Now in its third generation, the Kia Sorento is a perfectly fine mid-size crossover that's just a tad softer than the body-on-frame trucklet it started out as fifteen years ago. But in a quest to prove that the 2019 Sorento is plenty capable in its own right, Kia decided to send one up the famous Hell's Revenge off-road trail in Moab, Utah. Bad idea, or the best idea?
The company did very little to prep the unibody crossover for the ride of its life: A skid plate and some meatier all-terrain tires are all that separate this Sorento from the one headed to dealer lots. Driver Richard Mick also opted to disconnect the sway bars for increased articulation and traction.
Hell's Revenge might not be the toughest trail in the off-road paradise outside Moab, but its 6.5 miles of steep slopes are enough to challenge most stock SUVs. It's not uncommon to a fish out of water or two on the main trail—this video of a Ford Crown Victoria trundling along on the slickrock path is an internet classic—but it also offers up a few optional obstacles for the daring, including a precarious V-notch climb called Hell's Gate.
Kia uses a system called Dynamax Intelligent All-Wheel Drive in the Sorento, which is a fancy label for the same sort of torque-based system that other manufacturers have adopted recently. Power is pushed to the wheels with traction, and an onboard computer tries to anticipate the needs at each wheel based on road conditions and vehicle status. It works fine to keep the car planted on a wet curve, but pushing it through a rock-crawling environment is a much different challenge.
Amazingly, despite some minor bumper damage, the Sorento manages to conquer Hell's Gate. It helps to have a professional off-road driver behind the wheel, but the fact that it's within the abilities of a unibody crossover to do something like this is undeniably impressive. Now, let's send that rumored full-size SUV from Kia up next.
You may not have heard of it, but the Acura CDX is a subcompact crossover based on the Honda HR-V. This luxury variant has been on sale in China since 2016 and has since doubled Acura’s total sales in the region. There have been mixed messages from Acura with Acura U.S. Vice President Jon Ikeda telling Wards Auto last April that "our R&D guys looking into the possibility,” but we still haven’t heard anything official. However, Carscoops reports that Honda recently renewed its U.S. trademark for the “CDX” name implying that the brand is still considering bringing the little Acura to the States.
The Chinese CDX is powered by the 1.5-liter turbo-four available in the Civic, Accord, and CR-V with an eight-speed dual-clutch transmission. It makes 179-horsepower and 177 pound-feet of torque which is an improvement over the U.S. spec HR-V which has a naturally aspirated 1.8-liter inline-four making 141-hp and 127 pound-feet of torque. It’s available in front- or all-wheel drive.
While it’s not quite as simple as selling the Chinese spec model here, we can’t imagine it would be too hard to make a CDX that passes American safety and emissions standards. The platform is here in the form of the HR-V and Honda has a whole host of drivetrain options the CDX could borrow, including our version of the turbo 1.5.
The fact that the Acura CDX exists, but is not sold in the U.S., is pretty surprising. While the CDX has been selling like crazy in China over the past couple years, the subcompact luxury crossover segment has been booming here in the States. Pint-sized entities like the Infiniti QX30, Lexus NX, and Buick Encore have been eating up potential Acura sales while the brand mulls over whether or not it should come to our shores. Acura, if you’re listening and you like money, bring the CDX to the U.S. Two crossovers in a luxury brand simply isn’t enough anymore.
It seems like the “in thing” to do nowadays is raffle off a sweet car to raise money for charity. It seems like a win-win for everyone involved. The manufacturer gets positive PR, the charity gets a huge donation, and the auction winner gets a rare or special edition car to add to their collection. Recently, Chevy auctioned off the first examples of its ZR1 and Carbon 65 Corvette. Getting in on the charitable giving vibe, McLaren just auctioned off a one-of-one, personalized 720S at the Naples Winter Wine Festival. They raised $650,000 for the Naples Children and Education Foundation in the process.
The team at McLaren Special Operations put together a dandy of a package for the auction. The bespoke 720S came loaded with carbon, not just in the interior but all over the exterior and its Nerello Red finish. Tying in the wine theme, Nerello is named after the Nerello Mascalese grape. The interior is outfitted in Saddle Brown with stitching to match the outside. It also featured a custom steering wheel wrapped in two-tones with Saddle Brown and Carbon Black leather grips. Of course, it also comes with a special dedication plate marking the special one-off commission.
Speaking on the auction, Tony Joseph, President of McLaren North America, said, “The McLaren 720S is an extraordinary vehicle—in fact demand exceeds supply, which makes it even more exciting for us to be able to offer this MSO 720S to the winning bidder, who will be able to take delivery immediately. The work done by the Naples Children & Education Foundation to help transform the lives of children is so important and we are honored to donate a vehicle to this cause.”
For the record, a stock 720S will set you back at least $284,745 here in the U.S.— a far cry from the $650,000 that the one-off fetched at auction, but at least it was for a good cause.
If the 575-horsepower Jaguar F-Type SVR wasn't insane enough, longtime Jag tuner Lister has just revealed the Thunder variant with 666 horsepower under the hood and a top speed of 208 miles per hour. Make sure to pack extra tires, because you'll shred the Thunder's as soon as you touch the throttle.
The Lister Thunder isn't just an F-Type with some engine software—it's a custom, racing-inspired sports car with bespoke bodywork, luxurious interior, and "sensible" performance modifications. It makes ample use of carbon fiber, which is featured in the front/rear bumpers, extended splitter, exhaust tips, and optional carbon hood.
Customers can choose from 36 different colors for the Thunder's Bridge of Weir Nappa leather interior. Contrast Nappa leather stitching adorns the steering wheel, dashboard, doors, and roof lining.
Lister only plans to build 99 Thunders and each car will cost about $199,000, but we doubt it will bring the car to the States. The brand says this car is a successor to the Le Mans, a 604-horsepower Jaguar XJS that Lister built 25 years ago.
The Thunder is just a sneak peak of what Lister has planned as the company wants to become Jaguar's own aftermarket performance branch. Lister will start its modification catalog with a $28,293 carbon fiber aero kit that will be available for both the Thunder and factory F-Type.
"Like Brabus and AMG with Mercedes and Alpina with BMW, we are hoping to become synonymous once again with tuning Jaguar vehicles, giving customers new enhanced, bespoke performance and design alternatives to Jaguar’s acclaimed model programme," said Lawrence Whittaker, CEO of Lister Motor Company.
Lister will speak more about the car when it debuts in full at the 2018 Historic Motorsport International on February 15. If you're craving more, ex-Top Gear and Fifth Gear host Tiff Needell explains the car in-depth below.
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Toyota announced a recall Thursday for 49,000 vehicles in the U.S. They include the 2016 Prius, 2016 Lexus RX, and 2015 to 2016 Lexus NX.
This is not for a Takata airbag, but an open circuit that can develop in these cars over time. This would prevent the front and/or side airbag from deploying in the event of a crash. The dashboard airbag warning light will illuminate if this condition exists.
Customers can expect to get notified about the recall starting in late March. Dealers will inspect the airbag serial numbers on the affected vehicles and replace the airbags if necessary at no charge.
If you're a regular flier, chances are you've noticed an increase in emotional support animals traveling in the cabin. But if not, it would have been hard to miss the full-size peacock a woman attempted to bring on a United Airlines flight out of Newark Liberty International Airport in New Jersey this weekend.
First reported by The Jet Set on Facebook,a Brooklyn, New York-based artist named Ventiko showed up at the airport for her cross-country flight on Sunday with a carry-on bag, a personal item, and an adult male peacock named Dexter on her shoulder. Even though Ventiko had reportedly bought a second ticket for her avian friend, United ultimately denied her request to bird board.
"This animal did not meet guidelines for a number of reasons, including its weight and size. We explained this to the customers on three separate occasions before they arrived at the airport," a spokesperson for the airline told Fox News.
As fun as it is to see a peacock at the bag drop in Newark, we wouldn't want to be stuck at 30,000 feet in a metal tube with a large, angry bird. People are bad enough, really. Emotional support animals do provide real value to people, but the line has to be drawn somewhere. For United, which does allow animals like dogs and cats on board, big exotic birds just don't make the cut.
Wary as United must be about kicking anyone off a plane these days, they're not alone in trying to limit the kinds of critters people are bringing on board for emotional support. Delta recently announced a whole new slate of restrictions and conditions, preventing animals like ferrets, spiders, or anything with hooves or tusks to fly in the cabin.
Because this is 2018, Dexter the emotional support peacock has already been bestowed with a parody Twitter handle for your enjoyment. And if you're curious about the real bird, he's got his own Instagram account as well, and the kerfuffle at the airport merely delayed the trip; a post from Sunday reveals that his "human friends" are driving him across the country instead.
These are heady times for fans of racing games. The market has never been so flush with ultra-realistic simulators of all stripes, from big names like Forza and Gran Turismo to more boutique titles like Assetto Corsa and Project Cars. But things are more sparse on the opposite end: What if you're looking for some pick-up-and-play, arcade-style fun? Sure, Forza Horizonexists, as does the Dirt series. But the folks at Square Enix—they of decidedly car-less role-playing titles like Final Fantasy and Kingdom Hearts—believe there's room for one more entry in the genre.
It's a strange spot, being both a titan in the video game business and something of an underdog in a new space. But Square Enix hopes Gravel gets it off the ground in the minds of racing fans. Set to debut at the end of February on all major video game platforms, Gravel is a multi-discipline off-road racing game featuring an extensive roster of trophy trucks and rally cars, forgiving arcade-style physics, and a wide variety of terrains to conquer. So to see how things are coming along, the famed video game publisher invited The Drive out to its Los Angeles offices last week to goof around with a late-stage build of the game.
Square Enix may not be the first name in racing, but the Japanese company has quietly forged a partnership with Italian developer Milestone to publish a few motorcycle-focused games recently, including the official MotoGP 2017title. However, it knows that Gravel will have a much wider appeal in this country, so it's eager to get this first impression right.
Let's start with the basics. Gravel divides its races into four categories: Cross Country, Wild Rush, Speed Cross, and Stadium Circuit. Those are really just fancy labels for point-to-point, circuit, and rallycross events, plus competition modes like capture the flag and king of the hill. In the free race modes, any of the 70-odd vehicles—ranging from classic rally cars like the Lancia Stratos HF and Porsche 911 to more modern marvels—can be raced on any track.
Of course, there's also an extensive career mode to keep you busy. It's built around a single season of a TV show called "Offroad Masters," which starts you out at the bottom of the ladder and has you battle your way up to a one-on-one race with the ultimate expert in a given discipline. A kind of boss battle, basically. And as with most new games circa 2018, online multiplayer will be a big part of the experience.
We'll reserve our final judgment for when the game actually comes out, but there are a few things we can talk about based on the still-in-progress build we previewed. The Milestone team leaned heavily on the Unreal engine in creating the environments, which feature actively-deforming track surfaces with treacherous ruts that really do mess with you after repeated laps. In keeping with the simulation-light vibe, the graphics aren't mind-blowing, but they're as good as they need to be—and the frame rate is butter smooth.
The driving physics aim to straddle the line between arcade and simulation; it skews more towards arcade, in our opinion, with exaggerated slides and slightly unsatisfying collisions. But despite its simplistic edge, Gravel aims a little higher than most, offering a full performance-affecting damage system, several cockpit camera angles, and a full tuning suite where you can adjust all the granular details like spring rates and gear ratios for any vehicle. It's a fun time, if a little too unserious at points. It will punish you, though: We managed to flip a trophy truck during one race after catching a wheel during a particularly aggressive slide. Also, setting the AI on max difficulty is an appropriately masochistic experience.
The relative lack of experience in the genre shows in a few details we noticed; for example, the mud flaps on the trophy trucks completely obscure the back wheels and all-important suspension movement, making it look like the body is just sort of floating down the track. But overall, Gravel is shaping up to be good, honest fun, the kind of slightly-goofy racing game they used to make before everything got so cool.
Gravel comes out February 27 on PC, PlayStation 4, and Xbox One.
Bakkerud made the announcement on his YouTube channel where he produces a vlog series dubbed "BakkerudLIFE." From his channel, we recently featured a video where Bakkerud took his mom out in his rally car for Gymkhana Grid, and in addition to that, he often uses it to release news on his rallying career. The Norwegian revealed that he would be driving an Audi S1 EKS RX quattro for the EKS World Rallycross team, which was founded by Mattias Ekström. Bakkerud explains that when Ekström joined the World Rallycross Championship, he always had interest in signing him; however, the timing was never in sync until now.
Back in 2014, Bakkerud had signed a contract with Oldbergs MSE, and when that contract was up, EKS was not yet ready to extend an offer to him. He then had a contract request from Ken Block's Hoonigan Racing Division team, which he accepted. Since Hoonigan Racing Division pulled out of the FIA World Rallycross Championship, Bakkerud was, at last, free to sign with the EKS team.
In Bakkerud's announcement video, you get to see his race suit, his Audi S1 race car, and some teaser shots of him testing in the Audi S1.
Check out Andreas Bakkerud's announcement via his YouTube channel below.
Uber is teaming up with New York City-based bicycle company Jump to launch a bike-sharing pilot in San Francisco. Users will be able to rent one of Jump's bicycles using the Uber app.
The Jump bikes feature electric assist, which should come in handy on San Francisco's many hills. Jump already operates a bike-sharing service in Washington, D.C., and just received permission from the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Authority to operate in the city a couple of weeks ago. The permit allows Jump to deploy 250 bikes, and is good for 18 months, according to TechCrunch.
The collaboration with Uber should make the service easier to use. Riders can reserve a bike through the Uber app by tapping the "bike" option. Because Jump only has 250 bikes available, Uber will only allow a limited number of customers to sign up for the pilot. Those that don't make the cut can join a waiting list.
Jump isn't the only bike-sharing in San Francisco. Ford launched its GoBike service in the city last year and expects to have 7,000 bikes in its fleet by the end of this year. But Ford's bikes have to be returned to designated docking stations, while Jump is dockless. That means riders can leave bikes at any public bike rack, as long is it falls within a zone delineated by the Uber app. The added convenience is making dockless bike-sharing services popular in other cities, but for now, Jump is the only company allowed to operate that way in San Francisco.
The bike-sharing pilot shows how Uber can offer more transportation options to its core customer base of city dwellers. Integrating multiple transportation options into one app could give customers more ways to get around, and avoid overuse of one transportation method. Because while Uber riders may enjoy the convenience of hailing a car whenever they want, that may not be the best way to reduce traffic congestion in cities.