LA Auto Show 2019

New 2021 Mercedes-AMG GLE 63 S continues a 20-year tradition

The SUV blends power and performance.

Photo courtesy of Mercedes-Benz

Mercedes has given the new GLE an expected AMG upgrade. It delivers the exterior looks, interior refinement, and power that Mercedes GLE buyers are looking for. Again, a formula done right by the German automaker.

This is the 20th anniversary fo the M-Class based ML 55 AMG, the model that would evolve to become the modern GLE.

2021 Mercedes-AMG GLE 63 SThe SUV features AMG-specific exterior features.Photo courtesy of Mercedes-Benz

The exterior of the 2020 Mercedes-AMG GLE 63 S gets an AMG-specific radiator grille with vertical louvers and a silver chrome front splitter. Its mirror housings and flared wheel arches match the color of the vehicle. Two rectangular tailpipes sit at the back of the SUV along with a spoiler. The GLE 63 S has standard 21-inch wheels. Additional 21- and 22-inch wheels are standard.

An available AMG Night package includes the front splitter, front and rear bumper trim, inserts in the side skirts, mirror caps and window frames in distinctive black. The twin tailpipe trim is finished in black chrome.

2021 Mercedes-AMG GLE 63 SThe model is powered by a biturbo 4.0-liter V8 engine.Photo courtesy of Mercedes-Benz

Under the SUV's hood is a biturbo 4.0-liter V8 engine that is paired with an EQ Boost starter-generator and generates 602 horsepower and 627 pound-feet of torque. The electric output adds 21 horsepower off the line to maximize the vehicle's efficiency without sacrificing fuel economy or power. The engine is paired with a nine-speed automatic transmission. All-wheel drive is standard. Trail and Sand drive modes have been added in this vehicle.

The SUV comes loaded with a standard air suspension and adaptive damping system. The drive height can be adjusted depending on the drive mode selected. The car's Active Ride Control system keeps he cabin stable despite what the road throws at it.

2021 Mercedes-AMG GLE 63 SThe car has an air suspension that helps keep it stable on the road.Photo courtesy of Mercedes-Benz

There are separate steering control options designed to offer varying degrees of feedback. The model also comes with an AMG high-performance braking system featuring six-piston fixed, red-colored brake calipers and disc brakes. A ceramic braking system with bronze-colored six-piston fixed calipers is available.

On the inside, the SUV has Nappa leather upholstery, a crystal grey seat band, and crystal grey contrast topstitching. The model has crystal gray seat belts. Individually adjustable 64-color ambient lighting comes standard. Its steering wheel features a lined with Nappa Leather and a midnight marking. An AMG-specific control panel features additional switches.

2021 Mercedes-AMG GLE 63 SThe SUV's interior is familiar but customized for the AMG model.Photo courtesy of Mercedes-Benz

Further, there are AMG brushed stainless steel sport pedals, door sill panels, and black floor mats with the AMG logo.

The MBUX infotainment system features four AMG-specific display styles including the Supersport mode, which has information specific to AMG with a focus on motorsport.

2021 Mercedes-AMG GLE 63 SThe SUV is built for performance (see the grab handles) but also luxury and comfort (see the plush seats).Photo courtesy of Mercedes-Benz

A long list of safety and driver assistance technology is available.

The 2021 Mercedes-AMG GLE 63 S goes on sale in the U.S. in mid-2020. Pricing will be announced closer to the vehicle's on-sale date.

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The CX-50 is surpsingly capable off-road.

Mazda

I have driven all of the Mazda vehicles that have been sold in the US market over the past three decades. On everyday roads and on racetracks. I’ve appreciated their “zoom-zoom”. Good power. Punchy torque just where it was needed. Well-balanced and sporty handling. A bit of growl for the versions that called for it. Plus, tasteful-but-modest styling and more or less elbow room, depending on the model. Mazda’s have been made for sports-car enthusiasts and to ferry families. But, I had never known a Mazda called an “overlander”. Until now.

2023 Mazda CX-50Towing capacity extends to 2,000 pounds.Mazda

The 2023 Mazda CX-50 moves this traction-sophisticated automaker into the lands where the pavement ends and now takes the brand ‘off-track’. Although it’s not a new thing for many of today’s carmakers to add a backcountry model or two to their lineup, it’s new for Mazda. I traveled to Santa Barbara, California to check out this all-new crossover built on Mazda’s seventh-generation small SUV platform that is shared with the smaller CX-30. This 5-passenger utility is longer, lower and wider than the CX-5 that rides on the previous generation’s underpinnings. The CX-50 has been crafted with a roomier second row and more cargo room for the goods and gear that weekend warriors and adventurers want to carry.

The CX-50 comes with a choice of two engines: a 2.5-liter, 4-cylinder engine with cylinder deactivation that gets 187 horsepower and 186 pound-feet of torque, and Mazda’s Skyactiv-G 2.5-liter turbo-charged powerplant with 256 horsepower and 320 pound-feet of torque; both shift through a six-speed automatic transmission. The sport ute can tow up to 2,000 lbs. with the naturally aspirated motor and up to 3,500 lbs. with the turbo-charged mill and Intelligent Drive Select (Mi-Drive) that brings a tow mode as well as Normal, Sport and Off-Road. The newest Mazda model has been made for North America only and is built in Alabama. It is the first Mazda vehicle with auto start/stop that can be deactivated.

2023 Mazda CX-50Mazda is a master of upscale interiors. Mazda

The new crossover starts at $26,800 and comes in S, S Select, S Preferred, S Preferred Plus, S Premium, and S Premium Plus with the base motor. Turb-charged versions come in Turbo, Turbo Premium, and Turbo Premium Plus that tops out at close to $42,000. A long list of technology and safety features are standard or available. Mazda says that Meridian, a fourth turbo trim will arrive soon with even more off-road cred; it will be set up with 18-inch black wheels AT, hood graphics and other backcountry goodies.

When you look at the CX-50, the first thing you’ll notice is exterior styling that speaks to its adventure-ready mission. Muscular bodywork, such as extra cladding, wide fender flairs and larger, more aggressive tires mean that this crossover has been designed not only to give a nod to the looks of a rugged crossover but to provide enhanced traction and a tad more suspension stretch for motoring over uneven terrain and along bumpy dirt roads. Planted on its haunches with functional air vents, it eschews minivan styling with a low and wide footprint that allows owners to have easy access to high-strength roof rails for loading gear on top; the roof has been made stronger than other Mazda crossovers to accommodate heavier loads, such as a roof-top tent. A panoramic moonroof- a first for Mazda- and attractive antiglare hood graphics and are tasteful additions.

The interior is attractive and roomy, with horizontal lines and “cleanable” surfaces as a nod to outdoor endeavors. Our Turbo Premium Plus model had bright orange reverse stitching that popped the cabin that has been crafted with uplevel trims and materials and brought heads-up display. A 7-inch infotainment screen is standard, while the top models get a 10.25-inch version. A wireless charging pad and Apple CarPlay and Android Auto are standard on all trims. Of note, is the rear power and programmable liftgate to the wide and deep rear cargo compartment, with a load floor that flush with the liftgate opening to help slide heavy items in and out of the back. An available line of cargo accessories makes stowage easier.

2023 Mazda CX-50The CX-50 is family roadtrip ready.Mazda

How did it handle over the 200-plus miles of our ride and drive? The Turbo Premium Plus CX-50 offers a lot like; many of its driving attributes are consistent with Mazda’s tuning and handling priorities across its product line. Traveling along coastal highways, carving mountainous twisties with tight turns and accelerating on flat and straight well-graded pavement, it has great Mazda manners: i.e., there is enough power and torque in the right bandwidth to move it well; precise steering with a slightly heavily-weighted leather-wrapped steering wheel and well-modulated brakes, especially with towing a 3,500-lb. load. We enjoyed using Sport mode for carving corners, as it brings elongated shifts from the six-speed automatic; a crisp response comes when sport shifting in “manual mode” and provides a quick throttle response.

We tried out the Off-Road mode on a course that included flat and uneven dirt roads, as well as hill climb and descent. Although there is no downhill descent control system, the brakes worked well, along with manual gearing. Of note, Mazda would be wide to add downhill descent engineering for steeper and slicker terrain. We were able to test the difference between Normal and Off-Road over a special section of the course with sandy corners and a winding track at a speed of 30 mph showing the improved traction in the Off-Road programming and the aid of Mazda’s G-Vectoring Control that brings a bit of magic to transfer torque to the wheels where it is needed to keep the intended track-think of it like an enhanced traction control program that helps with steering and yaw control.

2023 Mazda CX-50The CX-50 comes with off-road driving modes. Mazda

Other aids for off-road and backcountry travel are: the i-Activ All-Wheel Drive system that is standard equipment on all CX-50s, with a 50/50ish power transfer front to back; 8.6 inches of ground clearance; an 18-degree approach angle and a 24-degree departure angle; and an optional 360-degree camera system.

*EPA reports: base motor fuel economy 24 city/30 highway mpg, while the turbo option gets 23/29 mpg and can run on regular or premium fuel.

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New electric SUV

Honda teases its first EV

The Prologue will go on sale as a 2024 model.

Honda

Honda is nearing the unveiling of its first electric vehicle, the Prologue, and today the automaker gave us our first glimps of the new vehicle. It's just a sketch, but Honda did share some production details and information on its product roadmap.

Honda DealerHonda plans to sell half a million EVs by the end of the decade. Honda

Honda says the Prologue will be an adventure-ready SUV "capable of satisfying everyday driving and weekend getaways with a strong hint of the well-received Honda e in the front fascia." The SUV was developed in Honda's Design Studio in Los Angeles, and was designed with an eye on Honda's global EV models. Honda said it focused on aerodynamics and fine-tuning the body to reducelines and improve range.

The Japanese automaker developed the Prologue alongside GM, but it has other EVs coming to market by 2026. By 2030, Honda says it will release 30 new EVs globally with a production volume of two million units. The co-developed vehicle is the first, but the rest will be built on Honda e:Architecture. In 2027, the automaker will begin building and selling a line of affordable EVs using the architecture developed with General Motors. Honda says it plans to sell half a million EVs in North America by the end of hte decade.

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