All posts in “Cars”

Forget Black Friday; Grab These Great Child Car Seats for 50% Off Now (But Act Fast)

The day after Thanksgiving that’s commonly known as Black Friday is still three weeks away, but Target is getting in on the act early, with massive 50-percent-off deals on child car seats. Buying those car seats can be confusing and expensive; these Target deals can make doing the entire process for the first time (or picking up a second seat) easy and incredibly affordable.

The Graco Nautilus 65 3-in-1 booster seat, normally $180, is on sale for $90. The Graco Slim Fit 3-1 Convertible Car Seat, usually $230, is on sale for only $115. Those two seats together can take care of all of your car seat needs from infancy through adolescence for a little over $200.

Many parents will opt for an infant car seat instead of a convertible seat for the first year. This type of seat allows you to move the potentially sleeping child from the car to a stroller quickly and easily. The Graco SnugRide SnugLock 35 LX Infant Car Seat, which includes the car seat base, is on sale for just $100.

If you want to score these great car seats for a super low price, you must act fast. These Target deals expire on November 9, which is this Saturday.

Gear Patrol also recommends:
Chicco KeyFit 30 Infant Car Seat ($200)
Bugaboo Turtle by Nuna Car Seat ($349)
Britax Advocate ClickTight Convertible Car Seat ($385)

The Tesla Pickup Truck: What You Need to Know

Electric pickup trucks have begun to appear in nascent form over the last few years; witness the Rivian R1T and the Bollinger B2. Now, however, the big dog in EVs is about to climb into the field.

Elon Musk has teasing a forthcoming Tesla pickup truck since the early 2010s — and now, the teasing is over. Musk has confirmed via Twitter that the “Cybertruck,” as he calls it, is happening very soon. Here’s what you need to know.

When will the Tesla pickup debut?

After numerous, well-chronicled delays, the launch will be November 21, 2019 in Los Angeles. Musk noted that Blade Runner began in November 2019 in Los Angeles.  That date is particularly convenient from a PR perspective, since many auto journalists will be in town for the L.A. auto show at that time. It also may be timed to steal a bit of thunder from Ford’s “Mustang-inspired” electric crossover that debuts a few days before.

What will the Tesla pickup look like?

Musk has stated the truck will have a “cyberpunk” motif. He has described it as something out of Blade Runner and the “armored personnel carrier of the future.” Tesla dropped a (notably unhelpful) teaser for it during the Model Y crossover launch. Speculation about its looks has ranged from a fairly generic pickup shape to something resembling a Mars rover.

How capable will the Tesla pickup be?

Very. Musk has said the Tesla pickup will deliver better towing and payload capabilities than the Ford F-150. It will also have better on-road performance numbers than the base model Porsche 911, according to Musk. Given the “ludicrous” performance we’ve seen from Tesla’s electric motors, meeting those claims is more plausible than most would suspect.

What will the Tesla pickup’s range be?

A large truck should be able to carry more batteries than other Tesla vehicles, like the Model 3 we tested in California earlier this year. Musk has noted there would “definitely” be an option for a 400-500-mile EPA-rated range.

How much will the Tesla pickup truck cost?

Musk stated the Tesla pickup’s target base price should be at or slightly below $50,000. Though, as with the claimed $35,000 Model 3 that exists largely in theory, it’s not certain what that will mean in practice, or when Tesla will reach that goal.

How many people will it hold?

Musk has said the truck will hold up to six people. He also promised the driver’s seat will be spacious enough to accommodate former wrestler Andre the Giant, who stood 7’4” with a listed weight of 520 pounds.

Will the Tesla pickup face competition?

Yes. Tesla’s initial forays with the Roadster, Model S, Model X, and Model 3 defined new markets for electric vehicles. With the Model Y and now the pickup, Tesla will face stiff competition. Rivian will debut its R1T pickup next year, and an electric version of Ford’s iconic F-150 should be soon to follow.

Here Are Some Overlanding-Ready Ford Super Duty Concepts

Ford will bring a veritable smorgasbord of modified vehicles to the SEMA show in November. We’ve already seen the Ford Ranger overlanding concepts. Today, Ford unveiled the company’s Super Duty concepts, which, not surprisingly, also include some rugged, purpose-built overlanders. Check out those trucks below.

BDS Suspension Ford F-350 Super Duty Crew Cab XLT

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This F-350 is an overlanding rig powered by a 6.7-liter Diesel engine. It has a four-inch lift and massive 40-inch tires. The cab includes a hardshell tent and awning, refrigerator, and two-burner gas grill among other features.

LGE-CTS Motorsports Baja Forged Ford F-250 Super Duty Crew Cab XLT

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This F-250 is another overlander with a custom bed. It’s intended to be “the Swiss army knife for the modern adventurer” with the functionality of “a mobile command center, campsite, and workshop.”

Ford Accessories F-250 Super Duty Tremor Crew Cab with Black Appearance Package

This truck shows off Ford Accessories offerings on an F-250 with the Tremor off-road package and Black Appearance package.

DeBerti Design Ford F-450 Super Duty Platinum Crew Cab

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This F-450 is designed to be the ultimate work truck with pull-out drawers and Rigid LED lights. Fret not about security; this truck also has a vault.

CGS Performance Products Ford F-250 Super Duty Tremor Crew Cab with Black Appearance Package

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This F-250 is an off-roader with the Tremor package that focuses on aesthetics with custom wheels and tires as well as custom red Sikkens paint by AkzoNobel.

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

Which New BMW 3 Series Is the Better Buy?

When it comes to cars that can do it all, few carry the cache of the BMW 3 Series. Over the past 45 years, Bimmer’s compact car has blended performance, comfort and usability in ways that have made it one of the benchmarks other automakers aim for when developing their own sedans.

Still, like the BMW M5, the 3 Series has had somewhat of a rocky road in the last few years. The luster earned in earlier generations faded a little with the fifth-generation model of the early Aughts, then dimmed a bit more with the sixth-gen version that was sold for almost the entire current decade. While still speedy and luxurious, they were largely considered to have lost some of the style and joie de conduire that defined past versions. So when BMW revealed the all-new seventh-generation car at the Paris Motor Show last year, the world held its breath to see if those motor-loving Bavarians could bring back the magic.

The new model, known internally as the G20 generation, certainly has plenty of visual pizzazz; indeed, it’s perhaps the most aggressive 3 Series since the E36 that debuted during the first Bush administration. But with the new model also came a change in the powerplant department: whereas past 3ers had offered multiple power levels below the domain of the sporty M Division’s wares, here in the States, only one car would come without the 13th letter of the alphabet appended to its name — the 330i. The only more potent version would be the M340i, designed as a halfway point between the base car and the forthcoming M3.

The Big Differences

As anyone with some basic knowledge of BMW nomenclature has probably figured out by now, the largest difference between these two 3ers is what lies beneath their hoods. Those numbers long since stopped corresponding to exact displacements, but bigger numbers still mean bigger engines: the 330i packs a turbocharged 2.0-liter inline-four making 255 horsepower and 294 pound-feet of torque, while the M340i uses a turbocharged 3.0-liter inline-six that spins up 382 hp and 369 lb-ft.

Further setting the M340i apart: a limited-slip differential for the rear axle, a stiffer suspension that gives the car a 0.4-inch-lower ride, and wheel camber revised for better grip. It also scores a distinct grille where the traditional upright valances have been replaced with odd shapes that, from a distance, vaguely resemble the dotted lines notating the different cuts of meat on a butcher’s illustration of a cow.

The Similarities

Apart from that, however, these two 3 Series models are about as similar as they come. Or rather, they can be, if you spec the 330i to match the M340i by picking the M Sport package, which includes a more aggressive front fascia, a sport-tuned suspension and variable-ratio sport steering (delivered via the same chunky steering wheel found in the M340i) for an extra $5,200.

Unlike the aggressive M Sport six-cylinder car, however, you can also opt to have your 330i in more sedate form; just opt for the Sport or Luxury packages, which also open the door to different paint and trim options you can’t have in the other version.

Both 3 Series models come with a sole choice of transmission (an eight-speed automatic) and the same two choices of driven wheels (rear or all four). Whereas Americans used to be able to choose between a wide variety of 3 Series body styles, the lineup has currently been culled down to just four-door sedans; coupes and convertibles have been rebranded under the 4 Series moniker, while the station wagon and the bloated Gran Turismo versions have both been tossed from showrooms. (Europeans, of course, can still buy a 3 Series wagon; perhaps BMW will take a page from Audi and bring the two-box 3er here at some point, but that seems unlikely for now.)

What’s That Mean in the Real World?

95 percent of the time, driving an M340i feels exactly the same as driving a 330i. Both 3ers are comfortable highway cruisers, as you’d expect of any car born in the land of the autobahn; even at speeds well above what your driver’s ed teacher would advise you to do, it’s rock-steady and reassuring.

My 330i had the M Sport package, and the resulting sport suspension meant it felt pretty much as capable as the M340i in the turns I pushed it through. Admittedly, I wasn’t pushing the cars anywhere close to their limits — I had passengers and cargo in the car both times I reached fun stretches of road — so it’s likely that the M340i would be more confident and rewarding at max attack than the lesser car.

Both cars suffer from the poor steering feel that’s an unfortunate characteristic of many BMWs today. While the helms are responsive, there’s little of the feedback that characterizes great steering and helps bring joy to the act of driving. So far as your hands are concerned, you might as well be turning a very fast-acting video game racing rig, not something connected to the front wheels.

Optioned up the way my test cars were, they both came with all the bits of high-tech frippery BMW has to throw at the 3er, too. The new Live Cockpit Pro is just a fancy name for the sort of reconfigurable digital instrument panel found on plenty of cars nowadays; it’s certainly clear and effective, though it does pack a couple of minor issues, like a tachometer that goes in a counterintuitive counter-clockwise direction and a theoretically-useful central display zone that can’t be used to show anything of actual use. Wireless Apple CarPlay is a handy, BMW-only feature that makes you both more likely to use its hand features and could help save your cell phone battery (every other version of CarPlay involves leaving the phone plugged in for long periods, which is exactly what it doesn’t like). And the gesture-based infotainment controls that let you change the volume or radio station with a wave of your hand remain one of the more delightful new features in the automotive space, even if they don’t work quite as reliably as you’d like.

The remaining five percent of the time, of course, are those moments when you’re driving with, as JFK would have said, vigah. 382 horsepower is nothing to scoff at, and nobody makes inline-sixes quite as smooth and delightful as BMW; pushing your foot into the accelerator produces a thrilling burst of fluid acceleration that’ll make you wonder if, like the Supra that shares an engine with it, this Bimmer is making more power than claimed.

Yet even that five percent isn’t as great a difference as you’d think. The limited-slip differential in back no doubt makes it faster around a track, but in the real world, the 330i feels plenty well-balanced in the turns. And the turbo four found beneath the lesser 3’s hood is no slouch; it’ll still zip from 0 to 60 miles per hour in five and a half seconds or less, which is fast enough to hurl you onto highways, around traffic and down winding back roads with glee. (Plus, it racks up far better fuel economy than the six-cylinder; Car and Driver found it averaged 42 miles per gallon at 75 mph.) The gearbox is every bit as clever as the M340i’s, leaping to the right gear whenever you need.

Granted, the four-cylinder engine lacks the characteristic purr of an inline-six, but that’s ultimately a minor concern for a sedan like this. A sweet engine note matters only for those few seconds you’re flooring it, and the 330i is quick enough that you won’t have to listen for long. Besides, if you really can’t stand it, that’s what the stereo is for.

The Verdict

Unless you’re planning on hitting the autocross or race track every couple weekends, it’s hard to see any reason to fork over an extra $10,000 or more for the M340i. That’s not a slight against the M Sport model; it’s more a credit to how solid the basic 330i is. It may not be the default choice in its class anymore — there are too many great competitors out there, from the Kia Stinger GT and the Genesis G70 to the Jaguar XE and the Alfa Romeo Giulia — but it’s still a solid choice for anyone looking for a blend of fun and practicality in their daily driver.

BMW provided these products for review.

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Hot takes and in-depth reviews on noteworthy, relevant and interesting products. Read the Story
Note: Purchasing products through our links may earn us a portion of the sale, which supports our editorial team’s mission. Learn more here.

Before Winter Hits, Make Sure Your Car Has These Essential Items

As they used to say on some old TV show: winter is coming. That means it’s time to prepare your vehicle for the onslaught of cold air and frozen water that’s fast approaching. That could mean buying some high-end snow tires (indeed, it should mean that if you don’t have them already). But you should also pick up these portable, reasonably-priced pieces of gear and keep them in your car ahead of winter’s arrival, just in case. These items will let you be prepared for most cold-weather eventualities — without commandeering too much trunk space.

Grand Trunk Throw Travel Blanket

Grand Trunk’s throw travel blanket is lightweight and portable, and comes with an attached carrier bag. It features a particularly cozy foot pocket. It’s machine washable. And it may not match whatever motif your significant other has going on in the bedroom or living room, so your car is an excellent place for it.

Birdrock Home Snow Moover Small Car Brush and Ice Scraper

You can go cheap with your ice scraper and brush. You can go expensive and complicated, too. Birdrock Home offers the simple, compact, lightweight Goldilocks option: an ice scraper and brush with a foam grip and non-scratch jaws, for a little less than $20.

Streamlight ProTac 2L-X Flashlight

It’s dark a lot of the time during winter. Make yourself — and what you’re working on — more visible with the Streamlight ProTac 2L-X. It’s waterproof, made from durable anodized machined aircraft aluminum and has three different operating modes, including a strobe light for signaling for help.

Lifeline Aluminum Sport Utility Shovel

This bit of gear makes it easy to forget you’re lugging a shovel around — until that day you need it. This aluminum shovel from Lifeline weighs just 1.6 pounds. It separates into three pieces for easy storage. You can also adjust the length for better leverage.

Jackery Bolt 6000 Portable Charger

Your smartphone is your connection to the outside world in an emergency, and how you’ll keep your children entertained during better times. The pocket-sized Jackery Bolt 6000 can charge up to three devices at once, and charge an iPhone to full multiple times over. It also has a helpful built-in flashlight.

Carhartt Men’s W.B. Waterproof Breathable Insulated Glove

There are better gloves for sports and specified tasks, and there are fancy deerskin gloves for a night on the town. Carhatt’s W.B. glove is a reasonably-priced all-arounder that’s insulated and waterproof. You won’t mind keeping them in your car.

SlimK LED Emergency Road Flares

A flare gun may be overkill: you probably won’t need to signal the Coast Guard from your car. These LED road flares from SlimK are an excellent alternative. They have nine different flashing modes, up to 36 hours of battery of life, and can be viewed from up to a mile away at night.

HotHands Hand Warmer Value Pack

You need to keep your extremities warm during an emergency — or pretty much any winter event. So pick up a value pack of HotHands hand warmers and keep them in your glove box. They air activate in 15-30 minutes.

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

Prepare Your Car for Winter With These Essential Items

As they used to say on some old TV show: winter is coming. That means it’s time to prepare your vehicle for the onslaught of cold air and frozen water that’s fast approaching. That could mean buying some high-end snow tires (indeed, it should mean that if you don’t have them already). But you should also pick up these portable, reasonably-priced pieces of gear and keep them in your car ahead of winter’s arrival, just in case. These items will let you be prepared for most cold-weather eventualities — without commandeering too much trunk space.

Grand Trunk Throw Travel Blanket

Grand Trunk’s throw travel blanket is lightweight and portable, and comes with an attached carrier bag. It features a particularly cozy foot pocket. It’s machine washable. And it may not match whatever motif your significant other has going on in the bedroom or living room, so your car is an excellent place for it.

Birdrock Home Snow Moover Small Car Brush and Ice Scraper

You can go cheap with your ice scraper and brush. You can go expensive and complicated, too. Birdrock Home offers the simple, compact, lightweight Goldilocks option: an ice scraper and brush with a foam grip and non-scratch jaws, for a little less than $20.

Streamlight ProTac 2L-X Flashlight

It’s dark a lot of the time during winter. Make yourself — and what you’re working on — more visible with the Streamlight ProTac 2L-X. It’s waterproof, made from durable anodized machined aircraft aluminum and has three different operating modes, including a strobe light for signaling for help.

Lifeline Aluminum Sport Utility Shovel

This bit of gear makes it easy to forget you’re lugging a shovel around — until that day you need it. This aluminum shovel from Lifeline weighs just 1.6 pounds. It separates into three pieces for easy storage. You can also adjust the length for better leverage.

Jackery Bolt 6000 Portable Charger

Your smartphone is your connection to the outside world in an emergency, and how you’ll keep your children entertained during better times. The pocket-sized Jackery Bolt 6000 can charge up to three devices at once, and charge an iPhone to full multiple times over. It also has a helpful built-in flashlight.

Carhartt Men’s W.B. Waterproof Breathable Insulated Glove

There are better gloves for sports and specified tasks, and there are fancy deerskin gloves for a night on the town. Carhatt’s W.B. glove is a reasonably-priced all-arounder that’s insulated and waterproof. You won’t mind keeping them in your car.

SlimK LED Emergency Road Flares

A flare gun may be overkill: you probably won’t need to signal the Coast Guard from your car. These LED road flares from SlimK are an excellent alternative. They have nine different flashing modes, up to 36 hours of battery of life, and can be viewed from up to a mile away at night.

HotHands Hand Warmer Value Pack

You need to keep your extremities warm during an emergency — or pretty much any winter event. So pick up a value pack of HotHands hand warmers and keep them in your glove box. They air activate in 15-30 minutes.

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

This Is Our First Real Glimpse of the All-New BMW M3

The year 2019 has been jam-packed with the debuts of some of the most hotly-anticipated new cars, trucks and SUVs in recent memory, with vehicles like the Land Rover Defender, the Porsche Taycan and the Subaru Outback popping out from under camouflage. But there’s one notable car scheduled to arrive soon that we still haven’t seen yet: the new BMW M3.

At least, we hadn’t seen it until now.

The image above — first posted to the Facebook page of Evolve Automotive, then pushed into broader circulation by the sleuths at Autocar — appears almost certainly to be a leaked image of the all-new M3’s rear end. (While it’s obviously possible it could be a well-made fake, details like the presence of the reflections and light patterns on the car lead us to believe it’s the real deal.)

As you can see, two pairs of burly exhaust pipes — seemingly real ones, not the fake type we’ve decried in the past — protrude from below the rear bumper, and are surrounded by an aggressive, body-colored rear diffuser. (Autocar points out that the actual diffuser may be a larger part that fits over the red area we see here; we’ll have to wait and see if they’re correct.) A thin black spoiler along the trunk lid looks surprisingly similar to the one found on the M3’s Italian competitor, the Alfa Romeo Giulia Quadrifoglio. Wider fender flares around the rear wheels give the hips a beefier look.

What else do we know about the new BMW M3?

The new M3 is based on the G20-generation 3 Series, which went on sale in the spring of 2019.

It’s expected to use the same twin-turbo inline-six found in the BMW X3 M and X4 M that we drove earlier this year; like those cars and the new M5 alike, it will likely arrive in both regular and Competition forms, with the former likely making around 480 horsepower and the latter breaching the 500-hp barrier.

While all-wheel-drive and a fast-shifting automatic transmission will be on tap for higher-end versions, BMW has also stated that the new M3 will come in a so-called “pure” version that offers a manual gearbox and rear-wheel-drive.

Oh, and the related M4 coupe and convertible may look…well, they may wind up looking like this. Children, avert your gaze.

The Quick and Easy Guide to Choosing a Children’s Car Seat

One rite of passage all new parents have to undergo these days: choosing a car seat. Sometimes it’s a choice that comes when filling out a baby registry; other times, it’s a choice they make when buying one themselves. No matter how they get there, it’s likely the first time those parents have encountered car seats since they occupied one, and they might find themselves a bit confused by the changes that have hit the youth-safety world since then.

After all, safety standards are continuously evolving. Children now require multiple types of car seats as they age. There are a lot of brands, many with confusing Scandinavian- and Italian-sounding names. Price tags can be extravagant, and it can be hard to figure out what all the myriad features do.

To help clear things up, we’ve put together a quick guide to help you navigate the confusing world of child seats. One important thing to note: more expensive does not necessarily mean safer. All seats from reputable providers must meet NHTSA crash test standards. Generally speaking, the more expensive seats simply bring added ease of use and better-quality materials.

Infant Car Seat

Infant car seats are, you guessed it, for infants. They are lightweight and portable, and they face backwards when installed correctly. They tend to be used for children between 4–30 lbs. Unless you have a future NFL lineman on your hands, that seat should last through the first year.

These seats often have a base they click into, and may come with a companion stroller. They have a padded newborn insert that can be removed as the child grows.

Chicco KeyFit 30

The Chicco KeyFit 30 is easy to install, with or without its base. It works with a wide range of strollers and can be removed or tightened with one hand. The shell is lined with EPS energy-absorbing foam to protect against impacts. Crucially, it offers the same performance as some of the top brands for about $80–$100 cheaper.

Nuna Bugaboo Turtle

Another option: the Bugaboo Turtle by Nuna infant car seat. It is designed for maximum portability, with an ergonomic handle and a weight of just 8.8 pounds. There’s a removable and washable insert made from lightweight merino wool. It can be paired with the Bugaboo Fox stroller to create a complete travel system.

Convertible Car Seat

Convertible seats are adjustable for different stages of a child’s life. Most are 3-in-1 models that accommodate infants, younger toddlers who still sit facing backwards and older toddlers who face forwards. They offer a broader range of weight capacities than infant seats — typically around 5–65 pounds. They are heavier and far less portable, however; a convertible seat typically remains in the car.

Britax Advocate ClickTight

The Britax Advocate ClickTight convertible car seat has a steel frame, an impact-absorbing base and three layers of side impact-absorbing technology. It also features an anti-rebound bar that reduces the force of a crash. It offers 14 different harness positions and seven different reclining options to accommodate almost every child.

Graco Extend2Fit

For a budget option, consider the Graco Extend2Fit convertible seat. It’s easy to install with its “one-second in right LATCH” system. It’s versatile, with 10 different headrest positions, six-position reclining and a four-position extension panel that can add about five inches of legroom. It’s a single seat that can handle your kid from the hospital to preschool.

Clek Foonf Mammoth

If money is no object, consider the Clek Foonf Mammoth. Besides being fun to say, the Mammoth version is flame-retardant free and uses 100 percent merino wool fabric to help your child regulate temperature during all four seasons. The 33-pound car seat describes itself as “built like a tank” with a solid metal substructure, inner and outer energy-absorbing foam layers and aluminum honeycomb crumple technology. Be advised, you will need a Clek Infant Thingy (sold separately) to use the seat for infants.

Booster Seat

Children move from a convertible seat to a booster seat when they exceed the height and/or weight restrictions of the former. It boosts the child to a position where the seatbelt lays across their chest as it would on an adult. These can be both high-back or backless. The child uses the booster seat until he or she is 4’9” tall — or until the seatbelt fits normally and their knees bend at the edge of the seat.

Chicco KidFit 2-in-1

The Chicco KidFit 2-in-1 booster seat can be used as both a high-backed or backless booster seat. It has ErgoBoost double foam padding for extra comfort. It’s also easy to clean; the fold-out cupholders are removable and dishwasher-safe, and the seat pad and armrest cushions can be removed and machine-washed.

Peg Perego Viaggio Flex 120

For a more upscale option, check out the Peg Perego Viaggio Flex 120. It can be adjusted in four different ways and offers five different recline levels for maximum comfort. It has an aluminum-reinforced backrest to protect against whiplash. When not being used, this booster seat folds in on itself for easy storage.

The 8 Best Family Cars For New Dads

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Some helpful suggestions for your first “adult” vehicle. Read the Story

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

This High-Tech, Off-Road Camper Van Is the Future of #VanLife

While #vanlife may have once been the domain of old VWs and off-road-modified Econolines, it’s about to get a serious high-tech upgrade. German motorhome manufacturer Hymer has partnered with chemical giant BASF on the VisionVenture campervan to give us a window into what the near future of camper vans will likely look like. The concept incorporates 20 high-performance plastics, 100 3D-printed components, and a new type of reflective paint to present a “near-production glimpse into the future of van life.”

That glimpse of the future includes an awesome panoramic, yacht-like deck in the rear of the vehicle. It also involves quite a bit of cool new technology and innovative material. The VisionVenture employs so-called “Chromacool” paint that reflects infrared light, reducing heat on the surface of the vehicle — and consequently in the cabin, by as much as seven degrees Fahrenheit. That paint minimizes the strain on the air conditioning, permitting heat-conscious van buyers to expand their color palettes beyond “white” and “very nearly white.”

Another key feature is the self-inflating pop-top roof that rises in less than a minute. An Elastollan coating provides the top with added water and wind resistance. The air in the inflatable walls serves as additional insulation, as well.

The high-tech construction also allow for some interesting use of materials. BASF’s Veneto Slate, used as the walls in what’s delicately described as the “wellness area,” is a flexible material with a thin, lightweight natural slate surface. The camper van also uses a mixture of plastic and hemp fibers as a lightweight alternative to wood for cabinet doors and kitchen fronts.

Sadly, don’t expect this precise van to hit the streets anytime soon — or down the road. “Near-production” more likely means Hymer will incorporate some of these VisionVenture features on its campers and motorhomes, rather than crank out this exact model. In the meantime, however, you can check out the in-production present of #vanlife with this Sportsmobile 4×4 overlanding beast, or this forbidden fruit Westfalia model.

Daniel Craig Customized a Special Aston Martin for the Neiman Marcus Christmas Catalog

Every year, Neiman Marcus releases a collection of items for their Christmas catalog that, if we’re being frank, is completely absurd, over the top and only for the incredibly rich. We’re not buying any of…

2020 Ford Mustang EcoBoost HPP Review: The Boost Is Loose

The total package is remarkable. It starts with the aforementioned 2.3-liter Focus RS engine, modified with a larger turbocharger and larger radiator and running at 22 pounds of boost. 90 percent of peak torque is founded between 2,500 and 5,300 rpm, a range 40 percent wider than a base Mustang EcoBoost engine. The car pulls hard, revs climb all day, yet it’s not brash; it’s all usable power. And it’s very well-mated to the chassis; it feels genuinely more nimble than the Mustang GT. Having a four-banger under the hood saves some weight up front as well, allowing for an oh-so-nicely-balanced weight distribution of 53/47.

The car’s balanced proportions can be complemented via two options; to see what’s what, Ford had journalists hit up California’s undulating Highway 1 just north of the Golden Gate Bridge to test themselves. Option number one, the High Performance Pack, adds performance tires, brakes, and chassis and aero bits from the Mustang GT Performance Package to the EcoBoost. You can up the experience by opting for the Handling Pack on top of that, and you should: it’s transformative. You could never DIY-upgrade your car to the extent of what this $1,995 option brings to the table: magnetic ride dampers, a limited-slip differential, 19×9.5-inch Pirelli P Zero Corsa4 summer tires, a thicker rear swaybar and a pair of grippy Recaro seats.

All of these components effectively shrink the Mustang: the package urges you to carve through abrupt off-camber canyon turns, tap the brakes, then accelerate out with more confidence than you would in plenty of other cars, ones with more power and less attention to handling detail.

This Mustang is loud, too. Rev the motor to the max (in Sport+ mode, of course) then upshift, and you’ll get exhaust pops loud enough to trigger janky car alarms. Bopping around town, the rev-matching 10-speed automatic is a little jerky, but some time with the car ought to help drivers learn its quirks and adapt. (Still, we suggest the six-speed manual.)

While you can’t hear much of the turbo hiss inside the cabin, it is audible from the street — or inside with the windows down. Speaking of inside, the car’s interior is pretty basic; that said, you can option it up with items like a digital instrument panel, extended leather and color-matched dashboard stitching.

Every car picks up a gimmicky (albeit thoughtful) dashboard plaque with a unique chassis number plate. And aside from two conservative “High Performance 2.3L” badges mounted to the quarter panels, there’s not a whole lot to commemorate what might only be a 10,000 unit run. Perhaps they should have made the Handling Pack standard, gone all-in with this as a special model, and dubbed it an SVO for nostalgia’s sake

Verdict:With so many choices on the entry-level sports car field, the HPP with Handling Pack is a dark horse candidate — but one that can run with the best of ‘em.

2020 Ford Mustang EcoBoost HPP: Key Specs

Powertrain: 2.3-liter turbocharged inline-four; six-speed manual or 10-speed automatic; rear wheel drive
Horsepower: 332
Torque: 350 lf-ft
EPA Fuel Economy: 20 mpg city, 27 mpg highway
Curb Weight: 3,632 lbs

Ford hosted us and provided this product for review.

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Lunaz Design Electric Classic Cars

Purists might consider electrifying automotive legends just plain wrong, but Lunaz Design is taking the glorious automotive past and infusing them with zero-emissions powertrains that extend the lives of these special cars. The company takes…

No Car Sparks Joy Like the Lamborghini Aventador SVJ

One of the principal tenants of Gear Patrol is that the right product can serve and enrich people’s lives. But to do that, you have to find the right product for the task — or the right task for the product.

I bring this up because the Lamborghini Aventador SVJ is, admittedly, very rarely going to be the ideal product for whatever the task at hand. It’s a car that costs as much as a mansion. It’s so wide that parking feels dangerous — those scissor doors aren’t for show, they’re so you don’t ding adjacent vehicles half a block away — yet the interior is as cramped as the cockpit of the fighter jets it looks like it wants to be. It rides low enough that it’ll scrape over rocks the size of squirrel boogers. Its mighty V12 vents heat as prolifically and consistently as Old Faithful, blurring what little backwards visibility you have in a haze.

The list of tasks and people for whom the Aventador SVJ is the perfect product for the job is, as a result, fairly short. If you’re looking to lap the famous 12.9-mile German racetrack called the Nurburgring Nordschleife faster than any other production car, it’s the right machine for the task. If you’re a billionaire Gotham City crimefighter looking for a car to bridge the gap between his diurnal and nocturnal rides, you couldn’t do better.

And, as it turns, it’s the perfect car to surprise someone with a birthday ride.

My mother, who lives in Vermont, insists upon but one gift for her birthday every year: for me to visit and take her out to dinner at her favorite restaurant in a surprise cool car. With each passing year, however, she’s insisted upon something more exciting than the year before; given that 2016’s visit involved a BMW Z4, 2017’s pop-in came in a Chevy Corvette Grand Sport and 2018’s birthday revolved around a Mercedes-AMG GT C, this year requires something in the supercar category in order to raise the bar yet again. Hence: this half-million-dollar-plus Lamborghini.

The fact that this gives me an opportunity to cane a 759-horsepower supercar on some of New York and Vermont’s most bucolic roads? Totally a coincidence.

Getting to those roads, however, involves bobbing, weaving, and crawling along the worst of New York City’s streets. The Lambo isn’t happy in the city; driving it along the avenues and side streets feels like walking a tiger on a leash. Every pothole sends a crash through the carbon-fiber body, in spite of the best efforts of the magnetorheological dampers. Those brass-colored rims wear just enough tire to grip the road; any additional sidewall would hurt the handling, which means there’s almost none to soak up any imperfections in the city’s very imperfect pavement. Traffic, thankfully, gives it a wide berth, no doubt scared off by the feral face, Grigio Telesto paint job and the spoiler large enough to be pulled off a Boeing.

Once out of the city, the Raging Bull starts to come into its own. The Taconic Parkway that winds north from the Bronx to the edge of Albany is so narrow, the Lamborghini’s 83 inches of width seems to suck up every micron of the lane — which is particularly jarring when there’s a rock wall on one side of you and a Chevy Suburban on the other. Still, if you can’t move from side to side, you can always move forwards or back. The brakes take a little getting used to, thanks to a dash of softness at the top of the travel, but once they bite, they do it like a great white shark; this Lamborghini will stop from 60 miles per hour in less than 100 feet, which means bopping back to find a gap is breathtakingly easy.

Or, of course, you could try and pass that annoying car alongside you. Well, not try; you can pass that car alongside you, pretty much no matter what it is or how fast it’s going. Snap the long paddle protruding to the left of the steering wheel once or twice to drop the seven-speed gearbox down a cog or two to put the 6.5-liter engine into the sweet spot of its power band, and the gas pedal becomes the trigger on a catapult, launching you forward with what feels like the sort of force usually reserved for NASA employees and Navy pilots. But while you come for the thrust, you stay for the sound: the scream flowing from those 12 cylinders as they pump faster and faster qualifies as a religious experience for gearheads.

As the miles go on, the Lambo’s secrets start to reveal themselves. The drive mode selector is best toggled to the ever-so-appropriate Ego mode, which lets you personalize the suspension, engine and steering setting: Corsa (the raciest) is best for the steering, as it locks the rack’s ratio (it’s variable in the other modes); Strada (the most relaxed) is ideal for the suspension, as you’ll want every dram of compliance you can steal here; and Sport (the intermediate) is best for the throttle, because it frees up the throttle and exhaust without being quite as grating as angry Corsa. The cabin — which seemed surprisingly accommodating for my six-foot-four-inch frame at first — proves too cramped for more than a couple hours of seat time without stopping to stretch; I climb out limping more than once, my legs cramping up from the seat bolsters pushing incessantly into my thighs.

Above all else, though, every quiet country bend and empty rural route reveals how stunningly, stupefyingly delightful this Lambo is to drive. The SVJ is the second car to benefit from Lamborghini’s miraculous air-vectoring “Aerodinamica Lamborghini Attiva” system, which shunts the air rushing past about to adjust the car’s aerodynamics. It even helps the car turn faster, blocking airflow on one side or another in a manner not unlike dragging a kayak’s paddle in the water helps it turn. A display on the instrument panel lets you see when it’s working…though at the speeds where it works, you probably ought to be staring at the road.

What matters is that it gives this massive car the sort of agility you wouldn’t normally associate with something of its size. Combined with the razor-sharp steering rack and the rear-wheel steering, the SVJ feels nimble as a new Supra when you push it.

And while the car’s speed is apparent even on fast-moving highways, it’s only once you find a clear stretch of road that you can really experience it. The naturally-aspirated V12 pulls hard no matter what speed it’s turning at, with the power rising and rising all the way to its 8,500 rpm peak — just 200 rpm shy of redline. You barely touch those last thousand rpm in the real world; partly because the engine spins up so fast that you don’t want to slap against the rev limiter, but more because, well, you never need that last burst. It’s just so damn fast.

The end result is a car that feels like it could beat anything on a winding road. An old ad for the Ford GT comes to mind: In what gear do you know that nothing can catch you? It’s not hard to see how this Lambo could beat all production car comers at the Nurburgring; that track is effectively the ultimate winding road, one that just happens to be behind some tall fencing.

Would I buy it, if I had the $518K-plus needed to park this wild machine in my garage? I never would have thought so before this, but yeah. In part, because it is as capable as those looks lead you to believe; it can cash the checks its design writes. But more because, well…it’s just plain fun.

Not just in the traditional sense espoused by the likes of your Miatas and M3s, although there’s more of that than you’d expect. Not just because you drive it knowing it may well be the last of the cruel old Lamborghinis, the final installment in a raw, guttural line stretching back to that first obscene Countach of nearly 50 years ago. The Aventador’s replacement, should there be one — hardly a given — will, at the very least, presumably have its V12 fury tempered by hybrid technology and a dual-clutch transmission, if not see that 12-cylinder engine swapped for one with eight or 10 pistons like the sorts found in the Urus and Huracan.

But the most entertaining part of the Aventador SVJ isn’t how much fun it is to manhandle down a winding road or crack through traffic. It’s the reactions you get from everyone else around you. To borrow a pop culture reference from a little while back, it Marie Kondo-es the road: the Aventador SVJ sparks joy wherever it goes. Nothing makes people stop and stare like a Lamborghini. That’s doubly true for a scissor-winged V12 bull like the Aventador, and triply true for this bewinged badass. It’s like the SVJ taps into some primal genetic memory of what a sports car is. Stop for gas (a frequent occurrence), and people wander over to ask questions. Passengers (and occasionally drivers) of other cars whip out phones to take pictures as you flash by. Crowds spontaneously form around it wherever it’s parked. I chase a motorcyclist down a back road for a few miles; when he turns off ahead of me at the end of it, he throws his fist in the air like Judd Nelson at the end of The Breakfast Club. 

At the end of the journey, I pull up in front of my mother, and she starts laughing uncontrollably, as though she’s doing an impromptu Joker impression.

“Okay, this is pretty cool,” she says as she drops into the passenger’s seat. She drops an expletive or two in there, as well.

So how am I going to top this with an even faster, wilder car? Thankfully, I don’t need to. Mom says she wants to go off-roading in a Jeep Gladiator next year.

2019 Lamborghini Aventador SVJ: Key Specs

Base Price (Price as Tested): $517,770 ($583,470)
Powertrain: 6.5-liter V12; seven-speed sequential manual gearbox; all-wheel-drive
Horsepower: 759
Torque: 531 lb-ft
0-60 MPH: 2.5 seconds (Motor Trend testing)
Top Speed: The scary side of 217 mph

Lamborghini provided this product for review.

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Barbour Modified a Vintage Range Rover, and It Could Be Yours

Barbour is known worldwide for luxurious waxed cloth jackets that are high-fashion, functional in all weather, and quintessentially English. Now the company is partnering with Orvis to celebrate its 125th anniversary by giving away a car that embodies those same characteristics, a vintage Range Rover.

The SUV in question is a 1995 Range Rover County. It certainly looks the part. The exterior is painted in classic Land Rover Epsom Green. The interior offers exceptional Barbour tartan detailing on the seats and door panels. Barbour and Orvis claim this model would be worth $125,000, on par with an artfully restored Defender.

Normally, one might consider a 1995 Range Rover cruel and unusual punishment to inflict on someone. That Range Rover generation, while beautiful, is legendary for its frequent and costly mechanical and electrical failures. But Barbour and Orvis assert this model has been “carefully refurbished with parts and modern technologies by a highly-skilled and dedicated team.” The Range Rover also has a new 4.6-liter V8.

Legal U.S. residents can enter the sweepstakes online, in-store, and by mail through March 31, 2020. Other prizes include men’s and women’s Barbour jackets and Orvis gift cards.

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The 8 Best Family Cars for New Dads

Having your first child is a magical (and, at times, exhausting) experience. It brings plenty of changes to your life — not the least of which is likely to be a new set of wheels. Your life’s revised needs will likely require a new car purchase — a car that might well be the first “adult” vehicle of your life. (Sorry, but the Scion tC you’ve been driving since college won’t cut it anymore.)

New parents need cars that are safe, practical and reasonably priced (don’t forget you now need to think about childcare and college savings). But many such new parents are also young and hip — not quite ready to become full-on middle-aged drones just yet. Here are some compelling non-minivan options for new parents looking for style and substance alike.


Subaru Outback

The Subaru Outback appears on many a “best” list for value and capability. If you don’t have a particular need for speed, it’s one of the best all-around affordable cars on the market. The Outback is durable and rugged, with Subaru’s all-wheel-drive system and 8.7 inches of ground clearance. It’s also safe — Subaru’s EyeSight system with pre-collision braking comes standard — and practical, with up to 75.3 cubic feet of cargo room. The Outback will last forever, and you can get a newly-redesigned one for less than $30,000.

Subaru Forester

The Subaru Forester warrants mention, as well. The Forester brings the same safety and ruggedness in a boxier, more traditional crossover-like package than the Outback. It offers a hair more cargo space than the Outback, as well. Subaru made a point to give the Forester wide rear doors (great for car seats) and a wide trunk opening (great for that massive amount of baby gear you now have to cart around).

Volvo XC40

Volvos strike the perfect parental balance: they’re nice, but not pretentious. Volvo also has a well-earned reputation for producing the safest cars on the road. The XC40, an IIHS Top Safety Pick+, stands out in both respects. It looks phenomenal, offers genuinely sporty driving capabilities in 248-horsepower spec, and makes up for a not-overly-large cargo bay with smart design and useful storage cubbies.

Toyota Highlander Hybrid

Yeah, the Highlander is not as cool as a 4Runner, but it’s more practical in almost every other way. The hybrid version puts out 306 horsepower, reaches 30 mpg in the city, has three rows of seats, and begins with a price point in the $30,000 range. Toyota Safety Sense technology comes standard. The Highlander has 83.7 cubic feet of available cargo space. And, if you only buy American,  know that Toyota builds them in Indiana.

Honda CR-V

The CR-V does not ooze personality, and it won’t compete with the Subaru for ruggedness. But there are plenty of reasons Honda sells CR-Vs by the hundreds of thousands in the United States every year. This CUV is comfortable, spacious (it has up to 75.8 cubic feet of cargo space), and offers good handling. The starting MSRP begins below $25,000. The 2020 refresh will bring a hybrid version that bumps the horsepower up over 200 and improves fuel efficiency by 50 percent.

Honda Accord

Contrary to SUV-favoring popular belief, a sedan can still be a good family car. Honda’s full-size Accord is a consistently excellent one. The Accord offers standard driver assistance features, a sizable rear seat and a decent-sized trunk. Want to protect the environment and save for the college fund? You can buy a dual-motor hybrid Accord that achieves 48 mpg. Rather have fun driving instead? Honda will sell you an Accord with 251 horsepower, 273 lb-ft of torque and a six-speed manual for just above $30,000.

Kia Telluride

Most new families won’t need seating for eight — if they do, they’re probably in negotiations to star in a TLC show — but why not plan ahead? The Kia Telluride drives well, feels luxurious inside and out — and it will charge every device conceivable thanks to five USB ports and three 12-volt power outlets. Need cargo space? This ride has as much as 87 cubic feet. And don’t forget about eight inches of ground clearance and all-wheel-drive, in case you’d like to indulge in a little soft-roading. Starting MSRP for a Telluride is a family-friendly $31,690.

Volkswagen Golf Sportwagen

Volkswagen is phasing out its wagons from the U.S. market after 2019. That’s a shame because the Golf Sportwagen is one of the best value cars on the market. It combines the Golf’s superb handling and torque with an SUV-like 66.5-cubic-feet of cargo space. It comes with a six-speed manual, and the front-wheel-drive version earns an impressive 32 mpg combined. More impressive is the price point — starting under $22,000. Oh, and VW offers a six-year or 72,000-mile warranty through the end of 2019.

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

Ford’s Overlanding Ranger Concepts Will Make You Forget the Ranger Raptor

As you may not be surprised to learn, overlanding and off-roading have been two of the strongest market forces behind the midsize truck segment‘s resurgence. This fact has not inspired Ford to bring the Ranger Raptor sold abroad to America. But the company has heard the call for aggressive pickup truck modification: Ford added a dealer-installed lift kit to the Ranger’s options suite in September.

That pales in comparison to these new rigs, however. The company will also display five overlanding-modified Rangers (and one street-oriented model) at the 2019 SEMA show in November. None has a V6, of course, but all will have you itching to hit the trail. Check out those off-road-ready Rangers below below.

RTR Rambler Ranger

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The RTR Rambler Ranger is an overlanding vehicle that includes a two-inch lift, a SkyRise roof tent and an integrated snowboard support capsule, among other features.

Yakima Ford Ranger

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This Ranger, produced with Yakima, is an overlander outfitted with racks for all manner of outdoor sports equipment.

Advanced Accessories Concepts Ford Ranger

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The Advanced Accessories Concepts Ford Ranger is another overlander with a 3.5-inch lift, an array of armor plating on the underbelly and a 50-quart refrigerator.

Hellwig Ford Ranger

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The Hellwig Ford Ranger is for the eco-conscious performance truck enthusiast — if that’s not an oxymoron — and includes a Goal Zero solar power system to help off-set the carbon footprint you accrued getting to the campsite.

Ford Performance Parts Ranger

This Ford Performance Parts Ranger includes — you guessed it — a range of Ford Performance Parts add-ons, including the aforementioned two-inch lift kit.

The Tjin Edition Ranger

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Designers Neil and Collin Tjin created a slammed, pavement-oriented Ranger lowered on an air suspension. It’s no good for off-roading, but it sure looks distinctive.

The Complete Midsize Truck Buying Guide

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Tacoma, Ranger, Gladiator or ZR2? Here’s all the information you need to decide. Read the Story

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

2019 BMW M5 Competition Review: Return of the King

Once upon a time, the list of sport sedans began and ended with one car: the BMW M5.

Sure, there were other fast four-doors; those dated back to the days of Duesenberg and Dillinger. But back in 1984, apart from a handful of limited-run special editions rarer than hen’s teeth, the M5 was the only car that delivered true all-around sports car performance — not just straight-line speed, but powerful brakes and nimble, delightful handling — in a family car package.

Things done changed, as they say. These days, the ranks of true sport sedans number so large, you’d need to borrow fingers and toes from a friend or two to count them all. They range from as small as the Honda Civic Si to as large as the Mercedes-AMG S65, some packing engines that crank out more firepower than many supercars. And that’s not even counting the high-performance crossovers that have picked up the fast family car torch and taken it in increasingly physics-defying directions.

In the midst of all this chaos and competition, some might say the M5 lost some of its edge in recent years. With the E39 generation version practically canonized in enthusiasts’ eyes, any successor was liable to be looked upon skeptically, but the E60 M5 made things worse with its clunky single-clutch automated manual gearbox and awkward Chris Bangle design. But it least it was unique — a beast unlike any other on sale, thanks to the F1-inspired screamer of a V10 engine. Its F10 successor, in contrast, seemed all too ordinary by comparison; with a twin-turbo V8 in its engine bay and inoffensive corporate styling, it seemed more like a tuned-up regular 5 Series than the true bearer of the iconic badge.

When the sixth-gen version arrived in 2017, it seemed, well, somewhat same-same, an 11/10ths version of its immediate predecessor. It was a bit larger than its already-large forebear, and it still packed a twin-turbo V8; even worse, now it was connected to the same sort of ZF-sourced torque converter automatic found in almost every other Bimmer, and sent power to all four wheels. One glance at the car at the Gamescom video game convention (it was starring in a new version of Need For Speed), and it wasn’t hard to see this being the M5’s death knell.

But something delightful happened: It turned out it didn’t suck.

Early driving impressions were unexpectedly positive. Instrumented testing revealed it was quicker and more powerful than BMW said — quicker off the line than sports cars that cost two, three, four times as much. It started winning over cynics just as easily as it won comparisons against its key foes.

Then, as if that weren’t enough, BMW made the new M5 even better with the M5 Competition.

The Good: If the idea of “One Car to Do It All” holds any appeal to you, you’ll likely find everything about the M5 Competition good. It’s 95% as fast as a Porsche 911 Turbo and 95% as comfortable as a 7 Series, at a lower price than either of them. All-wheel-drive means it’s two pairs of winter tires away from being a four-season car anywhere short of the Arctic Circle. There’s room for four adults to sit comfortably inside, with a trunk big enough to hold their carry-on luggage and a checked bag or two. The tech features and Bowers & Wilkins stereo could make our Tech desk jealous.

And on top of all that, it’s actually a blast to drive.

Who It’s For: Drivers who crave a three-car garage but only have space in their life for one ride; BMW loyalists who need their faith in the brand restored, have children between the ages of 10 and 20, or both; really, anyone who can handle a lease payment of $1,449 per month.

Watch Out For: The M5 does admittedly take a little warming up to, especially if you’re getting to know it in the city. With its myriad drive mode adjustments tuned to their most conservative settings, it’s almost too lethargic for dealing with aggressive traffic. And like many super sports cars wielding similar amounts of power (and similar electronic reins to make that power usable), you need plenty of open road to make the most of it. Don’t be surprised to find yourself accidentally cracking past double the speed limit from time to time.

Alternatives: Mercedes-AMG E63 S ($106,350+); Cadillac CTS-V ($86,995+); Porsche Panamera Turbo ($153,000+)

Review: In all honesty, the differences between the M5 and M5 Competition are fairly minimal. Power rises by a mere 17 horses — a rise of 2.8 percent, if you’re keeping track — and torque stays the same. The suspension has been subtly yet substantively stiffened, with everything from the engine mounts to the springs to the anti-roll bars beefed up a touch. Unless you wheeled the Competition and the base model along the same section of road back-to-back in immediate succession, odds are good you’d never know what you were missing.

Then again, the delta in price between the “cheap” M5 and its Competition-badged big brother is slim enough to be barely worth mentioning: a mere $7,300, less than the optional carbon ceramic brakes available on either car. (Unless you’re planning on hot-lapping your M car on the track, you’re better off saving that money, anyway.) Considering both variants of the sedan start above $100,000 and can easily climb past $130,000, the difference between them means there’s little reason not to go for the better, faster Competition.

Either way, though, you’re in for a treat. Especially considering how enjoyable the M5 is once it’s out on the open road. The Bimmer plays the part of gran turismo better than most cars, crushing long highway slogs the way frat brothers do cases of Natty Ice after finals. The seats are comfortable enough to fall asleep in, especially once you crank up the massage function that, unlike most cars, doesn’t time out after a few minutes. Active lane-keeping and cruise control systems enable the car to practically drive itself — at least, for 30-60 seconds, until the system starts yelling at you to grab the steering wheel. Left in a relaxed state like this, the M5 feels every bit as luxurious as a 7 Series, so long as you’re occupying the front seats instead of the back.

Still, it may not be as big as the biggest Bimmers, but this 5er ain’t no E39. The car’s dimensions mean it can feel a bit large-and-in-charge, compared with the nimble, lithe rides the M division became known for. That’s easier to swallow, however, once you experience the supercar-level acceleration. Independent tests have shown the newest M5 can reliably crack off a 0-60 mph run in three seconds or less, then zip through the quarter-mile in 11 seconds or so at a trap speed of 130 miles per hour — just a skosh behind the absurd Lamborghini Aventador SVJ.

In the real world, that sort of underhood force translates to the ability to shrink straightaways and pass slower-moving traffic under circumstances that would seem foolhardy in other sedans. When told to be sporty and left to its own devices and, the eight-speed automatic snaps to the right gear with every nudge of the throttle, pushing the engine deep into the sweet, seemingly-bottomless well of turbocharged power and slinging you forward like a catapult. Should that ever grow wearisome — not sure if it could — you can always slide the shifter into manual mode and use the metal paddles to hold gears as desired. Eight speeds is one too many to personally shift through every time you take your car for a spin, but opting for your choice of cog is delightful for exploring and exploiting the nuances of the engine.

It’s not just good on the straights, though. Find a stretch of winding road, and it’ll claw through every turn with grip and speed that defies logic; the mass may still be there, but it feels like the Bavarians have found some way to neutralize it, as though they worked out how to make the sort of inertial dampening system that kept Captain Picard and Co. from being turned into jelly every time the Enterprise-D went to warp. The steering is a return to form for the company, especially after sampling the likes of the M850i; it feels confident, accurate and immediate, imparting the sensation of connecting road to driver that Bimmers have largely lacked in recent years. It is, indeed, fun.

The M-tuned all-wheel-drive system offers a three-way choice when it comes to delivering power: the standard layout, which splits power fairly evenly between the two axles; 4WD Sport, which biases the power towards the rear wheels; and full-blown hooligan mode, which sends every kilowatt of power to the back axle and only works with all the electronic safety nets disengaged. That one’s best left for doing donuts and burnouts in the nearest parking lot; for everything else, the Sport setting is the ideal balance, delivering rear-biased power delivery along with the four-wheel drip needed to make the most of that herd of thundering Teutonic thoroughbreds.

Of course, that’s only one of the many, many driving mode options to play around with. The gearbox offers six different shift speeds (three for automatic mode, three for manual shifting); the suspension, steering, and throttle pedal all offer their own choices, as do the exhaust and traction/stability control systems. Luckily, once you finally dial the systems in the way you’d like, you can save them via steering wheel-mounted bookmark buttons; even more luckily, you can actually save two separate settings using the two different buttons, in case you prefer to optimize the car in different ways for, say, commuting and back-road carving. Unfortunately, no matter how you program them, the car’s systems will always default to their tame settings when you start it up, so you’d best grow used to thumbing one of those buttons as the first thing you do after starting the 4.4-liter V8.

Still, that’s a minor tradeoff given the car’s breadth of capabilities. The M5 has always managed to master both sports-car speed and sedan space, but many times, those capabilities haven’t been baked together into a harmonious package as entertaining as it should have been. The latest version manages to be fast, fancy and fun, all at once.

Verdict: With the M5 Competition, BMW has finally reclaimed its post at the top of the sport sedan heap. At least, until the next round of contenders comes along.

2019 BMW M5 Competition: Key Specs

Powertrain: 4.4-liter twin-turbocharged V8; eight-speed automatic; all-wheel-drive
Horsepower: 617
Torque: 553 lb-ft
Top Speed: 190 mph
EPA Fuel Economy: 15 mpg city, 19 mpg highway

BMW provided this product for review.

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

The Best (Mostly Affordable) Classic Cars You Can Buy from 1985-1995

Enthusiasts are constantly on the hunt for the best classic rides you can get your hands on for a reasonable price. And who can blame us, as the classic car market continues to suggest that some bubbles may never actually burst? Of course, classic car investing isn’t an exact science, or else everyone would be doing it. But if you’re looking for the best combination of affordability, performance and personality without sacrificing modern tech comforts and old-school simplicity, the cars of the ‘80s and ‘90s are calling, grasshopper.

Specifically, the period from roughly 1985 to 1995. Horsepower figures from the era won’t blow anyone’s socks off these days — but that’s never really been the point, has it? During that era, American automakers were busy making up for the shortcomings (or trying to) of the Malaise era, Japanese brands were riding a wave of cash towards their peak years and the Germans were doing what they always do: making great cars. The Italians, Swedes and Brits were also getting in on the fun, churning out some of the best-loved models these companies ever produced.

Don’t get me wrong: there was a lot of crap produced in this era, especially here in America. But the highlights are impossible to ignore, so let’s take a trip down memory lane.

United States

The ’80s and ’90s saw traditional muscle cars take new forms, an unexpected contender become king of the quarter-mile overnight, and some sought-after SUVs take on new identities and capabilities.

Ford Mustang


Ford’s underpowered “Fox Body” Mustang has been a favorite of tuners and drag strip amateurs for decades, and they’re still pretty darn cheap. The 1987-1993 version, also the last of its kind, featured the venerable 5.0-liter (really 4.9-liter) V8 which made 225 horsepower and 300 pound-feet of torque — small numbers these days but easily pushed higher with some simple modifications. Here’s a Mustang GT convertible for just $8,995. Cheap drop-top speed, thy name is Fox Body.

1987 Buick GNX

Want the true ’80s muscle car king of the hill? You won’t find it from Ford, Chevy, Dodge or Pontiac. Nope, the decade’s most powerful, most kickass drag strip monster was a Buick. Specifically, the 1987 Buick GNX, which came in any color you wanted, so long as it was black. Nicknamed “Darth Vader” by die-hard enthusiasts, 547 examples of this blacked-out, turbocharged 1987 Regal Grand National were sent off to McLaren — yes, that McLaren — for some serious tuning, and returned with 300 horsepower and 420 lb-ft of torque from the boosted 3.8-liter V6.

That was good for a 0-60 mph time of 4.6 seconds, almost half a second faster than the Ferrari F40 and Porsche 911 Turbo of its day. It also boasted a faster quarter-mile time than those two European legends, setting it in 12.7 seconds at 113.1 mph. That’s seriously fast, even by today’s standards, and was only bested by Chevy’s own Corvette ZR1 on its own soil. The cheapest GNX available to buy on Hemmings is sitting at a cool $75,000 — but you can have a similarly badass, albeit less powerful, Grand National from the same year like this one for a fraction of the cost.

Jeep Cherokee, Grand Wagoneer and Wrangler

Boxy muscle cars not your style? How about some of the most beloved Jeep models ever made? Both the Jeep Cherokee XJ and Grand Wagoneer were either born or totally revamped in the mid-1980s, and remain some of the most sought-after SUVs amongst both classic car fans and serious off-roaders. The fan-favorite CJ7 (later dubbed Wrangler) also reached its last and best year in 1985, with 80s-tacular variants like this one before going all square-headlight with the YJ model in 1986 until 1995.

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Japan

Supra. RX-7. NSX. Samurai. 4Runner. These were all born or heavily improved from 1985 to 1995. Need I say more? Japan was riding an economic boom in the 1980s, boasting four percent average annual GDP growth. Without boring you with an economics lesson, that means that Japanese companies were exporting more than ever, and had lots of cash to play around with. So, thankfully for us all, they decided to have some fun with it. And all of these are U.S.-market examples. There’s a whole new world of Japanese performance now opening up thanks to cars from the era becoming eligible for import to the U.S., as we’ve covered extensively.

Toyota Supra

The rear-wheel-drive Toyota Celica gained a Supra variant, then the Supra spun off on its own, got two turbochargers to play with, and had a final act as the legendary Mark IV in 1994. That’s why “Supra” is often the first and last name in Japanese performance, and why so many people are so excited that a new one is finally coming around. While Mark IV prices are skyrocketing, you can have a clean Mark II or Mark III example for less than $20,000.

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Mazda Miata and RX-7

Mazda was hitting its stride in the late ’80s and early ’90s, which led to the debut of the world’s favorite roadster, the MX-5 Miata. How about a clean example of one of the most famously fun-to-drive cars of all time with a heaping helping of Japanese reliability for less than $7,000? No problem.

The little Japanese brand that could was also at peak crazy at the turn of the decade, replacing the forgettable (but still fun) second-generation rotary-powered RX-7 with the legendary third-generation from 1993 onwards. The latter RX-7 (FD, as it’s known by enthusiasts) is riding the same ’90s Japanese performance car wave as the Supra, but clean, second-gen examples can be had for chump change — and come in a convertible, to boot.

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Toyota 4Runner and Tacoma

The ’80s and ’90s also saw the introduction of some fun off-roaders from the Far East, namely the Toyota 4Runner and Toyota Pickup. The 4Runner merged off-roading fun with a removable hard-top and room for five, now both available for less than $13,000 easily. Even Toyota’s humble Pickup, which morphed into the best-selling Tacoma, can be found for a similar price. And if you get one in black, you can live out all your Back to the Future fantasies  — minus the DeLorean and Christopher Lloyd.

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Honda CRX and Acura NSX

How could we forget to mention Honda? The little moped maker that could put out such fan favorites as the frugal-but-fun CRX Si and the world-beating NSX (under the new Acura marque) within a few years of each other, proving there was almost no car they couldn’t make. This CRX Si is currently selling for $7,350, and while original, unmolested NSXs can push six figures, you can still find a solid early example for a decent price.

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Europe

While America was busy finding itself and Japan was in the midst of a coke-fueled performance fever dream, Europe was doing what they’ve damn near always done: building solid, well-engineered cars with an established pedigree.

Porsche 944 and 928

Don’t want to chase after insanely high-priced examples of the last air-cooled 911 ever made? That’s fine — have a front-engined Porsche instead and you’ll have 90 percent of the driving fun for a fraction of the price. Porsche took all the cash it had made from the popular 911 over the years and spun off a series of sports cars, none of which lasted beyond the 1990s. Clean examples of the ‘80s-tastic 944 can be had for less than $10,000 (though Turbo models are spiking in price). And if you’re lucky, the opulent, V8-powered 928 Grand Tourer can be yours for less than $15K. Not a bad entry point to one of the world’s most storied sports car brands.

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BMW 325i and Mercedes-Benz S-Class

If a Bimmer or Benz is more your speed, how about the E30 3 Series, the most celebrated affordable enthusiast car in the world behind only the Miata? Forget the over-valued original M3 and opt for the inline-6-powered 325i (now legal to import from Europe in wagon form!) or all-wheel drive 325ix, a perfect starter rally car. If a three-pointed star has always guided your dream car inclinations, give the S-Class, still the large luxury sedan king, a spin for cheap.

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Ferrari Mondial

There are still awesome, unique cars to be had from elsewhere in Europe beyond Germany. If you really, really need to have a Ferrari, you can have the Mondial for less than $50,000. Sure, it’s easily the worst Ferrari ever, but that’s like being the worst player on Real Madrid. You’re still up there, baby.

Volvo 240

Sweden was also tinkering with and perfecting two of its most iconic nameplates, though neither is likely to set your hair on fire with outright speed straight out of the box. The charmingly honest and unbeatably reliable Volvo 240 was reaching its twilight (and best) years by the turn of the decade, and if you’re looking for something old, slow, and filled with personality, there’s hardly a better car for pennies on the dollar, like this super clean 1991 sedan for $6,800.

Saab 900 Convertible

The same period also saw the twilight years of Saab’s best model ever. The 900 Turbo was the first mass-produced turbocharged car — a format that many modern vehicles have adopted — and remains one of the quirkiest, most beloved cars of all time by its many devoted fans. Late models like this 1993 convertible provide the best combination of Saab weirdness and modern performance and amenities, making up to 185 horsepower by the time it was retired in 1994 and replaced with a new model.