Ford’s big #VanLife bet, Jessi Combs’ documentary, Porsche Taycan’s range improvements

2023 Ford Transit Trail Manifold Lede
Ford | Josh Scott

Ford brings #VanLife in house with the 2023 Transit Trail

Intake: Ford Pro CEO Ted Cannis announced via Twitter yesterday that Ford’s Transit Van would venture into the world of factory-backed #VanLife with the 2023 Transit Trail. The Transit trail will, according to Ford, come “equipped with its new adventure-seeking capability alongside interior and exterior enhancements providing do-it-yourselfers and motorhome distributors a turnkey canvas direct from the factory.” The Transit Trail will be assembled in Missouri alongside the more blue-collar-focused Transit and the E-Transit vans. From that statement, it sounds like this one will still be gasoline-powered, utilizing either Ford’s naturally aspirated 3.5-liter V-6 or potentially the EcoBoost twin-turbo 3.5-liter V-6. In a teaser video released to YouTube, we can see that the Transit Trail appears to have some meaty off-road-oriented tires. You can spec a Transit with all-wheel-drive, and we’d expect that to be at least an option, if not standard, on this camping model. When the 2021 Ford Transit arrived, Ford announced three new packages—The Transit Motorhome Prep package, the RV Prep package, and the Adventure Prep package—each intended to court the growing swathe of buyers who wanted an off-grid adventure rig. It sounds like the Transit Trail will take things up a notch and perhaps be a fully kitted-out offering right from the word go.

Exhaust: Van living is still increasing in popularity as more folks seek to leverage remote working opportunities to go and see all the beauty that this country (and Canada, and Mexico) have to offer. There are plenty of aftermarket firms already using the Transit as a platform to build out camper vans, and Ford clearly thinks that offering the right mix of content directly from the factory as a specific model is a path to increased revenues with the Transit lineup. We’re inclined to agree. — Nathan Petroelje

Alpine concept is the hydrogen road racer of the future

Intake: French sports and race car maker Alpine hasn’t given up on internal combustion just yet. The company famous for its lightweight A110 coupe believes that clean-burning hydrogen could be the future fuel for its road and race cars. Its Alpenglow concept car, which will make its public appearance at the Paris Motor Show, takes inspiration from the brand’s Formula 1 and World Endurance Championships competitors for its rakish closed cockpit design. No details of the powertrain have been disclosed but Alpine did confirm that somewhere under that wild bodywork is an electric-assisted ICE. “Alpenglow’s mighty and lavish design hints at what Alpine cars will be like tomorrow and at our vision for motor sports moving forward. With hydrogen technology on board, we are strengthening our commitment to a responsible future and to keeping driving pleasure as real as ever,” says Alpine CEO Laurent Rossi.

Exhaust: Battery electric vehicles are weighty and resource-hungry, as we all know. By contrast, hydrogen is the universe’s most abundant element, so as long as it can be released cleanly and efficiently it could well be the perfect fuel. Saving the sounds and sensations of internal combustion that make driving such a joy would be a spectacular bonus, so good on Alpine (and Toyota) for pursuing this approach.—Nik Berg

Coming soon: Jessi Combs’ Fastest Woman on Earth documentary

Jessi Combs
Facebook/Jessi Combs

Intake: The Fastest Woman on Earth is an HBO Max documentary about Jessi Combs, who, among other things, went after land speed records in a jet airplane-turned-car called the North American Eagle Supersonic Speed Challenger, a converted 52,000-horsepower F-104, ground-bound by the removal of its wings. On August 27, 2019, Combs was killed in a crash at the 13-mile Alvord Desert dry lake bed in Southeast Oregon when there was some sort of failure in the front wheel assembly. She was a popular figure on television, driving a Bugatti on Jay Leno’s Garage, and hosting the All Girls Garage, Mythbusters and Overhaulin’ TV series. A talented fabricator and racer, Combs won a lot of off-road races. Her jet car was viewed by some racers as particularly dangerous, which turned out to be true. “I’m not afraid of dying,” she says in the documentary, “but I’m not ready to die. It’s not as glamorous as it seems. If you’re chasing adventures, you’re going to sacrifice having a relationship. I can’t have a family and try to break a land speed record.” Jessi Combs was 39.

Exhaust: Combs lived life on her terms, and The Fastest Woman on Earth should be an inspiring film. She was awarded the Guinness record for going 522.783 mph before her crash. It begins streaming on HBO Max October 20. Here’s the link to the two-minute trailer on YouTube. — Steven Cole Smith

Software tweaks to 2023 Porsche Taycan bump range by 14.2 percent

Intake: Porsche’s Taycan will get more efficient with the same hardware for the 2023 model year. According to the automaker, “incremental software improvements since launch” will give certain Taycan models more than 10 percent better range than indicated by current EPA ratings. The biggest winner is the Taycan Turbo Cross Turismo, which gains an additional 29 miles of range, but every nearly every model save for the Taycan GTS Cross Turismo and the Taycan GTS sedan will see some improvement. A couple notables: The mind-bending Taycan Turbo S sedan sees range grow from 201 miles to 222 (up 10.4 percent); the more everyman Taycan sedan with the Performance Battery Plus (the 93.4 kWh battery pack, versus the normal 79.2 kWh pack) sees range jump from 225 miles to 242.

Exhaust: If you’ve got a 2020, ’21, or ’22 model year Taycan in the driveway and feel left out, take heart: Porsche spokesperson Calvin Kim confirmed to Hagerty that the older cars will benefit from the software tweaks to the ’23 MY car as well. Kim clarified that although the older Taycans would enjoy increased efficiency because of the update, the EPA rating for those older cars will not change because Porsche isn’t going to re-homologate a 2021 MY car through the EPA test cycle. What’s more, the update will also bring other features of your older Taycan—infotainment, control interfaces, etc.—up to the ’23 spec. And, it will enable more modules within the car (performance and safety modules not included) to be able to receive over-the-air (OTA) updates in the future. Technology, man. — Nathan Petroelje

Sony and Honda’s first EV will be built in the U.S.A.

Sony Vision S 02 EV concept 2022-5

Intake: Honda and Sony have confirmed that their joint-venture electric car will be built in North America with deliveries beginning in 2026. Sony Honda Mobility is the name of the new collaboration, but it’s not yet clear what badge will appear on the car itself. Honda is set to take care of manufacturing at a new EV production hub in Ohio, while Sony’s responsibility will be centered on software and electronics including imaging, sensors, communications, and entertainment.

Exhaust: If you think BMW’s plans to offer in-car video gaming are bold, just think of what the inventors of the PlayStation will come up with. Just imagine how, in a few years time, your Sony-Honda could drive you to your destination while you play Gran Turismo. —NB

BMW updates the M 1000 R track weapon for 2023

Intake: In years past, achieving a higher top speed and better drive out of corners was the type of problem that you’d normally solve with more engine. But for the 2023 M 1000 RR, BMW took a different look at the problem, instead putting the emphasis on improved aerodynamics. With unchanged engine output, the new M bike will be slipperier in a straight line while also having more downforce—even at full lean in a corner. Another nice upgrade is the option for forged wheels in place of the standard carbon fiber hoops, which can make using this machine as intended a little less stressful, depending on your tire guy. All this speed comes with an MSRP of $32,995 plus $695 destination and is expected to hit the U.S. market this January.

Exhaust: Motorcycles hit a point where horsepower was no longer the problem many years ago, and it’s been an aerodynamics race ever since. Those manufacturers in the MotoGP paddock seemed to have the advantage, but BMW is not letting its lack of top-tier entry slow them down one bit. High-downforce cars are typically a next level challenge to drive, and we can only imagine what a high-downforce motorcycle would be like. Is the M 1000 R so capable it likely cannot be fully utilized by mere mortals? Probably, but who doesn’t want to ride the hero bike? — Kyle Smith

Read next Up next: Witness these 7 landmark racers at Indy’s “Roadsters 2 Records” exhibit


    Ford previously announced that they were not going to accept any more customer orders for 2023 models. Have they changed that stance now that the Trail has been announced? The lack of the Adventure Prep Package for the 2023 model year so far was a big letdown for van-people. At least Ford is marketing what people want, even if there’s almost no hope to get one ordered or delivered any time soon…

    The BMW M 1000 R definitely looks like a weapon for the track. Very cool to see more aero stuff on motorcycles.

    In the past I have been vehement about electric cars, saying don’t put your life in the hands of a chip. If you
    can’t take responsibility for driving a mechanical device then don’t drive. Why? Because the concept was not mature enough. Now, with some speed, Sony/Honda will produce here and maybe make something that makes sense as long as the games are left out of it. If you are a person who is enslaved by your games, stay home. Sajeev and others, apologies. I am sure I’m annoying someone. But at my age (85) everybody’s entitled to my opinion.

    No worries @maestro1 , your opinions always stay within the bounds of our topics. But I do have a question: how did you feel about the chips controlling the brakes, steering, shocks, springs, and engine of your 8th gen Lincoln Continental? Because I just drove my ’89 and I love the retro tech even more than before, even though its slow and clumsy (esp the steering boost changes) compared to modern implementations.

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