Off-Roading

Ford confirms Bronco's return to off road racing, announces Baja 1000 entry

Ford has confirmed that the Bronco will return to off road racing this year, as a prototype.

Photo courtesy of Ford Motor Company

Ford will mark the new Bronco's return to off road racing in this year's Baja 1000. AutomotiveMap's first reported that Ford was working on an off-road racing variant of the SUV earlier in October.

Today, the automaker unveiled the Bronco R next to the 1969 Baja 1000 winner Bronco, which was piloted by Rod Hall and Larry Minor. The new Bronco R will be driven in part by Shelby Hall, Rod's granddaughter, who will drive in honor of her grandfather.

The top-secret event took place at the start of SEMA week in Las Vegas, on the day that Rod Hall is being honored at the Off Road Motorsports Hall of Fame, located nearby the dry lake bed where the new race vehicle was revealed to a small contingent of the automotive press.

The one-off tribute vehicle will test the powertrain and suspension of the forthcoming Bronco model, which will officially debut in the spring of 2020. It features numerous tributes to the Hall Racing history including the No. "2069" on the rear quarter panel wing. The "20" tells of the class of the vehicle while the "69" signifies what year Hall Racing first won the race, which was then known as the Mexican 1000.

Ford Bronco R

Photo courtesy of Ford Motor Company

The Ford Bronco R has a unique light bar instead of traditional headlights.

"I am so excited and so honored to be a part of Ford's team to bring the Bronco back to off-road racing," said Shelby Hall as the dust settled and she stepped out of the restored Bronco that her grandfather Rod Hall drove in the 1969 Baja 1000. That legendary win spawned a career that bestowed him with the accolade of "winningest racer of the Baja 1000" and made him one of the most-renowned desert racers in the world.

Shelby Hall is a third-generation Hall family racer, who was trained by and had raced with her grandfather many times, and now will be part of Ford's team when this year's Baja starts in Encenada, Mexico later this month. "The adventure continues for my family—and for Rod, even though he passed away earlier this year. It will be his 50th birthday the day the race starts and the 50th anniversary of his Baja 1000 win, when we strap into the new Bronco R race truck. We will be taking the Bronco back to the Baja and I can imagine him sitting in this new race Bronco—and whooping it up!"

The Bronco R's story all began in July, hidden behind a security door in a Ford studio basement. Led by Paul Wraith, Bronco chief designer, the Bronco R was co-developed by Ford Performance in collaboration with builder Geiser Bros. Design and Development and Baja 1000 Trophy Truck champion Cameron Steele.

Ford Unveils Bronco R, Will Return to Baja 1000 | Ford Performance www.youtube.com

"For me, it's an awesome opportunity to step into the new Bronco R in the upcoming Baja 1000 and follow in the footsteps of a famed racer that I got to see and know as a kid growing up, " said Cameron Steele, one of the country's top off-road racers who started watching the Baja races at age 2, began navigating for his Dad 36 years ago and started his own career 32 years ago. "It's mysterious to be in these shoes."

The team created a design that is informed by Ford's Bronco heritage and modern off-roading equipment requirements. The team used cutting-edge tools including virtual reality, polygon modeling, and 3D printing to develop parts. Low-fidelity prototyping and role-playing aided their problem-solving during development.

Ford says that this model has a compressed body height, long-travel suspension, and ultra-wide stance, giving a few solid clues about what to expect from the forthcoming Bronco.

It has a slightweight composite body that includes a clamshell hood and roof. There are also clean body panels that are reminiscent of the first-generation Bronco. Washers inscribed with the Bronco name are can be found around the exterior.

Recaro seats provide the interior accommodations for three. There is also a MoTeC data acquisition system.

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New American pickup truck

The new 2021 Ford F-150 is an all-around performer

The Ford F-150 got a complete overhaul for 2021.

Chris Teague

The Ford F-150 is one of the most popular vehicles of all time, coming in second only to the Toyota Corolla in lifetime sales. That makes the F-150 a vitally important model for The Blue Oval, so it's not surprising that it takes updates to the truck very seriously. That was absolutely the case with the all-new 2021 F-150, which sees a load of new tech, evolutionary styling changes, and an impressive new PowerBoost hybrid engine option.

2021 Ford F-150 A new hybrid powertrain option is a headline feature for the new F-150.Chris Teague

Ford offers the F-150 in a staggering number of trim, bed lengths, and powertrain options. Trims include XL, XLT, Lariat, Tremor, King Ranch, Platinum, Raptor, and Limited. Powertrain configurations include:

  • 3.0-liter turbo diesel V6 with 250 horsepower and 440 pound-feet of torque
  • 3.5-liter PowerBoost hybrid V6 with 430 horsepower and 570 pound-feet of torque
  • 3.5-liter EcoBoost turbocharged V6 with 400 horsepower and 510 pound-feet of torque
  • 5.0-liter V8 with 400 horsepower and 410 pound-feet of torque

I spent a week testing the F-150 King Ranch with a SuperCrew cab and the new hybrid powertrain. Pricing for the base F-150 XL starts at just under $31,000, but my King Ranch test truck checked in at $77,125 after a $1,695 destination charge. That bottom line price includes almost $16,000 in options, such as a $1,995 King Ranch chrome package, a $1,495 twin-panel moonroof (worth it), a $1,005 FX4 off-road package, and more.

To find out if the new F-150 justifies its price tag, let's take a closer look at what makes it tick.

2021 Ford F-150 Though new, the 2021 F-150 sports familiar styling.Chris Teague

Powerful, efficient hybrid engine

Don't let the word "hybrid" fool you here – this is a serious powertrain. The PowerBoost twin turbocharged V6 and 35 kW electric motor produce a combined 430 horsepower and a whopping 570 pound-feet of torque, while a ten-speed automatic transmission pairs seamlessly with the engine and delivers smooth, almost imperceptible shifts. The hybrid setup feels a little clunky at low speeds, as the gas engine and electric motors trade off propulsion duties, but it's not a constant issue and does not detract from the truck's overall driving experience.

Depending on the configuration, the F-150 can extend to over 20 feet in length. It's also around eight feet wide, so there's no getting around the fact that it's not ideal as an urban commuter. Even so, the truck's quick, responsive steering makes it feel slightly smaller than it reads on paper, and it offers excellent outward visibility, which makes it less likely that you'll bump into, or run over, an unseen obstacle.

When equipped with the hybrid powertrain, the F-150 also comes standard with a generator built into the bed. A 2.4 kW Pro Power generator is standard, but the system can be upgraded to a 7.2 kW unit for just $750, which is a tremendous bargain in the world of generators. During the winter storms that ravaged Texas earlier this year, there were several reports of people using their new F-150s to power heaters, refrigerators, and other vital household systems while much of the state's power grid was down. Thankfully, my time with the truck was far less dangerous and dramatic, but the generator did get put to use charging my battery-powered chainsaw and tiller while helping a friend clear a small plot of land.

2021 Ford F-150 The new F-150 can be had with a giant 12.0-inch touchscreen.Chris Teague

User-friendly tech and an ultra-plush interior

I've always felt that Ford SYNC 3 was one of the best infotainment systems on the market, and the latest SYNC 4 software improves on that already successful formula. The base F-150 XL runs the system on an 8-inch touchscreen, but my King Ranch test truck came with an available 12-inch display. The screen itself is bright and responsive, and the software's simple, intuitive menu structure makes the whole package less distracting to use while driving. The system offers wireless Apple CarPlay and Android Auto connectivity, Bluetooth, SiriusXM radio, HD radio, wireless smartphone charging, and the King Ranch I tested came with an options package that included an upgraded "B&O Sound System Unleashed."

If you had even a slight doubt that pickup trucks are really just lifted luxury cars with towing capabilities, the new F-150 will change your mind. The King Ranch trim comes with soft, exceptionally comfortable leather upholstery, and the front seats offer 10-way adjustability that allows the driver to dial in a near-perfect seating position. At this trim level, the front buckets come with heating and ventilation, but my truck came equipped with the $4,650 601A High package, which brings a massage function with a handful of different programs. It also adds a power tailgate, power-deployable running boards, a better B&O stereo, and 20-inch wheels. The options group is far from cheap, but after a few minutes spent being massaged at a traffic light, the price tag will likely feel like much less of an issue.

Ford stepped up the safety game with the F-150 for 2021. The truck now comes standard with the Co-Pilot360 package, which includes automatic headlights and high beams, a lane-keeping system, pre-collision assist with automatic emergency braking, forward collision warnings, and a rearview camera with hitch assist. The XLT trim and above come with blind spot monitoring and a reverse sensing system, and the King Ranch trim adds adaptive steering, adaptive cruise control, evasive steering assist, intersection assist, and navigation.

2021 Ford F-150 The King Ranch trim features an over-the-top interior with soft leather and premium finishes throughout. Chris Teague

Pricey, but worth the money

Full-size pickup trucks are excessive in many ways, but there's no denying that they are some of the most useful vehicles on the road today. My need for a pickup truck is limited, as I don't tow and rarely haul anything that a midsize SUV can't carry. The cost of a full-size pickup truck, both to buy and operate, is hard to justify for me, but for someone who truly needs a full-size pickup, the PowerBoost-equipped F-150 is a compelling option.

At 24 mpg all around, fuel economy is solid, and the refinement of the powertrain means that there's no operational penalty for choosing the hybrid. On top of that, towing capability climbs to 12,700 pounds when the truck is equipped with an optional trailering package. All of that adds up to an F-150 that earns its price tag and looks good while doing it.

2021 Ford F-150 In case you forgot which F-150 trim you bought.Chris Teague

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Honda notified dealers of upcoming supply cuts.

Photo courtesy of American Honda Motor Co., Inc

Honda, like all major automakers today, is truly a global operation. Though it produces plenty of vehicles here in the United States, many of the components it relies on for manufacturing come from elsewhere in the world. That means Honda, like the other auto giants, needs its global supply chain operating smoothly in order to prevent disruption. Unfortunately for Honda dealers and potential customers, disruption is what's about to happen. The automaker recently sent a letter to its dealers, forecasting reduced vehicle supply in the coming weeks.


2021 Honda Ridgeline No. 19 - Honda Photo courtesy of American Honda Motor Co., Inc


The dealer letter, posted to the Civic XI forum and fan site, was dated August 25 and confirmed by a dealer upset with the development, according to Automotive News. In the letter, Honda cites the ongoing pandemic and microchip shortages as major factors impacting its production efforts. Total shipments to dealers could be cut by up to 40 percent, but not all models will be affected to the same degree.

The letter noted that supplies of the Pilot and Passport SUVs will hold steady, and shared that production of the Civic hatchback is on schedule. However, the situation is fluid and could change at any time, so there's a chance that timelines could speed up or slack off as necessary.


2022 Honda Pilot Some models will see more cuts than others.Photo courtesy of American Honda Motor Co., Inc


Honda is just the latest in a long line of automakers struggling to keep pace with demand in the face of several converging global crises. In an effort to keep vehicles rolling out of factories, General Motors has implemented selective feature cuts in some of its new vehicles, such as the removal of engine start/stop tech from some trucks and SUVs. Earlier this month, Ford Motor Company told Mustang Mach-E buyers to expect delays of at least six weeks as it grapples with the chip shortage, and will temporarily reduce production capacity at a few of its plants.

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