Design

Nissan's design team shows what they're creating at home during the coronavirus lockdown

Alfonso Albaisa, Nissan's senior vice president for global design, gives a peek at his lockdown life and what he's sketching these days.

Photo courtesy of Nissan Motors

Every new car starts with a single line. Lines bend, curve, and connect whether you're drawing the new Nissan all-electric SUV your version of a fish for your wannabe marine biologist son in an effort to keep him busy during the extended COVID-19-related lockdown.

Nissan's design team has been busy during this time of social distancing, woking from home and creating sketches of possible new vehicles as well as drawing some of the vintage models in Nissan's lineup.

"To draw, draw, draw, in our world, is one of the best ways to close the gap between wonderful creative impulses in your head and making it a reality – especially as we face this global pandemic together," said Alfonso Albaisa, Nissan's senior vice president for global design. "Our team of designers, worldwide, are using this time to breathe, to draw, to dream creatively. I know that some of their best work will come from the challenges that we're facing now."

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Dubbed the #DrawDrawDraw effort, Albaisa is launching this campaign with a video from his home, and with input from his two young sons, showing what he is currently drawing and why. Designers from his team will post additional videos in coming weeks to talk about their design inspirations, what they are drawing, how they became car designers, and tips for those looking to break into the business.

"Our inspiration for this project came from Nissan designer Giovanny Arroba, the creative mind behind the recently unveiled Ariya Concept car," said Albaisa. "Gio was asked for advice on becoming a car designer. He said, simply and beautifully, 'Draw like crazy. Draw, draw, draw."

Nissan is now offering 23 downloadable coloring pages featuring the company's classic cars, current models, futuristic concepts. The company's designers from around the world created the pages over the last few weeks. Other automakers including Land Rover, Audi, and Ford have also made free coloring pages available.

Nissan is asking individuals to tag their drawings, from sidewalk art to napkin sketches to the downloaded coloring book pictures, with #drawdrawdraw.

"We're looking forward to celebrating passion and creativity," said Albaisa. "Don't be surprised if you see a Nissan designer comment on your drawings and artwork."

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Nuts & Bolts

 
 

Kia is offering the Sorento SUV in a hybrid form for the 2021 model year.

Photo courtesy of Kia Motors

New car prices keep going up so it was only a matter of time before the average new car price hit the $40,000 threshold. New quarterly analysis by Edmunds showed that the average amount borrowed for a new car in the fourth quarter of 2020 was $35,373. Buyers put an average of $4,734 down on top of that, which makes the average new car price $40,107.

Paying around $40,000 is a sweet spot in the market. It gets buyers into lower cost luxury and premium models as well as most of the mass market offerings. AutomotiveMap has put together a list of the best vehicles you can get for around the $40,000 mark.

2021 Acura TLX

2021 Acura TLX Advance

Photo courtesy of Acura

Price: $37,500
The Acura TLX debuted as a completely redesigned car for the 2021 model year bringing with it a new sportiness and fresh styling outside and in. The TLX is powered by a turbocharged 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine that generates 272 horsepower and 280 pound-feet of torque. Its cabin is quite nice - decked out in leatherette upholstery with 12-way power-adjustable and heated front seats. Dual-zone automatic climate control, a leather-wrapped steering wheel, Bluetooth, a 10-speaker audio system, satellite radio, two USB ports, a 10.2-inch infotainment touch screen, seven-inch driver information display, Wi-Fi hotspot, Apple CarPlay, and Android Auto make up just some of the items on the standard features list.

Editor's Note: Acura doesn't sell the TLX in a variety of trim levels. Instead, buyers choose the TLX then can add on packages to get what they want. The model described here has no package add-ons. Pictured: 2021 Acura TLX Advance

2021 Ram 1500 Big Horn

2021 Ram 1500 Big Horn

Photo courtesy of FCA US LLC

Price: $39,490
Configure the 2021 Ram 1500 Big Horn with two-wheel drive, a crew cab, and 5'7" box to get one of the best trucks at the price point. It comes standard with Ram's tried and true 3.6-liter V6 engine, which provides a good amount of power. Cloth seating for six passengers and a five-inch infotainment screen is standard as well.

2021 Ford Bronco Sport Badlands

2021 Ford Bronco Sport Badlands

Photo courtesy of Ford Motor Company

Price: $32,660
The Ford Bronco Sport Badlands trim is the most off-road capable version of the SUV, and it's no slouch. The model is powered by a 2.0-liter EcoBoost engine, off-road suspension, advanced four-wheel drive with a twin-clutch rear-drive unit, a Terrain Management System with G.O.A.T. modes, metal bash plates, Trail Control, a 180-degree front camera with washer, front tow hooks, and rubberized flooring. The SUV rides on 17-inch Carbonized Gray-painted aluminum wheels wrapped in 28.5-inch all-terrain tires.

2021 Kia Sorento Hybrid EX

2021 Kia Sorento Hybrid EX

Photo courtesy of Kia Motors

Price: $36,590
The new-for-2021 Kia Sorento Hybrid comes in just two trim levels: S and EX. The upgraded EX model gets an EPA-estimated 37 mpg and has 227 total system horsepower. The features list for the Sorento Hybrid EX is long and includes a power liftgate, fog lights, a panoramic sunroof, and wireless phone charger. It also comes with a host of safety and driver assist technologies like adaptive cruise control and forward collision avoidance assist.

2021 Genesis G70 2.0T

2021 Genesis G70 Photo courtesy of Genesis Motors

Price: $36,000
The Genesis G70 is a sports sedan you probably haven't seen that much on roads near you, but you should. They should be everywhere. For under $40,000, buyers can get their hands on a rear-wheel drive G70 2.0T with a turbocharged 2.0-liter engine that produces 252 horsepower and 260 pound-feet of torque. It has the buyer's choice of gray or black leatherette upholstery.

2021 Honda Ridgeline RTL

2021 Honda Ridgeline Sport

Photo courtesy of American Honda Motor Co., Inc

Price: $39,470
The Ridgeline might not be a typical truck in the looks category, but for the 2021 model year the Honda has gotten some aesthetic beef thanks to a design refresh. The truck continues to have a trunk in its bed and now comes standard with the Honda Sensing suite of safety and driver assist technologies. Power comes from the truck's 280-horsepower, 3.5-liter V6 that is paired with a nine-speed automatic transmission.The Ridgeline is most noted for its refined and comfortable interior that's more SUV-like than truck-like. For 2021, that has only improved. The RTL grade (Ridgeline Sport is shown above) is a step up from the base model.

2021 Chrysler Pacifica Hybrid Touring

2021 Chrysler Pacifica Pinnacle

Photo courtesy of FCA US LLC

Price: $39,995
The Chrysler Pacifica is presently the best minivan you can buy. Its Hybrid version (shown above in the Pinnacle grade) adds plug-in electric capability to the equation offering over 30 miles of gasoline-free driving per charge and running like a typical hybrid when the battery has been depleted or the van needs some extra oomph. With the Pacifica Hybrid Touring buyers get their choice of a number of included paint colors, 17-inch machined aluminum wheels with gray pockets wrapped in all-season tires, premium cloth bucket seats in black or cognac, and a 10.1-inch infotainment touch screen.

2021 Acura RDX

2019 Acura RDX Advance

Photo courtesy of Acura

Price: $38,400
Acura sells gobs of RDXs and it's really no mystery as to why. The SUV is fun to drive, has abundant cargo space, and is easy on the eyes. Add in the comfortable seats that offer plenty of space, and the RDX turns into one of the best family haulers out there, empty nest or not. The 2021 RDX rides on standard 19-inch glitter silver wheels, gets its power from a turbocharged 2.0-liter four-cylinder that makes 272 horsepower, and has a host of infotainment features like a nine-speaker audio system, two USB ports, HD Radio, a 10.2-inch infotainment system touch screen, Apple CarPlay, Android Auto, Bluetooth, and satellite radio. Buyers ca opt for all-wheel drive, which puts the vehicle just a tick over the $40,000 mark.

Editor's Note: Acura doesn't sell the RDX in a variety of trim levels. Instead, buyers choose the RDX then can add on packages to get what they want. The model described here has no package add-ons. Shown: 2019 Acura RDX Advance

2021 Hyundai Sonata Hybrid Limited

2021 Hyundai Sonata Hybrid Limited

Photo courtesy of Hyundai Motor America

Price: $35,300
Not only does the fanciest and most tech-forward Hyundai Sonata Hybrid you can buy get 47 mpg, it also has a solar roof. It also doesn't lack oomph, with 192 horsepower from its propulsion system at the ready. The car has a 12.3-inch fully-digital gauge cluster and a 10.25-inch infotainment touch screen. It also sports plenty of head- and legroom, cargo space, and forward visibility. Pricing for the sedan includes checking nearly every option box, which is standard for the Limited model.

2021 Kia Telluride EX

2020 Kia Telluride

Photo courtesy of Kia Motors

Price: $37,590
Kia is selling the Telluride like gangbusters and it's not hard to see why. The three-row SUV comes standard with a 3.8-liter V6 that supplies plenty of power. Its roster of standard features on the EX trim level includes a power liftgate, 18-inch alloy wheels, Driver Talk, Quiet Mode, a 10.25-inch infotainment touch screen, wireless smartphone charging, six USB ports, leather-trimmed seats, and more. Add all-wheel drive for just $2,000 more.

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The vehicle is, for now, merely a concept.

Photo courtesy of General Motors

Cruising, the art of driving slowly through cities so you could see and be seen, was popular in the 90s. So popular in fact that jurisdictions nationwide passed ordinances banning the practice, which could create traffic woes. In a new video, General Motors and its Cadillac brand look to bring back cruising, this time in what appears to be a gussied up version of the Cruise Origin autonomous vehicle.

The structure of the Cadillac Halo portfolio concept vehicle looks like the shape of the Cruise Origin. This people mover, however, wears fancier clothes complete with exterior chrome design treatments and Cadillac badging. Its body is white while glass that appears clear from the inside is tinted black to eliminate some outsider peeping. The whole rig rides on large black wheels and is lighted by thin LED strips at the corners that follow vertical body lines.

General Motors Cadillac Halo concept car interior The vehicle's cabin has luxe accommodations.Photo courtesy of General Motors

There's a front window, rear window, and expansive glass roof. On one side, instead of side windows there are wall spaces with ambient lighting and wraparound hard plastic.

The video makes the Cadillac personal autonomous vehicle look like a living room on wheels. Occupants face each other on what looks more like a wraparound sofa than a traditional car seat and share legroom. There is also one recliner-like captains chair at the back that sits alongside a chaise lounge-like seat whose bottom fades into the rest of the bench seating.

The entire cabin is finely appointed with what looks like real wood and metal accents, sculpted seating, and flattering ambient lighting. The five-seater has seat belts for every passenger.

At the front of the vehicle is a long, horizontal screen that is raised, but can be lowered to near-flush showing what appears to be vehicle drive information. A larger screen that appears to be in the same location (which may just be a computer-generated error o GM's part) shows destination, time, occupant, weather, and climate zone control information.

General Motors Cadillac Halo concept car interior A large screen shows a picture of the occupants along with vital information.Photo courtesy of General Motors

When the screens are nested in the cabin, a hologram-like fire graphic can (apparently) be displayed.

There's an infotainment touch screen screen that illuminates on an embedded piece of plastic next to a seat that allows occupants to control navigation.

Voice control and gesture control are both included.

Though unseen, the video alludes to the fact that the vehicle is capable of "aromatherapy and light therapy". Many luxury cars allow buyers to add a fragrance to their vehicle so the aromatherapy aspect isn't too far out in left field. The vehicle's biometric sensors monitor vital signs to adjust humidity, temperature, lighting, aromatics, and ambient noise, according to a presentation by GM.

Though just a concept, it would be very GM-like for the company to be looking for ways to rebrand and reuse current platforms and mobility solutions.

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