New Year, New Rides

            Happy new year! We survived another year together. Time to hit the gym and get in better shape…..or start trying to cut back on the whiskey….try not to hoon the daily? Eh, there’s always next year. With the new year comes new rides from most car manufacturers. It’s still a bit early as most of the big auto shows are going on about the time you’re reading this but there have been plenty of photos and information released on some interesting new cars for 2019. Some of these cars are out on the road now as 2019 models that were released in the second half of 2018 and others are out this year as 2020 models. I haven’t seen anything yet that im super stoked about for 2019 but there are a few new options that look interesting to me as I might be looking for a new family hauler this spring. I know that’s not the most exciting category unless you have the cash for a Trackhawk or G wagen but its a new car nonetheless.

            As I’ve mentioned here before i’m a pretty big Subaru fan and I feel they put out a pretty quality product. Between my wife and I we have owned 5 different Subarus and I know if we replace our GTI it will likely be with another Subaru. While I think we will go with another outback or the all new redesigned Forester the Ascent is getting most of the attention as far as new products go. Im leaning towards the forester as we dont really need a 3 row SUV but with second kid on the way the Golf will get a little crowded for road trips. The new Forester is built on Subarus global platform and is larger than the old model. I’m not happy with the fact that they did away with the turbocharged XT model but i’ll save you that rant. There is only one engine choice now, a 182 hp direct injected boxer four cylinder mated to the standard CVT. The Ascent is Subarus second go at a larger SUV after retiring the Tribeca in 2014 due to poor sales. Im sure the new Ascent will sell like hot cakes in todays world of large SUVs. I think it is pretty handsome and not overly big in person. It is powered by a new turbocharged 2.4L direct injected flat four that’s good for 260 hp and 277 ft lbs of torque. Thats mated to a CVT transmission and its enough power for the Ascent to be rated to pull 5,000 lbs which is nice considering Subarus cars have never had a very good tow rating. Now you can have your symmetrical AWD and pull a small boat or camper with the family as well. It’s an interesting option for sure.

            I for one really like the stuff that Ford motor company is putting out lately and Im glad they are bringing back the Ranger to the United States market. I knew a few guys in High school with them and they were good little trucks. My brother actually had four wheel drive one for his first vehicle and it was a great. After an eight year hiatus the Ranger is back looking to steal some sales from GM and Toyota. The Nissan Frontier and Honda ridgeline are also competitors but don’t share as much of the market as the other two. If you are considering buying one I hope you want a turbocharged four cylinder engine as that’s the only engine available at launch time. I find this odd coming from Fords truck department seeing as the F150 has like 37 engine choices now. It’s more like 4 or 5 but still, the other popular models in the segment offer 4 and 6 cylinder options as well a small diesel option in the GM twins. The 2.3L ecoboost 4 cylinder is good for 270 hp and 310 ft lbs of torque and its mated to the company’s 10 speed auto transmission. I’m sure it will be a pretty strong performer if it’s anything like its 6 cylinder siblings. Its enough grunt to pull 7500 lbs and has the same payload as the F150 at 1860 lbs. Im sure Ford faithfuls will only consider the Ranger in this segment but for me, even though I really like the Tacoma, Id look real hard at the Colorado ZR2 with the little diesel but that’s just me.

            Love it or hate it Toyota has resurrected the legendary Supra name for 2019 and are said to be released in 2019 as a 2020 model. I think there will be plenty of haters complaining about how the the new car doesn’t have a 2JZ engine or manual transmission. I didn’t expect a new 2JZ and it doesn’t surprise me that there is no manual offering although its a bit of a bummer it’s not at least an option….yet. Rumor has it there will be one available later but we will see.  I did expect a Toyota sourced drivetrain but that’s no the case either. The new Supra is essentially a new BMW Z4 with a Toyota designed body. The car will be built in Austria as well which isn’t a problem for me but it just seems odd to me seeing as the older Supras were so…so…Japanese! I’m not mad about the drivetrain as the Supra will get a BMW sourced turbocharged inline six and BMW builds some good ones. It’s just not what I thought it was going to be for some reason but who cares, I’m not looking to buy one. The 3.0L direct injected mill is good for 335 hp and 365 ft lbs of torque. I’m sure the aftermarket will have them turning out 400 hp with just software changes in no time. BMW’s N54 and N55 engines make some decent power when swapped over to single turbo setups and i’m sure this new B58 engine will be the same. It may not be the herculane 2JZ but atleast its a straight six! The new setup is good for low 4 second 0-60 times with the ZF sourced 8 speed automatic and Toyota says the car has nearly perfect 50/50 weight distribution. Honestly i’m not that impressed with the pictures of the car but im sure like most, it will look better in person. Prices should start just over 50k for the new 5th generation Supra.

            We talked about the Ranger re-entering the small truck market but there is another new contender in that arena as well, the new Jeep Gladiator. If you’ve heard enough of my opinions in this article too bad because i’m gonna give you more. I’m not sure how I feel about the Gladiator yet. On one hand I like the size and capability of the jeep and now with a truck bed it makes it more practical in my eyes. On the other hand I see 10 jeeps a day with too much aftermarket crap on them that are cleaner than my car. They have become the poor man’s G-wagen and they really aren’t that cheap anymore! Either way I’m sure they are going to sell well and I do like the look of it much more than the 4 door wrangler. I like the fact that Jeep built it with it being a truck first, it’s not an elongated 4 door Wrangler with no top. Its legit in the segment with a towing capacity just shy of 7700 lbs and it gets the companies 285 hp Pentastar V6 which is good engine. There is a 3.0L diesel slated to be available next year with 442 ft lbs of torque as well! You can still get a 6 speed manual with the V6 (surprisingly) or an 8 speed automatic. It’s the most open air experience you can get in a pickup thanks to removable doors, top, and a windshield that folds down! In top Rubicon trim the Gladiator will get all the goodies from the similar trim Wrangler. Things like front and rear locking differentials, disconnecting front sway bar, 4:1 low range transfer case, and 33” off road tires. I think Jeep has a winner on their hands with the new Gladiator.

            There are more noteable new models and redesigns for the 2019 model year. Just announced recently Subaru is finally bringing a ”S” series vehicle to the united states, the S209. It’s a beefed up STI with some wide body parts and some sticky tires. It has what Subaru calls a fortyfied engine with a larger turbocharger that makes 341 hp. Im sure they will sell out fast as Subaru is only going to bring 200 of them to the U.S and i’m sure they will be way overpriced. Ram introduced their redesigned HD line of pickup trucks with a new 6.7L Cummins engine. For years now the big three have been duking it out in a torque war, the battle to see who can make 1,000 ft lbs and the RAM won. It’s weird not calling them a Dodge anymore. Anyways, the new “big six” makes 400 hp and 1,000 ft lbs or torque on the nose in high output form but 2018 marks the last year you can get a manual transmission behind a Cummins motor, i’m not crying I promise.  One of the sexier offerings is the redesigned Aston Martin Vantage. I was never that big a fan of Astons but I think they make some of the best looking cars around these days. The new Vantage is powered by an AMG-sourced twin turbo V8 (shared with the AMG GT) that’s good for just over 500 hp and an equal amount of torque. Aston hasn’t forgot about the enthusiasts though and while it will initially be offered with ZF 8 speed automatic, the car was designed to accept a manual transmission setup which is coming later. 2019 is no different than any other year if you are shopping for a new ride. Some options are a little underwhelming but most manufacturers play to masses but that’s good business. From all of us here at Gearbox, have fun, be safe, and keep the shiny side up!

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