Category Archives: Off Road

NAIAS 2018: 2019 Jeep Grand Cherokee Debuts New Four Cylinder, Refined Technology

Jeep is riding a proverbial whirlwind of success following the recent unveiling of the 2019 Jeep Wrangler, as well as continually strong sales numbers from the venerable Grand Cherokee SUV. However, the iconic American brand knows that compact crossovers are the current trend for U.S. buyers, and has given the smaller Cherokee the facelift it needs to help it stand out from the competition for the new model year.

Shining brightly under the lights of Cobo Center in Detroit, MI, the first thing that buyers will notice is its decidedly more conventional looking face. When the Cherokee first appeared five years ago, Jeep designers tried to go for a decidedly futuristic look that unfortunately received mixed reviews from journalists and buyers alike. Jeep brand Chief Mike Manley admitted that the old look was “very progressive and modern” and at the time Jeep had to what it had to do to break through the segment. It certainly worked (for better or for worse) and Jeep designers chose to add more refinement to this active canvas for 2019.

The end result is a Cherokee that shares much of its looks with the Jeep Compass. The more traditional nose eliminates its beak like tip, which improves aerodynamics, and allows the trademark seven slat grille to be a more vertical arrangement than before. LED headlights are standard on all trim levels, and the use of this single arrangement helps cut down on manufacturing costs for all versions of the Cherokee.

New tail lights flank the redesigned rear liftgate that moves the license plate and opening handle further up in an attempt to improve ergonomics for customers, especially when accessing the cargo area with bulky items. A welcome side effect is that it removes some of the polarizing weirdness from the design, and that’s always a good thing with us, especially when viewed in Trailhawk and Limited guises. The liftgate itself jettisons its old metal construction, and instead embraces composite technology, which shaves 18 lbs of flab off the Cherokee. The 2019 Cherokee also follows the path blazed by recent Ford entries, and now incorporates an all new capless fuel filler for easier and quicker fuel stops.

Like before, the trail ready TrailHawk will serve as the most capable Cherokee entry (Overland models cap the luxury equation.) Like the old model, the 2019 version benefits from a 1-inch suspension lift, and incorporates unique front and rear fascias to enhance approach and departure angles. The latter benefits were displayed at its unveiling, with the Trailhawk easily scampering down a step style rock course FCA had setup at its booth. Blacked out trim replaces chrome elements, and splashes of red trim are present throughout, including its signature red  front mounted tow hooks.

The interior of the 2019 Cherokee may appear the same at first glance (with the bulk of its core design unchanged) but Jeep designers redesigned the air vents, and also reconfigured the shifter and console assemblies to enhance storage space for mobile phones and other devices. The 7 and 8.4 inch infotainment systems will still be offered, but both units now  feature Apple CarPlay and Android Auto functionality. The rear console also gives passengers an extra USB slot for charging and using mobile devices when out on the beaten trail. Cargo space has also increased, with the 2019 Cherokee now offering 28.0 cubic feet of space (versus the old model’s 24.6 cubic feet.) this allows the Cherokee to be much more competitive with rivals. A notable example of this new found space is Jeep’s claims that the 2019 Cherokee can swallow two full bags of golf clubs, a feat that the old Cherokee could only dream about.

Performance for the 2019 Cherokee will come from three different engines. Two of them (the 2.4 liter four cylinder and the 3.2 liter Pentastar V6) are carried over from the old model with outputs unchanged at 180 and 271 horsepower respectively. The newcomer however is the same 2.0 liter turbocharged four cylinder engine that first made its debut in the Jeep Wrangler. Jeep claims that this engine is the most advanced 2,0 liter turbo on the market, and its 270 horsepower and 295 lb-ft of torque will certainly allow it to make a good first impression. The Cherokee’s iteration of this engine does not have the 48 volt mild hybrid technology found in the bigger Wrangler, but it does raise questions about the long term viability of the 3.2 liter V6, since only 1 horsepower separates the two, and the V6’s only remaining advantage is its slightly higher towing figure.

All three engines are mated to the carryover nine speed automatic transmission. Once known as the proverbial black sheep in the fold due to its delayed rollout and clunky shifts, Jeep claims that new software smooths out shifts, and it also makes the transmission less lethargic and dimwitted when under hard acceleration. Fuel economy is also expected to improve somewhat ,due to the fore-mentioned aerodynamic and weight saving enhancements.

While these updates may seem like a typical mid cycle freshening at first glance, they do address two key areas that many CUV buyers want when purchasing one for their family, roominess, and capability. Those aspects combined with its softened looks, should allow the 2019 Cherokee to bolster the strong sales figures it already possesses, and allow it to be a key cog in Jeep’s broader plans for its globally focused future.

NAIAS 2018: Ram Unveils 2019 Ram 1500, Boasts Class Exclusive 12-inch Infotainment System

The pickup truck wars are entering a new battlefield with more automakers pushing to add green technology to vehicles that are already tasked with hauling big loads and offering optimum levels of passenger comfort. With the Chevrolet Silverado and the Ford F-150 either being completely overhauled or updated, The 2018 Ram and its aging hardware were on the outside looking in. RAM aims to completely reverse this with the 2019 Ram 1500 and it appears that it has a fighting chance at completely shifting the sales race on its head.

The exterior styling is not as revolutionary as many predicted, but the more evolutionary position it embraces is still a good thing. For starters, the headlights are a welcome evolution of the current generation’s units with the big rig-esque motif still visually intact. The 2019 Ram 1500 will have two different headlight designs for buyers to choose from with lower trims getting standard halogen units that largely look similar to what we have now. Top tier Rams get all new LED lighting elements that are noticeably slimmer, but without losing the wideness that buyers love. The taillights are a tasteful evolution of the current units, and they certainly look great at least to our eyes.

The biggest change that many buyers will notice is the lack of a crosshair style front grille. The crosshair motif has been around in one shape or form since the middle half of the 1990’s with the look being the last remaining remnant of its past association with Dodge (who still uses the crosshair grille.) The new grille is emblazoned with the RAM nameplate, and while the look will certainly be popular with some buyers, we suspect Mopar and the aftermarket will have T-shaped grilles available for those that prefer to live in nostalgia. Another minor change is the elimination of the drop fender, which has been lifted upwards for this new iteration of Ram in an attempt to add more refinement to the truck.

In addition to these key changes, RAM engineers also put the truck on a major crash diet removing 225 lbs of flab from the Ram’s flanks. Strategic uses of aluminium also help contribute to the weight loss with the tailgate alone cutting 15 lbs, and the lighter frame cutting an additional 98 lbs. Despite the insertions of aluminium at select points, the 2019 Ram is not taking the plunge and following the F-150 into all aluminium bodywork for the immediate future. Look for this to please commercial buyers that want to save money in the event that their truck gets banged up on the job especially since aluminum requires specialized tools and training to service properly.

The interior of the 2019 Ram also sees its fair share of updates with engineers building upon the relatively upscale layout that was left by the previous generation 1500. The buttons and switch gear (a persistent weakness in many Chrysler offerings) have been replaced with more stylish units, while material quality overall has seen an enormous jump especially in higher grade RAM models. For instance in the Limited model we spent time in, designers added more metal trim, as well as better looking leather and wood accents. Storage solutions are also plentiful in the 2019 Ram 1500, with the typical assortment of nooks and crannies being augmented by new rear mounted Ram bins that can swallow up small items, and are hidden from view by special mats.

The trump card here though is the infotainment system. While lower grade models make do with 5 and 8.4 inch infotainment units, higher tier Rams utilize a massive 12 inch infotainment system, with inspiration clearly borrowed from Tesla. This monstrous screen is the biggest in the segment, and FCA claims that it also boasts higher resolution and sharper clarity than even the 8.4 which is an impressive piece of hardware in its own right. All three infotainment systems are complimented by bulky physical controls that were designed to be operated easily when occupants are wearing thick gloves. All three  also run FCA’s latest iteration of Uconnect which promises to be sharper and more precise with inputs.

Performance for the 2019 Ram 1500 will initially come from two very familiar engines with base models being powered by the venerable 3.6 liter V6. Output here remains identical to the outgoing model with 305 horsepower and 350 lb-ft of torque. Meanwhile the 5.7 liter Hemi V8 brings 395 horsepower and 410 lb-ft of torque to the festivities. While both of these engines may seem like shameless retreads of the same old story, RAM engineers uses both of them to introduce all new mild hybrid technology that adds a distinctive touch to them for 2019. Dubbed “e-Torque,” the system uses a 48 amp generator to help provide extra torque to the engine during acceleration. RAM claims that the system can send 90 extra lb-ft to the V6, while V8’s benefit from a 130 lb-ft boost. While RAM did not reveal any specifics regarding fuel economy, we suspect that there will be a small increase especially in city driving with the V6.

All of this power is rooted to either the rear or all four wheels through an eight speed automatic gearbox that has more than 40 shift maps pre-programmed into it, this allows the truck to be highly adaptable to its surroundings, however in a segment where 10-speed automatics have become the norm, having two less cogs in its transmission could place the ram at a slight disadvantage when compared to its peers.

That might not matter as much to the two off-road variants that will be available for buyers. While RAM is offering a separate 4×4 package that adds the essentials like skid plates and tow hooks, the bulk of the attention will be focused on the revamped Rebel variant. While we still prefer the look of the older Rebel versus its new successor, RAM engineers made it more capable with 33-inch Goodyear Wrangler Duratrac tires and a potent electronic locking differential. The Rebel also comes with standard coil spring suspension and a 1-inch lift from the factory. This is a notable change from the old Rebel which only offered the lift and standard Active Level air suspension when it was in production. Buyers that prefer the old setup can take solace knowing that it is still available as an optional extra on the current Rebel.

Pricing information has not been announced, but look for the 2019 Ram 1500 to not deviate too much from the old model with base models starting in the mid $20,000 range, with prices shooting all the way past $60,000 for a range topping Ram Limited. The first units are expected to arrive in dealerships later this year, with more information including final fuel economy and pricing information gradually being revealed closer to its official launch to dealerships

Mercedes-Benz Unveils 2019 G-Class, More Refinement and Capability Adds New Moves To Iconic Nameplate

Mercedes-Benz likes to claim that the G-Class is in an elite class, and that it is even a true automotive icon. While its hard to not look past some of its cruder elements, its also really hard to argue otherwise considering the elite pedigree that this long lasting nameplate has gained over the years, But even an icon needs to evolve from time to time to keep its status on the totem pole, and Mercedes-Benz is keen on doing just that for the 2019 model year.

Exterior updates may seem very minimal at first glance, but a closer look reveals smoother surfaces, reshaped front headlights, slimmer signal lights, new wheels, and lightly tweaked taillights. Thankfully the basic boxy look is kept intact, and that should please the legions of eager loyalists that have turned what was once a pet project for the Austrian military, into a cult hit that has withstood the test of time for several decades now.  When you look at the cold hard numbers, the G-Class scores minimal gains throughout with length increasing by 2.1 inches, width measuring in 4.8 inches wider, and a small 0.3 inch gain in height.

These gains make themselves apparent in the interior, where the 2019 G-Class boasts more room for passengers especially in the rear. This is certainly an improvement over the old G-Class which had tight accommodations back there especially for a vehicle of its size. The long wheelbase as well as a slight tweak to the location of the rear seats helps create 6 extra inches of interior room which should please taller passengers looking to stretch out on long trips.

Interior quality has also seen a massive leap, with softer plastics, more leather appointments, and healthy splashes of chrome trim scattered throughout. There are still elements of past G-Class iterations present with a notable one being the dash mounted grab handle on the passenger side of the cabin, as well as the relative lack of front mounted cup holders.

While the cushier interior and the removal of the front solid axle may make it seem that the 2019 G-Class has gone soft at first glance, but a closer look reveals that the core elements of the G-Class are still present and accounted for. Those include the novel three locking differentials, a low range gear, as well as potent approach and breakover angles. lastly the independent front suspension may signal the end of an era for the once all solid axle G-Class, but look for on-road behavior to drastically improve as well as increased civility over rougher terrain.

When the 2019 G-Class initially arrives in dealerships, it will be offered only as a G550 model with the same 4.0 liter biturbo V8 as its outgoing predecessor which in and of itself is not that bad of a situation. This V8 is a favorite among buyers, and the old adage holds itself true “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.”It’s 416 horsepower and 450 lb-ft of torque are nothing to balk at either, with the engine benefiting from an all new nine speed automatic transmission. Buyers will also be pleased to hear that Mercedes engineers finally pitched the ancient recirculating ball steering setup for an electrically assisted rack and pinion steering gear. While it will most likely not be the blinding bolt of revelation that many expected in terms of involvement, it should be a noticeable improvement over the old G-Class.

Pricing for the 2019 G-Class will be revealed closer to its official market launch in late 2018. After the G550 has a chance to formally plant itself in the marketplace, other variants will follow suit including AMG versions in 2019. It is currently unknown if Mercedes will produce another V12 AMG G-Class, but if not, look for one of the V8 models to pick up the slack while returning slightly better fuel economy.

Ford Resurrects Ranger Pickup For 2019 Model Year, New Technology and Performance Hardware Jump Starts U.S. Return

With the mid-size pickup truck market seeing a resurgence in relevance after years of steady decline, automakers are more focused than ever at delivering a new wave of affordable pickup truck options. Chevrolet and GMC lead the way with the revamped Colorado and Canyon, and sold more than 145,000 units combined for the 2016 model year. This wave of success helped jump start the Ranger’s long journey back into the U.S. market after a long absence.

The last iteration of Ranger left the U.S. back in 2011, and loyalists were incensed at Ford’s decision to axe it. However, that Ranger was left to stagnate prior to its demise, and was known more for its antiquity than offering anything modern to consumers. While it was gone from our shores, its international market sibling began racking up sales abroad especially in Asia, Europe, and New Zealand. Naturally, Ford chose to retain much of that version’s charm, but made several revisions to help it be able to adapt to stricter U.S. regulations. A fully boxed ladder frame with six cross members makes up the bones that hold up this beast of burden together. While the frame may appear to be a mere duplicate of its global cousin’s, Ford revealed that several major revisions were made mostly in regards to safety. Engineers reinforced the front and the rear of the frame to help create a sturdy mounting location for the front and rear steel bumpers, as well as other revisions to help it comply with U.S. crash tests. Ford revealed that it will also offer an optional integrated trailer hitch receiver for buyers that want to have some towing chops to go with their Ranger sized purchase.

Unlike the bigger F-150 and its heavy duty cousins, the 2019 Ranger bucks Ford’s recent push for aluminium extensive construction, and arrives with a mostly steel body with the aluminum hood and tailgate standing out as the lone exceptions. Engineers also made an effort to tighten and create more consistent panel gaps than the global version and it features a revised front fascia with U.S. market exclusive lighting elements. Short overhangs help ensure good approach angles front and rear, though we expect the rumored “Raptor” variant to cater to buyers that aim to formally rock crawl on challenging off-road trails. Monotube dampers are mounted at all four corners, with a control arm style front suspension complimenting the rear live axle setup.

Wheras its predecessor had two engine offerings, Ford is keeping things simple when it comes to performance, with all 2019 Rangers coming equipped with Ford’s 2.3 liter EcoBoost four cylinder engine. No V6 option will be offered, and Ford did not discuss Ranger performance figures in today’s release. But this engine also sees duty in the Ford Explorer and Mustang, so look for potential figures to reside roughly at the 300 horsepower mark, with 345 to 350 lb-ft of torque on tap. The 10-speed automatic is the same unit that is mounted to the F-150, but engineers were forced to use a smaller case to help it fit into the Ranger’s more compact layout. Buyers will be able to choose from either rear or four wheel drive, with the latter option featuring a two speed transfer case with 4Low  4 High and 2 High capability. An optional electronically controlled differential will also be available as an option on select models.

At launch the 2019 Ford Ranger will arrive in FX2 and FX4 guise with both models getting the fore-mentioned electronic diff as standard equipment, as well as other off-road grade goodies including all-terrain tires, off-road oriented dampers, steel skid plates, and plenty of FX badges. While designed for off road adventures, both models have the same ride height, with Ford claiming that it designed the entire Ranger lineup to qualify as “high riders.” Naturally, FX4 models push the envelope further, and come equipped with a Terrain Management system that features four modes (Normal, Grass, Gravel and Snow.) Each mode tailors the transmission shift points, throttle response, as well as the traction and stability control systems to help the Ranger adapt to all kinds of terrain. A new Trail Control system allows the truck to utilize cruise control-esque features for off-road driving, and even allows drivers to tap on the brake pedal to set a lower speed without turning the system off.

The trim level hierarchy is also refreshingly simple, and will be familiar to hardcore Ford loyalists, especially pickup truck buyers. Like the F-150, XL trim serves as the entry level Ranger trim, with XLT and Lariat versions gradually adding more luxury features to the Ranger’s bag of tricks. The 2019 Ranger will launch with eight different exterior color options as well as eight different wheel designs in 17 and 18-inch sizes. LED head and tail lights are on the options list along with puddle lamps, in box cargo lighting, and Ford’s Smart Trailer tow connector system that alerts drivers to potential issues with the wiring of their trailer.

The Ranger’s interior has been significantly overhauled, and buyers that were familiar with the old Ranger’s functional but decidedly crude interior will be blown away by what they see. The cabin can now house five occupants, and features under seat storage in the rear, as well as dual LCD info screens in the instrument panel. The optional SYNC 3 infotainment system features Apple CarPlay and Android Auto compatibility, Ford’s Ford+Alexa personal -assistant functionality, optional navigation software, and an 8.0 inch center mounted color touchscreen. Reflecting Ford’s drive to be a mobility based company, 4G LTE connectivity with support for up to 10 devices is optional, with AC power units, and a B&O Play premium audio system also joining the options list.

Safety is also a virtue in the 2019 Ford Ranger, and buyers will be pleased to hear that Automated emergency braking is standard across the lineup with Lane departure warning, Lane keep assist, and blind spot monitoring with trailer coverage making their appearance on XLT and above models. Look for these items to allow the Ranger to be on par with the Colorado/Canyon in this area, and it also reflects the progress that Ford has made since the demise of the original Ranger.

While the Ranger was tailored more towards off-road enthusiasts versus traditional commercial buyers, we still expect it to resonate well with small businesses, especially those that want capability, but need a smaller package than the F-150 to achieve these goals. Look for the 2019 Ford Ranger to hit showrooms in early 2019, with more information being revealed closer to its formal launch.

Jeep Brings Styling Upgrades, Trim Tweaks To 2019 Jeep Cherokee

When Jeep first unveiled the revived Jeep Cherokee back in 2014, fans of the storied nameplate cheered its arrival but were noticeably shocked by its exterior styling which was a curious mixture of odd futuristic elements and tacked on Jeep traits. FCA vowed to resolve some of these styling missteps, and has unveiled the 2019 Jeep Cherokee ahead of its debut at the 2018 North American International Auto Show in Detroit.

A key change is the addition of new headlights which incorporate the daytime running lights and the main projectors into a single combined unit. While this revised front fascia is still a love it or hate it affair, it should allow the Cherokee to resonate better with buyers especially against some of its rivals.

The tweaks to the rear fascia are decidedly more modest, but new tail lights and a tweaked rear bumper design give it a more sophisticated look, and allows the Cherokee to mesh better with its siblings the Compass and the Grand Cherokee. The interior updates are much harder to spot, but our eyes spot new metallic trim accents, as well as a new seat trim design. Look for performance hardware to be largely unchanged, with the 2.4 liter four cylinder and 3.2 liter V6 present and accounted for.
Look for more information to be revealed at the 2018 North American International Auto Show especially in regards to performance figures and final pricing.

Jeep Unveils Tech Loaded 2018 Wrangler In L.A. [HD Mega Gallery]

When it comes to being a symbol of American pride, engineering, and capability, the Jeep Wrangler stands out as a unique automobile that has always proven to be a sales success for FCA (in its various incarnations) over the past several decades. With the future steering towards murkier waters, FCA needed to make sure that the 2018 Jeep Wrangler could continue to appeal to its loyal fanbase, while also bringing much needed capital to FCA’s bottom line. On that front, it appears that Jeep has once again produced a solid winner.

The exterior styling of the 2018 Wrangler is a tasteful evolution of the basic formula that has made the Wrangler a success among younger buyers, though this evolution may not be very obvious at first glance. Indeed, it is still very reminiscent of the current generation “JK” platformed Wrangler which was first introduced in 2007. However, a closer look reveals several key changes that aim to bring more refinement and capability to the crown jewel of the Jeep brand.

The basic layout retains its rugged pedigree, but it also adapts to the modern world, thanks to features such as a spare tire mounted rear backup camera, as well as push button start, with the latter item making its appearance in the Wrangler for the first time ever. The quest for higher fuel economy has affected all vehicle segments, and even the Wrangler has had to make several changes to allow it to adapt to this ever stricter category. Unlike the old all steel  JK model, the “JL” Wrangler incorporates aluminium into its construction, with the lightweight material making its appearance in some of the body panels to help improve its rather subpar fuel economy to an extent. Even the fold down windshield gets in the act, and what once took 90 minutes and 28 bolts to achieve, transforms into a simpler job that involves four bolts, and reduced setup time.

Along with its more upright grille, bigger tail lights, and fender mounted turn signals, the 2018 Wrangler sends a strong message to fans that it has not gone soft, and that it is still capable of going where many vehicle offerings wouldn’t even dare, including fording up to 30-inches of water.

The interior continues the evolutionary theme that is seen in the exterior, with the 2018 Wrangler featuring FCA’s latest iteration of its popular Uconnect infotainment system, as well as a smaller screen that is melded to its still distinctively analog instrument cluster. The dashboard is still tall and shallow, but round air vents are a nice improvement, and an increase in USB ports aim to make the Wrangler more adept at accepting mobile technology than ever before.

Three top options are avalible, and in addition to the hardtop, an easier to install soft top is also available, as well as an all new power operated top that can be considered a bigger version of Jeep’s MySky roof system. The trail ready cabin also offers occupants more passenger room especially in the Unlimited model, which is slightly wider than before, but has a reduced turning radius thanks to an all new electro-hydraulic steering system.

Higher grade materials are also on deck, and while the Wrangler will still play second fiddle to the Grand Cherokee in terms of amenities and comfort, the materials that are present are noticable improvements over the aging JK variant, and should help it become a slightly more livable companion out on long treks.

Performance for the 2018 Wrangler will initially come from two engines, with a slightly updated iteration of the familiar 3.6 liter Pentastar V6 resuming its volume oriented role. Good for 285 horsepower and a solid 260 lb-ft of torque, this latest version benefits from several tweaks that were designed to help boost fuel economy. An optional four cylinder also makes its appearance in the Wrangler after a 10 year absence, and allows the Wrangler to go hybrid–sort of. The turbocharged four banger produces 270 horsepower and 295 lb-ft of torque, and is paired with a belt driven belt/generator system that draws electricity from a 48- volt system. This mild hybrid setup was designed to improve fuel economy, as well as engine performance in low engine rev situations.

 

However the real news will be the addition of two new engines to the Wrangler. A 3.0 liter turbodiesel capable of producing 260 horsepower and 442 lb-ft of torque is in the cards for 2019, as well as an all new PHEV model though Jeep did not elaborate on that model’s performance credentials.

The V6 can be equipped with either a six speed manual or an optional eight speed automatic that quietly retires the old six speed unit. The four cylinder is automatic only, but both models get standard all-wheel drive to help them be trail ready right out of the box.

Jeep has already started production of the 2018 Wrangler, and the first examples will trickle into showrooms early next year. Initally it will be sold alongside its predecessor before the JK platforms official retirement in 2018.

Kia Teases 2019 Sorento Ahead Of L.A. Debut

The Kia Sorento has always been a favorite here at Autoinfoquest due to its blend of styling, capability, and affordability. With the 2017 L.A. Auto Show fast approaching, Kia has prepared a suite of updates to help keep the 2019 Sorento fresh in the minds of buyers.

The front fascia is lightly freshened with a new front bumper and tweaked headlights, but it still retains the basic styling formula that we have come to expect from Kia. The rear fascia is equally restrained, and comes equipped with lightly tweaked LED tail lights as well as new C-shaped pieces of chrome trim. While neither of these changes are evolutionary, they do help keep the Sorento fresh for a few more years, before it eventually migrates to the next model cycle.

The interior was not revealed with today’s image dump, but expect the usual suite of updates, including higher grade materials, updated infotainment offerings, and new optional extras. The model pictured here is the range topping SX Limited which currently starts at $44,600, but look for this magic to trickle down to the lower spec models as well. The engine lineup is not expected to change much, but the Sorento could finally gain an all new eight speed automatic  transmission that would help enhance fuel economy while also allowing it to catch up to some of its rivals.

The eight speed could also explain Kia’s decision to bring the Sorento to “Hell’s Revenge in the Moab desert, where the big Kia was said to have successfully completed the six and a half mile rock crawling course including the notoriously difficult Hell’s Gate obstacle. Kia admitted that the bulk of Sorento buyers will not push their vehicles this hard, but wanted to show that the 2019 Sorento can go beyond a typical grocery hauling vehicle if the need arises. We’re impressed, and we look forward to hearing more, especially when it makes its official debut at the L.A. Auto Show.

Jeep Unveils 2018 Wrangler, Will Make Official Debut In L.A

With the internet practically busting at the seams with 2018 Jeep Wrangler material (leaked or otherwise) Jeep has finally given in, and has unleashed several photos of the 2018 Jeep Wrangler ahead of its official debut at the 2018 L.A. Auto Show.

The exterior styling of the Wrangler largely retains the brash and beefy motif that has defined the Wrangler for decades. Even the basic profile retains alot of the 2017’s styling theme, and that’s actually a good thing, considering how wildly popular it is with buyers. However, there are some modern touches that help it transition to the new model year gracefully, while also upping its technology credentials at the same time. These include new headlights and tail lights, as well as a new power operating top (which was revealed during one of the many leaks that the internet generated.)

But Jeep fans worried about the open air vibe being taken away will be pleased to know that Jeep engineers have those needs covered too. Like before  owners can take off the roof panels, fold down the windshield, or if they must, take the doors off too. Other features include a new fuel door for the fuel cap, a tweaked roll bar, and revised door sills possibly to help make entry and exit a bit easier.

Unfortunately Jeep did not reveal formal engine, transmission, or other specifications as of yet. All that juicy info will be unveiled at the aforementioned reveal in Los Angeles, but look for the first production units to not venture too far out of the box when they eventually make their way to dealer showrooms. While a four cylinder (the first in several decades) has been long rumored, look for the first examples to be hooked up to the familiar and readily available Pentastar V6 with either an automatic or a manual transmission. Look for the rumored four cylinder to arrive later with only an automatic as well as a turbocharger to help bring some green to the Wrangler’s gas swilling ways.

In the meantime, Jeep used the ongoing SEMA show to showoff a wide array of 2018 Wrangler accessories that it will have available for its new truck with each one designed to help bring distinction (and in some cases enhanced capability) to its eager fan base. Also look for some preliminary information to emerge about the upcoming Wrangler based pickup in L.A. though a debut will probably not be for several more years.

Buick Unveils 2018 Regal Sportback and TourX Wagon Models

While the Opel brand may no longer be under the GM corporate umbrella, The last remnants of this bygone era are still making an impact in GM’s broader plans. Case in point, the 2018 Opel Insignia. Known as the Buick Regal here in the U.S., the newest iteration of the Regal aims to bring new-found refinement while still retaining the attributes that made the last generation model a hit with buyers.

 

The previous generation Buick Regal was only available here in the U.S. as a sedan. For 2018 the Regal ditches this approach – sort of. Instead, the 2018 version will arrive as a liftback (similar to the A7) and also as a wagon dubbed the TourX which would give Buick a competitor against the Audi Allroad and the Volvo V60 Cross Country.

 

 

Like before, the 2018 Regal makes use of a 2.0 liter turbocharged engine, but overall performance figures vary depending on the model chosen. In the front wheel drive Sportback its good for 250 horsepower and 260 lb-ft of torque with all of this muscle being channeled to the front wheels through a nine speed automatic transmission. The Sportback is also available in all-wheel drive, and that helps boost torque to 295 lb-ft, though the nine speed gets swapped for an eight speed in this application.  Meanwhile the TourX only comes with all-wheel drive and an eight speed transmission which in turn preserves its existing 250/295 power ratings.

 

 

Buick claims that versatility will be at the forefront here with the Sportback having more overall cargo space than both the Audi A5 Sportback and the BMW 4 Series Gran Coupe. The TourX on the other hand will offer more cargo space than the Volvo V60 Cross Country, BMW 3-Series Sport Wagon, as well as the Subaru Outback.

The interior of both versions will come packed to the brim with the latest technology that GM has to offer. This includes a standard seven-inch infotainment system with Android and Apple CarPlay capability, but buyers can opt for a bigger eight-inch setup which can be enhanced further with optional navigation software. Look for the cabin to also gain upgrades in overall fit and finish including softer touch plastics as well as more supportive seats.

In addition, both the Sportback and the TourX will also make history for Buick, and be the first Buick models to offer an “active hood” A common feature on some of its European rivals, the “active hood can sense the imminent impact of a pedestrian between 16-30 miles per hour, and use a pyrotechnic operated actuator to raise the rear of the hood by four inches. This lessens the overall impact, and could also help reduce injuries to the pedestrian according to Buick’s official release.

Buick did not release formal fuel economy figures nor a final pricing ladder for the duo, but look for that information to emerge closer to the Regal’s launch to dealer lots in late 2017. Stay tuned to Autoinfoquest for the latest on the 2018 Buick Regal, as well as our live coverage of the 2017 New York Auto Show.

Mitsubishi Unveils Eclipse Cross

When Mitsubishi recently revealed that the company was going to focus on a CUV focused lineup, we were curious to see where things would go moving forward. The Japanese auto firm has unveiled the first glimpse of this compelling future, the 2018 Eclipse Cross.

Eclipse Cross

 

While some enthusiasts may cry foul seeing the Eclipse nameplate on a CUV versus a sports coupe, the Eclipse Cross does have some neat styling elements that make it stand out when compared to segment rivals like the Nissan Rouge. The bulk of the styling language is carried over from XR-PHEV II concept that first appeared at the 2015 Geneva Auto Show, and Mitsubishi designers did a good job in maintaining the bulk of the concept’s design language in the shift to formal production cues.

The front fascia features bright chrome accents that project an X-shaped look, while the rear fascia features a beefy roof mounted spoiler, as well as slick L-shaped taillights that are connected by an intergrated lightbar. The rakish C-pillar helps give the Eclipse Cross a coupe like profile, while also highlighting its form over function motif.

Eclipse Cross interior

With all things considered, the Eclipse Cross breathes much needed life into Mitsubishi’s exterior styling, and is a massive improvement over the bland canvas embraced by many of its current models. It also highlights how important design will be in the creation of Mitsubishi products moving forward.

“Land Rover has proved you can be both rugged and stylish, and we intend to follow that path” revealed a company insider during an interview with British magazine Autocar.

Performance hardware will vary depending on which market it is in. In the U.S. buyers will only have access to a 1.5 liter turbocharged four cylinder engine, which is standard along with all-wheel drive and a CVT transmission. Meanwhile, other markets can also choose a 2.2 liter turbocharged four cylinder diesel engine that is mated to an eight speed automatic. Sadly, there is currently no plans to bring the eight speed to U.S. spec models.

Eclipse Cross HUD

European buyers will have first crack at the Eclipse Cross when it arrives in dealerships this fall. The Eclipse Cross will then trickle into other markets, with U.S. dealerships getting their first units either at the end of this year, or in early 2018.