The Boston (New England) Auto Show occurred more than a week ago. My idea was to have a quick report right from the show; almost live and almost up to the minute. And then my computer crashed. And then I ended up in an emergency room. Now, more than a week later, after finally getting everything fixed, getting healthy, and sorting over the pile of a stuff at work, I can finally write something about the show.
The Boston/New England Auto Show, which was scheduled at the same time as that other show in Detroit, had a lot more personal and cozy feel to it. Not to be outdone, it too had a press preview day (at least half a day), and many manufactures, including Toyota, Jeep, Ford, and GM had press conferences. Here are some quick highlights.
2013 Toyota RAV4
The RAV4 is one of Toyota’s bread-and-butter vehicles. When the volume seller went under the knife, the surgeons had to be very careful that when they were done both headlights were pointing in the proper direction, if you know what I mean.
While slightly uninspiring and Mitsubishi-looking on the outside, the most important changes to the young families that maybe buying RAV4s were functional and interior. The new RAV4 is slightly smaller on the outside but the same or bigger on the inside. The tighter packaging and other new features add a [very] few pounds however. The rear tire is now under the trunk, where it should be, and the awkward rear door is now a proper hatch.
Interior got a total makeover; it is now pleasant to touch, cleanly laid out, and easy to use. Toyota even added a cool “Terra Cotta” interior color option to the otherwise dull gray, beige, and black. Aux/USB/BT are all standard but nav and various steaming audio options are available on higher trim levels. All models get a back-up camera.
The V6 has been dropped, a shame as the V6 RAV4 was sleeper, and the four is now supplemented by a new six-speed transmission. New to the RAV4 is a Sport Mode which should wake this vehicle up with quicker throttle response, reduced power steering assist, and faster shifts. On AWD models it allows for better zigging and zagging.
My stepfather had a ’07 RAV4 – it was a dull and boring, but a functional and economical machine. He traded it in within a year. The ’13 seems to improve all on the things that made the previous generation such a boring vehicle. Full review to follow, sometime this year.
2013 Ford Fusion Energi
I suppose that “energi” means energy in some foreign language, or perhaps Ford made a play on Apple products. Whatever the case is, it is sexier than calling this version of the new Fusion a “plug-in hybrid”. As is now typical, this vehicle can be plugged-in for home charging for extended EV driving, up to 21 miles and up to 85mph, both of which are quite impressive. Further, it has the typical hybrid system with regenerative braking. All of those, combined with a large fuel tank, give the Energi-tic Fusion a potential diesel-like cruising distance of 620 miles according to Ford. Not bad.
What is bad is the Ford MyTouch system. I was never a fan of it, and once almost wrecked a Lincoln MKZ when I was trying lower the interior temperature, which required a switch from iPod display which used invisible buttons. The screen is also a magnet for fingerprints, so the OCD types may have serious issues with it.
Otherwise, the new Fusion Energi seems to be a great addition to a very nice model line. It’s comfortable, has a big trunk, and gets great gas mileage. What else would you want from an everyday sedan? Official EPA numbers have not been announced yet, and neither was the price.
2014 Jeep Grand Cherokee
I love the idea of continuing engineering of products which are already on sale. Just because the design is done and the vehicle, or anything else for that matter, is already in production, it does not mean it should stay this way. Since the introduction of the WK2 Grand Cherokee in 2010, Jeep has introduced a number of special editions and trims, as well as minor upgrades here and there. For 2014 the Grand Cherokee gets a facelift, and more importantly, a diesel version.
In pictures the face-lifted SUV from Detroit did not look Jeep-y and square-y enough to me, but in works in real life. The fine line of “the new 2014 GC starts here” and “the old 2013 GC ends here” is not very pronounced, and the whole thing looks pretty damn good. While I am quickly getting sick of the LED lights that are now on every single new car, those too fit in well with the new GC. Good job, Jeep!
The other big Grand Cherokee news, as mentioned here previously, is the availability of diesel power! Hell yea! The new 3.0-liter V6 makes 240 horsepower and 420 torques, and is mated to an eight-speed automatic transmission. While I don’t see tow rating going up, as they have not on the VW, BMW, and Mercedes diesel SUVs, towing will certainly get easier. I predict that the compression-ignition Jeep will get about 30-mpg on the highway and Fusion Energi-like cruising range.
Be prepared to pay an extra $4500-ish for the diesel upgrade, which is likely to be worth every single penny. The Grand Cherokee, with its V6, V8, diesel, and 6.1-liter SRT engine choices, good build quality, actual off-road ability seem to offer everything that the BMW X5 does, and then some, for much less money. I am really considering this for as next family truckster.