Chicago Auto Show 2020

Refreshed Volkswagen Atlas gets bolder design, interior upgrades for 2021

Volkswagen has made upgrades to the Atlas, filling it with high-tech features.

Photo courtesy of Volkswagen AG

Volkswagen has refreshed its seven-seater SUV, the Atlas. For the 2021 model year, the model has gotten a bolder face, interior enhancements, and high-tech upgrades.

"The Atlas has been a huge success story for Volkswagen of America, helping us to position the brand with a greater emphasis on the family-friendly SUVs that consumers are buying," said Scott Keogh, president and CEO of Volkswagen Group of America. "This refreshed model brings all the functionality of the previous model, and ups the ante with new technology and more style."

2021 Volkswagen Atlas The Atlas is three-inches longer for the 2021 model year.Photo courtesy of Volkswagen AG

While the Atlas's underpinnings are the same, the 2021 model is three inches longer than the 2020 version because of new front and rear bumper designs. There's also new headlight and taillight designs that include LEDs. Unique bumpers, side skirts, 20- and 21-inch wheels, and R-line badging are available.

VW has also upgraded the Atlas's interior saying that it's now more comfortable than before and it delivers a more connected user experience. The long list of upgrades includes: a new steering wheel, available contrast-stitching on the leather seating surfaces and door trim, and an 8-inch Composition Media infotainment system on all models but the base S trim. Other available features include the Volkswagen Digital Cockpit, Fender Premium Audio System, ambient lighting, tri-zone Climatronic climate control, ventilated front seats, heated rear seats, wireless charging, and remote start.

The SUV also comes with VW's next-gen Car-Net telematics system. The system includes an updated mobile app, a long list of no-charge services for five years, and a variety of subscription options for customer flexibility—including in-car Wi-Fi capability when you subscribe to a data plan. The Car-Net hot spot connects with up to four devices simultaneously.

2021 Volkswagen Atlas V6 Atlas models can tow up to 5,000 pounds.Photo courtesy of Volkswagen AG

Volkswagen offers the Atlas equipped with a number of standard driver assistance technologies including forward collision warning and emergency braking with pedestrian detection, blind spot monitoring, and rear traffic alert. Adaptive cruise control with stop and go, lane keeping assist, park distance control, park steering assistant, a bird's eye view camera, traffic jam assist, and dynamic road signs display are available.

Buyers can choose between an Atlas equipped with a new 235-horsepower turbo-four engine or a 276-horsepower V6 one. Both engines are paired with an eight-speed automatic transmission. All-wheel drive is available with both engines. V6 models can tow up to 5,000 pounds, when equipped with the V6 Towing Package.

2021 Volkswagen Atlas Volkswagen has upgraded the models comfortability.Photo courtesy of Volkswagen AG

More details and pricing will be announced ahead of the launch in the Spring of 2020.

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The McLaren Artura is a new hybrid supercar.

Photo courtesy of McLaren

The McLaren Artura is the company's first series-production high-performance hybrid supercar and, like everything else McLaren does, they're not letting the natural forces of the Earth get into the way of a good time behind the wheel.

It's more than just a modern car. The Arturo is a way forward for McLaren. It's built on the McLaren Carbon Lightweight Architecture, a new platform that allows for engaging drive dynamics and a hybrid powertrain.

The car is designed to have a low-nose, cab-forward, high-tail stance. It has dihedral doors, a short wheelbase, and low stance. McLaren describes the car as looking "almost 'shrink-wrapped''.

Mclaren Artura The Artura is ready for the track or street.Photo courtesy of McLaren

Mclaren Artura

The Artura's powertrain features a twin-turbocharged 3.0-liter V6 engine that is paired with an electric motor and 7.4-kilowatt-hour battery pack. The power supply produces 671 brake horsepower and 531 pound-feet of torque. Up to 166 pound-feet of torque is available instantaneously, at the push of a throttle. That gets the car from zero to 60 mph in 3.0 seconds, zero to 124 mph in 8.3 seconds, and zero to 186 mph in 21.5 seconds.

The Artura's lithium-ion battery consists of five modules that are refrigerant called using cooling rails. The assembly is bolted onto the rear base of the monocoque. The car delivers 19 miles of all-electric range.

Owners charge the vehicle via a plug-in hybrid power outlet. It can be charged to an 80 percent level in just 2.5 hours with a standard cable. Batteries can harvest power from the V6 while the car is operational. That harvesting is tailored depending on the drive mode selected.

An eight-speed automatic transmission is standard. It pairs with McLaren's first electronic differential. It has an upgraded electro-hydraulic steering and Proactive Damping Control, which are deigned to enhance agility, stability, and dynamic performance.

McLaren Artura

Photo courtesy of McLaren

The total weight of all hybrid components is 287 pounds (194-pound battery pack and a 34-pound electric motor). The car has a dry weight of 3,075 and a wet weight of 3,303 pounds. That all-in weight is on-par with other supercars that aren't hybrids.

Four Powertrain models, including an E-mode for all-electric driving, Comfort mode for range and efficiency, Sport for more aggressive driving, and Track for premium performance. Separate handling mode choices adjust damper firmness and the degree of Electronic Stability Control intervention to suit driver preference and weather and road conditions. Drivers can choose Powertrain and Handling modes via a steering wheel control without their hands leaving the wheel.

The car's wheels are wrapped in next-gen Pirelli P Zero Corsa tires. The Cyber Tires generate real-time data and relay it to the car's stability control systems to optimize tire performance.

The interior sports standard power-adjustable seats and Homelink. Vehicle nose lift, power folding mirrors, carbon ceramic brakes, and soft close doors are also standard.

U.S. customers get standard power-adjustable heated Comfort Seats with memory. They can upgrade to new Clubsport seats that deliver the support of a bucket seat with a moveable backrest. The car's structure means that a 97.5th percentile (6ft 4in) driver can fit behind the wheel.

There are three further core specifications: Performance, which has a sporting, functional aesthetic; TechLux, where the focus is on the technical luxury that the name suggests; and Vision, which displays a more avant-garde and adventurous look and feel.

McLaren presents the Artura with a completely new interior featuring control buttons on the steering wheel, a new 8-inch high-definition infotainment touch screen, Apple CarPlay, and Android Auto. Two high-definition screens include an interface that is built on all-new software. A stealth mode on the main binnacle hides non-essential content on the screens.

The vehicle is capable of over-the-air updates.

McLaren is equipping the car with a number of advanced driver assistance systems (ADAS) including adaptive cruise control, lane departure warning, auto high-beam assist, and road sign recognition.

McLaren backs the Artura with a five-year new vehicle warranty, six-year battery warranty, and 10-year body warranty.

The McLaren Artura is priced to start at $225,000. The first deliveries of the car will commence in the third quarter of 2021.

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The Nissan Ariya has wind glide over it in the testing tunnel.

Photo courtesy of Nisan Motor Company

Nissan is targeting a drag coefficient (Cd) of 0.297 for the Ariya all-electric crossover. If it can make that number, it will be the company's most aerodynamic crossover to date. What does that mean? Let's take a closer look.

What is drag?

Simply put, drag is an aerodynamic force. It's mechanical in nature, so it is the result of the interaction of a solid body and a liquid. In the case of a car, this liquid is air. (Yes, air is a liquid.) It only occurs when one part of the equation (the solid body or the liquid) is in motion. If there is no motion, there is no drag.

Drag only occurs in the opposite direction of the object's movement. Think of a car cutting through the air as it drives down a north-south road. As the car heads north, the air it passes through is pushed south. The car is in motion; there is drag.

2022 Nissan Ariya

Photo courtesy of Nisan Motor Company

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What is coefficient of drag?

The coefficient of drag, also called a drag coefficient, is a number that aerodynamics professions (aerodynamicists) use to determine the shape, inclination, and flow conditions on a vehicle's drag. The shape of an object (bullet vs. square vs prism, etc.) has a large impact on the amount of drag created by airflow surrounding a vehicle. Objects with narrower front ends tend to have a lower coefficient.

Scientists and vehicle designers want to keep air moving around the car for maximum efficiency. The inclination of the airflow to either move in a smooth, connected pattern, or to be broken up with air sitting, stalling in one particular part of the vehicle, lessening airflow and making the vehicle less aerodynamic.

A vehicle's Cd is determined by plugging various measurements into an equation. Cd is equal to drag (D) divided by the quantity of density (r) multiplied by half the velocity (V) squared multiple by the reference area (A). As an equation, it looks like this: Cd = D / (A * .5 * r * V^2).

The smaller the Cd, the more aerodynamic a vehicle is.

2022 Nissan Ariya

The Nissan Ariya employs aerodynamic wheel design, made to help it cut though the air with greater ease.

Photo courtesy of Nissan North America

What is the coefficient of drag of the Nissan Ariya?

"With the growing shift towards electric mobility, aerodynamic testing is becoming increasingly important. The aerodynamics of electric vehicles are directly linked to how efficiently the vehicle moves – less drag and better stability allows the customer to drive longer distances before having to recharge," said Sarwar Ahmed, Aerodynamics and Aeroacoustics Engineer at Nissan Technical Centre Europe.

Nissan is targeting a 0.297 coefficient of drag for the Ariya. How will it achieve that number? By utilizing precisely shaped body lines and strategically placed air ducts, among other components. There's a bonus to better aerodynamics when it comes to EVs.

"Following official homologation of the Nissan Ariya later this year, we anticipate the range to improve compared to the 310 mile figure shared in 2020 during the World Premiere. This will give drivers more efficiency and confidence to go even further on a single charge," said Marco Fioravanti, VP Product Planning, Nissan Europe.

How does the Ariya's coefficient of drag compare to other Nissans?

The newest Nissans, the Kicks, Pathfinder, and Frontier, don't have their Cd publicly available yet, but other models have their results. The targeted 0.297 Cd in the Ariya is less than that in the 2021 Armada, Murano, and Rogue. But, it's higher than the Nissan Leaf.

The fact that it's higher than the Leaf is not surprising. Shorter cars tend to be more aerodynamic because they sit lower to the ground and have a smaller profile. That also explains why Nissan's largest and boxiest SUV, the Armada, has the highest number on the list.

How does the Ariya's coefficient of drag compare to numbers from other EVs?

The Nissan Ariya's coefficient of drag is higher than that of most other electric cars, crossovers, and SUVs sold in the U.S. Here's where the others measure up:

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