Welcome to the Hooniverse News! As always, this is a weekly recap of the biggest stories in the automotive industry without the fluff or bull. This week, we’ve got news from the Chicago Auto Show, including some fresh updates and special editions for the Ford GT, an updated Chrysler Pacifica with AWD, and the all-new Cadillac Escalade.
2020 Ford GT plus Liquid Carbon and Heritage Edition
I will never grow tired of reporting on this car. The Ford GT is entering its fourth model year of production with some performance improvements across the board and a few new ways to configure it. If you’re fortunate enough to have been chosen for one, you’ll have two new special editions to pick from. One is presumably the final Heritage Edition they’ll offer and the other is…. quite a bit different.
Starting with the “base model” improvements first, the 3.5-liter EcoBoost twin-turbo V6 gets a bit more potent. Ford Performance engineers figured out a slightly better cooling solution for the engine which allowed them to push it a bit further without sacrificing reliability. The flying buttress (the car’s signature styling element) features new air ducts which increase airflow by 50% which helps feed the larger intercoolers.
With that safety net, they gave the engine a broader torque band and revised engine calibration, plus mechanical upgrades that include gallery-cooled pistons and higher-energy ignition coils. Ford credits their experience with the track-only GT Mk II for serving as the foundation to these upgrades. They also made a titanium exhaust system from Akrapovič a standard feature. All said and done, the V6 now produces 660 horsepower, a 13 hp improvement.
Ford has never made the GT’s carbon fiber body a secret. They’ve had a few special edition models already that have shown some bare carbon, but this one is nothing but bare carbon. The Ford GT Liquid Carbon emphasizes the GT’s lightweight sculpted carbon fiber body by making it the only thing you can see. There’s a special clearcoat that showcases Multimatic’s handwork, which would otherwise go unnoticed, while still protecting it from the elements. There is certainly a weight advantage to this package but Ford did not specify what that was.
Those of you who are rich and think that bare carbon is a little bland, you can still add some color to it. Ford will over the dual center stripes from the standard GT or the thin single stripe from the Carbon Series as well as the option for painted mirror caps. All seven of the usual color options are available for those as well.
The Heritage Edition offering for the year has also been updated. Ford has done one of these throwback liveries for each of their four original Le Mans wins on their 50th anniversary, so that means last year’s and this year’s car wear the famous Gulf Racing colors. The slight update to this year’s livery is the addition of a black pinstripe which divides the blue and orange sections and it’ll be the first Heritage Edition car to have the carbon fiber wheels as an option.
The optional racing number (made from exposed sections of carbon fiber) switches to number 6, as the race-winning GT40 wore in 1969. And yes, it would seem that Ford got to updating the heritage livery for the 1969 win a bit late for the whole 50th anniversary thing. But that’s okay. While I struggle to cope with the Fords being out of IMSA GTLM competition, this little bit of Ford GT news is welcomed.
2021 Chrysler Pacifica
And now for something just a wee bit different. Chrysler is updating the seriously good Pacifica with a facelift, new tech features, a new top trim level, and optional AWD for the first time in nearly two decades. The updated Pacifica will arrive in Q4 this year, but they will start rolling out their new AWD system on the existing 2020 model in Q2.
Chrysler says the new exterior design is much more “deeply sculpted, athletic and modern in character”. They also say it has utility-vehicle-inspired design cues, because literally everything has to be an SUV in some way now. The face includes a more dominant upper grille and more aggressive and linear headlamps. The rear sees a new all-LED taillamp that runs the entire width, much like what is done on most Dodges now.
The interior design is more or less unchanged unless you get the Pacifica Pinnacle, the new top-of-the-line luxury trim. Buyers who spring for it get the most luxurious interior Chrysler has ever offered in one of these. That includes a caramel and piano black color scheme throughout the cabin, Nappa leather seating featuring quilted side bolsters and perforated seat inserts, and two lumbar comfort pillows for the second row which totally won’t get lost. The instrument panel features a distinct mid-century Timber Hydro bezel while a piano black finish and satin chrome plating dresses up the center stack and other control areas.
On top of said center stack though is a new 10.1-inch touchscreen running the newest Uconnect system, which remains one of the best infotainment offerings on the market. The new system is Uconnect 5, which is like Uconnect 4 but faster and with Amazon’s spying tool built in. There are also up to twelve USB Type A and Type C ports throughout the cabin.
It’s got AWD again!
Finally, the biggest update to the new Pacifica is the availability of that coveted AWD system. This has been missing from Chrysler minivans since 2004 but has been a big request for buyers who don’t live in perfect weather year-round. It’s almost as if the entire world doesn’t all just live in Southern California or something. Weird. Anyway, the fully automated system relies heavily on the very capable and popular AWD systems used in other FCA models. It includes a power transfer unit, three-piece drive shaft, and rear drive module with various electronic components intertwined.
It’s quick to react and is the only system in the segment capable of transferring all the power to the rear wheels. If you have a teenager that’s learning to drive in the family van, maybe don’t tell them about that part.
The system is also smart enough to disengage completely when the conditions don’t require AWD, allowing for reduced drag and maximum FWD efficiency. Chrysler says this all works seamlessly, and given FCA’s experience with these kinds of drivetrains, I don’t see a reason to doubt them. In a rather interesting move, Chrysler won’t even make you wait till the end of the year for a 2021 model if you’re desperate for an AWD Pacifica. The existing model will soon be available with the same system and can be ordered through the end of Q2 before ordering books are closed for MY2020.
2021 Cadillac Escalade
Meanwhile, Cadillac took to a sound stage in Hollywood to debut the highly-anticipated 2021 Escalade. For 20+ years, the Escalade has been sort of a benchmark in the luxury SUV segment. It’s definitely been a big player and an extremely popular one. So for the first big redesign in years, Cadillac pulled no punches. The fifth-generation Escalade is a technological powerhouse and a spacious one at that.
Starting with the new design, it wears all of the same design cues that make up the new Cadillac styling language – for better or worse. The headlamps are now oriented horizontally, which they say reinforces its broad and confident stance. I think it makes it look a little dopey. A few new grille designs depending on the trim level dominate the front end, which I guess is appropriate for a Cadillac. The back end retains the classic vertical taillights while gaining deep three-dimensional layers and finishes with detailed etching. It also rolls on new 22-inch wheels as standard because Cadillac.
It’s got serious screen real estate
The real magic happens inside though where Cadillac has thrown in every bit of new tech they possibly could. The one which excites me most is the industry-first curved OLED display which makes up the gauge cluster and center screen. The fact that it’s OLED alone is noteworthy because any black area on the screen will actually appear as black and won’t stand out due to any of the backlighting effects of a normal screen. Only the pixels displaying color are emitting light on an OLED screen. Your eyes would thank you while driving at night and be treated to the largest color range available in the industry. The screens also offer twice the pixel density of a 4K television so images are super crisp.
This new screen is so impressive that they’re giving you three of them. There’s a 7.2-inch touch screen to the driver’s left for driver-specific information and controls, a 14.2-inch cluster display behind the wheel, and a 16.0-inch infotainment screen in the center. The OLED screens are curved slightly for better visibility and eliminate the need for the hood shrouding on the dashboard. The result is an impressive screen layout that’s cleanly integrated into more than half of the dashboard.
Technology for everyone
Other tech includes available augmented reality-enable navigation, which uses a combination of live street views from a forward-mounted camera and directional overlays to assist with navigation. This will be the next hot thing in the industry, seeing as how this is the second time I’ve talked about it in a few weeks (Genesis just beat Cadillac to the punch with the GV80). It also gets night vision which is projected in the gauge cluster display, a digital rear-view mirror, and surround vision to help monitor blind spots all around the vehicle.
There’s also tech for the back seat to enjoy with a new rear-seat entertainment system. It features a pair of 12.6-inch touch displays with HDMI and USB inputs which can also can mirror Android devices. It will even allow occupants to annoy the fuck out of the driver by suggesting destinations from the navigation system. Suggestions from the back seat get sent up to the driver to accept or ignore because holy shit Timmy for the eight-millionth time WE’RE NOT GOING TO DISNEY LAND JESUS CHRIST WE JUST WENT TO FUN SPOT AMERICA AND THAT’S BASICALLY THE SAME THING I MEAN THEY EVEN HAD GIANT MICE RUNNING AROUND TOO.
Another big step forward for cabin tech is the available sound system from AKG. An industry-first collaboration brought AKG’s Studio system to a vehicle for the first time and it’s an audiophile’s dream. 36 speakers powered by three amplifiers deliver 28 channels, offering a listening experience that is “astonishingly crisp and immersive”. A standard AKG Studio system includes 19 speakers and a large enclosed subwoofer, powered by a 14-channel amplifier. The arrangement of speakers is done in such a way that it creates a true 360-degree listening experience. They even have speakers in the headliner. The array of speakers is also used to enhance conversations taking place in the front two rows, so now kids can hear traumatizing arguments between mom and dad in perfect three-dimensional studio-quality clarity and with boosted volume. It’s fun for the whole family.
Other noteworthy additions include an all-new independent rear suspension, available air ride adaptive suspension (which works alongside the standard Magnetic Ride Control), an electronic limited-slip differential, and a choice of engines for the first time. An updated 6.2-liter V8 with 420 horsepower and 460 lb.-ft. of torque is standard equipment. Available for the first time as well is a 3.0-liter turbo-diesel engine with peak torque that matches that of the V8. A ten-speed automatic is paired with each engine.
As for when it arrives, Cadillac gave two different answers in the heading of a paragraph and in the first sentence of said paragraph. It’s either coming this summer or going on sale late-2020. Pretend it’s a surprise.
Everything else from Chicago
The best part about having the news take a backseat to the rest of the content on Hooniverse is I get to be picky about what I cover. And more importantly, what I don’t cover. There were several other stories coming from the Chicago Auto Show this week that are newsworthy, but not newsworthy enough for my… uh, “standards”. Or attention span. Fortunately our friends at Autoweek are much more professional and cover everything with equal importance, so I’m once again deferring to them for the remaining stories. So check them out for more of Chicago’s debuts, including some new trim levels for the Jeep Gladiator, an engine upgrade for the Nissan Frontier, a new sporty-ish (and ugly) trim for the Toyota Highlander, plus face lifts for the Chevy Equinox, Kia Cadenza, and VW Atlas.
What’s your automotive news?
That’s all I’ve got for you this week, so now it’s your turn. If you saw anything, fixed something, broke everything, or otherwise did anything even remotely car related that you want to share with your fellow hoon, sound off in the comments.
Have a good weekend.