Electric Volkswagen dune buggy in the works, report says

VW is finally killing the Beetle next July, but there could be a Buggy in its future. A source inside the automaker told Autocar that a Myers Manx-inspired electric dune buggy is in the works. (The Meyers Manx was a common site on the sands of California’s beaches and deserts in the 1960s and 1970s.) VW … Continue reading “Electric Volkswagen dune buggy in the works, report says”

VW is finally killing the Beetle next July, but there could be a Buggy in its future.

A source inside the automaker told Autocar that a Myers Manx-inspired electric dune buggy is in the works.

(The Meyers Manx was a common site on the sands of California’s beaches and deserts in the 1960s and 1970s.)

VW never built its own dune buggy, but many were created using Beetle chassis, from which the body could be easily removed. In a similar fashion, the new one would be based on the company’s new battery-powered platform that has been designed to accommodate a variety of body styles, including compact hatchbacks and a minivan styled like the classic Microbus that’s been confirmed for production in a few years.

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According to the Autocar source, the open-top dune buggy features a freestanding windshield, oversized tires and a roll bar. VW has toyed with this idea before, most recently in 2011 when it revealed the gasoline-powered Buggy Up! Concept that never made it into production.

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Lending credence to the Autocar report, VW head designer Klaus Bischoff told Fox News Autos at the U.S. debut of the microbus last year that “we are also considering to bring back some open off-roadish vehicle that stands for a lot of fun.”

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Gary Gastelu is FoxNews.com’s Automotive Editor.

L.A. Auto Show: The 2020 Jeep Gladiator pickup is a Wrangler that hauls

LOS ANGELES – The 2020 Jeep Gladiator is ready to do battle in the midsize pickup segment.

(Jeep)

The long-awaited hauler is based on the Jeep Wrangler, and shares the iconic SUV’s style and off-road chops. It resurrects a name last used in 1972, and is Jeep’s first pickup since the Comanche ended production in 1992.

(Jeep)

About a yard longer than a four-door Wrangler Unlimited, the crew cab Gladiator has a five-foot bed, a removable roof and doors, and a windshield that can be folded down. That makes it the only open top-pickup, and then some. Black, body-color and soft top roofs will be offered for when you’d rather stay covered up.

(Jeep)

The body-on-frame ruck will launch next spring only as a 4×4 with a 285 hp 3.6-liter V6 and a choice of an eight-speed automatic or a six-speed manual transmission, but a 3.0-liter turbodiesel with the automatic is slated to join the lineup the following year. Equipped with solid axles in the front and rear, Jeep says the Gladiator will be able to tow up to 7,650 pounds and carry as much as 1,600 pounds in its steel bed and cab.

(Jeep)

The Toledo, Ohio-built Gladiator will be available in Sport, Sport S, Overland and Rubicon trim levels, with the Rubicon sporting the most extreme off-road capability. It comes with locking differentials, a detachable front sway bar, four skid plates, rock rails for the cabin and bed, steel cutaway bumpers, a lifted suspension and larger tires providing 11.1 inches of ground clearance, and the ability to wade through two and a half feet of water. The Rubicon also gets a Jeep-first front-mounted camera to help while navigating rough terrain.

(Jeep)

All Gladiators have a backup camera, and a blind-spot warning system, adaptive cruise control and automatic emergency braking will be offered on some models. The cabin is largely identical to the Wrangler’s, including its waterproof start/stop button, UConnect infotainment systems and storage bins underneath the flip-up and foldable rear seats.

(Jeep)

Gladiator prices have not been set, but a Wrangler Unlimited Sport starts at around $32,000, so it will likely be a bit higher than that.

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Gary Gastelu is FoxNews.com’s Automotive Editor.

‘Jeep Death Wobble’ reported on new Wrangler

An old problem has surfaced on the all-new Jeep Wrangler.

A handful of owners have reported experiencing the dreaded “Jeep Death Wobble” to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), according to the Detroit Free Press.

The issue, which hasn’t actually led to any known deaths or been officially deemed a safety hazard, is a violent vibration felt through the steering wheel, usually at high speeds.

Its cause is sometimes hard to pin down, but is typically blamed on loose or worn parts in the steering system for the Wrangler’s solid front axle. It’s also common in other vehicles that use a solid front axle, including heavy-duty pickup trucks and the Mercedes G-Class SUV.

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NHTSA told the Detroit Free Press that it is looking into the complaints. In the past, similar investigations resulted in the agency determining that the wobble did not pose a significant safety risk.

Jeep has nevertheless addressed Wrangler steering system problems through several Technical Service Bulletins over the years, which instruct mechanics how to deal with a known issue that doesn’t require a recall.

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Gary Gastelu is FoxNews.com’s Automotive Editor.

The Rivian R1S electric SUV is a very green off-road machine

LOS ANGELES – Hot on the heels of the reveal of its electric R1T pickup in Los Angeles on Monday night, startup automaker Rivan kept the pedal down on Tuesday and took the wraps off of the SUV that will share its battery-powered underpinnings.

The R1S three-row utility vehicle features the same futuristic headlights and overall styling of the pickup, but replaces its bed with a covered cargo area and third row of seats. It’s about the same size as the Land Rover Discovery and Range Rover that will likely be its primary, conventionally-powered competitors, and promises similar off-road capability, but with zero emissions.

The R1S will be offered with three battery sizes that Michigan-based Rivian claims will deliver from 250 miles to over 400 miles of range. Four individual electric motors, one for each wheel, provide all-wheel-drive and a precise power control on pavement, dirt and rocks, according to Rivian engineering director Mark Vinnels.

With a combined output of approximately 400 hp to 750 hp, depending on the model, the aluminum-bodied RS1 will be also able to tow 7700 pounds and accelerate to 100 mph in as little as 7 seconds. A standard air suspension can lift it high enough to provide 14 inches of ground clearance below its floor-mounted battery pack, which will be protected by composite and metal shielding.

(Rivian)

Despite the low placement of the battery pack and motors, Vinnels says the R1S can wade through over three feet of water and that its cabin is fully-sealed against leaks if you try. That’s also true for the 11 cubic-foot “frunk” storage compartment under the hood. Even if a couple of drips make it in to either, the R1S’s Chilewich carpets are washable.

And while the RS1 is aimed at adventurous types who like to drive themselves, Rivian says it will offer Level 3 autonomy, which is capable of self-driving in certain situations, like during highway cruising or while trudging along in stop-and-go traffic.

Rivan plans to start production of the R1S at its factory in Normal, Ill., in early 2021, a few months after the pickup goes on sale. Exact pricing hasn’t been announced, but the R1T is projected to start at $69,000.

MORE: THE R1T IS THE AMERICAN-MADE ELECTRIC PICKUP OF THE NEAR FUTURE

Gary Gastelu is FoxNews.com’s Automotive Editor.

‘Jeep Death Wobble’ reported on new Wrangler

An old problem has surfaced on the all-new Jeep Wrangler.

A handful of owners have reported experiencing the dreaded “Jeep Death Wobble” to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), according to the Detroit Free Press.

The issue, which hasn’t actually led to any known deaths or been officially deemed a safety hazard, is a violent vibration felt through the steering wheel, usually at high speeds.

Its cause is sometimes hard to pin down, but is typically blamed on loose or worn parts in the steering system for the Wrangler’s solid front axle. It’s also common in other vehicles that use a solid front axle, including heavy-duty pickup trucks and the Mercedes G-Class SUV.

Video

NHTSA told the Detroit Free Press that it is looking into the complaints. In the past, similar investigations resulted in the agency determining that the wobble did not pose a significant safety risk.

Jeep has nevertheless addressed Wrangler steering system problems through several Technical Service Bulletins over the years, which instruct mechanics how to deal with a known issue that doesn’t require a recall.

FOLLOW FOX NEWS AUTOS ON FACEBOOK FOR MORE

Gary Gastelu is FoxNews.com’s Automotive Editor.

The Rivian R1S electric SUV is a very green off-road machine

LOS ANGELES – Hot on the heels of the reveal of its electric R1T pickup in Los Angeles on Monday night, startup automaker Rivan kept the pedal down on Tuesday and took the wraps off of the SUV that will share its battery-powered underpinnings.

The R1S three-row utility vehicle features the same futuristic headlights and overall styling of the pickup, but replaces its bed with a covered cargo area and third row of seats. It’s about the same size as the Land Rover Discovery and Range Rover that will likely be its primary, conventionally-powered competitors, and promises similar off-road capability, but with zero emissions.

The R1S will be offered with three battery sizes that Michigan-based Rivian claims will deliver from 250 miles to over 400 miles of range. Four individual electric motors, one for each wheel, provide all-wheel-drive and a precise power control on pavement, dirt and rocks, according to Rivian engineering director Mark Vinnels.

With a combined output of approximately 400 hp to 750 hp, depending on the model, the aluminum-bodied RS1 will be also able to tow 7700 pounds and accelerate to 100 mph in as little as 7 seconds. A standard air suspension can lift it high enough to provide 14 inches of ground clearance below its floor-mounted battery pack, which will be protected by composite and metal shielding.

(Rivian)

Despite the low placement of the battery pack and motors, Vinnels says the R1S can wade through over three feet of water and that its cabin is fully-sealed against leaks if you try. That’s also true for the 11 cubic-foot “frunk” storage compartment under the hood. Even if a couple of drips make it in to either, the R1S’s Chilewich carpets are washable.

And while the RS1 is aimed at adventurous types who like to drive themselves, Rivian says it will offer Level 3 autonomy, which is capable of self-driving in certain situations, like during highway cruising or while trudging along in stop-and-go traffic.

Rivan plans to start production of the R1S at its factory in Normal, Ill., in early 2021, a few months after the pickup goes on sale. Exact pricing hasn’t been announced, but the R1T is projected to start at $69,000.

MORE: THE R1T IS THE AMERICAN-MADE ELECTRIC PICKUP OF THE NEAR FUTURE

Gary Gastelu is FoxNews.com’s Automotive Editor.

2019 Chevy Colorado adds new street and trail trims

Chevrolet is beefing-up its Colorado small pickup lineup as it prepares to face-off with the rebooted Ford Ranger next year.

The folks at the bowtie brand have dreamt up two new trims, one for the pavement and one for the dirt.

The RST trim is making its way across the Chevy trucks lineup. (Chevrolet)

The first is the Colorado RST, which borrows its street-smart looks from the Tahoe, Suburban and upcoming Silverado of the same name. It’s essentially a mid-level LT dressed with a CHEVROLET-branded grille, black accents and black 20-inch wheels.

The second is the Colorado Z71 Trail Runner, which gets a little more substance to go with its style. It takes the Z71 off-road package and adds the front and mid skid plates from the high-performance ZR2, rocker panel guards and a set of aggressive Goodyear Duratrac tires.

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Prices for the RST and Trail Runner have not been announced, but along with the recently-revealed, and very extreme ZR2 Bison, the Colorado will be available in eight trim levels for 2019.

Gary Gastelu is FoxNews.com’s Automotive Editor.

‘Jeep Death Wobble’ reported on new Wrangler

An old problem has surfaced on the all-new Jeep Wrangler.

A handful of owners have reported experiencing the dreaded “Jeep Death Wobble” to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), according to the Detroit Free Press.

The issue, which hasn’t actually led to any known deaths or been officially deemed a safety hazard, is a violent vibration felt through the steering wheel, usually at high speeds.

Its cause is sometimes hard to pin down, but is typically blamed on loose or worn parts in the steering system for the Wrangler’s solid front axle. It’s also common in other vehicles that use a solid front axle, including heavy-duty pickup trucks and the Mercedes G-Class SUV.

Video

NHTSA told the Detroit Free Press that it is looking into the complaints. In the past, similar investigations resulted in the agency determining that the wobble did not pose a significant safety risk.

Jeep has nevertheless addressed Wrangler steering system problems through several Technical Service Bulletins over the years, which instruct mechanics how to deal with a known issue that doesn’t require a recall.

FOLLOW FOX NEWS AUTOS ON FACEBOOK FOR MORE

Gary Gastelu is FoxNews.com’s Automotive Editor.