2020 Hyundai Palisade First Drive Review | The bigger they come
SEOUL — Hyundai can build big, spectacular things. In 2014 it created the CSCL Globe, the world's largest container ship at the time. With a 77,200-hp two-stroke engine and a deck the size of four soccer fields, it can deliver 19,000 shipping containers anywhere in the world. By comparison, the new 2020 Hyundai Palisade isn't all that large — but it will soon become the brand's biggest and most powerful SUV ever.
About the size of theFord Explorer
and the popularHonda Pilot
, the Palisade is already on sale in South Korea, where it is assembled at Hyundai's massive plant in Ulsan alongside theTucson
, Ioniq andVeloster
. But the replacement for theSanta Fe XL
won't hit Hyundai's American dealerships until summer 2019. It's part of an SUV onslaught by the automaker, which has just introduced the smallerKona
models. And Hyundai says there's more to come.
Unlike the Ford Explorer, which will soon return to a traditional body-on-frame rear-wheel drive architecture, the 2020 Hyundai Palisade uses a new front-wheel drive unibody chassis it will share with the coming Kia Telluride. The SUV is 3 inches longer, about 3.5 inches wider and over 2 inches taller than the Santa Fe XL, and its wheelbase has grown 4 inches. That matches theNissan Pathfinder
at 114.2 inches, and outstretches theExplorer
. However, theChevy Traverse
share a 120.9-inch wheelbase, and at 204.3 inches long they've got 8 inches of length on the Palisade.
Despite all that size, the Palisade doesn't feel like a container ship from behind its leather-wrapped steering wheel. After two cold snowy days driving Korean-market spec Palisades around northern South Korea, both on and off road, we flew home to California impressed by the SUV's dynamics, packaging and comfort.
Inside, the Palisade's front seats are firm with significant bolstering, and the seating position is perfect. Hyundai has gotten the details right, even carving the SUV's A-pillars extra thin to better your forward view.Fit
and finish are impressive, coming close to Genesis levels with our test car's quilted Nappa leather, suede headliner and knurled knobs. Its pale striped wood trim, although fake, pulls off the yacht feel SangYup Lee, Hyundai's Head of Global Design, says he was going for. By the way, before joining Hyundai, Lee was the lead designer at Bentley, where he created that company's first SUV, theBentayga
Hyundai told us there are no differences in the SUV's ride and handling tuning from those that will be sold in America, but the 197 horsepower, 2.2-liter four-cylinder diesel in our test vehicle won't make it to the States. At launch, all Palisades sold in the U.S. will be powered by a new version of Hyundai's Lambda 3.8-liter V6. To improvefuel economy
, in this application the engine runs on an Atkinson Cycle under light loads, and Hyundai is estimating its output at 291 hp at 6,000 rpm and 262 pound-feet of torque at 5,000 rpm. Strong numbers for this class. Unfortunately, the Palisade's EPA fuel economy ratings are not yet available.
Front-wheel drive and the Hyundai's excellent in-house developed eight-speed automatic transmission will be standard. Its HTRAC all-wheel drive system will be optional. Although big V6s still rule this class, eventually we do expect other engines to be offered in Palisades imported to the United States.
Driving around downtown Seoul is very much like driving through mid-town Manhattan, right down to the taxis and the traffic. In this environment the Palisade feels solid, responsive and light on its feet. There's a satisfying heft to the steering, which is quick with a 15.6:1 ratio, and the Palisade feels agile on its optional 20-inch Michelin Primacy Sport Tour tires. Although it is, the big SUV doesn't feel nose-heavy. In fact, it feels much lighter overall than its 4,475-pound curb weight, and its balance will improve with the all-aluminum V6, which weighs 150 pounds less than the smaller iron block diesel.
There's plenty of road feel in the steering and chassis. The ride is comfortable, although some drivers may find it to be firmer than they expect. It's probably a bit more compliant on the standard 18-inch tires, which are considerably lighter, shaving 5.5 pounds off each corner. Sport mode unnecessarily adds more weight to the steering but cranks up the response of the throttle and transmission nicely.
Hyundai attempted to tackle noise and vibration with under-hood insulation and special sound-deadening carpets, but the Palisade is no isolation chamber, thanks to the diesel engine. We suspect the Palisade will be considerably more refined with the U.S.-spec gas engine.
Hyundai was eager to demonstrate the different modes of the SUV's HTRAC all-wheel drive system, which includes Mud, Sand and Snow, so we drove Palisade on some very mild dirt roads and a beach southwest of Seoul. This is no serious off roader, and we quickly buried the SUV up to its axles in the deep, soft sand. With 7.9 inches of ground clearance, at least Palisade will handle the gravel parking lot at Coachella without breaking a sweat.
And it'll get the whole family there. Adults can actually sit in the third row comfortably, and three pre-teens can fit back there without complaining. The second row slides to balance out the legroom when you're using the Hyundai's max seating capacity, which is eight, or seven if you get the second row captain's chairs. Third row access is also in the positive column, as the second row jumps out of the way with the push of button. Split 60/40, a power folding third row will be available, and there's a sizable amount of additional storage under the Palisade's cargo floor.
Other highlights are generous interior storage and solid ergonomics, which includes Hyundai's first push button shifter, 10 cupholders by our count, and an available 10.25-inch infotainment touchscreen. Hyundai will offer a fully-digital and configurable 12.3-inch instrument cluster, which recently debuted on the2019 Kia K900
Hyundai hasn't skimped on the safety either. The SUV's long list of standard active safety systems should add up to an IIHS Top Safety Pick+ and a 5-star NHTSA rating.
Problems? Well, there's no onboard Wifi, which seems like a major oversight in all-new family vehicle. And the Palisade won't launch with an available hybrid version – a surprise given Hyundai's investment in electrification of late. Heck, the new Kona Electric just might win the North American SUV of the Year title.
Hyundai won't discuss sales projections, but admits the United States is the most important market for the large SUV and will make up the bulk of the Palisade's sales volume. Today theElantra
is Hyundai's biggest seller in the U.S., with 185,339 sold through November, and the Tucson is its most popular SUV with 126,915 sold over the same time period.
Hyundai also isn't ready to discuss pricing. Zayong Koo, Hyundai's vice president, would only say, "Pricing will be similar to competitors." That means we should expect the Palisade to cost somewhere between $32,000 and $50,000 depending on its trim level and options.
They're going to sell a lot of these things.Related Video:
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December 16, 2018 at 06:43PM
2021 Audi E-Tron GT Concept Drive | Charging ahead
In Europe, politicians are pushing European carmakers to keep new electric offerings coming, and the Germans are sick and tired of being told thatTesla
has outclassed them with their high-performance sedans. In this environment,Audi
has come out swinging with the fully electric E-Tron GT, based on a platform that's shared with theupcoming Porsche Taycan
. Slated for a launch in late 2020, it was shown in concept form at theLos Angeles Auto Show
two weeks ago, where we had the opportunity to take it for an extended spin, escorted by twomotorcycle
cops - to protect us from traffic and potentialspeeding tickets
Thedesign of the E-Tron GT concept is nothing less than stunning
; really, this is what an RS7 should look like (but doesn't). It's 195.3 inches long, 77.1 inches wide and just 54.3 inches tall – its proportions are extreme, and so are the details. The head- and taillights boast the latest LED and laser technology, there is an "inverted" closed grille, a full panoramic glass roof, and it sits on 22-inch alloys shod with 285/30 rubber. Instead of fake exhausts, there is a brutally styled rear diffusor.
The good news is that almost all of it will carry over to the production model. When it comes to market, the hood, which serves as an aero element on the concept, will be closed, and the 22-inch wheels will be replaced with 21-inch rims. You will be able to replace the glass roof with a carbon-fiber roof. Beyond that, the concept is reality. And to us, it looks more exciting than the soft-edgedPorsche
Taycan, its closely related sister model.
Ferdinand Piëch, the overlord of in-house competition, would enjoy the battle. Yes, the Porsche Taycan is the top-level iteration of this platform. But the E-Tron GT is not just an Audi; it is developed by the Audi Sport performance division, formerly known as Quattro GmbH. Their other standalone model is theR8
. You wouldn't think they will really take a back seat to Porsche, would you? Sure, they agreed to keep a distance to the Porsche Taycan, which Porsche says will make 600 horsepower. So Audi Sport, for now, is settling for 590.
Settling behind the wheel of the E-Tron GT, we note that the ultra-futuristic cockpit has taken yet another step forward from the E-Troncrossover
SUV that we recently drove at the press launch in Abu Dhabi. The steering wheel has assumed a nearly hexagonal shape, the center console is elevated, the gear selector a sliding object. The paddles on the steering wheel adjust the regenerative braking rate in three levels.
Thanks to the fabric seats, Audi - in politically correct fashion - speaks of a "vegan interior;" the renunciation of real leather is praised as a "clear statement of automotive modernity". Whatever. The fit and finish is stunning, and we are assured there will be natural leather options on the production model as well. Altogether, the interior resembles an R8 for four.
Time to drive: The 590 horsepower and 656 lb-ft of the production car, coming from one front and one rear electric motor, are not fully on tap in the E-Tron GT concept. But there was no disappointment when we pressed the accelerator: Thisconcept car
accelerates with great urgency, the E-motors whirring audibly, exactly as Audi designed it. When it comes to market, it will crack 60 mph in less than 3.5 seconds, despite weighing more than two tons. Top speed will be governed to 149 mph, keeping a symbolic distance to Porsche's 162 mph.
The power is transmitted to all four wheels through a one-speed transmission, and torque vectoring functions optimize traction and corner turn-in. With its 800-volt system, Audi promises at least 250 miles of range, probably more. Push it hard, and that figure could shrink to below 200 miles. That's still a tough pill to swallow, but the E-Tron GT will have access to a fast-charging network that is shared with the Porsche Taycan - and will leave Tesla's superchargers in the dust.
The E-Tron GT's electric rush comes without the slightest delay. It is a different sensation from whipping an RS7 through the gears, screaming to the redline. But it is similarly exciting, equally fast at least into lower triple-digit speeds - and it validates the preconceptions of the future instilled in us by the science-fiction movies we absorbed as kids.
Electric cars typically put their batteries below the passenger cell, and that's why many of them are designed as crossover SUVs. Porsche and Audi put the batteries in front and behind the passengers, so the driver sits extremely low. And that's why the E-Tron GT and Taycan can be even lower than anA7
. Still, there's room for a 3.5 cu ft front and 15.9 cu ft rear trunk.Escorted
by two motorcycle cops and aQ7
, we finish our exhilarating 45-minute drive wondering what role a car like this will play in the future of individual mobility. In our rapidly electrifying present, the upcoming Audi E-Tron GT has a good chance of taking a top spot among the competition – and of giving the Porsche Taycan a good run for the money.Related Video:
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December 16, 2018 at 06:14PM
Audi E-Tron GT Concept First Drive: Look Out, Tesla
I ease the muscular, low-slung four-door onto the street and into the Friday morning traffic. The acceleration is swift and mostly silent. A distant high-pitched whine increases in pitch as speed rises, accompanied by the percussive patter-crash of low-profile 22-inch tires at war with a stiffly sprung, hastily calibrated suspension. Most concept car drives take place in the smooth safety of a secluded proving ground or a closed racetrack. But I’m driving the hand-finished Audi E-Tron GT concept on the cratered streets of downtown L.A. There’s confidence for you.
Audi’s confident because this “concept” is no hand-built dream machine, designed to do its best work sitting under lights on an auto show stand. It’s basically an early prototype of the production Audi E-Tron GT. Swap the 22-inch wheels and tires for 21s, add door handles and bigger rearview mirrors, take away the glowing e-tron logos front and rear, and what you have is what you’ll see sitting in Audi dealerships in 2020. Revealed just days before the first media drives of the production E-Tron SUV in Abu Dhabi, the E-Tron GT concept underscores Audi’s soaring ambition in the premium electric vehicle segment.
Built on the Porsche-developed J1 BEV platform, the production E-Tron GT shares its underpinnings with the forthcoming Porsche Taycan electric sports car. That means all-wheel drive, courtesy of e-motors mounted front and rear that pump out a total of 590 horsepower, enough to propel the lavishly equipped Audi to 60 mph in less than 3.5 seconds, and to a top speed of 149 mph. The innovative 95-kW-hr battery pack—scalloped out to provide footroom for passengers, with additional cells stacked under the seats, thus enabling a low floor and low center of gravity—delivers about 250 miles of range under the WLTP test protocol. And, says Audi, the 800-volt onboard charging system can bring the battery back to full charge in about 20 minutes.
Few automakers hide shared parts and components as masterfully as VW Group, and the E-Tron GT is no exception. The windshield and the high-definition screens in the cabin are the only items sharp-eyed enthusiasts will be able to pick as being shared with the Taycan. Everything else customers see and touch is unique to the Audi, the work of design chief Marc Lichte and his team. Lichte says he has been involved in designing 60 vehicles over his career—40 for Volkswagen and 20 for Audi—but none has excited him as much as shaping the E-Tron GT. “This is definitely my masterpiece,” he says with a grin as he walks around sheetmetal teased out over big wheels and around the close-coupled cabin, surfaces hugging muscle as tightly as Dwayne Johnson’s T-shirt. “Michael Mauer at Porsche always does cars like this. I never got a chance to do one until now.”
Design highlights include voluptuous rear quarter panels that Lichte says took nine months to finesse: single stampings whose deep draw—about 2 feet from the outer edge of the fender to the inner edge of the rear window—was difficult to execute without the metal cracking or warping. The top surfaces of the front fenders sit a mere handful of inches above the front wheels, rising almost imperceptibly to creases that run from the base of the A-pillars forward to the top corners of the grille and frame a sunken hood. The low roofline—2 inches lower than that of the svelte A7—emphasizes the E-Tron GT’s broad-shouldered stance. And speaking of shoulders, the Audi Quattro blisters over the wheels front and rear are defined by a chamfer rather than a knife-edge. Softer character lines like these are something we’ll be seeing more of in future Audis, says Lichte.
Audi interiors have a reputation for being special, and the concept suggests the production E-Tron GT won’t disappoint. The steering wheel with a flattened top and bottom, will be on the production car, albeit with real buttons not touchscreens in the spokes, and the tiny, touch-actuated door handles will be replaced by hinged items. The beautifully rendered high-def screens for the virtual cockpit and infotainment systems are existing VW Group hardware, already used in Porsches, the Bentley Continental GT, and high-end Audis.
But where the E-Tron GT’s interior makes its biggest statement is in its strong, clean form language and innovative use of materials. The leather is synthetic, the seat fabric is made from recycled plastic bottles, and the floor coverings started life as old nylon fishing nets. “We take sustainability seriously,” says Lichte. “And I think it fits perfectly with a BEV. The challenge has been making the materials and the execution sophisticated.” Challenge met. The E-Tron GT cabin is the definition of modern luxury, a compelling distillation of technology and style.
You ride low. From behind the wheel the E-Tron GT feels like a sports car, close to the road, buttoned down, and wrapped around you. But it’s also a genuine four-door, four-seat grand turismo, with room aboard for four adults. Though I had to wiggle my big feet past the front seat’s backrest, once settled on the back seat there was ample footroom and enough clearance for my knees, even with the driving position set to accommodate my 6-foot-2 frame. The standard fixed glass roof ensured adequate headroom. (A lightweight carbon-fiber roof panel will be available as an option, along with a sliding glass roof.)
I can’t tell you much about how the production E-Tron GT will drive. The concept’s oversized wheels and tires and cobbled-together suspension delivered a crashy ride with plenty of unwanted secondary body motions from the rear axle. Regen was limited—lift off, and the concept coasted down like an internal combustion powered car with an automatic transmission—and the steering felt very light. But all this is stuff that will get fixed as Audi engineers begin final calibration of suspension and powertrain hardware and software.
The one thing the E-Tron GT won’t feel like, insist Audi insiders, is a Porsche. Expect an oilier, quieter ride, and VW Group insiders have already confirmed the powertrain will be tuned to deliver marginally less performance than in the Taycan. This much is clear, though: Stuff just got real, Tesla.
The post Audi E-Tron GT Concept First Drive: Look Out, Tesla appeared first on MotorTrend.
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December 16, 2018 at 06:11PM
Aston Martin working on an inline-six to replace Mercedes-sourced V8?
There's no straight line to figuring out whetherAston Martin
plans a straight-six motor for future products. In March, comments by the automaker's chief engineer for vehicle attributes,Matt Becker, led many to believe
the British firm could use theMercedes-AMG
inline-six from the new CLS53. A week later,Becker said his comments had been misconstrued
, that he "was speaking in more general terms that we might have to one day look at downsizing engines."Autocar
just threw a new curve, citing "a source close to the firm" to report thatAston Martin's
working on its own straight-six.
The English outlet says the deal Aston Martin signed with Mercedes-AMG was a stopgap deal while Aston Martin worked on proprietary engines. The report says the inline-six developed in Gaydon would eventually replace the 4.0-liter twin-turbo V8 currently powering theDB11
If this purported inline-six were augmented with electrification, perhaps developed with help fromthe electric Rapid E program
, it could make more sense of Becker's first, misconstrued comments. At the time, Becker said theMercedes
hybridized engine "could fit with the brand in the future." Taken generally, he could have meant an Aston Martin version of the German engine.
The certainty is that there's a six-cylinder coming for larger-volume series production models, yet the reports and denials put competingrumors
and powerplants in play. Aston Martin installs a 5.2-liter V12 in theDBS Superleggera
suspects an inline-six could be derived from that engine. The automaker already has a six-cylinder in development, though, that being the turbocharged hybrid V6 said to be headed to theFerrari
. Creating two new six-cylinder engines in different formats seems an odd choice for a tiny manufacturer.
What about the rumors that say theDBX crossover could get a six-cylinder
? In July, whenMotoring
asked chief creative officer Marek Reichman about it, he said theDBX "could [use a Mercedes-sourced
six-cylinder], because that would be a pretty good engine and combination. Potentially."Autocar
suggests, however, that theDBX
will be first in line for the in-house inline engine.
Aston Martin has a storied history with the inline-six, all of them with links to other automakers. The legendary inline-six in the original DB cars of the mid-20th century wereoriginally drawn up by Walter Owen Bentley
- for Lagonda automobiles. David Brown liked Lagonda and the 2.6-liter straight-six so much that he bought the company and used the motor in the Aston Martin DB2. The 1997 DB7 restored an inline-six to the company's lineup for a couple of years, but that began life as the aluminum block from theJaguar
3.2-liter AJ6 motor.
No matter what nor where the sixer comes from, once Aston Martin sells more than 10,000 units per year, the company will be bound to stricter emissions standards necessitating smaller engines. If Mercedes gets the nod and the V8 goes away, this might not happen untilAMG
ups its three-liters' output. We'd be surprised ifVantage
buyers would trade two cylindersand
73 hp for better emissions.Related Video:
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December 16, 2018 at 12:13PM
California pushes for 100 percent zero-emission buses by 2040
California air quality regulators voted on Friday to require that transit buses have zero emissions beginning in 2029, another step by the liberal-leaning state that sets it apart from the environmental policies of the Trump administration. The California Air Resources Board voted unanimously on the proposal to ramp up the use of battery electric or fuel-cell buses until 2029, at which point all new transit buses will have to be zero-emission vehicles. By 2040, California intends its fleet of buses to be 100-percent emissions free.
Environmentalists like Kathryn Phillips, director of Sierra Club California, applauded the decision, while noting that California was already a hub for electric bus manufacturing. "This is the first major regulation in the U.S. for transitioning to zero-emission buses and will serve as a model for other states and countries," she said.
via Autoblog http://www.autoblog.com
December 16, 2018 at 09:09AM
2020 Ford Mustang Shelby GT500 VIN 001 to be auctioned at Barrett-Jackson
Automakers have a long history ofauctioning
off special cars at major auctions, and the proceeds generally go to a worthy charity. That familiar scenario is set to repeat asFord
puts the very first productionShelby GT500
up for auction at the2019 Barrett-Jackson event
on January 18, 2019, in Arizona. That's just four days after the car's planned debut at the rapidly approachingDetroit Auto Show
Ford hasn't yet given up all the details for its latest super-powered pony car. We know it will have more than 700 horsepower, and that those horses will from a supercharged V8 engine.Rumors point to a version of the 5.2-liter engine found in the GT350
, minus that car's flat-plane crankshaft, topped with a 2.65-liter Eaton supercharger that pumps out 12 psi of boost. We've heard reports of both six-speed manual and seven-speed dual-clutch gearboxes routing all that power to the rear wheels.
The winner of Lot 3,008 will get the chance to option out their GT500 any way they see fit. But they won't actually take possession of the car for a while – Ford says the 2020 Shelby GT500 will start filtering out to the public in the fall of 2019.
Ford says it donates more than $2 million annually to the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation, which is the charity that will receive proceeds from the GT500 bearing VIN 001. The automaker has contributed a total of $60 million to the JDRF over the last 35 years.Toyota
plans toauction off the very first 2020 Supra at Barrett-Jackson
, too. Proceeds of that sale will be donated to the American Heart Association and the Bob Woodruff Foundation. Here's hoping both of these special vehicles bring in a healthy amount for their respective charities.Related Video:
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December 15, 2018 at 04:09PM
Junkyard Gem: 2006 Chrysler PT Cruiser Route 66 Edition
The world has fallen out of love with theChrysler PT Cruiser
, the small truck (legally speaking, it was a truck by American government definition) that started with off-the-shelfNeon
chassis components and added a retro-looking roomy body. In its heyday, though, thePT Cruiser
looked cool and different, and sold very well for the better part of its 2000-2010 production run.Chrysler
sold some special-edition PT Cruisers, most of which seem to have disappeared without a trace, but I managed to catch this discarded'06 Route 66 Edition
in a self-service wrecking yard in Charlotte, North Carolina.
The Route 66 Edition came in either black or yellow paint, with yellow brake calipers and these Route 66 badges.
PT Cruisers with manual transmission are surprisingly easy to find in junkyards (the manual was significantly cheaper than the automatic), but this is a luxurious two-pedal version.
This one had already been hit hard by parts shoppers, who took most of the front body components and a big chunk of the interior. Note the kicky yellow dash trim.
The PT Cruiser, being classified as a truck, didn't have to pass the stricter emission-control and crash standards the US federal government applies to cars. That made it a good bargain when it came to capacity-per-dollar for buyers.
Eventually, though, the American public tired of the onslaught of faux-retro-styled PT Cruisers (andChevy HHRs
New Beetles), and now the resulting low resale value of used PT Cruisers sends them to the wrecking yards in record numbers.VIDEO
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December 15, 2018 at 03:12PM
Amazon adjusts the outlook for its in-car Echo setup
With time running out on 2018, Amazon has suddenly started delivering a bunch of the Alexa-connected devices it announced in September. However, it's looking more and more like the Echo Auto that links its virtual assistant to your car stereo won't be one of them. Despite some flip-flopping by Amazon's website, AFTVNews notes that the product page has recently changed, and instead of saying invitations for a pre-release program will go out this year, it simply allows users to get their names on a list.
Another adjustment is in its potential support for navigation apps. While it previously promised support for Google Maps, Apple Maps and Waze, it now specifies that support for the latter two will arrive in 2019, presumably at some point after the hardware is first released. There's also a support page listing phones that definitely won't work with it, so we have bad news for anyone hoping to link their Nexus 4 to the device.
via Autoblog http://www.autoblog.com
December 15, 2018 at 09:11AM
2018 Alfa Romeo Giulia Ti Sport Long-Term Update 3: Changes We’d Like
Rear-drive Italian sport sedan from a legendary company for the price of a loaded minivan? What on earth would you change? Well, a few things, actually.
No car is perfect, not even a MotorTrend Car of the Year. There’s always something that could use updating or a compromise made for practical or budgetary reasons during a car’s development that isn’t a big deal but still noticeable. As much fun as the Alfa is to drive, as many looks as it gets in parking lots, there are still wrongs to be righted.
The most consistently frustrating is the glare on the infotainment screen. I love the way the screen has been incorporated into the dash design with no obvious frame, but it has some sort of matte finish on it that reflects absolutely everything. The use of dark red text over a black background is hard enough to read, but it’s impossible when all I can see is the reflection of my shirt.
The parking sensor programming comes in second, only because I can work around it. Like other vehicles, the parking sensors are only automatically active at low speed, but they don’t come on every time you slow down. In fact, they only seem to come on after you’ve just started the car and put it in gear or if you’ve just had it in reverse. It’s helpful in those circumstances, but with the very low nose on this car, it’s not enough. They need to come on any time you’re at parking lot speeds, lest you find out the crunchy way how close the parking stop is or how steep the driveway transition is.
Barring that, at least give me an override that works. I’ve tried turning them back on with the parking sensor button after they automatically shut off, but my override gets overridden as I stop-and-go around the parking lot. I’ve already told you I want them on. Stop trying to help by turning them back off.
Speaking of features you can’t control properly, why is there no ESC Off button in a sport sedan? At least give me a Sport mode if you’re not going to let me turn it off. I shouldn’t have to drop another 30 grand on a Quadrifoglio to get that. At minimum, customers might need it to get unstuck in the snow.
Returning to more consistently annoying issues, the automatic engine stop/start system needs to be connected to the cabin temperature sensor. I’m a fan of these systems because I see no reason to burn gas unnecessarily at a stoplight—but only when they work right. The Alfa’s kicks in as soon as the oil is up to temperature, which happens long before the cabin has cooled down or heated up to a comfortable degree. All summer I fought with it killing the A/C while the cabin was still uncomfortably warm, and in the winter I would be overriding it to keep the heater on. In related matters, the fan could use a higher speed on the hottest and coldest days.
I know the auto stop/start system is related to engine oil temperature because that’s one of the few gauges available. Not water temperature. Oil temperature. Makes sense for a sport sedan (but brings me back to the ESC question), but why aren’t there any other gauges available on the embedded screen in the instrument cluster? Lose the useless, unlabeled g-meter, and give me water temperature or voltage or transmission temperature.
Likewise falling into the almost-but-not-quite category are the extendable sun visors. All cars should have these standard, and they should all extend far enough to cover the entire side window. The Alfa’s fall a couple inches short, which is, invariably, always where the sun is.
The remainder of my midcycle refresh to-do list is a bit less critical but would contribute to a better owner experience. Better Apple CarPlay integration would be nice, for example. Right now, it does the old “play the first song on your phone every time” trick, and it changes your audio source to your phone after every voice prompt no matter what you were listening to prior. Likewise, if we could teach the tire pressure monitoring software to recognize when it’s cold out and not throw needless warnings, that would be nice, too.
Also in the realm of teaching, let’s put a note in the owner’s manual telling people how to get this computer-controlled shifter into neutral. If you pull the trigger when you move the lever, it’ll go to drive (pull back) or reverse (push forward). To get to neutral, you need to push/pull without touching the trigger. Don’t ask how long I spent in line at the carwash trying to figure that out, and I do this for a living.
Finally, here’s a real cheap fix: Put a better plastic trim piece between the steering column and gauges. Readers love to lambast us as “dash fondlers” when we complain about a lack of soft-touch materials, but unless it’s an armrest, I don’t care what it feels like. Soft-touch materials generally look better than hard plastic. It’s especially obvious when you have panels of the same color made out of both materials. In this case, the dash on either side of the steering column is soft-touch, but the piece in between is hard plastic. It’s super obvious because the grain and gloss don’t match, and I see it every time I look at the gauges.
No discussion on the Alfa’s shortcomings would be complete without mention of what’s broken during our possession, so here’s the complete list to date:
The infotainment screen has picked up a habit of shutting down and resetting within a few minutes of starting the car. It’s inconsistent, happening a couple of times in a row, then disappears for months. We’ll have the dealer look at it when it goes in for its first service at 9,600 miles (per the computer).
Read more on our long-term Alfa Romeo Giulia here:
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December 15, 2018 at 04:07AM
GM says it has 2,700 jobs available for workers slated to be laid off
DETROIT — General Motors' plans to lay off 14,000 salaried and blue-collar workers might not be quite as bad as originally projected.
The company said Friday that 2,700 out of the 3,300 U.S. factory jobs slated for elimination will now be saved. Blue-collar workers will still lose jobs at four U.S. plants slated for closure next year, but most will be able to find employment at eight other GM factories where jobs are being added. Some would have to relocate.
GM still plans to lay off about 8,000 white-collar workers and another 2,600 factory workers in Canada.
In November, the company announced plans to end production at the U.S. factories and one in Ontario as part of a major restructuring designed to cut costs and divert resources to development and manufacturing of trucks, SUVs and electric and autonomous vehicles.
Legislators and President Donald Trump have hammered GM over the moves.
While some of the roughly 3,300 U.S. factory workers will retire, most of the rest will be offered one of 2,700 jobs the company plans to add at factories where production will increase, GM announced on Friday. Some would have to uproot and move to other cities for jobs.
"Our focus remains on providing interested employees options to transition including job opportunities at other GM plants," CEO Mary Barra said in a statement of the factory workers.
That still leaves the majority of the 14,000 cuts hitting white-collar workers. A small number of them will be able to transfer to other openings, and those who can't will get help in finding work elsewhere, the company said.
Since the announcement, GM has faced withering criticism from Trump, legislators from the affected states and the United Auto Workers union, largely over the plant closure plans. Trump has focused on a plant in Lordstown, Ohio, that's slated to stop making compact cars on March 1. He has promised to return factory jobs to the U.S. and Ohio, a key state in his 2020 re-election campaign.
GM is cutting six car models as buyers have dramatically shifted their preferences to SUVs and trucks, which will account for about 70 percent of new-vehicle sales this year. Just six years ago, that number was 51 percent, and now GM is left with too many factories making cars.
The automaker's attempt to close the factories still has to be negotiated with the United Auto Workers union, which has promised to fight back. The other factories that could go are assembly plants in Detroit and Oshawa, Ontario, and transmission plants in Warren, Michigan, and near Baltimore.
Trump continued to blast GM and Barra in an interview with Fox News on Thursday. "I don't like what she did," Trump said. "It was nasty. Ohio is going to replace those jobs in two minutes."
The announcement that nearly all the blue-collar workers may get other GM jobs could counter some of the attacks, but it's unlikely to stop them completely since GM still intends to halt production at the factories.
Tommy Wolikow, 36, who was laid off from the Lordstown, Ohio, factory in January of 2017, said he would be interested in openings at a Toledo, Ohio, transmission factory and a plant in Tennessee. But he's not happy about the prospect of moving. "I want to go back to Lordstown," he said. "The last thing I want to do is uproot my family and leave my parents."
Under GM's contract with the union, the more senior active workers at the four factories targeted for closure get first crack at transferring to another plant, and there may not be enough jobs for workers with less seniority who were previously laid off. Of the 3,300 factory workers slated to lose their jobs, 2,800 are active and 500 are on leave. In addition, there are about 830 who were laid off previously at the Lordstown and Detroit plants.
Patrick Morrissey, a spokesman for GM, said Friday's job announcement had nothing to do with the criticism the company has been facing. The automaker, he said, knew some of the laid-off workers would be placed at other plants, but it didn't know the number of jobs available until this week.
"We have opportunities for just about everybody who wants them," Morrissey said.
Morrissey said the number of workers placed in new posts depends a lot on how many of the senior workers decide to retire. About 1,200 are eligible. Some workers also could decide they don't want to relocate.
Wolikow is sure if he has enough time in with GM to get a transfer to another plant. He has found work as a diesel engine technician, but it pays $10 per hour less than the $28 per hour plus profit sharing that he'd be making if he was still working for GM.
"It's hard not to follow the money," he said. "You know that you can make a great living, have a great career."
GM said jobs will be added mainly at truck and SUV plants including about 1,000 positions at a Flint, Michigan, factory that makes heavy-duty pickup trucks. GM wouldn't release exact numbers but said several hundred will be added at each of five assembly plants in Arlington, Texas; Bowling Green, Kentucky; Spring Hill, Tennessee; and Lansing, Michigan. In addition, jobs will be added at a transmission plant in Toledo, Ohio. Another 50 will be added at a casting plant in Bedford, Indiana.
Dave Green, president of the auto workers local at the Lordstown plant, says he's still hoping the factory can stay open by getting a new vehicle to build. The future of the plants will be part of the UAW's national contract negotiations next year.
The job transfers will help laid-off workers but will do nothing for the area of Northeast Ohio which has been devastated by job losses over the years, Green said.
"Some people do have the opportunity to move, but it's extremely disruptive, and it does nothing to help or support the communities that are left behind," he said.
via Autoblog http://www.autoblog.com
December 14, 2018 at 06:39PM
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