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Turbocharged Fun

The 2021 Mazda3 sedan arrives with a major change – the addition of a 2.5-liter 4-cylinder turbocharged engine. It gives this sporty sedan 227 horsepower with 310- lb-ft of torque and makes what was already a fun car to drive even better.

The thing with Mazda is that it makes cars for people who like to drive. Any car can get you from one place to another, but not every car can make you look forward to the drive. That’s where Mazda comes into the picture. Its cars are sleek and stylish with surprisingly upscale interiors for the price and they have fantastic driving dynamics.

That means steering is crisp and controlled and the suspension system evens out the bumps and dips in the road, so the driver stays confidently in control. It means taking a tight corner at speed is fun and gets your heart racing in a good way rather than making you nervous. And now, with the addition of the turbocharged engine to the Mazda3 sedan, it means you have the power to make this car drive like a genuinely sporty sedan.

Two Well-Equipped Trims

Available in two trims with standard all-wheel drive, the Mazda3 2.5 Turbo starts at $30,050 and comes with a long list of standard features. These include an 8-way power driver’s seat, dual-zone automatic climate control, leatherette seating surfaces, and a leather-wrapped heated steering wheel. There’s an 8.8-inch infotainment screen with Apple CarPlay, Android Auto, and a 12-speaker Bose premium audio system. Blind-spot monitoring, rear cross-traffic alert, and lane departure warning are also standard on the turbo. You get a lot of car for the price.

We spent our drive time in the Premium Plus. It’s the higher of the two turbo trims with a price of $32,600. Mazda isn’t quite a luxury brand, but it’s darn close. Interiors are bright, comfortable, and elegant with quality materials that look and feel beautiful. Without fail, they look like they belong in more expensive cars.

The Appeal of a Sedan

Sedans don’t sell like they used to with crossovers and SUVs now the go-to choice for, well, everyone. Despite their waning popularity, there are still plenty of good reasons to get a sedan. Not everyone needs the cargo room of a larger vehicle and there’s a cost savings to be had with sedans, both in their sticker prices and fuel economy.

The Mazda3 2.5 turbo gives you one more reason – it’s fun. The extra power of the turbo makes this a joy to drive, whether you’re mashing the gas to get up to highway speed or taking it along a winding country road. If you’re considering a sedan, then the Mazda3 2.5 turbo is worthy of a test drive.

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Although car manufacturing has been temporarily suspended, production of another unique product is running at record levels at Rolls-Royce: the world’s most exclusive honey.

In their third full season of production, the dedicated 250,000-strong workforce in the company’s Apiary are set, once again, to exceed their 2020 volume targets for the ‘Rolls-Royce of Honey’. Having come through the winter in excellent health, Rolls-Royce’s English Honey Bees are currently emerging from their hives and foraging on the half-a-million trees, shrubs and wildflowers flourishing across the 42-acre Rolls‑Royce site, plus the eight acres of sedum plants growing on the manufacturing plant’s ‘living roof’ – the largest of its kind in the UK. The more adventurous bees make sorties into the surrounding Goodwood Estate, whose 12,000 acres of West Sussex countryside are among the glories of the South Downs National Park.

Established in 2017, the Goodwood Apiary comprises six traditional, English-crafted, wooden beehives, each bearing a polished stainless steel nameplate handcrafted in the company’s Bespoke Workshop. Five are named after cars in the Rolls-Royce product family – ‘Phantom’, ‘Wraith’, ‘Ghost’, ‘Dawn’ and ‘Cullinan’ and the ‘Spirit of Ecstasy’.

Like the 2,000 employees at the Home of Rolls-Royce, the bees are responsible for producing a rare and desirable product. At the end of each season, ‘The Rolls-Royce of Honey’ is meticulously hand‑processed by local specialists and served to guests of the marque, including customers commissioning their motor cars in the company’s Atelier suite.

The Apiary project is Rolls-Royce Motor Cars’ response to the real and present threat facing Britain’s Honey Bee population. Honey Bees are the principal pollinators of numerous tree and plant species, including many of the fruit and vegetable crops that are crucial to the local agricultural economy around the Home of Rolls-Royce. However, a shortage of suitable forage, primarily caused by habitat loss, has put their numbers under great and growing pressure in recent years.

The South Downs National Park, on the doorstep of the Home of Rolls-Royce, mirrors this national trend. Chalk downland, which supports pollinators including honey bees, bumblebees and the Adonis blue butterfly, now accounts for just four per cent of the National Park’s total area, in fragmented pockets that make it harder for pollinators to move through the landscape.

The creation of the Apiary gave an early boost to a new South Downs National Park Trust campaign to address this critical problem. The Bee Lines initiative supports farmers and landowners in creating new flower-rich ‘corridors’ to link areas of habitat and help bees and other pollinator species to thrive. Residents and businesses within the National Park boundaries are also being encouraged to get involved through initiatives such as planting wildflowers in gardens and grounds.

 

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For successful executives, entertainers, athletes, and entrepreneurs, $200K might be as simple as a weekend expenditure; it is for that market that the 2020 Bentley Continental GT exists. The Bentley has long been a name that evokes words like elegance, exclusivity, and style. And the 2020 Continental fits right into that camp with both coupe and convertible body styles.

Even if a Bentley isn’t in your budget this year (or for the next decade), it’s still quite satisfying to take a few minutes to open up a browser tab and have some fun designing your own dream car with the brand’s car configurator.  First, start with the model you like best. If you have your eye on a brawny sedan, the Mulsanne or the Flying Spur is where you’ll begin. Have a need for a sporty coupe? Check out the Continental GT. Or if you want the combination of roomy seating and elegance, the Bentayga SUV is going to be your groove. Next, pick your interior hide colors, trim, headliner, wheels, and more. Then sit and stare at your creation and wish really hard.

For me, the Continental was an easy pick. In 2019, the Continental was redesigned inside and out with a new body structure and updated materials. As a big sports fan, I could not resist a Cricket Ball Red interior, designed to evoke the deep hue of cork cricket balls. Never seen a cricket game? It’s kind of like baseball, but there are some significant difference. For instance, a cricket ball is harder and slightly heavier. And games can last up to five DAYS in cricket, whereas even baseball games with extra innings will finish within hours.

In any case, the color of a cricket ball is a gorgeous, rich red. In my opinion, it works very well with Imperial Blue in the Bentley I designed. If you like choices, you’ll be thrilled with the sheer number of them on the Bentley Continental GT. We’re talking about seven interior hood colors; Magnolia, Camel, Light Grey, Grey, New Blue, Saddle, Beluga, Red. And a further eight options for the roof headliner. For the wheels, I was totally enamored with the 21″ five tri-spoke alloy option in black.

Beauty is only trim deep, but the Bentley Continental has it all, with two different engine options for the coupe and the convertible:

  • GT V8 coupe: $207,825
  • GT W-12 coupe : $224,225
  • GT V8 convertible: $228,025
  • GT W-12 convertible: $246,125

With an 8-speed dual-clutch transmission, it can accelerate from 0 to 60 mph in 3.7 seconds  and reach a top speed of 207 mph. In a convertible, you can even open or close the roof while driving at speeds up to 30 mph. While surely built to make the most of sunny days, it’s also ready for cooler conditions. For instance, it’s equipped with active AWD for icy and rainy conditions; both the front seats are equipped with innovative cooling technology to keep you comfortable in the height of summer; and heated armrests, heated steering wheel and front seat neck warmers circulate warm air around your neck and shoulders in the winter. A four-layer insulating roof ensures you’re ensconced in a cozy bubble if you like.

Let’s talk about the size of the Bentley Continental for a sec:

  • 5,322 pounds curb weight
    • In comparison, the Mercedes-Benz SL maxes out at 3,959 pounds. Even the M-B S-Class sedan is 500 pounds lighter, so this car will hold its weight on the road.
  • 8.3 cubic feet trunk space, or about five pieces of carry-on luggage
    • Compare to Mercedes-Benz SL, which offers 8.5 cubic feet)
  • 190.9 inches long
    • The Mercedes-Benz SL is 182 inches long; the S-Class is 206.9 inches long

In terms of safety and driver-assistance features, Bentley doesn’t include as standard adaptive cruise control. Other optional features include a head-up display to inform you of your speed, the speed limit, and directions from the navigation system. Bentley offers two package deals: the city specification (hands free trunk opening, top view camera, traffic sign recognition, pedestrian warning) and the touring specification (active lane assist, active cruise control with traffic assist, Bentley safeguard plus and a night vision camera).

You could even add a Bentley child seat matched to the same interior as the car. In colder weather, you might opt for Bentley winter tires. If you’re planning to store your Bentley for an extended period of time, the battery charger and conditioner helps it start up again when you’re ready.

Go ahead, dream a little. You might be tempted.

Want to see my configuration? Click here

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Rivian says they’re on a mission to keep the world adventurous forever. Robert “RJ” Scaringe founded the company in 2009 with the idea that he wanted to find a more responsible way to explore the world and make the transition to sustainable transportation an exciting one. RJ earned his MS and PhD in Mechanical Engineering from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) where he was a member of the research team in the Sloan Automotive Laboratory.

Eleven years, millions of dollars, and the growth to a couple of hundred employees in seven locations later, Rivian is poised to launch its all-electric pickup truck. The R1T truck claims 400+ miles of range; an impressive 0-60 in three seconds; wading depth over three feet; max towing 11,000; and a a jaw-dropping 750 hp. The R1T is roughly the same length (within an inch) of a Jeep Gladiator and about a half-inch wider than a Honda Passport; it should be nimble enough for both work and play, city and country.

We spent a little time with Rivian chief engineer of special projects Brian Gase, who drove the brand’s in-development three-row SUV (the R1S) from the southern tip of South America all the way up to Los Angeles. But first, they had to design and install the electric infrastructure to do it. What is this upstart company up to?

Kristin Shaw:  Hi, I’m here live at Fully Charged Live USA in Austin at COTA and I’m here with Brian Gase from Rivian. So we’re very excited to hear what Rivian is up to. Brian heads up special projects, which means he gets to do really cool stuff…

Brian Gase:  Sometimes…

Kristin Shaw:  …like driving from Argentina to L.A.

Brian Gase:  Yup, so we ship vehicles end of August for durability testing. We went down the southern tip of South America and then drove for about 105 days up to L.A through all conditions and all weather. We’re doing tremendous amounts of durability testing on our vehicles, normal proving ground types of work. But we’re an adventure company first, so we went out and said, “Let’s do something that’s a little bit more extreme. Let’s build up the charge infrastructure and go and have this journey now that we’ve put that grid in place.” It was, for me, a really amazing lifetime experience. But also, seeing our vehicles on the road for the first time, driving along, was really, really cool.

Kristin Shaw:  So you set up an infrastructure of charging stations along the way?

Brian Gase:  Absolutely. We built basically two Level Two chargers every – give or take – one hundred miles throughout the route. The reason was, while the vehicles we took had a 300 mile range with it, you might not want to stop at the end of every day and fully charge it, so we put it in place so that we could stay where we wanted to, go off the path, go off-roading, do some cool things, see some really cool places.

Kristin Shaw:  Which model did you take on this trip?

Brian Gase:  We took two of the R1Ts.

Kristin Shaw:  Okay. You went off-roading. So off-roading in a EV: what’s it like compared to a fuel-powered car?

Brian Gase:  The cool side of it is: obviously, with four motors you’ve got all time, all-wheel drive, with independent power per wheel. The vehicle has a lot of capability. On the downhill side in an EV I no longer have to downshift the engine brake, I’ve got a generating system that’ll hold the vehicle in position on a hill. On one of the coolest weather days, we were up on this mountain and we took a bunch of photos, then we went down and the battery was at 6% more at the bottom than at the top.

Kristin Shaw: And now you’re offering a three-row SUV.

Brian Gase:  Correct. The R1S has about a 12-inch shorter wheelbase than the truck. It’s built on the same chassis and is common forward of the B pillars, which helps us to develop it more quickly, keep investment low, and put out a vehicle that will be on the same line as its sister product, the truck.

Kristin Shaw:  When is it going to be available?

Brian Gase: The truck will be end of this year and the SUV Q1 of next year (2021).

Kristin Shaw: And have you announced pricing?

Brian Gase:  We’ve announced that it’ll come pretty well equipped so not fully loaded; it’s $72,500, before federal tax credit, and you can go up from there, with additional functions and features, or you can go down from there.

Kristin Shaw: Now I’m excited because the three-row SUV market is hot. Kia has the Telluride, and Hyundai the Palisade. The Rivian is going to be competitive.

Brian Gase: Absolutely.

Kristin Shaw:  It might be one of the more expensive, but it’s an EV. What would make somebody choose the R1S: what kind of features do you offer, especially with regards to safety, that makes it comparable?

Brian Gase:  That’s a great question. So I’m a family guy; I have a wife and three boys: a 10 year old and twin eight year olds. I actually joined Rivian in 2010, just before my kids were born. Safety absolutely matters, and our SUV is a vehicle designed to be safe. It’s set up that way. The most important thing to have at the end of the day is making sure that if something bad does happen, you’re as protected as you possibly can be. From the vehicle perspective, safety is one way we differentiate ourselves outside of just being an EV.

Also, we wanted it to be known as an adventure vehicle you can use to have family adventures, take your kids, get to the beach, go out on the trail, get up to the base camp that you’re hiking, whatever it is. There’s a lot of off-road capability with the vehicle, especially with the 400 or so mile range. It’s a comfortable seating pattern with a third row that will comfortably fit a child or an adult in the back seat.

Kristin Shaw:  I know there are some automakers who are doing a really good job offering safety features standard. Is that the same with Rivian? It’s included in the base model?

Brian Gase: Yup, yup. So we have, some of our autonomous systems features are with the higher level trim packages but from advanced collision detection, all of that stuff is based on what is absolutely critical to us.

Kristin Shaw: And Brian, you’ve been with Rivian for eight years?

Brian Gase:  Nine and a half. I joined in 2010.

Kristin Shaw:  What was it like when you first started? What were you thinking, this new company…?

Brian Gase:  It was a very interesting place. We were a really small team, and everybody was quick to align; we all had shared values and a shared vision of doing something better. From our CEO down, we’ve never wanted to build a car company or a vehicle just to put another car on the road. The goal isn’t to make another SUV so that you can have another three-row SUV in the market. The goal is to put a product out there that is compelling and exciting and different.

To get back to the family side, let’s make the world better for our kids and our children’s children. We feel that electrifying the vehicle space, doing it this way, where you’re not making tradeoffs and going into a smaller footprint vehicle, where you can still have your stuff, still have your adventure, and then being able to use those batteries sustainably for a second life, to electrify the grid that provides power to the vehicle.

The thing that won me over, the reason I joined Rivian and the reason I’m extremely excited to talk to people now is this. The product is great, but the leaders have always said, “We’re going to build this thing that doesn’t exist. We’re going to do something.” And you’re like “Yeah, but what about all these challenges?” We’ll solve the problems, we’ll bring in the funding, we’ll get the right team, we’ll get the right product. When you’re around people who are just eternally optimistic, it’s so refreshing. It makes you motivated to do what you’re doing. When we spend time with our CEO, R.J., we might say, “I’m going to tell him this isn’t going to work. I’m going in,” and you walk in, and by the time you leave, you’re saying “Why am I excited to do this thing?” And you know you got “R.J.ed” again.

Kristin Shaw:  You got “R.J.ed”. It’s a verb.

Brian Gase:  Exactly. The fun side of it though is as you build people that share those values and share that sense of “No, we’re going to do this because we’re determined and we’re passionate.” Because we’re big-picture thinkers. It’s really, really cool to be a part of. I mean it’s so much more exciting to work with positive people in general.

Kristin Shaw:  That sounds like a great company to work with. How does it compare with its competitors?

Brian Gase:  From a current market today, there are a few EVs out in space. But from a SUV perspective, finding a vehicle that does 0-60 in three seconds, has 8,000-pound towing capacity, goes through three feet of water, has 400 miles of range, and is built in America just doesn’t really exist out there. Competitors are a really interesting thing though, because you can look at us from specialty truck side: are we competitive with trucks or are we competitive with EVs?

We’ve got the performance specs of sports cars, and it’s this real cool dichotomy of this and that, where you can bring all these features of a sports car into this truck but it fits more of their stuff. Or from the perspective of the vehicle as a truck, you have the space but you’re not trading off all those other daily uses to emissions. We’re really proud of that combination.

Kristin Shaw:  I think that’s where families are really going to see the difference. They buy vehicles for what they might do, maybe not what they do every day. They might tow a boat, they might tow a camper, they might need it to tow plywood or put furniture in it, but they can also not have a gas-guzzling vehicle.

Brian Gase:  We’re an adventure brand; we want people to go out and see the world and do things. For me, my adventure is no longer going out and snowboarding with friends, it’s taking my kids to a park and hanging out with them. I’ve got three kids in Cub Scouts – I pre-ordered the R1T as soon as I could and I can’t wait to have the kitchen and go to the Cub Scout campout with my boys and pull out the kitchen and cook off my battery.

That, to me, is going to be such a cool experience for people to see that you can use this electric footprint to do some really amazing stuff, and you can do it in a way that you no longer have a gas-guzzling vehicle. For me, it’s a really cool story to be a part of.

 

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The heartbeat of Aston Martin’s sports car range just got a little bit faster with the introduction of the new Vantage Roadster. Joining the Vantage Coupe, which was launched in 2018, Aston Martin says this convertible model amplifies the emotional appeal of a model renowned for delivering a compelling blend of potent performance, outstanding dynamics and everyday usability.

Powered by Aston Martin’s 4.0L twin-turbo  V8 engine and mated to an 8-speed ZF automatic transmission, Vantage Roadster accelerates from 0-60mph in just 3.7 seconds and is capable of 190 mph with the roof raised. Weight increases by just 132 pounds (60 kg) compared with the Coupe thanks to a new, lighter Z-fold roof mechanism and optimized exterior and chassis revisions throughout.

Aston Martin President and Chief Executive Officer Dr. Andy Palmer, said of the Vantage Roadster: “Open-top Aston Martins are always firm favourites with our customers, so it’s very exciting to introduce the Vantage Roadster. For many, driving with the roof down is the true definition of the sports car experience as it truly brings your senses to life. Vantage has always delivered the purest of thrills, but in Roadster form that adrenaline rush is set to go to the next level”.

Careful development of structural shear panels and chassis components ensures the Vantage Roadster retains the strong dynamic ability and sporting character achieved in the Coupe with no compromise to feel or refinement. Sharing the same adaptive damping, dynamic stability control, dynamic torque vectoring and electronic rear differential, the Roadster benefits from specific dynamic refinements. These include a bespoke tune for the rear dampers, adaptive damping system software and ESP calibration.

As you’d expect from a dedicated sports car, a choice of Sport, Sport + and Track chassis modes – also tuned specifically for the Roadster – give the driver control of its dynamic character and behaviour. Working in harmony with Sport, Sport+ and Track powertrain modes retained from the Coupe offers the ability to progressively increase the car’s overall responsiveness and excitement, meaning the Roadster has a tremendous breadth of ability and feels equally at home on road or race track.

Aston Martin Vantage

While Vantage Roadster mirrors the Coupe’s exceptional tactility, pace and cornering performance, the design of the body is very much its own. The tautly tailored fabric hood features a compact powered Z-fold mechanism that ensures rapid operation (lowered in 6.7 or raised in 6.8 seconds at speeds of up to 50 kmh/31 mph). In fact, the roof of Vantage Roadster has the fastest full operating cycle of any automatic automotive convertible system.

An impressively low stack height pays the double dividend of allowing Aston Martin’s award-winning design team the latitude to create a seamless rear profile with minimal impact on the Roadster’s luggage space. For all of you who love the links, the Vantage has a trunk large enough to stow a full-sized golf bag and accessories.

The introduction of the Vantage Roadster sees a range of new options introduced across the Vantage range. To celebrate the 70th Anniversary of the Vantage nameplate, Aston Martin is introducing the company’s iconic ‘vane’ grille as an option, available on both Coupe and Roadster as an alternative to the track-inspired ‘hunter’ grille featured on the Coupe from its launch in 2018. There is also a new range of optional alloy wheel designs in a choice of finishes. Enthusiasts will also welcome the manual 7-speed transmission being offered as an option on the Coupe, having initially only been available in the limited-edition Vantage AMR.

Matt Becker, Aston Martin Chief Engineer, adds: “Convertible sports cars are often seen as compromised when compared to their Coupe equivalents, but the Vantage Roadster remains absolutely dedicated true to its mission of delivering precise, agile and expressive handling dynamics combined with stonking straight-line performance. And of course, there’s the added dimension of driving a great-sounding sports car with the roof down”.

The Vantage recommended retail price of the Vantage Roadster starts from $161,000 in USA. First deliveries of the Vantage Roadster are scheduled to begin during Q2 2020.

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The Toyota Camry is the best-selling sedan in the U.S. Not just one of the best, but the best model in the sedan category for the last 17 years prior. Sedan sales overall, however, have eroded due to the popularity of crossovers. And one advantage crossovers have held over sedans up to now is all-wheel drive.

While others are abandoning the sedan segment, Toyota continues to double down with new variants of its sedans. Right now, in the middle of winter, Toyota is aptly launching the new all-wheel drive Camry and Avalon models to combat that erosion.

It’s the first AWD Camry since 1991 (Toyota offered an AWD Camry in 1988-1991, called the AllTrac), and the first-ever Avalon with AWD. The Toyota-developed AWD system will be available as a standalone option for the Camry LE, XLE, SE and XSE grades and on Avalon XLE and Limited grades.

Both the Camry AWD and Avalon AWD get a high-efficiency 2.5-liter DOHC four-cylinder engine teamed with an 8-speed Direct-Shift automatic transmission. Most Camry AWD grades have 202 horsepower, while the Camry XSE AWD and both Avalon AWD grades have 205 hp with dual exhaust. The new AWD system balances added traction with exemplary fuel efficiency.

The Camry and Avalon AWD models underscore Toyota’s commitment to the sedan category. Both the new-generation Camry and Avalon sedans offer hybrid models, and, last fall, both added their first-ever TRD (Toyota Racing Development) performance versions.

Smarter All-Wheel Drive

To many car buyers, “all-wheel drive” may mean one thing, but there are many different AWD technologies on the market. Toyota found an ideal type of AWD for Camry and Avalon in its new-generation RAV4 compact SUV introduced for 2019. The Dynamic Torque Control AWD system provides effective traction for inclement and slippery weather while minimizing AWD’s typical drag on fuel economy. Admittedly, the system name is a mouthful; Camry and Avalon models equipped with it will carry a simple “AWD” badge on their trunk lids.

The Camry and Avalon AWD system can direct up to 50 percent of engine torque to the rear wheels, in response to acceleration from a start or slippage at the front wheels.

Notably, when AWD isn’t needed, such as on long highway stretches, the electromagnetic controlled coupling on the front of the rear drive axle can disengage the propeller shaft from the differential to prioritize fuel efficiency. The AWD is designed to re-engage in an instant when needed. AWD operation is transparent to the driver and passengers. On that note, the Camry and Avalon AWD models match their FWD counterparts in critical passenger space, trunk room, ride comfort, cabin quietness and vehicle agility.

Made in the USA

The Camry AWD and Avalon AWD are North America-only models developed in the U.S. and assembled exclusively at Toyota Motor Manufacturing Kentucky.

Neither the new-generation Camry nor Avalon was originally planned to have an AWD version, so the engineering team at Toyota Motor North America Research and Development in Saline, Michigan, developed them to meet the market demand for AWD sedans.

Since the RAV4 is also based on the same platform as the Camry and Avalon, the opportunity to share components and basic engineering was built in. The team combined the upper body structure of the Camry and Avalon with the engine, transmission, transfer case and rear differential from the RAV4. The RAV4’s version of the multi-link rear suspension was adapted with some modifications and tuning to suit the sedans. Both the Camry and Avalon AWD use a modified version of the propeller shaft from the all-new Highlander SUV.

Adapting the AWD drivetrain to the Camry and Avalon required floor structure modifications, plus the use of an electronic parking brake and a saddle-style fuel tank with an optimized capacity for AWD models rather than the flat-style tank in the FWD models. Inside the car has the same rear seat hip point height as the Camry and Avalon hybrid models. Despite the addition of a rear differential, the trunk floor height remains the same as in the FWD versions.

The transformation to AWD adds just 165 lbs. over the Camry FWD while the Avalon AWD weight is similar to that of its FWD V6 siblings.

Customers can expect the Camry and Avalon AWD to provide similar ride and handling characteristics as the FWD models, plus of course the added traction capability. The suspension tuning, wheels, and tires differentiating the Camry and Avalon model grades carry over to the new AWD models. That means, for example, the Camry XSE grade features the same sport-tuned suspension and 19-inch wheels in FWD and AWD versions.

The Camry AWD will be model year 2020 and arrive at dealerships in early spring. All AWD grades can get an optional Cold-Weather Package, which adds heated seats and mirrors on the LE, heated seats, mirrors and steering wheel on the SE, and heated steering wheel on the XLE and XSE. All other standard and optional features carry over from the FWD versions of the LE, XLE, SE and XSE model grades, including the latest Toyota Audio multimedia systems with Android Auto, Apple CarPlay and Amazon Alexa compatibility.

The Avalon AWD will be model year 2021 and go on sale next fall. Both XLE and Limited AWD grades will receive a standard heated steering wheel while other standard and optional features carryover from the FWD versions.

Safety Features Standard

All 2020 Camry and Avalon models come standard with Toyota Safety Sense-P (TSS-P) a suite of active safety systems that includes:

  • Pre-collision system with pedestrian detection
  • Dynamic radar cruise control
  • Lane departure alert with steering assist
  • Automatic high beams

Blind spot monitor with rear cross traffic alert are available on Camry and standard on Avalon. Intelligent clearance sonar with rear cross traffic braking also are available on both models.

All 2020 Camry and Avalon models have 10 standard airbags and Toyota’s Star Safety System, which includes enhanced vehicle stability control, traction control, electronic brake-force distribution, brake assist, anti-lock braking system, and smart stop technology. All come equipped with a standard backup camera.

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The new 2021 GMC Canyon was revealed in the mountains of Colorado today, including a first-ever Canyon AT4 aimed squarely at premium midsize truck customers who purchase their trucks to venture off-road. The AT4 brings capability and appeal to the updated Canyon range.

“The new 2021 Canyon AT4 broadens the appeal to midsize truck customers who live an active lifestyle,” said Duncan Aldred, vice president of Global Buick and GMC. “Much like the Sierra AT4 has attracted new customers from outside GMC, the Canyon AT4 will attract outdoor enthusiasts looking for a premium midsize truck to GMC with the capability, technology and refinement they’ve come to expect.”

2021 GMC Canyon AT4

First-Ever Canyon AT4

The Canyon AT4 advances the brand’s commitment to offering premium off-road capable vehicles with impressive styling details. Bolder exterior design is defined by dark chrome finishes, with a new larger grille design and red recovery hooks. The interior features premium detailing, including unique Kalahari stitching and AT4 headrest embroidery which brings the Canyon interior design in-line with its stablemates.

Added off-road confidence comes from standard equipment, including:

  • Greater capability from 31-inch Goodyear Wrangler DuraTrac® tires fitted to 17-inch aluminum wheels
  • Off-road tuned suspension with Advanced Hill Descent Control System
  • Four-wheel drive system with Eaton G80 Rear Automatic Locking Differential
  • Transfer case skid plate providing additional protection when traveling off the beaten path

“This is a truck created with outdoor adventurers in mind,” said Aldred. “The Canyon AT4 is a perfect complement to the driver’s other passions and appreciation of the details, whether that’s a mountain bike, a snowboard or their truck.”

Refined Canyon Denali

GMC designers enhanced the iconic Denali grille with a more sculpted and layered pattern. Coupled with 5-inch chrome assist steps, signature chrome accents and Denali-exclusive 20-inch Diamond Cut aluminum wheels, the new Canyon Denali is modernized with a new look similar to the new Sierra and Sierra HD trucks.

“Denali represents GMC’s bold design philosophy and these changes further elevate the Canyon from the mainstream competition, while delivering a modern look for the customer,” said Holt Ware, director of GMC exterior design. “It features a more distinctive and sophisticated design that has become synonymous with Denali.”

Interior refinements include authentic open-pore ash wood trim, aluminum decor and unique stitching. A new Cocoa/Dark Atmosphere color theme further elevates the Denali interior and gives customers more options. Standard heated and ventilated front seats with a heated steering wheel increase driver comfort.

The new Canyon Denali and AT4 are powered by a best-in-class 308 horsepower (230 kW) 3.6L V6 engine. Additional power comes from an available 2.8L Diesel engine, offering 369 lb-ft (500 Nm) of torque.

The new 2021 GMC Canyon is built at GM’s Wentzville Assembly Center in Wentzville, Missouri.* The 2021 Canyon will be available later this year, with pricing announced closer to production.

Original post on the GMC site.

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If you don’t know Lexus, you might not know about the donation match up to $10,000 for each of their 200+ dealerships across the country. Or about their Eco Challenge, a nationwide STEM contest for students in grades 6-12. Or their devotion to quality materials and Takumi master certification.

You might not know the vision of their design, based on Japanese iconic elements like a samurai sword, or a traditional tea whisk, or origami folds. Or that the engine designers might dream of the faces of every person who contributed to the process over a six-year time period.

You would be surprised to discover how much of the Lexus process involves individual people doing very precise, challenging jobs that require perfection, like logo placement and ensuring the surface is absolutely smooth.

When you sit inside the a Lexus ES, now in its 7th generation of this vehicle, you may not think of these things. But you’ll know it feels like luxury. And you might feel a little closer to the brand. It’s about much more than the new paint colors or even the styling alone. It’s all of the little touches together.

The Knife’s Edge Of Luxury Sedans: The F SPORT

The F SPORT model is geared toward buyers who are ten years younger than the typical buyer of the ES. Lexus shows off its sporty side with aluminum pedals on the F SPORT that make the driver feel like mashing them to the floor. (We didn’t, but it was tempting.)

Lexus continues to impress with their innovation in interior design. In model year 2019, the ES offers three choices of wood trim: Linear Dark Mocha, Linear Espresso, and Matte Bamboo. They now offer a metallic trim that is standard on the F SPORT model called Hadori Aluminum, which is inspired by the Samurai sword-polishing process. The Hadori Aluminum trim has a 3D appearance, and the effect is indicative of the level of detail and craftsmanship that Lexus seems to display at every turn.

New Technology In The ES

The 2019 ES was the first Lexus to offer in-car integration of Amazon Alexa, called Lexus Plus Alexa. Much like someone might use it at home, drivers may use voice commands to direct Alexa, including Alexa Home Automation, which guides tasks such as turning on lights, setting a thermostat in the house, and, of course, even ordering Amazon purchases.

The 2019 ES was also the first Lexus to offer Apple CarPlay. The 2019 model didn’t offer Android Auto, but take heart: the brand added it for the 2020 model.

For music fanatics, the audio system can be upgraded to the spectacular Mark Levinson system. I had a chance to listen to the Mark Levinson system in Nashville, and the quality was unreal. Whether you go for hip-hop, rock, pop, or classical, it’s going to sound incredible in this vehicle.

The Sounds Of Silence

Chief Engineer Yasuhiro Sakakibara and his team were tasked with improving the performance of the ES.

According to Sakakibara-san, “We knew that this ES had to feel responsive and easy to drive, no matter what kind of road it was on and that can only be achieved with a solid foundation.”

Part of that foundation on the inside of the car is the extraordinary attention paid to noise. More accurately stated, the vast reduction of noise.

The new ES features absorbing materials that covers 93% of the interior, and incorporates a silencer pad that muffles unwanted engine noise. Noise-reduction wheels on the available 18-inch version have hollow sections and a “resonator hole”, which directs the air through the tire to helps to reduce road noise, too. And under the floor, performance dampers have been added improve handling stability and ride comfort.

Our Pick: The 300h

Of the three trims available – the ES 350, ES 350 F SPORT, and the ES 300h – the 300h was our favorite. The zippy hybrid engine puts up an impressive 44 mpg, which is stunning. And the 2019 model adds 15 to the total horsepower, and it feels evident from the first acceleration. Built exclusively at the Kyushu plant in Japan, the 300h is something special; the rest of the ES trim levels for North America will be built in Georgetown, Kentucky.

FACTS: We’ve Got ‘Em

  • This is first Lexus to offer Apple CarPlay
  • Largest in class 10.2-inch head up display as an option
  • The new model offers increase of 34 horsepower and 0-60 MPH in half a second faster
  • Overall greater fuel efficiency then the previous model
  • Updated battery placement gives the vehicle an additional four and a half cubic feet of cargo storage area in the 300h
  • Plenty of new technology and features in all models to reduce road noise
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At 25, I was driving a 1989 Toyota Camry. Compact, practical, and zippy, it packed a 2.5-liter V6 with 153 horsepower and double-overhead cams. There is something about your mid-twenties that makes you feel as though you can take on the world, and driving feels like an extension of yourself. I still love to drive, but now I’m more careful. Smarter. Wiser. Sometimes, anyway.

When I slid behind the wheel of a 2020 Mazda3 hatchback last week, that same feeling from my invincible 20s flashed back. Streamlined and punchy, this hatch has a lot to offer.

Trim Levels

This vehicle is available with one engine: a 2.5L four-banger with 186 hp and the same number for torque. A six-speed automatic transmission is standard, and a six-speed manual transmission is available on the FWD Preferred model.

  • Base LED headlights, keyless entry and ignition, simulated leather upholstery, 8.8-inch display, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, and an eight-speaker audio system
  • Preferred + power driver’s seat, heated front seats and a 12-speaker Bose audio system
  • Premium + adaptive headlights, sunroof, head-up display, leather upholstery (paddle shifters available)

Audio/ infotainment

  • AM/FM audio system with 8 speakers and HD Radio
  • Bluetooth connectivity
  • 8.8-inch center display
  • Infotainment system voice command
  • Multifunction Commander control
  • Pandora integration
  • SMS text message audio delivery and reply
  • Apple CarPlay and Android Auto
  • Two USB ports

Safety

  • Whiplash-reducing front seat headrest
  • Dynamic stability control with traction control system
  • Blind spot monitoring with rear cross traffic alert
  • Lane departure warning system
  • Lane-keep assist
  • Cruise control with stop & go
  • Driver attention alert

Five Things to Love

  1. Zippy acceleration and firm braking
  2. Bose speakers and audio system
  3. Leather double stitched perforated leather seats
  4. Interior ornamentation consists of beautiful, flowing lines
  5. Super easy to park anywhere

Three Opportunities for Improvement

  1. Take a look at the video from Jill Ciminillo about the command control knob, which explains how it’s supposed to be used. It’s logical. However, it still doesn’t work for me – it feels like too many steps to get to what I need and it’s not intuitive. I want to be able to change the channel or seek when I’m on road trips easily.
  2. Gearing is middling in normal mode. I’d use it on sport mode all the time, and as long as you don’t mind the drop in mpg, it’s the better option.
  3. The space feels a little cramped in the back. I have a ten-year-old kid, and he didn’t mind, but adults might not enjoy it as much.

Overall Impression

I thought this hatchback was really fun to drive, and while I’m an avowed fan of the Soul Red Crystal, I must say the Machine Gray Metallic is quite handsome. Mazda makes a great car for the money, and the Mazda3 in both the sedan and hatch versions are a good value. You can park it anywhere and it’s easy to get in and out. This would be a terrific car for a college student or young professional in the city.

Mazda says:

Creating a sense of motion, even at a standstill—That’s the essence of Mazda’s KODO: “Soul of Motion” design philosophy. It allows designers to imbue each model with its own personality while staying true to a unifying theme. Cars are our canvas, and every one we make begs to be driven.

 

We’re in the golden age of computer-aided design. It allows us to render 3D models with a level of accuracy that was out of reach just a few short years ago. But at Mazda, design starts with a block of clay. And for that, there is simply no substitute. Artisans shape the clay until the ideal lines reveal themselves and only then do they collaborate with digital modelers. This traditional/digital partnership takes the best of both worlds to create uniquely appealing designs.

News You Should Know (directly from Mazda)

Announced December 19: Mazda North American Operations has filed a Part 573 defect notification with the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) for a safety defect, which exists in certain 2019 and 2020 Model Year Mazda3 vehicles. The affected vehicles may unexpectedly stop while driving due to inadvertent activation of the Smart Braking System (SBS) automatic emergency braking system.

Incorrect programming of the SBS control software may cause the vehicle to falsely detect an obstacle in front of the vehicle while driving. In certain cases, the SBS control software may automatically apply the vehicle brakes to prevent or reduce damage from a collision, even though no collision is imminent. If the SBS automatic emergency braking system unexpectedly activates while driving, the risk of a rear-end crash from a following vehicle may increase. There is a warning alarm sound and warning message displayed in the multi-information and active driving displays when this defect occurs.

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Barrett-Jackson, The World’s Greatest Collector Car Auctions, will offer the Matt Furukawa Collection, comprising 19 vehicles spanning six decades of American horsepower, during the 2020 Scottsdale Auction, January 11-19, 2020. Featuring nearly every decade since the 1950s, this collection includes diverse examples of U.S.-built collector cars that range in diversity from a 1959 Ford Fairlane Skyliner Retractable Hardtop (Lot #727) to a 2019 Ford Mustang Bullitt Edition (Lot #426.1).

“We’re honored Matt Furukawa entrusted us with selling his incredible collection, all at No Reserve, during our 2020 Scottsdale Auction,” said Craig Jackson, chairman and CEO of Barrett-Jackson. “We bring bidders from around the world to Scottsdale, all seeking to find their perfect collector cars. The vehicles from the Matt Furukawa Collection are the kind of vehicles many buyers would love to have as part of their collections. We couldn’t be more excited to have this incredible offering as part of our Scottsdale Auction docket.”

Highlighting the Matt Furukawa Collection is a duo of coveted, low-mile 2006 Ford GTs. Each is powered by a 550-horsepower, supercharged 5.4-liter V8 engine teamed with a purpose-built 6-speed Ricardo manual transmission. Lot #1353.1 is one of only 343 Heritage Edition Ford GTs produced in 2006 to commemorate Ford Motor Company’s 100-year anniversary. Factory dressed in the Heritage Blue and Epic Orange Gulf Oil livery as a nod to the iconic 1968 and ’69 Le Mans-winning GT40, this 2006 GT has only 2,384 miles. Lot #1353 is finished in a brilliant Mark IV Red with white racing stripes and has only 29 actual miles.

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Crossing the block on Saturday, January 18, is a pair of pristine 1970 Plymouth Superbirds. Due to NASCAR homologation rules to qualify as a “stock car,” just 1,920 of these flightless birds were built for public purchase. Finished in Limelight Green, Lot #1352 is one of 458 440ci, 4-barrel, 4-speeds built and is still equipped with its original matching-numbers engine. Lot #1352.1 is a ground-up restored Superbird finished in B5 Blue and is powered by a 440ci V8 mated to a 3-speed automatic transmission.

“Matt Furukawa’s collection of American horsepower is a full stable of late-model high-performance vehicles, many with exceptionally low miles,” said Steve Davis, president of Barrett-Jackson. “It takes a discerning eye to gather such a collection of desirable horsepower in such immaculate condition. I can’t wait to see these pristine collectibles cross the block in Scottsdale.”

Vast amounts of American V8 horsepower is thematic in the Furukawa Collection. With a mere 18 miles on the clock, Lot #1009 is a 2019 Dodge Challenger SRT Hellcat Redeye finished in B5 Blue with a black interior. Powered by a 6.2-liter 797hp supercharged V8 engine paired with an 8-speed automatic transmission, this Redeye claims a 10.8-second quarter-mile out of the box. Arguably one of the most sought-after muscle car of the ’60s was a 1969 Chevrolet Camaro Z/28 RS (Lot #1009.1). Powered by DZ 302ci V8 engine paired with a 4-speed manual transmission, this fully restored Camaro is finished in Hugger Orange with black interior.

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Other vehicles from the Matt Furukawa Collection include:

  • 2009 Ford Shelby GT500KR (Lot #1008.2) ‒ One of 712 KRs built in 2009. Factory-equipped with a supercharged 540hp engine and 6-speed manual transmission. 10 actual miles.
  • 2009 Ford Shelby GT500 Super Snake (Lot #1008.1) ‒ Features only 2,502 actual miles and is powered by a supercharged 5.4-liter V8 engine mated to a 6-speed manual transmission.
  • 2017 Ford Shelby GT350R (Lot #1008) ‒ Powered by a 526hp flat-plane crank 5.2-liter V8 “Voodoo” engine mated to a 6-speed manual transmission and has 440 actual miles.
  • 1976 Ford Bronco (Lot #729) ‒ Fully restored, finished in Torch Red with a custom diamond-stitched interior. Powered by a 302ci V8 engine and a 3-speed automatic transmission.
  • 1975 Ford Bronco (Lot #728.1) ‒ Unmodified Bronco finished in Grabber Blue; powered by a 302ci V8 engine with a 3-speed automatic transmission.
  • 1968 Ford Mustang GT (Lot #728) ‒ Ground-up restored; powered by a 302ci V8 engine paired with a 4-speed manual transmission.
  • 1967 Ford Mustang Convertible (Lot #727.1) ‒ Finished in red with a black interior, this Mustang is powered by a 289ci V8 engine paired with a 3-speed automatic transmission.
  • 2005 Dodge Viper SRT/10 convertible (Lot #427.1) ‒ Finished in yellow with black interior, this is one of just 2,005 produced for the model year and features 14,500 actual miles.
  • 2001 Ford F-150 Lighting Pickup (Lot #427) ‒ Powered by a 5.4-liter V8 engine paired with a 4-speed automatic transmission. Has 1,837 actual miles.
  • 2004 Ford Mustang Saleen Convertible (Lot #426) ‒ Finished in red over a black interior. Powered by a 4.6-liter V8 engine mated to a 5-speed manual transmission.
  • 1991 Chevrolet 1500 Pickup (Lot #425.3) ‒ Unrestored and in showroom condition with 3,487 original miles. Powered by a 350ci V8 engine with a 4-speed automatic transmission and fully optioned.
  • 1992 Chevrolet Camaro Z/28 convertible (Lot #425.2) ‒ Unrestored Heritage Edition Z/28 with a 5.0-liter V8 TPI engine and a 5-speed manual transmission and has 2,858 original miles.

The 2020 Scottsdale Auction Docket is now available to view online. To consign a vehicle, receive more information on becoming a bidder, or purchase tickets for the 2020 Scottsdale Auction, visit www.Barrett-Jackson.com.

About The Barrett-Jackson Auction Company
Established in 1971 and headquartered in Scottsdale, Arizona, Barrett-Jackson, The World’s Greatest Collector Car Auctions®, is the leader in collector car and automotive lifestyle events, which include authentic automobilia auctions and the sale of high-profile estates and private collections. The company produces auctions in Scottsdale, Arizona; Palm Beach, Florida; at Mohegan Sun in Connecticut; and Las Vegas, Nevada. With broadcast partners MotorTrend (formerly Velocity) and Discovery Channel, Barrett-Jackson features extensive live television coverage, including broadcasts in over 150 countries internationally. Barrett-Jackson also endorses a one-of-a-kind collector car insurance for collector vehicles and other valued belongings.

This press release originally appeared here

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