In-Car Tech

2020 Volkswagen Atlas Cross Sport challenges VW audio system norms

Volkswagen has worked with Panasonic and Fender to offer premium audio systems in their vehicles since 2011.

Photo courtesy of Volkswagen AG

You think about the price, number of seats, cargo space, fuel efficiency, and drivability. Then, somewhere down in the lower half of the list of considerations, for the average consumer, is the setup of the vehicle's sound system.

Volkswagen, like many other automakers, has teamed up with audio system companies to engineer sound solutions that provide high-quality sound in their vehicles.

In 2011, the first Fender Premium Audio System debuted in the Beetle, Passat, and Jetta GLI. It delivered 400 watts of sound from eight speakers. Panasonic sound systems were added to the mix in 2015 delivering a concert-quality experience and since then, the company has offered available premium audio equipment on most of its model.

With that system, "we're able to put concert-quality sound inside a vehicle," said Tom Dunn, Director of Global Audio Solutions at Panasonic. "The emotion of a live performance is something we were all familiar with, but it was not something anyone expected to feel while driving their car."

Volkswagen's Atlas, introduced for the 2018 model year, presented unique acoustic challenges because of its size.

"The Atlas has three rows and seven seats, which gives the vehicle a large cabin space," said David Ernst, Panasonic's Senior Acoustics Engineer. "The Atlas Cross Sport has two rows and five seats, so we had to pare down the design of the Fender Premium Audio System for the smaller model without taking away any of the quality."

When VW decided to add the Atlas Cross Sport to its lineup, the move wasn't as simple as lowering the roofline and updating the grille.

2020 Volkswagen Atlas Cross Sport Lowering the roofline as part of the creation of the Atlas Cross Sport presented unique challenges for Volkswagen and Fender engineers.Photo courtesy of Volkswagen AG

According to Volkswagen, "To adapt the original Atlas audio system for the size of the Atlas Cross Sport, Ernst and his team tested the system with focus groups and people at events and concerts. The team even had musical artists sit in the Atlas Cross Sport and listen to their own music on the system to see how well it matched in quality and expectation."

"We did a lot of fine-tuning to make sure the product would be perfect for passengers, wherever they sat inside the vehicle," Ernst said.

The Atlas Cross Sport ended up with a 12-speaker Fender Premium Audio System. It has a 80-mm front-center channel speaker, two 200-mm dual voice coil woofers in the front doors, four 60-mm soft dome tweeters in the first- and second-rows, two 168-mm speakers in the rear doors, and two 80-mm wide frequency speakers in the D-pillar. A 168-mm subwoofer sits in a 12-liter enclosure in the back. All told, the system delivers 480 watts of power.

After spending months optimizing the Atlas Cross Sport, Ernst says he's proud of the "concert feeling" passengers have when listening to the final product.

"This partnership is not just about the hardware of the audio system," said Dunn. "It's an opportunity to connect with customers on an emotional level. And Volkswagen has always recognized the importance of this connection."

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Nuts & Bolts

 
 

The Jeep Wrangler Rubicon 392 Concept shows of the possible future of a V8 under the hood of a Jeep.

Photo courtesy of FCA US LLC

The Jeep Wrangler Rubicon 392 Concept model shows that the production model of a V8-powered Wrangler (and possibly Gladiator) is likely on the way - and that's straight from the people in the know at FCA.

Jeep Wrangler enthusiasts have been asking us for a Wrangler -8 and our new Wrangler Rubicon 392 Concept proves that we have the ability to make that happen," said Jim Morrison, Head of Jeep Brand – FCA North America. "From the recently introduced 29-mpg Wrangler EcoDiesel to our award-winning Jeep Gladiator, and the upcoming Wrangler 4xe plug-in hybrid electric vehicle, Jeep is clearly listening to its customers. We are anxious to gauge their reaction to this new Wrangler Rubicon 392 Concept, a vehicle that delivers an incredible and unmatched level of fun-to-drive performance and capability, on- and off-road."

Jeep Wrangler Rubicon 392 Concept The model is pretty standard for a modern Wrangler Rubicon - on the outside.Photo courtesy of FCA US LLC

It's been a hot minute since there was a V8 under the hood of a Jeep. The last model to wear its power proudly was the 1981 Jeep CJ, which had a 5.0-liter V8 that delivered 125 horsepower and 220 pound-feet of torque.

The Wrangler Rubicon 392 Concept is powered by a 6.4-liter (392-cubic-inch) HEMI V8 that delivers 450 horsepower and 450 pound-feet of torque. That power gives the concept a zero to 60 mph time of less than five seconds.

Its engine is paired with a more robust version of the traditional eight-speed automatic, something that the HEMI in the Charger Scat Pack gets as well.

The parts roster includes Rubicon rock rails, steel bumpers with a Warn winch, and a steel belly pan. It also comes with Dana 44 axles, Selec-Track full-time two-speed transfer case (3.73 gear ratio), and Tru-Lok electric front- and rear-axle locking differentials. The SUV rides on custom 17-inch deadlock wheels that are wrapped in 37-inch mud-terrain tires.

The suspension of the typical Wrangler JL has been upgraded to include new aluminum, monotube Fox shocks, and two-mode exhaust, which is adjustable at the touch of a button.

The company has installed a factory Jeep Performance Parts two-inch lift kit from Mopar.

All that equipment gives the model some impressive numbers. It has a water fording capability of 34 inches, 13.25 inches of ground clearance, an approach angle of 51.6 degrees, a breaker angle of 29.5 degrees, and a departure angle of 40.1 degrees. It's Trail Rated.

Jeep has given the concept a Granite Crystal paint job, bronze-colored tow hooks, badging, springs, shocks, and wheels. There's a heavy-duty raised hood, custom half doors, and Wrangler's Sky One-touch powertop.

The concepts interior features a Red Rock-colored leather bolstered seats with gold stitching, along with a performance steering wheel.

When will you see the production version of the V8? These things take time, but remember, the auto show circuit looks to pick up in earnest early next year, and we have the Wrangler 4xe to see first.

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Thought the 2021 Toyota Corolla Cross just debuted in Thailand, it could be slated to come to the U.S.

Photo courtesy of Toyota Motor Corporation

Let's face it, the Toyota CH-R was never really supposed to be a Toyota. The model, destined to be a Scion, had its life's direction altered when Scion closed up shop and parent company Toyota merged select members of its lineup with the Toyota line. For the last three years, the model has been doing its damnedest to escape the Scion mold, but hasn't. It remains the odd duck in the stable, not delivering the high-quality interior, good handling, and capability that earns the brand sufficient praise.

Enter: the Toyota Corolla Cross. Though its name doesn't quite invoke the feelings, of "Why? Whhhhhhyyyy?" that the Mitsubishi Eclipse Cross moniker does, the Corolla Cross name is clearly a strategic move meant to capitalize on the one already worn by one of the best-selling cars of all time.

2021 Toyota Corolla Cross

Photo courtesy of Toyota Motor Corporation

Marketed as "Corolla Meets SUV", the Corolla Cross looks like it executes at every level. It rides on the same TNGA platform as the Toyota Prius, Prius Prime, C-HR, and Corolla, and the Lexus UX. That architecture make the slightly longer and taller Corolla Cross spacious with class-leading cargo room for its class.

Though the model is undoubtedly going to be modified a smidge if it comes to America, Toyota has outlined its highlights as part of its launch in Thailand.

The Corolla Cross makes much of its looks from the RAV4, but it's a copy. It's a natural progression of the design language, the same way the Highlander is. Toyota notes that this design allows for an "impressive rearview".

A new torsion-beam suspension delivers a cushioned ride. Toyota notes that the Corolla Cross is easy to maneuver and has a tight turning circle.

Toyota is selling the front-wheel drive model with a traditional gasoline-powered engine setup and as a hybrid. These variants are similar to the Corolla and Lexus UX in the States.

The gasoline-powered model has a 1.8-liter four-cylinder engine that delivers 140 horsepower and 129 pound-feet of torque. The hybrid model returns 122 total system horsepower. Both engines are paired with a CVT.

The interior has good headroom and wide door openings. These are similar characteristics to the modern Corolla.

Toyota has already trademarked the Corolla Cross name for the U.S. according to Car & Driver. The model, which would fill a slot in Toyota product plans that were leaked earlier this year, may be the vehicle set to be made at the end joint Mazda-Toyota plant that is under construction in Alabama. It would fill the gap between the C-HR and RAV4 in the Toyota lineup, and compete directly with the Kia Seltos and Hyundai Kona.

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