Speculation

Mazda "listening" to see if it should bring its pickup truck to America

The redesigned Mazda BT-50 made its debut a few weeks ago.

Photo courtesy of Mazda

Should Mazda bring its BT-50 pickup truck to the U.S.? The company has said that they are "listening" to see if the public wants it. Let's take a closer look at its chances.

The BT-50 is a midsize truck. In the U.S. it would compete against the Ford Ranger, Chevrolet Colorado, Jeep Gladiator, Honda Ridgeline, GMC Canyon, and Nissan Frontier. The pickup truck field is set to get more competitive as the Hyundai Santa Cruz and Volkswagen Amarok coning to market in the next few years.

2021 Mazda BT-50 The backside of the Mazda BT-50 is pretty standard for a pickup truck. Photo courtesy of Mazda

Mazda's truck is built on the Isuzu D-Max platform and is built at Isuzu Motors Thailand. Despite this, the model has a fair amount of Mazda's Kodo design language ... at least on the outside. That starts at its face where the truck wears a grille and headlights similar to the three-row CX-9 SUV.

The inside is a different story. Here, the BT-50 is mostly an Isuzu but there are a few bobbles that are from the Mazda parts bin - sort of like what Toyota has done with the inherently BMW cabin of the 2020 Toyota Supra.

Under the hood is a 3.0-liter turbo-diesel four-cylinder engine that delivers 188 horsepower and 332 pound-feet of torque. The engine is paired with a six-speed manual or a six-speed automatic transmission.

It's available in either two- or four-wheel drive.

Mazda boasts that the model will be able to tow up to 7,716 pounds and have a maximum payload of 2,348 pounds.

2021 Mazda BT-50 The interior of the BT-50 is straight from the Isuzu playbook, but it does have some Mazda touches.Photo courtesy of Mazda

But will it come to the U.S.? In a statement, Mazda told Roadshow, "We are excited for those regions receiving the all-new BT-50, featuring Mazda's powerful design, exceptional driving dynamics and utilitarian function," Mazda said in a statement. "While we haven't announced future availability of the BT-50 pickup truck in the US, we'd love to hear what our fans here think. We're listening."

Aside from demand, the biggest hurdle for the BT-50 to jump through for its arrival in the U.S. would be the fact that it's subject to a chicken tax tariff. The United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA) that recently replaced the North America Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) has a rules of origin clause for automobiles that requires 75 percent of the value of a vehicle to come from the area within the USMCA governing region. That tax and the cost of shipping could make the BT-50 cost prohibitive for most buyers.

The verdict: Don't bet on the BT-50 coming to the U.S. anytime soon. If you want to drive it, you'll want to head to Australia where it arrives for sale later this year.

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A new Texas-themed version of the Jeep Gladiator is on the way.

Photo courtesy of Stellantis

Jeep has brought the Gladiator's off-road chops to the trails of the Lone Star State. The 2021 Jeep Gladiator Texas Trail is another of the the traditional of special edition vehicles for Texans who occupy the nation's largest truck market. It's the first time Jeep has offered a unique-to-Texas truck.

The new model builds on the Gladiator Sport S trim adding 17-inch Mid-Gloss Back Aluminum wheels wrapped in 32-inch mud-terrain tires, four-wheel drive, standard side steps, and the Trailer Tow Group. The Gladiator Texas Trail has a unique hood and decals that feature the year 1836 in the graphic as a nod to the year of the Texas Declaration of Independence. It also wears a black hardtop, black leather seats embossed with the Texas Trail graphic and comes equipped with the Technology Group and Convenience Group packages.

2021 Jeep Gl The vehicle is ready to be fully accessorized to the buyer's wishes.Photo courtesy of Stellantis

2021 Jeep Gl

The Texas-themed model features the buyer's choice of Jeep's new 3.0-liter EcoDiesel V6 engine that's rated at 260 horsepower and 442 pound-feet of torque or the tried and true 3.6-liter Pentastar V6 power plant, which achieves 285 horsepower and 260 pound-feet of torque.

Jeep has badged each of the models with Trail Rated status. To achieve this status, Jeep vehicles must pass extreme off-road capability challenges.

The Gladiator Texas Trail is available in 10 colors: black, white, Snazzberry, Granite Crystal, Sarge, Nacho, Hydro Blue, Firecracker Red, Billet Silver, and Sting-Gray. Jeep recently introduced a Snazzberry-colored Wrangler.

Each Gladiator comes with the Jeep Wave customer service program, which includes three years of maintenance, 24/7 phone/online support, trip interruption/first-day loaner coverage, and VIP access to Jeep events.

The 2021 Jeep Gladiator Texas Trail has a starting MSRP of $40,435 (plus $1,495 destination) and is currently available at Texas dealers.

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New driver assist technology is coming to the Lexus lineup later this year.

Photo courtesy of Lexus

New Lexus Teammate driver assistance technology will debut on the 2022 Lexus LS 500h later this year. Its availability is constrained to all-wheel drive models.

The technology was developed based on the Mobility Teammate Concept. This automated driving concept is unique to Toyota sough to enhance communication between drivers and cars, "enabling them to reach out to each other for mutual assistance". The concept sees cars and humans interacting and partnering rather than having automation take over for drivers. This approach allows drivers to enjoy the experience of driving but allowing the vehicle to take over some functions of driver's duties at times. In this way, the tech works as both guardian and chauffeur.

2022 Lexus The company's flagship sedan will get the technology first.Photo courtesy of Lexus

2022 Lexus LS 500h

On the 2022 Lexus 500h, Lexus Teammate will offer two functions: Advanced Drive and Advanced Park.

Advanced Drive is design to "accurately detect driving conditions to plan and execute acceleration, braking, and steering commands to maintain the vehicle within the lane, follow other vehicles, change lanes, navigate certain interchanges and traffic jams and overtake slower vehicles." It's a Level 2 functionality that "allows for driving on limited-access highways with partial hands-free, eyes-on-the-road operation".

This description makes it sound a lot like the suite of lane keeping, lane centering, and adaptive cruise control technology that Hyundai offers rather than true Level 3 technology that General Motors's Super Cruise delivers.

Lexus will show operation of the technology on a screen with information displayed like this.Photo courtesy of Lexus

Advanced Park operates similar to how the Genesis GV80's hands-free parking assist technology works. The Lexus tech automatically controls steering, acceleration, braking, and gear changes with parallel parking or backing into a parking space. It uses a combination of 360-degree sensing technologies and a bird's eye view display to perform the task while allowing the driver to monitor progress.

"We are very proud of Lexus Teammate, which is the culmination of five years of close collaboration between our technical centers in Japan and the US. We conducted simultaneous development and rigorous testing in both markets with the goal of achieving industry-leading advanced driver assistance functionality," says Derek Caveney, executive engineer at Toyota Motor North America's Integrated Vehicle Systems team.

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