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2019 Acura RDX is high tech in all the right ways except one

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When the 2019 Acura RDX was released last year with a new redesign, many said that it didn’t appear to be much different. The biggest reason for that is because the previous generation didn’t have anything wrong with it. Most still considered it an attractive, albeit conservative design, but it wasn’t in major need for an aesthetic upgrade. But when we see the technological improvements to the 2019, we understand where Acura put their efforts in the redesign.

It starts with the engine. The old 6-cylinder has been replaced by a 2.0L turbo inline 4-cylinder that delivers 272 hp with its 10-speed automatic transmission. It cooks on the highway and has plenty of power to maneuver through city streets as well. This works well with its next-generation SH-AWD system, allowing it to own the corners with responsiveness that is unmatched by other luxury crossover vehicles.

From there, the comfort of the vehicle is on display once you sit in the cockpit style driver’s seat. It gives you a feeling of complete ownership of the obstacles ahead, ideal for long drives or fast commutes. The leather is extraordinary and the overall interior aesthetic is what modern drivers crave. From the panoramic moonroof to the tasteful use of wood grain, its subtle and soft-spoken, giving a real sense of elegance.

But the real winner on the technology front are the new safety features. AcuraWatch helps keep everyone safe with an automatic braking system, adaptive cruise control, and lane assist. It is a new standard for the RDX that goes well beyond the airbags and seat belts.

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The overall technological advancements impressed Jennifer Stockburger, Auto Test Operations Director at Consumer Reports, but she did have one big complaint. “The infotainment system has a steep learning curve and a touchpad has to be used to navigate the system. The 10″ dash-navi screen has sections that correspond to the pad, but the process is fussy and requires diving into layers of menus to find what you’re looking for.”

While we don’t totally disagree, it was a little harsh criticism. Compared to what others are offering, it isn’t much better or worse. That is, unless you’re looking at the MBUX, which is miles ahead of the competition.

Drivers who are looking for a smooth ride to match anyone while still having the stance of a crossover SUV, the 2019 Acura RDX should be a strong consideration for luxury buyers. With a base price under $50,000, it should compete with standard brands as well.

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First 2020 Toyota Supra sells for whopping $2.1 million at auction

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First 2020 Toyota Supra sells for whopping 21 million at auction

The buzz surrounding the return of the legendary Toyota Supra has most in the automotive world clamoring. It has some very rich people licking their chops as well, and one happy buyer is putting his or her money behind their love for the new 2020 Toyota Supra to the tune of $2.1 million.

The base price of the Launch Edition Supra is $56,180.

Before you balk at the outrageous expenditure, keep in mind that all proceeds from the auction of the first Supra to roll of the production line go to the American Heart Association and Bob Woodruff Foundation.

The Barrett-Jackson auction, which was held in Scottsdale, included the sale of the first 2020 Ford Mustang Shelby GT500 for $1.1 million, which is much more of a road beast than the Supra on paper, and the first 2019 Ford GT Heritage Edition for $2.5 million. Before anyone notes the GT sold for more than the Supra, it should be known that the base price for the GT Heritage is expected to be north of $500,000.

When it gets released to the public later this year, the Supra is going to be a true disruption for the mid-range sports car segment. Until then, we’re stuck staring at 90s model Supras that occasionally pass us on the highway.


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Best-selling 2020 Ford Explorer keeps distancing itself from the competition

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Best-selling 2020 Ford Explorer keeps distancing itself from the competition

When a vehicle has dominated its class for years, it’s standard operating procedure to keep doing what works while making incremental changes to keep fans coming back for more. Ford’s intentions of eliminating most of their passenger cars from their lineup changes the calculus. This is why the all-new 2020 Ford Explorer made big changes as well as added two new styles to the family.

The Limiting Hybrid and ST versions of the Explorer will give it the flagship options that it’s star SUV needs in order to attract the masses flocking to the midsize SUV segment. But the 2020 model didn’t just add versions. They redesigned the entire vehicle, including switching it from front-wheel drive to rear-wheel drive, a platform shift that will also improve the popular 4×4 variation.

“Changing the Explorer to rear-wheel drive was a really big deal,” said Ford Motor Company’s Executive Vice President Jim Farley. “It allows our designers to deliver those beautiful proportions, give that athletic stance for Explorer, and helped our engineers to do so much more. The best towing capacity we’ve ever had. Off-road ability you hear about. On top of all that, it gave the customer more room.”

With 5,600 lb for towing, it’s more than older Explorers. More importantly, it’s more than their competitors in the segment.

But Ford will need more than a couple of new versions of the Explorer and more towing power if they intend to make a strong move in the segment. Despite the segment growing 11% last year, Explorer’s sales numbers declined 3.5%. It’s still on top, but the contradicting directions on sales numbers was a clear indicator they needed to make big changes.

The hybrid model will obviously attract a completely different type of buyer, but it’s with the new ST that Ford hopes to impress those who are moving from performance sedans or even sports cars to the midsize SUV market. The new 2020 Ford Explorer ST trim is basically a performance package. It’s the most powerful Explorer Ford has ever built with a 3.0L, twin-turbocharged V6 with 400 hp and 415 ft-lb of torque. We’ll confirm our expectations when we’re able to actually drive it, but based on the numbers we’ve seen, this is going to be an extremely fun SUV to take on the road.

The biggest changes over the previous generation are on the inside. Technology has been an unavoidable push by every automaker as they attempt to keep up with the rapidly improving available options. Today’s cars are smart cars. We’re seeing the transition in a way that’s extremely similar to what happened between smartphones and feature phones. If your vehicle doesn’t have a touchscreen infotainment system and safety assistance features, it’s old.

Ford clearly took this to heart with their most connected and functional technology suite ever in the new Explorer. It has two option touchscreens with similar capabilities to a smartphone. With connection options to Amazon Alexa, Apple CarPlay, and Android Auto, there is no shortage of ways the drive and passengers can interact with the outside world.

Safety features are dramatically improved with braking assist moving forward or backwards, lane assist that knows when the vehicle is towing, and cameras on all sides to keep full awareness.

“In the insider, there are thousands of thoughtful touches,” Farley said. “A second row seat that a child can activate and move forward with one hand, cup-holders that double as juice box holders. It’s an SUV for families that is so smart in a way that we couldn’t even imagine years ago. Speaking to Alexa to unlock your car, start the ignition. The vehicle can even read speed limiting signs and actually react to them to save you a ticket.”

With all of this, the price tag is only expected to go up $400 from the previous generation.

Ford CEO Jim Hackett said, “If there’s a heart and soul of Ford Motor Company, it’s this vehicle.” We’ll see if midsize SUV buyers agree when the 2020 Ford Explorer goes on sale this spring.

As a side note, Micah Muzio, managing editor for video at KBB, is the most entertaining car review guy on YouTube.

 

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2020 Hyundai Palisade is the large SUV buyers were promised

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2020 Hyundai Palisade is the large SUV buyers were promised

There was a time not too long ago when the Hyundai brand was associated with cheap cars and even cheaper quality. Those days are behind us as the Korean company has emerged as a symbol of quality and even… dare we say… luxury. It would have been hard to imagine that word being used to describe a Hyundai when the brand first emerged in America, but we’re on the verge of seeing the culmination of their climb in the new 2020 Hyundai Palisade.

At first glance, the question that many would ask is, “That’s a Hyundai?” It will be one of the most distinctive crossover vehicles on the road when it hits dealerships this summer. The 8-seat beast is a far cry from what the company offered when it launched and will be a direct competitor to the Ford Explorer, Honda Pilot, Nissan Pathfinder, and Chevrolet Traverse.

Compared to those competitors, it’s exterior appeal is comparable at worst. Many will find it to be the most attractive of the bunch with its cascading grill, stimulating curves, and appropriately nimble stance despite the size.

But the thing that’s going to get buyers excited about this vehicle is the interior. Offering the next generation lifestyle and safety technology, the Palisade is every bit of a comfort vehicle that luxury brands are now offering. It exceeds the tech offerings of its direct competitors and makes a strong case to be a considering for those looking at higher end SUVs.

Available options that will tickle the luxury buyer’s fancy include a fully-digital instrument cluster not very unlike the Mercedes offering, 16 cup holders (for families of 8 that need two drinks each), sueded headliner, and all the leather and texture amenities people want in a ritzy ride. It even offers an ultrasonic rear occupant alert that will send you a text message if you leave your kid in the back seat. Seriously.

This video by Cars.com goes over some of the features and interior amenities:

Under the hood, the Palisade will be sporting a 3.8L V-6. The Atkinson-cycle engine produces 291 hp and 262 lb-ft of torque, making it fully capable of moving through traffic with a jet ski in tow. Their HTRAC AWD system offers the driving modes available in most modern SUVs, including a locking differential for truly bad driving conditions. It’s not an off-road vehicle, but it will do its best to not get stuck if forced into the situation.

While no pricing data is out, we expect it to be in line with its competitors, starting in the low- to mid-$30k range and moving up from there based upon build.

It’s clear Hyundai has been listening to drivers. They knew when to get fancy and when to be economical, allowing for an affordable yet luxurious option for big crossover buyers. They hope the Palisade will make it the Summer of Hyundai in 2019.


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