Welcome to the Hooniverse News! As always, this is a weekly recap of some of the biggest stories in the automotive industry without the fluff or bull. There’s also just a little opinion of mine because I can. This week:
Ford honors 50 years of “Bullitt” with special 2019 Mustang Bullitt
Ford finally debuts new Ranger, will hit production late this year
Chevrolet rolls out all-new Silverado with more aluminum
Ram mic drops with their most advanced truck ever
Hyundai gives Veloster an impressive makeover with an N performance model
Kia Forte adopts Stinger styling, more premium features
Volkswagen has a new Jetta headed our way
Jeep makes the Cherokee less ugly
Toyota makes the Avalon more ugly
Ford confirms the Shelby GT500 for 2019
What’s your automotive news?
2019 Ford Mustang Bullitt
The movie Bullitt and its chase scene that everyone knows about was released 50 years ago this October, but Ford is already kicking off the celebration with the revival of a legend. The Bullitt Mustang is back for the 2019 model year to pay tribute to McQueen’s iconic hero car.
It’s the third Mustang Bullit Ford has done and it’s also – no surprise here – the fastest yet. Based on a Mustang GT with the 5.0-liter Coyote V8 and a six-speed manual transmission as the only option, the Bullitt benefits from performance exhaust, an Open Air Induction System, Shelby GT350 intake manifold with 87mm throttle bodies, and a new powertrain control module calibration to coax a little more power out of the Coyote. Ford claims “at least” 475 horsepower (15 more than the standard GT) and 420 lb.-ft. of torque. They also claim a new top speed of 163 mph, 8 more than the Mustang GT.
The main thing you’re buying with the Bullitt though is the gorgeous Highland Green paint which the movie car made famous, but you can also opt for Shadow Black if you want to defeat the purpose of having a Bullitt Mustang. Other features that pay tribute to the car McQueen drove are subtle chrome accents around the grille and front windows, classic torque thrust 19-inch aluminum wheels, red painted Brembo brakes (just like in the movie!), and a unique black front grille. Inside and out, the vehicle uses minimal badging; only the circular faux gas cap Bullitt logo on the rear center is visible on the exterior.
Inside, the standard leather interior features green stitching on the dashboard, door panels, center console, and seats. The 2018 Mustang’s 12-inch LCD instrument cluster is standard and features a unique welcome screen when the car fires up. The only other packages that come with the car are an electronics package with various driver assistance systems, MagneRide adaptive suspension (which probably can’t handle jumping San Francisco hills very well), and leather-trimmed Recaro seats.
There’s no word on pricing for the Mustang Bullitt yet, but a similarly-equipped 2018 Mustang GT runs in the high 40s to low 50s… not that I’ve been looking or anything…
2019 Ford Ranger
Finally, Ford brings the Ranger one step closer to its triumphant return to the US. The 2019 Ranger that we’ll be able to buy here in the truck buying capital of the world will be quite a bit different than what we were left with in 2011. They say it’s more rugged, more efficient, smarter, and more affordable (though we don’t yet know exactly what it costs).
For the American market, almost everything on this Ranger is new and designed just for us. Because Built Ford Tough™, the Ranger is built on a high-strength steel frame backbone with frame-mounted steel front and rear bumpers. Ford also says they put the Ranger through the same torture testing as its big brother, the F-150, goes through.
The only powertrain they’re talking about at the moment is a 2.3-liter EcoBoost engine mated to a segment-first ten-speed automatic. This particular EcoBoost engine gets added durability through a forged-steel crankshaft and connecting rods and chain-driven dual overhead cams.
Engineers planned ahead for the off-road enthusiast market by giving it short overhangs, extra ground clearance, and an available FX4 Off-Road Package with beefier shocks, all-terrain tires, frame-mounted heavy-gauge steel front bash plate, frame-mounted skid plates, all-new Trail Control (like cruise control but for off-road), and a Terrain Management System similar to what you get in the F-150 Raptor. Both 2WD and 4WD models benefit from Dana AdvanTEK independent front and solid rear axles with an available electronic-locking rear axle (standard on FX2 and FX4).
Inside, there’s seating for up to five people, a center stack with an 8-inch touch screen for the available SYNC® 3 system, and dual LCD productivity screens for real-time vehicle, navigation, and audio information right in the gauge cluster. There’s also tons of driver assistance and connected tech available. But let’s be real, the real reason we wanted the Ranger was to buy a cheap base model to beat on.
The 2019 Ranger will enter production late this year. And in case you were wondering, yes, this is what the new Bronco will be based off of in 2020.
2019 Chevrolet Silverado
Despite the commercials where they drop a tractor load of bricks, boulders, hand grenades, and weapons-grade uranium into the bed of an F-150 and poke fun at its aluminum body for getting damaged, Chevrolet has embraced the aluminum with the all-new Silverado. Mostly.
But irony aside, the Chevy Silverado gets totally redesigned, gains more tech and convenience features, and offers a new Duramax diesel in the long list of powertrain options. Through the use or more aluminum and more clever engineering, it also sheds 450 pounds compared to the outgoing model.
One of the more noticeable changes you’ll notice when buying is the way they’ve organized the eight trim packages into three categories: High Value, High Volume, and High Feature. High Value contains your work truck and entry level specs for people who just need a good truck without all the fancy stuff. High Volume is most of what you’ll likely end up seeing – high capability in a truck with enough features to be comfortable for most people. Then there’s the High Feature trucks which are for the people who don’t really use their trucks for dirty work. Long story short, the trim levels are more tailored for each specific type of buyer they’re expecting. It should be easier to get exactly what you want from now on.
Beneath its Optimus Prime-inspired styling is a mix of steel for fixed body panels and aluminum for swinging panels (hood, doors, tailgate). The bed is still all steel, so we’ll probably still see those ridiculously dumb “real people” commercials. In fact, those commercials infuriate me so much that I’m not writing about this truck anymore. Screw those ads.
2019 Ram 1500
Not to be left out of the pickup truck frenzy at Detroit this week,
Dodge Ram introduced their all-new 1500 for America’s consideration. It’s been redesigned from the ground up with a stronger and lighter frame, the most aerodynamic truck body in its class, and even a mild hybrid system, the first ever on a truck like this. It’s a big step forward for one of America’s favorite trucks, so let’s see what it’s all about.
The new Ram is built on their strongest frame yet thanks to its 98% high strength steel composition. Crash safety was also considered and improved with exclusive front splayed frame rail technology, creating a highly efficient energy absorbing structure. It’s strong enough to handle a 2,300 payload and up to 12,750 pounds on the hitch, is lighter by about 120 pounds, and has greatly improved noise, vibration, and harshness to boot.
The 1500 rides on all new suspension front and rear, comprising of a standard coil-over setup up front and a five-link coil suspension in the rear, plus an optional air ride suspension and adaptive dampers. That’s right, a Ram 1500 has coil-overs. For your canyon-carving needs, it also has bigger brakes and a quicker electric power steering system.
I mentioned a mild hybrid system earlier, but don’t worry, the 395 horsepower/410 lb.-ft 5.7-liter Hemi V8 is still available. But if you opt for that or the 3.6-liter Pentastar V6, you get what they call an eTorque mild hybrid system in place of an alternator. It’s a belt-driven motor generator unit backed by a 48-volt battery pack to enable quick and seemless start/stop function, briefly lending its electric torque to the ICE’s crankshaft, and brake regeneration.
From its enhanced aerodynamic efficiency to its mild hybrid setup, they’re taking efficiency seriously. This truck is the first to employ thermal management which taps into heated engine coolant to speed warmup of the automatic transmission fluid, engine oil, and rear axle lubricant to maximize the fuel saving benefits of those fluids. They even eliminated the traditional fan blade in the engine bay and replaced it with an electric cooling fan using Pulse Width Modulation because it was more efficient. That said, we don’t yet have EPA estimates to show how well it all works.
And of course you can load it up with a big center screen with Uconnect (still one of my favorite infotainment systems out there), a powerful sound system, and plenty of mobile device charging options.
Ram pulled out all the stops for the new 1500. There were a lot of details I had to leave out for the sake of time, but just know that they put a lot of thought into it. As a truck owner myself for, like, six months now, that makes me qualified to say this’ll be a good truck and you should totally take my word for it.
The Hyundai Veloster is getting a new chance at life with the all-new 2019 Veloster, Veloster Turbo, and Veloster N, all of which are coming to America by the end of the year. The hatchback with the quirky two-plus-one door asymmetrical body style configuration is back with a fresh design, powertrain enhancements, and plenty of new infotainment options to keep the youth occupied. The Veloster N will also be the first of Hyundai’s new N performance line to be available in America and that’s something to be excited about.
The Veloster is intended for young and young-at-heart enthusiasts who want a little more out of their two-and-a-half-door hatchback and its more expressive design is reflective of that. Prominent features up front include a bigger grille opening and functional air curtains. The roofline is lower, the cowl point and A-pillars are further rearward, and the fender line is more “coupe-like”. Basically, it looks a little less awkward than the last one.
The standard engine is a 2.0-liter Atkinson-cycle four-cylinder with 147 horsepower and 132 lb.-ft. of torque. It exists for those who want superior efficiency and lower emissions to go with their two-and-a-half-door hatchback. It’s available with a six-speed manual or automatic. Things get real when you opt for the Veloster Turbo with its Gamma 1.6-liter turbocharged four-cylinder. That offers 201 horsepower and 195 lb.-ft. of torque (or 202 lb.-ft. with an overboost function). A six-speed manual or seven-speed DCT are available. Helping to put the power down is standard Torque Vectoring Control on all Velosters and a quicker steering rack.
Then there’s the Veloster N, the Veloster that prioritizes fun over everything else. It builds upon the sportier-looking Veloster with an N-specific front fascia, rear spoiler and diffuser, high-flow dual exhaust, and red exterior accents. It rides on your choice of 18″ wheels wrapped in Michelin Pilot SuperSport tires or 19″ alloy wheels wrapped in Pirelli P-Zero tires.
Under the hood is a 2.0-liter, direct-injected turbocharged four-banger with 275 horsepower and up to 260 lb.-ft. of torque on tap. Higher than normal engine compression for a turbo engine (9.5:1), a two-stage induction system, and an intercooler that’s isolated from the condenser and radiator help out in the Veloster N’s quest for fun. It appears a six-speed manual is the only option and even that’s been beefed up for the extra load and abuse it’s sure to get.
The Veloster N gets a fully reworked suspension as well with added emphasis on stability and feedback. Too many details in this area to talk about, but trust me, it’s been thoroughly upgraded. Braking power is provided by 13.6-inch performance rotors on the front axle and 12.4-inch rotors on the rear. Could it be, we’re finally getting a good performance hatchback from Hyundai?
We’ll find out when it launches in North America late this year. The standard Veloster and Veloster Turbo go on sale Q2 this year.
Kia is following industry trends and trying to make the all-new Forte a more premium compact sedan. That starts with a new design that’s inspired by the stunning Stinger and continues inside where a new eight-inch touch screen with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto is now standard equipment in a cabin they’ve worked to make more comfortable. Efficiency has been improved by a new four-banger with Atkinson Cycle tech and a cooled EGR system, which they say is normally used on hybrids. It also has a new in-house Intelligent Variable Transmission, which is basically Kia’s own CVT that is supposed to not suck with things like a chain-type belt and quieter operation. As a result, Kia estimates a combined 35 mpg. The Kia Forte arrives later this year.
Volkswagen is bringing an all-new Jetta to our shores in Q2 this year and it’s got everything you’d expect. A controversial new face, “coupe-like proportions, a 1.4-liter TSI four-banger with a six-speed manual or eight-speed auto attached to it, standard full LED lighting, loads of available safety and convenience features, and a starting price of just $18,545. Yep, it’s a Jetta. Add a few inches and you also got a new Passat.
Remember the Jeep Cherokee? It’s like that, but less ugly.
Remember the Toyota Avalon? It’s like that, but really ugly.
Remember the Shelby GT500? Ford just confirmed they’re bringing it back with 700+ horsepower in what appears to be a more track-focused package. The most extreme Mustang ever returns next year.
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.
[Image © 2018 Hooniverse/Greg Kachadurian]