All posts in “Cars”

Hot Wheels x IWC Racing Team Transport Set

Hot Wheels produces some of our absolute favorite diecast toy model cars. International Watch Company–aka IWC–produces some of our favorite timepieces. Those two favorite brands teamed up for the Hot Wheels x IWC Racing Team…

The Ford Ranger May Get the Upgrades Buyers Want, Report Says

<!–A V6 Ford Ranger Raptor May Be Coming, Report Says • Gear Patrol<!– –><!– –>

more cylinders, more off-road cred


Ford brought the midsize Ranger pickup to the U.S. for the 2019 model year. The truck has earned strong reviews, though enthusiasts have complained about the lack of a V6 engine option — available on rivals like the Jeep Gladiator, Toyota Tacoma, and Chevy Colorado — and Ford not opting to produce the performance Raptor trim for Americans. Ford may resolve those concerns very soon.

The next Ranger should arrive for the 2022 model year. According to a report from the Australian website CarExpert, Ford is planning to offer a V6 with the new truck and will use it power a U.S. market version of the Ranger Raptor.

The report says the engine will be a second-generation version of Ford’s turbocharged 2.7-liter V6 that puts out 325 horsepower and 400 lb-ft of torque. It will pair with a 10-speed automatic transmission and permanent all-wheel-drive with a selectable low-range gear. The site expects that engine to be an option on the new Bronco, which will share a platform with the Ranger, as well.

Bringing the Ranger Raptor over to the U.S., finally, makes a great deal of sense for Ford. The market for pricey performance trim midsize trucks has been well established by the Colorado ZR2 Bison and Jeep Gladiator builds exceeding $60,000. Losing sales outright to competition in the highly competitive midsize segment may be more of an issue than a Ranger Raptor undercutting sales for the full-size F-150 Raptor.

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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That Perfect Jeep Grand Wagoneer You’ve Always Wanted Is Right Here

<!–Here’s That Perfect Jeep Grand Wagoneer You’ve Wanted • Gear Patrol<!– –><!– –>

it doesn’t get much better than this


The Wrangler is the iconic Jeep but, for much of the 20th century, the brand’s flagship was the full-size cruiser eventually called the Grand Wagoneer. It was perhaps the first luxury-oriented family SUV, predating the Range Rover by seven years. The Grand Wagoneer stayed in production on the same platform for nearly three decades, under three different Jeep ownership groups. It was the coolest car to have on Nantucket in the late 1980s and early 1990s and it remains a favorite for vintage off-roader enthusiasts.

Perhaps the perfect Grand Wagoneer just popped up for auction on Bring a Trailer. It’s a 1990 model, which, but for a low volume run in 1991, is about as new as you can get. It has fewer than 37,000 miles, legitimately on a six-digit odometer. It has had one owner after spending time as a showroom vehicle. It also underwent a cosmetic refurbishment with a new factory dark blue paint job and replacement woodgrain trim panels. For those seeking the authentic early 1990s SUV experience, it even includes a box of cassette tapes, from an owner who enjoyed more than a bit of Billy Joel’s oeuvre.

Of course, there is one problem. People pay silly money for Grand Wagoneers in fine fettle. And this one will be no different. Bidding is already up to $30,000, mere hours after the SUV went live. It should go much higher, though maybe not as high as the new version coming in 2022.  But if you’re looking for more of a budget option, BAT has another Grand Wagoneer with 83,000 miles on the site, and the bidding there has only reached $2,100.

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 7 Weirdest Cars Ever Made by Chrysler, Dodge, Plymouth and Jeep

Talking about great cars (and discussing what makes them great) is always fun, but we at Gear Patrol also enjoy looking back at the vehicles that were downright weird. Not the worst cars –though that can be fun, too — but rather, the strangest, most eccentric vehicles that carmakers actually went to the trouble and expensive of developing and selling. Many of said cars remain absolute headscratchers, even with decades of hindsight.

Earlier in this series, we looked at the oddest offerings from General Motors and Ford. Now it’s time to round out the Big Three and unearth some strange gems from the Chrysler and Jeep lineage. Below are seven of the weirdest we found.

Dodge La Femme (1955-1956)

Back in the 1950s, Chrysler noticed the seemingly obvious fact that women also drove cars — then began marketing to them in the most ham-fisted way imaginable. The female-targeted car was called the “La Femme” (because…women like French things?), and came in varying shades of pink. Feeling patronized enough yet? No? Well, how about if we told you it also came with a matching purse?

Jeep Forward Control (1956-1965)

The Jeep Forward Control, or “FC,” was a 4×4 pickup based on the CJ-5 — and, for the smallest iterations, its tiny 81-inch wheelbase. It was able to offer a decent-sized bed by using a cab-over body style. The FC was versatile for commercial applications, but a bit out there for regular folk. Jeep eventually phased it out for the more conventional Gladiator pickup.

Dodge Warlock (1976-1979)

Dodge marketed the Warlock as part of its “Adult Toys” collection. (We assume that had a far different connotation in the 1970s than it does today.) It looked sort of like a normal Dodge pickup…from the middle forward, at least. It was ultimately only sold in black, had some quasi-mystical graphics and could be optioned with old-time wood sideboards.

Dodge Rampage (1982-1984)

Chrysler was determined not to be left out of the vibrant subcompact sports coupe-cum-pickup market of the early 1980s, so the 96-horsepower, front-wheel-drive, Subaru BRAT-annihilating Dodge Rampage was born. The Rampage makes the cut mostly because Chrysler sold the same car simultaneously as the aggressive-sounding Rampage and the adorably named Plymouth Scamp.

Chrysler TC by Maserati (1989-1991)

Chrysler and Maserati decided to collaborate on a sports coupe, the TC by Maserati. Maserati built it, but it ran on Chrysler’s ubiquitous K car platform, and primarily used Chrysler and Mitsubishi engines. Except some (fancy?) round windows, it looked just like a Chrysler LeBaron. But again, Maserati built it — so it cost more than twice as much as a LeBaron.

Plymouth Prowler (1997-2002)

The Plymouth Prowler was Chrysler’s lightweight, open-wheeled, retro-styled not-so-hot rod. It would have looked pretty cool,  were it not for the hideous bumpers needed to make it street-legal. A lethargic V6 engine and four-speed automatic spoiled any hope of performance. It topped that off by being impractical and crazy expensive. (Owners who were super-into their Prowlers could buy a body-matched trailer that looked exactly like the rear of the vehicle. We mention this apropos of nothing other than how weird it is.)

Chrysler PT Cruiser (2001-2010)

The PT Cruiser was the practical person’s Prowler. It had similar, 1930s-esque retro styling, with more conventional closed wheels; yet it was much cheaper, thanks to its Dodge Neon-based bones and wimpy four-cylinder engine.  It joined the storied line of inexplicable vehicles to win Motor Trend’s Car of the Year in 2001. It was certainly unique; it was also exceptionally uncool, especially if you opted for the dealer-installed flame package.

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 Super-Lux Hummer Could Be Your New Dream Overlanding Rig

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it adds range the old-fashioned way


Exquisite resto-mods of vintage off-roaders are some of the most expensive and sought after vehicles out there. While many companies restore Ford Broncos, Land Rover Defenders, or Toyota’s FJ40 Land Cruiser, Michigan-based Mil-Spec Automotive tackles the most badass (and least road-friendly) off-roader of them all, the Hummer H1. The company just announced what it describes as a “brutish” new special edition of its H1 super-truck.

While GMC is bringing the Hummer back with electric power, Mil-Spec sticks with the LBZ 6.6 liter Duramax Diesel engine, which puts out 500 horsepower and 1,000 lb-ft of torque. The company has improved the H1’s overlanding range the old-fashioned way, with a massive 30-gallon fuel tank. Other mods include a Baja Suspension package, which permits 13 inches of wheel travel and a Bumper Tow package.

This rig will be a bit more stylish and comfortable than the original H1. Mil-Spec upgrades the exterior with a Deep Sky Black kevlar-infused polyurethane coating. The Executive Interior Package is finished with onyx-colored Nappa leather. The H1 also gets a ceramic underbody and engine bay coating to help insulate the cabin.

Mil-Spec’s special edition H1 doesn’t come cheap. It starts at $300,000, which would be at the extreme high-end for a restored Bronco or Defender. That’s about a $30,000 premium over the Mil-Spec’s standard pickup H1 build, which is priced a little under $270,000. The company is currently accepting inquiries about new builds on its website.

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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Ford Will Offer Bronco Buyers a Very Cool Off-Roading Perk

<!–Ford Will Offer Bronco Buyers a Very Cool Off-Roading Perk • Gear Patrol<!– –><!– –>

Get ready to head off-roadeo


Ford’s new 2021 Bronco is almost here. We know the new SUV will do more than look the part off the pavement, with a special off-roading manual transmission and some advanced tricks even the Wrangler can’t do. And Ford plans to help its buyers make use of that capability.

The company just announced it will hold “Off-Roadeo” experiences for buyers of the Ford Bronco and the off-roading oriented Badlands trim of the Bronco Sport. The events, included with the vehicle purchase, will be held at four regional locations across the country that are to be determined. They will begin in 2021 about when customers can expect to take deliveries of their new vehicles.

According to Road and Track, the Off-Roadeo experiences will last two days. The first day will offer instruction in off-road fundamentals. The second day can be either more advanced off-roading training or some form of outdoor adventure, depending on the buyer’s preference. While the program itself will come included with the vehicle, travel arrangements and accommodations are not included.

The Off-Roadeo experiences should be a cool perk for Bronco buyers. Off-roading in your vehicle can be an intimidating hobby to get into. No one wants to look like a noob, get stuck in the mud or bash their brand-new off-roader on some rocks. That fear keeps even seasoned Jeep buyers from getting the most out of their vehicles. It should also help foster a new and robust Bronco enthusiast community, which Ford will need to do on the fly to compete with the Wrangler.

Hopefully, a luxury SUV manufacturer will counter Ford’s effort with a complimentary “Off-Rodeo” program to help buyers operate their vehicles in their natural environments, Beverly Hills and other posh shopping districts.

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 BMW X5 M Competition Forces You to Challenge Your Preconceptions

The Fast Facts:

What is it? BMW’s midsized family-friendly crossover, tuned up for the track by the brand’s sporty M division.
What’s it got under the hood? A twin-turbo 4.4-liter V8 making 617 horsepower and 553 pound-feet of torque, connected to an eight-speed automatic and sport0tuned all-wheel-drive system. In other words, the same setup as the BMW M5 Competition and BMW M8 Gran Coupe Competition.
How many people can fit in it? Five.
How much does it cost? $114,100 to start, as-tested around $135,000.

The BMW X5 M Competition is the sort of vehicle that invites a dismissive comparison among many automotive enthusiasts. Why would I buy this counterintuitive performance SUV, the thought goes, when I could buy an M5? But sometimes it’s worth examining the inverse of a question, if only as a thought exercise. Instead of why should I buy this over an M5, ask yourself: why should I buy an M5 over this?

After all, in a vacuum, the X5 M Competition is a fascinating, arguably compelling proposition. Here’s a five-seat family crossover that happens to pack the sort of speed hardware usually found in a super sports car. The M5 was originally created as a way to bring high-end sports car performance to a less extroverted, more usable body style; the X5 M has the exact same brief. Instead of resorting straight to old arguments suggesting that sedans and station wagons are inherently superior to SUVs…surely a vehicle like this deserves to be judged on its own merits, right?

What We Like

I’ll just come out and say it: the X5 M is easier to live with the M5. Sure, some people buy SUVs and trucks simply because of the self-esteem boost that comes with riding higher, but few of us make car buying decisions wholly based on emotion; SUVs and trucks, simply speaking, offer more capability and more usability than sedans, coupes and so forth. 

Being taller means the X5 M can hop bigger obstacles — curbs, potholes, ditches, etc. — so while it’ll never likely go off-roading, it can still go plenty of places the M5 can’t. Sitting up higher gives you a better view of the road ahead (which lets you see further ahead, a key advantage in driving); it makes it easier to to load heavy objects in and out of the vehicle, as you don’t have to bend down so far; and it makes climbing in and out of the vehicle easier, especially for anyone past the age of maximum flexibility. 

The X5 M has more room, too. The two-box body means there’s more room for cargo, especially if you don’t mind blocking your view. And the more upright stance and big moonroof mean the second row feels like a slightly better place to sit than the sedan, especially the M8 Gran Coupe Competition. Plus, outfitted with the top-shelf Ivory White /Night Blue Merino leather trim, the X5 M’s interior is an utterly gorgeous place to while away a few hours of driving time. BMW has solidly upped its cabin game in recent years, and the X5 shows that a Bimmer can be every bit as nice as a Mercedes-Benz or Audi

Also, duh: it’s really freaking fast. Like, redefine-what-you-think-an-SUV-can-do fast in a straight line. Launch it from a stop, and you’ll be past 60 mph in what feels like a thought but actually works out to a claimed 3.7 seconds. (I’m guessing independent testing will do better.) Or hammer the throttle at a roll, and watch the speed rise and rise with unnatural fury even well past the legal limit of any road in America. It feels like being strapped to the front of a bullet train. It’s delightful.

Watch Out For

The M5 handles better.  There’s no fighting physics, and while the X5 M’s tires have a ton of grip and the chassis is incredibly well-tuned, it’s still quite a bit taller and heavier than the sedan. Hustling it down a back road, it’s easy to carry far more speed than you’d think…but you’re always aware of the height and mass, always sensitive to the fact that it feels like could tip. It feels unnatural in a way the M5 or M8 never does.

The sedans look better, too. While the M8 Gran Coupe is unarguably the looker of the lineup, even the regular M5 is a sharp-dressed speed machine, with a muscular jawline and chiseled angles. The X5 M, however, has a more complex face with added facets and design elements to hide its added height. The overall design does a good job of disguising the size — from different angles, it’s easy to confuse it with both the smaller X3 M and the larger X7 M50i — but it’s not quite as handsome a machine.

Big wheels make the X5 seem smaller than it is.

Other Options

The other German luxury carmakers, of course, offer their own alternatives; there’s the 603-hp GLE 63 S from Mercedes-AMG that starts at $114,945, the RS Q8 from Audi that starts at $114,500 and the Porsche Cayenne Turbo starting at $127,800. If you’d prefer something American-made, there’s always the 707-hp Jeep Grand Cherokee SRT Trackhawk, which starts at a mere $87,645. Or, if you like everything about the X5 M Competition except the black grille and can live with being a tenth of a second slower to 60 mph, the regular X5 M starts at $105,100.

Verdict

Enthusiasts will carp that no one who really cares about driving would choose the X5 M than the M5. But really, the question for many people (if they cared about price at this range) would be: which one of these better suits my life?

After all, presumably, any true gearhead looking at either of M5 or X5 M is doing so through the wistful gaze of someone who wants a sports car, but needs something with more room and capability. The X5 M is not a compromised M5; both cars are compromised propositions. In a perfect world, the enthusiast looking at these rather be driving a Ferrari.

Sitting here in in my unmarried 33-year-old skin with my weekends often free to attack country roads, only needing a back seat to occasionally carry friends and groceries, the M5 Competition seems a far more inviting prospect. But if you have kids and all the materiel that comes with them, or if you’re at an age where dropping into passenger cars seems far less inviting than sliding laterally into a crossover, trading away some of the sedan’s cornering prowess and good looks to ease the burdens of life sounds like a pretty smart idea.

BMW 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.

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Hyundai’s Cheap, Stylish New Car Is Aimed Squarely at the Youths

Hyundai calls its all-new 2020 Venue crossover an “urban compact SUV.” Translation from PR-speak to English: it’s small, it’s stylish, and you should probably keep it on the pavement. The entry-level, subcompact Venue slots below the Kona; compared to that award-winning crossover, it’s five inches shorter, has 54 fewer horsepower and starts about $3,000 cheaper, at a little under $17,000. It’s targeted at the Venue’s two main demographics: young people and women.

I drove the top-tier Denim trim of the Hyundai Venue for a few days. Like other recent Hyundai/Kia offerings, the Venue feels more expensive than it is, thanks to smart decisions with regard to styling, technology and design. It has greater panache and personality than a car so cheap should.

But the Venue driving experience offers little in the way of dynamism, however. And if you’re hell-bent on buying a small Hyundai crossover, the Kona offers a lot more car for not much more money. Besides, in this price range, there’s ample value in the modestly used market.

The Hyundai Venue’s Denim trim is stylish

When the Venue arrived, my wife looked out the window and asked, “Did you get a Mini?” Consider that a complement: that’s the swanky, urban-centric small-car idea Hyundai was going for. The Denim trim may sound like the garish 1970s Levi’s edition Jeep CJs, but it’s far more upscale.

The exterior is dark blue with a white-painted roof, while the blue interior is color-matched down to the plastic switches, with attractive blue leatherette and denim seats. It goes a long way with cheap materials. (Ward has named the Venue one of its 10 best car interiors for 2020, alongside vehicles that cost more than 10 times as much.)

Hyundai made some smart design choices

The Venue offers a surprising amount of vertical room. I’m 5’11” and the roof was quite a few inches above my head. Like high ceilings in a house, it makes the small footprint cabin seem less cramped.

Hyundai also included a few creature comforts: a legitimate touchscreen with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, heated seats, some active driver safety tech, automatic climate control — all of which makes it feel more like a modern, well-appointed car rather than a budget econobox. A prominent grille makes the Venue read as more sophisticated than quirky and Kia Soul-like, as well.

Alas, the Venue is nicer to look at than to drive

A car this cheap has to make sacrifices somewhere, and Hyundai chose the driving experience. The old adage says you appreciate something more if you work for it; after driving the 121-hp Venue, I now appreciate the marvel of traveling 45 mph through space in an internal combustion vehicle.

The Venue has a bit of spunk accelerating up to about 30 mph, which is fine for city streets. But achieving any speed beyond that becomes a loud and laborious process. My normal drive route begins with a left turn up a slight hill on a 40-mph road. The Venue groaned, whirred, and struggled to reach the speed limit.

In addition, with light steering and almost no road feedback, you wind up experiencing an unnerving floating feeling behind the wheel while driving. The Venue will get you from A to B, but not in a particularly pleasant fashion.

Price as Tested: $23,305
Drivetrain: 1.6-liter inline-four, CVT, front-wheel-drive
Power: 121 hp, 113 lb-ft
Fuel Economy: 30 city, 34 highway
Seats: 5

Hyundai 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

Airstream’s Future Looks Brighter (and Smarter) Than Ever

Airstream didn’t have a booth at this year’s CES 2020 convention in Las Vegas, but CEO Bob Wheeler thinks his presence on the show’s floor is extremely worthwhile. For a brand that melds the automotive and residential realms, emerging technologies from both industries showcased at the event help inform the legendary camping giant as to what’s available, what’s desired, and what’s possible.

Smart home tech bleeds seamlessly into what we do,” Wheeler tells Gear Patrol, noting that while the brand’s illustrious heritage may be built on unchanging exterior design, its customers want the same convenience of connectivity and technology they enjoy in their homes.

“We want to be just ahead of the curve. We don’t want people to pay for something they don’t want to use,” he says.

Wheeler adds that the Airstream Smart Control app has been a gamechanger for clients. While not new, the Smart Control app dovetails with Airstream’s Multiplex control system to give your smartphone power over things like climate, lighting, awning extension, and tank and resource levels.

“What’s new will be the ability to link this system to the cloud, so you can understand, control and monitor your Airstream from anywhere,” Wheeler says.

Airstream is already starting to write AI systems that will use your data to help send warnings and tips to owners. “Say you’re on a hike and there’s a storm system approaching your area. We could send you an alert that it’s coming and offer to retract your awning. Or if the temperature is rapidly dropping, we can offer to turn on the heater to warm up the water in your tanks so it doesn’t freeze,” he says.

The AI could even understand your water and other resource levels (like propane or electricity) and calculate when you’ll need to top off — and how much you’ll need — before you head into the wilderness. Given that most of his customers are now trying to get further off the grid on Bureau of Land Management or National Forest Service land far from assisted campgrounds, this added level of help should be monumental.

Everything in development at Airstream is aimed at easing pain points for customers, whether they’re new to trailering or veterans of the wilderness. “We’ve found that Airstreamers love to stay near other Airstreamers, so adding a community component to the app, with a Waze-style interface, can help owners plan and navigate trips, and the roadside systems, making it more convenient,” says Wheeler.

To maximize efficiencies — and the Airstream experience — the brand will require some added buy-in from external partners. “We can’t get a refrigerator to tie into the Multiplex system yet,” he says, “which may not seem like a big deal if you’re in a house. But when your fridge is running off limited resources, your temperature can vary drastically and your food could spoil. We’d love to help prevent that by monitoring it.” He adds that the company is constantly talking to appliance makers at places like CES.

Wheeler is also keen to keep relationships strong with vehicle manufacturers. The dream would be to ingrate the Smart Control app into a vehicle’s infotainment system, making everything behind you controllable from inside your the truck or SUV towing the rig. Also on the docket for a collaboration with a manufacturer: camera systems that can be displayed inside your tow unit.

“We can put cameras on the outside of a trailer, but people blow tires all the time and don’t know it and keep driving, damaging the rim. If you could view those cameras from your car, you’d know instantly,” he says.

While Airstream’s strongest relationship is with General Motors, it is deeply interested in the electric vehicle space, paying particular attention to what upstarts like adventure-minded Rivian are bringing to market.

“EV sales are rising, though it’ll be a long time before the market saturates,” Wheeler says. “We know our customers are more likely to own an EV, even if they’re not currently using it to tow an Airstream, so how can we offer them something that can be towed by an EV without loss of range or significant battery drain?”

In the bid for range neutrality (i.e. not causing a car’s battery to drain faster than it would without a trailer), making Airstreams light is the obvious first step, but Wheeler also says adding a battery cell in the chassis of the trailer could supplement the towing EV. “Those cells can work in concert, maintaining the range, perhaps even enhancing it when the tow vehicle’s battery gets low.”

This requires OEM participation, though, so a third option is being mulled: adding a battery cell and a drivetrain directly into the trailer. Airstream’s parent company, Thor Industries, recently acquired Hymer, Europe’s largest manufacturer of RV trailers –which is significant because Hymer was responsible for eCoco, a functional concept of this very model.

“It’s got an axle drivetrain system with regenerative braking and control software that so that it’s self-propelled,” Wheeler says. “The trailer can never push the tow vehicle, but it can sense being pulled and accelerate to match the speed.”

Another advantage of a self-driving trailer? Get to a tight campsite, detach the trailer, and control it from your phone to maneuver it into the parking space under its own power. Plus, established campsites have power poles that could double as charging stations, giving you medium-to-fast charging at a number of places.

CES 2020: Concept Cars and Automotive Tech

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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.

This Retractable, Expandable Camper Van Add-On Is Brilliant (and Cheap)

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#vanlife with breathing room


The biggest problem with #VanLife is living with such a tiny amount of space. French manufacturer Beauer, known for its tiny, expandable teardrop trailers, has an innovative solution for that. The company is bringing its telescoping vision to the world of camper vans with the X-Van, which debuted at this year’s CMT show in Stuttgart.

The X-Van is a compartment that expands outward from the back of the camper van, extending the floor area by about three feet to provide a double sleeping compartment. This expansion happens electrically with the push of a button. The X-Van can work with a variety of vans — and possibly even some larger SUVs, though we’d suggest measuring your cargo bay carefully before attempting an installation.

This innovation offers the space of a larger van when parked, and the maneuverability of a smaller van while driving. Installing the unit only takes about 10 minutes; it can also be removed fairly easily, allowing the van to convert back to everyday use easily.

Best of all: unlike some of our favorite camper vans, adding functionality with the X-Van will be surprisingly affordable. According to New Atlas, the package will start at a little over $7,600. Beauer can add a pop-up roof conversion for an additional $8,700 and a kitchen module for about $430, if you’d like to flesh out your camper van.

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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In the 1980s, Ford Had Some Very Weird Ideas for the Bronco

The first version of the Ford Bronco was timeless. It remains, more than half a century later, one of the coolest cars on the road; people pay well into the six-figures for exquisite restored Broncos, and the off-roader’s enduring popularity has forced Ford to bring the model back in all-new form (which will be arriving a couple of weeks from now, at long last).

Unlike Jeep with the Wrangler, however, Ford definitely messed with success. Rather than stick with what worked, FoMoCo designed and built underwhelming Broncos all the way through the mid-1990s. (Need we remind you of the rollover-prone Bronco II?)

Ford also attempted a couple of reimaginings of the Bronco in the 1980s that were very much of their time. These concepts never made it to production — and, judging from leaked photos — have provided no inspiration whatsoever to the new Bronco. Which, as you can see in the pictures below, is probably for the best.

Ford Bronco Montana Lobo (1981)

The Ford Bronco Montana Lobo debuted at the 1981 Chicago Auto Show. It was definitely…something. Built on a first-gen 1977 chassis, the Bronco Montana Lobo was imbued with a style we can only describe as Malaise Era avant-garde.

It was painted the color of mustard, and looked like the ideal Bronco for a 1981 party boy named Chaz who needed a vehicle that could transition seamlessly from his parents’ lodge in Vail to his side hustle moving controlled substances.

This baby had a T-top and removable, tinted plexiglass doors, plus sliding glass doors for access to the bench seats in the open-air rear party deck. The Montana Lobo bodywork also included side rails containing both louvers and flying buttresses and a rooftop airfoil, because, sure, why not?

And somehow, its side pipe exhaust is the last thing you notice.

Ford Bronco DM-1 (1988)

Ford once had a design sketch so wonderful, it just had to become a functional car. That became the Bronco DM-1. It takes us to the future of the SUV…where SUVs look absolutely nothing like an SUV.

It abandons all pretense of being boxy for a completely rounded, seamless look designed for maximum aerodynamic efficiency, and features what comes close to being a 360-degree bubble top for maximum visibility. Ford said it could accommodate the Bronco II’s four-wheel-drive setup…yet they built it on the Escort’s car platform.

The white version looks semi-acceptable, with a dash of RoboCop futurism — as though someone had made a Ford Probe crossover.

Unfortunately, Ford also made a yellow prototype. It had matching yellow rims, and looked like someone had made a car out of flan.

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

Watch One of the Coolest Pickup Trucks of the Future Strut Its Stuff

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electric powerslide


If we had to rank all the upcoming electric vehicles in terms of how excited we are about them, the Rivian R1T pickup truck and R1S SUV would be at or near the top of the list. Sure, Porsche’s soft-roader Taycan wagon will surely be dynamite and Cadillac’s handmade Bentley-esque super-sedan delightful, but Rivian is moving the EV ball forward in ways like no one else, bar Tesla. Their vehicles promise not only sports car acceleration and truck-spec off-road capability, but innovative ideas like tank turns, multipurpose tailgates and pop-out kitchens that could leave other trucks feeling inadequate. (Y’know, if trucks had feelings.)

But you can’t make good on those promises without lots and lots of testing. As with every carmaker, the Rivian engineers have to torture the crap out of their prototypes to see when, where and how they’ll break…and then improve upon those limits. And as it turns out, that makes for some pretty compelling video — which Rivian recently posted to YouTube for all to see.

The video shows the R1T kicking rocks and taking names in the hot desert of Arizona: crawling up and down steep slopes, launching with four-wheel-drive vigor in the thick dust, and barreling down dirt roads at speeds that make us sad we haven’t had the chance to do any high-speed desert driving in ages.

The coronavirus pandemic has led Rivian to push production of the R1T back to the 2021 calendar year, but as long as the carmaker keeps on putting out snackable content like this for us to gaze upon, we don’t mind. At least, not too much.

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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.
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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Richard Petty’s 1971 Plymouth Road Runner

Richard Petty is an American racing legend with the most NASCAR series wins, a shocking 200, over a career that lasted 34 years. Now, one of The King’s iconic race cars is up for auction,…

       

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The Cars We Desperately Wanted to Drive in High School

High school is a formative time for car enthusiasts — and a frustrating one. It’s the time when having a car is vitally important as both a source of autonomy and a signifier of identity. It’s also the time when most of us are furthest away from the cars we really want — stuck instead with a hand-me-down ride, or left borrowing our parents’ car.

We at Gear Patrol were no different. Some of us were budding rally drivers in our minds in high school; others should have paid a bit more attention in math class. But we all shared a burning desire for cars outside our reach. Here are the cars we wish we had been able to drive when we first had our licenses.

Subaru Impreza WRX

“Subaru unleashed the first Impreza WRX on America when I was a senior in high school. The WRX was a perfect match for my 18-year-old blend of heedlessness, hormone levels and ability to operate a manual transmission. The WRX was also relatively affordable, which made owning one — at least, in my head — feel tantalizingly close to being realistic.” – Tyler Duffy, Motoring Writer

Ferrari 575M Maranello

“I’ve loved cars since before I can remember, but only one car earned the honor of having its picture taped to the cover of my Ti-83+ — the Ferrari 575M. Front-engine V12 Ferraris have a charm like none other for me. If I had a nickel for every fact I missed in math class while daydreaming about driving that 575M, I’d be able to buy one.” – Will Sabel Courtney, Motoring Editor

Nissan Xterra

“I wasn’t a car guy then, and I’m not now, but it’s difficult to put into words how much I wanted a Nissan Xterra. In hindsight, the SUV’s discontinuation just a short while after my lust phase ended meant my inability to buy one could be played as my really impressive knowledge of fuel economics, emissions and safety features. But really it’s just the car everybody who was — seemed? — cool had.” – Will Price, Assistant Editor

RUF CTR2 993 (in silver)

“My taste since high school hasn’t changed much, and it’s quite simply the most gorgeous car ever.” – Hunter Kelley, Associate Designer

Volvo 245DL Wagon

“My parents had one when I was a toddler, two of my uncles had one when I was growing up, and my other uncle had a 244GL sedan. Needless to say, the 240 model was the pinnacle of car cool for me growing up. When I really got into surfing in middle school, I had hoped for eventually finding a Volvo wagon just like the one my parents had (why they ever got rid of it, I do not know). Instead, I settled for a 1988 Toyota Camry sedan as my first car. A long cry from the cool of the ’80s Volvo wagon.” – Ryan Brower, Commerce Editor

1985 Lamborghini Countach LP5000 Quattrovalvole

“I was not super-into cars back then, but I most definitely had a poster of this one in white with those scissor doors wide open, silhouetted on a black background. It was gorgeous and Italian and fast and totally unattainable, and I gazed at it longingly every day. Many years later, I did a Gotham Dream Cars tour with a bunch of Lambos…and, damn, I would still take one in a heartbeat if I had a garage to store it. And a separate bank account to cover the insurance.” – Steve Mazzucchi, Outdoors & Fitness Editor

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

7 Car-Themed Pieces of Furniture We’d Actually Want in Our Homes

Your home is an extension of yourself, so if you’re a car enthusiast, you may be looking for a way to project your passion for all things automotive via your furnishings But that can be a bit tough to do…at least, if you want to do it subtly and tastefully. You may not want to go all-in with a $24,000 Lamborghini speaker or a $10,000 couch made from a 1957 Chevy, and there’s only a finite age window where a race car bed is appropriate.

Below, however, are a few car-themed conversation starters we certainly wouldn’t mind having around our homes.

Porsche Design 911 Speaker

Porsche Design built a Bluetooth speaker using the original exhaust pipe from the 911 GT3. It’s Porsche, so as you would expect, there’s a fancier version incorporating the original rear silencer for a few grand more.

Sahara Force India Limited Edition Wheel Rim Coffee Table

The Force India F1 team has become Racing Point, and will soon be Aston Martin. And you can bet that team’s livery will no longer be pink. But that means there’ll be a bit more rarity to this bit of racing history: a race-used wheel rim from the 2014 season, that has been converted into a coffee table.

Toyota Piston Clock

Toyota fandom is real — and spectacular. Now, you can celebrate it with this clock-slash-pen holder built using a real Toyota piston. It can be painted, cleaned up and polished, or left to develop a patina for a worn look. (Sadly, you can’t add the ubiquitous Toyota digital dash clock.)

Jeep CJ Tailgate Buffet Table

Repurposed barn wood is great. What could make it even better? Cabinet doors repurposed from an old Jeep CJ tailgate. This item can serve as a buffet table — or, if so inclined, a media center.

Block Wine Rack Coffee Table

One thing about old engine blocks: they’re just about the right size to be a wine rack. This one is also a coffee table.

Alfa Romeo 2.5-Liter V6 Engine Coffee Table

The Alfa Romeo GTV6 remains a legend because of its 2.5-liter V6 engine. This one no longer makes sweet internal combustion music, but it does make a fine-looking coffee table.

Picswood Toy Car Storage Shelf

The trouble with Hot Wheels and Matchbox cars is if you buy your kid one, you’ll end up buying a hundred — and those cars will end up stashed in every crevice of your house. This customizable wall storage rack will help your child (or adult) organize his or her things.

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

Help Hungry People Across America Just By Entering to Win This Range Rover

<!–Help Food Banks By Entering to Win This Range Rover Sport • Gear Patrol<!– –>

land rover’s ultimate performance vehicle


Food banks are a vital resource for many Americans — perhaps now more than ever. Luckily, there are many good organizations out there working to help combat hunger. Feeding America, for example, is a non-profit that provides surplus food to a network of 200 food banks and 60,000 food pantries and meal programs nationwide.

So if you want to help out their work and potentially score an incredible SUV, you can hop on this giveaway of a Land Rover Range Rover Sport SVR, going on right now at Omaze.

The Range Rover Sport SVR is Land Rover’s ultimate on-road performance vehicle, the most powerful and agile SUV in the lineup. It has a supercharged 5.0-liter V8 that puts out 575 horsepower and 516 lb-ft of torque. The Range Rover Sport SVR can deliver sports car performance on the road, accelerating from 0-60 mph in 4.3 seconds and hitting a top speed of 176 mph. And of course, it’s still a Range Rover as well, packing the brand’s impressive suite of off-roading hardware and software.

The MSRP for this Range Rover Sport SVR is $145,000, with the color of the eventual vehicle to be determined. (If they give you a chance to choose it, we recommend blue.) The prize includes taxes and shipping costs, as well. And if the sweet SUV wasn’t enough, it also comes with $20,000 cash, which you could presumably turn around and donate back to Feeding America if so inclined.

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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Toyota’s New Truck Could Be a Sneak Peek at the Next Tacoma

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two trucks could easily become one


The Hilux, should you not be aware, is Toyota’s legendarily durable pickup favored by ranchers and militant groups around the globe. The Japanese company used to sell it in the U.S. as the “Toyota Pickup” — as seen in Back to the Future — before the Tacoma replaced it in 1995. Now, Toyota has unveiled a new 2021 model year Hilux for markets abroad, which makes us wonder: could it offer a preview of the next-generation Tacoma?

After all, there has been some speculation about Toyota merging the Hilux and Tacoma model lines on Toyota’s global truck platform — eventually. Automakers everywhere were scrambling to reduce development costs and streamline models before the coronavirus hit sales; one way Toyota could do that would be to have just one body-on-frame midsize truck instead of two.

Still, it’s not guaranteed, as there are a few differences between the trucks. The Hilux has traditionally been smaller and more utilitarian than its American counterpart. But there’s some evidence truck taste abroad is beginning to line up with the desires of us Stateside; the 2021 Hilux is getting both an Invincible X luxury and off-roading trim, and a GR performance version is reportedly in the works as well. There may be more overlap to the two models than there once was.

Whatever changes may be coming to the Tacoma, they’re still some way off. A new model is not expected until 2024. However outdated the present Tacoma has become, particularly when it comes to on-road driving, there’s little incentive for Toyota to alter anything. People keep buying the Tacoma in record numbers.

Still, if the idea of Toyota bringing over the Hilux and swapping out the diesel for a U.S. emissions-compliant gas engine sounds crazy, it shouldn’t. That’s precisely what Toyota’s rival Ford did with the current generation Ranger.

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 Weirdest Cars Ever Made by General Motors

The automotive Goliath known as General Motors has been around for more than 110 years, in one form or another. For much of that time, it has been the world’s largest automaker (or damn close to it), with a host of different brands under its corporate umbrella.

The company has whipped up more than its fair share of landmark automotive achievements over the decades…but it’s also safe to say not every vehicle the American conglomerate has produced has been a hit. There have been quite a few sales stinkers over the years, with many failing to take hold for a variety of reasons. Some of those cars, though, have been downright weird, from their conception through their execution.

Below, we list six of the weirdest.

Chevrolet SSR (2004-06)


The Chevy SSR was a hot road convertible roadster/pickup thatused the body-on-frame truck/SUV platform from the Chevy TrailBlazer. It looked even more bizarre than that billing makes it sound.

It was also crazy expensive, with a starting MSRP above $55,000 in 2020 dollars. At the end of its run, GM gave it a C6-gen Corvette engine and a six-speed manual, because…well, why the hell not?

Chevrolet Corvair Greenbrier Rampside (1961-64)


The Corvair was Chevy’s infamous, exceedingly dangerous rear-engined 1960s car that inspired Ralph Nader’s classic “Unsafe at Any Speed.” There was also a van/truck version called the Greenbrier, and one of the pickup truck variants was the “rampside.”

Now, rear-engined trucks are inconvenient for doing, y’know, truck things, as the engine sits where the cargo bed needs to be. Chevy worked around this with a side ramp to load cargo into the deeper front part of the bed. Other manufacturers noticed this…and kept on not making rear-engined trucks.

General Motors EV1 (1996-99)


GM produced the first mass-produced EV in 1996: the EV1. Its styling was a fusion between the car from The Jetsons and a 1990s Chevy Cavalier. (At least it had enclosed rear wheels, as all cool, futuristic vehicles do.)

Initial lead-acid battery versions had an estimated range of between 70 and 100 miles. GM leased a little more than a thousand of them in select locations. Eventually, they killed the program, collected all the cars, and crushed them — against the will of dozens of owners.

GMC Envoy XUV (2004-05)


GM created a variant of the Envoy SUV, the Envoy XUV, in 2004. Essentially, it was a GMC Envoy with a retractable roof over the cargo area to permit it to function as a sort-of truck and carry tall items you couldn’t fit in a standard Envoy.

You’re probably asking, who would want that — besides maybe a GM product-planning exec who had to move a grandfather clock? The answer turned out to be, not many people. GM dumped it after 2005.

Saab 9-7X (2004-08)


Saab’s trademark was delightful, quirky cars. General Motors, after buying Saab outright, could not quite capture the brand’s ethos, so innovation over Saab’s final decade basically meant rebadging other vehicles as Saabs then charging a premium for them.

There was the 9-2X, which was a rebadged Subaru Impreza — but even weirder was the 9-7X, which was a Saabified, body-on-frame Chevy Trailblazer with a starting price north of $50,000 in today’s dollars.

Pontiac Aztek (2001-05)


Yes, the Aztek is an obvious choice, but it’s hard to leave off this list. The Aztek is one of the ugliest SUVs ever made.

To their credit, GM execs foresaw pretty much every trend that would be forthcoming with adventure vehicles over the next couple of decades. They just combined them into an unsightly, off-putting car that somehow manages to be both wantonly aggressive and boring.

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