Off-Roading

2,500-km Rebelle Rally will be a proving ground for 6 fresh off-road vehicles

Nissan is the only automaker to have fielded a vehicle for each Rebelle Rally. The streak continues with the 2020 Nissan Frontier.

Photo courtesy of Nissan North America

As the 2020 Rebelle Rally prepares for its 5th annual running that begins this week, founder Emily Miller and her support staff of more than 70 couldn't be more thrilled. There are 36 teams registered to participate in the country's longest competitive off-road navigation rally that will take place over 10 days along nearly 2,500 kilometers of spectacular backcountry. The only all-female rally in the U.S. will travel along a mix of dirt roads, off-road trails, and on sand dunes from Nevada to southern California.

One of the most exciting elements to this year's event is the sextet of new vehicle entries that join the lineup from nine auto manufacturers. New are the all-electric Rivian R1T, 2020 Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV, 2021 Infiniti QX80, 2020 Nissan Frontier, 2021 Kia Telluride, and three 2021 Ford Bronco Sports.

2020 Rebelle Rally terrainThe vehicles that participate in the Rebelle Rally are required to traverse a wide variety of terrain.Photo courtesy of Rebelle Rally

There are two classes – 4×4 and Crossover—and, while it's no surprise that Jeep vehicles have been the top model represented since the rally's inception, a variety of different vehicles have been showcased at the rally, such as the Rolls Royce Cullinan, which took home a first-place finish in the Crossover class last year, with co-pilots Emme Hall and Rebecca Donaghe at the wheel.

"We are very grateful for such strong participation this year," enthused Miller, who has added an Electrified Designation "test program" to the rally. "The world has been anxiously awaiting an opportunity to see the new Bronco line-up in action, and we're excited to have three Bronco Sports showcasing their capabilities this year along with the five other new vehicles to the rally."

Click here to read more about the Rebelle Rally, including an insiders look at the schedule of the drivers and details of the competition.

Rivian R1T

Emme Hall Rebecca Donaghe Rebelle Rally

Photo courtesy of Rebelle Rally

Making its debut at the Rebelle, the all-electric Rivian R1T is entered in the 4×4 class and will be piloted by two-time Rebelle Rally champions Emme Hall and Rebecca Donaghe.

"Adventures like the Rebelle Rally are what Rivian vehicles are made for. It's meaningful to join as the rally's first all-electric vehicle," said Rivian Creative Director Larry Parker.

The Rivian R1T is an battery-powered electric truck that can get up to 300 miles of range and 750 horsepower from its four electric motors and 135 kilowatt-hour battery. It will be the first to roll off Rivian's Normal, Illinois, assembly line, with the serial No. 1.

The R1T will not be fitted with additional features or special equipment, according to Brian Gase, chief engineer of special projects at Rivian. Even the on-board air compressor is stock equipment.

Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV

2020 Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV

Photo courtesy of Rebelle Rally

Mitsubishi returns to the Rebelle for its second year fielding the 2020 Outlander PHEV in the Crossover class; it is the first hybrid electric vehicle to compete in the event.

"Rebelle Rally shows us what is possible when we have the courage and ambition to do more with the cars in our driveway, and we need that inspiration now more than ever," said Mitsubishi Motors North America Chief Operating Officer Mark Chaffin. "We are thrilled to continue our support for Team Record the Journey (RTJ) this year with the world's best-selling plug-in hybrid electric vehicle, the Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV, and to continue to prove our legacy of quality, dependability and reliability."

RTJ founder and team navigator Sergeant Major Rachael Ridenour, a 32-year U.S. Army combat veteran, will pair up with driver Master Sergeant Kristie Levy, a 25-year U.S. Army combat veteran and current federal law enforcement officer. Last year, the team piloted a minimally modified Mitsubishi Eclipse Cross to second place in the Crossover class.

Ford Bronco Sport

2021 Ford Bronco Sport

Photo courtesy of Rebelle Rally

Ford has joined the Rebelle Rally for the first time this year fielding three teams in stock Bronco Sport Badlands models. Competing in the Crossover class are teammates Shelby Hall and Penny Dale, experienced off-roaders and navigators; freelance automotive journalist Elana Scherr, who has covered off-roading for many years, and Betsy Anderson, an experienced off-road racer; as well as Ford employees Jovina Young, Brand Manager of Bronco Sport, and Erica Martin, Ford's Marketing Communications Manager for SUVs (shown above); both are novices to off-roading and rallies.

"The Rebelle Rally is a great match for Bronco Sport – with proven high-speed, off-road capability and best-in-class features to enable our teams to have the adventure of a lifetime," said Adrian Aguirre, Bronco Sport Project Manager. "Bronco Sport is designed for just that--to enable adventures in the outdoors and nothing says adventure more strongly than a rally raid event. You are heading out with nothing but instructions on how to get to that next waypoint, your thirst for overcoming challenges and confidence that your equipment is up to the task of getting you there.

"With Bronco Sport's twin-mechanical rear-drive unit, we are able to tailor the vehicle's behavior to different off-road conditions. This makes driving off-road easier and safer, and for the Rebelle Rally ultimately faster as a result. By using the GOAT modes, the driver will be able to select the appropriate drive mode and have the RDU adjust its behavior to match the terrain."

Infiniti QX80

2021 Infiniti QX80 Rebelle Rally

Photo courtesy of Infiniti Motors

Nicole Wakelin, a writer who covers the auto industry, and her navigator Alice Chase, will be in command of the 2021 Infiniti QX80 - the company's first entry into the Rebelle.

At Infiniti, we believe that luxury should be lived in and there are few who will test that theory more than our team in the Rebelle Rally this year," said Phil York, Infiniti General Manager of Global Marketing. "Ten days of navigating the desert in a QX80 will certainly showcase that our flagship SUV has as much grit as it has grace."

Nissan Frontier

2020 Nissan Frontier Rebelle Rally

Photo courtesy of Nissan North America

This updated pickup makes a debut at the Rebelle with a new 3.8-liter V6 engine that gets 310 horsepower and 281 pound-feet of torque; its new automatic nine-speed transmission is borrowed from bigger brother Titan but geared specifically for the midsizer.

"The 2020 Frontier focuses on the needs and demands of midsized truck owners in the U.S.," offered Melaina Vasko, Vehicle Program Development Manager. "Featuring the heart of the next-generation Frontier, it is the beginning of the end of an extraordinary era and the start of a new exciting era to come. Customers will notice more power, quicker gear shifts, and improved fuel economy making for an enjoyable ride whether on the highway or off the beaten path."

The legendary off-roader, will also get a boost from Nissan's aftermarket performance brand - NISMO. Frontier will showcase a new line of off-road parts, including a high-performance suspension kit, an off-road bumper, off-road lighting and off-road wheels.

"We are fired up to watch Team Wild Grace show current and future Nissan Frontier owners what this beast can do on some of the most extreme terrain in the country," said Michael Soutter, vice president, Nissan Aftersales U.S. "These new NISMO off-road parts, created by people who deeply understand trucks and the desire for ultimate off-road performance, will elevate Frontier to a new level of capability."

Nissan is the only automaker to sponsor a team every year since the Rebelle began in 2016. Team Wild Grace, with co-captains Sedona Blinson and Lyn Woodward, will pilot the vehicle.

Kia Telluride

2021 Kia Telluride Rebelle Rally

Photo courtesy of Kia Motors

The Kia Telluride is one of the most popular three-row SUVs in America. The 2021 version of the model will be the mode of transportation for Team Telluriders, a duo made up of Alyssa Roenigk, a senior writer at ESPN, and actor Sabrina Howells.

Sean Yoon, president & CEO, Kia Motors North America & Kia Motors America is also looking forward to following the Telluriders team. "This is a significant event for Kia," he said. "The Telluride is one of our most successful vehicles ever and the Rebelle Rally is a real test of its capability, durability and versatility. We expect it to perform extremely well and will be cheering on Alyssa and Sabrina as they take on this tough challenge."

The Telluriders are used to winning. Roenigk was part of the first U.S. team to win the Aïcha des Gazelle Rally in Morocco, and to-date, is the only American driver to win. Howells has competed in four consecutive Rallye Aïcha des Gazelles in Morocco, including the Expert Class in 2015. She competed in the Rebelle Rally in 2016, taking 1st place in the crossover class, and again in 2017, placing second.

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Electric pickup truck

Ford F-150 Lightning could get tank turn

Ford patented a tank turn feature in late 2020.

Ford

The F-150 Lightning is packed with cool tech and capability, but we're learning that Ford has even bigger plans for its first electric pickup. Inside EVs found an exciting document on the Lightning Owners Forum that shows ford applied to patent a tank turn feature like the one we saw Rivian pull off a few years ago, where the truck spins around a center point using its electric motors. Rivian's tank turn feature still hasn't made it to market, so it's possible that Ford beats them to the punch.

Ford F-150 LightningTank turn allows the truck to spin while almost completely stationary.Ford

Ford applied for the patent in October 2020, but it's just now making its way out. In the document, Ford gives an example of how it could work: "Methods, apparatus, systems and articles of manufacture are disclosed to perform a tank turn. An example vehicle includes a first wheel and a second wheel, the first wheel located on an end of a first axle, the second wheel located on an end of the second axle, the end of the first axle opposite to the end of the second axle, a first suspension coupled to the first wheel, a second suspension coupled to the second wheel, and a controller to drive the first axle in a first direction, drive the second axle in the second direction and decrease a first suspension load of the first suspension and a second suspension load of the second suspension."

As Inside EVs points out, Rivian's tank turn feature employs the R1 T's quad-motor setup to drive each wheel individually. The F-150 Lightning doesn't currently have a four-motor choice and instead offers two motors – one on each axle. It's important to note that Rivian patented tank turn and showed that it could work, but there hasn't yet been a production vehicle that offers the capability. Toyota filed a patent in 2019, but again it's just paperwork at this point.

Ford F-150 LightningNo automaker has brought tank turn to production yet.

To achieve the turn, Ford has a few options. The most obvious would be to offer a quad-motor upgrade in future model years. It's unclear if such a feature is in the works or if Ford plans to provide beefier versions of the Lightning, such as a Raptor variant with upgraded motors. The automaker could also design gearing to reverse the wheels on one side while the others drive forward, or it could use braking to lock the wheels and tighten the turning radius.

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New luxury EV

Lexus announces all-electric RZ 450e

Lexus just announced the new RZ 450e

Lexus

Lexus and Toyota have finally jumped onto the EV train, and we’ll soon see new all-electric SUVs from both. The Lexus variant, named RZ 450e, features a reasonable range, upscale interior, and neat all-wheel drive technology. We don’t have firm pricing for the Lexus, but expect it to start in the mid-to-high $40,000 range.

2023 Lexus RZRange is expected to reach 225 miles per chage. Lexus

The RZ shares a platform and much of its underlying engineering with the Toyota bZ4X and Subaru Solterra, but will take a more upscale approach. Though its size and overall shape are similar to the others, the Lexus’ exterior styling is sharper and sportier, with functional aerodynamic bodywork. A new Lexus logo is spelled out on the rear gate, instead of the traditional “L” of previous models.

The SUV comes with a 71.4-kWh battery that should deliver a range of around 225 miles on a charge. All-wheel drive is standard, and uses the RZ’s dual electric motors to shift power between the wheels that need it most.

Inside, the RZ features a minimalist, open space with controls meant to remind drivers of a horse’s reins. Ultrasuede upholstery and woodgrain trim come standard. Lexus notes the RZ’s head-up display is controllable via steering wheel-mounted buttons that handle navigation, audio, and other functions.

2023 Lexus RZThough similar to the Toyota bZ4X inside, the Lexus IS more upscale and minimalist. Lexus

Speaking of the steering wheel, the first RZs will be available with a round wheel only, but later on, Lexus will offer a yoke-style wheel like the one seen in the Toyota bZ4X concept and Tesla’s Plaid models.

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