Chicago Auto Show 2020

Ford GT gets upgraded to 660 horsepower, clear coat carbon fiber exterior

Ford has enhanced the GT for the 2020 model year including a horsepower upgrade.

Photo courtesy of Ford Motor Company

An upgraded 660-horsepower Ford GT is coming. The supercar sits atop Ford's lineup and attracts buyers including celebrities and leaders of industry along with car enthusiasts.

"Ford GT continues to be the pinnacle of Ford performance," said Ed Krenz, Ford Performance chief program engineer. "GT is always the ultimate expression of Ford racing innovation, and as we know from the 1966 Le Mans through today, that means constantly raising our game for our customers as well as earning the checkered flag."

2020 Ford GT Liquid Carbon

Photo courtesy of Ford Motor Company

The 2020 Ford GT will continue to be powered by the automaker's 3.5-liter EcoBoost twin-turbo V6 engine. It now has 13 more horsepower compared to 2017-2019 GTs as well as a broader torque band, revised engine calibration, and mechanical upgrades.

Ford has taken lessons learned from the track-only GT Mk II and applied them to the GT. The 2020 model has increased engine cooling and airflow capacity including new buttress air ducts designed to increase air flow by 50 percent and a larger intercooler.

Suspension damping has also been increased in track model to enhance handling and body control.

The car will now come standard with an Akrapovič titanium exhaust. This exhaust offers a nine-pound weight savings over the previous system.

Ford will sell the GT with a newly available Liquid Carbon exterior. The clear coat emphasizes the car's unique carbon fiber weave. Production of this finish is limited.

"This next chapter in the Ford GT story allows us to fully demonstrate our mastery in both the art and science of carbon fiber craftsmanship and finishing," said Angus Smith, General Manager of Multimatic Niche Vehicles, North America. "The results of this ongoing partnership between Multimatic and Ford Performance speak for themselves, as each visually stunning and unique Liquid Carbon GT is a manufacturing marvel, showcasing the characteristics and nuances inherent in carbon fiber composites."

Ford GT Liquid Carbon has standard carbon fiber wheels. Owners can choose titanium lugnuts, six-point racing harness anchors, five interior options, and five caliper colors. Two over-the-top stripe options are available – the dual center stripes offered on the standard Ford GT or the single stripe found on the Carbon Series as well as optional painted mirror caps. Stripes and mirror caps are available in any of the seven standard paint colors as well as the extended color palette. For the first time, these features can be ordered independently of one another.

Deliveries of the upgraded 2020 Ford GT are ongoing, with production wrapping up in 2022.

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Photo courtesy of the U.S. Postal Service

The long process to design, engineer, and award a contract for the U.S. Postal Service's (USPS) next-generation mail delivery vehicle (NGDV) has finally come to an end. The government has awarded Oshkosh Defense a contract to produce the Next Generation Delivery Vehicle for service. Oshkosh Defense is a a wholly owned subsidiary of Oshkosh Corporation (NYSE: OSK).

The NGDV project is the USPS's first large-scale fleet procurement in three decades. Over the next 10 years, the contract allows for the delivery of between 50,000 and 165,000 new vehicles.

"Oshkosh operates with unparalleled commitment to those who depend on our products and services to build, protect and serve communities around the world. We are honored to have been selected by the USPS to support their important work by manufacturing American-made Next Generation Delivery Vehicles that will connect every home and business across the United States for decades to come," said John Pfeifer, President & Chief Operating Officer, Oshkosh Corporation.

U.S. Postal Service's Next-Generation Mail Delivery Vehicle

Photo courtesy of the U.S. Postal Service

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The new mail trucks will have multiple powertrain options, just like many passenger vehicles on the road today. There will be a battery electric vehicle (BEV) version that runs exclusively on electric power and a fuel-efficient low-emission internal combustion engine vehicles (ICE) variant.

Under the contract awarded today, USPS has committed to paying Oshkosh Defense $482 million as a first step toward the new vehicles' production. The money will be used to finalize the production vehicle design and complete factory build-out, all of which is necessary before production gets underway. The process is similar to ones mass market vehicle manufacturers use.

"Our century-long history of delivering products to customers, operating in some of the most demanding and severe conditions on the planet, uniquely positions us to bring exceptional reliability, safety, and maintainability to USPS's Next Generation Delivery Vehicles," said John Bryant, Executive Vice President, Oshkosh Corporation, and President, Oshkosh Defense. "Partnering with trusted suppliers, we have developed a purpose-built solution to support the current and future needs of the USPS," Bryant concluded.

In addition to a new exterior and powertrain options, the NGTV also gets modern features and amenities like a rearview camera, walk-in cargo area, air condition, telematics, and a sliding cargo door. There's also a host of safety technology and equipment including airbags, automatic front and rear braking, blind spot warning, a 360-degree camera, and forward collision warning.

Production of the next generation delivery vehicle is expected to begin in 2023.

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The Chevrolet Trailblazer was added back to the Chevy lineup for 2021 but it's not the same style as the old TrailBlazer - not even close.

Photo courtesy of Chevrolet

When the new Trailblazer was announced, there was a collective groan from auto industry enthusiasts. They wanted a beefy off-roading that was possibly going to rival the Ford Bronco or Jeep Wrangler. What they got was a cute, little subcompact crossover.

There's no question as to why Chevy makes the modern Trailblazer. The subcompact and compact SUV segments are hot right now. Really hot. They needed something to fill the sales space between the Trax and the Equinox. Why they chose the 2021 Chevrolet Trailblazer's name is another story for another day.

This particular Trailblazer comes with the buyer's choice of two engines - a turbocharged 1.2-liter or a turbocharged 1.3-liter. Both are attached to a continuously variable transmission but neither is what you'd call exhilarating. As tested, the larger engine provides just enough horsepower to not be miserable to drive.

2021 Chevrolet Trailblazer The Trailblazer is advertised as being right-priced but options add to the total quick. Photo courtesy of Chevrolet

Though it feels stable on the ground, the Trailblazer seems to be trying to walk the line between engaging and comfortable to drive. It doesn't work. The Trailblazer is the right size and has the correct center of gravity to want to be thrown through the twisties but its loose steering leads to uninspired handling so that's a no-go.

The suspension, on the other hand, is jittery and stiff rather than supple. Like Vanilla Ice said, "If there's a pot hole, yo I'll find it." Between the road, engine, and transmission noise that is passed on to the passengers and the reverberations from every crack and crevice, prove that Trailblazer's mechanics are more of a failure than anything else.

When it comes to the interior, the Trailblazer earns its praise. Its seats are relatively comfortable though adults won't want to sit in the rear ones for long. The car appears to be well-made with good fit and finish. It has higher than average cargo space.

2021 Chevrolet Trailblazer For ease, the Trailblazer's front seat also folds flat. Photo courtesy of Chevrolet

The model has gotten the good bits from the General Motors infotainment and climate control parts bin. It has a 7-inch infotainment touch screen with an 8-inch available. Apple CarPlay, Android Auto, Bluetooth, two USB ports, a Wi-Fi hot spot, keyless entry, and a rearview camera are also standard.

The car's safety tech includes forward collision warning, pedestrian detection, automatic emergency braking, lane departure warning, lane keep assist, and automatic high-beam headlights. Those are all pretty standard for the class.

Test test unit 2021 Chevrolet Trailblazer sent for review was an Activ grade model (yes, there's no "e" at the end of "Activ" and no, we don't know why). That's just one fo the five trim levels the Trailblazer is offered in for 2021, it's first model year in existence with the new crossover body style. Chevy checked the all-wheel drive option box on the model, which added $1,500 to this particular model's base $24,245 price tag. Another $3,300 in extras later and the test unit's cost came in at $31,225.

2021 Chevrolet Trailblazer The 2021 Chevrolet Trailblazer has a well-appointed interior. Photo courtesy of Chevrolet

That's not cheap. You can get a mid-grade Nissan Rogue, a fully equipped Buick Encore GX, base model Ford Bronco 2-Door, or a mid-grade Hyundai Sonata Hybrid for the same money, and have enough extra to take your family on a road trip for a long weekend away from home.

The problem is, unlike the Encore GX, Bronco 2-Door, and Sonata Hybrid, the Chevrolet Trailblazer just isn't compelling. There's plenty of other options in the class that do nearly everything the Trailblazer is capable of doing, but better.

The Hyundai Kona and Kia Seltos come with a better warranty. Mazda's CX-30 delivers an enthusiastic and dynamic drive. The Encore GX is better appointed. There's also the new Volkswagen Taos, which was developed specifically for the U.S. market and a number of all-electric options that are out now and coming soon.

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