect, the fans.”

The way Palmer sees it, having production-based cars compete in LMP1 would go beyond attracting more manufacturers. It would also keep with Le Mans tradition. “Road-derived race cars fighting for the win is in keeping with the history of sportscar and Le Mans racing,” said Palmer. “And the prospect of the likes of Valkyrie fighting against McLaren P1, LaFerrari and more would be interesting to more than just me, I suspect.”

When Autocar asked Palmer if Aston Martin would race the Valkyrie in LMP1 if the FIA adopted his rules suggestion, he responded, “Watch this space.”

We’re not sure how likely such a rule change is, but the man makes a point. Plus, if no other manufacturers want to take on Toyota, the FIA might not have a choice.

Source: Autocar

Source: http://ift.tt/JPPTFe

Aston Martin Thinks Hypercars Could Save Le Mans Racing

Currently, only Toyota is still committed to LMP1

No Obligation, Fast & Simple Free New Car Quote

With PorscheAudi, and Nissan now out of LMP1, the top level of endurance racing, Toyota is the only manufacturer left to compete at Le Mans. Since it’s not particularly exciting to watch one works team race itself, this has left the sport in an unstable position. But if Aston Martin gets its way, the FIA would try to save LMP1 by allowing road-based race cars.

Speaking to Autocar recently, Andy Palmer, CEO of Aston Martin, said officials from the FIA had approached him about potentially changing regulations to attract more automakers. His suggestion? Open LMP1 up to race cars based on production models.

“My personal perspective is very clear: Aston Martin will never compete in a prototype category because it has no relevance to us,” he said. “But if they allowed racing derivatives of road cars, that would be very interesting to us and, I suspect, the fans.”

The way Palmer sees it, having production-based cars compete in LMP1 would go beyond attracting more manufacturers. It would also keep with Le Mans tradition. “Road-derived race cars fighting for the win is in keeping with the history of sportscar and Le Mans racing,” said Palmer. “And the prospect of the likes of Valkyrie fighting against McLaren P1, LaFerrari and more would be interesting to more than just me, I suspect.”

When Autocar asked Palmer if Aston Martin would race the Valkyrie in LMP1 if the FIA adopted his rules suggestion, he responded, “Watch this space.”

We’re not sure how likely such a rule change is, but the man makes a point. Plus, if no other manufacturers want to take on Toyota, the FIA might not have a choice.

Source: Autocar

Source: http://ift.tt/JPPTFe

Report: Ford to End Fusion Production in North America

Ford will stop building the Fusion sedan in North America at the end of the decade, according to a report from Automotive News. Citing unnamed sources familiar with the matter, the report claims Ford has told suppliers it will not build the Fusion at its current home plant in Hermosillo, Mexico when it enters its third generation.

The report brings up the question of whether Ford will stop selling the Fusion in the U.S. or simply build it at another global plant. Ford will also reportedly stop building the Mondeo, Europe’s version of the Fusion, at a factory in Valencia, Spain. We’re unsure what to make of the reports, given the automaker expressed the importance of the Fusion to its lineup in a recent statement, also saying it won’t export the next-gen model from China to North America and Europe.

“We have no plans to export the next-generation Fusion/Mondeo from China to North America and Europe,” Ford said in an emailed statement to Motor Trend. “Fusion/Mondeo are an important part of the Ford car lineup. We will have more to share about the next-generation Fusion/Mondeo at a later date.”

A few months ago, Ford said it would offer fewer car nameplates in the future. The company is also reallocating $7 billion from cars to trucks and SUVs including the upcoming Ranger. If Ford chose to nix the Fusion from its North American lineup, it would become the highest-volume car to go out of production in the region as a result of the crossover craze.

According to one source cited by AN, Ford will produce the third-generation Fusion starting in 2020. It will be a 2021 model year vehicle. Fusion sales are down 22 percent for the first 11 months of this year in the U.S.

Recently, it was reported that Ford no longer plans to build an electric SUV at its Flat Rock plant in Michigan. Production of that model has been moved to Ford’s Cuautitlan Stamping and Assembly Plant in Mexico, reports say.

Source: Automotive News (Subscription required)

The post Report: Ford to End Fusion Production in North America appeared first on Motor Trend.

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Volkswagen I.D. Buzz Concept Review: Driving VW’s Electric Microbus Concept

Reinvention ain’t easy—just ask Blockbuster how well that DVD rental to streaming video transition went.

Volkswagen, long the poster child of efficient diesel transportation, is going through a similar (though hopefully far-more successful) transformation after its diesel emissions scandal, pivoting from diesel engines to a new family of electric vehicles, called I.D.








Ever pragmatic, VW knows it needs a global halo of sorts for its new I.D. lineup, which includes the not-for-U.S. Volkswagen I.D. hatchback and the global VW I.D. Crozz crossover. Both are acceptable if a bit bland, but neither meaningfully moves the needle into gotta-have-it territory.

Which is how I found myself in Los Angeles’ bro-hemian Venice Beach, behind the wheel of the VW I.D. Buzz concept. Slated to go into production in 2022, two years after the I.D. and I.D. Crozz, Volkswagen hopes the reborn electric Microbus will build buzz and amp up customers for its new I.D. lineup. Yes, this stuff writes itself.

The I.D. Buzz is a lot like Venice, where you’re just as likely to find hippies in drum circles and people living in their vans as you are the nouveau riche and tech bros in multistory modernist modules.








Its styling is a callback to VW’s free-love heyday. VW Group’s new modular MEB platform is the host for all three I.D. vehicles—which allows Volkswagen to nail the Microbus proportions and design of the I.D. Buzz, in that it artfully blends old styling cues with new. The cabin, which seats up to eight, is as versatile as the original, with seats that convert the cabin into a lounge or even a bed.

Underneath the I.D. Buzz’s retro sheetmetal is a modern platform with a floor-mounted battery, front and rear electric motors, and electrical architecture that should eventually allow the production version to drive autonomously. A caveat: The I.D. Buzz concept runs and drives, but it’s a long way off from what the production version will be like.

This one is more of a proof of concept, powered by an e-Golf powertain with 200 miles of range and limited to a mere 20 mph. But the production version should be able to go farther, faster. VW says there will be three powertrains with three battery sizes—a rear-drive 201-hp motor paired with a 60 kWh battery, a 302-hp dual-motor all-wheel-drive version with an 83 kWh battery, and another dual-motor all-wheel-drive version with 368 hp and a 100 kWh battery. Volkswagen says the production version should be able to travel between 250 and 310 miles on a charge.

For a hand-built concept, the fact that VW is confident enough to turn me loose on a half-mile stretch of Venice’s bustling Abbot Kinney Boulevard says a lot (though in retrospect, I did have an LAPD escort and two VW minders).

Press the “D” on the I.D. Buzz’s rectangular steering wheel to engage the concept’s single forward speed, tap on the accelerator (it’s helpfully marked with the “play” symbol; the brake gets the pause symbol), and the I.D. Buzz motors off smoothly and quickly like any run-of-the-mill EV. There’s not a ton of regeneration once off the throttle, but the brakes thankfully bite pretty well. The I.D. Buzz feels pretty agile considering its handmade tires, though its turning circle is wider than expected, an issue amplified by the oddly shaped steering wheel.

With five years to convert the I.D. Buzz from concept to reality, VW has plenty of time to make the I.D. Buzz fun to drive—something the original Microbus was in a prehistoric, underpowered way. Even if the I.D. Buzz drives like the original when it and its cargo van variant go on sale in 2022, it won’t matter—the crowds mobbing the concept in Venice show VW’s mission is already accomplished.















































































































The post Volkswagen I.D. Buzz Concept Review: Driving VW’s Electric Microbus Concept appeared first on Motor Trend.

Source: http://ift.tt/JPPTFe

Volkswagen I.D. Buzz Concept Review: Driving VW’s Electric Microbus Concept

Reinvention ain’t easy—just ask Blockbuster how well that DVD rental to streaming video transition went.

Volkswagen, long the poster child of efficient diesel transportation, is going through a similar (though hopefully far-more successful) transformation after its diesel emissions scandal, pivoting from diesel engines to a new family of electric vehicles, called I.D.








Ever pragmatic, VW knows it needs a global halo of sorts for its new I.D. lineup, which includes the not-for-U.S. Volkswagen I.D. hatchback and the global VW I.D. Crozz crossover. Both are acceptable if a bit bland, but neither meaningfully moves the needle into gotta-have-it territory.

Which is how I found myself in Los Angeles’ bro-hemian Venice Beach, behind the wheel of the VW I.D. Buzz concept. Slated to go into production in 2022, two years after the I.D. and I.D. Crozz, Volkswagen hopes the reborn electric Microbus will build buzz and amp up customers for its new I.D. lineup. Yes, this stuff writes itself.

The I.D. Buzz is a lot like Venice, where you’re just as likely to find hippies in drum circles and people living in their vans as you are the nouveau riche and tech bros in multistory modernist modules.








Its styling is a callback to VW’s free-love heyday. VW Group’s new modular MEB platform is the host for all three I.D. vehicles—which allows Volkswagen to nail the Microbus proportions and design of the I.D. Buzz, in that it artfully blends old styling cues with new. The cabin, which seats up to eight, is as versatile as the original, with seats that convert the cabin into a lounge or even a bed.

Underneath the I.D. Buzz’s retro sheetmetal is a modern platform with a floor-mounted battery, front and rear electric motors, and electrical architecture that should eventually allow the production version to drive autonomously. A caveat: The I.D. Buzz concept runs and drives, but it’s a long way off from what the production version will be like.

This one is more of a proof of concept, powered by an e-Golf powertain with 200 miles of range and limited to a mere 20 mph. But the production version should be able to go farther, faster. VW says there will be three powertrains with three battery sizes—a rear-drive 201-hp motor paired with a 60 kWh battery, a 302-hp dual-motor all-wheel-drive version with an 83 kWh battery, and another dual-motor all-wheel-drive version with 368 hp and a 100 kWh battery. Volkswagen says the production version should be able to travel between 250 and 310 miles on a charge.

For a hand-built concept, the fact that VW is confident enough to turn me loose on a half-mile stretch of Venice’s bustling Abbot Kinney Boulevard says a lot (though in retrospect, I did have an LAPD escort and two VW minders).

Press the “D” on the I.D. Buzz’s rectangular steering wheel to engage the concept’s single forward speed, tap on the accelerator (it’s helpfully marked with the “play” symbol; the brake gets the pause symbol), and the I.D. Buzz motors off smoothly and quickly like any run-of-the-mill EV. There’s not a ton of regeneration once off the throttle, but the brakes thankfully bite pretty well. The I.D. Buzz feels pretty agile considering its handmade tires, though its turning circle is wider than expected, an issue amplified by the oddly shaped steering wheel.

With five years to convert the I.D. Buzz from concept to reality, VW has plenty of time to make the I.D. Buzz fun to drive—something the original Microbus was in a prehistoric, underpowered way. Even if the I.D. Buzz drives like the original when it and its cargo van variant go on sale in 2022, it won’t matter—the crowds mobbing the concept in Venice show VW’s mission is already accomplished.















































































































The post Volkswagen I.D. Buzz Concept Review: Driving VW’s Electric Microbus Concept appeared first on Motor Trend.

Source: http://ift.tt/JPPTFe

Volkswagen I.D. Buzz Concept Review: Driving VW’s Electric Microbus Concept

Reinvention ain’t easy—just ask Blockbuster how well that DVD rental to streaming video transition went.

Volkswagen, long the poster child of efficient diesel transportation, is going through a similar (though hopefully far-more successful) transformation after its diesel emissions scandal, pivoting from diesel engines to a new family of electric vehicles, called I.D.








Ever pragmatic, VW knows it needs a global halo of sorts for its new I.D. lineup, which includes the not-for-U.S. Volkswagen I.D. hatchback and the global VW I.D. Crozz crossover. Both are acceptable if a bit bland, but neither meaningfully moves the needle into gotta-have-it territory.

Which is how I found myself in Los Angeles’ bro-hemian Venice Beach, behind the wheel of the VW I.D. Buzz concept. Slated to go into production in 2022, two years after the I.D. and I.D. Crozz, Volkswagen hopes the reborn electric Microbus will build buzz and amp up customers for its new I.D. lineup. Yes, this stuff writes itself.

The I.D. Buzz is a lot like Venice, where you’re just as likely to find hippies in drum circles and people living in their vans as you are the nouveau riche and tech bros in multistory modernist modules.








Its styling is a callback to VW’s free-love heyday. VW Group’s new modular MEB platform is the host for all three I.D. vehicles—which allows Volkswagen to nail the Microbus proportions and design of the I.D. Buzz, in that it artfully blends old styling cues with new. The cabin, which seats up to eight, is as versatile as the original, with seats that convert the cabin into a lounge or even a bed.

Underneath the I.D. Buzz’s retro sheetmetal is a modern platform with a floor-mounted battery, front and rear electric motors, and electrical architecture that should eventually allow the production version to drive autonomously. A caveat: The I.D. Buzz concept runs and drives, but it’s a long way off from what the production version will be like.

This one is more of a proof of concept, powered by an e-Golf powertain with 200 miles of range and limited to a mere 20 mph. But the production version should be able to go farther, faster. VW says there will be three powertrains with three battery sizes—a rear-drive 201-hp motor paired with a 60 kWh battery, a 302-hp dual-motor all-wheel-drive version with an 83 kWh battery, and another dual-motor all-wheel-drive version with 368 hp and a 100 kWh battery. Volkswagen says the production version should be able to travel between 250 and 310 miles on a charge.

For a hand-built concept, the fact that VW is confident enough to turn me loose on a half-mile stretch of Venice’s bustling Abbot Kinney Boulevard says a lot (though in retrospect, I did have an LAPD escort and two VW minders).

Press the “D” on the I.D. Buzz’s rectangular steering wheel to engage the concept’s single forward speed, tap on the accelerator (it’s helpfully marked with the “play” symbol; the brake gets the pause symbol), and the I.D. Buzz motors off smoothly and quickly like any run-of-the-mill EV. There’s not a ton of regeneration once off the throttle, but the brakes thankfully bite pretty well. The I.D. Buzz feels pretty agile considering its handmade tires, though its turning circle is wider than expected, an issue amplified by the oddly shaped steering wheel.

With five years to convert the I.D. Buzz from concept to reality, VW has plenty of time to make the I.D. Buzz fun to drive—something the original Microbus was in a prehistoric, underpowered way. Even if the I.D. Buzz drives like the original when it and its cargo van variant go on sale in 2022, it won’t matter—the crowds mobbing the concept in Venice show VW’s mission is already accomplished.















































































































The post Volkswagen I.D. Buzz Concept Review: Driving VW’s Electric Microbus Concept appeared first on Motor Trend.

Source: http://ift.tt/JPPTFe

Volkswagen I.D. Buzz Concept Review: Driving VW’s Electric Microbus Concept

Reinvention ain’t easy—just ask Blockbuster how well that DVD rental to streaming video transition went.

Volkswagen, long the poster child of efficient diesel transportation, is going through a similar (though hopefully far-more successful) transformation after its diesel emissions scandal, pivoting from diesel engines to a new family of electric vehicles, called I.D.








Ever pragmatic, VW knows it needs a global halo of sorts for its new I.D. lineup, which includes the not-for-U.S. Volkswagen I.D. hatchback and the global VW I.D. Crozz crossover. Both are acceptable if a bit bland, but neither meaningfully moves the needle into gotta-have-it territory.

Which is how I found myself in Los Angeles’ bro-hemian Venice Beach, behind the wheel of the VW I.D. Buzz concept. Slated to go into production in 2022, two years after the I.D. and I.D. Crozz, Volkswagen hopes the reborn electric Microbus will build buzz and amp up customers for its new I.D. lineup. Yes, this stuff writes itself.

The I.D. Buzz is a lot like Venice, where you’re just as likely to find hippies in drum circles and people living in their vans as you are the nouveau riche and tech bros in multistory modernist modules.








Its styling is a callback to VW’s free-love heyday. VW Group’s new modular MEB platform is the host for all three I.D. vehicles—which allows Volkswagen to nail the Microbus proportions and design of the I.D. Buzz, in that it artfully blends old styling cues with new. The cabin, which seats up to eight, is as versatile as the original, with seats that convert the cabin into a lounge or even a bed.

Underneath the I.D. Buzz’s retro sheetmetal is a modern platform with a floor-mounted battery, front and rear electric motors, and electrical architecture that should eventually allow the production version to drive autonomously. A caveat: The I.D. Buzz concept runs and drives, but it’s a long way off from what the production version will be like.

This one is more of a proof of concept, powered by an e-Golf powertain with 200 miles of range and limited to a mere 20 mph. But the production version should be able to go farther, faster. VW says there will be three powertrains with three battery sizes—a rear-drive 201-hp motor paired with a 60 kWh battery, a 302-hp dual-motor all-wheel-drive version with an 83 kWh battery, and another dual-motor all-wheel-drive version with 368 hp and a 100 kWh battery. Volkswagen says the production version should be able to travel between 250 and 310 miles on a charge.

For a hand-built concept, the fact that VW is confident enough to turn me loose on a half-mile stretch of Venice’s bustling Abbot Kinney Boulevard says a lot (though in retrospect, I did have an LAPD escort and two VW minders).

Press the “D” on the I.D. Buzz’s rectangular steering wheel to engage the concept’s single forward speed, tap on the accelerator (it’s helpfully marked with the “play” symbol; the brake gets the pause symbol), and the I.D. Buzz motors off smoothly and quickly like any run-of-the-mill EV. There’s not a ton of regeneration once off the throttle, but the brakes thankfully bite pretty well. The I.D. Buzz feels pretty agile considering its handmade tires, though its turning circle is wider than expected, an issue amplified by the oddly shaped steering wheel.

With five years to convert the I.D. Buzz from concept to reality, VW has plenty of time to make the I.D. Buzz fun to drive—something the original Microbus was in a prehistoric, underpowered way. Even if the I.D. Buzz drives like the original when it and its cargo van variant go on sale in 2022, it won’t matter—the crowds mobbing the concept in Venice show VW’s mission is already accomplished.















































































































The post Volkswagen I.D. Buzz Concept Review: Driving VW’s Electric Microbus Concept appeared first on Motor Trend.

Source: http://ift.tt/JPPTFe

Volkswagen I.D. Buzz Concept Review: Driving VW’s Electric Microbus Concept

Reinvention ain’t easy—just ask Blockbuster how well that DVD rental to streaming video transition went.

Volkswagen, long the poster child of efficient diesel transportation, is going through a similar (though hopefully far-more successful) transformation after its diesel emissions scandal, pivoting from diesel engines to a new family of electric vehicles, called I.D.








Ever pragmatic, VW knows it needs a global halo of sorts for its new I.D. lineup, which includes the not-for-U.S. Volkswagen I.D. hatchback and the global VW I.D. Crozz crossover. Both are acceptable if a bit bland, but neither meaningfully moves the needle into gotta-have-it territory.

Which is how I found myself in Los Angeles’ bro-hemian Venice Beach, behind the wheel of the VW I.D. Buzz concept. Slated to go into production in 2022, two years after the I.D. and I.D. Crozz, Volkswagen hopes the reborn electric Microbus will build buzz and amp up customers for its new I.D. lineup. Yes, this stuff writes itself.

The I.D. Buzz is a lot like Venice, where you’re just as likely to find hippies in drum circles and people living in their vans as you are the nouveau riche and tech bros in multistory modernist modules.








Its styling is a callback to VW’s free-love heyday. VW Group’s new modular MEB platform is the host for all three I.D. vehicles—which allows Volkswagen to nail the Microbus proportions and design of the I.D. Buzz, in that it artfully blends old styling cues with new. The cabin, which seats up to eight, is as versatile as the original, with seats that convert the cabin into a lounge or even a bed.

Underneath the I.D. Buzz’s retro sheetmetal is a modern platform with a floor-mounted battery, front and rear electric motors, and electrical architecture that should eventually allow the production version to drive autonomously. A caveat: The I.D. Buzz concept runs and drives, but it’s a long way off from what the production version will be like.

This one is more of a proof of concept, powered by an e-Golf powertain with 200 miles of range and limited to a mere 20 mph. But the production version should be able to go farther, faster. VW says there will be three powertrains with three battery sizes—a rear-drive 201-hp motor paired with a 60 kWh battery, a 302-hp dual-motor all-wheel-drive version with an 83 kWh battery, and another dual-motor all-wheel-drive version with 368 hp and a 100 kWh battery. Volkswagen says the production version should be able to travel between 250 and 310 miles on a charge.

For a hand-built concept, the fact that VW is confident enough to turn me loose on a half-mile stretch of Venice’s bustling Abbot Kinney Boulevard says a lot (though in retrospect, I did have an LAPD escort and two VW minders).

Press the “D” on the I.D. Buzz’s rectangular steering wheel to engage the concept’s single forward speed, tap on the accelerator (it’s helpfully marked with the “play” symbol; the brake gets the pause symbol), and the I.D. Buzz motors off smoothly and quickly like any run-of-the-mill EV. There’s not a ton of regeneration once off the throttle, but the brakes thankfully bite pretty well. The I.D. Buzz feels pretty agile considering its handmade tires, though its turning circle is wider than expected, an issue amplified by the oddly shaped steering wheel.

With five years to convert the I.D. Buzz from concept to reality, VW has plenty of time to make the I.D. Buzz fun to drive—something the original Microbus was in a prehistoric, underpowered way. Even if the I.D. Buzz drives like the original when it and its cargo van variant go on sale in 2022, it won’t matter—the crowds mobbing the concept in Venice show VW’s mission is already accomplished.















































































































The post Volkswagen I.D. Buzz Concept Review: Driving VW’s Electric Microbus Concept appeared first on Motor Trend.

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2018 Lexus LS 500 First Test Review: Devil is In the Details

The Lexus LS has been taking it to the German triumvirate since the days when Audi was best-known for something it would rather forget. The first LS 400 changed the luxury dynamic with its unimpeachable quality and refinement, but the LS family has never quite achieved the cachet of some of its competitors. The outgoing model was no exception to that, still following the same formula of quality first and design second. This new 2018 Lexus LS, though, hopes to break the streak and shock the Germans, Americans, and now Koreans the way it did back in ’89.

Read a special feature on the 1991 Lexus LS 400 (and 1991 Acura NSX) right here

The heftiest arrow in its quiver is its unapologetic design. The Lexus “Spindle Grille” and its accompanying flourishes have been extremely polarizing, but there’s no denying sales have risen since the design language was introduced. This latest iteration is one of the best, we think, though perhaps we’re just getting used to it at this point. It’s not as good as the LC coupe it shares a platform with, but it’s less bad than the rest of the lineup.

The polarizing design carries over to the interior, as well. Once as conservative as the exterior, the LS’ new seating gallery is unmistakably Lexus. The door panels, in particular, caught our eye with their visually stimulating curves, layers, and use of materials. Likewise, we found the stitched leather surrounding the individual gauges a fresh and appealing touch and the semihidden vents integrated into the horizontal trim a neat execution. We were far less enamored with the hotel hallway art on the passenger’s side of the dash and the two handle bars hanging off the instrument binnacle.

Those knobs, controlling driving mode and stability control, are a good jumping off point for a discussion of the electronics package. On the whole, it’s a suite of good ideas with questionable execution.




Our greatest ire rests, as always, with the infotainment system and its track-pad controller. Although we appreciate the large screen, it’s only become more layered with menus and harder to navigate. At the same time, ever more functions have been buried there for you to find. As but one example, the seat heating and cooling controls are now beneath two menus. Turning either on starts with pushing the button with the picture of a seat or swiping several times over to the seat controls menu and clicking the pad. Once the seat menu is up, you must swipe down several times to get to the heating and cooling controls and click on them. Then you can swipe over to the controls for the seat you want and swipe up or down several times to get the level of heating or cooling you want. This is madness. Lexus would prefer you simply set your preferences in the system to have the heater or cooler come on when you start the car at given external temperatures, assuming you want the exact same experience every time you get in the car.

What’s truly infuriating about the infotainment system, though, is that Lexus knows better. We know this because our test car was equipped with the Luxury Package, which includes power reclining executive rear seats controlled by a touchscreen integrated into the center armrest. This screen is as intuitively laid out and easy to use—the main screen up front isn’t. Why, Lexus?

Other examples of questionable technological implementation abound. The enormous head-up display (HUD) is a great party trick, but why is your speed, the most useful piece of information, shoved way off to the side while the lane keeping system gets center billing? Why does it stay over there out of your direct line of sight even when lane keeping is turned off? The HUD also displays a frontal cross traffic alert so you don’t pull out in front of a car crossing your path. It’s a nice idea if you’re pulling out of an alley, but when you’re sitting at a stoplight and it’s going off constantly and taking over the entire HUD with flashing yellow arrows, the only information you want is how to turn it off. Finally, we must ask why the dash beeps at you when the car is in reverse. This isn’t a commercial vehicle.

It’s certainly not all bad, though. We found the adaptive cruise control and lane keeping systems to work well and ease long drives. The rear seat control screen is, as noted, very well executed. Those seats themselves are very comfortable and offer a very serene chauffeur experience. The front passenger’s seat folds up and moves all the way against the dash to give the passenger behind an enormous amount of space to stretch out, and it doesn’t block the passenger door mirror in the process.








It’s less optimal for the person sitting behind the driver. Although the new LS is even longer than the old long-wheelbase model, there’s still a disappointing amount of rear legroom with the front seats in their normal location. While the captain of industry on the passenger’s side can get the front seat out of the way, the spouse or business partner or whomever on the driver’s side will find it surprisingly small for such a big luxury car.

Still, it’s far from a bad place to spend a ride. The leather is sumptuous and the environment supremely quiet and relaxing. The Mark Levinson stereo is as velvety on the ears as anything coming out of Germany, and the car’s build quality is as impeccable as always. Our only suggestion on the luxury front would be to opt for the smaller 19-inch wheels rather than the 20s our car is rolling on. The heavier shoes with skinny run-flat tires undo some of the optional air suspension’s hard work rolling hard over road imperfections and introducing an unwarranted brittleness to the ride quality.

The new LS otherwise drives and rides as effortlessly as you’d expect from a flagship luxury sedan. Large road deformities are dispatched easily, and yet the car handles as well as you’d expect of one this size. It’s tighter and more responsive than the outgoing car but with no obvious sacrifice to ride quality. We would prefer more responsive throttle and brake pedals, but their softness suits the car and doesn’t hurt measurable performance.

Indeed, the new LS very much keeps the promise of a quicker and yet more efficient car, thanks to its new 3.4-liter twin-turbo V-6 and 10-speed automatic. The downsized mill returns a potent 416 hp and 442 lb-ft to the old, naturally aspirated 4.6-liter V-8’s 386 hp and 367 lb-ft while improving fuel economy from 16 mpg city and 24 mpg highway to 18 mpg city and 27 mpg highway.








The new powertrain similarly outperforms on a test track, needing 5.3 seconds to reach 60 mph from a stop, down from 5.6 seconds for the V-8. Stopping from that speed has likewise been reduced from 119 feet to 109-113 in the three cars we tested. Although drag racing is hardly a luxury sedan’s MO, those curious will be happy to learn the LS’ quarter-mile time has dropped from 14.1 seconds to 13.7, and trap speed has increased from 101.5 mph to 103.0. Some of this is attributable to our test car being equipped with all-wheel drive and the last V-8 LS 460 we tested utilizing rear-wheel drive, namely the initial launch, but not all. When we tested a rear-drive 2018 LS 500, that car completed the quarter-mile in 13.8 seconds at 102.8 mph.

Improvements to the handling are also more than subjective—the new LS out-grips the old car, too. Skidpad grip has increased from 0.82 average g to 0.85-0.86 among the three LS cars we tested, and figure-eight performance has improved from 27.2 seconds at 0.68 average g to 25.7 seconds at 0.73 average g (the rear-drive model was good for a 26.3-second time at 0.71 average g). The all-wheel drive helps some, but it’s prone to understeer at the limit and must be managed for a quick lap.

At the end, we return the new LS encouraged by its big leap forward in luxury and equally frustrated by its shortcomings. The car is a huge step forward from its conservative, long in the tooth predecessor. It’s properly equipped to take on the world’s best luxury sedans. At the same time, though, it’s let down by technology that’s more stressful than helpful and a comparative dearth of space. We like the new LS almost as much as we like what it has the potential to be, and we hope this time there will be continual improvement to get it there.

2018 Lexus LS 500 2018 Lexus LS 500 AWD 2018 Lexus LS 500 F Sport (AWD)
BASE PRICE TBD $85,000 (est) TBD
PRICE AS TESTED TBD $103,000 (est) TBD
VEHICLE LAYOUT Front-engine, RWD, 5-pass, 4-door sedan Front-engine, AWD, 5-pass, 4-door sedan Front-engine, AWD, 5-pass, 4-door sedan
ENGINE 3.4L/416-hp/442-lb-ft twin-turbo DOHC 24-valve V-6 3.4L/416-hp/442-lb-ft twin-turbo DOHC 24-valve V-6 3.4L/416-hp/442-lb-ft twin-turbo DOHC 24-valve V-6
TRANSMISSION 10-speed automatic 10-speed automatic 10-speed automatic
CURB WEIGHT (F/R DIST) 4,914 lb (52/48%) 5,103 lb (54/46%) 4,774 lb (53/47%)
WHEELBASE 123.0 in 123.0 in 123.0 in
LENGTH x WIDTH x HEIGHT 206.1 x 74.8 x 57.1 in 206.1 x 74.8 x 57.5 in 206.1 x 74.8 x 57.9 in
0-60 MPH 5.3 sec 5.3 sec 5.2 sec
QUARTER MILE 13.8 sec @ 102.8 mph 13.7 sec @ 103.0 mph 13.6 sec @ 103.8 mph
BRAKING, 60-0 MPH 110 ft 113 ft 109 ft
LATERAL ACCELERATION 0.86 g (avg) 0.85 g (avg) 0.86 g (avg)
MT FIGURE EIGHT 26.3 sec @ 0.71 g (avg) 25.7 sec @ 0.73 g (avg) 25.7 sec @ 0.73 g (avg)
REAL MPG, CITY/HWY/COMB 18.8/32.6/23.2 mpg
EPA CITY/HWY/COMB FUEL ECON 19/29/23 mpg (mfr est) 18/27/21 mpg 18/27/21 mpg
ENERGY CONS, CITY/HWY 177/116 kW-hrs/100 miles 187/125 kW-hrs/100 miles 187/125 kW-hrs/100 miles
CO2 EMISSIONS, COMB 0.86 lb/mile 0.92 lb/mile 0.92 lb/mile






























































































































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Thor Trucks, A New Electric Semi-Truck Challenger, Enters the Ring

Has its sights set squarely on Tesla

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Back in August, Cummins revealed the AEOS, its first electric semi-truck. A few months later, Mercedes showed off its own electric semi, the E-Fuso Vision One. Then in November, Tesla debuted its version, the Semi. Now there’s another company looking to sell electric semis, Thor Trucks.

Founded last year by Dakota Semler, a young California entrepreneur, Thor’s first truck is called the ET-One. When it eventually goes on sale, the ET-One promises owners a 300-mile range when pulling an 80,000-pound load and a top speed of 70 mph. The base price? $150,000.

For comparison, Cummins says the AEOS will offer a 100-mile range that can be optioned up to 300 miles with additional battery packs. It hasn’t said anything about price, but we do know the maximum payload will be about 44,000 pounds. Daimler, meanwhile, says the E-Fuso Vision One will have slightly more than a 200-mile range and will be able to haul up to 22,000 pounds. Like Cummins, Daimler hasn’t announced pricing yet. Tesla says its Semi will have a 500-mile range and will haul up to 80,000 pounds. Pricing is expected to be between $150,000 and $180,000.

Assuming Thor can actually build and sell the ET-One with the specs it promises and at its target price, it would likely make a compelling alternative for short-haul trucking companies. Then again, as Tesla’s discovered with the Model 3, mass-producing cars and trucks is no easy task. It will also be up against established truck manufacturers like Cummins and Daimler, as well as fellow big rig newcomer Tesla, which is likely better funded than Thor.

But hey, at least the ET-One looks cool.

Source: Thor Trucks

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