2021 Jeep Wrangler Rubicon 392: Dirt-slinging with a V8 – Roadshow

The interior remains largely the same, save for some bronze stitching, standard leather seats with more supportive bolsters and a beefier steering wheel.

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Charging the Rivian R1T off-grid with Power Innovations – Roadshow

Discuss: Charging the Rivian R1T off-grid with Power Innovations

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Here’s how I charged the Rivian R1T in the desert – Roadshow

Power up!

Richard Giordano

Picture it: You're in the middle of the desert in an electric Rivian R1T. It's hot, it's dusty and you need electricity if you ever hope to make it home alive. What's a driver to do? I found myself in this exact situation while on an eight-day adventure in Rivian's new R1T pickup truck. Fortunately, I had a secret weapon: the Mobile Energy Command from Power Innovations.

The MEC is an 80,000-pound semi-truck loaded with six gigantic lead-acid batteries with 250 kilowatt-hours of power, a 175-kW charger and a Tier 4 generator. While traveling from northern California through Nevada and into southern California, I was given the location of the MEC every day to get a shot of mid-afternoon electrons.  I simply drove up the semi's ramp, plugged in and, 30 minutes or so later, the R1T was charged to about 80%. At the end of each day at our camping location, I left the R1T connected to the MEC longer to get a mostly full charge -- remember, batteries charge slower the fuller they are.

An 80% charge took just 30 minutes.

Richard Giordano

Power Innovations' original plan was to use a hydrogen fuel cell to keep those batteries charged. In fact, the company tested the fuel cell technology with Rivian before my trip and everything worked as planned. However, getting permits in order can be a bit of a hassle. With a compressed timeline and multiple counties in both California and Nevada needing to sign off on a semi-truck full of hydrogen, Power Innovations had to go with plan B.

I'm the first to admit that using a generator to charge batteries that then charge an electric truck is far from ideal. However, a Tier 4 generator complies with the strictest EPA standards, emitting less particulate matter and lower levels of nitrogen oxides. If you're going to have a generator, this is the least-polluting way to do it.

Power Innovations hopes to bring the MEC, with the proper hydrogen permits, out to other far-flung locations to provide power for intrepid EV owners. Further, Rivian is working on its own Adventure Network and Jeep has promised solar chargers in wheeling hotspots like Moab, Utah, and on the Rubicon Trail. As off-road-capable EVs become more ubiquitous, the infrastructure will improve no doubt. Kudos to those taking the first steps.

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Here’s how I charged the Rivian R1T in the desert – Roadshow

Power up!

Richard Giordano

Picture it: You're in the middle of the desert in an electric Rivian R1T. It's hot, it's dusty and you need electricity if you ever hope to make it home alive. What's a driver to do? I found myself in this exact situation while on an eight-day adventure in Rivian's new R1T pickup truck. Fortunately, I had a secret weapon: the Mobile Energy Command from Power Innovations.

The MEC is an 80,000-pound semi-truck loaded with six gigantic lead-acid batteries with 250 kilowatt-hours of power, a 175-kW charger and a Tier 4 generator. While traveling from northern California through Nevada and into southern California, I was given the location of the MEC every day to get a shot of mid-afternoon electrons.  I simply drove up the semi's ramp, plugged in and, 30 minutes or so later, the R1T was charged to about 80%. At the end of each day at our camping location, I left the R1T connected to the MEC longer to get a mostly full charge -- remember, batteries charge slower the fuller they are.

An 80% charge took just 30 minutes.

Richard Giordano

Power Innovations' original plan was to use a hydrogen fuel cell to keep those batteries charged. In fact, the company tested the fuel cell technology with Rivian before my trip and everything worked as planned. However, getting permits in order can be a bit of a hassle. With a compressed timeline and multiple counties in both California and Nevada needing to sign off on a semi-truck full of hydrogen, Power Innovations had to go with plan B.

I'm the first to admit that using a generator to charge batteries that then charge an electric truck is far from ideal. However, a Tier 4 generator complies with the strictest EPA standards, emitting less particulate matter and lower levels of nitrogen oxides. If you're going to have a generator, this is the least-polluting way to do it.

Power Innovations hopes to bring the MEC, with the proper hydrogen permits, out to other far-flung locations to provide power for intrepid EV owners. Further, Rivian is working on its own Adventure Network and Jeep has promised solar chargers in wheeling hotspots like Moab, Utah, and on the Rubicon Trail. As off-road-capable EVs become more ubiquitous, the infrastructure will improve no doubt. Kudos to those taking the first steps.

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Lexus J201 concept looks ready for the wild – Roadshow

Discuss: Lexus J201 concept looks ready for the wild

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Lexus J201 concept looks ready for the wild – Roadshow

Discuss: Lexus J201 concept looks ready for the wild

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2021 GMC Sierra gets Jack-Knife Alert tech, Black Diamond Edition trim – Roadshow

The GMC Sierra Heavy Duty is a particularly imposing presence in its new Denali Black Diamond Edition trim. 

GMC

GMC aims to deliver the best-towing pickup truck on the market, and it's already rolled out myriad cameras and sensors to make tough jobs easier for its customers. Now, the 2021 GMC Sierra full-size pickup will get added trailer tech for even greater convenience and safety in both light-duty and heavy-duty model trims. It's also stacking the deck with a new 2021 GMC Sierra HD Denali Black Diamond Edition trim that offers even more bling than usual.

GMC's new Jack-Knife Alert can warn with a visual alert and a quick vibration to the driver's seat bottom when their trailer is at risk for getting out-of-sorts. Jackknifing occurs when the trailer gets out of sync with the towing vehicle's trajectory and the trailer starts to come around, forming an L or a V shape. This usually happens because the trailer tires have lost traction, but trailers can also jackknife when backing up, too. By using cameras and sensors, the Sierra can sense a potential jackknife situation and warn the driver of impending problems. The tech cannot, however, correct such developing situations on its own. Depending on the severity, drivers may be able to recover the trailer by easing up on the gas or steering into the skid. 

Also new is Trailer Length Indicator, a system that works as an enhanced blind-spot monitor. When a driver activates a properly equipped 2021 Sierra's turn signal, a red overlay is displayed on the infotainment screen's camera feed, visually extending twice the length of the trailer. This helps drivers see if a vehicle is in (or approaching) its "red zone," enabling safer lane changes.

Don't jackknife that trailer!

GMC

Other improved trailer tech helps drivers back up their vehicles more easily, with new guide lines on the main infotainment display. The rear side-view function, which previously only worked when moving forward on 2020 models, will henceforth also work in reverse for 2021 Sierras. To help with hitching up, a new Trailer-Angle Indicator feature comes on the scene, as does a Cargo Bed View enhancement feature and Bed Hitch Guidance for gooseneck or fifth-wheel trailers. 

On the light-duty Sierra 1500, all this technology is part of an optional Technology Package. On Heavy Duty models, the tech is standard on the luxurious Denali trim, but SLT and AT4 drivers will need to option their trucks with HD Surround Vision with Two Trailer Cameras, as well as the Bed View Camera system to get all the new goodies.

As for other updates, drivers of the GMC Sierra 1500 can now get the super-cool MultiPro tailgate on SLE and Elevation trims. The AT4 will have 20-inch Goodyear Wrangler Territory tires available and a high-clearance step to help entrance and egress. 

Further, the 3.0-liter Duramax turbodiesel engine gets a substantial price cut of $1,500. For 2021, on SLT, AT4 and Denali trims the diesel will cost just $995 more than the 5.3-liter V8 offering. On the SLE and Elevation, the price cut brings the price premium down to $2,390.

As for the Sierra Heavy Duty, the MultiPro tailgate will be standard on the SLE trim and the AT4 will have available 18-inch mud-terrain tires and a high-clearance step. The Denali trim will get a 360-degree camera, as well as a bed-view camera standard. 

Those who opt for the new super-fancy Black Diamond Edition trim seen above will get 20-inch high-gloss black wheels and power-retractable side steps on their already less-than-subtle Denali.

No word on full model pricing or availability yet, but we expect to see the 2021 GMC Sierra 1500 and Heavy Duty models in dealerships this fall. With all those cameras and chrome, they're going to be hard to miss.

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2021 Ford Ranger gets off-road Tremor package – Roadshow

Ford Ranger Tremor

It's not a Ranger Raptor, but it's close enough for now.

Ford

Listen up dirt-heads: Ford is finally giving us the Ranger we've always wanted -- well, kind of.  Making its debut Monday, the 2021 Ranger's Tremor package offers a bit more off-road capability, even if it isn't the full-blown Raptor treatment. 

The Tremor pack will be available on the Ranger's XLT and Lariat trims for an extra $4,290. The Ford F-Series Super Duty already has its own Tremor package, but it's geared more towards hauling heavy things out to remote locations. In fact, Ford outfitted all its Super Duty support trucks with the Tremor package to chase the Bronco R in last year's Baja 1000. The Ranger, however, seems to be more about off-road shenanigans than overall practicality. Again, not Raptor-sized shenanigans, but more fun than what you can currently have with the Ranger FX4.

The Ranger Tremor gets Fox 2.0 monotube shocks with rear piggyback reservoirs for better cooling. These shocks have a progressive rebound and hydraulic stops, so the truck shouldn't bounce around too much when the whoops get deep. The front coils and rear leaf springs get a different tune and the anti-roll bar is relaxed just a tad, so in theory, drivers and passengers shouldn't get their teeth rattled out. This also increases the Ranger's suspension travel to 6.5 inches up front and 8.1 inches at the rear.

General Grabber 32-inch tires wrap around 17-inch gray-painted wheels. Together these add an inch of width compared to a standard Ranger. There is no dedicated suspension lift, per se, but the wheel and tire package adds nearly an inch of ground clearance when compared to a stock Ranger, topping out at 9.7 inches. The truck's approach, departure and breakover angles are also improved, up to 30.9 degrees, 25.5 degrees and 24.2 degrees, respectively.

A rear differential locker is included in the package to help get the truck up and over rocks, and Ford says the traction control is recalibrated for better grip on slippery surfaces like gravel. Inside, you'll find six auxiliary switches with anywhere from 5 to 25 amps. Finishing out the package are skid plates, rear recovery hooks and side steps.

Visually, the Tremor distinguishes itself by the aforementioned tires, a unique grille and, of course, all those badges. Hood and body graphics will even be available, too. Normally we're kind of meh on this kind of stuff but, hot damn, the Ranger Tremor looks pretty good.

The graphics are kind of a lot, but we don't hate 'em.

Ford

Nothing changes under the hood. The Ranger still uses the same 2.3-liter EcoBoost four-cylinder engine as before, with 270 horsepower and 310 pound-feet of torque, mated to an excellent 10-speed automatic transmission. Ford's Terrain Management system is on hand with Normal, Grass/Gravel/Snow, Mud/Ruts or Sand modes, as well as Trail Control, which is like a super-slow-speed off-road cruise control. Like other Rangers, the Tremor can tow 7,500 pounds, but payload is down just a bit, to 1,430 pounds. That's just 130 pounds, but hey, that's an extra spare tire and 10 gallons of gas.

While we're stoked that Ford is offering this Tremor package, we're still praying for a Ranger Raptor to hit our shores soon. Until then, the Tremor package will be available on 2021 Rangers starting early next year.

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2021 Ford Ranger gets off-road Tremor package – Roadshow

Ford Ranger Tremor

It's not a Ranger Raptor, but it's close enough for now.

Ford

Listen up dirt-heads: Ford is finally giving us the Ranger we've always wanted -- well, kind of.  Making its debut Monday, the 2021 Ranger's Tremor package offers a bit more off-road capability, even if it isn't the full-blown Raptor treatment. 

The Tremor pack will be available on the Ranger's XLT and Lariat trims for an extra $4,290. The Ford F-Series Super Duty already has its own Tremor package, but it's geared more towards hauling heavy things out to remote locations. In fact, Ford outfitted all its Super Duty support trucks with the Tremor package to chase the Bronco R in last year's Baja 1000. The Ranger, however, seems to be more about off-road shenanigans than overall practicality. Again, not Raptor-sized shenanigans, but more fun than what you can currently have with the Ranger FX4.

The Ranger Tremor gets Fox 2.0 monotube shocks with rear piggyback reservoirs for better cooling. These shocks have a progressive rebound and hydraulic stops, so the truck shouldn't bounce around too much when the whoops get deep. The front coils and rear leaf springs get a different tune and the anti-roll bar is relaxed just a tad, so in theory, drivers and passengers shouldn't get their teeth rattled out. This also increases the Ranger's suspension travel to 6.5 inches up front and 8.1 inches at the rear.

General Grabber 32-inch tires wrap around 17-inch gray-painted wheels. Together these add an inch of width compared to a standard Ranger. There is no dedicated suspension lift, per se, but the wheel and tire package adds nearly an inch of ground clearance when compared to a stock Ranger, topping out at 9.7 inches. The truck's approach, departure and breakover angles are also improved, up to 30.9 degrees, 25.5 degrees and 24.2 degrees, respectively.

A rear differential locker is included in the package to help get the truck up and over rocks, and Ford says the traction control is recalibrated for better grip on slippery surfaces like gravel. Inside, you'll find six auxiliary switches with anywhere from 5 to 25 amps. Finishing out the package are skid plates, rear recovery hooks and side steps.

Visually, the Tremor distinguishes itself by the aforementioned tires, a unique grille and, of course, all those badges. Hood and body graphics will even be available, too. Normally we're kind of meh on this kind of stuff but, hot damn, the Ranger Tremor looks pretty good.

The graphics are kind of a lot, but we don't hate 'em.

Ford

Nothing changes under the hood. The Ranger still uses the same 2.3-liter EcoBoost four-cylinder engine as before, with 270 horsepower and 310 pound-feet of torque, mated to an excellent 10-speed automatic transmission. Ford's Terrain Management system is on hand with Normal, Grass/Gravel/Snow, Mud/Ruts or Sand modes, as well as Trail Control, which is like a super-slow-speed off-road cruise control. Like other Rangers, the Tremor can tow 7,500 pounds, but payload is down just a bit, to 1,430 pounds. That's just 130 pounds, but hey, that's an extra spare tire and 10 gallons of gas.

While we're stoked that Ford is offering this Tremor package, we're still praying for a Ranger Raptor to hit our shores soon. Until then, the Tremor package will be available on 2021 Rangers starting early next year.

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Jeep Grand Wagoneer concept previews brand’s first $100,000 model – Roadshow

This is technically a concept, but the production version is coming next year.

Jeep

The Jeep Grand Wagoneer was put to rest in 1991, but the full-size luxury SUV has remained in the hearts of many enthusiasts ever since. Looking to cash in on that nostalgia and break into the full-size luxury space once again, Jeep revealed the Grand Wagoneer concept on Thursday, ahead of a new production model hitting the road in 2021. And this won't just be any new model, Jeep's production Grand Wagoneer flagship is widely expected to crest $100,000 in top trims.

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Air suspension and plug-in power

In addition to the big Grand Wagoneer, Jeep will launch a smaller version, named simply "Wagoneer." But for right now, the Grand Wagoneer is the only one making its debut.

A number of the concept's features are already confirmed for production, including independent front and rear suspensions, a choice of three four-wheel-drive systems, a Quadra-Lift air suspension, best-in-class tow ratings and three rows of seats. Consider this Jeep's answer to the Land Rover Range Rover.

The concept uses a plug-in hybrid powertrain, but the company isn't offering any details right now, only saying it's "in line with the Jeep brand's plans to offer electrification options on all models in the next few years." Traditional gas-only versions should be offered with the plug-in hybrid positioned as a separate model. Don't forget, Jeep is also launching 4xe PHEV versions of other models like the Wrangler soon, too.

75 inches of screens

Inside the concept are screens, screens and more screens -- seven total -- including one just for the front passenger. The driver gets a 12.3-inch gauge cluster behind the two-spoke steering wheel, and there's a 12.1-inch central screen in the dashboard with a 10.3-inch display to the right for passengers. Your co-pilot can futz around to their heart's content on their own dedicated screen without distracting the driver, and can even wirelessly cast content from their phone.

Below the central infotainment display is another 10.3-inch screen that controls climate functions, and rear-seat passengers get their own 10.3-inch display to manage their heating and air conditioning settings, as well. On top of that, each of the second-row captain's chairs gets a 10.1-inch entertainment touchscreen (third-row passengers, sadly, will have to use their iPads). All told, Jeep says there's nearly 75 inches of screen real estate inside the Grand Wagoneer. Yowza.

The Grand Wagoneer uses Fiat-Chrysler's new Uconnect 5 system which made its debut in the 2021 Pacifica earlier this year. We've got a full deep dive of its features, so be sure to check that out. There's a McIntosh audio system with 23 speakers, too, connected to a 24-channel amplifier.

Screens and screens and screens and screens and screens.

Jeep

Big luxury

The interior sure looks luxurious, and Jeep says it focuses on sustainable materials. There are plenty of throwback touches that pay homage to the original Wagoneer: The two-spoke wheel, for starters, plus some "EST. 1963" badges. The wood paneling so strongly associated with the exterior of the Grand Wagoneer comes inside, with subtle hints of heat-treated lacewood.

The front seats look to be uber-comfy, with a massage function and separate center armrests for both driver and passenger. No more playing elbow games with your spouse. The upholstery colors in Jeep's photos are all pretty dark, but we'll be curious to see this cabin with some lighter options, too.

Bold design with some awkward angles

And that, friends, brings us to the most polarizing part of the Grand Wagoneer: the exterior design. Obviously, we haven't been able to see the concept in person, but from what we can see in the photos, this SUV gets some things right and some things wrong. The front fascia is delightful, with the traditional seven-slot grille lit up like a Christmas tree for a super cool light signature. Even the Wagoneer name that sits atop the grille is illuminated. LED headlights are framed in teak wood, and they look great.

A secondary split grille resides underneath the seven-slot opening, housing the LED foglights and tow hooks. Finally, an obsidian-black aluminum front skid plate finishes everything off. What could have ended up really fussy ends up looking well-proportioned; the front end is surely this Jeep's best view. We also dig the obsidian-finished, 24-inch aluminum wheels. A big SUV needs big wheels and while 24s sound excessive, it really works.

This is where the design starts to fall apart for us.

Jeep

Where the Grand Wagoneer kind of falls apart for us is from the side and rear. With its heavy pillars and wraparound LED taillights, this otherwise imposing Jeep kind of looks like a minivan. From the dead rear view, it's like a Land Rover Discovery -- minus the dumb, offset license plate, anyway. But really, those chunky pillars and tall windows really make this thing look awkward, at least in photos.

As we saw in an earlier teaser, the Grand Wagoneer has a map of Detroit etched onto the glass roof. It's a nod to the fact that the Jeep will be built in metro Detroit -- Warren, Michigan, to be specific. And look, maps are cool and all, but this seems like a lot. Unless you live in Detroit, that is, then it rocks.

Production model coming in 2021

The new Jeep Grand Wagoneer will go into production sometime in 2021. We don't know how much it will cost, but we've heard it might be quite expensive, with most industry analysts expecting it to exceed $100,000 all loaded up. For comparison, a 2021 Cadillac Escalade starts at $77,490 including destination and the Lincoln Navigator comes in at $77,480. A Land Rover Range Rover costs $93,350, but if you want three rows of seats, you actually have to get the smaller Range Rover Sport. Plus, it's easy to bloat most of these vehicles into six-figure territory with higher trims and options. Our best guess is that the Grand Wagoneer will be priced somewhere north of $70,000.

This Jeep might just be a concept for now, but it's easy to see how it will translate into a production SUV. Given consumers' demands for SUVs -- especially luxury offerings -- are hotter than ever, it's definitely a smart play. We can't wait to check it out (and get it dirty) when it hits the road next year.

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