Auto Industry News: 2018 Off-Road Expo Thrills Enthusiasts, Specs Emerge for the 2019 Ford Ranger, Honda Bets Big on GM Cruise, & Cadillac Goes Autonomous

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This week we’re recapping celebrations—enthusiasts kicked up plenty of dust at the 2018 Off-Road Expo in California. And speaking of dirt, new details emerged on the 2019 Ford Ranger to keep your mouth watering for the debut. Meanwhile, Honda is dumping an insane amount of money into the self-driving GM Cruise. And Cadillac gets in on the autonomous game as well, giving Tesla a run for its money. All that and more in this week’s Auto Industry News.

2018 Off-Road Expo

Last week was the 2018 Off-Road Expo in Pomona, California. Off-road enthusiasts came out in full force to see what’s new in the world of trailblazing and the products to get you through parts unknown. Put on by Lucas Oil and powered by General Tire, it’s applauded for being the greatest collection of all-things-off-road assembled in one place. No exception, this year’s 2018 Expo did not disappoint. The highlight, as usual, came with SCORE releasing details on its new track for the upcoming Baja 1000. Apparently this year has some wickedly challenging additions, like a new hilly trail south of Puertocitos to Gonzaga Bay before Coco’s Corner.

And while the racing scene got hyped for what’s to come, there was a lot of action right on expo grounds! Smittybilt, Rubicon Express, and ProComp built a mini trail course, providing rides in their JK to give the people a taste of off-road life with their products. On top of that, vendors set up shop, while collectors and builders showed their stuff. From military relics like a custom Cummins Willys to a neon blue Bronco, the 2018 Off-Road Expo delivered something for everyone.

2019 Ford Ranger Details

Speaking of getting hyped, loyalists of the blue oval are thrilled to learn more about the revived Ranger. According to company reports, the 2019 iteration will generate 270 hp and 310 lb-ft of torque with its turbocharged 2.3-liter four-cylinder engine. The four-cylinder setup has had some scratching their heads, but Ford wants the emphasis to be on performance, because perform it does.

According to Motor Trend, the 2019 Ford Ranger “produces more torque than any other gas-powered midsize pickup truck on the market.” Competitive counterparts, the Toyota Tacoma and Chevy Colorado (both V6s), generate 265 and 275 lb-ft of torque respectively. But that’s not the only cat Ford let out of the bag. Apparently the new Ranger has a maximum towing capacity of 7,500 pounds, which outdoes the aforementioned competitors again (not counting the Colorado diesel). Slowly but surely, the return becomes real!

Honda Bets Big on Self-Driving GM Cruise

Honda surely hopes for a different sort of return after throwing some serious money toward the future. The automaker has reportedly invested $2.75 billion in GM’s autonomous car division. They initially laid down $750 million for the collaborative development of a vehicle for Cruise, General Motor’s self-driving sect. The remaining $2 billion is set to be paid out over the course of the next twelve years.

Cruise showed the etchings of its concept “AV” earlier this year, which was modeled after the successful Chevy Bolt. Now Honda has jumped in line to get a piece of that pie. It makes sense for them, as they’ve collaborated with GM before, laying out the plans for more efficient and reliable battery technology earlier this year. Cruise hopes to make the autonomous vehicle more commercial. Whether we’re ready or not, the financial figures imply that may soon be our reality.

Cadillac Out-Tests Tesla

The autonomy game, despite what some may think, does not revolve around Tesla. And a few hope to set that record straight. The Cadillac Super Cruise, its semi-autonomous driving system, recently finished first in Consumer Reports’ comparative system test. Tesla grabbed second.

But the Cadillac (and likely the market at large) is glad that an objective assessment of capabilities, safe operation, and monitoring “driver” attention can highlight the ways in which the market has expanded. In addition to Tesla, Cadillac Super Cruise also beat out the likes of Nissan ProPilot Assist and Volvo’s Pilot Assist.

Around the Circuit

In an overtime that followed a massive wreck, Chase Elliot emerged victorious at Dover in this week’s playoff event. The win guarantees Elliot’s spot in the round of 8. It is Elliot’s second win of the season, as he nabbed another earlier this year at Watkins Glen. He fended off Denny Hamlin, who began in the pole position and raced well throughout the course of the day. But it was Elliot who prevailed in the thrilling final lap.

Though it wasn’t a great day for some other veterans. Jimmie Johnson, who has the Dover record with 11 wins, hit the garage early and now sees his dream of an 8th Cup vanish. Next week the field will fight it out at Talladega.

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