All posts in “Cars”

8 Awesome Wagons We Can’t Buy in the United States

Like many automotive enthusiasts, we at Gear Patrol love station wagons. With the space and practicality of an SUV and the handling and driving dynamics of a passenger car, they offer the best of both worlds.

Alas, Americans have become enamored with crossovers. And largely as a result, wagons — particularly of the affordable variety — have become an endangered species.

Below are eight great wagons we would happily drive daily…but can’t, because the rest of America wants their two-box cars with a little extra ride height and body cladding.

Audi RS4 Avant

Audi is bringing the RS6 Avant to the United States. Alas, we cannot get the smaller, more park-able RS4 wagon, no matter how much we would like to sample its 444 hp and 443 lb-ft of torque.

BMW Alpina B5 Wagon

You wouldn’t realize it from looking at the M5-slash-M8 lineup, but BMW has a wagon competitor to the Mercedes-AMG E63 S and the RS6 Avant. It’s the Alpina-built, newly refreshed B5 wagon with 613 hp — which, unlike its rivals, is not sold in the U.S.

Ford Focus ST Estate

Ford killed off its car lineup in the U.S., which means we aren’t going to see the latest generation Focus ST sold here. Which is a double shame, because that care also offers a performance wagon version with 276 horsepower and a manual transmission. You will have your EcoSport, America, and you will like it.

Mazda 6 Tourer

Mazda has been producing fantastic, great-looking, and luxurious cars as of late. That includes a wagon version of the excellent Mazda 6 with a manual transmission and a diesel engine option. But you know the catch by now.

Mercedes-AMG C43 4Matic Wagon

Mercedes sells an AMG-tuned long-roof version of the C-Class with 385 hp, 384 lb-ft of torqye and a 0-60 mph time of less tan five seconds. The worst part? Canadians can buy it, but we can’t.

Subaru Levorg

In Japan, Subaru has a street-oriented alternative to the Outback called the Levorg. While a 1.8-liter engine and a CVT won’t get anyone too excited, there’s a good chance a sporty STI version is coming.

Toyota Corolla Touring Sports

Toyota has a wagon version of the Corolla, which is more or less a sleeker, lower-riding RAV4. We do get the hatchback, however — and may be getting a hot version of it. So we can’t complain too much.

Volkswagen Passat Variant

VW recently launched a new Passat in America…which was mostly the same old Passat. Europeans get an updated version, however, with the 268 hp engine from the Arteon and either a seven-speed dual-clutch or six-speed manual transmission.

Note: Purchasing products through our links may earn us a portion of the sale, which supports our editorial team’s mission. Learn more here.
Tyler Duffy

Tyler Duffy is Gear Patrol’s Motoring Staff Writer. He used to write about sports for The Big Lead and The Athletic. He has a black belt in toddler wrangling. He’s based outside Detroit.

More by Tyler Duffy | Follow on Facebook · Instagram · Twitter · Contact via Email

New Volkswagen Arteon Refreshed with Extended Model Range

The new Volkswagen Arteon was released today during a digital press conference. The German manufacturer took the unusual step of releasing the entire model range in one go.

The Arteon gets a completely new interior with new eHybrid and R models. A range of improved engines and an entirely new body style are also highlights for the Arteon range.

The Arteon’s R Line specification gets a new chrome bar above the front splitter and additional air inlets to the bumper. At the rear, it gets two double-flow tailpipes compared to the Elegance line’s single design. The R-Line includes an additional spoiler lip.

Jeep’s New Grand Wagoneer Could Offer Lincoln-Like Luxury — And a $100,000 Price Tag

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more expensive than a land cruiser


You might not know it to look at their SUVs and pickups from the outside, but Jeep keeps pushing further into luxury territory. Three Grand Cherokee models now start north of $50,000; a fully-loaded Gladiator and Wrangler costs more than $60,000; and the top-of-the-line Hellcat-powered Trackhawk can be optioned up close to six figures. Suffice it to say, we haven’t yet found the limit to what Jeep buyers will pay. But a report from Mopar Insiders says Jeep is preparing to test it with the new 2022 flagship Grand Wagoneer, which they expect may carry a $100,000 price tag in top-trim form.

The Grand Wagoneer will reportedly be a full-size, three-row, body-on-frame SUV running on the Ram 1500‘s platform. Mopar Insiders says it will be the most luxurious and technologically advanced vehicle in the FCA lineup, and Jeep will position it to compete with the Cadillac Escalade, GMC Yukon Denali XL and Lincoln Navigator L Black Label.

If the report is correct, Jeep will give the Grand Wagoneer some Level 3 autonomous technology, allowing conditional autonomous driving in certain situations. The Grand Wagoneer will join the Wrangler, Compass and Renegade with an eventual 4xe plug-in-hybrid model offering around 30 miles of electric-only range. The report also says the Grand Wagoneer will feature premium wood…but sadly, that wood is unlikely to be part of the exterior. (Though maybe that could change, when the tooling wears out.)

A top-end Jeep Grand Wagoneer with a $100,000 price tag would cost more than a Toyota Land Cruiser — which almost everyone feels is sort of over-priced. That price would be significantly more than the previous iteration of the Grand Wagoneer, which topped out around $65,000 in today’s dollars. But if the Grand Wagoneer ends up being a super-lux SUV version of the acclaimed Ram 1500 with Jeep’s off-roading credentials, paying that much could make sense…at least for the people who buy opulent, off-road-ready six-figure family haulers.

Note: Purchasing products through our links may earn us a portion of the sale, which supports our editorial team’s mission. Learn more here.
Tyler Duffy

Tyler Duffy is Gear Patrol’s Motoring Staff Writer. He used to write about sports for The Big Lead and The Athletic. He has a black belt in toddler wrangling. He’s based outside Detroit.

More by Tyler Duffy | Follow on Facebook · Instagram · Twitter · Contact via Email

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12 Brand-New, Super-Fun Automobiles That Cost Less than the Average New Car

Americans spend a lot of money on new cars. The average sticker price for a new vehicle in 2019 was $37,183 — about the price of an entry-level BMW or Mercedes-Benz. Those pickup trucks and SUVs we love so much can get pricey.

We can leave debates about whether those are smart outlays of capital to economists. What we can discuss, though, is that you don’t need to spend nearly that much to buy a great, enjoyable car — even before you factor in the incentives manufacturers have begun offering and likely will continue to for the next few months.

Indeed, many of our favorite sports cars, purpose-built off-roaders and other entertaining rides can be had for less than the average new vehicle price. Below, we present 12 of them worth your hard-earned money.

2020 Volkswagen Golf GTI

The current (although outgoing) GTI is a legend — it’s one of the best-handling cars on the road, period. You can upgrade to the mid-grade SE trim, score LED headlights, a panoramic sunroof and leather seats, and still come in comfortably under our price ceiling.

2020 Mazda MX-5 Miata

Mazda’s best car just keeps getting sportier, and the performance-minded Club trim starts at just $30,920.

2020 Honda Civic Si

The souped-up Civic sedan is as much fun to drive as any car on the road —  and it’s an absolute steal at a well-equipped price of just over $25,000.

2020 Jeep Wrangler

Jeep Wranglers can get pricey, but you can still buy a two-door model for under $30,000 before incentives. That means you can still have some cash left over for luxury options…like that sweet three-piece removable hardtop.

2020 Toyota 86

The poor man’s Supra is one of the best pure driver’s cars on the market — at a far cheaper price point.

2020 Ford Mustang 2.3L EcoBoost HPP

Granted, the 2.3-liter EcoBoost does not have quite as nice of an engine note as the 5.0-liter V8. But this car is still quite the performance bargain, with legit sports car speed and handling for thousands less than the average new car price.

2020 Toyota Tacoma

Being a bro can be fun. You can get your pick of lower-trim Tacos for less than the average American vehicle price, or even juuuuust squeeze into a TRD Off-Road with a six-speed manual for less than the average new car price. (Who needs floor mats?)

2020 Hyundai Veloster N

The should-be-standard Performance Package boosts the Veloster N up to 275 horsepower and adds other fun-to-drive goodies, and still lets the MSRP come in below $30,000.

2020 Subaru WRX

The Subaru WRX is the preferred choice for driving connoisseurs who enjoy running afoul of traffic cops. You can build out a WRX Limited for less than the average vehicle price, but you’ll have to go without the added power of the WRX STI; jumping up to that 310-hp version will push you over.

2020 Toyota Camry TRD

You don’t often see “fun” and “Toyota Camry” in the same sentence. But the iconic midsize sedan’s new TRD trim is a lot sportier than your dad’s Camry — and the cheapest way to get a V6-powered version of the car.

2020 Fiat 124 Spider Abarth

2020 model Fiat 124 Spiders do still exist, and the starting MSRP for the Abarth trim is less than $30,000. Of course, that’s before a Fiat dealer rejoices at having a customer and offers you five figures in incentives and discounts to relieve them of their poor-selling roadster.

2020 Mini Cooper S JCW

The Mini John Cooper Works no longer has a manual, and you need to upgrade to the Clubman JCW for the 300 -p hot hatch engine. But you can build a hardtop Mini JCW for less than $35,000.

Note: Purchasing products through our links may earn us a portion of the sale, which supports our editorial team’s mission. Learn more here.
Tyler Duffy

Tyler Duffy is Gear Patrol’s Motoring Staff Writer. He used to write about sports for The Big Lead and The Athletic. He has a black belt in toddler wrangling. He’s based outside Detroit.

More by Tyler Duffy | Follow on Facebook · Instagram · Twitter · Contact via Email

This Boring Old Mercedes Sedan Was Much Cooler Than You Think

When I say “Mercedes,” I’m willing to bet that a Platonic ideal pops into your head. I can’t get inside there and take a look, but it’s probably a boxy sedan — one that looks awfully similar to the Mercedes-Benz model known internally as the W124, built from 1985 to 1995 — the progenitor of the E-Class.

It’s neither sporty nor menacing, and it was anything but rare; Mercedes built more than 2.7 million of them. Car enthusiasts respect the W124, ut it’s not particularly valued, even with Radwood-era nostalgia raging to the point of disbelief. Only one variant of the W124 — the E500 that Porsche had a hand in building — has sold for more than $40,000 on Bring a Trailer.

But here’s the thing about this most anonymous and ubiquitous of Mercedes-Benzes: it’s one of the best cars the German brand has ever made.

The early ’80s were a different time at Mercedes. BMW and Audi weren’t the luxury competitors they are now, and Lexus did not exist. Mercedes produced cars with a much longer shelf life than most new vehicles today, and people paid handsomely for the privilege – a Mercedes 300E in 1986 retailed for the modern equivalent of more than $80,000.

As such, Mercedes could afford to let their engineers go hog-wild building the ultimate sedan with the W124…and they did. It was as obdurate and indestructible as a Toyota, a versatile jack-knife in the Mercedes lineup, and the basis for some of the brand’s most legendary performance cars. Mercedes hasn’t built anything quite like it since.

You Couldn’t Kill a W124

Top Gear once memorably tried to kill a Toyota Hilux, but it was that show’s rival program Fifth Gear that attempted a similar feat with a used W124 Mercedes 300 TE wagon. It survived being flooded, and took an artillery shell to the rear door that left the front door mostly intact. The hosts eventually placed explosives in the engine bay as a final send-off…but while the hull of the car was a burned-out wreck, the explosion only destroyed the electrical components. The car still could have been revived.

Or, to put it another way: there’s a reason the W124 was the preferred choice for Belgian armored vehicle manufacturer Carat Duchatelet before they branched out into Land Cruisers and other luxury SUVs.

W124s, if well-maintained, have been known to last pretty much forever. One-million-mile cars? W124 diesels have lasted for more than two million. If you find the details of a W124’s demise on a message board, it’s likelier to be an accident and insurance write off than a fatal flaw with the car.

That isn’t to say W124s are obsessively reliable, as owners will attest. They were complicated machines with knotty electrical gremlins. Maintenance isn’t cheap, and later 1990s versions had corrosion issues with water-based paint. Those cars also had bio-degradable wiring, which degraded far quicker than engineers intended. But if you’re willing to invest the resources, a W124 will not let you down.

The W124 could do just about everything

Luxury crossovers mostly weren’t a thing in the 1980s and early 1990s, but the W124 chassis adapted itself to pretty much anything Mercedes wanted to throw at it. Besides the standard sedan, there was a longer-wheelbase limousine version and a shorter-wheelbase coupe. Mercedes offered the W124 as a convertible, and uit also became an eminently sensible station wagon for families, with third-row seating and room for seven.

Powertrains? The W124 housed both gas internal combustion and diesel plants, and used both manual and automatic transmissions. At various points, it had a 2.0-liter inline-four, a 6.0-liter V8, and just about every internal-combustion variant between.

Plus, it was the first production car fitted with Mercedes’ 4Matic all-wheel-drive cycle. If a W124 couldn’t do it, you likely needed a G-Wagen — which at that time was a specialized European military vehicle.

You’ve probably heard of two famous W124s

The W124 didn’t look sporty, but it shared many components with the W201 Mercedes — one of which was the iconic 190E Cosworth. The W124 was one of the most aerodynamically advanced vehicles of its time, and it served as the basis for perhaps the two most storied Mercedes on-road performance vehicles of all-time.

AMG, before it became an official division of Mercedes, built the AMG 300E, better known as “the Hammer.” For the first ones, AMG took V8 engines from the S-Class apart and rebuilt them into the W124 chassis. Their resulting product was a 375-horsepower missile that could take on the best efforts from Porsche and Ferrari — after the kids were safely deposited at school, of course. AMG’s 300E could accelerate to 60 mph from a standstill in 5.0 seconds –which qualified as missile acceleration in the 1980s — and hit a top speed north of 190 mph, which remains impressive.

The other heavy-hitter from the W124 lineup was the aforementioned Porsche-influenced car, the 500E. Mercedes wanted a V8 version of the W124 sedan, and commissioned Porsche to figure out how to do it. The solution included wider fender flares, which made the 500 E too big to produce on the Mercedes line — so Porsche ended up building it in Zuffenhausen. It’s an incredible backstory, and also one that ends up driving the price.

Note: Purchasing products through our links may earn us a portion of the sale, which supports our editorial team’s mission. Learn more here.
Tyler Duffy

Tyler Duffy is Gear Patrol’s Motoring Staff Writer. He used to write about sports for The Big Lead and The Athletic. He has a black belt in toddler wrangling. He’s based outside Detroit.

More by Tyler Duffy | Follow on Facebook · Instagram · Twitter · Contact via Email

Would You Spend $50,000 On This Old, Obscure Toyota Off-Roader?

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don’t call it a trekkie


Once upon a time, Toyota made a vehicle that preceded the 4Runner — we’ll sidestep the obvious puns of “3Runner” and “4Walker” — called the Toyota Trekker. It was a run of 4×4 Toyota truck conversions built with Winnebago in the early 1980s, limited to about 1,500 units. Toyota eventually put a similar idea into production as the 4Runner (or Hilux Surf in other markets) in 1984.

Not surprisingly, the rarity of those Trekkers means they can command a pretty penny on the used market. Vanguard Motor Sales is currently selling a rather pristine-looking yellow 1981 Toyota Trekker with fewer than 29,000 miles. It comes packing Toyota’s bulletproof 22R engine — which has barely been broken in at that odometer reading — and a five-speed manual transmission.

Vintage Toyota off-roader enthusiasts are rabid, and Stranger Things-era 1980s style is en vogue right now — so if you suspected this obscure gem where those two trendlines meet wouldn’t come cheap, you’d be correct. The asking price is $49,900 — which is more than the cost of a brand new Toyota 4Runner Venture Special Edition.

That said, if you consider that a 1985 Toyota Pickup with 130,000 miles that merely looked like the one in Back to the Future went for $58,000, and that someone just paid $80,000 for a used 1989 Toyota FJ62 Land Cruiser…maybe this Trekker is a relative bargain? At the very least, you could probably flip it for a couple grand in profit on Bring a Trailer.

Note: Purchasing products through our links may earn us a portion of the sale, which supports our editorial team’s mission. Learn more here.
Tyler Duffy

Tyler Duffy is Gear Patrol’s Motoring Staff Writer. He used to write about sports for The Big Lead and The Athletic. He has a black belt in toddler wrangling. He’s based outside Detroit.

More by Tyler Duffy | Follow on Facebook · Instagram · Twitter · Contact via Email

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The Land Rover Defender Now Has Its Own Official Rooftop Tent

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a natural fit


Overlanding is pretty much a foundational part of the Land Rover brand. Selling off-road camping accessories has become a lucrative business in recent years…so it’s no surprise Land Rover is making a massive push in that direction with the new Defender. The new SUV offers four different accessory packs, as well as myriad other options and add-ons. The most recent addition to that roster of accessories: a rooftop tent.

Land Rover is partnering with British manufacturer Autohome on a bespoke rooftop tent for the new Defender 110. The tent is made from a lightweight fiberglass shell, with carbon gray fabric sides. It can be opened single-handedly by unclipping a fastener at the rear. The tent features a mattress for two, an interior LED light, a stowage net and an extendable aluminum access ladder.

The tent will sell for the equivalent of about $3,830 from Land Rover or Autohome — at least, in the U.K. (The tent pairs with the Expedition Roof Rack, which comes included in the “Explorer Pack” bundle or for $1,850 as a standalone option.) No announcement has been made about whether Americans will be able to buy one. It’s not currently available on the Land Rover USA website.

Still, should it make it across the Pond, it’s sure to be a must-have add-on for many buyers. That said, you might be better off waiting a bit for it. Defenders have begun arriving on American shores — I spotted my first one in the wild in Michigan last week  — but unless you pre-ordered, it might be a while before you can find one, even to test drive.

Note: Purchasing products through our links may earn us a portion of the sale, which supports our editorial team’s mission. Learn more here.
Tyler Duffy

Tyler Duffy is Gear Patrol’s Motoring Staff Writer. He used to write about sports for The Big Lead and The Athletic. He has a black belt in toddler wrangling. He’s based outside Detroit.

More by Tyler Duffy | Follow on Facebook · Instagram · Twitter · Contact via Email

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The 2020 Honda CR-V Hybrid Beats the RAV4 on Price and Peace Alike

Believe it or not, Honda has never offered a CR-V Hybrid before the year 2020. It’s not quite as wild as Bob Dylan’s 1965 appearance at Newport, but one could argue this compact crossover is the Japanese manufacturer’s most important vehicle.

The vital task of reducing emissions depends not just on making electric vehicles, but on making the internal-combustion cars that people buy in greater numbers more efficient. The Honda CR-V, a top-five seller both in the U.S. and globally in 2019 with more than 800,000 units, certainly qualifies as one of those.

The CR-V has long been brilliant in its own way; it doesn’t have one standout trait, but it’s refined, practical, comfortable and affordable. It’s easy to get in and out of, and indeed, it offers perhaps the best all-around package available for a family CUV.

The CR-V Hybrid is the same car — just with a different power setup. It keeps the positives of the CR-V, requires few significant sacrifices, and earns 38 mpg combined. The cost premium — just $2,600 over the gas version — is reasonable. If you’re down for living that sensible CR-V life, you might as well buy the hybrid.

The CR-V Hybrid is the CR-V you want

One could call the CR-V Hybrid the sportier version…just as one could call the town of Windsor “Canada’s verdant southern tip.” Using the same mill as the Accord Hybrid, the CR-V hybrid scores significant upgrades in horsepower (up from 190 hp to 212) and torque (up to 232 lb-ft from 179 lb-ft) over the internal combustion version. The hybrid gets saddled with an extra 200 pounds of weight, though, which counters much of the added oomph.

Like the standard CR-V, the hybrid edition is not particularly quick, but it feels balanced and composed during cornering and everyday driving tasks. The electric motor offers a solid hit of torque when you hit the accelerator, and the brakes aren’t as harsh as other regenerative ones. It may feel a touch more civilized than the pure combustion version. And, yeah, it’s about 25 percent more fuel-efficient, at least on paper.

The CR-V has two key advantages over the Toyota RAV4

The CR-V Hybrid’s main rival, the Toyota RAV4 Hybrid, is more efficient; it’s rated by the EPA for 40 mpg combined. (Some real-world testing suggests the disparity may be more than the listed two mpg.) But you can still make two arguments in Honda’s favor.

The CR-V powertrain is much quieter, slipping from electric to gas with little notice; the RAV4 sounds rough and agricultural the moment the gas kicks in. And the CR-V Hybrid is cheaper — especially at the top end. Honda includes features and tech in its top-level Touring trim that Toyota charges extra for. My fully-loaded CR-V Hybrid tester came out a little above $37,000. The equivalent RAV4 I drove last year came in a little under $41,000.

There are a couple of significant changes from the standard CR-V

Honda knew a hybrid would be in the works when they designed the CR-V, so the changes are minimal, beyond some blue trim. But those tweaks are still noteworthy. The battery pack takes up extra space, so you can’t lower the rear cargo floor for more room the way you can in the standard CR-V. You also don’t get a spare tire; Honda does include a tire repair kit, but if your tire blows, that kit won’t help you much. Make sure your AAA subscription is up to date.

Price as Tested: $37,070
Drivetrain: 2.0-liter four-cylinder hybrid, CVT, all-wheel-drive
Power: 212 hp, 232 lb-ft
Fuel Economy: 40 mpg city, 35 mpg highway
Seats: 5

Honda provided this product for review.

Note: Purchasing products through our links may earn us a portion of the sale, which supports our editorial team’s mission. Learn more here.
Tyler Duffy

Tyler Duffy is Gear Patrol’s Motoring Staff Writer. He used to write about sports for The Big Lead and The Athletic. He has a black belt in toddler wrangling. He’s based outside Detroit.

More by Tyler Duffy | Follow on Facebook · Instagram · Twitter · Contact via Email

Range Rover’s Newest Super-Fast SUV Makes a Strange Kind of Sense

The idea of a super-fast, high-performance Land Rover is inherently an odd one. After all, Land Rovers have long been defined by their capabilities off the beaten path, not how quickly they can traverse paved roads. The first Land Rover, the Series 1, could go practically anywhere a wheeled vehicle could travel, and it did it with a mere 50 horsepower. How times change: the 2020 Land Rover Range Rover Velar SVAutobiography Dynamic Edition packs 11 times that. That’s enough to go from a stop to the Series 1’s top speed of 58 miles per hour in roughly four seconds.

In fact, the Series 1 and the SVAD, as I took to calling the Velar SVAutobiography Dynamic, seem about as far apart as two vehicles with the same badge could ever be. The O.G. L.R. is a minimalist machine designed for military and agricultural work; the SVAD is a cosseting, quiet conveyance that’s meant to appeal to people who likely have never resorted to manual labor to pay the bills. The Series 1’s design is simple to the point of brutality; the SVAD is stylized to the point of sexuality.

When it launched last year, I spent an hour or so driving it around the canyons of Malibu, which was enough time to get a first taste of what it has to offer. But a quick spin on a manufacturer’s chosen test route is rarely a good way to truly get to know a new vehicle, so I took the SVAD out for a week in the Northeast to see how it handles the harsh real world. I plowed through Manhattan traffic, hopped Brooklyn curbs, rolled away long hours on Pennsylvania highways with the rig  — and even managed to tackle a couple dirt roads. Several hundred miles and one camping trip later, here’s what I learned.

The Range Rover Velar’s approach to performance makes more sense than many super-SUVs

Right after the Velar SVAutobiography, I hopped into the new BMW X5 M Competition — a midsize SUV that clearly wants to be an M5. BMW’s M division does incredible work, but there’s still no way to fight physics; the X5 M is too tall to ever feel all that comfortable ripping through tight turns, no matter how fast it can go through them.

The SVAD, on the other hand, isn’t trying to be the quickest sport-ute around the racetrack or cloverleaf. It empathizes more with gran turismos than sports cars; while it can certainly corner with a vigor you wouldn’t expect from a vehicle with the Land Rover badge, it’s more interested in using its power for effortless passing maneuvers and seamless highway merges, ripping up to extralegal speeds faster than the drivers beside you can say, “Hey, was that a Range Rover?”

The Velar remains one of the most aesthetically appealing SUVs you can buy

Most of the time, the only way to make an SUV look good is to butch it up with a hefty dose of body cladding and other off-road-themed accoutrements. It’s hard to make a car as bulky, blocky and tall as a sport-utility look sleek — yet somehow, Gerry McGovern and his team pulled it off. Even the least expensive Velar looks like The Range Rover of Tomorrow, all smooth surfaces and sharp LED lights; giant wheels and flared fenders give it the look of a concept car, while the blacked-out door pillars take visual weight off the top. The SVAD’s changes are surprisingly mellow, perhaps a reflection of the Velar’s already-sporty design; a new front fascia with blacked cross-hatching and subtle quad tailpipes are the only obvious changes. Even the exhaust note of the supercharged V8 is more mellow than you’d find in most V8-powered JLR products.

Likewise, while some of the interior materials aren’t quiiiite as nice as those of an equivalently-pricey Mercedes, Bimmer or Audi, they’re still utterly pleasant to both the eye and fingertip. And like all Velars (and several other members of the Range Rover family), the SVAD uses the latest Land Rover infotainment system, which uses twin glass touchscreen panels arranged like a gentle waterfall — with the lower one primarily tasked with taking care of drive modes and climate control. Reports have run somewhat rampant about it causing problems for owners; while it didn’t crash or freeze on me, it was a good deal laggier and less responsive than most modern infotainment systems. Still, there’s no disputing that it looks great.

It may seem like it’s for poseurs, but in fact, it’s the best super-powerful Range Rover for the money

Anyone who’s planning on buying a Range Rover with a supercharged V8 clearly isn’t too worried about money. But if they do happen to be concerned with maximizing their value, the Velar is the best play in the eight-cylinder Land Rover lineup.

The Range Rover Sport SVR is too odd to make sense — it’s meant to be the sportiest model, yet it still has a low range transfer case — whereas the full-blown Range Rover‘s mission of maximum all-around competence and luxury is just as well accomplished with the smooth mild-hybrid 3.0-liter turbocharged inline-six (or, arguably,  as it is with a 500-plus-horsepower blown eight-pot. The Velar’s interior is just as well-suited to carrying four adults as the Sport, and its Terrain Response system and ingrained Land Rover capabilities mean it’s still capable of tackling mud, snow and dirt that would stop regular cars in their tracks. And considering how my well-equipped tester cleared the bar at less than $95K — about $10,000 cheaper than the least expensive regular Range Rover with a V8, and $20,000 less than the base price of the Range Rover Sport SVR — it’s hard not to see it as practically a deal.

If that’s not enough to win you over, think of it this way: squint a little, and it’s an Aston Martin DB11 with two extra doors, three extra seats and all-weather capability for nearly half the price.

Price as Tested: $94,655
Drivetrain: Supercharged 5.0-liter V8, eight-speed automatic, all-wheel-drive
Power: 550 hp, 502 lb-ft
Fuel Economy: 15 mpg city, 20 mpg highway
Seats: 5

Land Rover provided this product for review.

Note: Purchasing products through our links may earn us a portion of the sale, which supports our editorial team’s mission. Learn more here.
Will Sabel Courtney

Will Sabel Courtney is Gear Patrol’s Motoring Editor, formerly of The Drive and RIDES Magazine. You can often find him test-driving new cars in New York City, cursing the slow-moving traffic surrounding him.

More by Will Sabel Courtney | Follow on Instagram · Twitter · Contact via Email

The New Ford Bronco Will Debut July 9. Here’s Everything You Need to Know

A little more than three years ago, Ford excited everyone by announcing a new Bronco for 2020. After a protracted development process, we have seen leaked photos, speculative renderings and odd-looking test mules cruising around Detroit. But 2020 has long since arrived, and Ford…is still not commenting on upcoming vehicles.

Here, then, are the big outstanding questions about the new Ford Bronco — and what we know about the answers.

When will the new Bronco launch?

We finally know: July 9th, 2020. While past reporting had set the Bronco reveal for March 2020, with the smaller, crossover-based Bronco vehicle arriving at the New York Auto Show in April, the coronavirus pandemic set those plans back. Ford first announced on its official Bronco site that the new SUV will make its debut sometime in July, then revealed on its official Instagram that the formal arrival would be on July 9th.

How many Broncos will there be?

We should see three versions of the Bronco, to start. Expect off-roading two-door and four-door Broncos based on the Ranger’s truck platform. A smaller, unibody-platform “Baby Bronco” is coming too. Many names have been discussed, but Bronco Sport seems to be the front-runner. Reports suggest a Bronco pickup may emerge later during the Bronco’s life-cycle.

What will the Bronco look like?

Expect the new Bronco to be boxier and more traditional looking than the new 2020 Land Rover Defender. This Bronco R race truck from the Baja 1000 is the best preview we’ve gotten so far.

What engines will the Bronco have?

That’s still in the educated-guess stage. A Canadian Tire parts lookup tool listed the Bronco as having Ford’s 2.3-liter four-cylinder EcoBoost engine, which is used in the Ranger, Mustang and elsewhere. That would be a natural fit for a base engine.

The original Bronco offered a V8; not offering one again would disappoint some, but the twin-turbo 2.7-liter V6 from the F-150 might be a better fit for the larger engine.

Ford president Jim Hackett also noted the Bronco would offer a hybrid powertrain at a shareholders’ meeting. Ford could potentially even use the 3.0-liter V6 hybrid system from the Lincoln Aviator.

Will the new Bronco get a manual transmission?

That seems likely. A Jalopnik report from 2018 says Ford has picked transmission supplier Getrag to produce a seven-speed manual bound for the Bronco — possibly one with a super-low “granny” gear for off-roading. Having that option would help build the Bronco’s cred as a legitimate Wrangler/Tacoma fighter.

Will the new Bronco’s roof and doors be removable?

They should be. Uncovered Ford patents suggest the new Bronco will be able to remove its top and doors like the Jeep Wrangler. Ford has patents for a removable hardtop system and a doorless side airbag system. There’s even a patent for removing the roll bar for complete open-air driving.

What are the new Bronco color options?

Not quite 50 shades of gray, but close. A recent leak listed the following color options for the new Bronco: Antimatter Blue Metallic, Cyber Orange Pearl, Fighter Jet Gray, Carbonized Gray Metallic, Oxford White, Race Red, Lucid Red Pearl, Area 51, Absolute Black and Iconic Silver Metallic. The one surprise may be the lack of a classic light blue option, as seen in these renderings.

How much will the new Bronco cost?

Ford does not comment on upcoming vehicles, but the expectation from Kelley Blue Book and others is that Ford will price the Bronco to rival the Jeep Wrangler. The two-door, truck-based Bronco should start around $30,000. The crossover should be a bit more expensive than the Ford Escape ($24,885).

Tyler Duffy

Tyler Duffy is Gear Patrol’s Motoring Staff Writer. He used to write about sports for The Big Lead and The Athletic. He has a black belt in toddler wrangling. He’s based outside Detroit.

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Enter to Win This Harley-Davidson and Help Those Hit Hardest by COVID-19

<!–Win a Harley Davidson CVO and Support Team Rubicon • Gear Patrol<!– –>

make a difference and maybe win big


There are plenty of first responders and other brave souls out there on the front lines of our global response to the coronavirus. Team Rubicon, for example, is a non-profit founded by former U.S. Marines that sends disaster response teams composed of military veterans to crises around the globe; right now, though, their units are currently deployed across America providing emergency food assistance to those in need and operating mobile medical testing centers in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Wish you could help? Well, you can. As it turns out, you can aid Team Rubicon’s efforts by entering to win a stunning Harley Davidson CVO Street Glide.

Harley Davidson’s CVO bikes are some of the best touring bikes you can buy. The CVO Street Glide uses Harley’s Milwaukee Eight 117 engine, the most potent V-twin ever offered from the factory; it puts out a mighty 98 horsepower and 126 lb-ft of torque. The CVO Street Glide will reach a top speed of 100 mph, and provide a relatively economical commuting option (at least, compared with a car) thanks to a 41-mpg-combined rating.

The bike in question comes with Fugitive wheels, Harley’s Reflex Defense Rider System, four-speaker infotainment and hands-free Bluetooth. Color options include Sand Dune, Black Stardust Fade and Smokey Gray & Black Hole.

The starting price for the Harley Davidson CVO Street Glide is $40,539, but if you win this Omaze giveaway, you won’t have to pay a dime of that. In fact, taxes and shipping costs for the winner will be covered. The prize even includes an all-expenses-paid trip to Milwaukee for a guided tour of Harley Davidson’s factory.

Note: Purchasing products through our links may earn us a portion of the sale, which supports our editorial team’s mission. Learn more here.
Tyler Duffy

Tyler Duffy is Gear Patrol’s Motoring Staff Writer. He used to write about sports for The Big Lead and The Athletic. He has a black belt in toddler wrangling. He’s based outside Detroit.

More by Tyler Duffy | Follow on Facebook · Instagram · Twitter · Contact via Email

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This Truck’s Tailgate Could Be an Absolute Gamechanger for the Pickup World

It’s still several months away from hitting the streets, but it seems safe to assume that Rivian’s new electric R1S SUV and R1T pickup truck are set to be major disruptors in the automotive industry. The battery-powered adventure vehicles have already shown off a host of unique features that seem primed to grab headlines and hearts, from the ability to spin in place to a pop-out kitchenette designed to make overlanding easier than ever.

Now, a patent filing reveals that Rivian’s pickup truck may have yet another game-changing feature, one with far broader reach than a slide-out electric kitchen: a multi-mode tailgate.

The patent, which was published on December 12th and recently dug up by Teslarati, reveals that Rivian is working on what it calls a “swing and drop tailgate.” The basic idea, according to the filing, would be for a tailgate in two different manners: the traditional way, where it swings on a hinge from a closed vertical position to an open horizontal one; and the “drop” method, where a linkage is used to lower the tailgate more or less vertically down from its usual closed position.

This, as the patent application states, would make it easier for users to access deep inside the bed, as they wouldn’t have to reach across the entire tailgate. The mechanism could be manually or automatically operated, according to Rivian’s filing.

Now, Rivian is hardly the only truckmaker with grand plans for the tailgate. Honda’s Ridgeline has been offering a dual-action back door for more than a decade, with a tailgate that swings open both up and down and from the side, offering easier access to the in-bed trunk. GMC’s recently-introduced MultiPro tailgate adds a fold-out step to the usual setup, while Ram’s new multifunction tailgate adds a 60/40 bifurcation to the tail flap, enabling the two sides to open laterally.

Still, while innovation in the pickup world is common, Rivian’s method seems superior in at least one way: it moves the tailgate out of the way without the need for much open space for it to swing. There’s no mention of whether it’ll reach production, but given the company’s predilection for innovation and the apparent advantages of such a setup, it’s hard to see it not reaching the R1T.

Will Sabel Courtney

Will Sabel Courtney is Gear Patrol’s Motoring Editor, formerly of The Drive and RIDES Magazine. You can often find him test-driving new cars in New York City, cursing the slow-moving traffic surrounding him.

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McLaren 720S Le Mans limited edition commemorates 25th anniversary of race win

McLaren made its first appearance as a constructor at the 24 Hours of Le Mans back in 1995, fielding seven McLaren F1 GTRs and taking the checkered flag with a 1-3-4-5 finish. Car #59, driven by JJ Lehto, Yannick Dalmas and Masanori Sekiya was the overall winner. To commemorate the 25th anniversary of that achievement, the company is rolling out a McLaren 720S Le Mans special edition.

The 720S Le Mans is available in Sarthe Grey or McLaren Orange and features a functional gloss-black roof scoop and carbon-fiber louvered front fenders. The lower body sides, lower front bumper, and rear bumper are painted Ueno Grey. The unique five-spoke wheel design is inspired by that of the F1 GTR racer, and gold-painted brake calipers are fitted as well.

The interior is equipped with carbon-fiber racing seats and is finished in black Alcantara with gray or orange accents. Drivers who plan to do some track time themselves can specify six-point seatbelts and a titanium harness bar. Multiple option packages can add more carbon-fiber exterior elements, and the brand’s MSO Defined and MSO Bespoke programs offer further customization.

The 4.0-liter M840T twin-turbo V8 is unchanged and spins out 710 horsepower at 7,500 rpm along with 568 lb-ft of torque. Paired with a seven-speed dual-clutch automatic, it’s good for a top speed of 212 mph and a 0-to-62-mph time of 2.9 seconds.

Just 50 examples worldwide will be produced, with deliveries scheduled to begin in September. U.S. pricing has not been announced, but expect to dig a little deeper than the $299,000 (plus $2,500 destination) for the standard 720S.

Related Video:

The 2020 Cadillac XT4 Is Almost a Baby Escalade (At Least, in Looks)

Cadillac’s last couple of decades have seen a litany of failed reinvention gambits. The brand’s latest strategy, though, seems a little more likely to bear fruit: namely, to sell gas-powered SUVs en masse before GM’s massive Cadillac-centric EV push takes over.

To do that, Cadillac had to offer buyers more vehicles beyond the XT5 (née SRX) and Escalade. Enter the XT4, which slots below the XT5 and straddles the increasingly popular boundary between subcompact and compact crossover. People dig it; Cadillac sold about 32,000 of them last year, nearly double the total for the brand’s entire sedan lineup.

The XT4 is not “the Cadillac of compact crossovers” in the metaphorical sense, where the brand is used to refer to the best of something. In a vacuum, there’s not that much wrong with it. It looks fancy; it’s comfortable inside; it gets the driver from A to B without fuss. The trouble comes when you start cross-shopping…and realize competitors like Mercedes, BMW, Audi and Volvo offer superior products at the same price point.

The XT4 looks great on the outside

The Escalade, even when not in insane custom Tom Brady spec, is Cadillac’s standout vehicle. Smaller Cadillac SUVs, as such, should strive to be mini-Escalades. The XT4’s exterior, at least, does a reasonable job emulating the flagship; it has dignified sharp lines that make it distinctively a Cadillac. It reads as bigger than what it is…which is essentially a lifted hatchback. My relatives presumed it was $20,000 more expensive than it was — which is the best you can hope for when you buy a luxury subcompact.

The XT4 is luxurious where it counts

The XT4 delivers on the primary things people want from a luxury car: it has cushy and comfortable leather seats. In addition, the cabin feels surprisingly spacious for both front and rear passengers, and ergonomically well-designed. For most buyers, that will be enough.

If you touch around, though, you will feel quite a few hard plastics. And, if you have intimate knowledge of GM’s entire product lineup, the XT4 can feel more like a luxed-up Chevy Equinox than a standalone luxury product.

The XT4 could use more driving character

I often find luxury crossovers skew too much towards hard and sporty. Despite my tester being the Sport trim, the XT4 overcompensates in the opposite direction. The steering felt too loose, like it had an inordinate amount of wheel travel. It was hard to regulate braking with any consistency. And while the 237-hp and nine-speed automatic often sound like they’re working hard, the XT4 is also achingly slow — more than a second behind the BMW X2 from 0-60 mph.  I don’t know what the Cadillac of small crossover driving experiences should be, but the XT4 was not it.

Price: $40,790
Drivetrain: 2.0-liter inline-four, nine-speed automatic, all-wheel-drive
Power: 237 hp, 258 lb-ft
Fuel Economy: 22 mpg city, 29 mpg highway
Seats: 5
Note: Purchasing products through our links may earn us a portion of the sale, which supports our editorial team’s mission. Learn more here.
Tyler Duffy

Tyler Duffy is Gear Patrol’s Motoring Staff Writer. He used to write about sports for The Big Lead and The Athletic. He has a black belt in toddler wrangling. He’s based outside Detroit.

More by Tyler Duffy | Follow on Facebook · Instagram · Twitter · Contact via Email

Who Needs the Electric Hummer When You Can Buy an Off-Road Tesla Model 3?

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it certainly looks cool


Tesla has built an impressive stable of S-3-X-Y electric vehicles. But one notable absence — at least until the Cybertruck starts rolling off factory lines — is anything equipped for off-roading. (The new Model Y crossover has capability so soft it became a meme.) That’s left an opening for other car companies to attack Tesla on with their own EVs capable of going beyond the pavement, whether it’s Porsche’s Taycan Cross Turismo soft-roader or the wild likes of the new GMC Hummer EV.

But now, Tesla is getting by with a little help from its friends. German tuner Delta 4×4 has stepped into that breach by offering an aftermarket off-road package for the Tesla Model 3.

The package includes a lift kit that raises the Model 3 1.4 inches, as well as special 18-inch wheels and all-terrain tires. According to Autoevolution, the entire package, depending on how fancy you want to go with the wheels and tires, costs between $2,200 and $3,000.

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That setup won’t convert the Model 3 into a Jeep Wrangler, but it could be useful if you live in a cold, snowy environment — such as Norway, where Teslas are extremely popular — or have a dirt road to traverse on the way to your house. It also just looks cool…which is a significant reason off-road accessories have become an enormous market.

There’s no mention of how this package will affect the Model 3’s aerodynamics and range, though, which could be a concern. Still, all the range in the world won’t do you any good if your car can’t make it down the road in the first place.

Note: Purchasing products through our links may earn us a portion of the sale, which supports our editorial team’s mission. Learn more here.
Tyler Duffy

Tyler Duffy is Gear Patrol’s Motoring Staff Writer. He used to write about sports for The Big Lead and The Athletic. He has a black belt in toddler wrangling. He’s based outside Detroit.

More by Tyler Duffy | Follow on Facebook · Instagram · Twitter · Contact via Email

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Prototype Ferrari 812 Superfast caught making awesome noises at Fiorano

In January, spy photographers snapped an 812 Superfast prototype testing around Maranello. Bodywork revisions included an open front intake, smoothed-out bumpers, taped-up side sills, covered air extractors behind the rear wheels, and new bodywork around the exhaust outlets with what appeared to be additional venting. The Supercar Blog suspected the prototype was a hardcore version of the 812, possibly earning the hallowed “GTO” appellation. Autoevolution went further with the speculation, writing that a reworked 6.5-liter V12 would produce 850 horsepower, a 61-hp jump over the standard 812, and would rev beyond the 9,000-rpm limit in the Ferrari LaFerrari.

At least one more of these testers has been caught on video around Ferrari’s Fiorano test track, giving us a chance to hear what’s going on underneath the patchwork skin. YouTube user Varryx got the footage, doing us the favor of including a regular 812 lapping the circuit for comparison. The differences are clear. The 812 is already praised for its glorious exhaust note. The prototype, which looks to have put on a more finished rear valance, snarls more during downshifts and bellows with a lower, angrier pitch on the flyby. 

We’re still not sure what it is, but perusing Ferrari Chat forums reveals members having a conversation about an “812 VS” for nearly two years now. VS is Italian for Versione Speciale, the thrust here being a track-focused and lighter 812. The Speciale cars began with the one-off 1955 375 MM Berlinetta Speciale — “MM” representing Mille Miglia, another name mooted for the special 812. The denomination has returned a few times throughout the decades, used most recently on the one-off 458 MM Speciale commission shows in 2016.

Keeping in mind that this is all speculation until Ferrari reveals the real thing, one Ferrari Chat poster wrote we’ll get “a somehow more powerful blistering naturally aspirated large V-12 track oriented version of the prodigious 812 Superfast. As one of, if not the last of, its kind this will be a high-priced limited edition. Likely limited to 799 pieces. Probably priced at $750,000 or more and approaching $1 million for Tailor Made cars. Prospective launch date 2020. Confidence level 80%.” That production figure matches the number of F12 TDF units Ferrari built. Another forum member said the 812 VS will make 860 metric horsepower, which comes to 848 of our horsepower.

Supposedly, Ferrari had planned the debut the car at the Geneva Motor Show. As of now, suspicions have settled on Ferrari showing an SF90 Spider in September, and this hardcore 812 VS with “organic and pure” bodywork in October or November. We’re also waiting on the mid-engined hybrid supercar spotted all over Maranello of late, so it could be an especially flouncy year for prancing horses.

The Ford Bronco Will Have a a Very Unusual Manual Transmission

<!–New Ford Bronco Stick Shift Pic Reveals a Crawler Gear • Gear Patrol<!– –>

c is for crawling, that’s good enough for me


Ford has taken what feels like an eternity to deliver the new Bronco. The company announced it was coming back in January 2017 — which, believe it or not, was before Donald Trump took office. After many, many teasers, Ford eventually planned a March reveal… only for that to be postponed due to the coronavirus pandemic. It should emerge next month, finally.

In the meantime, reporting and leaks have been rampant. We’ve seen what the new Bronco will look like, and we know many of the granular details. Now, it seems one of the major ones may have just been confirmed.

TFLCar has published photos of what appears to be the seven-speed manual shift knob from the new Bronco. In normal driving, it will function as a six-speed manual. But it has a seventh crawler gear — off to the left of 1-2 and designated with a “C” — for low-speed obstacle clearance. The photos also show that at least some Bronco trims will have lockable front and rear differentials and be able to disconnect the sway bar.

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Ford, noting its off-roading cred built up with the F-150 Raptor, has gone on record saying it believes the Bronco will be a “much superior product” to the iconic Jeep Wrangler. The features above and video Ford itself leaked of some advanced off-roading maneuvers suggest that claim may not be entirely off base.

Note: Purchasing products through our links may earn us a portion of the sale, which supports our editorial team’s mission. Learn more here.
Tyler Duffy

Tyler Duffy is Gear Patrol’s Motoring Staff Writer. He used to write about sports for The Big Lead and The Athletic. He has a black belt in toddler wrangling. He’s based outside Detroit.

More by Tyler Duffy | Follow on Facebook · Instagram · Twitter · Contact via Email

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10 Fun Used Cars With a Stick Shift You Can Buy for Less Than $10,000

The manual transmission has not yet gone extinct, but it becomes more endangered every year. Automakers are constantly cutting costs, electrifying their vehicles and incorporating new active safety features — all of which are anathema to the continued use of the old-fashioned stick.

Now, you still can buy some great new cars with a stick shift. But what was once the standard transmission has become a niche item for enthusiasts of certain vehicles. And for certain vehicles in that group, like the Jeep Wrangler, the departure of the stick may only be a matter of time.

Fortunately for those who want to row their own gears, manuals still abound in the used market. You won’t find that immaculate, low-mileage manual Toyota 4Runner for cheap — but you can find quite a few fun cars, trucks and SUVs for not a lot of money. Below, we present 10 manual transmission cars we found on sale for less than $10,000.

2014 Volkswagen GTI – $9,950

There are few affordable things in the automotive space finer than a manual transmission VW GTI. This is a one-owner California car; it’s a pre-facelift Mk7 but still reasonably similar to the version on sale today. The mileage may be a little steep, but the price tag isn’t

2009 Mini John Cooper Works — $8,997

There are cute, stylish Minis — and then there are the hard-edged John Cooper Works Minis. This hardtop Cooper still has some life left, with only 75,000 miles on the odometer.

2006 Mazda MX-5 Miata – $9,887

The Miata is one of the best driver’s cars on the market, and they are very affordable. Here’s a fetching Nordic Green Mica convertible from 2006.

2004 Ford F-250 Regular Cab Super Duty – $8,000

A V8 4×4 Ford truck with a manual? Why, yes, that certainly exists for a decent price on the used market.

2008 Mercedes C300 – $7,795

Manual-transmission Mercedes cars are rare, but they existed well into the 2000s. Here’s a C300 sedan with a six-cylinder engine and a stick shift.

2001 Jeep Wrangler Sahara – $9,000

Burgundy may not be the ideal color, but beggars can’t be choosers when it comes to a Jeep in the price range. It’s the “luxurious” Sahara trim, and there are only about 80,000 miles on the clock.

2006 BMW 325i – $8,995

There’s perhaps no BMW more classic than a rear-wheel-drive 3 Series with a six-cylinder engine and a manual transmission. This one only has about 52,000 miles on it.

2005 Ford Mustang GT – $9,000

The fifth-generation Mustang went back to basics, resulting in what is probably the best-looking Mustang since the original. This super clean black-on-black GT with a V8 has fewer than 70,000 miles.

2013 Cadillac ATS 2.0T – $9,981

No, you won’t find that pristine CTS-V wagon for $10,000. But you can get this four-pot ATS sedan, which is a delight all its own.

2013 Nissan Juke NISMO – $9,850

The eccentric, homely Juke crossover is a sure conversation starter. For some reason, Nissan made a 197-hp NISMO version with a five-speed manual.

Note: Purchasing products through our links may earn us a portion of the sale, which supports our editorial team’s mission. Learn more here.
Tyler Duffy

Tyler Duffy is Gear Patrol’s Motoring Staff Writer. He used to write about sports for The Big Lead and The Athletic. He has a black belt in toddler wrangling. He’s based outside Detroit.

More by Tyler Duffy | Follow on Facebook · Instagram · Twitter · Contact via Email

Mercedes-AMG E 63 Receives Mid-life Refresh

The rear end receives a redesign with two flatter tail lights, visually linked by a high-glass chrome trim strip. The spoiler lip is painted or finished in carbon fibre depending on if you tick the option box. The rear bumper is redesigned with a set of 90 mm trapezoidal twin tailpipes.

The power is provided by a 4.0 litre V8 which remains unchanged, providing 571 hp and 750 Nm of torque in the base E 63, 612 hp and 850 Nm of torque in the E 63 S. The S-model manages the 100 km/h sprint in just 3.4 seconds, 3.5 seconds for the Estate.