Archive for the ‘motortrend’ Tag

Jeep Wrangler is the 2019 MotorTrend SUV of the Year

Look past the iconic grille, and you’ll see it. Behold the latest evolution of a seven-decades-old design, a soul-stirring affirmation of freedom, a surprisingly groundbreaking vehicle that shouldn’t work in the 21st century as well as it does. The new Jeep Wrangler is what crossovers want to be when they grow up, and it’s the 2019 MotorTrend SUV of the Year.

Rarely do past and future coexist so beautifully. The thoroughly redesigned and re-engineered Wrangler finds its own path to modernization, resisting the temptation to dilute its climb-that-mountain capabilities for crossover softness. Even so, beach-bound cruisers and daily commuters will appreciate the upgraded pavement game, and off-roaders will admire how much more confidently they can traverse their favorite trails. This Jeep delivers, no matter what.

The Wrangler’s diverse range furnishes a model for every need. For the Jeep lover reminiscing about the Wrangler’s past, the capable two-door model with a V-6 and manual transmission costs about $30,000—before hitting the aftermarket for customization. The four-door Unlimited model makes it easier to bring friends along for the journey. Perhaps the best part is the available mild-hybrid turbo-four, which improves EPA-rated city fuel economy by an astounding 38 percent compared to the outgoing model.

“The Wrangler is a thoughtful, thorough rework of an American original,” international bureau chief Angus MacKenzie said. “It’s laser-focused on improving the performance of its intended function, right down to the last nut and bolt.”

Advancement in Design

It’s no easy task to update the look of an icon. It’s a no-win proposition. Do too much (or too little), and the critics will howl. But Jeep nailed it.

 Jeep approached the Wrangler’s styling with a light but deliberate touch. Relocating the Jeep badge from the Wrangler’s face to the front fenders facilitates a less cluttered look, with round headlights touching the edge of the seven-bar grille. Other than LED turn signals mounted on the ends of the wheel flares and updated square taillights, not much else gives away the Wrangler as the new JL model. And that’s exactly how it should be. The Wrangler isn’t a crossover requiring twice-a-decade face-lifts to retain buyers’ interest. It embraces a classic style that continues to attract dreamers who want to remember what SUVs used to be.

2018 Jeep Wrangler Sahara 4x4 side
2018 Jeep Wrangler Sahara 4x4 headlight 1
2018 Jeep Wrangler Sahara 4x4 headlight 2
2018 Jeep Wrangler Sahara 4x4 side detail

 The standard canvas top and plastic side windows remain available, and like the fold-down front windshield, they’re easier and quicker to disassemble and reinstall than before, using simple tools. For further customization, black or body-colored hard tops are available, and the soft top comes in black or tan. A vibrant color palette, seven wheel styles, and a regular series of special editions present every opportunity to make a Wrangler reflect your tastes—and that’s before you venture to Mopar for accessories and upgrades.

In so many ways, the Wrangler advances design to make Jeeping more rewarding—whatever that means to you. Open the power-retractable Sky One-Touch soft top, and a starry night will provide all the mood lighting front and rear passengers desire. The new option isn’t cheap, but it’s worth the money. Features editor Christian Seabaugh noted it “combines the safety of the hard top with the ease and open-air experience of the soft top” and called it a revolution for the brand.

Despite its unapologetically industrial interior, the Wrangler masters some details better than many sensible crossovers. Soft-touch and high-quality materials equal those of luxury competitors. As with many Fiat Chrysler Automobiles products, audio volume and channel-change controls are located conveniently on the back side of the steering wheel. Once you drive a car with this intuitive setup, you’ll wonder why more automakers don’t adopt it. The same is true of the rear-seat headrests, which conveniently fold down when not in use for better rearward visibility.

The Uconnect infotainment system, which can be optioned with a 7.0- or 8.4-inch touchscreen that includes Apple CarPlay and Android Auto support, is intuitive to use. “Its controls can be learned in seconds, and it responds quickly to your inputs,” associate online editor and resident tech nerd Stefan Ogbac said.

Delightful design Easter eggs, such as the on-screen air recirculation control that looks like a Jeep in silhouette, add character. Remove the doors, and the exposed hinges will remind you how much more special your Jeep is than your neighbor’s anonymous lozenge every time you climb inside. And once you’re there, the high seating position offers great visibility that’s perfect for seeing obstacles ahead on a trail or peering over the roofs of idling cars on a traffic-choked freeway.

Another win for Wrangler fans and first-timers alike: how well the interior is screwed together. “Build quality seems so much better than before,” executive editor Mark Rechtin said.

Engineering Excellence

The Jeep grille is iconic, but like the New York Yankees and their pinstripes, it can also be a distraction from the substance underneath. The Bronx Bombers also had Mickey Mantle, and likewise, this Wrangler is so much more than those seven vertical air intakes. The “sport” in “sport utility vehicle” doesn’t mean tearing up a racetrack or winding road. In the body-on-frame Wrangler’s case, “sport” means heading beyond the paved road’s end. Off-roading capability is its core DNA, bred for military use from the Ardennes to An Loc. And the 2019 edition got all the good genes.

2018 Jeep Wrangler Rubicon 4x4 dashboard 6
2018 Jeep Wrangler Rubicon 4x4 center stack 3 1
2018 Jeep Wrangler Rubicon 4x4 front interior seats
2018 Jeep Wrangler Rubicon 4x4 rear interior seats
2018 Jeep Wrangler Sahara 4x4 front interior 2

Jeep added to the Wrangler’s already impressive go-anywhere abilities, improving articulation and total suspension travel on the Rubicon trim. The boulevard-ready Sahara trim nonetheless offers full-time four-wheel drive that’s sufficient for most trails, especially when it would be overkill to enlist the Rubicon’s Dana 44 front and rear axles with electronically locking differentials and disconnecting anti-roll bars.

As for the impressive Rubicon, technical director Frank Markus aptly described the off-road-focused trim as “designed and engineered to retain the faithful.”

“The Unlimited Rubicon naturally behaved like the mother of all Jeeps,” Markus said after taking the SUV off-road. “In four-low with front and rear differentials locked, there’s no stopping it in the sand.”

That confidence-instilling performance is standard on every Wrangler. Only one oddity: Hill-descent control can only be activated in four-low.

“The genius of this Jeep is that it can be configured to suit the ambitions of the off-roading neophyte and expert alike and deliver an experience that will reward them both,” MacKenzie said.

2018 Jeep Wrangler Sahara 4x4 Rubicon 4x4 8
2018 Jeep Wrangler Sahara 4x4 rear three quarter in motion 4
2018 Jeep Wrangler Sahara 4x4 Rubicon 4x4 12
2018 Jeep Wrangler Rubicon 4x4 rear three quarter in motion 2

That’s also true with the new 2.0-liter eTorque turbo-four mild-hybrid powertrain, which is worth consideration regardless of how you enjoy your Jeep. The 2.0-liter powerplant provides 270 hp and 295 lb-ft of torque, making it an intriguing option. More responsive than you’d expect, the engine is mated exclusively to an eight-speed automatic and employs a system that facilitates engine stop/start and regenerative braking. The new engine isn’t impressive for a Wrangler—it’s just plain impressive. Markus called the Wrangler 2.0’s engine stop/start system “amazingly quick” to restart, lauding it as “one of the best.”

Those who are nonetheless wary of a four-cylinder Wrangler can stick with the 285-hp 3.6-liter V-6 (which develops 35 lb-ft of torque less than the turbo-four). However, we’d recommend upgrading the V-6 to the eight-speed automatic. The standard six-speed manual may be new, but multiple judges found the engine’s torque delivery poorly matched with this transmission.

Performance of Intended Function

Just as no one expects last year’s SUVOTY, the Honda CR-V, to traverse Hell’s Revenge, the Jeep Wrangler doesn’t ride as smoothly, handle as crisply, or travel in such isolated splendor as a car-based crossover. (Such is the philosophical predicament in defining this category in today’s market.) Yet for a vehicle more capable off-road than any other new SUV offered today, the Wrangler’s everyday trade-offs aren’t as severe as you’d think.

Revised suspension tuning makes both the Sahara and Rubicon trim levels more comfortable than their predecessors. New electrohydraulic steering brings more precision, but the Wrangler never pretends to be a sports car. Instead, the Jeep provides a deliberate pace, encouraging you to appreciate your surroundings.

“The Wrangler doesn’t wallow or flop around,” features editor Scott Evans said. “It moves with a purpose. The ride quality is so, so much better than it was before.”

Stronger performance off-road is part of the package, and a stretched wheelbase provides more room in the rear seats. For those more interested in image-building than trail-running, Jeep offers nearly endless customization possibilities and ways to enjoy the sunshine.

Efficiency

The 2.0-liter eTorque engine is a huge upgrade, but even the 3.6-liter V-6 sees fuel economy improvements, and both engines feature stop/start tech. No matter the powertrain, Wranglers benefit from lighter aluminum used for the doors, hood, and windshield frame. With the V-6, fuel economy improves by 1-2 mpg in the city and 2-3 mpg on the highway.

Go for the eTorque engine, and mileage jumps to 22-23/24-25 mpg. Put another way, the Wrangler’s 2.0-liter engine’s efficiency means more miles of Jeeping before you have to stop to refuel. Jeep is also planning a 3.0-liter turbodiesel V-6, and about the time a Wrangler-based pickup truck arrives, a plug-in hybrid should, too.

Safety

The best way to stay safe is to avoid accidents altogether, and the Wrangler’s superior maneuverability compared to its predecessors provides a good foundation. The Jeep’s frame is strengthened with high-strength steel, and every new Wrangler comes with seat-mounted front side airbags. Blind-spot monitoring, rear cross-traffic alert, and LED headlights are available, and the Wrangler can apply maximum braking force in a panic-braking situation even if the driver hasn’t pushed the pedal all the way down.

For optimal on-road safety, the 2019 model offers forward collision warning—it’s a feature you’ll value once it saves you from damaging the Jeep’s iconic face. The Jeep’s active safety also impresses off-road; its ABS system has a rough-road detection feature, which adapts its settings to improve performance over off-pavement surfaces.

The body-on-frame Wrangler, which hasn’t yet been crash-tested, won’t handle a panic maneuver as well as a unibody crossover, obviously. Even so, the Jeep’s all-around visibility rises above that of most new CUVs, and the Wrangler is a sure bet if you’re seeking a vehicle that will feel secure off-road.

Value

Not everyone will fully appreciate the Jeep’s appeal. But what price do you place on the smile a car puts on your face? The Wrangler is as far from a four-wheeled appliance as you can get. And when the going gets rocky, sandy, or snowy, the Wrangler outperforms vehicles costing more than twice as much.

A two-door canvas-soft-topped Wrangler with 285 hp and four-wheel drive starts around $30,000, though a well-equipped four-door Unlimited with the excellent 2.0-liter engine and an automatic transmission can clear $50,000. That’s a ton of cash, but some buyers feel Jeep’s seven-bar grille carries just as much cachet as certain luxury automaker logos. Compared to the Wrangler, no Fordyce Creek forder combines such capability, efficiency, infotainment tech, and overall appeal in quite the same way.

For the Gold

The Wrangler isn’t for everyone. Guest judge, veteran automotive R&D executive, and 2013 Wrangler owner Gordon Dickie noted that second-row ingress and egress remains cramped, tire and wind noise is quieter but still intrusive, the manual transmission’s clutch will ruin your Achilles tendon in rush-hour traffic, and the Rubicon’s around-town ride—though improved—is still flinty compared to car-based crossovers. Such are the trade-offs Jeep lovers willingly endure.

2018 Jeep Wrangler Sahara 4x4 Rubicon 4x4 1
2018 Jeep Wrangler Sahara 4x4 front side
2018 Jeep Wrangler Sahara 4x4 Rubicon 4x4 5
2018 Jeep Wrangler Rubicon 4x4 front three quarter in motion 6

But when you’ve gotta have an off-roader—or want to look like you spend weekends stomping terra firma—the Jeep is impossible to beat. Tracing its lineage to the original Willys MB, the Wrangler navigates nostalgia without getting stuck in it. The Jeep Wrangler is remarkably well-rounded for its core purpose, and it’s a most deserving SUV of the Year.

Read more at: https://www.motortrend.com/news/jeep-wrangler-2019-suv-of-the-year/

Advertisements

2014 Ram 1500 EcoDiesel Exceeds Expectations

Earlier this month, MotorTrend released its annual Truck of the Year Award and, to its own shock, gave the award to the 2014 Ram 1500, which also won Truck of the Year in 2013. Why did this announcement come as a surprise to the people at MotorTrend? Well, perhaps because the publication has not given the Truck of the Year Award to the same vehicle in back to back years since the award started in 1979.

Knowing this information, one should not be surprised that the 2014 Ram 1500 EcoDiesel received 8,000 orders between February 7 and February 10. That is, unless you are the manufacturers of said vehicle.

The 8,000 orders placed for the 2014 Ram 1500 EcoDiesel has already fulfilled the allotment Chrysler established for the truck in the first quarter of 2014. The 8,000 orders for the EcoDiesel also represent more than 50 percent of the total orders for the 2014 Ram 1500, more than doubling the estimates by Chrysler. Ram Truck Brand President and CEO Reid Bigland had previously estimated that the EcoDiesel would account for approximately 30 percent of the total sales of the 2014 Ram 1500.

The surge in sales is most likely a direct result of the most recent Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) fuel mileage test results for the truck which showed that the 2014 Ram 1500 gets 28 mpg on the highway, better than any other full-sized, half-ton pickup on the road – and even better than the top-rated small pickup.

“The Ram 1500 is the only half-ton truck available with a diesel, so we see this as incremental business by having the only truck that can offer best-in-class fuel economy of 28 MPG combined with 9,200 lbs. of towing capacity. It’s every truck manufacturer’s dream to have this kind of initial order demand for a product. Fuel economy is the No. 1 request of half-ton buyers and the Ram 1500 EcoDiesel delivers without compromising capability,” stated Bigland.

Fortunately, consumer orders will receive priority over dealership orders. While Chrysler pegged the initial allotment at 8,000 orders, signs indicate that this number could increase if customer, not dealer, demand increases.

If interested, one can place an order for a 2014 Ram 1500 at any local Chrysler or Dodge dealer for the price of $24,200. However, if one wants the EcoDiesel engine, it will add another $2,850 to the total price.

As read on: http://www.webpronews.com/2014-ram-1500-ecodiesel-exceeds-expectations-2014-02

2014 Ram 1500 is Motor Trend’s 2014 Truck of the Year for the Second Consecutive Year!!

2014 truck of the year2 copy

One of the questions we ponder at any Motor Trend “of the Year” event is whether a vehicle is a game-changer. While that term—that little bit of corporate execu-babble—is overused and slightly sickening, it really is significant. For years, truck manufacturers did what was safe and didn’t upset the status quo. But two years ago Ford rocked the boat with the twin-turbo V-6 EcoBoost. Last year, Ram rocked it again with air suspension and an eight-speed automatic. We were hoping GM would continue the trend and blow us away with something even bigger. We simply weren’t expecting Ram to do just that.

The first hurdle the Ram 1500 had to clear was convincing our judges that it deserved consideration. Truck of the Year is only open to all-new or significantly updated trucks and vans. Is a new diesel engine enough warrant inclusion? Yes, because this isn’t just a new engine — this is, strictly speaking, a different technology for the segment.

It’s been more than 15 years since a manufacturer has offered a 1/2-ton truck with a diesel, and the last time anyone did, it became part of the reason why diesels all but disappeared from mainstream America. It cemented consumers’ belief that diesel is for smoke-spewing, slow-moving trucks that sound like a coffee can full of bolts driving down the road. If you haven’t driven a modern diesel, you might still think that way.

First, a little education on the superiority of diesel: Gallon for gallon, diesel fuel contains roughly 15 percent more energy by volume than gasoline. That means if everything else were equal and you had enough gas to get you 500 miles, the exact same amount of diesel would get you 575 miles. But wait, there’s more, as all things aren’t equal. Diesel fuel is more stable than gasoline, meaning diesel engines are capable of running higher compression ratios and more boost from forced induction, both of which add up to greater power generation from smaller displacement, which again means more efficiency. Diesel’s slower burn rate also means it’s ideal for lower rpm operation. Driving around with an engine screaming away at 5000 rpm might be fun for a little while, but climbing a mountain listening to that constant drone is no way to spend a road trip. It also happens to be terrible for fuel economy.

Ram’s new EcoDiesel is shared with the Jeep Grand Cherokee and built in Italy by Fiat subsidiary VM Motori. The 3.0-liter DOHC turbodiesel V-6 produces 240 hp and 420 lb-ft of torque. The 60-degree V-block is constructed from compacted graphite iron. Traditional gray iron uses graphite in flake form, while the CGI forces graphite into more random intertwined shapes. The result is a structure with a better strength-to-weight ratio than aluminum. The bottom of the block is reinforced with a CGI bedplate and topped off with aluminum heads. Inside, cast aluminum pistons are bolted to cast iron connecting rods that spin a forged steel crankshaft. Four main bearings with four bolt caps are incorporated into the bedplate.

Fiat’s MultiJet II direct injection system feeds the engine. The solenoid injectors operate at 2000 bar — that’s 29,000 psi if you’re counting. The system is capable of eight injections per cycle that can be used for priming, main injection, combustion shaping, and post injection. Air induction is force fed with a single variable geometry Garrett 2056 turbo that has movable vanes to direct exhaust gases into the turbine wheel. Closing the vanes at low engine rpm increases the velocity of the gas hitting the turbine, so it spools up faster, creating more boost with less lag. Once the intake air is compressed, it passes through a front-mounted air-to-air intercooler before entering the combustion chamber. Better yet, this works as good in the real world as on paper.

As some of our readers know, we’ve started an initiative to become the industry standard in fuel economy rating. We are doing extensive real-world testing we’re calling IntelliChoice Real MPG. The Ram EcoDiesel, which had not received an official EPA rating at the time of this writing, returned impressive numbers: from 19/26/21 mpg city/highway/combined for a Laramie Longhorn 4×4 with a 3.92 rear axle to 18/28/22 for a Lone Star 4×2 with a 3.55. Signficant stats for a 1/2-ton truck. To put that into perspective, the GMC Sierra Denali with the 6.2-liter gasoline-powered V-8 managed 15/20/17. What about GM’s smaller 5.3-liter V-8? I will do one better: How about the 4.3 Ecotec V-6? It scored 15/21/17.

During testing, our judges were surprised by the qualitative and quantitative results when comparing the diesel V-6 with a typical gasoline-powered V-6 or V-8. Our testing represents the type of hard driving to which the toughest of owners will subject their trucks. We tow, we accelerate from a stop, we accelerate at highway speeds, we throw in some climbs for good measure, and we simulate a truck’s best/worst days. When all was said and done, the EcoDiesel returned an observed 15 mpg at the test track, while the GM V-8s and the lone Toyota 1/2-ton V-8 were all in the single digits. The Sierra V-6 managed only 10 mpg. The Real MPG testing confirmed our findings, with the Ram towering over its 1/2-ton competition by at least 8 mpg city, 7 hwy. If you still doubt the advantages of the diesel engine, this might be more a spiritual than intellectual quandary.

Our judges rated the EcoDiesel the highest in ease of towing as well. Harwood wrote, “Doesn’t feel like it’s struggling at all. Once it gets up to speed, it chugs along, smooth, fairly quiet, and with little effort. Operates at low rpm, and it’s easy to forget you’re towing.” Kiino followed up: “Awesome torque down low. Superb eight-speed automatic — it just surfs the torque wave.” That’s the brilliance of this truck: It never feels like it’s trying. The gas-powered trucks spend more time hunting for gears and revving at engine speeds the diesel will never see. Both the shifting and NVH from high-rpm operation add to driver fatigue during long trips — especially when towing or hauling. The engine noise and vibration in the EcoDiesel are isolated, reduced to a mechanical hum at cruising. This, combined with the other amenities, means the miles just melt by.

As we established last year, the rest of the Ram 1500 is class-leading in just about every other respect. Ram Boxes are still the best thing since pre-sliced bacon. The interiors are thoughtfully laid out and the controls are designed to be intuitive and easy to operate even while wearing gloves. Last year, we wondered about the advantages of the control dial for gear selection. While I’m still not entirely convinced it functions any better than other shifters, you can’t argue with the packaging advantages of getting it off the center console and tucked up on the dash. We still dislike the tiny manual shifter buttons on the steering wheel, however.

Our silver tester was totally decked out in Laramie Longhorn trim, which we quickly dubbed the “Are you joking?” package. The seats are embossed with Western-themed stitching that looks like it came off a pair of cowboy boots. The design carries over onto metal trim, gauges, and exterior badges. We would recommend staying south of the Longhorn on the option sheet, unless you live in Texas or actually own a horse. The standard Laramie (pictured in red) has uprated leather and wood that should make Chrysler 300 owners jealous. We also like the base EcoDiesel trim level (regular-cab Tradesman 4×2), which offers cloth seats, a base MSRP of $30,465, and max towing of 9200 pounds with a 3.92 rear axle. Other vehicles in the segment offer max towing above 10,000 pounds, but really, if you’re dragging more than four tons on a regular basis, you should probably step up to a heavy-duty.

We’ve been awarding Truck of the Year since 1979 and have never given the award to the same truck two years in a row. The Ram 1500 makes history as the first back-to-back Truck of the Year winner because it offers all the things truck buyers want in a rig: choice, value, great design, and more than enough power and torque. And with the EcoDiesel, you can add efficiency and guts to that list. Ram has made a game-changing decision by bringing diesel to the full-size market. It’s a bold move truck lovers have been begging for, which is why the Ram 1500 is our 2014 Truck of the Year.

Read more: http://www.motortrend.com/oftheyear/truck/1402_2014_ram_1500_is_motor_trend_2014_truck_of_the_year/viewall.html#ixzz2mWYqsvhi