Who has the harder job: a Disney producer assigned to the Star Wars franchise or a Ford engineer tasked with creating the new Bronco? Successfully modernizing a timeless classic means running a razor-thin line between blasphemy and anachronism. Basking in the warm, rosy glow of nostalgia, legions of die-hards with opinions cemented over decades stand ready to crucify the final product if anything is amiss.
Our renderings include a bit of imagination, but we're confident that the tires will be big, the body will be boxy, and the roof will be removable.
It's been 24 years since the last Ford Bronco rolled off the assembly line, giving zealots plenty of time to ruminate on the iconic nameplate and what it means to them. Bronco nostalgia is arguably more powerful now than it's ever been. The name carries so much weight that Ford cannot afford to apply it to just any SUV. There are certain elements that simply must be part of the package, or else the new Bronco's legacy will be about as respectable as George Lucas's godawful prequel trilogy.
Since word of a Bronco revival leaked a few years ago, we haven't been all that optimistic. The Ranger pickup's anticlimactic return to the U.S. wasn't a good omen. The truck we got was a mildly warmed-over version of the global Ranger that had been on sale elsewhere for years. We worried that the upcoming Bronco, too, might turn out to be a lame repurposing of one of Ford's global SUVs, such as the outdated Everest.
Rendering by Nick KaloterakisCar and Driver
Based on spy photos, parts guides, and our sources within Ford and its suppliers, that doesn't seem to be the case. While we await Ford's official unveiling, everything we know about the new Bronco suggests it will be exactly what everyone wants it to be: a body-on-frame, two- or four-door SUV with legitimate off-road capability and a removable roof.
It Will Look Like a Bronco
While it is based on Ranger/Everest underpinnings, its look will be a clean-sheet design with careful consideration (read: pandering) paid to all the things that make a Bronco a Bronco. It's no coincidence that Ford's carefully crafted modern-era Bronco will be similar in scope to the Jeep Wrangler, which has gained popularity in the years since the Bronco began its hibernation in 1996. Despite a few upstarts that briefly made waves, including the Nissan Xterra and the Toyota FJ Cruiser, Jeep has owned this off-road-SUV space for more than two decades. Remarkably, for two years now, FCA has sold more Wranglers than Nissan sold Altimas or Ford did Fusions. The Bronco, which will debut this spring as a 2021 model, will certainly look to make a dent in those numbers, although it isn't likely to be a volume seller like the Escape, the Explorer, or even the upcoming Escape-based Bronco Sport crossover.
Huge sales numbers are not the reason you roll out a niche model like this. The Bronco is mostly meant to get people excited about Ford SUVs again, so the styling will have to make an impact. As previewed by the Bronco R off-road race prototype, a squared-off hood and imposing Raptor-style grille that says "Bronco" in giant block letters will leave no doubt as to the identity and attitude of this model. We anticipate it'll have round headlights, lending a retro touch, and 35-inch all-terrain tires with plenty of wheel clearance for off-road capability. A chunky full-size spare tire will likely hang off the back.
"In a departure from Jeep's approach, Ford is envisioning the Bronco as more of a high-speed desert runner than a low-speed rock crawler."
Rendering by Nick KaloterakisCar and Driver
Doors and Roof Come Off
As previously mentioned, both two- and four-door versions will have doors that can be taken off for open-air fun, complementing a removable hardtop. The Bronco's side mirrors will be mounted on the A-pillars, and the doors will be stowable in the cargo area. Patents for the door-removal system show a set of latches, a far simpler solution than the hinges on the Wrangler's doors, which require tools to take off. Expect extradurable interior parts that will stand up to the elements, as one engineer let slip to us that waterproofing sensitive components, such as the power seats, was a challenge.
In a departure from Jeep's approach, Ford is envisioning the Bronco as more of a high-speed desert runner than a low-speed rock crawler (though the Bronco R race truck failed to finish the Baja 1000 this past November). This means the Bronco won't adopt an old-school live axle up front like the Wrangler and will instead have a long-travel independent suspension. The rear will be a live-axle setup with leaf springs, and both axle designs will be supplied by Dana. We expect the most hardcore Bronco will offer electronic anti-roll-bar disconnects and borrow the locking rear differential from the Ranger Raptor (not sold in the U.S.) and possibly the Torsen limited-slip front diff from the F-150 Raptor.
Rendering by Nick KaloterakisCar and Driver
What's Under the Hood
If any element of the new Bronco is primed to piss off traditionalists, it's the turbocharged 2.3-liter inline-four that will serve as the base engine. Either that or the rumored hybrid powertrain that Ford may put in the Bronco. While die-hards won't be truly satisfied with anything less than a naturally aspirated V-8, we think most people will be just fine settling for this mill's 270-ish horsepower and 310-ish pound-feet of torque. If that's not good enough, a twin-turbo 2.7-liter V-6 will be optional, likely increasing those numbers to around 325 horsepower and 400 pound-feet. And here's the really juicy bit: In addition to Ford and GM's co-developed 10-speed automatic, word is that a manual transmission is in the works.
The cherry on top of all this nostalgia is the fact that the new Bronco will roll off the same assembly line in Wayne, Michigan, where its predecessors were built for decades. Ford built the Focus there in the 2010s before dropping it from the U.S. lineup. The current obsession with trucks and SUVs among the buying public and within Ford has taken a toll on sedans and hatchbacks. The Bronco isn't your average utility vehicle, though. It's shaping up to be a rare SUV with as much character as utility, with niche capabilities and broad appeal. It's Ford giving people, enthusiasts included, exactly what they want.
PARIS — Ex-Nissan boss Carlos Ghosn said on Wednesday that a surprise corporate move, orchestrated five years ago by French President Emmanuel Macron, who was then economy minister, soured relations between Renault and Nissan and contributed to his ouster.
Ghosn, the former head of the car alliance, said Nissan executives and Japanese officials were shocked by a 2015 decision by the French government to increase its voting rights at Renault.
"This left a big bitterness. Not only with the management of Nissan, but also the government of Japan," Ghosn told reporters, although he did not name Macron. "And this is where the problem started."
Macron's office did not respond to a request for comment.
The overnight move gave the French state a blocking minority in Renault, which in turn controlled Nissan via its 43.4 percent stake in the Japanese firm.
According to French and Japanese sources, that rattled the Japanese side of the Renault-Nissan alliance, which feared a national champion was falling under the control of the French government.
In the ensuing eight-month boardroom fight between Macron's ministry and Hiroto Saikawa — Nissan's second-in-command at the time — Ghosn sees the seeds of what he says grew into a conspiracy to have him arrested and oust him from control of Nissan.
The 65-year-old fled Japan last month as he awaited trial on charges of under-reporting earnings, breach of trust and misappropriation of company funds, all of which he denies.
"There started to be some kind of defiance from our Japanese colleagues, not only about the alliance but also about me," Ghosn told reporters.
"And some of our Japanese friends thought: The only way to get rid of the influence of Renault on Nissan is to get rid of him," he added. "Unfortunately, they were right."
Following Ghosn's arrest in November 2018, Nissan executives said that said governance had been eroded by Renault’s control. Saikawa subsequently contested Renault’s right to appoint executives and directors under the alliance master agreement, in correspondence seen by Reuters.
“President Macron himself has skin in the game,” Max Warburton, an analyst with New York-based asset manager AllianceBernstein, told Reuters in the weeks following Ghosn's arrest. “He must recognize that his decision in 2015 to increase the French state’s holding in Renault ... likely impacted Japanese perceptions of the alliance and heightened concerns that Nissan was ultimately within the control of the French government.”
Ghosn said Wednesday that, partly because of the mistrust caused by the 2015 row, he had doubts about the future of the alliance.
Asked if he felt let down by the French government's muted response to his arrest, Ghosn replied: "How would you have felt in my place? Supported? Defended? Let down? I don't know. I won't state a view for now.
"I am a French citizen like any other. I'm not asking to be treated better than anyone else, but I shouldn't be treated less well than others either.
"When the French president says 'presumed innocent', I believe him. But when French officials say 'presumed innocent' and have a body language that says 'he is guilty', I don't agree with that," Ghosn said.
Dealership website provider DealerOn said Monday it received an investment from private equity firm NexPhase Capital LP, a partnership the dealer vendor said will help it achieve scale.
Terms of the deal were not disclosed, though DealerOn said it will continue to be led by company founders and brothers Ali and Amir Amirrezvani and will remain based in Rockville, Md.
DealerOn said the deal with NexPhase Capital will enable more innovation and allow the company to double the size of its development teams. The company didn't disclose the current size of those teams.
"As we continue to scale the business and define our leadership position within the automotive retail industry, we are thrilled to partner with NexPhase and welcome them to the DealerOn family," DealerOn CEO Ali Amirrezvani said in a statement. "NexPhase brings deep sector knowledge, operational expertise and significant resources that will help drive DealerOn's success for years to come."
DealerOn, founded in 2004, counts more than 3,500 dealership clients and 350 employees. It holds 26 website provider certifications from automakers. In 2019, it was namedone of four possible dealership website providers for General Motors, which is broadening its dealership website network beyond a single vendor, CDK Global, starting this year. DealerOn also specializes in digital marketing.
NexPhase, based in New York, counts software and services among its investment sectors, with a specific emphasis on business-to-business software.
"Now more than ever, dealers are looking for a fast, fully transparent and easy-to-manage digital marketing platform," Bob Gartland, a NexPhase Capital principal, said in the company's statement. "This investment is a testament to the tremendous efforts and hard work of the DealerOn team to make car buying in the digital age better than ever, and it marks an important next step in the company's ability to scale and deliver on the high growth potential of its platform."
Horatio Partners assisted DealerOn as its financial adviser in the deal, while Foley & Lardner LLP provided legal counsel. NexPhase had legal counsel from Lowenstein Sandler LLP.
Sony Vision-S is an electric concept car from the electronics company that shows off how its sensors and infotainment can be used.
If you've ever had a nap in a hammock on a nice day, you'll know that there's kind of nothing like it. You feel almost weightless, enjoying the sun and the breeze, soaking in the sounds and smells of the great outdoors, while firmly contained in what is essentially a hanging human pea pod. The trouble is, it's not always the easiest thing in the world to find two perfectly placed trees to tie your hammock to. Thankfully, this hammock hitch stand exists.
The stand attaches to any standard 2-inch receiver and can hold either a traditional hammock or two hanging chairs. There is a 300-pound weight capacity while the stand is in "hammock mode," but it can handle 300 pounds per chair while in "chair mode." The idea of the stand is amazing, but it's important to note that it actually does not come with chairs or a hammock; those are sold separately.
If you're wondering how practical this thing is, we're right with you. Right now on Amazon the hitch stand has a 4/5 rating and Amazon user "WYOAmazon Guy" had this to say:
"I really like this idea, I have a bumper receiver hitch on the back of my 5th wheel camp trailer and this works perfectly to create a gathering area for friends and family. HINT: to make my life easier and also to make switching between hammock and chair modes easier, I replaced the nuts and bolts that come with stand with clevis pins and hairpin clips so it is easier and faster to change the configuration. Get one it is a great product!"
Autoblog is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to amazon.com. These deals are available through our affiliate partnership with Amazon.com. Deals are subject to Amazon's schedule and availability.
We're fascinated by the prospect of a model city being built from scratch by Toyota—and a bit weirded out.
Woven City, as it will be called, will be a test bed for studying autonomous and connected vehicle technology, Toyota says.
Groundbreaking on the 170-acre site is slated to take place in 2021 and Toyota says people will be moving in "within five years."
Toyota is taking an unprecedented step forward in announcing that it will build an entire city from scratch, Woven City, in Japan. Yes, Toyota, seemingly plotting world domination, is building a whole damn city. A private metropolis on 170 acres, designed by one visionary company and nestled at the foot of Mount Fuji? On one level, it's exactly as unsettlingly like the villain's lair in a James Bond movie as it sounds—or perhaps a bit like the town in The Stepford Wives. But on another level, it's kind of cool.
Car companies love to talk about mobility in broad strokes, and it can often sound like they're aiming to create the world we saw in Wall-E in which humans are transported around in individual autonomous pods.
And, in fact, the goal of Toyota's Woven City is to be a test bed for various autonomous and connected-vehicle technologies. It's to be located on the former site of a Toyota production facility. Literal human beings will be the figurative guinea pigs—around 2000 of them eventually, Toyota says. There won’t be much privacy involved, apparently: in a press conference announcing the venture, Toyota referred to such troubling ideas as robots that will live in people's homes to determine when they run out of milk, for instance.
When can I move in? you ask. Likely not for a while, or ever, as Toyota says invites will be sent mostly to Toyota employees and researchers. The only powered vehicles allowed in the city will be fully autonomous, zero-emissions transport devices such as, not coincidentally, the Toyota e-Palette.
So it's basically the exact future we have feared for years now: a world where roads are populated only by pod-shaped devices without steering wheels. The city does look particularly appealing for cyclists and pedestrians, because part of the urban-planning strategy slated to be implemented by Danish architect Bjarke Ingals centers around separating roads into sections: one for higher-speed powered vehicles, one for slower vehicles such as bicycles, and one parklike path for walking that looks particularly aesthetically pleasing in the renderings Toyota has released so far.
The initial groundbreaking is scheduled for 2021, and Toyota says that people will start moving in "within the next five years." We look forward to hearing more about this project to see if it’s exactly as creepy and invasive as it sounds.
Image Credit: Dodge
Like zombies, these dead cars still sell among the living
Car models come and go, but as revealed by monthly sales data, once a car is discontinued, it doesn't just disappear instantly. And in the case of some models, vanishing into obscurity can be a slow, tedious process.
That's the case with the nine cars we have here. All of them have been discontinued, but car companies keep racking up "new" sales with them.
There are actually a lot more discontinued cars that are still registering new sales than what we included here. We kept this list to the oldest and most unlikely vehicles still being sold as new, including a couple of supercars. Every car on this list was discontinued at least two years ago. We've ordered the list in order of fewest vehicles sold. Click on the image above to get started.
Last updated January 2019
Image Credit: Dodge
2014 Dodge Avenger: 1 sale
Wow. We're truly amazed. Someone actually bought a brand new 2014 Dodge Avenger in 2019. The Avenger was uncompetitive when it was new, and it's woefully uncompetitive now. Here's hoping the sole individual who parked a new Avenger in their driveway in 2019 got a smoking deal.
It's also worth noting that Lexus only sold the LFA for two model years, 2011 and 2012, which means it is by far the oldest new vehicle on this list.
Lexus LFA Information
Image Credit: Chrysler
2016 Chrysler Town & Country: 5 sales
The Chrysler Town & Country was already an old vehicle when it was officially killed off in 2016. The basic van was introduced for the 2008 model year, and saw only refreshes until its conclusion eight years later. Some of those updates were helpful and kept the car at least somewhat competitive.
Still, we're thankful Chrysler replaced it with the Pacifica, a superb van that is arguably the best in the segment. And if you do happen to really like Chrysler's older minivan offering, the Dodge Grand Caravan is still on the market.
In any case, Chrysler managed to sell five of these minivans so far this year. Here's hoping the buyer scored a great deal.
Chrysler Town & Country Information
Image Credit: Dodge
2017 Dodge Viper: 5 sales
The second supercar on our list out is one that we love. We don't think there are a bunch of unsold Dodge Viper coupes sitting on dealer lots all across America. Nevertheless, five lucky individuals managed to bring new Vipers home in 2019.
At least we know those buyers are out there having fun!
Dodge Viper Information
Image Credit: Mercedes-Benz
2017 Mercedes-Benz B-Class Electric Drive: 8 sales
Mercedes-Benz sold the B-Class Electric Drive in the United States from 2013 through 2017. Though the rest of the world gets other versions of the B, only the electrified variant was sold here in the States. And it was never a big seller — just over 3,500 were sold over its production run in America. Now that 2019 has come to a close, we can add eight more to the total.
Mercedes-Benz B-Class Electric Drive Information
Image Credit: Dodge
2016 Dodge Dart: 25 sales
Dodge discontinued the compact Dart back in 2016, just three years after its launch. The automaker just wasn't able to compete with the segment leaders like the Honda Civic or the sales juggernaut that is the Toyota Corolla. Despite the fact that it's been dead for several years, Dodge managed to sell 25 Darts in 2019.
Dodge Dart Information
Image Credit: Jeep
2017 Jeep Patriot: 27 sales
The Jeep Patriot initially launched back in 2007 alongside its more car-like Compass sibling, but while that vehicle got a redesign and is still on sale in Jeep dealerships, the boxier Patriot ended production in 2017.
Apparently there are a handful of Patriots still collecting dust on dealership lots in America, because the automaker tallied 27 total sales last year.
Jeep Patriot Information
Image Credit: Chrysler
2017 Chrysler 200: 48 sales
The Chrysler 200 is actually a pretty nice sedan, with good looks and decent driving dynamics let down by a lack of roominess, particularly in the back seat. Chrysler never really found its footing in the ultra-competitive midsize sedan segment, but apparently has a bunch of leftover 200s floating around in America with a total of 48 sold in 2019.
Image Credit: Volkswagen
2017 Volkswagen CC: 58 sales
Volkswagen discontinued the CC in 2017, and the slinky coupe-shaped sedan recently got a replacement in the form of the 2019 Arteon. Here's hoping last year's 58 CC buyers managed to get a good deal on their new old sedans.
Volkswagen CC Information
Bowling Green, Ky., has the National Corvette Museum. Milwaukee has the Harley-Davidson Museum.
And now, Toledo, Ohio, aims to have a museum dedicated to Jeep, a brand that's been closely tied to that city for nearly 80 years.
A nonprofit group in Toledo says it plans to open The Jeep Experience, which would have interactive exhibits, an off-road driving trail and potentially a Jeep-themed restaurant, in 2022. It hopes to attract about 250,000 visitors a year and has discussed a financial commitment from Fiat Chrysler Automobiles, though nothing final has been announced, The Bladein Toledo reported.
"They've been incredibly involved with all the planning," Randy Oostra, CEO of ProMedica, a company that's been involved with the project, said of FCA. "They want to be involved with future decisions and the board."
Jeeps have been rolling out of Toledo since the 1940s, when Willys-Overland made about 368,000 of them for the U.S. Army during World War II. Production of a civilian model began in 1946. Toledo now hosts an annual Jeep Fest, and FCA still makes Jeeps there, with the Wrangler and Gladiator.
"The history of Jeep is so embedded in our community," Robin Whitney, another ProMedica executive, told The Blade. "We think nationally there will be quite a pull for people to come to the area for this."
If you want to drive in the snow, it's a safe bet you can find some in Finland in December, particularly up above the Arctic Circle, in Lapland. That's where Porsche invited us to play with the 2020 Taycan 4S, the less powerful but more honestly named counterpart to the higher-end Turbo and Turbo S models. It's also where Porsche runs a winter driving school, complete with snow-covered skidpads and slaloms. Thus, it's a great place to show off the winter-weather advantages of its EV's dual-motor all-wheel-drive system while generating headlines like, "Taycan It to the Finnish Line in Lapland."
In Levi, Finland, where we began our drive, the 11:00 a.m. sunrise was promptly followed by 1:00 p.m. sunset. With all the darkness, this would have been a great place to introduce the Pontiac Aztec. The Taycan 4S, however, looked good in the Arctic twilight, and, as usual with Porsches, it hews to a clearly defined performance hierarchy. The Turbo S model does zero to 62 mph in a claimed 2.8 seconds, the Turbo in 3.2 seconds, and the 4S in 4.0 seconds. However, the 4S is the champ when it comes to range, with a maximum estimate of 288 miles on the international WLTP cycle. All Taycans use the same electric front-axle motor, but the 4S's smaller rear motor gives it a slight efficiency edge.
With the same Performance Battery Plus—93.4 kWh, the highest-capacity battery thus far offered in the Taycan—the 4S's range narrowly beats the Turbo's 280 miles in that WLTP test. However, United States ratings will be substantially lower, as the EPA tagged the Turbo with a pathetic range estimate of 201 miles. We'll see what happens once we run our own tests, but this points to a vast disparity between the WLTP and EPA numbers.
As for horsepower, here's where electrification takes number fetishists into new and exciting territory, because the 4S model alone has four horsepower ratings—two for each of the 93.4- and 79.2-kWh batteries, including one for peak output for 10 seconds and another for the "overboost" output that lasts for 2.5 seconds. So, with the optional big battery, you get 483 horsepower for 10 seconds or 563 horsepower in overboost. With the standard pack, those figures are 429 and 522 horses, respectively. In either case, zero-to-60-mph acceleration and the 155-mph top speed remain the same. But if anyone in the AutoZone parking lot asks you what kind of power your Taycan's pushing, you'll have to reply, "Well, for how long?" That's the rule now.
Lapland's nasty winter conditions—below-freezing temps with at least four inches of snow on the road at all times—didn't markedly ding the Taycan's own range prediction, which is informed by the last few hundred miles of driving. With the Mamba Green Taycan we drove showing 180 miles of range from a partial charge, we burned off 112 miles of estimated range while covering only 89 snowy Arctic miles at a relatively quick clip. The snow was consistently deep enough to cause the 20-inch Goodyear Ultra Grip 245/45R-20 winter tires to hydroplane—snowboard?—atop the powder, yet the Taycan still felt planted.
But, honestly, on an average unplowed road, this car doesn't feel much different than any all-wheel-drive performance sedan on winter tires. To really suss out the Taycan's advantages, you need a frozen slalom and a wide-open skidpad. Fortunately, Porsche has both those things at the Arctic outpost of the Porsche Driving Experience. It also has a fleet of Cayennes with tow straps, just in case.
Running through the slalom, it's immediately evident that Porsche and Tesla have different philosophies when it comes to electrified winter rallying. Porsche wanted the Taycan to feel like a regular sports sedan, so there's barely any energy regeneration when you back off the accelerator pedal. The Sport Plus driving mode gives you the most off-throttle regeneration, but most of the regen comes via the brake pedal, which means in this context, the Taycan doesn't fully capitalize on its dual-motor advantage. In contrast, if you lift off the accelerator and turn the wheel in a Tesla Model 3 Performance with Track Mode, the front and rear motors apply differing degrees of braking to help pivot the rear end around and help the car turn. In the Tesla, you can negotiate a slalom without touching the brake, the car helping to initiate slides via its aggressive regen.
With the Taycan, you drive a snowy slalom as you would in a conventional internal-combustion car, alternating the brake and throttle and countersteering as needed. This is fine, but doing so seems to hold the dual-motor Taycan back from its full potential. Granted, pulling rally moves on a low-friction surface is an admittedly narrow context, but why make a car feel like something it's not just for the sake of familiarity? Why not add a screwing-around-on-snow mode? Let's hope that a software update is in the pipeline.
On the throttle, though, the Taycan is anything but familiar. Depending on the situation, it can switch from rear-wheel drive to all-wheel drive or front-wheel drive, practically instantaneously. The effect is that you can get it way, way sideways, seemingly to the point of no return, and still save it. The tail comes around so far that you think you can see its taillights in your peripheral vision, but if you stay with it (and have room to slide), the Taycan can haul itself back around without spinning. On a skidpad streaked with both grippy snow and bare ice, the 4S found so much grip that the challenge wasn't spinning out but adding enough throttle to keep it tail out in a drift. At one point during a sideways circumnavigation of the pad, that meant adding power until we saw 120 mph of wheel speed versus maybe 15 mph of progress around the chosen radius. The 4S's bag of drift tricks also includes a limited-slip rear differential, brake-based torque vectoring, and four-wheel steering.
All of this works together so seamlessly that the result can be summed up with, "The bad thing that you think is going to happen doesn't." You think you're going to spin, but you don't. You think you'll slide backwards into a snowbank, but then the car claws its way forward. Driving the Taycan 4S with abandon in Finland proved that it's suited for more than life in Miami, although it'll probably work pretty well there, too.
2020 Porsche Taycan 4S
VEHICLE TYPE front- and rear-motor, all-wheel-drive, 5-passenger, 4-door sedan
BASE PRICE 4S, $105,150; 4S with Performance Battery Plus, $111,730
MOTOR 2 permanent-magnet synchronous AC; combined output, 522 or 563 hp, 472 or 479 lb-ft; 79.2-kWh or 93.4-kWh lithium-ion battery pack
TRANSMISSION 1-speed direct drive (front), 2-speed automatic (rear)
DIMENSIONS Wheelbase: 114.2 in Length: 195.4 in Width: 77.4 in Height: 54.3 in Cargo volume: 17 cu ft Curb weight (C/D est): 4800–5000 lb