SEMA 2019

Ford's 10 best SEMA builds show that what happens in Vegas doesn't have to stay in Vegas

Competitive off-road racing prodigy Christopher Polvoorde has put together an all-wheel-drive Ford Transit cargo van to keep up with his extreme adventure lifestyle.

Photo courtesy of Ford Motor Company

It all started five decades ago under the grandstand at Dodger Stadium. What is now the grandeur of the SEMA Show takes over Las Vegas for one week each year, bringing together automotive industry companies and buyers from around the globe in a showcase of the best the aftermarket industry has to offer.

Ford's 2019 SEMA display is the largest original equipment manufacturer exhibit at this year's show.

"It wouldn't be a SEMA show without some F-150 and Mustang love from our builder partners," said Eric Cin, global director, Ford Vehicle Personalization and Accessories. "These two iconic nameplates-the are always the most popular Ford vehicles throughout the show and each of these builds gives a refreshed glimpse at some of the latest trends in customization. There's a growing hunger for consumers to personalize their SUVs, which have a huge range of possibilities from lowered street rides to off-road overlanding."

AutomotiveMap chose the 10 best customized vehicles the automaker showcased, out of the more than 50 displayed, that highlight the myriad of different flavors that everyday vehicles can be customized or personalized for current or future owners who have different needs, interests and passions.

J Robert Marketing and Attitude Performance Ford F-150 XLT SuperCrew FX4

J Robert Marketing and Attitude Performance Ford F-150 XLT SuperCrew FX4

Photo courtesy of Ford Motor Company

Just in time for Veteran's Day, this bad-boy off-roader pumps up the patriot theme. The build platoon incorporated the talents of veteran-owned and operated Black Rifle Coffee Co. and Kryptek Outdoor Group plus J Robert Marketing and Attitude Performance, who joined forces with CPV Paint & Graphics and Soundz Plus to create this 4WD monster.

Upgrades include a Ford Performance cat-back exhaust with black chrome tips by Borla; a BDS Suspension 6-inch lift kit with Fox 2.5 remote reservoir coil-overs; Warn Industries front and rear bumpers with winch and fender flares; Yakima Load Warrior basket roof rack with accessories; Rigid off-road LED lighting; an A.R.E. truck cap and Obskura-Nox Kryptek camouflage vinyl graphics. KMC XD DemoDog 20-inch wheels and Interco SS M-16 tires move the tricked-out truck with Katzkin leather seats, Rockford Fosgate sound system, Indel B fridge, Switch Pros eight switch panel power and Cobra Electronics radios and electronic accessories inside.

MAD Industries Ford Escape

MAD Industries Ford Escape

Photo courtesy of Ford Motor Company

Surf's up! Or, would you rather head to the mountains with your fat tires this weekend? This compact 2020 Ford Escape will provide the four wheels to escape the city, plus carry your boards or bikes on the Ford Accessories roof rack crossbars and Yakima bike carrier round. There's room for extra gear and goods inside the cabin that is tricked out with a Miko ultra-suede headliner, custom trim in matte gray and a kicking Rockford Fosgate audio system. Head-turning 21-inch Rotiform OZR wheels are wrapped in Michelin Pilot Sport 4 tires and Eibach Pro Kit lowering springs add low-riding style, along with Custom BASF RM paint.

DRAGG Ford F-150 Lariat Sport SuperCrew 4x4

DRAGG Ford F-150 Lariat Sport SuperCrew 4x4

Photo courtesy of Ford Motor Company

"The Desert Defender" clearly is no drag! This 4WD pickup is set up to protect and serve in the backcountry and first-responder world. Upgrades include a Ford Performance supercharger with TVS technology, cold-air intake and Borla's cat-back exhaust sporting black chrome tips; BDS Suspension's 6-inch lift kit; Fox race series shocks; Wilwood Performance brakes; and DSM&T's harnesses and fasteners. It rides on 20-inch Fifteen52 TurboMac heavy-duty wheels and BFGoodrich All-Terrain KO2 rubber.

There's a Warn Industries recovery kit, chase rack, and rock slider side steps, along with Ford Accessories Black Appearance Package components. Its exterior features a body wrap designed by Ford Vehicle Personalization.

Addictive Desert Design contributed stealth fighter bumpers and a honey badger rear spare tire rack comes from American Truck. Other exterior features include: Bushwhacker fender flares, Rigid front bumper LED light bar, rock lighting and chase rack light bar, a Federal Signal police lighting package by West Coast Lights & Sirens, and Mohave Parts' Diablo bumper shackles.

Inside are Ford Accessories subwoofer and amp by Kicker Audio, body colored trim accents, and a police radio system by West Coast Lights & Sirens.

Drag Racing Against Gangs & Graffiti (DRAGG)'s nonprofit youth-oriented automotive after-school program encourages youth to consider a future in the automotive industry.

MAD Industries Ford Expedition Stealth

MAD Industries Ford Expedition Stealth

Photo courtesy of Ford Motor Company

MAD Industries has turned the daily-driver, family-hauler 2019 Ford Expedition into a serious weekend adventure ride. A Whipple EcoBoost air induction system with Icon Dynamics Stage 2 coilover suspension insures ride performance on road and off, while Fuel Forged FF-45 22-inch monoblock wheels with Nitto Ridge Grappler tires will turn eyeballs in the city and add assurance on the trail. Serious stopping power comes from PowerStop Z36 high-performance rotors and ceramic formula extreme brake pads. Added lighting of the land comes from an Adapt 50-inch lightbar by Rigid and SR-L series spreader with halos that illuminate the landscape. Yakima's SkyRise rooftop tent provides shelter.

LGE-CTS Motorsports Baja Forged Ford F-250 Super Duty Crew Cab XLT

LGE-CTS Motorsports Baja Forged Ford F-250 Super Duty Crew Cab XLT

Photo courtesy of Ford Motor Company

Chase the race or camp on-the-run? A veritable Swiss army knife of add-ons enables the LGE-CTS Motorsports Baja Forged to function as a mobile command center, campsite and workshop. The Pronghorn modular utility flatbed paired with LGE-CTS Motorsports rear custom canopy nixes the standard bed for flexible storage and adds private camping space beyond the Tepui rooftop tent. The build features a roof rack illuminated by integrated Rigid LED lighting, an Icon 4.5-inch Stage 7 suspension lift, and 18-inch Method Race 304 NV HD bronze wheels wrapped in 37-inch BFGoodrich Mud-Terrain T/A tires.

On board for the ride are a Warn Industries 10S winch, ARB USA 6.5-foot awning with LED lights, Element refrigerator with freezer, and touring camp chairs. A Ford Accessories vehicle safe is located in the floor console by Console Vault, and Pelican Case protective gear and BOXO tools on BuiltRight Industries tool and tech panels add value.

Blood Type Racing Ford Explorer Limited Hybrid

Blood Type Racing Ford Explorer Limited Hybrid

Photo courtesy of Ford Motor Company

A walk on the wild side can also be fuel efficient. This Blood Type Racing concept uses the platform of the 2020 Ford Explorer Limited Hybrid to blend the company's 3.3-liter hybrid engine with a Borla cat-back exhaust punctuated by black chrome tips to enhance looks and add a more enthusiastic sound. Other black chrome trim elements include the front grille and rear bumper accents by Lacks Trim Systems, door handle accents, and lower door moldings. A half-inch suspension leveling kit plus Ford Performance skid plate paired with 20-inch Ace Alloy AFF09 black chrome wheels wrapped in Toyo Tires Open Country A/T II rubber bump ups off-road capabilities.

Winter sports enthusiasts will be charmed by the two custom BTR Edition snowboards by Blank Snowboards that ride on a Yakima carrier mounted to Ford Accessories roof rack crossbars. A Ford Accessories rear seat entertainment system by Voxx adds entertainment in the cabin.

BDS Suspension Ford F-350 Super Duty Crew Cab XLT

BDS Suspension Ford F-350 Super Duty Crew Cab XLT

Photo courtesy of Ford Motor Company

The Taj Mahal of Super Dutys for the job site or overlanding is motivated by Ford's 6.7-liter Power Stroke diesel. BDS Suspension's Go Beyond project outfits this brawny beast as an ultimate off-road adventurer for work and play. Upfits include a BDS Suspension 4-inch radius arm lift with Fox 2.5 factory race Dual Speed Compression coilovers and shocks; enlarged wheel openings with 40-inch Mickey Thompson Baja MTZ P3 tires mounted on 20-inch Method Race 605 NV-series wheels; Addictive Desert Designs stealth fighter front bumper with Warn Industries Zeon 12S winch; and Rigid LED lights for 4WD trekking at night.

In the rear is a Knapheide aluminum service box for storage and a hard-shell tent and awning; Dometic CFX-75DZW electric refrigerator, two-burner gas grill, and propane tank with custom mount; Ridetech air compressor kit with air tank; and power inverter. A collapsible aluminum table and camp chairs take care of domestic duties. Custom agate black and chroma elite copper paint outside is paired with custom Katzkin black and mahogany leather seats and Kicker VSS audio system in the cabin.

Prefix Ford Explorer

Prefix Ford Explorer

Photo courtesy of Ford Motor Company

If race support is your thing, Prefix's 2020 Ford Explorer will make you king! Built to honor to the men and women who toil behind the scenes on the safety and support side of motorsports, this customized midsized sport ute has a lowered suspension, Ford Performance skid plate, and 20-inch GWG wheels with Michelin tires.

Added value comes from the Whelen emergency siren/signal system, Ford Performance recovery kit, and Ford Accessories first-aid and roadside assistance kit by DC Safety.

Already on the job for the 2020 Trans Am race season, it will perform parade laps and pace vehicle duties.

Additional customization includes Recaro Cross Sportster ORV race seats inside while the exterior gets a two-tone red paint finish with white racing stripes, Ford Performance skid plate, Whelen emergency signal, and 20-inch GWG wheels wrapped in Michelin tires.

California Pony Cars Ford Mustang GT Fastback

California Pony Cars Ford Mustang GT Fastback

Photo courtesy of Ford Motor Company

Designers at California Pony Cars joined with Ford's performance engineers to enhance the styling statement and thrill factor of this 2019 Ford Mustang GT. A Ford Performance supercharger with TVS technology and cat-back exhaust with Borla's black chrome tips boost the 5.0-liter Ti-VCT V8 engine's power, while Ford Performance lowering springs combine with forged multi-piece 21-inch wheels by Triumph Performance with TOYO Proxes T1R tires to embolden the stance.

Ensuring safe and modulated stopping power are Baer EradiSpeed 15-inch front and 13-inch rear two-piece rotors.

California Pony Cars custom tailored the hood, decklid, side skirts, grille, front chin spoiler, rear diffuser, and wing with wicker bill, rear blackout panel, mirror covers, wheel arches, front bumper air duct panels, and an aluminum splitter kit. LED lighting is from Diode Dynamics.

Ford Performance inserted Recaro leather seats for the 'Stang's riders, while California Pony Cars added a customized carbon fiber center console, dashboard trim kit and window switch plates, CPC armrest covers, door sill plates, and coin tray. A 1,500-watt Kicker Audio system, LinksWell GEN II 11.8-inch high definition touch screen, and Diode Dynamics LED strip accent lighting finish the cockpit.

2019 Ford Performance Parts Ford Ranger

2019 Ford Performance Parts Ford Ranger

Photo courtesy of Ford Motor Company

Small can be big! This midsize Ranger is overflowing with a collection of Ford Performance Parts and other aftermarket goodies that will let adventure-minded enthusiasts journey further into the backcountry for a night, weekend or even longer.

Ride enhancements from Ford Performance are the specially-tuned Fox off-road suspension leveling kit providing 2-inches of front lift, Ranger Raptor wheels with BFGoodrich All-Terrain KO2 tires, and a hood-hinge light kit with Rigid DSS-Series light.

It's loaded with extras from Rigid that include an underbody rock light kit, 30-inch SR-Series Pro lightbar on top of front bumper, two 6-inch SR-Series Pro lightbars for the front bumper's lower opening, and D-Series 2x2 LED cube lights in the fog light openings.

Other goodies include a Warn 9.5 XP winch mounted on a winch-capable front bumper, Ford Performance by Warn Industries heavy-duty recovery kit and red tow hooks, Tepui HyBox rooftop tent, a decked truck bed storage system, RSI Smart Cap, ARB Elements refrigerator/freezer, and ActionTrax recovery boards.

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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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