2020 Jeep Wrangler EcoDiesel First Drive Review | You asked for it …

ZION NATIONAL PARK, Utah – Driving the 2020 Jeep Wrangler EcoDiesel through the sparkle-aired splendor of Zion National Park is bound to produce cognitive dissonance. Volkswagen’s fateful emissions scandal might have made diesel a dirty word – literally and figuratively – but here in pristine, southwestern Utah, Fiat Chrysler executives swear that their diesels are different: Legitimately clean enough to meet U.S. pollution rules, no cheating VW software or corporate conspiracies required.

Having not packed a mobile laboratory to sample and sniff the Jeep’s tailpipe emissions — though academic lab researchers will get to that soon enough — we’ll have to take their word for it. Some reassurance is provided by the 5.1-gallon tank of Diesel Emissions Fluid (or DEF) that’s visible below the Jeep’s rear bumper, surrounded by its own skid plate to ward off blows during off-road maneuvers. That’s enough smog-fighting fluid to last roughly 10,000 miles, prior to a refill via a nozzle adjacent to the diesel fuel filler.

Jeep fans who’ve been clamoring for a diesel option will likely focus on the Wrangler’s larger, 18.3-gallon fuel tank (versus 17.5 gallons in gasoline models), and the advantages contained therein: All-day driving range to go with a solid jump in highway fuel economy, beefy torque and diesel durability.

During a bright-and-early outdoors presentation near Zion — just days from the park’s 100th anniversary — a row of handsome, candy-colored Wranglers await our test. Jeep executives promise the 3.0-liter turbodiesel V6 will return a highway driving range beyond 500 miles, besting the Wrangler Unlimited’s current best of 452 with the turbo inline-four or 430 with the standard V6. Overlanders are bound to appreciate the increase.

EPA fuel economy numbers weren’t yet available (Jeep expects them any day now), but that 500 miles sounds more-than-doable. Once underway, the Wrangler shows 32 to 34 mpg, with as little effort as it takes to match the highway speed limits. That’s a commendable new high in mileage for any Wrangler, with its brick-like aerodynamics and off-road-spec tires. An educated guess suggests the Wrangler EcoDiesel will secure an official rating of 22 mpg city and 29 mpg highway, with the EPA underestimating its real-world mileage, as it does with many newer diesels. Applying that 29 mpg figure, consuming 17.5 gallons of the Wrangler’s available 18.3 would equate to 508 miles of range, which again computes with that potential EPA reading.

Still, even that conservative figure represents a considerable improvement versus the Wrangler Unlimited with the efficient optional 2.0-liter turbo four, which earns an official EPA estimate of 21 mpg city and 22 mpg highway. The standard 3.6-liter gas V6 returns an official estimate of 19 mpg city and 22 highway with the optional eight-speed automatic. The standard six-speed manual is effectively 1 mpg worse. Note that the EcoDiesel is only available with the four-door Wrangler Unlimited.

2020 Jeep Wrangler Rubicon interior

Even if real-world fuel economy does in fact beat the eventual official specs, the performance does not: The on-paper promise of 260 horsepower and, especially, a robust 442 pound-feet of torque from the Italian-built 3.0-liter V6 is belied somewhat by leisurely acceleration and noticeable turbo lag when you squeeze the accelerator. Don’t forget that the EcoDiesel is also the heaviest Wrangler, with as much as 4,862 pounds punishing the scales in Rubicon trim. Depending on trim level, that’s between 330 to 487 pounds more than comparable gasoline models. A pokey 0-60 mph run in the 9-second range seems likely, well off the sub-7-second pace of either the turbo four or gas V6 versions.

 There’s just-right passing power from both 30-50 mph and 50-70 mph, aided by a smooth eight-speed automatic transmission (no manual is available) that keeps the engine in its narrow sweet spot, between roughly 1,200 and 3,000 rpm. But at no point will you or your passengers be saying “Wow!” over the grunt on tap. OK, maybe when you’re storming over a sand dune in a higher gear than you’d ever manage in gasoline models, but that’s about it. Towing capacity is unchanged as well, matching the 3,500-pound trailer rating of four-door gasoline models.

Yet FCA’s Gen3 diesel does itself proud when it comes to smooth operation, including its barely detectable diesel click-clack at idle. The engine, which is already available in the Ram 1500 and will be added as an option to next year’s Gladiator, is lavishly redesigned versus the Gen2 diesel that Jeep briefly offered on the Grand Cherokee. The graphite-iron, 60-degree engine block weighs 15 fewer pounds, and the head, intake ports and lower-friction turbocharger are all new components. A low-pressure Exhaust Gas Recirculation system (or EGR) no longer steals energy from the turbocharger to do its thing, and there’s added vibration damping in the lower oil sump. A new automatic stop/start system reduces fuel consumption and emissions at idle, though its restarts are on the ragged side. Compared to the engine’s use in the Ram, the Jeep version’s alternator moves higher on the engine to allow deep-water fording.

It wouldn’t be a Wrangler drive without some hardcore off-roading, in some cases with tops off (or folded) and doors removed, an inimitable part of the Jeep’s charm. Jeep obliges with a detour to Sand Hollow State Park, and its public-access trails that host everything from pickup trucks to side-by-sides. With the tires aired down to about 20 psi, the torture test begins through deep, red-desert sand. Hired spotters guide us through some wicked, highly technical rock obstacles that challenge every bit of the Jeep’s ground clearance (a maximum 10.8 inches for Rubicon models) and capabilities. Those include a sway-bar disconnect that allows 30% more suspension articulation, and axle lockers front-and-rear that come in handy on half-blind climbs up daunting inclines and over sand-dusted boulders. Following a muscular tug of the secondary shift lever to access low range, the diesel’s crawl ratio of 70:1 is also unmatched among Wrangler models. 

The daylong drive further underlined the all-around greatness of the JL-generation Wrangler that debuted in 2018, including its major advances in handling, a strong and rattle-free chassis, and a smartly designed interior. Switching to the more luxurious Sahara model — in a handsome, slate shade of paint called “Sting-Gray” — we head onto the pavement and set course for Zion’s spectacular Canyon Overlook Trail, which is intended for hikers, not off-roaders. The equally splendid drive route takes me up Zion’s renowned switchbacks and through the 1.1-mile tunnel bored through mountain rock, the epic engineering feats that opened the once-impenetrable canyon to cars and tourism 100 years ago. Even on foot, Native Americans and settlers alike had a hell of a time accessing the canyon in bygone days, for themselves or for livestock. Following a hike, and with the moon rising over Zion’s majestic formations, I rock the Jeep down the switchbacks at speeds that would have befuddled any previous-generation Wrangler or sent it plummeting over those sheer cliffs. Sure, your average crossover SUV rides and handles better, but none of them can touch the Jeep’s 4×4 talents. 

Jeep has seemingly reasonable expectations for EcoDiesel sales, figuring that at least 10 percent of Wrangler buyers will opt for one. The engine is available on every Wrangler trim level — Sport, Sahara and trail-busting Rubicon — but again, only in four-door Unlimited guise. No real loss there, since four-door Unlimiteds are now responsible for between 80% and 90% of Wrangler sales, according to Jeep brand chief Jim Morrison.

2020 Jeep Wrangler Sahara interior

My own hunch is that the EcoDiesel’s biggest obstacle won’t be found off-road, but on the sticker. This fourth-generation Wrangler JL has evolved into a relatively expensive SUV, especially in high-level trims, and the diesel option makes it more so. The Wrangler EcoDiesel starts from $39,290 in base Sport trim, including the $1,495 destination charge. That’s a $4,000 surcharge above a Sport trim with the 3.6-liter V6 and an automatic, and $4,500 more than the same model with the 2.0-liter turbo four. One leather-wrapped Sahara model I drove stickered for $56,750; a loaded EcoDiesel in Rubicon trim brushes $60,000.

Really, unless you’re the buy-and-hold type — willing to see that diesel running strong after 200,000 miles or more — the fuel savings and driving range don’t quite justify the premium on a Wrangler that can already blow a budget if you’re not careful. (A long list of pricey options includes the Sky One-Touch Power Top at $3,995). Don’t forget that diesel fuel currently costs 15 percent more on average than gasoline, at $3 per gallon versus $2.60, blunting much of this Wrangler’s mileage advantage. Of course, prices can be about the same in some places, such as on the West Coast, but the fact remains the chances of saving money is slim given the hefty premium.

Diesel fanatics and overlanders may still crave this Jeep, of course, and the model’s resale value should be strong. But it still seems like a good idea to apply some strong-arming torque to Jeep salespeople to keep the monthly payment in check.  

Source: AutoBlog.com

This transforming drone can take on the sky, the ocean, or the open road

Transcript: A transforming drone. Airblock by Makeblock is a modular drone. Designed to teach kids the fundamentals of programming, design, aerodynamics, and logic and critical thinking. The single core master module comes with 6 magnetically-attachable power modules. It comes as a flying drone out of the box that you control with your smartphone. But you can build several crafts with the components like a car, hovercraft, and much more. Airblock is crash-friendly making it a good starter drone. The programmable drone from Airblock can be purchased right here for $79.99. 

Autoblog is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to amazon.com. These deals are available through our affiliate partnership with Amazon.com. Deals are subject to Amazon’s schedule and availability.

Source: AutoBlog.com

Maserati ends GranTurismo production with one-off Zèda model


MODENA, Italy — Maserati celebrated the end of the GranTurismo’s 12-year production run by building a one-off example called Zèda, which is the name of the letter Z in the Modenese dialect. The Italian firm unveiled the milestone car in the historic Modena, Italy, factory it’s preparing to re-tool for a new addition to its range due out in early 2020.

The Zèda is not the last GranTurismo off the production line; Autoblog visited the Modena factory minutes before the car’s unveiling and spotted the last dozen or so cars behind it, but a company spokesperson explained all of the unfinished models have already been spoken for. The commemorative coupe is the last GranTurismo that hasn’t been sold yet. It stands out from the roughly 40,000 examples made since the model broke cover during the 2007 Geneva Motor Show with an eye-catching paint job that starts with a deep blue applied to the front part of the car and ends with a light satin finish. The rear almost looks like bare metal in person. Edition-specific emblems on the front fenders add a finishing touch to the look. 

There are no changes under the hood. The Zèda is powered by a 4.7-liter V8 engine developed with input from former sister company Ferrari and tuned to deliver 460 horsepower at 7,000 rpm and 383 pound-feet of torque at 4,740 rpm. The eight-cylinder spins the rear wheels via a six-speed automatic transmission that can be left in drive or shifted manually using paddles.

Maserati hasn’t decided what it will do with the GranTurismo Zèda yet. It might keep the car in its private collection, or it could sell it to a collector. Either way, the coupe will remain a one-of-a-kind example, one that marks the start of a new era for the 105-year old Italian automaker. The plant that currently builds the GranTurismo (and the Alfa Romeo 4C, which is also being phased out) will begin manufacturing a sports car that Maserati will unveil during the 2020 Geneva auto show. It’s expected to arrive as a two-seater that will draw inspiration from the Alfieri concept introduced during the 2014 edition of the event. It will be a sharper, more driver-focused model than the GranTurismo, which is a grand tourer by definition. Its rivals will include the Porsche 911 and the Jaguar F-Type.

Maserati also re-affirmed its commitment to releasing a next-generation GranTurismo (which will again spawn a convertible named GranCabrio), and announced production of both models will shift to Turin, Italy. Technical details haven’t been publicly announced yet, but Maserati pointed out the next-gen Gran-badged models will be its first series-produced electric cars. The hardtop will arrive in 2021, so likely in time for the 2022 model year, and the convertible will follow about a year later.

Source: AutoBlog.com

Aston Martin Vantage Volante Spied Looking Dark On A Foggy Day

It’s not a good day to open the roof.

The Aston Martin Vantage Volante is getting ready to open its roof, but the top stays closed in these spy shots that catch the car driving on a foggy day. As the doors and hood proclaim the production version of this roadster arrives in spring 2020.

Gallery: Aston Martin Vantage Volante Spy Photos

There isn’t any camouflage on this Vantage Volante. The styling largely identical to the coupe, except for the fabric roof and revised rear deck. When the top is open, there’s a transparent panel between the seats that acts as a wind deflector when in place. Other than this tiny change, the cabin should be identical to the hardtop model. 

Aston says the Vantage Volante packs the Mercedes-AMG-sourced 4.0-liter twin-turbo V8 making 503 horsepower (375 kilowatts) and 505 pound-feet (685 Newton-meters) of torque that runs through an eight-speed automatic. The roof mechanism and body stiffening will likely add some weight to the coupe’s 3,373-pound (1,530-kilogram) weight. This will likely mean a few ticks more than hardtop’s 3.5 seconds to reach 60 miles per hour (96 kilometers per hour).

It’s not yet clear whether Aston intends to offer an AMR version of the Volante. If it follows the coupe version, the driver-focused model would get a seven-speed manual with a dog-leg first gear. The weight falls by 209 pounds (95 kilograms) on the hardtop thanks in part to carbon-ceramic brakes, and there are adaptive dampers with Sport, Sport +, and Track modes.

Don’t get your hopes up for a V12-powered version of the Vantage Volante. Chief Creative Officer Marek Reichman previously said that he thought the bigger mill would be “too much” for the car.

Look for the Vantage Volante to sell for a premium over the $149,995 coupe. However, the figure should be quite a bit less than the $216,495 DB11 Volante to keep space between them in the lineup.



Source: motor1.com

Why Jamie Chadwick feels F1 is further away the closer she gets


LONDON — W Series champion Jamie Chadwick has taken a step closer to Formula One this year but her dream of one day competing at the pinnacle of motor racing feels further away than ever.

The Briton, who collected $500,000 for winning the inaugural all-female single-seater title, celebrated her 21st birthday in May with a new role as development driver for the Williams F1 team. She is also one of four finalists for the BRDC Young Driver of the Year award, which is co-sponsored by Red Bull’s title partners Aston Martin and whose main prize is a Formula One test.

The experience of being on the inside of the grand prix paddock has made her realize just how much more she has to do, however.

Asked whether she felt closer to becoming the first female Formula One driver since 1976, she replied: “To be completely honest, further away.

“Not in a bad way, in a really refreshing way, I feel I know what I need to now learn in the next few years. I’m not going to rush that. I’m not going to try and cheat it,” Chadwick added.

Those who enquire on social media whether she might replace departing Williams driver Robert Kubica were living in a fantasy world, not only because Chadwick lacks a super license but also because she is nowhere near ready.

Her world is very different to that of Mercedes’ six times world champion Lewis Hamilton, an admired compatriot she has yet to meet.

“I need the time to develop and if I get to Formula One I want to be the best possible driver to make the mark I need to make,” said Chadwick.


While the Williams role has been mostly simulator-based, her work has a direct correlation to what happens at the track.

Williams previously had Susie Wolff, now retired and a team principal in the all-electric Formula E series, in a similar role and gave the Scot track time in some Friday practice sessions.

Chadwick indicated she would be pushing for such an opportunity.

“In terms of getting in the car, that’s an ongoing discussion. We’re sort of pushing as hard as we can but we’ll see,” she said.

“If we can continue the relationship into next year, and if I can continue to do the best possible job in the sim, then that hopefully gives me justifiable reason to potentially test the car at a future date.”

Chadwick will be back to defend her W Series title next year, hoping to then join the men climbing the motorsport ladder.

“At the moment although the first year and the exposure has been absolutely incredible, I haven’t quite managed to secure the (financial) support to go to, say, FIA F3,” she said.

“Hopefully off the back of a strong second year’s campaign… that’s going to give me that opportunity.”

Source: AutoBlog.com

Next-gen Porsche 718 Cayman and Boxster EVs could pack 400 hp

Porsche hasn’t yet determined whether the next-gen 718 Cayman and Boxster will go all-electric. In April this year, Porsche boss Dr. Oliver Blume told Autocar, “We have prototypes of the 718 running in electric now, and a hybrid prototype is being built. If you look to the next generation of those cars it is possible, although it is not clear whether it would be plug-in hybrid or hybrid.”

In September, Porsche board member Lutz Meschke told Auto Express that engineers are testing “battery concepts” and “body styles” ahead of a final decision in 12 months. A new report in Car magazine affirms the decision timeline, but claims to have the gossip on what an electric 718 duo might deliver. The prime stats are two motors providing 400 horsepower in combined output and rear- or all-wheel drive.

Compared to today’s versions, that output would place an electric 718 Cayman above the 365-hp Cayman GTS model powered by a 2.5-liter turbocharged four-cylinder, below the 414-hp Cayman GT4 trim powered by a 4.0-liter atmospheric flat-six.  

While we wait for the decision about going down electric avenue, consensus is that Porsche will launch a hybrid version before 2023, when the electric 718s are meant to be due. Mild hybrid and plug-in hybrid powertrains developed for the flat-six in the new 911 are being evaluated for the boxer-four in the 718 twins. If Porsche does launch intermediate versions of the entry level sports cars with electric assistance, that would hew closely to the Macan crossover’s road map. The next generation of the small SUV will roll out a battery-electric powertrain in 2023, but Porsche will sell ICE-powered Macans for a few years alongside in order to ease the transition.

If and when the electric 718 Cayman and Boxster do show, expect them to share their platforms and drivetrain technology with the successor to the Audi TT and a potential rebirth of the Lamborghini Urraco as an electric GT. It’s expected that Porsche will utilize the benefits of its 15.5-percent stake in Rimac for assistance on both the EV Macan and 718.

Source: AutoBlog.com

Mitsubishi Mirage hatch and sedan refresh teased

Almost every Mitsubishi model sold in the U.S. wears the automaker’s “Dynamic Shield” design. The corporate face combines a two-piece grille emphasizing the horizontal with slim, angled headlights supported by a thick, C-shaped trim piece that defines the fog lights and lower intakes. The only holdouts are the Mirage hatchback and Mirage G4 sedan, but that will soon change. Mitsubishi teased a dim image of two Mirages that had earned their Dynamic Shields, and promised a debut on November 18 in Thailand. The reveal location gives a shout-out to the Laem Chabang plant that, along with another facility in the Philippines, builds the siblings.

It’s easy to forget about Mitsu’s tiny twosome, but it’s hard to deny they’ve served the company well as global offerings. In the U.S., the duo has increased its annual sales every year since the car’s introduction in 2013. Around the world in fiscal 2018 the Japanese automaker sold 140,000 units, and sales through the end of October in the U.S. show the Mirage nearly 10 percent ahead of last year’s sales at the same period.

Assuming the cheap-as-chips price equation doesn’t get a heavy refresh, there’s every reason to think the facelift will aid sales. The hatch and sedan wear two different faces at the moment, both graduates of the most mediocre school of ambiguous econoboxes. The teased image puts a personality on economy, with large, single lenses peeking out from a narrow eyeline above the Dynamic Shield’s sculpted features. It appears designers have done a touch of reshaping in back as well, and there’s a wee spoiler hanging off the back of the decklid.

No word on what might be in store for the two three-cylinder engines sold in international markets, a 1.0-liter that makes 70 horsepower and 65 pound-feet of torque, and the 1.2-liter that’s our only choice here, making 78 hp and 74 lb-ft. The fuel filler cap has moved from the driver’s side to the passenger’s side, though, so there could be action under the skin, and we’d expect a few interior upgrades, too.

Source: AutoBlog.com

Junkyard Gem: 1992 Honda Accord Wagon

While Ford built Taurus station wagons all the way through the 2004 model year, Toyota gave up on the Camry wagon after 1996 while Honda sold the Accord wagon through 1997. We can blame the rise of the minivan and the SUV for the demise of the midsize station wagon, but enough of the long-roofed Accords have stayed on the roads to make them occasional residents of the self-service wrecking yards I frequent in search of interesting discarded vehicles. Here’s a ’92 with nearly 300,000 miles on the clock, spotted in a yard near the Colorado/Wyoming border.

Not quite 300,000 miles, and not as high an odometer reading as I’ve seen on other junkyard Hondas of the era, but still very impressive.

While very few US-market Camry wagons had manual transmissions (though they do exist), most of the Accord wagons I’ve seen have three pedals.

Someone installed an aftermarket tube header on this car, which may have added a few extra horsepower.

The large-diameter tailpipe, however, added exactly zero horsepower.

This car wouldn’t be considered particularly rusty for a 25-year-old Japanese car in Connecticut or Wisconsin, but this level of corrosion in Colorado leads to scrap-value-grade depreciation.

Honda took a good idea… and built on it.

Source: AutoBlog.com

Germans mark the fall of the Berlin Wall with a Trabant parade


BERLIN — Marking the 30th anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall and defying the scorn of vehicle snobs around the world, hundreds of Germans on Saturday marked the historic event with a parade of historic Trabant cars at a former border crossing.

The revelers symbolically opened a gate at the former crossing between Thuringia and Bavaria, which used to divide East and West Germany, and allowed some 65 cars known affectionately as Trabis and other vehicles manufactured in the Communist-ruled German Democratic Republic to pass through.

Earlier, German President Frank-Walter Steinmeier and Chancellor Angela Merkel marked the anniversary by thanking Eastern European neighbors for spurring on the peaceful revolution.

The toppling of the wall, which separated the Communist-ruled East from the capitalist West in Berlin for nearly three decades and became a potent symbol of the Cold War, was followed a year later by the reunification of Germany in 1990.

Source: AutoBlog.com

Aston Martin DBX Lights Up The Night In New Teaser

Are you ready for the first Aston Martin SUV?

The upcoming Aston Martin DBX SUV is almost here, but before it debuts on November 20th of 2019 we have a new teaser trailer to analyze. So without further waiting let’s figure out what’s happening in this video.

Gallery: Aston Martin DBX Lights Up The Night In New Teaser

The scene opens, night time, Head on My Shoulders sung by Benedic Lamdin and Riaan Vosloo plays in the background. The Aston Martin DBX drives down a winding country backroad LED high beams cut through the pitch-black darkness. Cut as we enter a city at night, traffic lights reflect off the SUV. Cutaway shots of leather, low profile tires, and the Aston Martin badge flash across the screen. Finally, the DBX slips into the darkness of the night sporting tail lights very similar to the latest Vantage. 

Aston Martin recently confirmed that the upcoming DBX will start at $192,086 which is very similar to the Lamborghini Urus SUV. Power will come from a Mercedes AMG based twin-turbo V8 which produces 542 horsepower and 516 lb-ft of torque and is mated to a 9-speed automatic transmission. This is a familiar combination seen on Mercedes AMG products which have proven to be very effective.

To keep all of this power in check, Aston Martin confirmed the DBX will use an adjustable suspension and electronic anti-roll bars. The DBX is said to be based on the DB11 coupe and features an aluminum bonded structure to help keep weight down. SUVs like the Bentley Betayga and Mercedes GLS use similar systems with great results. 

Based on the teaser we can see similar modern Aston Martin design cues from the DB11 and Vantage. Even with the quick shots in a dark setting, this SUV is unmistakably an Aston Martin. With the debut right around the corner, we’re very excited to finally see the DBX sans camouflage and report how it drives.

Source: motor1.com