MotorTrend July 2020

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MotorTrend is the world's automotive authority. Every issue of MotorTrend informs and entertains with features on the testing of both domestic and import cars, car care, motor sports coverage, sneak peeks at future vehicles, and auto-industry news.

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3 min.
reference mark

@markrechtin The 70.1% solution, or car love in the time of coronavirus It isn’t easy to find good news these days, but here’s something: Given the nature of the global pandemic and our government’s reaction to it, if you are reading this column, it means the U.S. Postal Service is still in business delivering magazines (a shout-out to Eric from the San Pedro post office). These are vexing days. As individuals, our No. 1 priority within a sprawling nation of 328 million is to stay safe. That’s the macro picture. On the micro side, here at MotorTrend it means delivering engaging and useful information to our readers while understanding that buying a new car is not necessarily atop your to-do list. To wit, as physical distancing continues to be the best method of managing…

18 min.
trend 7.20

THE RETURN OF THE VENZA TOYOTA’S KINDA-SORTA CROSSOVER MAKES A COMEBACK, AS A HYBRID Not quite a car, not quite an SUV, the Toyota Venza took its last test-drive in 2017, but it’s back for the 2021 model year with a much clearer mission statement. Think of it as the young-family hauler of Toyota’s crossovers, blurring the line between mainstream Toyota cars and Lexus luxury cars. With a wheelbase of 105.9 inches, an overall length of 186.6 inches, and a width of 73.0 inches, this five-seater (no third-row option, we hear) will dimensionally fit between a RAV4 and a Highlander in Toyota’s lineup. When we last drove the Venza, we wished Toyota would have pushed the envelope just a little bit more when it came to interior and exterior design, and that’s exactly what…

2 min.
mt confidential

A leaked production schedule for Hyundai’s massive Ulsan assembly plant shows a slew of new models set to come from the South Korean automaker once the country’s COVID-19 lockdown is lifted. Among the highlights: an upgraded Santa Fe with a hybrid powertrain option, hybrid and sporty N versions of the new Elantra; and an N version of the Kona crossover powered by the 250-hp 2.0-liter turbo-four from the Veloster N. Two all-new models are also penciled in for production at Ulsan. First is the redesigned Tucson, which shares its platform with the striking 2020 Sonata and takes its design cues from the Vision T concept unveiled at last year’s Los Angeles Auto Show. Mainstream versions will likely share the Sonata’s 191-hp 2.5-liter four-cylinder engine and eight-speed automatic transmission, with hybrid…

3 min.

So long, spark plugs. Low-temperature plasma ignition may be the future. When you boil it down, improving average fuel economy is super simple: Burn less fuel in the cylinder when cruising. Toward that end, engine developers have toiled to make lean mixtures work since way before Chrysler’s Electronic Lean-Burn System of the mid-’70s. But getting such mixtures to ignite via the spark plug (as in engines since the Model T) has been problematic. Now Torrance, California, startup Transient Plasma Systems is proposing a low-temperature plasma ignition system that it claims can replace the spark plug. Here’s how traditional spark plugs work: Energy generated by a coil builds across the spark plug’s air gap until the energy potential ionizes gases in the gap. This causes the gases to become conductive, resulting in a…

7 min.
interview your say…

Jost Capito Jost Capito has accomplished an admirable list of successes in his 36-year career. The head of Volkswagen’s R performance brand spent his younger years racing motorcycles before attending the Technical University of Munich. With his competitive racing background and engineering degree, Capito’s talents afforded him opportunities to develop legendary road-going performance vehicles at companies such as BMW, Ford, and Porsche. He also took leading roles at factory-backed race outfits, such as the Sauber Formula 1 team and Volkswagen Motorsport division. We spoke with Capito, who shared his thoughts on his past, present, and future work. How has your motorsports background helped you develop road-going performance cars? I had my first enduro race on my 16th birthday. I got the driving license at 3 a.m., and I started racing at 8…

36 min.
future cars! 2021 & beyond

Everything seems to be changing by the hour as the global health crisis completely upends the way the world works, but while automakers are making face masks and ventilators today, the core of the business—designing and engineering cars to (someday) sell—continues apace. It may be happening in home offices, but these machines are just too complicated and important to completely shut down research and development and restart it later. Plus, suppliers have been contracted to make everything from shock absorbers to stamping dies—and they need to get paid. The cars on sale today and coming to a dealer near you in the next year have been in development for the past five to 10 years. The ones you’ll be able to buy a few years from now are already deep in…