Tacoma’s removable Bluetooth speaker, McLaren’s un-chonky 720S, V-8s for every Defender

Nathan Petroelje

New Toyota Tacoma has removable Bluetooth speaker

Intake: The teasers keep coming for the 2024 Tacoma, one of 2023’s most hotly anticipated vehicles. Most recently, Toyota has revealed that the newest version of its midsize pickup will feature a removable Bluetooth speaker made by JBL, which mounts into the center of the dashboard. JBL has been Toyota’s premium audio partner of choice for some time now, and we’d bet that this feature will be offered on higher-trim Tacomas, such as the Trailhunter, that was teased earlier this year. The 2024 Tacoma will, at least on some trim levels, offer a hybrid drivetrain, likely pairing the 48-hp, 104-lb-ft AC electric motor from the Tundra with some sort of four-cylinder engine. Expect the 2024 Tacoma to be revealed in full sometime later this year.

Exhaust: Though the new Tacoma won’t be the first truck to offer a removable Bluetooth speaker—Rivian’s R1T also does—it’s still a neat feature. If nothing else, fire up The Benny Hill Show theme song while you’re setting up camp. — Nathan Petroelje

Meet McLaren’s lightest, most powerful production car

Intake: McLaren has overhauled the 720S, cutting weight and adding extra grunt to make it the most lightweight and most powerful series-production car the company has produced. Now known as the 750S, the car is 66 pounds lighter and packs an extra 30 horsepower. McLaren claims that around 30 percent of the 750S’s components are new, including a new front splitter, air intakes, front and rear bumpers, and a revised active rear wing. Inside there are featherweight carbon-fiber seats, a column-mounted instrument display, and rocker switches to control drive modes. Apple CarPlay is now included—because McLaren is evidently smarter than Chevrolet—but most of the entertainment will come from the car’s 750-hp V-8 engine which drives the rear wheels and can launch the car from rest to 62 mph in 2.8 seconds and to 120 mph in 7.2. The electro-hydraulic steering has a quicker ratio, and the linked hydraulic suspension gets lighter springs and dampers and revised geometry. A track brake upgrade is optional which uses ceramic brakes and monobloc calipers from the Senna. It’s available to order now as a coupe or convertible, but prices have yet to be confirmed.

Exhaust: McLaren doesn’t namecheck the Ferrari 296 GTB in its launch material, but when it says the 750S has a “segment-leading power-to-weight ratio” and weighs “a remarkable 193 kg (425 pounds) less than its closest competitor,” it’s the Ferrari that the firm is referencing. We look forward to the first back-to-back test. — Nik Berg

2024 E-Class is more butler-like than ever

Mercedes-Benz E-Class AMG Line (*European model shown) Mercedes-Benz

Intake: Mercedes’ new E-Class is here, with styling inspiration taken from the brand’s electric models and driver-assist tech taken from … well, Jeeves—if he were into techno and thought ChatGPT was neat. Not only will the ambient lighting pulse along with your tunes; spring for the dash-width Superscreen display, and you can take Zoom calls from the driver’s seat … when you aren’t using the dash to play Angry Birds or scroll TikTok. Tack on the MBUX Interior Assistant package, and Benz will fit two infrared cameras into the front of the cabin, allowing you and your passenger to instruct the car via gestures. You can also build “routines,” as Benz calls them, where a spoken command prompts the car to adjust the cabin conditions under certain conditions. Want the seat to blow cool air on you whenever outside temps are above 75 degrees Fahrenheit? Plug that into the dash, and set the spoken prompt as “damn, it’s hot outside.” The adaptive cruise-control system has even learned to edge off-center in a lane if an adjacent semi is oozing over the dashed white line.

The whole car is only slightly bigger than the one it replaces, just (.87 inches) longer between the axles. Nomenclature and engine choices remain the same: a 2.0-liter four-cylinder, now making 22 more lb-ft of torque than it did in the 2023 car, for the all-wheel-drive E350 4Matic; and a 3.0-liter six, with 7 more hp, for the all-wheel-drive E450 4Matic. Both engines are mild hybrids, thanks to an integrated starter-generator. The new E-Class will go on sale later this year.

Exhaust: A favorite detail: If you’re alone in the vehicle, the E-Class’s voice recognition system no longer requires you to preface commands with “Hey, Mercedes.” For those who relish a one-sided rant with themselves in the car, this could get … interesting. — Grace Houghton

Biggest Defender gets JLR’s best engine

Intake: Land Rover just announced that the 2024 Defender 130, the long-wheelbase version of its stalwart off-roader, is getting a V-8. Specifically, the 5.0-liter supercharged V-8 that’s also offered in the two-door Defender 90 and four-door, regular-length Defender 110. In the 130, the V-8 is detuned slightly, offering 493 hp and 450 lb-ft of torque, down 25 hp and 11 lb-ft. Performance figures are still plenty stout—the V-8-equipped Defender 130 will clip 62 mph from a standstill in as little as 5.4 seconds, according to Land Rover. The V-8 joins two 3.0-liter, mild hybrid straight-six powertrains for the Defender 130. Equipped with the V-8, the Defender 130 will start at $118,075, including destination. Orders are open now.

Exhaust: Folks shelling out six figures for a luxurious, off-road SUV certainly love their choice of power, so JLR’s decision to offer the V-8 across the Defender lineup is certainly a smart one … especially since it, along with all of the brand’s gas engines, may soon become extinct. — Nathan Petroelje

Honda zeroes in on electric motorcycles, GM alliance

Brandan Gillogly

Intake: Honda’s 2023 business briefing laid out the company’s plans to ditch internal-combustion engines by 2040, expand its procurement of battery materials, and continue the development of a fuel-cell powertrain. Other specific milestones included the launch of 10 electric motorcycles across global markets and the strengthening of its EV partnership with GM. That partnership will produce the 2024 Honda Prologue and the Acura ZDX, as well as several “affordable” EVs by 2027. In the meantime, Honda is developing its own EV platform that will debut in North America in 2025. Honda also plans to expand its software development, with its own vehicle operating systems (O.S.) debuting in those 2025 EV models.

Exhaust: Honda seems to be covering all the bases. We’re particularly interested in seeing which EV motorcycles make it to North America, as we’ve been impressed with the performance of LiveWire models and would like to see how Honda tackles the challenges of packaging an electric motorcycle. — Brandan Gillogly


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    A removable bluetooth speaker is a dumb idea. How about a better factory audio system? Better to buy your own.

    How well does that speaker anchor into the dashboard I wonder? I can see that coming loose and flying around the cab in off-road use.

    How about selling a simple small pickup without all the bullsh*t? I’ve got about 5 bluetooth speakers in my house I can bring if I want…

    Gimmicks. It’s all about gimmicks now.

    When we were car shopping, the sales guy kept going on about the screen size, apple car play, Google this, whatever that. I finally had to tell him to stop. I asked if the radio got AM and he said “what’s AM?” SMH. And I’m not even a Boomer.

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