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Torsus Terrastrom puts all other minibuses on notice with 4x4 off-road capability

The Torus Terrastorm is designed to be nearly as off-road capable as a Jeep Wrangler.

Photo courtesy of Torsus

The Torsus Terrastrom follows right in the footsteps of the Praetorian. It's a minibus with tremendous off-road capability. Plus, it can seat up to 20.

Available as either right- or left-hand drive, the model is offered with the buyer's choice of a 2.0-liter biturbo diesel engine with either a 138 horsepower and 249 pound-feet of torque or 174 horsepower and 300 pound-feet of torque. The engine is paired with a six-speed manual or eight-speed automatic transmission.

Torsus Terrastrom

Torsus Terrastrom

Photo courtesy of Torsus

The whole rig rides on the Volkswagen Crafter/MAN TGE 4Motion chassis though engineering was done at the Torsus production plant in Slovakia. Off-road testing, designed to put the Terrastrom through the paces, commenced in the Czech Republic and Slovakia including at the Tatar testing ground.

"At Torsus, we believe that strong, rugged, commercial vehicles aren't only for working hours but can be used for fun as well," said Vakhtang Dzhukashvili, founder and CEO of Torsus. "The Terrastorm aims to break that tradition as we set new standards in this market. We have taken what we know from PRAETORIAN and translated it to a smaller overall footprint, but the dependability and toughness remain. By working with customers and listening to feedback and hearing their problems, we find solutions to create the ultimate off-road minibus."

Specific body trim has been crafted to protect the lower panels of the vehicle. There's an integrated winch (with a 5.5-ton capacity) and Duraluminum skid plate. Additionally, an off-road suspension (MacPherson struts and Bilstein B6 shtick absorbers up front, leaped springs and Ironman 4x4 Load Plus shock absorbers out back), all-wheel drive with locking rear differential, and side steps are fitted to the model as standard equipment.

Ironman 4x4 Adjustable Camber bolts are fitted to offer ± 1.75 degrees camber adjustment. Profender Dakar shock absorbers are available.

The bumper was designed with approach angles in mind. It houses LED high beams, daytime running lights, fog lights, and spotlights as well as the winch. The Terrastorm has ground clearance of 11.42 inches, approach and departure angles of 26 degrees and 20 degrees, and a wading depth of 27.17 inches. Potential buyers have the option to select the 'Deep Wave' pack allowing the Terrastorm to wade through up to 32.28 inches of water.

The model rides on heavy-duty 17-inch BF Goodrich All Terrain T/A KO2 tires.

Torsus offers the model in two trim levels: TT1 Coach and TT2 Nomad.

Upgrading to the TT2 Nomad gets the buyer a front metal bull-bar and rear light metal grilles, roof rack with integrated lights, spare tire rack, and rear ladder.

Depending on the model, the Terrastorm can accommodate nine to 20 passengers. The seats are upholstered in fabric and eco-leather. They are fitted with three-point seatbelts. Five-point harnesses are available for travelers expecting to encounter more rigorous terrain. Additionally, the Terrastorm's seating configuration can be position with swivel seats and multifunction tables.

Additional modifications can turn the Terrastorm into a camper van, MEDIVAC transport van, or cargo carrier.

The cockpit features a touch screen control panel above the infotainment system that controls heating, lighting, air conditioning, and speakers.

Additionally, a luggage rack that allows each seat to have lighting, air conditioning vents, and speakers can be installed.

Torsus prices the Terrastrom starting at €57,461. Deliveries will begin in the third quarter of this year.

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The CX-50 is surpsingly capable off-road.

Mazda

I have driven all of the Mazda vehicles that have been sold in the US market over the past three decades. On everyday roads and on racetracks. I’ve appreciated their “zoom-zoom”. Good power. Punchy torque just where it was needed. Well-balanced and sporty handling. A bit of growl for the versions that called for it. Plus, tasteful-but-modest styling and more or less elbow room, depending on the model. Mazda’s have been made for sports-car enthusiasts and to ferry families. But, I had never known a Mazda called an “overlander”. Until now.

2023 Mazda CX-50Towing capacity extends to 2,000 pounds.Mazda

The 2023 Mazda CX-50 moves this traction-sophisticated automaker into the lands where the pavement ends and now takes the brand ‘off-track’. Although it’s not a new thing for many of today’s carmakers to add a backcountry model or two to their lineup, it’s new for Mazda. I traveled to Santa Barbara, California to check out this all-new crossover built on Mazda’s seventh-generation small SUV platform that is shared with the smaller CX-30. This 5-passenger utility is longer, lower and wider than the CX-5 that rides on the previous generation’s underpinnings. The CX-50 has been crafted with a roomier second row and more cargo room for the goods and gear that weekend warriors and adventurers want to carry.

The CX-50 comes with a choice of two engines: a 2.5-liter, 4-cylinder engine with cylinder deactivation that gets 187 horsepower and 186 pound-feet of torque, and Mazda’s Skyactiv-G 2.5-liter turbo-charged powerplant with 256 horsepower and 320 pound-feet of torque; both shift through a six-speed automatic transmission. The sport ute can tow up to 2,000 lbs. with the naturally aspirated motor and up to 3,500 lbs. with the turbo-charged mill and Intelligent Drive Select (Mi-Drive) that brings a tow mode as well as Normal, Sport and Off-Road. The newest Mazda model has been made for North America only and is built in Alabama. It is the first Mazda vehicle with auto start/stop that can be deactivated.

2023 Mazda CX-50Mazda is a master of upscale interiors. Mazda

The new crossover starts at $26,800 and comes in S, S Select, S Preferred, S Preferred Plus, S Premium, and S Premium Plus with the base motor. Turb-charged versions come in Turbo, Turbo Premium, and Turbo Premium Plus that tops out at close to $42,000. A long list of technology and safety features are standard or available. Mazda says that Meridian, a fourth turbo trim will arrive soon with even more off-road cred; it will be set up with 18-inch black wheels AT, hood graphics and other backcountry goodies.

When you look at the CX-50, the first thing you’ll notice is exterior styling that speaks to its adventure-ready mission. Muscular bodywork, such as extra cladding, wide fender flairs and larger, more aggressive tires mean that this crossover has been designed not only to give a nod to the looks of a rugged crossover but to provide enhanced traction and a tad more suspension stretch for motoring over uneven terrain and along bumpy dirt roads. Planted on its haunches with functional air vents, it eschews minivan styling with a low and wide footprint that allows owners to have easy access to high-strength roof rails for loading gear on top; the roof has been made stronger than other Mazda crossovers to accommodate heavier loads, such as a roof-top tent. A panoramic moonroof- a first for Mazda- and attractive antiglare hood graphics and are tasteful additions.

The interior is attractive and roomy, with horizontal lines and “cleanable” surfaces as a nod to outdoor endeavors. Our Turbo Premium Plus model had bright orange reverse stitching that popped the cabin that has been crafted with uplevel trims and materials and brought heads-up display. A 7-inch infotainment screen is standard, while the top models get a 10.25-inch version. A wireless charging pad and Apple CarPlay and Android Auto are standard on all trims. Of note, is the rear power and programmable liftgate to the wide and deep rear cargo compartment, with a load floor that flush with the liftgate opening to help slide heavy items in and out of the back. An available line of cargo accessories makes stowage easier.

2023 Mazda CX-50The CX-50 is family roadtrip ready.Mazda

How did it handle over the 200-plus miles of our ride and drive? The Turbo Premium Plus CX-50 offers a lot like; many of its driving attributes are consistent with Mazda’s tuning and handling priorities across its product line. Traveling along coastal highways, carving mountainous twisties with tight turns and accelerating on flat and straight well-graded pavement, it has great Mazda manners: i.e., there is enough power and torque in the right bandwidth to move it well; precise steering with a slightly heavily-weighted leather-wrapped steering wheel and well-modulated brakes, especially with towing a 3,500-lb. load. We enjoyed using Sport mode for carving corners, as it brings elongated shifts from the six-speed automatic; a crisp response comes when sport shifting in “manual mode” and provides a quick throttle response.

We tried out the Off-Road mode on a course that included flat and uneven dirt roads, as well as hill climb and descent. Although there is no downhill descent control system, the brakes worked well, along with manual gearing. Of note, Mazda would be wide to add downhill descent engineering for steeper and slicker terrain. We were able to test the difference between Normal and Off-Road over a special section of the course with sandy corners and a winding track at a speed of 30 mph showing the improved traction in the Off-Road programming and the aid of Mazda’s G-Vectoring Control that brings a bit of magic to transfer torque to the wheels where it is needed to keep the intended track-think of it like an enhanced traction control program that helps with steering and yaw control.

2023 Mazda CX-50The CX-50 comes with off-road driving modes. Mazda

Other aids for off-road and backcountry travel are: the i-Activ All-Wheel Drive system that is standard equipment on all CX-50s, with a 50/50ish power transfer front to back; 8.6 inches of ground clearance; an 18-degree approach angle and a 24-degree departure angle; and an optional 360-degree camera system.

*EPA reports: base motor fuel economy 24 city/30 highway mpg, while the turbo option gets 23/29 mpg and can run on regular or premium fuel.

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New electric SUV

Honda teases its first EV

The Prologue will go on sale as a 2024 model.

Honda

Honda is nearing the unveiling of its first electric vehicle, the Prologue, and today the automaker gave us our first glimps of the new vehicle. It's just a sketch, but Honda did share some production details and information on its product roadmap.

Honda DealerHonda plans to sell half a million EVs by the end of the decade. Honda

Honda says the Prologue will be an adventure-ready SUV "capable of satisfying everyday driving and weekend getaways with a strong hint of the well-received Honda e in the front fascia." The SUV was developed in Honda's Design Studio in Los Angeles, and was designed with an eye on Honda's global EV models. Honda said it focused on aerodynamics and fine-tuning the body to reducelines and improve range.

The Japanese automaker developed the Prologue alongside GM, but it has other EVs coming to market by 2026. By 2030, Honda says it will release 30 new EVs globally with a production volume of two million units. The co-developed vehicle is the first, but the rest will be built on Honda e:Architecture. In 2027, the automaker will begin building and selling a line of affordable EVs using the architecture developed with General Motors. Honda says it plans to sell half a million EVs in North America by the end of hte decade.

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