Tag: off-roading

2018 Jaguar E-Pace AWD First Drive

2018 Jaguar E-Pace AWD First Drive

The concept of Jaguar producing an SUV/CUV is already a foregone conclusion that has been met with great success thanks to its F-Pace. So now it’s the perfect time to broaden the segment with the introduction of the 2018 Jaguar E-Pace. Jaguar-Land Rover flew us to the French island of Corsica, in the Mediterranean, which itself is a combination of Franco-Italian style and culture, to sample this exotic combination of utility and performance.

Jaguar calls the E-Pace a “tweener” and we will, too. Tweener in the sense that just as the F-Pace did not directly match up with such competitors as the Mercedes GLC, and Audi Q5, it actually ends up somewhere in between. The same can be said for the new Jaguar E-Pace. It sits decidedly between the BMW X1 and X3, the Lexus NX and above the Audi Q3 and Mercedes GLA.

But an SUV from a company known for such icons as the D-Type, E-Type and the XJ220 supercar that rocketed to 212.3 mph? It’s called profitability, and with the F-Pace, and now the E-Pace, the brand’s SUV and CUV lineup has nearly doubled company revenue.

A Different Kind Of Cat.

While the F-Pace featured more of a style as found in its Land Rover cousins, the E-Pace is taking advantage of the latest refinements in the Jaguar stable. A front-driver in European versions, we Yanks will receive the all-wheel drive variant with a powerplant from Jaguar’s Ingenium engine series. With two variations, the Core Model and R-Dynamic version, the E-Pace will feature a 2.0-liter twin-scroll turbocharged four-cylinder engine that produces 246 horsepower and 269 lb-ft of torque, or 296 horsepower and 295 lb-ft of torque, respectively. Essentially identical engines, the more powerful version uses increased turbo boost to add more to its bottom line.

Jaguar E-Pace AWD
Jaguar E-Pace AWD

Transverse mounted, both engines are mated to the widely used ZF 9-speed automatic transmission that functions with a shift lever or steering wheel mounted paddle shifters. While the front wheels offer torque vectoring via the brakes, our R-Dynamic model offered Jaguar’s “Active Driveline” which accelerates the outside rear wheels in a turn with up to 100-percent of the torque going to the rear axle via a wet clutch. It’s the perfect thing for drifting, if you were so inclined!

Our tester included the optional Configurable Dynamics package, which allowed us to tailor the throttle, steering, shift speed and Adaptive Dynamics system, which varied damper ratios according to sensors that “read” the road every 10-milliseconds (0.01-seconds).

The E-Pace rides on the JLR D8 platform that it shares with the Range Rover Evoque and the Land Rover Discovery Sport. Measuring up 12 inches shorter than the F-Pace, it includes an aluminum front clip (fenders, hood), roof and tailgate but adds more high-strength steel than its larger sibling. The steel makes for a more rigid ride, but also increases overall vehicle weight.

Honey, I shrunk the F-Pace.

The new E-Pace appears like its F-Pace big brother that may have spent too much time in the dryer following an intense wash cycle.

Jaguar E-Pace AWD
Jaguar E-Pace AWD

Actually the E-Pace steals some of its big brother’s design cues including the bold grille similar to the other vehicle. LED headlamps and signature J-Blade lighting flows around the outside headlamps for a distinct appearance like no other. The sharp looks continue rearward with “tight haunches” that wrap tightly around, into blade like rear lamps that bring to mind the rear appearance of the F-Type sports car, itself already an icon. Our R-Dynamic model included the full and fixed panoramic roof, which was just enough to allow us to enjoy the surroundings of this Mediterranean sea-based island.

The E-Pace’s interior is conservative, but still all Jaguar. If you have seen and enjoy the controls in F-Type vehicles, then too, you have seen the controls in this E-Pace.

Sport contour bucket seats offered numerous ways to become accommodated in total comfort. A grab bar, similar to the same device inside the F-Type sportscar, allowed a bit of stability for passengers on twisty Corsican mountain roads. But we would offer that despite the fact Jaguar calls this E-Pace a five-passenger vehicle, its backseat was better suited to handling just two extra passengers. As such, we’d call it a four-seater.

Jaguar E-Pace AWD
Jaguar E-Pace AWD

A 10-inch touchscreen display helps to control the Touch Pro infotainment system in handling navigation, audio, telephonic and vehicle controls. Our top shelf R-Dynamic E-Pace was equipped with an available 12.3-inch display that displayed all pertinent controls within our field of view from behind the steering wheel.

And just because, Jaguar has left little details that are what other manufacturers call “Easter Eggs.” You know, those small details designed to amuse the vehicle’s owner. In this case, it’s a Jaguar mother, and her “cub,” representative of the larger F-Pace, and its E-Pace cub. Get it? The outline is seen in several locations around the cabin, waiting to surprise and delight its owner, everywhere it is seen.

Driving Impressions.

The first thing we noticed was the spritely pickup accompanied by an engaging exhaust note from the 2.0-liter inline turbocharged engine. The paddle shift levers offered a great degree of shift control from the 9-speed gearbox. The engine, despite its being only a transverse-mounted inline four-cylinder, is raspy like a turbocharged V6 when pushed hard.

Despite that raspiness when driven in anger, the engine was relaxed at speed, as the gears climbed in the ZF 9-speed. In normal driving modes, its sound managed to keep to a very respectable level rather than going to low rumble or a high-pitched wail. Consider it having a Jekyll and Hyde personality. The sweet sounds from the Meridian Audio system displayed a delicate voicing that allowed you to single out a particular instrument. It became quite soothing after a spirited run through Corsican twisty turns along our sometimes-mountainous routes.

The E-Pace offered great handling with a totally connected feel, which might be antithetical for a semi-tall CUV like this. Credit the new lightweight steel knuckle-based front suspension, which increases camber, and in the process helps minimize understeer. Lighter and greatly refined, it makes for a very responsive steering feel that becomes even stronger in the Dynamic mode. It was enhanced by the active torque vectoring that helped to shorten the length of a curve during aggressive corner cutting.

Taking the Leap(er).

The new Jaguar E-Pace proves once again that good things do indeed come in small packages. Sure, it isn’t the biggest cargo hauler in the segment, nor will it offer three-wide rear seating for a trio of burly man-types, but it will offer lots of fun both on and off-road, with capabilities that will allow you to get wet, dirty, sandy and snowy, too. In other words, this CUV is a “Cub” for all seasons.

Story and Photos by Mark Elias

2018 Jaguar E-Pace R-Dynamic AWD

Base Price: $38,600 (Core E-Pace) $47,250 (R-Dynamic)

 

Specifications:

Type: Five passenger AWD CUV

Engine: 2.0-liter turbocharged inline 4-cylinder Ingenium engine series.

Horsepower: 296 horsepower @ 5,500 rpm

Torque: 295 torque @ 1,450-4,500

Transmission: ZF 9-speed Automatic

Length: 173-inches

Width: 78.1-inches

Height: 64.9-inches

Wheelbase: 105.6-inches

Cargo: 24.2-cubic feet, seat up

52.7-cubic feet, seat folded

0-60 mph: 5.9-secs

Top Speed: 151-mph

Fuel Economy: 21 city / 27 highway / 23 combined

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2017 Volvo V90 Cross Country T6 AWD

2017 Volvo V90 Cross Country T6 AWD

2017 Volvo V90 Cross Country T6 AWD
2017 Volvo V90 Cross Country T6 AWD

Missile-like in its appearance, the 2017 Volvo V90 Cross Country T6 AWD is quietly showing that there’s still a lot of game in Gothenburg (Göteborg), Sweden. Now the proverbial last man standing in Swedish auto manufacturers, they continue apace with solid and actually surprising new vehicles.

2017 Volvo V90 Cross Country
2017 Volvo V90 Cross Country

The Swedish Auto Industry has been through some upheavals over the last ten years. Saab, formerly based up the road in Trollhattan, is no more, with the remains (carcass) surviving as the National Electric Vehicle Sweden (NEVS) electric carmaker.

Regardless, now under the auspices of Gheely Motors, the China-based parent company of Volvo is taking names and letting the world know that it is no longer necessary to use the words Volvo and conservative in the same sentence.

Everything old is new again

Although SUVs and crossovers are the big movers and shakers in dealership showrooms, Volvo, now the quirkiest Scandinavian on the Swedish automotive mantelpiece following the exit of Saab from the auto industry, has quietly and profoundly moved in with designs that are practical and sexy at the same time. Your honor, may we present exhibit A, the Volvo V90 Cross Country?

Tell It Like It Is.

2017 Volvo V90 Cross Country
2017 Volvo V90 Cross Country

Research commissioned by Volvo Cars has told them the people want to spend time pursuing outdoor activities and such with their vehicles. But what about those of us who just think that a station wagon with extended off-roading capabilities are cool? Could this be the vehicle for us?

It just might be. The 2017 Volvo V90 Cross Country T6 AWD is powered by Volvo’s in-line four-cylinder supercharged and turbocharged 2.0-liter engine with eight speed automatic gearbox and a full-time all-wheel-drive system. We have enjoyed this proud engine in several other Volvo vehicles through the years. Energy checks in at 316 horsepower and 295 lb-ft torque. This super- and turbocharged engine, pushes the 4,200-pounder to a 0 to 60 time of 6.0-seconds.

Our tester is outfitted essentially like the standard Volvo V90, but that it rides with an additional 2.3-Inches of ground clearance (8.3-inches) over the standard 6.0-inches found on the regular V90. Available in one trim level, ours was equipped with a premium load leveling air suspension system ($1,200).

Rearranging The Furniture.

Scooped out like a cantaloupe, the grille of the Volvo V90 features the new face of Volvo, complete with the trademark “Ironmark.” Slitty looking LED style headlamps tart up the V90’s peepers for a more aggressive look, which is completed with the silvered skidplate treatment at the front and rear of the Cross Country. We don’t think they are functional skids; and it would be sacrilege to subject such a good looker to those kinds of off-pavement abuses. Along the sides, enhanced body cladding gives off a more utilitarian look into the capabilities this off-roading wagon possesses.

As good as the exterior of the Volvo V90 appears, the inside is plenty fresh as well. While most vehicles feature what the youngsters call landscape-oriented central displays, the V90’s in-dash display flips things on its side to orient itself in a Portrait position. Dark walnut wood inlays set off the two-tone interior, which includes brushed aluminum, leather, rubber and plastic, and helps to enhance the acoustic qualities of the Bowers and Wilkins premium audio system.

2017 Volvo V90 Cross Country
2017 Volvo V90 Cross Country

The 10-way power front seats with Nappa ventilated leather offered an infinite number of adjustments and an aggressively lovely back massage to keep us refreshed while at speed. Rear seat outboard passengers get to take advantage of heated seating surfaces during the two days of Florida winters.

Looking skyward reveals to us what is possibly the largest sunroof in automobiledom. And then, in another apparent Swedish fetish, Volvo has adopted the Saab penchant for placing the vehicle’s ignition switch, just to the rear of the V90’s shift lever.

Behind the wheel

Color us impressed with the V90 Cross Country’s T6 engine. At 316 hp, it did not seem to struggle at all in pulling this 4,200-pound “station wagon” whether we were taking off from a stop light or accelerating on the Interstate. Power seemed evenly split amongst all four wheels depending on the traction needs that on-board sensors monitored along the way.

The ride quality in the Volvo V 90 Cross Country puts it on the same footing with offerings from Mercedes-Benz, Audi and Jaguar. A plush quiet ride clearly bore this out, with a floaty feeling that might have been enhanced by the extra cost Premium Air Suspension, which also serves as a load leveler when the V90 is fully laden. The Volvo engineers, through their spectacular tuning abilities, have managed to make this “Wagon” more Cocoon than Conestoga.

Story and photos by Mark Elias

 2017 Volvo V90 Cross Country T6 AWD

Base MSRP: $55,300. As tested: $69,440.

Includes: Bowers and Wilkins Premium Sound system, $3,200; HUD $900; 20-inch alloy wheels, $800; Premium Air Suspension, $1,200; Destination fee, $995.

Key Specs

Cylinders:                                    4-cylinders

Displacement:                            2.0-liter Supercharged and Turbocharged

Power:                                          316 hp @ 5,700 rpm

Torque:                                        295 lb-ft @ 2,200-5,400 rpm

Fuel System:                               Gasoline Direct Injection

Fuel:                                              Premium

Acceleration:                               0-60 mph in 6 seconds

Drive Type                                   Transverse AWD

Gearbox:                                       8-speed Automatic Transmission

Unladen Weight:                        4,221-pounds

Length:                                         194.4-inches

Width:                                           75.9-inches

Height:                                          60.8-inches

Wheelbase:                                   115.8-inches

Cargo Volume:                             53.9-cubic feet, rear seat up

City:                                                22

Highway:                                       30

Combined:                                    25

[Best_Wordpress_Gallery id=”80″ gal_title=”2017 Volvo V90 AWD”]

 

 

 

 

2017 Ford F150 Raptor

2017 Ford F150 Raptor

We were all set. I was even contemplating an appointment with a chiropractor to follow my week in the 2017 Ford F150 Raptor. The Raptor is essentially an ultra high-performance version of the Ford F150 pickup truck that is nearly race-ready, minus a few necessary safety features. The fascinating thing is that I don’t really believe in the benefits of Chiropractic.

The few days prior to the Raptor’s arrival were spent obsessing over whether there was a need for kidney belts that hold your guts in place to prevent your innards from getting beat up. By week’s end, it was clear I would need to find another way to meet my medical insurance plan deductible.

It’s a Trophy Truck…almost.

2017 Ford F150 Raptor
2017 Ford F150 Raptor

It’s an impressive truck. Starting with what is essentially a Ford F150 pickup truck, Blue Oval engineers have utilized the latest in military-grade aluminum alloy as seen in other F150s, and placed it on a modified boxed-steel frame chassis designed specifically for the Raptor.

Power for the Ford F150 Raptor comes from a Ford EcoBoost twin turbocharged 3.5-liter V6, which is the basis for the somewhat tamer version found in the Ford SHO Taurus and Ford Police Interceptor vehicles. In the case of the Raptor, it offers 450-horsepower and 510 lb-ft of torque in its High Output configuration. Power gets to the rear or all four wheels via Ford’s 10-speed automatic transmission with paddle shifters to flick your way through, should you think your brain is more adept at quick changes than the millions-per-second from the Raptor’s CPU.

2017 Ford F150 Raptor
2017 Ford F150 Raptor

From there, it heads to an AWD/4WD transfer case whose function varies according to sensors that provide torque on-demand between the front and rear wheels, as well as a 4×4 Hi and 4×4 lo locking differential.

Ford’s Terrain Management System makes the 2017 Ford F150 Raptor behave essentially like a Land Rover, because it is similar to the TMS developed for the English-brand while their were under Ford stewardship. With it, drivers can select between two, four and All-Wheel drive modes with protocols built in for specific driving conditions ranging from street to snow to gravel to nearly everything in between.

The Killer.

If looks could kill, the 2017 Ford F150 Raptor would be on Death Row. Featuring a wider face with bold Ford lettering, twinkle running lights, and a six-inch wider gait thanks to the special issue BFGoodrich on/off high performance meats all around, it’s clear this is a purpose-built vehicle. In fact, the only difference between this and the Raptor that competed in the 2016 Baja 1000 was the addition of a full roll cage and other safety equipment as dictated by the off-road corporate racing honchos at SCORE. When all is said and done, the Raptor looks like an off-road Trophy Truck, as seen running down the Baja Peninsula in Mexico.

2017 Ford F150 Raptor
2017 Ford F150 Raptor

The ten speed automatic transmission never sent us on a hunt for the proper gearing and still managed to turn in the minimal EPA mileage expectations of 15 city / 18 highway with an actually observed 18 mpg average.

But wait! What is going on here? This ride is surprisingly plush! What we were truly expecting was a jarring, teeth-rattling drive whether on-road or off. Instead, what we got was a floaty-boaty cruiser heading down to Miami thanks to the Fox-branded High Performance shocks developed in conjunction with Ford Performance. Growing half an inch from 2.5 to 3.0-inches in diameter over the shocks from the previous Raptor, they offered a ride that even the spousal unit loved. Still, her love of high heels was likely the cause of grumblings about the high step in required to enter our truck. For those with a larger brood, the Raptor can be ordered in the larger SuperCrewCab option.

Daddy’s Money.

The new grille had a big bad-assed look to it with the aggressive FORD grille up front and minus the racerboy RAPTOR stickers all around the rear. To see the Raptor in plain view would have you think you were looking at a standard, but higher-riding version of the F150, modified with a liberal dusting of “Daddy’s Money.”

2017 Ford F150 Raptor
2017 Ford F150 Raptor

Interior-wise, our Raptor SuperCab had newly bolstered front seats with the requisite Raptor embroidery, and a bin under elbow that was large enough to store the latest MacBook Pro. Ford’s Sync3 system worked flawlessly, offering great tuneage through the Raptor’s high-end audio system. In the cheap seats, there was enough room to carry photography gear for several photo shoots, thanks to the flip-up rear bench seat. Tossing the seat bottoms into their upright and locked position meant you could actually store a 50-inch wide flat screen TV from Costco, on one of those secret-right-before-the-Super Bowl binge buys, only to return it the Monday after. By the way, anything over 50-inches could be carried in the step-equipped cargo box behind the cab.

We were surprised the Raptor did not include a telescoping steering wheel. At first glance, we thought we would be subjected to a week of contortionistic moves while trying to find a comfortable seating position. That was until we found the adjustable foot pedal switch that allowed us to move the pedals forward or back for an optimal driving position. The ventilated seats helped keep our backsides comfortable, which was essential during the peak of Hurricane season which starts with a feeling that once you leave an air conditioned dwelling, its as if you have become blanketed by a, uh, warm, wet blanket.

The 2017 Ford F150 Raptor is not for the meek of heart, or those who don’t wish to attract attention from others. Thankfully our example did not include the big screaming decals on the rear flanks that yell “look at me, look at me, I’m a Raptor!” Instead we were treated to a subtle yet aggressive vehicle that manages to talk softly but pack that extra wallop that appears once you step on the skinny pedal.

Sure, it’s not as eardrum piercing as the spawns from the Mother of Dragons on “Game of Thrones,” but this Raptor is a Mutha in its own right.

2017 Ford F-150 Raptor

Story and Photos by Mark Elias

Base MSRP: $48,325. As Tested: $61,685.

Includes Equipment Group 802A, $9,345; Tailgate Step, $375; Raptor Technology Package, $1,950; Spray-in Bedliner, $495; Destination and Delivery, $1,195.

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