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New Nissan Frontier finally coming after 15 years of stagnation

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New Nissan Frontier finally coming after 15 years of stagnation

It isn’t common for vehicles to go a decade and a half without a redesign. There are exceptions, of course, but in the midsize truck segment, competition is getting hotter and Nissan can’t continue to be a strong seller with the same basic design it unveiled with the 2005 model.

So, they’re changing things up. In fact, those changes are “almost finished,” according to Ivan Espinosa, Nissan’s vice president of product planning.

It can’t come soon enough. Here are the 2005 model and the 2019 model side-by-side. Can you tell the difference?

They say if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it. For years, the Nissan Frontier hasn’t been broken based on sales numbers, but this is a different era. New (and old) competitors are driving towards the segment at high speeds and threaten to shake up the midsize truck market. Between the 2020 Jeep Gladiator and the 2019 Ford Ranger, Nissan, Chevrolet, and Toyota will have their hands full.

Details are scant, but if the 2020 Nissan Frontier is to be the next generation, it may be able to make the splash it needs to retain strong sales numbers that they’ve held over the years. Then again, it may behoove them to wait a year and shake up the market after Ford and Jeep have had their turn at disrupting the status quo.

Nissan has enjoyed so much success with the current generation, it may be hard to let go so quickly. 2018 was the second-best year for the truck with nearly 80,000 units sent down the road. This followed a stellar 2016 with 87,000 units sold, which is probably why Nissan has allowed the truck to grow long in the tooth.

But the biggest need isn’t necessarily in the exterior design but in the technological advancements department. It’s woefully missing Apple CarPlay and Android Auto while not keeping pace with the safety technology being implemented in all of its competitors.

Some say the Nararro, which made a splash in international markets in 2014, may be the prototype for the next generation Frontier, but we believe this is unlikely. Even the Navarro is showing its age. With the automotive industry changing faster than a 10-speed transmission changes gears on an incline, the need for innovations and positive press are driving Nissan to try to keep pace.

If the next generation Frontier can be pushed up to be the 2020 model, we’ll have the most interesting year in midsize truck history. It will be interesting to see how Chevy and Toyota respond with Ford, Jeep, and possibly Nissan becoming the shiny objects of the day.



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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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