Off-Roading

Land Rover utilizing Red Cross all-terrain experts for Defender testing

Land Rover enlisted the help of the Red Cross to test the 2020 Land Rover Defender.

Photo courtesy of Land Rover

The Defender is coming back. Long a poorly kept secret, Land Rover gave enthusiasts a peek at the vehicle's development before the Land Rover Defender makes its way onto dealer lots.

The setting is Dubai and the drivers are members of the elite all-terrain experts from the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC). Surrounded by sand dunes and the twisty tarmac of Jebel Jais highway, Dubai is a playground for off-road enthusiasts who also want to check out their vehicle's on-road prowess.

That's exactly what the IFRC drivers did.

2020 Land Rover Defender

Photo courtesy of Land Rover

Land Rover worked with IFRC drivers as a part of Defender development.

IFRC fleet drivers piloted the 4x4s over soft sand dunes, climbing steep ascents, pitching down side slopes, and conquering blind crests. This is similar testing to what was conducted by Rolls-Royce during development of their SUV, the Cullinan.

As temperatures climbed over 100 degrees, the drivers took to the 12 miles of hairpin turns of the Jebel Jais highway climbing to over 6,500-feet of elevation up to the top of Jebel Yibir mountain, the tallest point in the United Arab Emirates.

The new Defender has already undergone over 745,000 miles of testing as part of its development.

Land Rover debuted the 2020 Land Rover Defender at the Frankfurt Auto Show earlier this year.

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Nuts & Bolts

 
 

Jaguar Land Rover has worked in partnership with the University of Cambridge to develop new technology.

Photo courtesy of Jaguar Land Rover

Smudges are the bane of the touch screen's existence. New technology has emerged from a partnership between Jaguar Land Rover and the University of Cambridge that is designed to reduce the spread of bacteria and viruses within a car, and, consequentially reduces the number of smudge points on touch screens.

The patented technology, known as "predictive touch", uses artificial intelligence and sensors to predict a user's intended target on the touchscreen – whether that's satellite navigation, temperature controls or entertainment settings – without touching a button.

2020 Land Rover Range Rover Velar The Land Rover Range Rover Velar Photo courtesy of Land Rover

According to a release, the tech utilizes artificial intelligence to determine the item the user intends to select on the screen early in the pointing task. Gesture tracking technology uses vision-based or radio frequency-based sensors like the kind you find in electronics you use as part of your everyday life, "to combine contextual information such as user profile, interface design and environmental conditions with data available from other sensors, such as an eye-gaze tracker, to infer the user's intent in real time."

Trials utilizing the technology showed that it could reduce a driver's touchscreen interaction effort and time by up to 50 percent, as well as limiting the spread of bacteria and viruses. The tests were conduced in a lab and on the road.

Jaguar Land Rover is championing the innovation as part of its Destination Zero vision. As part of that vision, the company is working toward a world of "zero emissions, zero accidents, and zero congestion".

The company says that the predictive touch technology can be especially useful when traveling off the beaten trail, where it may be difficult to engage a touch screen button in a timely and orderly fashion. Additionally, it is in these circumstances where drivers will most want two hands on the wheel as often as possible.

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The Kia Telluride is just one of the models Americans are most emotionally attached to.

Photo courtesy of Kia Motors

What drives people to a certain vehicle? Sure, it may be brand loyalty. But, it may also be the emotional appeal of a model. That's the build up. Once the vehicle reaches it driveway and it's been lived in, the owner is bound to find more ... quirks. Does this dampen their enthusiasm?

The J.D. Power 2020 Automotive Performance, Execution and Layout (APEAL) Study measures a number of factors that all contribute to that emotion connection.

"Purchasing the 'right' vehicle is influenced by a variety of factors, depending on each buyer's specific tastes, wants and needs," said Dave Sargent, vice president of automotive quality at J.D. Power. "The APEAL Study measures an owner's emotional attachment to their new vehicle and in what areas that vehicle may not be delivering on all of the positive experiences that were hoped for. Understanding this is just as valuable to automakers as knowing about quality issues and owner acceptance of new technologies. The goal for automakers is to delight customers on all these dimensions. Some are better than others at doing this."

J.D. Power has been conducting the study for 25 years. It was redesigned for 2020 to compliment the J.D. Power Initial Quality Study and the J.D. Power Tech Experience Index Study. The survey measured “owners' emotional attachment and level of excitement with their new vehicle across 37 attributes, ranging from the sense of comfort and luxury they feel when climbing into the driver's seat to the feeling they get when they step on the accelerator." These attributes were then aggregated to compute an overall APEAL index score measured on a 1,000-point scale.

Here are the winners.

Mazda CX-5

2020 Mazda CX-5 Photo courtesy of Mazda North American Operations

Mazda may be best known for the Miata but their top-selling vehicle is the CX-5, a compact SUV. The CX-5 delivers an engaging drive that excels whether accelerating or cruising. Its handling is engaging and seats are comfortable. Reviewers typically say that the usability of its infotainment system is not up to par with other vehicles in its class.

Land Rover Range Rover Velar

2020 Land Rover Range Rover Velar

Photo courtesy of Land Rover

The Land Rover Range Rover Velar carries over the high-quality cabin design and high-horsepower engines from its stablemates. Its handling is composed making it good in the city, on a trail, or cruising on the highway.

Jaguar E-Pace

2020 Jaguar E-Pace

Photo courtesy of Jaguar

The Jaguar E-Pace is the little brother of the highly-regarded F-Pace. The model isn't as powerful as the F-Pace, but it has a good amount of cargo space and is agile. Adults may feel crowded in the back seat, but that's par for the course in this size vehicle.

Honda Odyssey

2021 Honda Odyssey

Photo courtesy of American Honda Motor Co., Inc

Honda has refreshed the looks of the Odyssey for 2021 and given it more safety features. Additionally, Honda has made the interior more upscale with updated climate controls and second-row setbacks that fold flat (making them easier to remove).

Lincoln Navigator

2020 Lincoln Navigator Luxury Full Size SUV: Lincoln Navigator

Photo courtesy of Lincoln Motor Company

The Lincoln Navigator is the largest SUV in the company's lineup. The full-size, three-row SUV was fully redesigned for the 2018 model year, kicking off the brand's new SUV identity and design aesthetic. It's suitably plush, seats seven, and is powered by a 450-horsepower turbocharged 3.5-liter V6 engine.

Nissan Armada

2019 Nissan Armada ​Photo courtesy of Nissan North America

The Nissan Armada is gearing up for a redesign but continues to offer comfortable accommodations, good towing capacity, and a strong engine. The SUV's lackluster fuel efficiency and poor cargo space are two major drawbacks.

Ford Escape

2020 Ford Escape Hybrid Photo courtesy of Ford Motor Company\u200b

The Ford Escape has been completely redesigned for the 2020 model year. It features a cavernous cargo area, spacious seating, and easy low-speed handling. This Escape rides better than the last and its interior has been upgraded. New powertrain options include a PHEV and there's a long list of standard and available safety features.

BMW 7 Series

2020 BMW 7 Series

Photo courtesy of BMW

The BMW 7 Series features the expected roster of features and powertrains. They all function as advertised, delivering a plush, large car experience. A plug-in hybrid version is now available but Android Auto is not.

Ram 1500

2020 Ram 1500 Built to Serve Edition Photo courtesy of FCA US LLC

With a combination of sales from the Ram 1500 and HD pickups, Ram has found a winning formula that combines the expected capability of a truck with the refined interior more commonly found in premium or luxury SUV.

BMW X4

2020 BMW X4

Photo by Fabian Kirchbauer Photography/BMW

The BMW X4 is a potent SUV. It delivers the engaging drive that buyers are looking for in a sloped back style that makes it more hatchback and SUV. The interior is typically BMW, which means that it's high quality and aesthetically pleasing.

Dodge Challenger

2020 Dodge Challenger SRT Super Stock

The Dodge Challenger hasn't been changed significantly in a decade but Dodge continues to push the envelope with performance, introduce new variants, and updated the car's infotainment system.

GMC Sierra HD

2020 GMC Sierra HD Photo courtesy of GMC

Reviewers generally agree that the GMC Sierra has a great exterior but that its interior is lacking the refinement expected at its price point. Still, it's an incredibly capable truck, especially in its heavy-duty variants. The GMC Sierra 2500 AT4 is one of the best trucks you can buy if you want to match off-road prowess with on-road comfort and towing/hauling capability.

Chevrolet Blazer

2020 Chevrolet Blazer

Photo courtesy of Chevrolet

The Chevrolet Blazer isn't the off-roader that it used to be. Now, it's akin to the Nissan Murano, delivering plush appointments and competent powertrains. Chevy just announced that a future EV will deliver Blazer-inspired design.

Cadillac CT6

2020 Cadillac CT6 No. 13 - Cadillac Photo courtesy of Cadillac

The Cadillac CT6 is a comfortable large sedan. It doesn't deliver the aggressive drive you can get from German luxury sedans but it is (nearly) as stylish and stable on the road. Cadillac recently discontinued the model.

Nissan Versa

2020 Nissan Versa Photo courtesy of Nissan North America

The Nissan Versa was redesigned for the 2020 model year. It comes equipped with a capable engine and smooth CVT. Its interior is well-equipped and higher trim levels has appointments that would be mistaken for belonging in a vehicle nearly twice the Versa's price point.

Hyundai Veloster

2020 Hyundai Veloster Photo courtesy of Hyundai Motor America

An all-new Hyundai Veloster rolled out last year with a refreshed design as well as other improvements. This sporty coupe continues to stand out with its unique three-door configuration: one door on the driver's side, two on the passenger side.

MINI Countryman

2021 MINI Countryman John Cooper Works Photo courtesy of MINI

MINI has freshened the Countryman for the 2021 model year. The car gets a new grille with a chrome frame and standard LED headlights and fog lights up front, and newly designed front and rear bumper coverings. The Countryman will continue to be offered in a variety of models from the plug-in hybrid MINI Cooper SE Countryman ALL4 to the high performance MINI John Cooper Works Countryman ALL4.

BMW X6

2020 BMW X6 Photo courtesy of BMW

The BMW X6 was completely redesigned for the 2020 model year. It continues to be offered with potent engines, a refined interior, comfortable seats, and a long list of technology as is typical for the model.

Nissan Maxima

2020 Nissan Maxima Photo courtesy of Nissan North America

The Nissan Maxima was recently refreshed but it has few changes for the 2020 model year. The automaker's suite of safety technology, Nissan Safety Shield 360, is now standard. Its V6 is plenty strong and accommodations are roomy and comfortable.

Kia Telluride

2020 Kia Telluride 2020 World Car of the Year - Kia Telluride Photo courtesy of Kia Motors

The Kia Telluride is the winner of the 2020 World Car of the Year award​ it's also much beloved by families. The three-row SUV's premium interior and unique looks are quick to turn heads.

Kia Stinger

2020 Kia Stinger Photo courtesy of Kia Motors

The development sister of the Genesis G70, the Stinger is the Kia version of a sports sedan. Its interior isn't as nice as the G70's and there are some differences between the way the vehicles drive. Still, it's a really good Kia.

Genesis G70

2020 Genesis G70 Photo courtesy of Genesis Motors

The Genesis G70 is a true sports sedan. It is up for enthusiastic drives and doesn't mean being pushed a little. The car's cabin is well-appointed and the infotainment system is easy to use. Plus, it's far less pricey than its German rivals.

Honda Ridgeline

2020 Honda Ridgeline Photo courtesy of American Honda Motor Co., Inc

The Honda Ridgeline has as nice of an interior as you'll find in a midsize pickup. Its engine is powerful enough and paired with a standard nine-speed automatic transmission. It can tow and haul, but not as much as much of its competition. Still, its unique tailgate and in-bed trunk set it apart.

Toyota C-HR

2020 Toyota C-HR

Photo courtesy of Toyota Motor Sales U.S.A. Inc.

The Toyota C-HR is a subcompact SUV that delivers many of the qualities buyers are looking for in a grocery getter. It's not particularly powerful but it is easy to maneuver and comes standard with a long list of safety technology. Toyota refreshed the face of the C-HR for 2020.

Nissan Sentra

2020 Nissan Sentra Photo courtesy of Nissan North America

The Nissan Sentra has been completely redesigned for the 2020 model year, with its looks falling into line with the Versa and Altima. The new Sentra is a compelling choice with its high-tech features, comfortable seats, and easy-to-use infotainment system.

Audi A3

2021 Audi A3

Photo courtesy of Audi

The Audi A3 has been a favored compact car for years. The model has been redesigned for 2021, getting a striking new looks, a high-tech infotainment system, and an electrified powertrain. Europe gets the car first then it will arrive in the U.S. later this year. Pricing is expected to stay similar to the 2020 model, which started at $33,300.

Hyundai Sonata

2020 Hyundai Sonata Hybrid Photo courtesy of Hyundai Motor America

Hyundai redesigned the Sonata for the 2020 model year. It's a completely new car with fresh angles and innovative tech, yet it keeps the same spacious seating and cargo space buyers have known and loved about the midsize car.

Don't miss the J.D Power survey results that ranked the brands with the most loyal consumer base and highest quality vehicles.

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