Ford Fusion wagon mule

KGP PhotographyCar and Driver

    We now have more proof that the Ford Fusion will soon be recast as a Subaru Outback–style lifted wagon, as was first reported in 2018. The evidence comes both from the spy photos of a prototype test mule you see here and from an Autocar report containing more information about the next-generation Ford Mondeo (the Fusion's Europe-market twin).

    If you're a bit confused by the looks of this test mule, that's because it's using a modified body taken from the new Europe-market Ford Focus wagon. This Frankenstein-like creation, which is clearly stretched between the C- and D-pillars, does give us an idea of the size of this new model; its overall proportions and the large tires suggest that it will be a mid-sized crossover wagon larger than the compact Escape and possibly around the same size as the mid-size Edge.

    The hot-selling Subaru Outback looks to be its primary target, and it's a sure bet that this reinvented Fusion will have a lifted suspension, all-wheel drive, and black plastic body cladding to adhere to that proven rugged aesthetic.

    Ford Fusion wagon mule

    KGP PhotographyCar and Driver

    Autocar's report states that a new generation of the Mondeo, codenamed CD542, is launching in early 2021, and that this wagon variant is slated for the U.S. market. A new Mondeo sedan will be sold across the pond, but only the lifted wagon will make its way across the pond.

    All signs point to it adopting the Fusion name, which carries a lot of equity in America. Ford even admitted back in 2018—when it first announced it was canceling all of its current passenger cars—that the Fusion name would likely be applied to a new bodystyle even after the current sedan model went out of production, which we now know will happen in 2021. That timing would coincide nicely with the arrival of this Fusion wagon.

    FRANKFURT — Daimler on Thursday said it plans to build 50,000 Mercedes EQC electric cars this year, denying a report in Manager Magazin that claimed it had been forced to pare back its 2020 production targets due to battery supply problems.

    Manager Magazin said Mercedes had slashed its production target to 30,000 from about 60,000 because of a shortage of battery cells from LG Chem.

    Daimler wanted to sell around 25,000 EQC vehicles in 2019, but only managed to build around 7,000 for the same reason, Manager Magazin said.

    A Daimler spokesman said its production plans for 2020 had not been amended. "Daimler plans to produce around 50,000 Mercedes-Benz EQC models in 2020," spokesman Joerg Howe said.

    LG Chem could not be reached for comment outside of normal business hours.

    Carmakers face huge fines next year if they fail to cut their fleet emissions of carbon dioxide (CO2).

    Daimler had average fleet emissions of 130.4 grams of CO2 per kilometer in 2018 and needs to hit a target of 103.1 grams per km by 2021, PA Consulting has forecast.

    If Daimler fails to cut its CO2 footprint, it faces a fine of 997 million euros ($1.1 billion), PA Consulting said in a report published this month, and will likely cut back on production of AMG models as a result.

    In 2018, average CO2 emissions in the European Union rose by 1.6% to 120.4 grams per km as customers abandoned diesel vehicles and gravitated towards buying bigger vehicles. Figures for 2019 are not yet available.

    Daimler's works council chief Michael Brecht told Manager Magazin that one of the reasons the company is struggling to meet battery demand is because Tesla bought Grohmann Engineering, a battery automation specialist hired by Mercedes-Benz to build up its own battery manufacturing capacity.

    This caused problems for Daimler which was in the midst of ramping up production at its electric vehicle battery production unit Deutsche Accumotive.

    The launch of the EQC has been hampered by production problems, including a recall last October after Daimler identified a potentially defective bolt in the differential.

    Germany's Auto Bild magazine on Thursday said the launch of the Mercedes EQC in North America has been postponed by a year, until 2021, because of the production problems.

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    Overview

    Capitalizing on the already excellent A5 coupe and cabriolet, the 2020 Audi S5 positions itself as the sportier alternative. While the regular 5 has a dutiful turbocharged four-cylinder, the S version carries a 349-hp turbo V-6 that delivers truly impressive acceleration. Both the coupe and convertible S5 are also lithe around corners and smooth down the straights. Combine that with a well-built interior that boasts massaging front seats and upscale materials and these Audis are just as sophisticated as they are sporty. Those looking for a usable back seat should investigate the S5 Sportback (reviewed separately) and those seeking break-neck performance will want the rowdy RS5 (coupe only). Otherwise the 2020 S5 hits the sweet spot for sportiness and value.

    What's New for 2020?

    For 2020, Audi gives the S5 coupe and cabriolet a makeover. Their faces now have a more determined look, with a larger grille and air intakes as well as revised lighting elements. Their lower side sills also have been redefined, and their rear diffusers and exhaust outlets look different. Inside, the S5 lineup adds the company's new infotainment software (called MIB 3) that runs through a new 10.1-inch touchscreen. Unfortunately, this means the rotary controller that made the system so intuitive to operate is no longer offered. On the plus side, the 2020 S5 lineup is cheaper than the outgoing models.

    Pricing and Which One to Buy

      While the S5 cabriolet allows us to catch a tan while we're streaking down the street, we're not as excited about its additional weight and inflated price. That's why we'd recommend the S5 coupe with the Premium Plus trim. This combination includes standard amenities such as the 12.3-inch fully digital gauge cluster, blind-spot monitoring, navigation, passive entry with push-button start, rear cross-traffic alert, and wireless phone charging. We'd also opt for the S Sport package that adds red brake calipers, a torque-vectoring rear differential, and sport-tuned adaptive dampers. These upgrades help optimize the S5's driving character, unlike the optional Dynamic Steering that we think compromises its feedback.

      Engine, Transmission, and Performance

      All S5s come with the same 349-hp turbocharged V-6 engine, an eight-speed automatic transmission, and all-wheel drive. Thanks to its launch-control system and all-wheel-drive traction, the last S5 coupe we tested delivered competitive acceleration in a class of quick alternatives. In our testing, it went from zero to 60 mph in 4.3 seconds. Despite the additional weight, the convertible S5 cabriolet that we tested was still plenty quick, hitting 60 mph in 4.8 seconds. Both titillating two-door S5s we tested were equipped with the optional 19-inch performance tires and the S Sport package, which adds a torque-vectoring rear differential and adaptive dampers. As equipped, our test cars sported firm but still compliant rides. The coupe also came equipped with the Dynamic Steering option, which quickens the steering the more the wheel is turned from center. We found the system uncommunicative and unpredictable; we recommend against it and that you stay with the standard fixed-ratio steering setup.

      Fuel Economy and Real-World MPG

      With a potent turbocharged V-6 and standard all-wheel drive, one might expect the S5 coupe and cabriolet to have not-so-great fuel economy. However, the EPA expects the fixed-roof version to earn 20 mpg in the city and 27 mpg on the highway—choosing the convertible reduces both ratings by 1 mpg. While we've tested a coupe on our 75-mph real-world route, we haven't tested one since the government reduced its highway rating from 30 mpg last year to 27 mpg this year.

      Interior, Comfort, and Cargo

      The S5's interior is marked by soft-to-the-touch, expensive-feeling materials, high-quality fit and finish, and a user-friendly design. Both driver and front-seat passenger are treated to comfortable and roomy power-adjustable seats, while rear-seat riders are left with the bare minimum of acceptable space. Those in need of more rear-seat room should look at the four-door S5 Sportback, which has a longer wheelbase and offers more room for rear passengers. The S5's interior starts with a conservative but modern dashboard design that's pieced together with laser-tight precision. Additionally, every S5 includes luxuries such as front seats with heating and massage functions, three-zone climate control, and push-button start. In our testing, the S5 coupe held as many carry-on suitcases as the BMW 440i coupe, making it one of the top rated in its segment. Meanwhile, the convertible swallowed as many carry-ons in its trunk as the Mercedes-AMG C43 cabriolet. Additionally, the S5's comparatively low lift-over height and wide trunk opening make loading items into the cargo bay an easy affair.

      Infotainment and Connectivity

      Every 2020 S5 is outfitted with Audi's latest infotainment software, which is displayed on a high-mounted 10.1-inch touchscreen. The system also can be operated via voice recognition and steering-wheel controls, but the intuitive rotary controller on the center console has been nixed. Along with standard Apple CarPlay and Android Auto integration, the S5 can be equipped with a slick-looking 12.3-inch fully digital gauge cluster, a Wi-Fi hotspot, and a 705-watt Bang & Olufsen audio system.

      Safety and Driver-Assistance Features

      The 2020 S5 hasn't been crash-tested by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) or the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS). Instead, the coupe and convertible have a suite of standard and optional driver-assistance gear. Key safety features include:

        Warranty and Maintenance Coverage

        The S5's warranty is average for the class. Kudos to Audi for offering complimentary scheduled maintenance, even if it doesn't last as long as other manufacturers, such as BMW.

          Roush Performance teamed with tactical and emergency clothing and gear supplier 5.11 Tactical on a 2020 Ford F-150 pickup. Introduced during the firearms-themed SHOT Week in Las Vegas and called the 2020 Roush F-150 5.11 Tactical Edition, it's the latest weapon in the growing field of military-themed consumer appliances.

          Roush starts with an F-150 in Lariat trim with the 5.0-liter V8 packing 395 horsepower and 400 pound-feet of torque. A Roush TVS R2650 supercharger pushes output to 650 hp and 610 lb-ft., and the company's Dual Tip Active Exhaust with four modes calls up an engine note to fit the surroundings.

          Aimed at the stealth-loving Operator set, there are only two color choices: Agate Black or Abyss Gray, with a hint of digital camo decorating the bedsides. A Roush grille shines with integrated lighting over a custom front bumper, and puddle lamps under the mirrors flash the Roush logo. Optional fare includes a Baja chase rack for the bed housing two 10-inch Rigid light bars, each rated at 7,920 lumens. More purposefully, a Roush/Fox suspension adds two inches of lift behind wider fender flares. The package sits on black 20-inch Roush wheels shod in 33-inch General Grabber ATX tires.

          The interior's done up in stitched black leather, embossed U.S. flags standing tall on the seat headrests. There's a custom gauge cluster, a console vault, WeatherTech mats, and special badging, too. 5.11 Tactical provides buyers with a custom hard case holding gear like a law enforcement and EMT multi-tool, a second multi-tool that doubles as a money clip, a tactical pen, and a spare key fob. Showing off doesn't stop with the pickup, however, 5.11 also including a tactical duffle bag, range hat, and USA flat patch for when it's time to dismount. 

          Roush will make just 150 of the 5.11 Tactical rigs, available now starting at $31,000 on top of the price of the donor pickup. Since the Lariat trim starts at $44,095 before options like the V8, it will cost at least $75,095 to go dark.

          Related Video:

          Why not have some fun?

          According to ALG, the average transaction price for a brand-new car in 2019 was $35,932. If you ask Kelley Blue Book, the figure was even higher at $38,948 (KBB apparently doesn't include applied consumer incentives). That's a lot of money. You could go out and buy something fresh off a dealer lot — and, if you ask at least one of our editors, you'd probably be making a sound decision that your future self and sanity would thank you for — or you could have a little fun.

          We scoured eBay and found a handful of cool cars that can be bought for the average cost of a new car in America. As you'd probably expect, not all of our choices are practical. In fact, most of 'em aren't. But they are all most definitely interesting and unique. Click on the image up above to get started.

          1973 Ford Bronco

          There's a lot to like about this first-gen Bronco, even setting aside the buzz over the nameplate's upcoming revival. These old 4x4s are as charming and attractive as ever (Remember when Keanu Reeves drove one in "Speed"?) and as you can see from this example, selling prices for clean ones are through the roof compared to where they were even a decade ago.

          My grandmother had a '77 Ranger that our family sold when she was unable to drive herself anymore. That old 302 wasn't fast, but it would light up the dry-rotted tires that we suspected were just as original as everything else on it, which wasn't too unusual for west Texas. It went to a great home, but I'd do anything to go back in time and try to keep it in the family. — Associate Editor Byron Hurd

          Ford Bronco Information

          Ford Bronco

          1979 Pontiac Trans Am

          I'm not actually suggesting that any sane person would choose to buy and drive a pristine 1979 Pontiac Trans Am as a daily driver instead of a more rational family sedan or crossover. But you'd be the coolest kid on the block if you did. This specimen is basically perfect, and the seller says it's a matching numbers original. And it's got the right powertrain, too.

          Way back in 1979, performance was, for most automakers at least, a distant memory as concerns over emissions and fuel prices conspired to limit horsepower and driving enjoyment. But Pontiac wasn't quite ready to let all the fun slip away, sending its much-loved 400 cubic inch V8 engine out for one last hurrah before succumbing to the pressure to downsize. Mated to a four-speed manual transmission, an argument could be made that the '79 Trans Am was the last of the classic muscle cars from the 1960s and 1970s.

          Speaking of downsizing, the 1980 and 1981 Trans Ams were offered with a 301 cubic inch V8 that Pontiac boosted with one of the first factory turbochargers. Like this one right here, which also falls neatly into our self-imposed pricing constraints. — Consumer Editor Jeremy Korzeniewski

          Pontiac Trans Am Information

          Pontiac Trans Am

          2000 BMW M5

          A price range of $35,000 to $38,000 is almost too much for a really cool used car. You don't need anywhere near that. Then again, if I did have that much, I'd have a much easier time finding a good E39 BMW M5. This one has low miles and is painted the classic Royal Red (although, really, any color that isn't black or silver would do).

          This is a true modern classic, and even if this particular one could be bested for the money (this similar one went for less on BaT), it would definitely do quite nicely. — West Coast Editor James Riswick

          BMW M5 Information

          BMW M5

          Toyota Land Cruiser BJ40

          Vintage Toyota Land Cruisers are still hot, and with the number of high-dollar restorations out there it's a little hard for anything to really stand out. But something about this BJ40 – the "B" indicates a diesel engine, if the grille badge wasn't a clue – just ticks all the boxes. The creamy color, the roll-up side windows, the grey-painted steelies wearing deliciously vintage skinny all-terrains. 

          Don't expect a modern turbodiesel under the hood. The B-Type inline-six is going to be pokey and clattery, but that just adds to the charm. We can't say if this one is fairly valued – find an expert to assess its condition and value – but it sure presents nicely. And wouldn't you rather have this than a Highlander? — Senior Editor Alex Kierstein

          1973 Alfa Romeo GT Veloce

          I’ve always dreamed of owning an Alfa Romeo one day, and this yellow 1973 Alfa Romeo GTV hits the spot. It has the DOHC 2.0-liter and Weber carbs replacing the fuel injection system — I’m more than OK with that. As most petrolheads probably do, I find the GTV to be an utterly gorgeous car.

          I haven’t been lucky enough to get behind the wheel of one before, but all I’ve heard from others is that the steering is as good as it gets in the world of automobiles. My biggest complaint about this particular GTV is the modern Alpine head unit in the dash. It looks out of place, and I’d want to be listening to that sweet Alfa song. — Assistant Editor Zac Palmer

          Honda Clarity Plug-In Hybrid

          I was originally perusing eBay under these parameters, and considered picking a used Model S, or one of the numerous Fisker Karmas available. Then I thought better of it. I’ve got enough excitement in my life. I’d like something I could do a road trip in with my family and be comfortable and still efficient in daily driving duties.

          Call me crazy, but I’m going with a new Honda Clarity PHEV Touring. I could save a few bucks if I really wanted to by going with a lightly used model like this one. It’s mature but not without its charming quirks. It’s comfy and smooth, has an excellent interior and it’ll fit family no problem. You don't see a lot of them, and at $35,555 before incentives, it comes well loaded with standard equipment. Am I getting boring as I get older? — Senior Green Editor John Snyder

          Honda Clarity Information

          Honda Clarity

          Burnouts, donuts, and powerslides. The three basic exercises of excessive tire destruction and the trifecta of automotive immaturity. The very reasons Dodge has been churning out Hellcat-engined Chargers and Challengers with more than 700 horsepower for five years.

          HIGHS: Tire smoking badassery, everyday drivability and comfort, room for the family.

          Tormented by traction, Hellcat drivers are the frequent fliers of the tire industry, a subculture of their own. Burning rubber is their sport. Black-striped stretches of asphalt their art. Clouds of tire smoke their language. The 2020 Dodge Charger Hellcat Widebody their new deus ex machina.

          Jessica Lynn WalkerCar and Driver

          More Tire to Burn

          Dodge gave its SRT-tuned Challengers the Widebody treatment for 2018, and the Charger crowd that gobbles up roughly 80,000 Chargers a year, about eight percent of which are Hellcats, has been clamoring for a similar treatment ever since. Now, for the 2020 model year, every Charger Hellcat is a Widebody. Just like the Widebody Challengers, Dodge fits the sedan with large plastic flares around the wheel wells that add 3.3 inches of overall width. Massive 20-inch wheels that measure 11 inches wide sit at each corner and are wrapped with 305/35R-20 Pirellis. All-season tires are standard, but the cars work better on the optional Pirelli P Zero PZ4 summer tires such as the ones on our test car.

          There also are more intense front and rear fascias, reshaped rocker-panel extensions, and a redesigned rear spoiler. "My main goal was to make the cars look badass. It was my job to give these cars attitude," Mark Trostle, FCA's head of performance, passenger, and utility vehicle design, said. "I think they look freakin' pissed off." Next to the big Dodge, a BMW M5 looks relatively meek.

          Jessica Lynn WalkerCar and Driver

          LOWS: Lumpy seats, rear tires cost $400 each, aging interior design.

          The Charger Widebody's scooped hood is unchanged, as is the 6.2-liter thermonuclear device it shields from the rain. The supercharged V-8 still pumps out 707 horsepower at 6000 rpm and 650 lb-ft of torque at 4800 revs. The same engine is used in the Challenger Hellcat Widebody, where an additional air intake brings 10 more horsepower. The Daytona version of the Charger Hellcat Widebody also gets the 717-hp rating, but it's the result of dyno trickery instead of a hardware or tuning change. Instead of taking the power rating at 6000 rpm, the Daytona's peak output is recorded at 6100 rpm, and to justify the number in the real world the Daytona's wide-open throttle upshift from third to fourth gear has been delayed 100 revs. A standard Charger Hellcat makes the same 717 horsepower at 6100 rpm, and both setups have a 6200-rpm fuel cutoff.

          BMW M5 drivers may scoff at the Hemi's iron block, pushrods, and mere two valves per cylinder, but the Hellcat V-8's lumpy idle and the maniacal howl from its 2.4-liter supercharger are as entertaining as its ability to liquefy its rear tires, at nearly $400 a pop. As before, the Challenger Hellcat's six-speed manual transmission is not offered here. Instead, every Charger Hellcat Widebody gets ZF's excellent 8HP70 eight-speed automatic, which is perfectly matched to the blown Hemi with short, tight ratios and snappy gear changes, especially in its Track mode.

          Jessica Lynn WalkerCar and Driver

          Impressive Performance

          At the test track, traction remains a serious issue, and the Hellcat's launch-control system is of little help when trying to lay down the quickest possible times. Matching the performance of the Challenger Hellcat Widebody, our test car delivered a zero-to-60-mph time of 3.8 seconds and a quarter-mile pass of 11.9 seconds at 124 mph when we tested it in California. These times were achieved by babying the 4626-pound sedan's accelerator to 30 mph before going to full throttle. Any sooner and the Pirellis send up smoke signals. Using the launch control, which has a programmable launch rpm from between 1200 to 2400 revs, our best run to 60 mph was 4.5 seconds.

          Dodge says the Widebody Hellcat can hit 60 mph in 3.6 seconds and cover the quarter-mile in 10.96 seconds, which might be possible with slicks on a prepped dragstrip. However, back in 2015, we tested a non-Widebody version the Charger Hellcat in Michigan and, despite its smaller 275/40R-20 summer tires, it managed to hit 60 mph in 3.4 seconds and cover the quarter mile in 11.4 seconds at 128 mph. As with any extremely powerful rear-wheel-drive car, posting the best acceleration times really comes down to surface and traction conditions.

          Jessica Lynn WalkerCar and Driver

          It was a similar story on the skidpad and in our braking tests. Although Dodge says the Charger Widebody can generate 0.96 g of lateral grip, our test car topped out at 0.94 g, the same as its narrow-bodied predecessor. It also stopped from 70 mph in 162 feet. That's nine feet, or about half a car length, longer than before.

          Makes a Great Daily

          With all its extra rubber and the Widebody's 1.6 inches of additional track width, the Charger does feel more planted on the road than before. Its adaptive Bilstein dampers also have been stiffened, but not enough to kill the ride quality, which is firm but comfortable. The Charger's suspension is still tuned a bit softer than the Challenger's, and it has a four-inch longer wheelbase, which helps smooth things out even more. Roll stiffness also has been increased. The Hellcat's front spring rate is up 32 percent, and its anti-roll bars are thicker. Still, there's not enough head toss over undulations to be a problem, and there's surprisingly little impact harshness despite each of its massive wheels and tire assemblies weighing 65 pounds.

          Jessica Lynn WalkerCar and Driver

          Although the Widebody mods only add about 30 pounds, the Charger still is a large, heavy sedan with 56 percent of its weight over its front tires. Nimble it is not, but it is predictable in its road manners, and it has plenty of grip. Properly weighted and tuned with a quick, 14.4:1 ratio, its new electrically assisted power steering is shared with the Challenger Hellcat, which means it isn't entirely numb but still could offer more feel and feedback.

          The big Charger is wonderfully stable in faster corners and is fun to push through slower sections once you get used to its bulk. Master this brute, and it's actually fun to toss around. Dare to shut off its stability control, and it rotates on the brakes and blazes its rear tires from corner to corner in long, lurid drifts.

          Jessica Lynn WalkerCar and Driver

          America's Greatest Sedan

          Inside, the Charger is showing its age, yet its cabin is functionally sorted, properly spacious, and as quiet as a M5 inside once the Hemi eases back in top gear at a 70-mph cruise. Although its heated and ventilated front seats have always been a bit lumpy compared to the best sports seats out there, and the Charger's fit and finish are still several steps behind its German rivals, you still get a ton of features and performance for our test car's $83,405 as-tested price.

          After five years, Dodge has figured out a way to improve the Charger Hellcat without really changing much. And with Cadillac discontinuing the CTS-V, this is now definitively America's greatest high-performance sedan, and the undisputed king of the four-door tire-burners.

          Specifications

          Specifications

          2020 Dodge Charger SRT Hellcat Widebody

          VEHICLE TYPE
          front-engine, rear-wheel-drive, 5-passenger, 4-door sedan

          PRICE AS TESTED
          $83,405 (base price: $73,240)

          ENGINE TYPE
          supercharged and intercooled pushrod 16-valve V-8, iron block and aluminum heads, port fuel injection
          Displacement
          376 in3, 6166 cm3
          Power
          707 hp @ 6000 rpm
          Torque
          650 lb-ft @ 4800 rpm

          TRANSMISSION
          8-speed automatic

          CHASSIS
          Suspension (F/R): multilink/multilink
          Brakes (F/R): 15.4-in vented, grooved disc/13.8-in vented, grooved disc
          Tires: Pirelli P Zero PZ4, 305/30R-20 (107Y)

          DIMENSIONS
          Wheelbase: 120.0 in
          Length: 201.0 in
          Width: 78.3 in
          Height: 57.6 in
          Passenger volume: 105 ft3
          Trunk volume: 17 ft3
          Curb weight: 4626 lb

          C/D
          TEST RESULTS
          Rollout, 1 ft: 0.3 sec
          60 mph: 3.8 sec
          100 mph: 7.9 sec
          150 mph: 18.0 sec
          Rolling start, 5–60 mph: 4.1 sec
          Top gear, 30–50 mph: 1.9 sec
          Top gear, 50–70 mph: 2.6 sec
          ¼-mile: 11.9 sec @ 124 mph
          Top speed (mfr's claim): 196 mph
          Braking, 70–0 mph: 162 ft
          Roadholding, 300-ft-dia skidpad: 0.94 g

          C/D
          FUEL ECONOMY
          Observed: 15 mpg

          EPA FUEL ECONOMY
          Combined/city/highway: 15/12/21 mpg

          Here it is, the fully fleshed-out autonomous car from Cruise Automation, GM's autonomous vehicle subsidiary. It's called the Cruise Origin, and it looks pretty much like all those other autonomous pod concepts we've seen over the past few years.

          Styling wise, it's a box with slightly curvy ends. Both ends look pretty much identical, except one has red lights and the other has white lights. In the middle are split sliding doors like those on a subway train. On top you can see some of the sensors it uses to navigate.

          Inside, the Origin adopts a similar layout to other autonomous concepts with the front and rear seats facing each other, with a large empty space in-between. Behind the seats is cargo space. While Cruise doesn't provide any details about the interior, the photos show that the seats, floors and more are hard, durable plastics and vinyls that are presumably easy to clean.

          By removing the steering wheel, the rearview mirror, the pedals, and more, we’re left with something simple: space. pic.twitter.com/K3tS0QxuSC

          — Cruise (@Cruise) January 22, 2020

          Cruise is also mum on many other details. It notes that it's electric and is built on a platform from GM, and it uses a modular system for its sensor hardware that can be upgraded independent of the car itself. It also says each vehicle should be able to be used for up to one million miles. As for battery capacity, motor arrangement and output, Cruise shares nothing. Well, it will share the car. Cruise Origins will be summoned via an app just like with a ride-sharing service, though Cruise touts the fact that you'll get a consistently clean and safe vehicle every time and at all hours of the day. Cruise also says that when the Origin goes online in San Francisco, a user could save as much as $5,000 a year compared with owning a car or using a ride-sharing service. Cruise does not say when the vehicle will be available to the public, though, nor how much rides will cost. So while the Origin answers some questions about the future of Cruise, it also raises many more.

          Paul Walker Cars

          Brian C. Bossert/Barrett-Jackson

            UPDATE 1/21/20: Paul Walker's collection was auctioned off at the 2020 Barrett-Jackson Scottsdale event, where five of his E36 M3 lightweights sold for a combined $1.3 million. One of them, with 4600 miles on the odometer, sold for $385,000. The collection also consisted of two E30 M3s, which sold for $220,000 and $165,000. Other cars sold from the late actor's collection included a 2009 Nissan 370Z from the film Fast Five, which sold for $105,600, and 1989 Nissan Skyline R32 and 2013 Ford Mustang Boss 302S race cars.

            If you want a vintage Ford Bronco or BMW M3, it's not difficult to find one right now. But even better, you could buy one that was owned by the late Paul Walker, star of The Fast and the Furious. The collection assembled by the star, who died in a car accident in 2013, was heavy on performance cars and particularly E36 BMW M3s, of which there are five up for auction, along with two earlier E30 M3s.

            These are among the 21 vehicles from his personal collection going on the block in January at the Barrett-Jackson Scottsdale auction.

            Paul Walker’s 1995 Ford Bronco Eddie Bauer Edition.

            Brian C. Bossert/Barrett-Jackson

            Other cars on offer range from a 1963 Chevrolet Nova wagon and a 1967 Chevrolet II Nova to 2003 Ford F-250 and 2006 Toyota Tundra pickups. Buyers will also be able to bid on a 1989 Nissan R32 Skyline race car and a 2009 Nissan 370Z.

            2013 Ford Boss 302S Mustang.

            Brian C. Bossert/Barrett-Jackson

            This 2013 Ford Boss 302S was a gift to Walker. Barrett-Jackson says the car, which is not street legal, has spent its life so far in storage and has never been raced. It's set up for it, though, with a 5.0-liter Ford Racing Motorsport V-8 paired with a Tremec six-speed manual transmission and all the Ford Racing equipment and software.

            1991 BMW M3 E30 from Paul Walker Collection.

            Brian C. Bossert/Barrett-Jackson

            1995 BMW M3 E36 Lightweight has 15,485 actual miles.

            Brian C. Bosssert/Barrett-Jackson

            Among the M3s are two earlier E30 cars, the one above from 1991 and another dating to 1988, plus five 1995 E36 M3 Lightweights, which is a lighter, track-oriented version of the vehicle. The Lightweights are all powered by a BMW S50 240-hp 3.0-liter straight-six with a five-speed manual transmission.

            The numbers make you shake your head. Possibly laugh. They definitely get your attention. The 2020 Ford F-Series Super Duty, be it the F-250 or F-350, can be optioned with a revised version of the 6.7-liter PowerStroke V8 diesel engine that now produces a best-in-class 475 horsepower and, wait for it, 1,050 pound-feet of torque. It's not the first time a heavy duty truck's torque figure has required a comma, but it is the first time such a prolific stump puller has been the only diesel engine offered. The Ram's 1,000-lb-ft diesel inline-six is exclusive to the 3500; a lesser version is offered on 2500. GM's heavy-duty diesel is available on both 2500 and 3500 trucks, but it pumps out 910 lb-ft. Chevy and GMC have said they're more interested in real-world performance than a constant state of spec sheet one-upsmanship, but dude, that's a 140-lb-ft deficit. People are going to notice that.

            Crossing the 1,000-hp threshold requires a new turbocharger, piston heads, fuel system and fuel-saving variable displacement oil pump, plus strengthened cylinder head, block, connecting rods and bearings. Strengthening things does seem like a good idea with 1,050 torques, which you absolutely cannot miss when you lay into the throttle. With the bed empty and the hitch unhitched, the F-250 King Ranch we start the day in slowly moves away then explodes forth as the boost kicks in with a silky, effortless thrust that's almost indicative of a high-powered, turbocharged luxury sedan. If the numbers don't make you laugh, the acceleration will.

            And when the bed is full of a fifth-wheel hitch attached to a 12,000-pound trailer (admittedly small beans for a truck capable in diesel-only F-450 guise of lugging 32,500 with a fifth-wheel), it gives new meaning to the overused cliché of "it's like the trailer's not even there." Well, you do notice it's there – it's an engine, not magic – but accelerating up a 6-degree grade sure was uneventful regardless of whether we were towing a comparable amount in the F-450 or the aforementioned F-250 King Ranch. Not much noise, not much fuss. In fact, the biggest challenge is not getting up to speed too fast and finding yourself blitzing into a corner just around the same time you remember that you're traveling in 19,000 pounds of truck and trailer.

            There’s also an optional gas V8, an all-new powerplant that can’t match the PowerStroke’s torque figure but weighs in at a monumental, anachronistic 7.3 liters. That totally unexpected figure, in this era of downsizing and turbocharging, results in 430 hp and 475 lb-ft of torque. According to engineer Patrick Hurtrich, the no-replacement-for-displacement approach is a better one for assuring fuel economy in a truck destined for towing, as doing so with a turbocharged engine such as the F-150's 3.5-liter EcoBoost negates or eliminates the usual efficiency benefits.

            The new 7.3 significantly betters the 385 hp and 430 lb-ft of the old 6.2-liter gas V8, which continues on as a base engine. It also smacks down the GM (401 hp, 464 lb-ft) and Ram (410 hp, 429 lb-ft) engines both in terms of output and towing figures. Sadly, our test of the Silverado HD and its gas V8 was done at a higher altitude and with a heavier trailer, so we can't offer much in the way of a fair comparison. Nevertheless, when towing something in the 9,000-pound range, the gas-powered F-250 impressed with its ability to tackle the same grade. It wasn't as effortless as the PowerStroke, but it never came close to being strained, and it even provides a really cool V8 snarl that's more muscle car than roaring, uncouth work truck. It also comes with a surcharge of $1,705 versus the PowerStroke's hefty $10,495 price tag.

            Of course, fuel cost must be considered, and the PowerStroke’s observed 19 mpg average is significant compared to the F-250 7.3’s range of 14 to 15 mpg – 35% better, in fact. The EPA doesn't require fuel economy estimates for heavy duty trucks, so we're afraid those are our best numbers for now.

            Both the 7.3 and PowerStroke engines are paired exclusively to an equally new, heavily fortified derivation of Ford's existing 10-speed automatic transmission (only 7% of parts are shared). Much as GM's 10-speed does, this new Ford "TorqShift" transmission manages to further amplify the towing experience as more gears means more opportunities for the engine to stay in its sweet spot when towing – be it accelerating, maintaining speed or engine braking – reducing the chances of sitting in a truck as the engine blares in distress. It's good for performance, it's good for fuel economy, it's good for in-cabin serenity, and it shifted flawlessly during our drive.

            For your peace of mind, we highly recommend checking the $1,000 adaptive steering option box. Every F-Series Super Duty from the XLT upwards has electrically powered hydraulic steering (a necessity for the standard lane-keeping assist system), which is reassuringly firm when turning, but too numb and unnerving on center. The numb bit is typical of heavy-duty trucks as engineers must find a compromise so that the steering can respond similarly when empty and when weight is crushing down on the back end when laden. The optional adaptive system basically alters itself so that steering effort and response can be reassuringly consistent regardless of situation.

            That said, the Tremor off-road package (pictured above) and its 18-inch black matte wheels wrapped in 35-inch all-terrain tires render most of the positive attributes of the adaptive steering system moot. As all-terrain tires are apt to do, steering precision and feel are reduced considerably. The adaptive steering system is still a good idea, though, as an F-250 XLT Tremor without the system was a bit nerve-racking when making the meandering turns of that 6-degree incline. It was actually worse in a straight line. By comparison, that big red F-450 pictured above that was attached to more weight with regular tires and the adaptive system resulted the steering equivalent of "it's like the trailer's not even there." As such, we'd recommend test drives of various configurations, especially if you've got eyes on the new Tremor off-road package.

            It's understandable, as it certainly looks cooler with those tires/wheels and boasts a significant number of off-road-oriented upgrades we've discussed previously in detail. They collectively allowed us to tackle some pretty significant off-road events during our first drive and in general, the Tremor makes for a compelling answer to the Ram's off-road 2500-class pickup, the Power Wagon. While the Tremor can't match the Ram's 4 extra inches of ground clearance or disconnecting sway bars that allow for superior wheel articulation, it is available in a much wider array of configurations. You can attach it to either F-250 or F-350 models, the XLT, Lariat, King Ranch or Platinum trim levels, and with either the 7.3-liter or PowerStroke engines. By contrast, the PowerWagon is 2500 only, a single special trim level and gas V8 only. There is currently no GM answer to these off-roading models.

            Changes for the Super Duty don't stop under the hood. The grille is new, and in a move that's perhaps shocking, there's less chrome. It's a subtle update, but it looks good and downright classy in comparison to Chevy's avert-your-eyes Silverado HD. The bumper and headlight cluster are also new (note the C-shaped LED lighting element), while the rear relocates the Ford oval to more prominently feature "Super Duty" embossed within a concave tailgate that's reminiscent of much older, boxier Ford trucks of yore. Again, there's less visual clutter and it's successful. Even the high-dollar King Ranch, Platinum and Limited trims don't rate high on the garish meter.

            That goes for the interior as well. The design is the same, which is OK. It's not quite as glitzy, richly appointed or cleverly functional as the Ram trucks, but every Super Duty outshines its drab and unimaginative GM counterparts. For 2020, all trims but the XL come standard with the 8-inch Sync 3 touchscreen, while wireless charging is standard on the three luxury trims and optional on Lariat. (You can find a full breakdown of features and pricing for F-250 and F-350 here on Autoblog). Forward collision warning and automatic emergency braking, lane-departure warning and blind-spot warning are optional on even the base XL now and are standard on every other trim. Adaptive cruise control is optional on Lariat and King Ranch, and standard on Platinum and Limited. By comparison, such tech is optional on every Ram trim and only optional on the priciest two Silverado trims.

            Admittedly, counting driving tech doo-dads is less sexy than listing eye-popping mechanical numbers, so let's end with some more of those, shall we? The Super Duty boasts best-in-class gooseneck (37,000 lbs), fifth-wheel (32,500) and conventional towing numbers (24,200) along with best-in-class maximum payload (7,850). The same applies when you break down those same elements within the entire diesel-powered 250/2500 and gas-powered 350/3500 segments. The gas-powered Ram 2500 and high-output diesel 3500 aces the equivalent Super Duty in a few categories. So yes, even 1,050 pound-feet isn't enough to make it king of every hill, but it sure makes it easier when climbing up it.

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