Automotive

Ford Ranger Raptor: A gentle beast

Power that comes with comfort

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When I began learning how to drive, I practiced with a bulky, under-powered pickup truck. Needless to say, it wasn’t a joyride. However, the added difficulty made driving smaller and simpler cars a breeze down the road, and I wouldn’t have had it any other way.

If I were to replicate that experience today, it would be near impossible. Not only are pickup trucks more advanced and comfortable than ever, they are also comparable to premium sedans and SUVs. Case in point: Ford’s newest Ranger Raptor is a gentle beast.

My unit came in Arctic White; other options are red, black, gray, and blue

There’s nothing subtle about the Raptor. Its towering build and robust front have an imposing presence no matter where it’s taken. Ford claims it’s the first factory-ready, high-speed off-road performance truck. In other words, you can go straight from the dealership to the mountains if you’re itching for action.

For comparison, the Raptor is 150mm wider and 50mm taller than the regular Ranger. This leads to a ground clearance of 283mm and a water wading capacity of 850mm. Combined with the 33-inch all-terrain tires and 2.5-inch Fox racing shocks, you don’t have to do much customization to make this machine battle-ready.

The massive FORD logo is part of the Raptor’s DNA

While all these make for a powerful ride, what’s even more impressive is how the Raptor babies its driver and passengers. Never have I felt this comfy in a truck before. Prior to this, I drove an Everest which I’d confidently consider on par with the Raptor’s ease of use — that says a lot.

In addition, Ford’s SYNC system is in place for music playback from any phone, navigation, and simple voice commands. If you need more functionality, you may connect your smartphone through Android Auto or Apple CarPlay. Every other feature is reachable through the vast number of buttons on the steering wheel.

The 8-inch touchscreen is at the center of all your controls

The red mark at the top of the steering wheels acts as a guide when you’re busy driving

With 213PS from the 2.0-liter bi-turbo diesel engine, accompanied by 500Nm of torque and a 10-speed automatic transmission, Ford isn’t kidding when they call this a “super truck.”

I had several days to put this machine to the test, and keeping it on safe asphalt wouldn’t do it justice, so my team took it to off-road trails fit for, well, a Raptor.

BFGoodrich’s all-terrain tires are equipped on every unit

We crossed rivers, handled 35-degree inclines and declines, and sped up whenever we could. Unsurprisingly, nothing fazed the Raptor. It always felt like it had more power to deliver, asking me to challenge it even more. It was certainly tempting, especially since the truck made me feel so safe throughout the drive.

Itching to see the Ranger Raptor in action? We have a video:

On top of the standard 2WD and 4WD modes, the Raptor offers six presets that can be activated depending on your needs. There’s normal mode, sport mode for improved steering response and acceleration, Baja mode for high-speed off-road driving, grass/gravel/snow mode for slippery terrains, mud/sand mode for better handling, and rock mode for increased control over unpredictable rocks.

Engaging any of the performance modes takes only a few button presses

At the same time, the Raptor is such a smooth ride on city streets. I logged in hundreds of kilometers on it, and there wasn’t a single stretch that I wished I was inside another car. Sure, parking wasn’t a breeze in this thing — although it does come with a handy rear camera assist — but its imposing height and bright LED headlamps kept the Raptor visible from any distance.

If I were to nitpick, my only gripes would be the finicky Bluetooth connectivity for smartphones and lack of compartments around the cockpit. These, however, are common issues with most vehicles I’ve had the pleasure of driving.

More than anything, the Raptor is simply a stunner. I had never felt this confident going from point A to point B, and looking good while doing so. Every stop along the way deserved its own photo shoot.

My team can definitely attest to that.

 

Automotive

Audi shows off its empathetic car at CES 2020

It’s concerned about the passenger’s well-being

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For people who drive or commute in the city, traffic jams, crowded streets, and other eyesores can add to the stress we already have. It’s an unavoidable lifestyle every time we’re on the road and is something we wish we had a solution to. Audi, at the CES 2020, seems to have the answer to this with the revelation of their concept car, the Audi AI:ME.

Described as an empathetic car, the fully automated Audi AI:ME represents a personal “third living space,” alongside our homes and workplaces, this self-driving vehicle is sure to pamper its passengers through the use of the latest automotive AI technologies.

So how can a car be empathetic? For starters, by recognizing its users and their habits, it will combine artificial intelligence to increase the passengers’ safety, well being, and comfort.

You can communicate with the car intuitively and even have it order your favorite food or enjoy a wellness experience with a pair of VR goggles that will allow passengers to change the environment in real-time together with the movement of the vehicle.

Upon arriving at your destination, you will find that your ordered food was delivered on time thanks to the AI navigation coordinated by the car’s navigation data. In the future, the car will also conduct a precise analysis as to the functions and settings that its user prefers, ranging from the seat position, media, route guidance, and temperature to the fragrancing of the interior.

Audi has also introduced, along with this vehicle, a 3D heads up display that works like a 3D television. Developed in cooperation with Samsung, Images generated for the left and right eye will give you a true 3D image. You will be able to see vital information, like navigation arrows as if they were floating in front of you at a distance of 8-10 meters and can even be increased to 70 meters. Your eyes will no longer have to refocus looking at the instrument cluster.

Should the driver get tired, different ambient lighting will provide a remedy from blue to cool white light which can have a stimulating and invigorating effect on the driver.  Audi calls this the Human-Centric Lighting.

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Nissan shows off Ariya concept, zero-emission ice cream van at CES

There’s even a self-sinking golf ball!

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Apart from other car brands strutting their newest offerings, Nissan is also in full swing over at the ongoing CES 2020 in Las Vegas. Their booth showcases things that first and foremost promote sustainability with technologies that are soon within reach.

To further show what these features can do, the company has taken their technologies and developed new, creative uses for them. These are then available to experience at Nissan’s booth. Check them out:

Nissan Ariya concept: The crossover vehicle is making its North American debut and brings together advanced technologies on an all-new EV platform. It carries the Nissan Intelligent Mobility suite that we’re pretty familiar with along with an expansive lineup of innovative features.

Technology experts will give demonstrations of Ariya Concept features such as the ProPILOT 2.0 advanced driver assistance system, twin-motor all-
wheel-control system, acoustic meta-material, and Smart Route Planner.

Nissan’s zero-emission ice cream van: Chill out with ice cream served from a concept van that combines an all-electric drivetrain, second-life battery storage, and renewable solar energy generation. Based on the 100% electric e-NV200 light commercial vehicle, the ice cream van’s motor is driven by a 40-kilowatt-hour battery. A portable power pack, which uses lithium-ion cells recovered from early first-generation Nissan electric vehicles, powers the on-board equipment.

Nissan’s booth at CES with its interactive displays

The ProPILOT golf ball: Inspired by the ProPILOT 2.0 advanced driver assistance system, Nissan has created a golf ball that always manages to find the hole. At the booth’s putting green, an overhead camera will detect the position of the golf ball and hole. Sensing technology and an internal electric motor will ensure the putt stays on course until reaching the cup – just as Nissan cars equipped with ProPILOT 2.0 can maneuver along a predefined highway route.

Power Selfie: CES visitors won’t be able to drive the Formula E race car on display at Nissan’s booth, but they can recreate the exhilarating experience. With the help of high-powered fans and special effects, the Power Selfie booth records a short video to mimic the acceleration of the 100% electric race car from 0 to 100 kph in a mere 2.8 seconds. Guests will be able to create a GIF that looks as if they’re racing down the track.

Formula E race car: Nissan, the first Japanese carmaker to join the all-electric Formula E street racing championship, will show its new, Japan-inspired livery for the new season.

The Nissan LEAF e+: Nissan LEAF e+ electric vehicle features a powerful motor, long-range, advanced technologies including the ProPILOT driver assistance system (called ProPILOT Assist in the U.S. marketplace), and the innovative e-Pedal mode for one-pedal driving.

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Automotive

Why did Sony surprisingly flex an electric vehicle at CES?

Sony got everyone’s attention

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You’ve probably heard the news about Sony introducing a brand spanking new electric car during the last few minutes of its CES 2020 presentation. Called the Vision-S, it caught a lot of the audience off-guard and it was completely understandable. After all, why would a company that focuses on televisions and other consumer electronics suddenly bring up a prototype vehicle on stage?

Well, according to Sony CEO Kenichiro Yoshida, this announcement embodies Sony’s contribution to the future of mobility.

The company envisions a future where vehicles will no longer be simply modes of transportation but also an entertainment pod for its passengers. And when it comes to entertainment, we know that Sony is committed to delivering quality products so they’re looking forward to offering the same enjoyable components with the Vision-S concept car.

Step inside and you’ll see what the company simply means. The interior is equipped with a display that spans the entirety of its dashboard. This acts as your control panel for making calls, accessing your media library, navigation, and many more. Sony says it’s also been fitted with 360-degree audio through headrest speakers, always-on connectivity, and even touch displays for the rear passengers.

Using their years of experience with camera optics, the Vision-S has 33 different sensors mounted both inside and outside of the sedan that aid in driving. Additionally, the car was said to be powered by a newly designed EV platform which other reports have suggested that automotive supplier Magna has put together.

As with other concept cars, the Vision-S is not meant to be mass-produced, at least now right now. This is just what Sony has in mind for the next generation of vehicles by using their expertise in these fields — call it their Vision, if you will.

Also, by announcing this electric car, the company had CES 2020 shaken. Good one, Sony.

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