New Model News

Volkswagen's "R" gets a new logo starting with 2020 Atlas Cross Sport

Volkswagen's iconic "R" logo is getting a 21st Century update.

Photo courtesy of Volkswagen AG

Volkswagen ushered in its highest level of popularity with the VW Beetle and alongside the development of that product came the VW R line.

In the 1970s, European Beetle enthusiasts begged the company to create a limited-edition version fo the Bug for rally driving. It would have an upgraded suspension and brakes. Volkswagen obliged, offering a well-equipped Beetle with a special yellow and black livery called the Beetle GSR or Gelb Schwartz Renner.

The spirit of that rally car would continue through the generations of Volkswagen vehicles extending through the Golf R and the company's R-Line trim levels that can be found on many modern VWs like the Jetta and Passat.

"Volkswagen R is all about excitement and thrill," says Jost Capito, Managing Director of Volkswagen R." In the future, we will continue to focus our efforts on integrating these emotions into the Volkswagen brand."

MK4 Volkswagen Golf R32

Photo courtesy of Volkswagen AG

This model got its power from a 3.2-liter six-cylinder engine.

The modern incarnation of Volkswagen R began in 2002 with the reveal of the first Golf R32, designed to be a hotter hatch than the typical Golf. Produced until 2005, the model came complete with a 3.2-liter six-cylinder engine and all-wheel drive. The engine pumped out 238 horsepower and was the world's first production car with a race-inspired dual-clutch automated manual gearbox.

When Volkswagen redesigned the Golf for the 2008 model year, the company sold a very limited number of 2008 Golf R32 models in the U.S., due in large part to the Great Recession. The redesign gave the model 250 horsepower but took away its manual transmission, opting instead for paddle shifters.

Two iterations later, the Golf R has reached its 2019 model year with a 288 horsepower and 280 pound-feet of torque rating. It can be had with either a six-speed manual or seven-speed DSG transmission. It starts at just over $40,000.

Earlier this year, Volkswagen introduced the 2020 Atlas Cross Sport and when the model arrives on dealership lots, a new version of the R logo will come with it.

"The R marks the athletic apex of our model program and the R logo serves as an expression of both aesthetics and sportsmanship," says Klaus Bischoff, Head of Volkswagen Design.

The new logo was designed at the Volkswagen Design Center in Santa Monica, California.

The Hyundai Venue is new to the U.S. for the 2020 model year.

Photo courtesy of Hyundai Motor America

If you thought it didn't get any smaller than the subcompact Hyundai Kona, you were wrong. Hyundai's new, smaller SUV, the 2020 Hyundai Venue, has made its way to the U.S. market. Here's a quick look at everything you need to know.

Hyundai developed the model to be budget-friendly.

Research indicated that people often pass up buying new cars because they are too expensive, but then they miss out on the latest safety and infotainment tech. Hyundai wanted to create a vehicle that would cost as much as a used car but have all new equipment.

2020 Hyundai Venue The backside of the Venue reveals a wide opening trunk.Photo courtesy of Hyundai Motor America

The Venue comes in three trim levels.

Buyers get to choose between the base SE, SEL, or top-tier Denim model. All the models come with the same engine but the base model has a six-speed manual transmission as opposed to the Venue SEL and Denim's intelligent variable transmission. SEL and Denim models of the front-wheel drive SUV have three drive modes: normal, sport, and snow.

The Nissan Kicks isn't very quick. What is the engine like in the Venue?

The Venue is powered by a 1.6-liter four-cylinder. It's peppier than the Kicks but nothing too exciting. Still, you'll feel like you have plenty of power at speed.

2020 Hyundai Venue The interior of the Venue features a standard 8-inch infotainment screen.Photo courtesy of Hyundai Motor America

Hyundai has loaded the Venue with a solid list of safety features.

Standard and available safety features include:

  • Forward Collision-Avoidance Assist (FCA) uses the car's front-facing camera to help detect an imminent collision and avoid impact or minimize damage by braking
  • Lane Keeping Assist (LKA) helps prevent accidental lane departure by sensing road markings automatically steering the car if necessary.
  • Blind-Spot Collision Warning (BCW) helps detect approaching vehicles that may be obscured from view during highway
  • Driver Attention Warning (DAW) system monitors a spectrum of driver-related characteristics to help detect driver fatigue or careless
  • Rear Collision Cross-Traffic Warning (RCCW) helps detect when a vehicle may have entered a car's rearward path providing a driver

It's supposed to cost as much as a used car. What's the MSRP?

Hyundai sells the Venue SE for $17,350. The SEL is $19,250 and the Venue Denim is $22,050. That MSRP does not include the destination charge. Remember, most dealers are willing to negotiate on prices.

So it's a cheap car. Does it look cheap inside?

The short answer is no. The Venue Denim has nicer appointments than many mid-grade trucks on the market that cost a fair amount more. The designer of the HVAC system controls should be proud that they're both easy to use and attractive while looking like little else currently on the market.

The seats are comfortable.

Most low-cost SUVs and cars have seats that aren't comfortable for any length of time. The Venue is the exception to this rule.

When does it go on sale.

The Hyundai Venue is currently for sale at dealerships nationwide.

The Ford Escape and Explorer are two formidable SUVs.

Photo courtesy of Ford Motor Company

Both the 2020 Ford Escape and the 2020 Ford Explorer are meant for consumers of all kinds, from the parent carting their kids to sports practices to the avid outdoor explorer. The vehicles have both form and function – they will get you where you need to go and will do so in style. Ford has completely redesigned the SUVs from the ground up for the 2020 model year.

Driving these vehicles back to back emphasized their commonalities. Both can comfortably transport you, your passengers, and your cargo. On the surface, the primary differentiator between the two vehicles is the number of rows. The Explorer's three-row, six-passenger standard configuration allows you to transport more passengers and/or cargo than the Escape's two-row/five-passenger setup.

2020 Ford Escape The Ford Escape was redesigned for the 2020 model year.Photo courtesy of Ford Motor Company

Here's a little more information to help inform your decision.

2020 Ford Escape

The Escape comes in five trim levels: S, SE, SE Sport, SEL, and Titanium.

The SUV's new powertrains give greater fuel economy and better range. Ford offers four powertrain choices for the Escape: 1.5-liter EcoBoost, 2.0-liter EcoBoost, 2.5-liter hybrid, or 2.5-liter plug-in hybrid (PHEV). The 2.5-liter hybrid engine is most fuel efficient. The EcoBoost powertrains are paired with eight-speed automatic transmission. The hybrid and plug-in powertrains are paired with PowerSplit, an electronic continuously variable transmission.

The Escape feels spacious due to smart design. A dial shifter frees up space between front row seats, and a sliding second row offers optimal flexibility between legroom and cargo space. When the second row is fully indexed forward (six inches), the trunk can accommodate a normal sized dog crate. Unlike the Explorer, the Escape does not have a third row of seats. The way the second-row seats move is one of the most impressive parts of the Escape. It is easily configurable to accommodate passengers and cargo.

2020 Ford Escape The Ford Escape has a large cargo area.Photo courtesy of Ford Motor Company

Despite its spacious interior, the vehicle feels compact and maneuvers easily on both surface streets and freeways. The Escape swings easily into parking spaces and has good visibility so you don't have to rely on a camera to get between the lines.

Driver assist technology, including a blind spot information system, lane-keeping system, and automatic emergency braking come standard on the Escape in a suite called Ford Co-Pilot360. Additional safety and driver assist technologies are available as part of options packages.

2020 Ford Escape The interior of the Escape is logically set up.Photo courtesy of Ford Motor Company

According to Ford, the Escape's main competitors are the Chevrolet Equinox, Honda CR-V, and Toyota RAV4. The Dearborn, Michigan-based automaker is quick to point out that the Escape distinguishes itself from these competitors with its technological capabilities, interior flexibility and styling, and distinctive looks.

The Escape is a great choice for anyone looking for an attractive vehicle suitable for errand-running, exploring, and anything in between. This vehicle offers the flexibility and functionality that today's consumers need. The Escape looks just as at home parked outside a restaurant while you enjoy a fancy dinner as it does perched next to a mountain stream while you set up your campsite.

2020 Ford Explorer

Ford offers three powertrain choices for the Explorer: 2.3-liter EcoBoost four-cylinder, 3.3-liter hybrid, or 3.0-liter EcoBoost V6. The Explorer is as fuel efficient as a 2020 Honda Pilot but not as efficient as the 2020 Toyota Highlander.All engines are paired with a ten-speed automatic transmission. Driving the Explorer with the EcoBoost engine felt smoother than driving an Escape with an EcoBoost engine.

2020 Ford Explorer The 2020 Explorer got a complete redesign and now rides on a rear-wheel drive platform.Photo courtesy of Ford Motor Company

The Explorer is available with three rows of seats but the Escape is not. Driving the Explorer at first felt like driving a minivan, but it quickly became clear that the vehicle is easily maneuverable on both surface streets and freeways. Despite its length, the Explorer was easy to park.

According to Ford, the Explorer is the bestselling SUV in the U.S. More than six million Explorers have been sold since the vehicle's introduction in 1991. The 2020 iteration is the sixth generation of this vehicle. This Explorer has the SUV's broadest lineup ever: Base (fleet only), XLT, Limited/Limited Hybrid, ST, and Platinum.

The wheelbase of the Ford Explorer was expanded for the 2020 model year by six inches, meaning that the front and rear axles are six inches further apart than they previously were. This positively affected the capability and looks of the SUV both inside and outside allowing the vehicle to feel more planted on the road in this new generation.

2020 Ford Explorer The 2020 Explorer shares many of the design hallmarks of the last-get Explorer.Photo courtesy of Ford Motor Company

The Explorer feels more spacious (although it expanded by no more than a tenth of an inch in any direction). Passengers have more leg and shoulder room and the trunk can fit more cargo. The SUV has improved departure and approach angles for off-roading.

It can now tow up to 5,600 pounds (one of the highest towing capacities in the segment) whereas previously it had a towing capacity of 5,000 pounds.

The engine and transmission are now mounted north-south, giving the vehicle a nearly 50-50 weight distribution, which helps it feel balanced and agile.

The Explorer also has great technical abilities, including autonomous emergency breaking, reverse break assist, traffic sign recognition, and side wind stabilization.

2020 Ford Explroer The 2020 Explorer features a large 10-inch screen in the center of its dashboard in premium models.Photo courtesy of Ford Motor Company

The SUV has a focus on human-centered design. The configurable cargo management system allows you to hold a variety of cargo, from groceries to sporting equipment. Step cleats allow easy access to the top of the vehicle. A console in the second row allow passengers to store beverages and other items. Its low profile ensures that the third row is still easily accessible.

According to Ford, the Explorer's main competitors are the Chevrolet Traverse, Honda Pilot, and Toyota Highlander. Reasons to choose the Explorer over its competitors are its range, horsepower, and long list of standard equipment.

The 2020 Ford Escape and the 2020 Ford Explorer can take you from the mall to the mountains and do so with panache. As Lee Newcombe, Explorer Marketing Manager at Ford, summed it up, all of the vehicles' features are "meant to make your daily drive or your adventure drive easier on you".

What may not be easy on you is the price tag. The 2020 Ford Explorer starts around $32,000 and tops out well over $58,000. The Escape is more cost-effective coming in with a starting MSRP of $24.885 and reaching $33,550 in its top Titanium trim.