2021 Toyota Highlander Review | Better and now sportier

While the latest RAV4 underwent a revolutionary redesign to reset its look, character and capability, a far more evolutionary approach was taken with its big brother Highlander’s own redo last year. The 2021 Toyota Highlander represents the second year of the current generation, which dawned wearing softer and more organic styling, a more welcoming cabin and an improved driving experience. Yet, the overall concept remained the same. It is a three-row family crossover, and although it grew just a smidgen to accept a bit more luggage, it remains one of the smallest choices in the segment. The third row is best used in a pinch. Apparently, Highlander customers didn’t have a problem with that, which says a lot, since there are a lot of them and they tend to be repeat shoppers of a nameplate that’s been around for 21 years.

Now, if you don’t foresee larger teens or adults needing that third row, then the Highlander’s more manageable size, ultra-efficient Highlander Hybrid model, impressive cabin quality, and time-tested dependability and resale value add up to a large family vehicle that’ll work for many. However, it has many impressive competitors, many of which cost the same or less despite offering more spacious and comfortable third-row seating. Among those are the excellent new Kia Telluride and Hyundai Palisade cousins, as well as the no-nonsense Honda Pilot and Subaru Ascent family haulers. The new Highlander makes a much more compelling case for itself against them, but we’d also highly recommend considering them all especially after determining how much room you really need.

What’s new for 2021?

The Highlander was completely redesigned last year, but 2021 sees the addition of the XSE trim level that combines the existing XLE’s upgraded appointments with unique chassis upgrades to achieve a more engaging driving experience. Those include a stiffer, sport-tuned suspension, a stiffer rear anti-roll bar and reworked steering that should be more responsive. There’s also unique styling, including a reshaped grille that juts forward above an enlarged lower air dam that looks an awful lot like the one on the Sienna SE. There’s also a widened rear bumper, blacked out exterior trim, carbon-fiber-look interior trim and an exclusive upholstery consisting of black SofTex vinyl with cloth inserts that can be supplanted by optional red leather.

What’s the Highlander’s interior and in-car technology like?

Admittedly, the video above is indicative of the higher XLE, Limited and Platinum trims – the lower L and LE are rather dour and monochromatic affairs. Yet, even those have above-average interior quality, and since those pricey trims tend to be popular, it’s worth extolling their virtues a bit. The earthy two-tone color schemes are distinctive, warm and generally inviting. The silver trim that wraps around the control binnacle like a fork is textured to make it look richer and more like actual metal. The wood trim on the dash and center console, be it real or not, is subtle and tasteful. The padded SofTex vinyl that covers much of the dash, doors and center console is pleasant to touch, while the real leather on the seats is buttery soft. All the switchgear is pleasant to touch and operate.

Standard on most trim levels is an 8-inch touchscreen interface, which is mounted high within easy reach and sight. We like that it’s one of the easier systems to use, especially its audio controls, but those seeking a quicker, more modern interface may find it behind the times. Kia, Hyundai and Subaru’s systems in particular are superior.

Yet, as the below video demonstrates, the Limited and Platinum can be outfitted with a 10.25-inch unit that is largely similar in terms of its basic look and operation, but gains functionality by adopting a widescreen orientation. The infotainment features it controls are identical to those that come standard on the Limited, including an 11-speaker JBL audio system and integrated navigation (yes, that can still be handy), plus those features standard on every Highlander: Android Auto, Apple CarPlay, Amazon Alexa connectivity, satellite radio, in-car WiFi and Safety Connect emergency services. There are also five standard USB ports (one media, four charging) and the Driver Easy Speak system that broadcasts the driver’s voice through the rear speakers.

How big is it?

The Highlander is smaller than most of its competitors on the outside, which makes it slightly more manageable to maneuver and park. Perhaps there’s a greater chance of it fitting inside your garage. We’re only talking a few inches, though, as the Highlander is still an awfully big vehicle.

Not surprisingly, the Highlander’s small exterior size translates into a smaller interior relative the segment. There’s just a bit less headroom, which taller teens or adults may notice in the second row when equipped with the panoramic sunroof, and the third-row is noticeably much smaller than those of competitors. Even the Honda Pilot, which has comparable exterior dimensions, can fit average-sized adults in its third row. So too can the larger Telluride, Palisade and Ascent among others. The Highlander’s rearmost row is really a kid-only zone, and even then, they will be less comfortable and possibly a bit claustrophobic back there.

At least the second row offers plenty of space (a bench is standard but you can opt for captain’s chairs) and the sliding seats are mounted at a height that allows adults and teens to be comfortable for hours on end. Comfort is excellent up front, too, as the driver seat offers abundant adjustability and easy reaches to the steering wheel and infotainment controls.

Cargo space was expanded with the new model, which can be seen in 2.2 extra cubic feet behind the raised third row. Still, in comparison to the Hyundai Palisade and several other competitors, there’s still less space when all the seats are raised. Our can see our in-depth 2020 Toyota Highlander Luggage Test to see just how much luggage you can fit behind the third row. There’s less when they’re lowered too, but that isn’t as much of an issue since you’re basically dealing with varying degrees of enormous.

What’s the performance and fuel economy?

The 2021 Highlander comes standard with a 3.5-liter V6 that produces 295 horsepower and 263 pound-feet of torque. That’s one of the greatest outputs in the segment, and considering the Highlander weighs less than many competitors, expect strong acceleration. An eight-speed automatic and front-wheel drive are standard. There are two all-wheel-drive systems available: a basic one that sends power to the rear wheels when extra traction is needed, and a more advanced system for the Limited and Platinum that can also differ the amount of power between the left and right rear wheels to further enhance traction (AKA torque vectoring). Fuel economy differs by trim level and drivetrain, but they’re all between 20-21 mpg city, 27-29 mpg highway and 23-24 mpg combined. Fuel economy for the new XSE was not available at the time of this writing.

The 2021 Toyota Highlander Hybrid uses a 2.5-liter four-cylinder paired with electric motors that produce a net output of 243 hp. Front-wheel drive is standard, but another electric motor can be added to the rear axle to provide optional all-wheel drive. No three-row crossover comes close to its fuel economy: 35 mpg combined with AWD or 36 mpg with FWD. Those numbers equate to saving $550 per year according to the EPA when comparing the V6 Highlander AWD with the Hybrid AWD.

What’s the Highlander like to drive?

This is by far the best Highlander to drive yet, and is also one of the most composed vehicles in the segment. It doesn’t feel that big behind the wheel, and the chassis and steering work nicely in concert with each other to create a driving experience that feels consistent regardless of whether you’re driving the kids to school, on a long highway trip or find yourself on a winding mountain road. It’s not an athlete like a Mazda CX-9, and we doubt the new Highlander XSE will turn up the dial that much either, but in comparison to other family haulers, the Highlander nicely balances ride comfort and reassuring handling. There’s a Sport mode you can select, but the changes to the steering, throttle and transmission are difficult to detect.

The base V6 is strong, smooth and has a nice snarl when pushed. We’re also happy that Toyota got rid of the old Highlander’s hopelessly mushy and unresponsive throttle pedal. This one works as it should, as does the notably firm, reassuring brake pedal. That said, we like the Highlander Hybrid better. It feels quicker off the line and is smoother at around-town speeds, even if getting up to highway speed is noisier and takes longer. You get the same above-average ride and handling and, of course, unbeatable fuel economy for a modest price premium that could easily be paid off within three years of gas savings.

What more can I read about the Toyota Highlander?

Toyota hybrid crossover comparison | How the Venza, RAV4 Hybrid and Highlander compare on paper

Comparing the specs of Toyota’s three electrified crossovers.

image

2020 Toyota Highlander Platinum Interior Driveway Test

In this review and video, we discuss in detail the Highlander’s attractive and well-made interior. 

2020 Toyota Highlander Luggage Test

The Highlander gained more space behind its third row for the latest generation, but remains one of the smallest in the segment. We put that space to the test. 

2020 Toyota Highlander Platinum 10.25-inch touchscreen Driveway Test

We review the excellent new widescreen infotainment system in this article and video. 

2020 Toyota Highlander and Highlander Hybrid First Drive

Our first driving impressions of both the V6 Highlander and the Highlander Hybrid, including more information about what’s new, its engineering and design. 

2021 Toyota Highlander XSE revealed at Chicago Auto Show

We detail the newest member of the Highlander family, introduced for 2021. 

What features are available and what’s the Highlander’s price?

Pricing has not been announced for 2021, but we anticipate that it’ll be virtually the same as the below 2020 prices, with perhaps a few hundred bucks added. Eight-passenger seating with 60/40-split second- and third-row seats are standard. Middle-row captain’s chairs are optional on certain trim levels.

Even the base Highlander L comes standard with alloy wheels, a full complement of safety tech (see Safety section), adaptive cruise control, LED headlights, rear privacy glass, proximity entry and push-button start, three-zone climate control, an eight-way power driver seat, cloth upholstery, five USB ports (three front, two middle), Apple CarPlay, Android Auto, an 8-inch touchscreen and a six-speaker sound system. The LE has a few key upgrades including a power liftgate, leather-wrapped steering wheel and blind-spot monitoring, but choosing it isn’t a must.

You can find a full breakdown of features, specs and local pricing for the Toyota Highlander here and for the Highlander Hybrid here.

L: $35,720
LE: $37,920
XLE: $40,720
Limited: $44,770
Platinum: $47,970

Add $1,400 for the hybrid and/or $1,600 for all-wheel drive.

What are the Highlander’s safety equipment and crash ratings?

Every 2021 Toyota Highlander includes standard forward collision warning with pedestrian and cyclist detection, automatic emergency braking, lane-keeping assist, automatic high beams and adaptive cruise control with steering assistance. All but the base L trim includes blind-spot and rear cross-traffic warning. The Limited and Platinum get reverse automatic emergency braking.

The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety named the Highlander a Top Safety Pick for its best-possible crash protection and crash prevention scores. Its headlight ratings varied depending on trim level and its LATCH anchors received a rating of “Good” for ease of use.

Related Video:

Source: AutoBlog.com

Junkyard Gem: 1987 Toyota Land Cruiser

When Toyota began selling the FJ60 wagon version of the Land Cruiser here in 1980, Colorado drivers rejoiced. Finally, a Land Cruiser built to mid-apocalyptic Warlord Grade™ standards of sturdiness but with luxurious-by-early-1980s-truck-standards pre-apocalyptic appointments inside! I still see these trucks all over Denver streets, but they don’t often appear at the local self-service car graveyards. Still, even FJ60s can decay to a point at which they are no longer worth keeping alive, and that’s what happened to this ’87 in a Denver yard.

This odometer reading seems low by Toyota truck standards, especially when I see discarded All-Trac Previas with more than 300,000 miles on the clock, or even 4WD Tercels with better than 400k miles.

With the early-2000s Colorado state-park passes on the windshield, we see evidence that this truck may have been parked nearly 20 years ago and rotted in a driveway or back yard since that time.

The early Land Cruisers got pushrod straight-six engines that were license-built copies of the 1930s Chevrolet Stovebolt. Toyota refined and improved this design all the way into the early 1990s, which means that the FJ60 and the 1953 Corvette share common engine ancestry. This is the 2F, rated at 135 horsepower in 1987.

Is that a carburetor on a 1987 Toyota? Believe it or not, base-model US-market Toyota Trucks (known as Hiluxes elsewhere) had carbs through 1988, as did the Tercel. A handful of manufacturers kept carburetors alive here into the early 1990s, but electronic fuel injection was taking over the automotive world long before. We can assume that the warlords who bought Land Cruisers in 1987 preferred fuel-delivery technology that could be fixed with simple tools between bouts of low-intensity desert combat.

Those of you with 1980s Cressidas might recognize these dash switches as the good stuff Toyota saved for high-end machinery. That round blue A/C button also went into the final Coronas sold here (and therefore into my Turbo II Junkyard Boogaloo Boombox, where it serves as the main power switch).

Most of these trucks came with manual transmissions, even in the United States, though you could get a four-speed Aisin automatic late in the FJ60’s production run.

This one seemed a bit nice to be here, what with the crazy high prices for FJ60s lately, but the rust may have been sufficiently severe to deter would-be rescuers from bidding on this truck at the pre-junkyard auction.

The interior looks to have been in good condition before the junkyard shoppers starting plucking out parts.

Did I buy this emblem for my collection of garage art? Of course I did!

Down Under, Land Cruiser shoppers preferred the turbocharged diesel FJ60.

Australia got all the best Land Cruiser ads.

Source: AutoBlog.com

Ford Bronco’s legacy inspires a new generation of diverse designers

The 1966 Ford Bronco inspired many things — including competitors such as a the original Chevrolet Blazer — but it has also inspired its fair share of people. Among them is Christopher Young, a Ford designer who contributed to the upcoming Bronco Sport. The Detroit Free Press explains how Young, the Black son of two government employees and an avid Matchbox car enthusiast, would grow to follow in the footsteps of McKinley Thompson, Jr. — the “Jackie Robinson of car design,” as the Freep refers to him — who penned the design sketch for what would become the original Bronco. 

Thompson was hired as Ford’s first Black designer in 1956, after earning his degree in transportation design at the ArtCenter College of Design in Pasadena, Calif. While Thompson was not the designer of record for Ford’s game-changing 4×4, he penned early sketches that are now instantly recognizable as inspiration for the final product. He also contributed to the design of the Ford Mustang and GT40 race car. 

Young, like Thompson before him, was lucky enough to be selected to contribute to the design of an iconic nameplate. “People are looking for something to differentiate themselves,” said Young. “The Bronco has a rich history and it’s instantly recognizable.”

McKinley’s role in the original Bronco’s design was relatively unknown until Ford archivists began to dig for materials as part of the nameplate’s revival. The discovery of those early Bronco sketches led Ted Ryan, Ford’s chief archivist and heritage brand manager, to make the connection. 

“These are glimpses of the past people don’t know,” Young said. “This is important, so people know everybody contributes. With all this going on with the Black Lives Matter efforts, it doesn’t mean just not being assaulted when you go out the door but also getting credit for things you’ve done.”

“McKinley was a man who followed his dreams and wound up making history,” Young previously said of Thompson. “He not only broke through the color barrier in the world of automotive design, he helped create some of the most iconic consumer products ever – from the Ford Mustang, Thunderbird and Bronco – designs that are not only timeless but have been studied by generations of designers.”

Young has degrees in both fine arts and industrial design, and is a graduate of the College for Creative Studies in Detroit and the University of Bridgeport in Connecticut. He specializes in UX — User Experience — and you’ll have him to thank at least in part for the human-machine interface in vehicles such as the Ford Mustang, Lincoln Continental, Lincoln MKZ and, now, the Ford Bronco Sport.

The profile covers both Young’s road to the Ford design team and Thompson’s career. We encourage you to check it out.

Related Video:

Source: AutoBlog.com

Junkyard Gem: 1970 Audi 100LS

While Americans could buy new cars made by Audi ancestors DKW and NSU during the 1950s and 1960s (few did so), the Audi story as we know it here really began in 1969, when the 1970 100LS went on sale in the United States. The 100LS remained on sale through 1976 and gained a small-but-devoted American following, and I try my best to find discarded examples during my junkyard travels. This has been a difficult task, with just a lone ’76 sedan appearing before my camera during the past decade or so. Last week, though, I found this extremely rare first-model-year 100LS in a yard northeast of Denver.

Note that the company name was “Audi NSU Auto Union” at the time of this car’s manufacture; that’s what Volkswagen’s bosses named it after the 1969 acquisition of NSU, and the name stuck until the company became just Audi AG in the 1980s. Date of manufacture was April of 1970, around the time when the Baader-Meinhoff Group was stirring up trouble in West Germany.

Bob Hagestad ran a Porsche/Audi dealership on Colfax Avenue in Denver, became well-known as a Colorado 924 racer, and went on to sell Volkswagens in Texas. 

This car appears to have been well-cared-for during its first couple of decades, at which point it ended up spending many years sitting outdoors in the harsh High Plains climate. Much of the paint has been burned off its upper surfaces and there’s rust-through from many years of winter snow buildup.

The once-luxurious interior has been irradiated into a dust-billowing crispiness.

As so often happens with cars stored outdoors for long periods here, rodents made their nests in the passenger and engine compartments. You need to be careful with mouse-poop-filled cars like this in Colorado boneyards, because hantavirus is a genuinely lethal danger here. I’ve seen worse rodent-poop cars than this, though — much worse.

The 1.8-liter engine all the way at the front of the engine compartment made 115 horsepower when new, which was pretty good power for 1970.

The four-on-the-floor manual was still state-of-the-art in 1970, with most Detroit three-pedal cars still running three-on-the-trees. The final new four-speed manual car available in the United States hit the showrooms when this Audi was a quarter-century old, so this type of transmission remained relevant for quite a while. The 100LS got an optional automatic transmission starting in 1971, and it cost $200 extra (about $1,310 in 2021 dollars).

The shift diagram built into a standard VDO gauge housing is a nice touch.

These VDO/Kienzle clocks went into millions of European cars over the decades.

This Emden AM/FM radio was an $85 option. That’s about $555 in present-day bucks, but absolutely necessary if you wanted to listen to the hits of 1970 with the required fidelity.

So how much was the entire car? MSRP on the two-door 100LS sedan came to $3,695, or about $25,450 in 2021 dollars. Meanwhile, the bigger and flashier 1970 Buick Gran Sport hardtop coupe cost just $3,283, and that included a 455-cubic-inch (7.5-liter) V8 rated at 350 horsepower. An American car shopper had to be something of a devoted Europhile to choose a new Audi in 1970 (in that case, though, the $2,982 BMW 2002 would have been tough to resist).

I hope some Colorado 100LS restorers extract some usable parts off this car before it faces the cold steel jaws of the crusher!

Like having a Rolls-Royce Silver Shadow, Mercedes-Benz 280SE, and a Cadillac Eldorado all at the same time!

Source: AutoBlog.com

2021 Subaru Ascent Review | One for the faithful

The 2021 Subaru Ascent doesn’t really stand above and beyond the crowded field of three-row family crossovers. There are those that make a bolder statement outside, that are more luxurious inside and that are better to drive. Some are even more spacious or versatile. Frankly, it’s hard not to point you towards a Kia Telluride, Hyundai Palisade or Toyota Highlander instead.

However, the Ascent really isn’t for the general three-row crossover-buying population. It’s for Subaru’s fiercely loyal customers, and specifically the great many who outgrow their Foresters and Outbacks. Previously, if they needed more space and/or seats, they were forced to abandon the brand that A) they were used to, and B) catered to their specific requirements that often involve outdoorsy adventures. With the Ascent, they get that extra space but it comes with the same 8.7 inches of ground clearance and beefy roof rails, an awfully familiar driving experience, and the cabin puts the same emphasis on no-nonsense, user-friendly controls. The Ascent even looks like an Outback, albeit a gigantic one. So although the Ascent isn’t for everyone, it should be just right for those already onboard the good ship Subaru.

What’s new for 2021?

There are more standard features this year, all of which enhance safety. The standard headlights on every trim level are now steering-responsive LED units, while the standard EyeSight suite of driver assistance tech gains lane-keeping assistance and lane-centering for the adaptive cruise control system. There are also now seatbelt reminders for second- and third-row occupants. Buckle up kids!

What’s the Ascent interior and in-car technology like?

From the driver’s seat, the Ascent’s packaging displays Subaru’s pragmatic philosophy to car design. All the gauges are easy to see and read at a glance, knobs and buttons are easy to locate — both those of the software-based touchscreen infotainment system and the physical ones on the steering wheel and center stack. There aren’t as many clever cubbies as in a Honda Pilot or Toyota Highlander, but there are a grand total of 19 cupholders spread throughout the cabin. Anticipate frequent bathrooms stops.

The base infotainment system is a 6.5-inch touchscreen, but moving up to the Premium trim bumps that up to an 8.0-inch unit. The image quality is crisp, the colors bright, and simple tasks like selecting a radio preset are made easy with big virtual buttons. Accomplishing more in-depth tasks is more cumbersome, however, as settings can be in odd places within various menus (or controlled by the odd dash-top display that’s controlled with steering wheel buttons). In that way, the Ascent’s infotainment offerings aren’t as advanced as what you get in Subaru’s Outback, which features a giant vertically oriented touchscreen that integrates everything into one place.

In general, though, you shouldn’t feel shortchanged that the bigger and pricier Ascent has a “lesser” touchscreen interface than the Outback. In general, what it has is more user friendly and better looking than those of many competitors (Honda and Mazda, for instance) and indeed one of the better tech interfaces in the industry.

How big is the Ascent?

For those already in the Subaru family, the Ascent represents a clear step up from the brand’s other crossovers. It is 5.5 inches longer than an Outback, 3 inches wider and 5.2 inches taller. It’s a whopping 14.7 inches longer than a Forester, 4.5 inches narrower and 3.5 inches shorter. It also has an extra row of seats. Compared to other three-row crossovers, however, its dimensions are average apart from being taller than most. This is partly because of its class-leading 8.7 inches of ground clearance, but also just because of its tall, boxy greenhouse. 

A 6-foot passenger will have plenty of room in the second row, which is adjustable for legroom and seatback angle. On upper trim levels, buyers can choose between a pair of captain’s chairs or a three-passenger bench. We’ve found that they’re basically equal in terms of comfort. Third-row passengers are treated better in the Ascent than in many competitors (Toyota Highlander, Mazda CX-9 and Ford Explorer in particular). If the middle-seat occupants are willing to slide their seats forward a bit, there’s adequate legroom for a 6-footer in the way back to sit comfortably for a fair bit of time. For kids, this means even more comfort and space.

As for cargo, the Ascent offers 17.6 cubic feet of cargo space behind the third row, which is mid-pack for this segment. It’s more than the Mazda CX-9 (14.4 cubic feet), Toyota Highlander (16.0) and Honda Pilot (16.5), but less than the Hyundai Palisade (18.0), Ford Explorer (18.2) and Kia Telluride (21.0). Max cargo volume is among the class leaders at 86.5 cubic feet, which is almost certainly the result of being quite boxy – always a good thing when it comes to cargo. For anything that doesn’t fit inside, the Ascent has big, extra-functional roof rails for whatever racks, carriers and other accessories you might have.

What’s the performance and fuel economy?

The Ascent’s sole powertrain offering is a 2.4-liter turbocharged four-cylinder engine, arranged in Subaru’s signature boxer (horizontally opposed rather than a V or inline) configuration. Power is sent to all four wheels via a continuously variable transmission (CVT). Producing 260 horsepower and 277 pound-feet of torque, we’ve found this engine can feel just as quick in relaxed around-town driving as its competitors, but know that their greater outputs do result in quicker 0-60-mph times and more robust acceleration when fully loaded.

That said, owners living at higher elevations (as many Subaru owners do) will appreciate the lasting power from the turbocharger, which keeps the Ascent from feeling breathless at heights where naturally aspirated engines start to lose power. In other words, four cylinders are not necessarily lesser than six, and it even manages the same 5,000-pound towing capacity of most rivals.

All Ascents use all-wheel drive, so the deciding factor in the difference of fuel economy comes down to wheel size and therefore trim level. With 18-inch wheels, the Ascent gets 21 mpg city, 27 mpg highway and 23 combined mpg. The 20-inch wheels found on the Limited and Touring result in a reduction of 1 mpg across the board. That’s about on par with, and in some instances better than, the competition.

What’s it like to drive?

The buyers of three-row crossovers are less likely to prioritize driving dynamics, but if you should, the Ascent will probably end up toward the bottom of your list. The steering is precise and accurate, but it’s also quite light in effort and doesn’t really engage the driver. The suspension is soft to ensure a comfortable ride over harsh pavement, and although surefooted and secure, those used to a responsive-handling car will be underwhelmed. Those used to a Subaru Outback, however, will feel right at home.  

There are no sport modes to fiddle with in the Ascent, just a standard baseline setting, but the single setup feels well thought out and sorted. There’s plenty of punch from Subie’s turbo-four. There were a few times we caught the engine flat-footed on our drive and had to wait a second for the turbo to spin up, but we ended our drive thinking its output is sufficient. We were able to tow an Airstream trailer just shy of the Ascent’s maximum of 5,000 pounds, and we found that it had no problem getting the load up to speed and back down again. The CVT mimics the feel of a traditional automatic transmission, for the most part. It works well, and doesn’t get in the way of a good driving experience.

What more can I read about the Subaru Ascent?

2019 Subaru Ascent First Drive Review | A three-row do-over

Our first impressions of the Ascent when it was new for 2019. Among more details about its design and engineering, we found it was immediately clear that Subaru had learned from its mistakes with the Tribeca.

 

2019 Subaru Ascent Drivers’ Notes Review | Subaru redux

A roundtable discussion from several Autoblog editors assessing the Ascent’s merits and shortcomings after a week of real-world driving impressions.

 

Subaru Ascent vs. Mazda CX-9: Driving two class leaders side-by-side

We drove these two likable three-row competitors back to back to more specifically compare the driving experience between the two. From our conclusion:

“Count ’em up and you’ll see that the Subaru Ascent won three out of our five categories. By that measure, it’s the winner of this comparison. But, as is so often the case, the reality is more nuanced than that.”

 

2020 Toyota Highlander vs other 3-row crossovers: There can only be one!

Here, we look at the specifications of some of the leading three-row crossovers to compare pricing, dimensions, fuel economy, capabilities and capacities. Note that since then, the Honda Pilot only comes with a nine-speed automatic transmission. 

image

 

What features are available and what’s the price?

Pricing starts at $33,345, including the $1,050 destination charge. For that price, your get the basics plus alloy wheels, raised roof rails, steering-adaptive LED headlights, the EyeSight suite of driver assistance tech (see Safety section below), tri-zone climate controls, four USB ports (two front, two second-row), a 6.5-inch touchscreen, Apple CarPlay, Android Auto and satellite radio.

However, the Ascent Premium at $35,845 is probably the best place to start because of several key upgrades: blind-spot warning, rear privacy glass, an eight-way power driver seat, a leather-wrapped steering wheel, rear climate controls, the 8-inch touchscreen, in-car Wi-Fi and an All-Weather package that adds heated mirrors, heated seats and a windshield wiper de-icer. There are also a number of worthwhile options available on the Premium you can’t add to the base model and that are included on the upper trim levels. Basically, this is your best bet if you want to build an Ascent with the functional equipment you want without the fancier frippery of the Limited and Touring.

Should you be interested in that fancier frippery, however, you can find a full breakdown of each Ascent’s features, specs and local pricing here on Autoblog.

Base: $33,345
Premium: $35,845
Limited: $40,645
Touring: $46,495

What are its safety equipment and crash ratings?

In addition to the usual seatbelts, airbags and traction control, the 2021 Ascent comes standard with Subaru’s extensive suite of “EyeSight” driver assist technology systems. These include forward collision warning, automatic emergency braking, lane-departure warning and lane-keeping assist, along with an adaptive cruise control system that can keep you in the center of your lane in addition to maintaining speed and distance to cars ahead. Blind-spot detection, rear cross-traffic alert, high-beam assist, reverse automatic braking and a 180-degree front-view camera are also available in higher trims.

While these systems certainly to their jobs of keeping you safe, and the sheer number of them is welcome, they also have the tendency to be hyperactive. They’re basically the helicopter parent of driver assistance systems, frequently beeping and flashing in instances that don’t necessarily warrant it. Rival systems are less intrusive.

In government crash testing, the Ascent received top five-star ratings for overall, frontal and side crash protection. The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety named it a Top Safety pick for its best-possible performance in all crash tests, for its “Superior” forward collision mitigation system and for the top “Good” rating of its now-standard steering-adaptive LED headlights.  

Featured Videos about the Subaru Ascent

Source: AutoBlog.com

Opening your car windows could reduce your COVID-19 risk

By now, we all know the basic coronavirus rules. Wear a mask, limit your exposure to other people and when you can’t, keep your distance, and … keep wearing your mask. We also learned at the outset of the pandemic how to properly keep surfaces clean, including in your car. But what we haven’t known is whether we should keep the windows up or down.

A new study from Brown University seeks to answer that question. Using complex computational fluid dynamic simulations, Varghese Mathai, Asimanshu Das, Jeffrey Bailey and Kenneth Breuer studied how the aerosols that we breath (some of which do escape even properly worn masks) move about a car’s cabin and how those flows change with various windows up and down. The results are very interesting, but in short, you’re probably going to want the windows rolled down when possible.

The details of the study are worth noting. The vehicle used in the simulations was loosely based on a Toyota Prius, and likely apply to vehicles of similar shape and size but may not be applicable to larger or smaller cars, trucks or vans. The occupants sat diagonally from one another, which is a common arrangement in taxis and rideshares. The team of researchers found that opening the windows opposite of each occupant can create a flow that drastically reduces the collection of aerosols in a car’s cabin. According to the New York Times, they also found that opening the windows even halfway can be very helpful but that just cracking them a bit doesn’t generate enough airflow.

There’s a lot more information in the study that you can read here. There’s also some additional information from the Times that’s worth checking out.

Source: AutoBlog.com

Hyundai will build fuel cell systems in China

SEOUL — Hyundai Motor Group has signed an investment pact with the government of China’s southern province of Guangdong to build its first overseas fuel cell system production plant in the country, the South Korean firm said on Friday.

Fuel cell vehicles are a niche technology amid concerns about a lack of fuelling stations, resale values and the risk of hydrogen explosions, although hailed by hydrogen backers who say the technology is cleaner than other carbon-cutting methods.

Construction of the Guangzhou city facility with annual capacity of 6,500 fuel cell systems is to begin in March, with completion aimed for the second half of 2022, the automaker group said.

“The Guangzhou plant will leverage the group’s extensive expertise in fuel cell system production to secure a technological leadership position in China’s rapidly developing hydrogen industry,” it said in a statement.

Hyundai Motor Group, which includes Hyundai Motor Co and Kia, did not disclose the investment amount, but added it would work with Chinese firms to participate in Guangdong’s hydrogen-related projects.

In December, Hyundai said it was launching a brand dedicated to its hydrogen fuel cell systems, HTWO, in a bid to boost the business, after delivering its first seven hydrogen-powered trucks to customers in Switzerland in October.

The only byproducts of such systems are water and heat, as hydrogen can be made from numerous sources, including methane, coal, water and even garbage.

Related Video:

Source: AutoBlog.com

WRC team previews resto-modded Porsche 914 with a Cayman-sourced flat-six

Resto-modded Porsche models are a dime a dozen, but most builds are based on the air-cooled 911. Fifteen Eleven Design, the vintage car-focused arm of British World Rally Championship (WRC) team Mellors Elliot Motorsport, hopes to stand out from the crowd by bringing the often-forgotten 914 into the 21st century.

Built from 1969 to 1976, and developed jointly with Volkswagen, the 914 is on the same branch of the Porsche family tree as the modern-day Boxster. It was positioned as the company’s entry-level model. Renderings released by Fifteen Eleven Design reveal that its stylists made several changes to modernize the roadster’s lines, like replacing the pop-up headlights with clusters of individual LEDs integrated into the space reserved for the turn signals, fitting a deeper front bumper, and extending the wheel arches. They also made the removable roof panel transparent, a feature never offered on the original car, and they added a spoiler to the trunk lid.

Vents added to both quarter panels channel cooling air to the engine bay, which is directly behind the passenger compartment, and they’re not there just for show. While most 914s received an air-cooled flat-four, Fifteen Eleven Design shoe-horned a water-cooled 3.4-liter flat-six sourced from the Cayman into the little roadster. It makes 325 horsepower and 273 pound-feet of torque in its standard configuration, though we don’t know if the builder increased those figures. Regardless, it’s powerful enough to justify fitting bigger brakes on both axles.

While suspension upgrades are also found on the list of modifications, all of these changes are theoretical for the time being. Fifteen Eleven Design is in the process of making its dream 914 a reality, but it exists only in computer-generated renderings as of writing. It has nonetheless started taking orders for the model.

Pricing information and availability haven’t been published. Deliveries should begin later in 2021, meaning enthusiasts looking for another option in the resto-mod world won’t need to wait long to see this 914 in the metal.

Bringing a classic car into the 2020s is a trend that’s picking up steam. Well-known Los Angeles-based builder Singer has surfed this wave for years, and it recently transformed a 911 into an all-terrain racer. Across the pond, Swedish racing team Cyan built a Volvo P1800 that’s lighter than a Miata and more powerful than a RS3.

Related Video:

Source: AutoBlog.com

Top Car News Of The Week: Here Are The Main Headlines From The Week Gone By!

Tesla
R&D
Unit
Registered
In
Bengaluru,
India
After
many
speculations
and
rumours,
Tesla
is
finally
set
to
enter
the
Indian
market.
The
company
will
soon
be
starting
operations
of
its
new
R&D
unit,
set
up
in
Bengaluru,
Karnataka.
The
R&D
unit
has
been
registered
under
the
name
‘Tesla
India
Motor
&
Energy
Private
Limited’,
with
its
office
located
at
Lavelle
Road

here
are
the
details.
BMW
2
Series
220i
M
Sport
Launched
In
India
BMW
has
launched
the
new
petrol
variant
of
their
2
Series
sedan,
called
the
220i
M
Sport.
The
new
BMW
2
Series
220i
carries
forward
all
the
same
features,
equipment
and
styling
from
its
diesel-counterpart,
with
only
the
engine
being
the
differentiating
factor.
The
BMW
2
Series
220i
comes
powered
by
a
2.0-litre
TwinPower
Turbo
petrol
engine
producing
190bhp
and
280Nm
of
peak
torque

here
are
the
details.
Tata
Altroz
iTurbo
Unveiled:
Bookings
Open
Tata
Motors
has
finally
unveiled
their
much-awaited
Altroz
iTurbo
model
for
the
Indian
market.
The
new
Tata
Altroz
iTurbo
will
come
powered
by
a
de-tuned
version
of
the
same
1.2-litre
turbocharged
petrol
engine
powering
the
Nexon.
The
engine
on
the
premium
hatchback
produces
108bhp
and
140Nm
of
peak
torque
and
is
mated
to
a
five-speed
manual.
The
company
has
also
started
accepting
bookings
for
the
same

here
are
the
details.
Aston
Martin
DBX
Launched
In
India
Aston
Martin
has
launched
its
first-ever
DBX
in
the
Indian
market
for
a
price
tag
of
Rs
3.82
crore,
ex-showroom
(India).
The
DBX
SUV
features
all
the
signature
elements
of
its
supercars,
while
also
combining
practicality.
The
Aston
Martin
DBX
is
powered
by
a
4.0-litre
V8
producing
542bhp
and
700Nm
of
peak
torque,
mated
to
a
nine-speed
automatic

here
are
the
details.
Tata
Safari
Unveiled:
Production
Begins
At
Pune
Facility
Tata
Motors
announced
the
start
of
production
of
its
upcoming
Safari
hatchback
at
its
Pune
facility.
The
company
rolled
out
the
first
retail-ready
Tata
Safari,
while
also
unveiling
the
exterior
design
and
details
of
the
SUV

check
out
all
the
details
here.
Thoughts
On
The
Top
Car
News
Of
The
Week
Here
was
our
pick
of
all
the
top
headlines
from
the
four-wheeler
industry
from
last
week.
The
auto
industry
is
off
to
a
strong
start
in
2021,
with
January
already
confirmed
to
be
packed
with
surprises.
Source: DriveSpark.com

Tesla asks NHTSA to declare metric speed display issue inconsequential

WASHINGTON — Tesla filed a petition with U.S. auto safety regulators saying that 612,000 vehicles produced since 2012 do not fully comply with federal safety standards because displays can be switched from miles per hour to only metric measurements, documents released on Friday show.

The automaker asked the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) to declare the noncompliance issue inconsequential to safety, according to the agency’s filing.

Tesla said it corrected the issue in production in September and that more than 75% percent of the affected U.S. vehicles have accepted the firmware update released in September.

Tesla said if vehicles are set to only display to kilometers, all functions tied to speed limit like Traffic Aware Cruise Control and Speed Assist will “convert mapped data from mph to km/h, resulting in the vehicle speed automatically matching the appropriate speed limit.”

Tesla added that vehicle operators can change the display back to miles per hour, saying the option is “easily located in the display menu and is not buried in sub-menus.”

Tesla said it has not received any reports of crashes related to this issue and noted that NHTSA granted two petitions for inconsequential treatment involving speedometer unit display noncompliance to Volkswagen AG in July and BMW in 2015.

Related Video:

Source: AutoBlog.com