LA Auto Show 2019

Nissan redesigns Sentra as a mini Maxima (and it looks really good)

The car comes with many features that add tremendous value to the low-cost sedan.

Photo courtesy of Nissan North America

Nissan completed their long-awaited redesign of their sedan lineup today with the unveiling of the 2019 Nissan Sentra. The fresh model take a lot of design inspiration from the Nissan Maxima and Altima, which is to be expected.

The compact car is built on a new platform for the 2019 model year. It is two inches lower and wider in its new iteration than in the previous generation. At the front is Nissan's signature V-motion grille, thin headlamps, and a floating roof. Sharp hood creases lead to muscular fender flares.

2020 Nissan Sentra SR side profile floating roof The car's floating roof is reminiscent of other Nissan models.Photo courtesy of Nissan North America

Available LED projector headlamps feature Nissan's signature LED daytime running lights. LED fog lamps are also available. Intelligent Headlights and high beam assist are standard on all new Sentras.

Sentra will come in eight paint colors for the 2020 model year: Blue Metallic, Brilliant Silver Metallic, Gun Metallic, Super Black, Aspen White TriCoat, Fresh Powder, Roswood Metallic, and Scarlet Ember TriCoat. A two-tone paint scheme is available in Super Black/Gun Metallic, Super Black/Aspen White TriCoat and Super Black/Monarch Orange Metallic combinations.

Every Sentra is powered by Nissan's 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine that delivers 149 horsepower and 145 pound-feet of torque, a 20- and 16-percent increase, respectively. Nissan projects that the new engine is more fuel efficient than its predecessor which got 29 mpg in the city and 37 mpg on the highway. The engine is paired with a continuously variable transmission (CVT).

2020 Nissan Sentra SR back rear tail end At its rear, the Sentra features encompassing taillights.Photo courtesy of Nissan North America

Nissan says it has improved the level of noise permeating the cabin by adding more soft acoustic material and improved sealants in the 2020 Sentra.

The company has also worked to improve the handling and responsiveness of the vehicle with a series of notable equipment additions and calibrations.

Inside, the Sentra is much improved though its looks and equipment are clearly from the Nissan parts bin. That's not a bad thing. Nissan delivers some of the best interiors in the business, especially when you consider the vehicle's value proposition. There are satin chrome aluminum accents, contrast seat stitching, and a standard D-shaped steering wheel that give the vehicle an up-market look. The wheel is smooth to the touch and there's available leather-appointed seats. Nissan has given the Sentra their heralded Zero Gravity front seats.

2020 Nissan Sentra SR interior wheel display screen shifter Contrast stitching and a standard D-shaped steering wheel make the Sentra sportier.Photo courtesy of Nissan North America

In front of the driver is a 4.2-inch information display and each Sentra comes standard with at least a 7-inch infotainment touch screen. Sentra SV and higher grades get a standard 8-inch touch screen. Bluetooth, hands-free calling, hands-free text messaging, Siri Eyes Free, and Google Assistant are also standard. Cars with the 8-inch screen get Android Auto and Apple CarPlay standard.

Heated front seats and outside mirrors, and remote engine start are available as are adaptive cruise control and a 360-degree view monitor.

2020 Nissan Sentra SR wheel display screen shifter speedometer cup holders Nissan has given the Sentra features that are found throughout the automaker's lineup.Photo courtesy of Nissan North America

The Sentra comes standard with Nissan Safety Shield 360, a suite of six driver-assist systems that includes automatic emergency braking with pedestrian detection, blind spot warning, rear cross traffic alert, lane departure warning, high beam assist, rear automatic braking. Rear door alert is also standard.

The 2020 Nissan Sentra will come in three trim levels: S, SV, and SR. Only two packages are available. Sentra S includes 16-inch steel wheels with full covers, remote keyless entry with push button start, and center console with storage in addition to other features.

Sentra SV adds, most notably, 16-inch aluminum-alloy wheels with all-season tires, NissanConnect, dual-zone automatic climate control, adaptive cruise control, and an upgraded cloth interior.

2020 Nissan Sentra SR front The front of the car features Nissan's signature boomerang grille.Photo courtesy of Nissan North America

On the Sentra SR there are 18-inch diamond-cut aluminum-alloy wheels wrapped in all-season tires, a dark chrome V-motion grille, LED headlights with LED daytime running lights, LED fog lights, chrome exhaust finisher, a sport cloth interior with orange stitching, rear spoiler, and lower body side sill extensions.

The 2020 Nissan Sentra will go on sale in the U.S. in January. Pricing will be announced in a few weeks.

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The 2021 Ford Explorer Enthusiast ST gives buyers more performance at a lower price.

Photo courtesy of Ford Motor Company

The Explorer lineup is getting a three-model enhancement for the 2021 model year. The Explorer Enthusiast ST, Platinum, and Platinum Hybrid will be making their way to dealership lots later this year in a targeted attempt to identify customer desires.

The new models join the just-announced 2021 Ford Explorer King Ranch, also a new addition.

2021 Ford Explorer Enthusiast ST

The Enthusiast ST grade takes a lot of what customers like about the existing Explorer ST and delivers it at a far cheaper price. The Enthusiast ST has a starting MSRP of $48,750 as opposed to the ST, which starts at $52,830.

Setting it apart from there Explorers is the Enthusiast ST's quad chrome exhaust tips, 20-inch machined aluminum wheels with painted pockets, and sideview mirrors with ST projection lamps.

The new model comes equipped with the same 3.0-liter EcoBoost engine that's in the Explorer ST that churns out 400 horsepower and 415 pound-feet of torque. A 10-speed automatic transmission completes the powertrain.

Ford has given the model a sport-tuned suspension and a top track speed of 143 mph. A standard Class III Trailer Tow Package provides towing capability of up to 5,600 pounds.

The cabin of the Enthusiast ST is complete with leather seating surfaces, unique Miko micro-perforated inserts, and City Silver accent stitching with the ST logo. There's a 12.3-inch digital instrument cluster, heated sport-style steering wheel with the ST logo, and paddle shifters.

The Explorer Enthusiast ST also features standard Ford Co-Pilot360 technology.

2021 Ford Explorer Platinum

2021 Ford Explorer Plat Ford has two new Platinum models coming to a dealership near you.Photo courtesy of Ford Motor Company

2021 Ford Explorer Plat

The new Explorer Platinum is powered by a 3.0-liter engine and comes standard with rear-wheel drive. Four-when drive is available.

To make the Platinum version worthy of its upscale price tag, its packaging includes door handles with satin aluminum insert, liftgate appliqué, lower bodyside cladding insert, roof-rack side rails, a twin-panel moonroof, and a unique grille with satin aluminum finish. Its cabin is fitted with leather seats, and a leather-wrapped steering wheel, dashboard, door rollovers, and door and front console armrests.

The 2021 Ford Explorer Platinum has a starting MSRP of $52,480. The hybrid version of that model starts at $53,085.

All the models are currently available for order via Ford dealerships. Deliveries are expected to begin this summer.

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2022 Hyundai Kona N revealed, but the automaker isn't telling all just yet.

Photo courtesy of Hyundai Motor America

Hyundai is giving its highest performance Kona the same transmission that you'll find in the Veloster N. For enthusiasts, that's a very good thing.

The compact crossover is more and more being seen as the American successor to the hot hatch. The Mazda CX-30 Turbo recently piqued enthusiasm among true drivers who can't afford supercars and need something more practical to hoon around in.

Now, the Kona N is poised to deliver similar driving dynamics and performance. Hyundai has slowly been leaking out details about the 2022 Hyundai Kona N over the last year and the revelation that it will have an eight-speed wet-type dual-clutch transmission, known as N DCT, is just the latest tidbit to come to light.

2022 Hyundai Kona Hyundai has upgraded its wet DCT mechanics in recent years making it hard-wearing.Photo courtesy of Hyundai Motor America

2022 Hyundai Kona

The Kona N DCT is based on a modified version of its in-house-developed 8DCT. It's had enhancements in recent years that have made it more durable and ready to handle the demands of high-performance vehicles. The N DCT will be standard on the Kona.

Hyundai will pair the N DCT with a 276-horsepower, 2.0-liter direct-injected engine that has been tuned especially for the model. The transmission control unit is calibrated for N enthusiasts.

The wet-type DCT is structurally similar to a manual transmission but, instead of the typical dry-type gearbox, it uses two electric oil pumps that are designed to reduce friction between the moving parts, cooling the clutch, and allowing greater torque.

Other features of the N DCT include N Grin Shift, N Power Shift and N Track Sense Shift functionality. These settings have dedicated shift-logic management. N Power Shift engages when the car accelerates with more than 90-percent throttle. N Grin Shift maximizes engine and DCT performance for 20 seconds, providing a boost. N Track Sense optimized adaptive shift for the race track.

The N Grin Control System has five different drive modes: Normal, Eco, Sport, N and Custom. Unlike with a traditional automatic transmission vehicle, in Hyundai vehicles with N DCT, the driver can choose to turn off the creep function. When the creep function is turned "off" and the car is in gear D, the car does not automatically roll forward when the brake pedal is released.

Drivers can switch to manual mode for more control over shift points, utilizing the paddle shifters or gear knob. In manual mode, the downshift memory logic will avoid downshifting during high RPM operation. Memory functionality remembers the command and executes only when the acceptable RPM is reached.

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