In this week's Autoblog Podcast, Editor-in-Chief Greg Migliore is joined by Senior Editor, Green, John Beltz Snyder and Assistant Editor Zac Palmer. The episode begins with a conversation about driving the Nissan Murano and the BMW X5. Then they discuss the news, including the latest Honda E specs, a hybrid cruise ship and Ford Mustang Shelby GT500 pricing. Finally, they take a "Spend My Money" question about convertibles from the U.K.
Last Friday, David Woodhouse suddenly resigned from his dual positions as Ford's director of global strategic design and director of Lincoln design. In a post not long after leaving, he praised the efforts of his former team over the past six years he headed design at Lincoln. Among other products, that crew gave us the redesigned Navigator, the Continental concept and production sedan, and the Aviator concept and production crossover. Car Design News reports Woodhouse traded Michigan for California, taking the role of VP at Nissan Design America in San Diego. He officially assumes the position July 1, and will also serve on the Japanese automaker's Global Nissan Design Management Committee.
Woodhouse has spent more than 25 years in the design department, starting with BMW and work on the Mini and Range Rover brands, followed by a brief stint with Cadillac of Europe. For the past 20 years he's been with Ford, coming on board with the Ford's former luxury arm known as the Premier Automotive Group — Jaguar, Land Rover, Aston Martin, Volvo and Lincoln.
LAKE LEELANAU, Mich. — Five years ago the midsize truck segment was a one-horse race. The Toyota Tacoma reigned supreme, thanks to a sterling reputation for reliability, great residuals and a fiercely loyal fanbase. Then in 2014, the second-generation Chevrolet Colorado burst onto the scene, injecting life into the stagnant segment and racking up nearly half a million sales through 2018. This led to the reintroduction of the Ford Ranger in 2019 and the new Wrangler-based Jeep Gladiator, that brand's first truck in nearly 30 years.
Although we've driven them all extensively, it was time to see which of these midsize trucks is really the best. We gathered them for a few days in the forests of northern Michigan. Six of us — four editors and a pair of video producers — were on hand to rate the trucks and document the whole affair. The goal? To determine the strongest one overall, using our bespoke scoring formula to see how each truck measured up in critical areas. These trucks have a tougher task than their full-size brethren. They need to pack comfort and utility into a stylish form, while providing value relative to the Silverado, Ford F-150 and Ram 1500.
Three major automakers said on Wednesday they were forming a consortium to help draw up safety standards for self-driving cars that could eventually help create regulations in the United States. General Motors, Ford and Toyota said in a statement they were joining forces with automotive engineering group SAE International to establish autonomous vehicle "safety guiding principles to help inform standards development." The group will also "work to safely advance testing, pre-competitive development and deployment," they added. Regulators in the United States have been grappling with how to regulate self-driving cars, with other countries watching closely to see how implementation of the emerging technology pans out. Last year, U.S. lawmakers, unable to agree on a way forward, abandoned a bid to pass sweeping legislation to speed the introduction of vehicles without steering wheels and human controls onto roads, but may resurrect the effort later this year. The new group, dubbed the Automated Vehicle Safety Consortium, will begin by deciding priorities, with a focus on data sharing, vehicle interaction with other road users and safe testing guidelines. Randy Visintainer, chief technology officer at Ford's Autonomous Vehicles unit, said the goal was to work with companies and government "to expedite development of standards that can lead to rule making." Last month, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration asked the public if robotic cars should be allowed on streets without steering wheels or brake pedals as they try to set the first legal boundaries for their design. NHTSA's existing rules prohibit vehicles without human controls. The regulator will for the first time compare a vehicle in which all driving decisions are made by a computer versus a human driver. Concerns are mounting about automated piloting systems. A fatal 2018 accident involving a self-driving vehicle operated by Uber Technologies Inc and two deadly plane crashes involving highly automated Boeing 737 MAX airliners have put a spotlight on the ability of regulators to assess the safety of advanced systems that substitute machine intelligence for human judgment. The new consortium cited as a successful model a standards group that helped create a collection of some 4,500 aerospace standards covering airframe, engine and other aircraft parts.
The 2019 Chicago Auto Show features an array of heavy-duty trucks, smaller trucks, other kinds of trucks, and well, more trucks. That means new versions of the 2020 Chevy Silverado Heavy Duty and 2020 Ford F-150 Super Duty, a refreshed 2020 Toyota Tacoma and a trick tailgate on the 2019 Ram 1500. Here's some impressions, plus our take on the 2020 Subaru Legacy sedan.
— Toyota updated the 2020 Tacoma with some light but useful enhancements. An improved infotainment has new audio features and larger screens. The grilles and wheels are different, but nothing drastic. Toyota still offers nice differentiation across the Tacoma lineup, and the design tweaks are subtle but thoughtful. Toyota tends to stretch out the Tacoma's generations, so it's wise to keep modifying and iterating to keep pace in this competitive segment.
Ram just announced its Multifunction Tailgate — a descriptive if not very creative name. It's an asymmetrical barn-door arrangement, which can both fold down like a conventional tailgate or swing open like a gate. There's a new bed step, but unlike Ford or GM, the step isn't part of the tailgate itself. Rather, it kicks out from under the bumper (as opposed to out from under the driver's side of the rear bumper in its previous incarnation). So let's just focus on the tailgate functionality. A video of the Ram Multifunction Tailgate in action is above.
For one, either of the swinging tailgate sections can be opened independently. They open to a full 88 degrees. In conventional flip-down mode, the tailgate works just like a normal one, too, with a 2,000-pound rating. The bottom line is that while it gives a variety of types of access to the load area, it doesn't "do" anything else. It's a $995 option on any Ram 1500.