The Virtual Driver

A look at Jaguar’s electrifying crossover

By Christopher A. Sawyer
The Virtual Driver

(March 10, 2018) Jaguar pulled the covers off its I-Pace electric SUV one week before its world debut at Geneva, and the production car is quite close to the concept vehicle introduced in November 2016. At that time, Jaguar talked of 400 hp and 516 lb.-ft. of torque, a dynamic front:rear torque split, torque vectoring, 0-60 mph in about four seconds, and a conservative range estimate of 220 miles.

2019 Audi A6 — Sport sedan or electronics platform?

By Christopher A. Sawyer
The Virtual Driver

(March 4, 2018) You have to wonder about the priorities of a company that builds sports/luxury vehicles, but whose press kit for the latest version of their mid-sized sedan, the A6, starts with a look at its new infotainment interface, connectivity solutions, and shifts to driver assistance systems before getting to the nuts and bolts of the mechanical parts that make this product a car, not a rolling WiFi hotspot.

Mercedes rethinks the Sprinter

By Christopher A. Sawyer
The Virtual Driver

(February 25, 2018) Mercedes’ latest Sprinter is a clean-sheet design with increased load capacity, new connectivity solutions and driver assistance systems, and more. However, it’s most impressive change is the addition of a front-drive version to complement the current rear- and all-wheel drive models.

BMW’s sporty line extension: The 2019 X4

By Christopher A. Sawyer
The Virtual Driver

(February 24, 2018) BMW’s second generation X4 follows its stablemate, the X3, out of the starting gate, featuring a bluff-fronted fastback body that is longer, lower and only marginally wider than its predecessor. It also borrows the turbocharged 2.0-liter inline four and 3.0-liter six from that SUV, both mated to an eight-speed automatic transmission.

3D printing — parts, components and cars — has become all the rage

By Christopher A. Sawyer
The Virtual Driver

(February 19, 2018) Additive manufacturing is all the rage these days, particularly when it comes to 3D printing. The idea of creating a new design, testing it in the computer, and outputting it to a 3D printer — thereby bypassing all of the intermediate steps, including component assembly and production — is alluring, especially to low-volume makers.

Hyundai revises Sonata Hybrid lineup

By Christopher A. Sawyer
The Virtual Driver

(February 17, 2018) The 2018 Hyundai Sonata Hybrid comes in two flavors Hybrid and Plug-in Hybrid. Both use Hyundai’s 2.0-liter direct-injected gasoline engine mated to a six-speed automatic transmission. Both replace the transmission’s torque converter with an electric motor and clutch unit, and use an electric oil pump to improve efficiency. And both mount their lithium-ion battery under the trunk floor.

2019 Volkswagen Jetta moves to VW's modular transverse architecture

By Christopher A. Sawyer
The Virtual Driver

(February 3, 2018) Though the current Volkswagen Jetta is old, it was the first to, stylistically at least, not look like what it was: a Golf with a trunk. Nevertheless, it was closely related to that car, borrowing the bulk of its underpinnings from the fifth-generation Golf. And as the Jetta seemed to live in some automotive form of suspended animation, the rest of the VW lineup (save the Jetta-based U.S. Passat sedan), moved to VW’s modular transverse architecture, or MQB.

Acura RDX — A concept that will soon go into production

By Christopher A. Sawyer
The Virtual Driver

(January 29, 2018) Though displayed as a concept at the Detroit auto show, the Acura RDX Concept is a near production vehicle. How near? At the annual Honda Christmas party weeks prior to the auto show, the RDX chief engineer said: “The [production version’s] mirrors are bigger, the standard wheels are slightly different, and there are some other very minor differences. That’s about it.”

2019 Chevy Silverado and 2019 Ram 1500 both lose weight

By Christoper A. Sawyer
The Virtual Driver

(January 26, 2018) When Ford switched the F-150’s body from steel to aluminum, it sent a shiver down the spines of the competition. Would it be necessary to copy this move in order to remain competitive, and — if so — how much would this add in cost? And though Ford boasted of a 700-pound savings, Chevy is trumpeting a 450-pound weight loss compared to the outgoing Silverado V8 crew cab while sticking with steel.

Ford Ranger lives again after being left for dead in 2011

By Christopher A. Sawyer
The Virtual Driver

(January 23, 2018) The original Ford Ranger was sent out to pasture in 2011 after years of being mildly updated but basically neglected. Every last ounce of profit was pulled from the small pickup, and the decision finally was made to drop out of the segment and redirect buyers to less pricey versions of the F-150. The segment, claimed Ford, was dead.