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These are the best vehicle brands according to U.S. News & World Report

Some of the winners are repeat customers but a few of the results may surprise you.

Photo courtesy of Mazda

U.S. News & World Report has ranked the vehicle industry's brands from worst to first. The list of this year's Best Vehicle Brand award winners includes companies that are based across the globe, including one from Michigan.

"Deciding where to start looking for a new car, truck or SUV can be one of the most overwhelming parts of buying a car," said Jamie Page Deaton, executive editor of U.S. News Best Cars. "The Best Vehicle Brands provides consumers with the greatest possible starting point, no matter what type of vehicle they're shopping for."

To determine the award winners, U.S. News Best Cars averaged the overall score each model of the given brand's products received in U.S. News ratings. The brand with the highest overall average score was named the winner in the category.

Best Car Brand: Mazda

2019 Mazda Mazda6

Photo courtesy of Mazda

For the fifth consecutive year, Mazda won this car class on the strength of its cars, the Mazda3, Mazda6, and Mazda MX-5 Miata. According to U.S. News, all three models have, "top-notch performance that puts an emphasis on direct, sporty handling, as well as quality interiors that are more upscale than their price tags might suggest."

Best SUV Brand: Kia

2020 Kia Telluride

Photo courtesy of Kia Motors

Honda has won this category for the last four years but this year Kia broke through because of the variety and quality of its lineup, which spans the subcompact Niro to the three-row Telluride. Kia models also come with long warranties, premium interiors (in top trims), and good fit and finish.

Best Truck Brand: Ram

2020 Ram 1500 Big Horn

Photo courtesy of Fiat Chrysler Automobiles N.V.

Though Ford has higher sales, Ram has overtaken it in this category. This year is the first time that Ram has edged out its Dearborn competition. The Ram 1500 is a big part of why the company won here, with its coil-over suspension that makes the Ram comfortable whether you're commuting and capable of doing serious towing and hauling. Ford models also can't match the quality and design of the Ram's interior.

Best Luxury Brand: Porsche

2020 Porsche Macan Turbo

Photo courtesy of Porsche

Porsche has held on to the win in this category for the fifth straight year. Why? Because of its well-rounded lineup, which includes thoroughly modern SUVs and cars. Porsche vehicles are fun to drive, no matter the model, and come in a variety of trim levels to suit driver desires.

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Domino's and Nuro announced their partnership in 2019 — and now the robots are hitting the roads.

Photo courtesy of Nuro

After announcing their partnership to work on pizza deliveries via self-driving robots in 2019, Dominos and Nuro have officially rolled out their technology to one part of town.

Beginning this week, if you place a prepaid order from Domino's in Woodland Heights (3209 Houston Ave.), you might have the option to have one of Nuro's R2 robot come to your door. This vehicle is the first do deliver completely autonomously without occupants with a regulatory approval by the U.S. Department of Transportation, according to a news release.

"We're excited to continue innovating the delivery experience for Domino's customers by testing autonomous delivery with Nuro in Houston," says Dennis Maloney, Domino's senior vice president and chief innovation officer, in the release. "There is still so much for our brand to learn about the autonomous delivery space. This program will allow us to better understand how customers respond to the deliveries, how they interact with the robot and how it affects store operations."

Orders placed at select dates and times will have the option to be delivered autonomously. Photo courtesy of Nuro

Nuro Domino's delivery vehicle

The Nuro deliveries will be available on select days and times, and users will be able to opt for the autonomous deliveries when they make their prepaid orders online. They will then receive a code via text message to use on the robot to open the hatch to retrieve their order.

"Nuro's mission is to better everyday life through robotics. Now, for the first time, we're launching real world, autonomous deliveries with R2 and Domino's," says Dave Ferguson, Nuro co-founder and president, in the release. "We're excited to introduce our autonomous delivery bots to a select set of Domino's customers in Houston. We can't wait to see what they think."

California-based Nuro has launched a few delivery pilots in Houston over the past few years, including the first Nuro pilot program with Kroger in March 2019, grocery delivery from Walmart that was revealed in December 2019, and pharmacy delivery that launched last summer.

From being located in a state open to rolling out new AV regulations to Houston's diversity — both in its inhabitants to its roadways, the Bayou City stood out to Nuro, says Sola Lawal, product operations manager at Nuro.

"As a company, we tried to find a city that would allow us to test a number of different things to figure out what really works and who it works for," Lawal says on an episode of the Houston Innovators Podcast. "It's hard to find cities that are better than Houston at enabling that level of testing."

You can find out which self-driving vehicles are being tested in your neck of the woods by clicking here.


This article first appeared on AutomotiveMap's sister site InnovationMap.

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The 2021 Volkswagen ID.4 is on sale now.

Photo courtesy of Volkswagen AG
The all-electric range of the 2021 Volkswagen ID.4 has been confirmed. The model is the first modern electric Volkswagen to be sold in the U.S. and a model that the German automaker is resting a lot of hopes on for the future of sales in the country.

The 2021 Volkswagen ID.4 Pro with all-wheel drive will achieve an EPA-estimated 260 miles of all-electric range on a full charge. The ID.4 Pro S and 1st Edition, which have more features and equipment and therefore weigh more, achieve an estimated 250 miles of range.

The EPA-estimated fuel economy for ID.4 Pro RWD is 107 MPGe in the city; 91 MPGe on the highway, and 99 MPGe combined. The ID.4 Pro S and 1st Edition does slightly worse achieving 104 MPGe in the city, 89 MPGe on the highway, and 97 MPGe combined.

2021 Volkswagen ID.4: Exterior The "1st" badging denotes the vehicle as a first edition model. Photo courtesy of Volkswagen AG

These new numbers come as part of a second round of EPA testing. Original testing found that the model did not quite hit its target.

How does that compare to other EVs? The Nissan Leaf Plus offers 226 miles of all-electric power. The Hyundai Kona Electric delivers 258 miles. Volvo's XC40 Recharge has just 208 miles of all-electric range but the Tesla Model Y can go up to 326 miles on one full charge.

First out of the Volkswagen gate will be ID.4 models with an 82-kilowatt-hour battery and rear-mounted AC permanent-magnet synchronous motor. That system delivers 201 horsepower and 228 pound-feet of torque.

At a public DC fast-charging station with 125 kW charging, the ID.4 can go from five to 80 percent charged in about 38 minutes. With purchase, ID.4 owners receive three years of unlimited charging at Electrify America DC Fast Chargers at no additional cost.

The 2021 ID.4 is on sale now, with pricing for the rear-wheel-drive ID.4 Pro starting at $39,995 MSRP, before a potential Federal tax credit of up to $7,500. The Pro S carries an MSRP of $44,495. The limited-run ID.4 1st Edition, which sold out the day the vehicle was launched, carried an MSRP of $43,995.

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