Kia Recalls Certain 2020 Sedona Minivans

 Recalls  Comments Off on Kia Recalls Certain 2020 Sedona Minivans
Jul 202020
 

Latino Traffic Report has learned that Kia Motors America (KIA) is recalling certain 2020 Sedona vehicles. The battery positive (B+) terminal nut on the alternator may not have been tightened properly during assembly, possibly causing it to loosen over time. If the alternator B+ terminal nut loosens, electrical arcing may result, increasing the risk of a fire.

Kia will notify owners, and dealers will inspect the alternator B+ terminal nut, tightening it as necessary, free of charge. The recall is expected to begin August 14, 2020. Owners may contact Kia customer service at 1-800-333-4542. Kia’s number for this recall is SC192.

Owners may also contact the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration Vehicle Safety Hotline at 1-888-327-4236 (TTY 1-800-424-9153), or go to www.safercar.gov.

Muscle Car Review: Mustang Bullitt

 Ford, Reviews  Comments Off on Muscle Car Review: Mustang Bullitt
Jun 302020
 

Which came first, the Mustang Bullitt or the 1968 movie with the same name? Apparently, it was the latter. Two Mustang GT fastback models were used in the movie and then Ford adopted the name to release a Bullitt of its own in 2001.

In 2018, Ford re-introduced the iconic fastback for the 2019 model year and Latino Traffic Report recently got to test it. In a nutshell, fans of the Bullitt’s reputation for power, performance, and a loud engine rumble will not be disappointed but more timid drivers will be compelled to push the throttle too.

The fun begins with the Bullitt’s upgraded 5.0-liter V8 engine that delivers at least 475 horsepower and 420 lb.–ft. of torque, pushing it to a top speed of 163 miles per hour (mph), an eight mph increase over the latest Mustang GT. As an added treat, all Bullitts come with a six-speed manual transmission featuring a cue ball shift knob like the original—an automatic transmission is not an option.

Retuned exhaust tips give the car a signature roar, as well as a new Open Air Induction System and Shelby GT350 intake manifold. The adjustable exhaust mode cranks it up further for those who really want to make noise.

Not that it matters, especially for Bullitt enthusiasts, but the fuel economy for this muscle car was better than expected. The EPA estimated miles per gallon (mpg) wasn’t even included on the Monroney (window sticker) but it did average 23.7 mpg on the test drive.

Only two color choices exist for the Bullitt, Dark Highland Green and Shadow Black, the test model came in the latter. It was accented by chrome around the grille and front windows, 19-inch five spoke heritage aluminum wheels, red painted Brembo brakes, and a unique black front grille.

There’s also plenty of Bullitt badging throughout, like on the illuminated door sill scuff plates, in the instrument cluster, and on the driver air bag cover.

Pony reflected on the ground from the side mirror as driver approaches the Bullitt.

The Bullitt comes with all the standard equipment included on the GT Premium trim level, like selectable drive modes with toggle switches, dual-zone climate control, heated and cooled leather front seats (the fan for cooling, however, was loud), the Sync3 voice recognition communications and entertainment system with an eight-inch touchscreen with Pinch-to-Zoom capability, and Apple CarPlay and Android Auto.

As a top-of-the-line trim level the Bullitt adds a 12-inch all-digital LCD instrument cluster with a unique Bullitt welcome screen that starts in green with an image of the car rather than the pony, green accent stitching and a heated leather steering wheel.

The test model also included Recaro black leather seats and the Bullitt Electronics Package ($2,100) that added a blind spot monitor with Rear Cross Traffic Alert, a Bang & Olufsen sound system, a CD Player, HD radio, and navigation.

Pricing for the 2020 Mustang starts at $26,670. The as-tested pricing for the Bullitt came to $51,290.

Original 1968 Mustang from movie Bullitt.

Sí: The Bullitt lives up to its reputation for power, speed, and thrilling ride.

No: The lack of access to a blind spot monitor across the lineup was disappointing and the seats were difficult to program.

Ford and Houston Area Dealerships Award $100,000 to High School Seniors

 Noticias  Comments Off on Ford and Houston Area Dealerships Award $100,000 to High School Seniors
Jun 142020
 

Latino Traffic Report has learned that Ford Motor Company Fund and Houston area Ford dealers, assisted by the LULAC National Education Service Centers (LNESC) awarded $100,000 in Ford Driving Dreams scholarships to 50 senior high school students from more than 40 schools that participated in the “What Drives Your Dreams?” essay contest. This is the fifth year that Ford helps Houston students pursue their academic dreams of going to college. 

The scholarships recipients were announced during a virtual ceremony June 2, 2020.  Graduates and parents heard from Ford speakers and Ross Bjork, athletic director at Texas A&M, who congratulated the seniors on their achievements and encouraged them to stay committed to their academic dreams. 

“At Ford Fund we are proud to award scholarships to these talented students,” said Joe Ávila, manager, United States & Latin America, Ford Motor Company Fund. “Education is a priority for Ford, and we are committed to helping create a better quality of life by investing in the education of our youth, which is why we have adapted our programs to enable us to continue empowering students amidst the many challenges resulting from COVID-19.”   

Ford Driving Dreams has impacted more than 200,000 students across the United States, Puerto Rico, Latin America and Europe since it was launched in 2012. The initiative has delivered more than $10 million in educational resources and scholarships administered by the LNESC. For more information, visit www.FordDrivingDreams.com. Find us at @FordDrivingDreams in Facebook and Instagram and follow the stories with #forddrivingdreams and #fordimpulsandosueños.

Used Cars and Repairs

 Used Car Diary  Comments Off on Used Cars and Repairs
May 302020
 

January 4

ODO 184,684

It’s generally understood that buying a used car carries some risk, but for many, it’s the most affordable option. Tools like CARFAX that tell a buyer what repairs have been made on a certain vehicle can help as well as the car’s total mileage (10,000 miles per year is recommended). Some even spend money to take a the car to a mechanic to give it a good once over. I didn’t do that, nor did I remember to request the CARFAX on the 2007 Toyota Yaris, a.k.a. the Bunny, that I eventually bought. I knew the mileage was high and the tires would need replacing but it drove well and seemed solid, so I bought it.

Six months later it was indeed equipped with four new tires, but on the way back from work, luckily less than three miles from home, I noticed that the hot engine light came on. When I got home, I checked under the hood and found that liquid had spilled inside the engine compartment and on the floor of the garage. What could it be? I had no clue but I knew I couldn’t drive it.

One thing I did invest in as a used car owner was roadside assistance, namely AAA. I knew the Bunny needed to see a mechanic but also that a car this old may need to go to the source to get a proper diagnosis as well as parts, so after I called AAA to get the Bunny towed, I also set up an appointment with Charles Maund Toyota. It may cost more to get your car serviced at a dealership, even with the 10 percent discount they offer and free shuttle to and from the dealership, but I saw it as an investment in my peace of mind.

It took less than an hour to find out that the water pump had broken. After replacing that and the drive belt—I was told that it might start slipping since it had gotten wet—and the rear wiper blade—I thought I’d throw that in for good measure—I was out $481.96.

No car repair is welcome news but as a used car owner, it helps to have a back-up plan, e.g. mechanic and insurance, that makes the process a little less painful. For now, I’m sticking with AAA and Charles Maund Toyota.

Sedan Appeal: New Models Help Sustain the Segment

 Features  Comments Off on Sedan Appeal: New Models Help Sustain the Segment
Apr 292020
 
Volvo S60

Sedan sales may be down, but the segment is definitely not out. While domestic carmakers abandoned them, import carmakers continued to build them, including redesigns of existing nameplates. Latino Traffic Report (LTR) recently test-drove four very elegant 2020 models—the Kia K900, Toyota Avalon Hybrid, Volvo S60, and Lexus LS 500—that offered ample legroom and plenty of bells and whistles.

Toyota Avalon Hybrid XSE

Toyota Avalon Hybrid

Redesigned for 2019, the fifth-generation Avalon marked its twenty-fifth anniversary this year. As Toyota’s top-of-the-line sedan, it naturally elicits great expectations for its comfort and luxury but as a hybrid, the text model set hopes even higher for standard features and fuel economy.

Its interior roominess belied its midsize sedan designation. Toyota extended the rear cabin further by another seven inches so that rear legroom and trunk space measure 40.3 inches and 16.09 cu. ft., respectively and included numerous cubbies for storage.

At the heart of this hybrid is the 2.5-liter four-cylinder Toyota Hybrid System II with a 650-volt electric motor and Continuously-Variable Transmission (CVT). These elements combine to produce 176 horsepower and 163 lb.–ft. of torque. They also give the Avalon Hybrid an EPA estimated fuel efficiency of 43 miles per gallon (mpg) in the city and on the highway. Utilizing the Eco and EV modes (Normal and Sport are also included) it achieved an average rating of 38.9 mpg during the weeklong test drive.

Standard safety features in the Toyota Safety Sense package include pre-collision warning with pedestrian detection, and range dynamic cruise control among other features. The blind spot monitor with rear cross traffic detection and Safety Connect roadside assistance are also standard.

Creature comforts on all hybrids include dual-zone climate control, the Entune infotainment system with a nine-inch touch screen, access to Amazon Alexa and Apple Car Play, and a seven-inch display in the gauge cluster. For $1,720 more, the test model upgraded the stereo to the JBL Premium audio system with navigation.

On the plus side, the test model came loaded with standard features but on the downside, its exterior design may be polarizing. The blackened grille and rims helped a bit.

Pricing for the 2020 Avalon starts at $36,830. The as-tested price came to $42,259.

Volvo S60 T6 Inscription

According to AAA, Americans on average spend nearly an hour behind the wheel each day. Spending that time surrounded by a luxurious but functional interior can make time fly. Volvo has set the bar when it comes to design, inside and out, and its redesigned S60 is no exception.

LTR recently tested the S60 T6 AWD Inscription, a top-of-the-line trim, and while it included a healthy list of standard features, additional packages did escalate the price dramatically.

Bearing Volvo’s latest design DNA, the S60 sports a unique version of the Thor’s Hammer headlamp on the outside that first appeared on the redesigned XC90.

The S60’s 12.3″ digital driver display.

Inside, Volvo’s Sensus infotainment system sets off the interior design. Its tablet shape and function via the nine-inch touchscreen deliver a fairly intuitive interface for controlling multiple car functions from navigation to in-car entertainment applications (hint, go to Library to save radio presets). Less intuitive, however, was the adaptive cruise control. It increased speed by five miles per hour (mph) at each click rather than just one mph and it wasn’t clear how to reprogram it.

Wood inlays, leather seating with a backrest massage in the front seats (via the Luxury Seating Package $2,200), and a panoramic moonroof on the test model elevated the drive experience even further.

But the brand’s reputation stands on safety and the test model came equipped with several Volvo game changers like the blind spot information system with steer assist, cross traffic alert and autobraking, and low and hi-speed collision mitigation with cyclist, large animal, vehicle, and pedestrian detection, among other features.

In a bold move, Volvo bases its powertrain technology on turbocharged and twin engine super and turbocharged four-cylinders. The 2.0-liter version of the latter with 316 horsepower and 295 lb.–ft. of torque matched to an eight-speed Geartronic transmission powered the test model. It had an EPA city/highway estimated fuel economy of 21/32 mpg. It averaged 24.7 mpg during the weeklong test drive.

The 2020 S60 has a starting price of $37,045. With the extra packaging, the test model’s price came to $58,890.

Kia K900 Luxury

Equipped with suspensions that float like a boat, full-size sedans tend to get the “flagship” moniker. Redesigned for 2019 and with new technology, safety features, and premium touches, the Kia K900 easily lives up to that label. LTR recently test-drove the K900 Luxury, the only available trim.

Blind Spot View Monitor with camera image in the gauge cluster.

The second-generation K900 immediately scores points with its new streamlined exterior. It’s somewhat derivative of its competitors, especially on the inside, but still maintains enough Kia DNA, e.g. the tiger-nose grille with a Quadric pattern, to make it distinctive.

As the name implies, flagships should offer a suspension that fairly floats. Torsional stiffness on the new model, however, increased by 33 percent, gives the K900 a more solid and premium on-road feel. There are also four drive modes—Comfort, Sport, Eco, and Custom—to fine-tune the ride further.

The full-time rear biased and electronically controlled all-wheel-drive system adds to its sure-footedness.

It’s also slightly longer and wider than the outgoing model for rear legroom and trunk space that measure 36.6 inches and 15.3 cu. ft. respectively. For added convenience, the trunk comes with a button to close automatically.

Metal veneers (first spotted by LTR on the Volvo S90) combined with a choice of four matte wood options and quilted Nappa leather enrich the interior. The test model also included a surround sound stereo, a 12.3-inch touchscreen with navigation, wireless charging (for Qi compatible mobile phones, e.g. iPhone 8, Samsung S7), a blindspot monitor with collision warning, adaptive cruise control, and a parking sensor, among other features. The VIP package ($4,400) added a 12.3-inch LCD instrument cluster, tri-zone climate control, power adjustable and ventilated rear seats, and a rear phone charger.

The K900 shares the same engine that powers the sporty Kia Stinger, a 3.3-liter twin turbo V6 with 365 hp and 376 lb.–ft. of torque matched to an eight-speed automatic transmission. It should achieve a city/highway fuel economy of 18/25 mpg. It achieved 21.8 mpg during the test drive.

Pricing for the 2020 K900 starts at $60,935. The as-tested pricing came to $64,895.

Lexus LS 500

Considered a flagship by Lexus, this four-door sedan, redesigned in 2018, bears a striking exterior design and comes stocked with bells and whistles. The Lexus LS 500 recently tested by LTR, used additional pricey packages to elevate those features.

LS 500 sliding gauge cluster.

It’s powered by an all-new 3.5-liter, twin turbocharged V6 that delivers 416 horsepower and 442 lb.–ft. of torque, matched to a ten-speed automatic transmission. It has an EPA estimated city/highway fuel economy of 19/30 mpg. It averaged 22.6 mpg during the weeklong test drive.

The chrome grille and 20-inch alloy spoke wheels with Vapor Chrome finish accentuated the LS’s premium look, while wood panels, a rear power sunshade, and its twelve-inch touchscreen as part of the Enform infotainment system made the experience inside visibly plush. The Enform system was less intuitive to program than similar systems, however.

Many features like a blind spot monitor and pre-collision system were standard but Lexus added packages to enhance these features, like the Safety System +A ($3,000) that gave the pre-collision system active braking and steering, pedestrian alert, front cross traffic alert, and lane change assist. The Interior Upgrade Package ($3,730) added a massage function in the front seats as well as quilted and perforated leather seating and heated rear seats. Even the trunk received an upgrade with a carpeted mat ($105).

With 38.9 inches of legroom and 16.95 cu. ft. of truck space, the full-size sedan managed to fit in the garage with about an inch to spare.

Finally, run-flat tires on the LS were put to good use during the test drive when the right front tire took on a screw and didn’t flatten until after returning home. Enform Safety Connect with roadside assistance, complimentary for ten years, came to the rescue, loading the LS on a flatbed and delivering it to a Lexus dealership for a replacement tire.

Pricing for the 2020 LS 500 starts at $76,475. The as-tested price came to $94,075.

Toyota Partners With Latino Nonprofits For COVID-19 Response

 Noticias  Comments Off on Toyota Partners With Latino Nonprofits For COVID-19 Response
Apr 242020
 

Latino Traffic Report has learned that in response to the COVID-19 pandemic sweeping the United States, Toyota Motor North America announced today a range of initiatives with longstanding national nonprofit partners to serve the U.S. Latino community.

More than $1 million in previously awarded funding to the Hispanic Federation (HF), Hispanic Scholarship Fund (HSF), the League of United Latin American Citizens (LULAC), The East Los Angeles Community Union (TELACU) Education Foundation, UnidosUS and the United States Hispanic Chamber of Commerce (USHCC) was reallocated to their COVID-19 response efforts.

Funding supports emergency assistance, information dissemination, small business support and academic assistance for the U.S. Hispanic community.

“Together, we can help reach more people with the critical information and resources they need,” said Al Smith, group vice president and Chief Social Innovation Officer, Toyota Motor North America. “We want our partners and communities to know that we are here for them now and beyond the crisis.”

Toyota’s efforts with its partners on behalf of the Hispanic community include:

Academics

  • Hispanic Scholarship Fund (HSF):
    • Funding to provide support to K-12 students, parents and scholars
    • Emergency relief for families struggling with food, housing, and tuition payments, as well as support for distance learning.
  • The East Los Angeles Community Union (TELACU):
    • Funding to provide comprehensive services to scholars.

Emergency Assistance

  • Hispanic Federation:
    • Funding for the COVID-19 Latino Nonprofit Emergency Assistance Fund.
    • Emergency food relief to seniors, children, and families in New York.

Information Dissemination

  • League of United Latin American Citizens (LULAC):
    • Funding to create resources in Spanish about COVID-19, and distribute them via community network platforms.
  • UnidosUS:
    • Funding to ensure accurate information and resources to slow the spread of COVID-19 are reaching the Latino community in English and Spanish.

Small Business Support

  • United States Hispanic Chamber of Commerce (USHCC):
    • Funding to provide economic relief resources and technical assistance to Hispanic and Minority-Owned Small Businesses that are heavily impacted by this COVID-19 crisis.
    • Direct 24/7 bilingual technical assistance support on the CARES Act, the Paycheck Protection Program, Economic Impact Disaster Loan applications, banking/loan/liquidity questions, and other questions about general support.
    • Connecting Hispanic-owned suppliers in the U.S. to buyers who quickly need supplies including gloves, masks, hand sanitizer, toilet paper, and other items.

For more information on Toyota’s COVID-19 response, please visit: www.toyota.com/toyota-covid-19-response/

Mercedes-Benz Recalls Certain GLE- and GLS-Class SUVs

 Recalls  Comments Off on Mercedes-Benz Recalls Certain GLE- and GLS-Class SUVs
Apr 142020
 

GLE 350

Latino Traffic Report has learned that Mercedes-Benz USA, LLC. (MBUSA) is recalling certain 2020 GLE 350, GLE 450 AND GLS 450 vehicles. The seams on the rear crossmember may have been insufficiently welded. This may allow cracks to form when towing, possibly causing the rear crossmember to detach from the vehicle.

MBUSA will notify owners, and dealers will replace the rear crossmember, free of charge. Owners were notified of the safety risk with an interim letter April 3, 2020. A second letter will be sent once the remedy is available. Owners may contact MBUSA customer service at 1-800-367-6372.

GLS 450

Owners may also contact the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration Vehicle Safety Hotline at 1-888-327-4236 (TTY 1-800-424-9153), or go to www.safercar.gov.

Sports Car Review: Hyundai Veloster

 Hyundai, Reviews  Comments Off on Sports Car Review: Hyundai Veloster
Mar 312020
 
Hyundai Veloster Turbo Ultimate

From coupes to convertibles, sports cars can be found in several automotive segments, but among three-door sport coupes, there’s only one option, the Hyundai Veloster. Redesigned for 2019, the more refined model bears a cleaner exterior design and improved engine choices. For 2020, the Veloster gains even more standard equipment. Latino Traffic Report recently zoomed about town in the Veloster Turbo Ultimate.

The Veloster’s third door.

There are six available trims and each comes in unique colors, materials, and accents. The redesign smartly included a two-tone exterior paint option reserved for the Turbo Ultimate trim. The test model came in a Chalk White body with a black roof.

While a 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine with 147 horsepower and 132 lb.–ft. of torque matched to a six-speed manual powers the base model, the test model came with the turbo-charged 1.6-liter direct-injected four-cylinder engine that produces 201 horses and 195 lb.–ft. of torque. It’s paired with a seven-speed dual clutch transmission with paddle shifters. A six-speed manual transmission had been available on the Turbo Ultimate, but not for 2020. That’s a shame because at the Veloster launch, where LTR drove both transmissions, the manual really ramped up the coupe’s sporty performance. The manual is also standard on the R-Spec trim.

 The automatic, however, will earn the best EPA estimated fuel economy of 28 miles per gallon (mpg) in the city and 34 mpg on the highway. During the test drive, it averaged 33.8 mpg.

To customize the driving experience, Drive Mode Select comes standard on all Velosters and offers three driver-selectable modes—Normal, Sport, and Smart. Left in Sport for most of the weeklong test, the ride was noticeably stiff and heavy. Active Engine Sound, standard on the R-Spec trim and above, allows the driver to adjust the engine rumble for a sportier effect.

The Veloster’s appeal may be connected to its sportiness but it is a hatch and as such, it offers something other sport coupes don’t, utility, namely 19.9 cubic feet of cargo room behind the second row seat and 44.5 cu. ft. with it folded flat.

Standard safety features on the Veloster include Forward Collision-Avoidance Assist with autonomous braking, Lane Keep Assist, and a rear view camera with dynamic guidelines. One away from the top-of-the line trim, the Ultimate added Forward Collision-Avoidance with pedestrian detection and adaptive cruise control.

Features like Blind-Spot Collision and Rear Cross-Traffic Collision Warning, as well as Blue Link, Hyundai’s onboard emergency, diagnostic, guidance service, are standard on all but the base trim.

Standard creature comforts include basics like air conditioning, power windows and locks, remote keyless entry, a seven-inch display screen with AM/FM radio, dual USB ports, steering-wheel-mounted audio, Bluetooth, and cruse control, plus Apple CarPlay/Android Audio. Stepping up to the Turbo Ultimate brings fancier features like an eight-inch display with the Infiniti Premium audio system and navigation, a proximity key, leather seating with heated front seats with an orange accent stripe, a sunroof, and a heads-up display.

Pricing for the 2020 Veloster starts at $19,755. The as-tested price came to $29,440.

Si:  The three-door Veloster stands alone among sports coupes with its design and value.

No: The automatic transmission didn’t elevate the driving experience.

The Most Dangerous States for Car Crashes

 Noticias  Comments Off on The Most Dangerous States for Car Crashes
Mar 182020
 

Latino Traffic Report has learned that there were 33,654 fatal motor vehicle crashes in the United States in 2018 in which 36,560 deaths occurred, according to the latest report by the U.S. Department of Transportation. The number and types of motor vehicle crash deaths differ widely among the 50 states and the District of Columbia. A state’s population has an obvious effect on the number of motor vehicle deaths, as well as types of vehicles driven, travel speeds, state traffic laws, emergency care capabilities, weather, and topography.

There were 11.2 deaths per 100,000 people and 1.13 deaths per 100 million miles traveled. The fatality rate per 100,000 people ranged from 4.4 in the District of Columbia to 22.2 in Mississippi. The death rate per 100 million miles traveled ranged from 0.54 in Massachusetts to 1.83 in South Carolina.

In 2018, Wyoming had the highest percentage of deaths involving SUV and pickup occupants (49 percent) and a relatively low percentage of deaths involving car occupants (23 percent). In contrast, Vermont had the highest percentage of deaths involving car occupants (49 percent) and a relatively low percentage of deaths involving SUV and pickup occupants (26 percent).

Other factors contributing to crashes include blood alcohol levels (BAC) and the use of seatbelts. While not all states report BAC for all passenger vehicle drivers, 31 states and the District of Columbia had BAC reporting rates of at least 70 percent. Among these states, Montana had the highest estimated percentage of fatally injured drivers with BACs of 0.08 percent or higher (45 percent) and West Virginia had the lowest (12 percent).

In 2018, fatally injured occupants were approximately half as likely to use restraints compared with the nationwide average. The state with the highest observed seat belt use for front seat occupants was Hawaii, at 98 percent, while the lowest was New Hampshire at 76 percent. California had the highest restraint use percentage among fatally injured occupants at 61 percent while New Hampshire had the lowest at just 28 percent.

Finally, Texas ranked the highest among states with the most fatal traffic accidents (3,305) in 2018 while Mississippi had the highest death rate per 100,000 population. For a listing of rates for every state go to www.iihs.org.

The Third Annual LTR Truck Guide

 Features  Comments Off on The Third Annual LTR Truck Guide
Mar 042020
 
Chevy Silverado

For the last two years, Latino Traffic Report (LTR) has produced a truck guide, recognizing the appeal pickups hold, not just in the state of Texas, the number-one truck market, but also among Latinos. For 2020, we present our third installment. This guide includes models test-driven for at least a week by LTR and offers an overview, not a ranking, of what they offer or lack. For additional truck info or to compare and contrast, check out last year’s guide as well as the original.

Nissan Frontier

Coasting on a redesign that’s fifteen years old, the Nissan Frontier continues to offer utility and off-road capability, plus the lowest starting price in its segment.

Rumors of a redesign for the Frontier had been circulating for years but nothing definitive was announced, until this year at the Chicago Auto Show. According to Tiago Castro, director, Commercial Vehicle Business Unit, Nissan North America, Inc., there will be an all-new Frontier in 2021 and while 2020 will be the final year of this generation, it will include the 2021’s powertrain, an all-new 3.8-liter V6 engine matched to a nine-speed transmission.

Last year the Frontier was the most-affordable pickup in its class, with a starting price of $18,990, excluding destination fees, but the test model, Frontier SV Crew Cab SWB 4×4, sat well above the base.

The list of optional features included on the test model began with the powertrain, namely the 4.0-liter V6 with 261 horsepower and 281 lb.­–ft. of torque. It will be replaced later this year by the previously mentioned V6. It was matched to a five-speed automatic transmission and included a two-speed transfer case with 4Hi and 4Lo options for off-road capability.

Functionality sells trucks and the test model offered a maximum towing capacity of 6,380 lbs. as well as 60/40 split rear seats that flipped up, as well as down, to reveal added storage.

On the drive, however, the Frontier was capable but clearly outdated, especially on the inside. The Value Truck Package ($1,890) added upgrades like a leather-wrapped steering wheel, a rear sonar for parking, a factory-applied spray on bed liner, and sliding bed extender, among several features, bringing the as-tested price to $33,560. But it lacked basic new technology like a blind spot monitor or navigation.

The 2020 Frontier will go on sale this spring.

Ford Ranger

Like the Frontier, the Ranger remained unchanged for many years before it disappeared in 2011. But in 2019, Ford also decided to re-enter the midsize truck segment by bringing back its venerated “little” truck. The new version, however, joins its enlarged competition, measuring 210.8 inches in length.

Toyota Tacoma

On the outside, it appeared to borrow design cues from the Toyota Tacoma. Can you tell which is which? While it borrowed some design cues from the Tacoma, it didn’t adopt one of its best, a dampened tailgate.

When LTR last tested the Ranger, before the redesign, it too suffered from being dated as well as guzzling gas. The new model, however, included the 2.3-liter EcoBoost inline four-cylinder with 270 horsepower and 310 lb.–ft. of torque matched to a ten-speed automatic transmission, giving it an improved EPA estimated fuel economy of 20 mpg in the city, 24 mpg on the highway. The as-tested fuel economy came to an average of 22 mpg.

The Ranger has a maximum towing of 7,500 on all trims but payload varies and the test model had the lowest figure of 1,560 lbs.

Priced above the Frontier, the test model also included popular technology that its competitor did not, like a blind spot monitor with rear cross traffic alert, a 4G Wi-Fi hotspot, a digital TFT in the instrument cluster with an average fuel economy calculator among other features, and an eight-inch touch screen in the center stack to display navigation or audio information, or both with a split screen option.

Like the Frontier the test model included heated front seats, a leather wrapped steering wheel, satellite radio, a spray-in bed liner, and dual-zone climate control but the Ranger added leather seating.

Pricing for the 2020 Ranger starts at $25,605. The as-tested price, including the FX4 Off-Road Package ($1,295) came to $44,960.

Chevrolet Silverado

For 2019 Chevrolet completely redesigned, the Silverado and entered the market with a range of eight models and six engine/transmission choices. The test model was the two-wheel drive double cab RST trim, powered by the turbocharged 2.7-liter inline four-cylinder (I4).

The real competition for trucks happens under the hood and Chevy’s range of engines, from the four-cylinder to a diesel, gives it a definite advantage.

Matched to an eight-speed automatic transmission, the I4 should produce 310 horsepower and 348 lb.­–ft. of torque. Maximum tow rating for the Silverado is 13,400 lbs. with the V8 but maximum towing for the test model came to 7,000 lbs.

Body-color trim, full LED lighting (foglamps, headlamps and taillamps) and up to 22-inch wheels distinguish the RST trim from the others. The test model, however, included 18-inch bright silver painted aluminum wheels.

With redesigns, the focus begins with the exterior and in the case of the new Silverado, at first glance, its features can be polarizing compared to the clean lines of its predecessor, but it does improve on closer inspection. The new pickup is also 1.6 inches longer and has a bed that’s seven inches wider giving it a best-in-class cargo volume starting with the short box’s 63 cubic feet. Maximum payload on the test model came to 2,190 lbs.

The test model also included Active Fuel management to give it an EPA estimated city/highway fuel economy of 20/23 mpg respectively. During the test drive, it achieved an average range of 23.2 in the city and up to 32.4 mpg on the highway.

The test model did include signature GM technology like Stabilitrak, OnStar, Teen Driver, a rear seat reminder to encourage drivers to check the back seat before locking the vehicle, and a dampened tailgate that releases with the push of a button.

Pricing for the 2020 Silverado starts at $29,795. The as-tested pricing included multiple packages from Convenience with Bucket Seats ($1,655) to Safety ($890), which brought the price up to $47,795.

Ford F-250

The Ford’s F-Series has held the top-selling vehicle title for 42 years. The F-150 has made-up the bulk of these sales but it’s bulkier super duty siblings, the F-250, F-350, and F-450 provide the utility that work truck buyers demand. LTR recently drove the F-250 SRW 4×4 Crew Cab Limited.

Best in class achievements help super duties stand out in this highly competitive segment. For 2020, the F-250 will offer a choice of three engines including an all-new 7.3-liter V8 with best-in-class 430 horsepower and best-in-class 475 lbs.–ft. of torque. The third-generation 6.7-liter Power Stroke diesel V8 powered the test model. For 2020 it has been upgraded to deliver best-in-class 475 horsepower and best-in-class 1,050 ft.–lbs. of torque. A 6.2-liter V8 is the F-250’s standard gas engine. While the 6.7-liter diesel on the test model was matched to a six-speed automatic transmission, an all-new ten-speed heavy-duty TorqShift automatic transmission is standard with the 7.3-liter V8 and 6.7-liter Power Stroke diesel V8 for 2020.

Technology on a work truck is essential and as a Limited trim level, the test model added FordPass Connect, embedded 4G LTE modem with Wi-Fi access for up to ten devices and charge up with wireless charging and USB-C ports as well as the Ultimate Trailer Tow Camera. The test model also included a tailgate step, ambient lighting, voice activated navigation, and adaptive cruise control. Capacity specs for the F-250 test model maxed out at 19,100 1bs. towing and 3,470 lbs. payload.

While fuel efficiency ratings are not required for super duties, the text model achieved an average fuel economy of 15.5–16.6 mpg during the drive.

Pricing for the 2020 F250 starts at $35,300. The as-tested price came to $84,500, including extra charges for a gooseneck hitch kit, 3.55 electronic locking axle, a fifth-wheel hitch prep package and a bed spray-in bed liner.