First EV Bronco makes tiny splash, new Civic Si eyes track, new Rangie is a high-dollar charmer
The first electric Bronco is a pint-sized pleasure
Intake: As if the wait for the new Bronco isn’t excruciating enough, your kid may be driving one before you do. Kid Trax just revealed a pint-sized Bronco with nearly as many bells and whistles as the real thing. “Available soon” at Target, the detailed and realistic Bronco features running lights and working LED headlights, bucket seats, functional side mirrors, removable doors and bed cover, Power Trax rubber traction strip tires (along with a spare), FM radio and MP3 input, and horn and engine sounds. And when it’s time to refuel the Bronco, a one-step plug in system recharges its 12-volt battery. Designed for riders age 2 to 7, the truck seats two kids with a combined weight of 130 pounds or less, and it has a top speed of 5 mph. MSRP is $499.99.
Exhaust: Don’t even think about it, Mom and Dad, it’s for the kids. And how lucky are they? Remember the days when the Little Tikes Cozy Coupe was considered a high-end ride for toddlers? Now that’s like tooling around in your grandmother’s beaten-down Catalina while the rest of the world cruises in Porsches and Cadillacs. Needless to say, every child would love to own a Bronco … and so would many parents.
Honda’s 2022 Civic Si race car promises low-dollar, turn-key track fun
Intake: Honda will debut a prototype version of its 2022 Civic Si race car at the 2021 SEMA show in Las Vegas next week. The turn-key race car promises oodles of fun for track-day enthusiasts, amateur racers, and teams competing in touring car competition around the globe. The new car ditches the sunroof, most of its soundproofing, the underbody coating, and all seam sealer in the name of weight savings and also gets a roll-cage installed. Like the outgoing car, the new race car will use a very lightly modified version of Honda’s 1.5-liter turbocharged four-cylinder, which will exhale through a larger Borla exhaust. The chassis features inverted double-adjustable Bilstein dampers tuned by the folks at Honda Performance Development (HPD), as well as Eibach springs and a Cusco limited-slip front-diff to help claw out of corners. There are Wilwood six-piston front calipers and 2-piece slotted rotors to handle halting duty, and plenty of safety tech inside, including an OMP six-point racing harness and on-board fire suppression system. The new race car is just one of a slew of vehicles—both four- and two-wheeled—that Honda will show off at its SEMA booth this year.
Exhaust: It’s great to see Honda stepping up to the plate once again by pressing the 11th-generation Civic into racing duties. The TCR/TCA classes of racing are widely celebrated for their relatively low costs of entry, and factory-backed support from the manufacturers producing the turn-key machines. Although the machine seen here is a prototype, we don’t expect much to change in the final version. Look for a gaggle of these machines to bang fenders at support races for IMSA all over the country.
2022 Range Rover evolves by natural selection of a BMW V-8
Intake: The all-new 2022 Range Rover has arrived and, as you can see, it looks rather like the outgoing model. At least when it comes to the front and side views, that is. For the most radical change you’ll have to turn to the boat-tail rear end, where the Rangie boasts previously unseen curves, combined with a supermodel-slim light treatment. Somehow the 2002 Range Rover is the most aerodynamic ever made, with a drag coefficient of just 0.30, cheating the air flow with flush-fitting glass and hidden lighting.
The new Range Rover arrives in regular- and long-wheelbase form and, for the first time, you can spec a third row. Its luxe cabin, equipped with JLR’s most recent Pivi Pro infotainment system, offers a choice of leather alternative trim that combines Ultrafabrics and Kvadrat wool. Onboard tech is upped with built-in Amazon Alexa. In 2024 Land Rover will launch a pure electric version as the car’s MLA-Flex platform has been designed for battery power from the outset, but at launch the power will come from a 5.4-liter twin-turbo BMW V-8 offering 523 hp or a three-liter, mild-hybrid inline six with 395. A 434-hp plug-in hybrid will arrive for the 2023 model year with a 62 pure-electric range. Off-road capability hasn’t been left by the wayside, either; the new Rangie boasts all-wheel steering, six different drive modes, and an active locking rear differential.
Exhaust: Jaguar Land Rover has played this one well, at first glance, honing the Rangie’s fashionable street presence and making the interior even more minimalist and tech-forward. It’s a recipe built to charm big-city influencers—those who can stomach the price jump, at least. The 2022 Range Rover starts at an eye-watering $104,000; the outgoing model started a hair under $95K.
GM charges ahead: Infrastructure to grow by 40K level 2 chargers, Bolt production resumes after recall hiatus
Intake: A major roadblock in the process of EV-ing everything is a robust charging infrastructure. GM’s latest undertaking will work to mitigate this. With a new program, starting in 2022, GM will expand the current charging map by utilizing its dealership network in areas with more limited access to public charging, zones referred to as “charging deserts.” The project focuses on popular community-dense areas, such as workplaces, sporting/entertainment venues, and college campuses. Each dealer will receive 10 Ultium Level 2 chargers to dish out amongst their respective communities. The chargers, which will be compatible with all EVs, will also be made available for individual customers to purchase either online or through a dealer (though there’s no word yet on pricing). “These two initiatives are part of our plan to put everyone in an EV, making access to charging even more seamless than before,” says GM President Mark Reuss. GM’s new Ultium chargers are being codeveloped with charging specialists CTEK. Soon, Chevy Bolts might even be using the network—thankfully, the chaos surrounding the model’s all-units recall appears to be calming. Production will resume for the model at the Orion assembly plant in Lake Orion, Michigan, after halting for months since August, while GM and battery supplier LG Chem assessed the damage and negotiated who would foot the bill.
Exhaust: They say if you’re going to fail, fail fast and move forward. GM and LG seem to have done just that. Bolts aside, GM and LG’s joint venture is the backbone of the Ultium brand, and vital to the success of the General’s electrification movement. Many American communities aren’t even entertaining the idea of an EV, due to the obvious shortcomings of the current Level 2 charging network, but this expanded crop of Ultium chargers should help encourage them along.
Kia’s 2023 Sportage scores off-road trims, readies for electrification
Intake: Kia’s new fifth-generation Sportage is growing up and getting out. The 2023 Sportage gains 7.1 inches in length, a half inch in width and height, and 3.4 inches of wheelbase relative to the outgoing generation; credit the N3 architecture which also underpins the Hyundai Santa Cruz, Sonata, Kia Sorento, and more. Two new trims (X-Pro and X-Pro Prestige) tack on a host of adventure-ready details like unique front and rear bumpers, 17-inch wheels, BF Goodrich all-terrain tires, and multi-terrain drive modes for non-pavement excursions. The only powertrain announced thus far is a 187-horse 2.5-liter four-cylinder, which pairs with an eight-speed automatic and either front-wheel or all-wheel drive. Kia says a hybrid version is on the way. Inside, twin 12.3-inch screens—one for the instrument cluster and one for the infotainment—create a tech-forward atmosphere. The new Sportage will be built in West Point, Georgia, alongside the Telluride, Sorento, and K5. Expect gas variants to go on sale early next year.
Exhaust: Another day, another crossover donning plastic cladding and all-terrains. It’s easy for enthusiasts to get cynical here, but these gussied-up boxes sell, especially with the younger, outdoorsy crowd. That said, we’re fans of Kia’s bold styling on the new Sportage; it’s encouraging to see an automaker push the boundaries of conventional design in what is easily the most boring segment of cars. While it might not be for some, we expect a fair few people to look twice as they pass a dealer lot. Now, about that electrified version …
Le Mans circuit gets a refresh
Intake: They’re paving paradise and putting in, well, more pavement at the Circuit de La Sarthe race course in France. The “Syndicat Mixte des 24 Heures du Mans” (the public organization in charge of managing large investments for the track) is investing approximately $284,000 into resurfacing portions of the iconic course and the site of the 24 Hours of Le Mans. The first portion to fall under the paver runs from the Antares roundabout to the first chicane along the back straight. This section of course was last resurfaced in 2011, and is now “showing signs of fatigue” and damage. The new surface will be similar in grip level to the surface on the Bugatti short course inside the 8.5-mile Circuit De La Sarthe.
Exhaust: Last year’s running of the 24-hour contest took a step into the future with the new LMDh class. It’s great to see those closest to the track are pushing the course forward as well. Bravo, to the Syndicat Mixte for investing in the resurfacing of the French course. Perhaps the only non-fans of the news are locals who commute daily on the route.
The French police will now pull you over in Alpine style
Intake: The French National Gendarmerie has ordered a fleet of Alpine A110 sports cars to catch speeders on its autoroutes. The 26 cars will be spread throughout the land on a mission to “carry out interventions on the motorway involving high-speed offenders, as a part of road safety or other police missions,” if our translation of this French Ministry of the Interior press release is correct. The lightweight, mid-engined cars may only muster 249 horsepower but that’s still enough to reach 60 mph in under five seconds and a top speed of 155 mph.
Exhaust: Now les gendarmes have a car that’s smart enough to match their uniforms. It’s also fast enough to catch almost any speeder, so next time you’re accelerating down the autoroute, you’d better watch your mirrors.