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2022 Infiniti QX55 crossover brings coupe-like styling, CVT for $47,525

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2022 Infiniti QX55

Infiniti on November took the covers off the QX55, a coupe-like crossover SUV due in showrooms in spring as a 2022 model.

On Tuesday, Infiniti announced the stylish crossover will cost $47,525, including a mandatory $1,025 destination charge. That’s $7,000 more than the standard QX50 crossover SUV upon which it’s based.

The QX55 targets vehicles like the Audi Q5 Sportback and BMW X4. Only one powertrain is on offer, a 2.0-liter turbo-4 good for 268 hp and 280 lb-ft of torque. It’s mated to a continuously variable transmission, and all-wheel drive is standard.

2022 Infiniti QX55

The engine features Nissan’s variable-compression technology designed to save fuel. It does so by altering the compression ratio between 8:1 (typical for high performance engines) and 14:1 (used by many manufacturers for high efficiency), depending on the driving style.

The QX55’s styling up front is an almost exact match to the QX50, though things have been made bolder with a full-chrome grille and more aggressive designs for the side intakes. The real styling action is at the rear where a sloping roof leads down into a wide rump flanked by wraparound taillights. The taillights sport Infiniti’s new “piano key” graphic formed by 45 individual LEDs in each light cluster. The design was first shown on September’s QX60 Monograph concept.

2022 Infiniti QX55

2022 Infiniti QX55

The interior design is also a match to the QX50, though naturally the QX55 has less storage due to its sloped roof. With the rear seats folded, you’re looking at 54.1 cubic feet versus 60 in the QX50.

Buyers will be able to choose from Luxe, Essential and Sensory grades, with even the base Luxe grade coming with plenty of standard equipment. The list includes 20-inch wheels, aluminum dash accents, active noise cancellation, twin touchscreen displays, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, and multiple electronic driver-assist features. Just some of these assist features include blind spot warning and forward collision warning with pedestrian detection and automatic emergency braking. Nissan’s ProPilot system that can control a vehicle in a single lane is an available feature.

2022 Infiniti QX55

2022 Infiniti QX55

Infiniti was a pioneer of the coupe-like crossover when it launched the original FX back in 2003, but surprisingly the automaker never expanded the concept to other segments. The key question is whether a new coupe-like crossover will propel Infiniti out of its recent slump and generate some hype. Infiniti’s lineup is now down to just six models, and the automaker’s future looks to be hinged on a range of models based on Nissan platforms. Time will tell if it’s a winning strategy.

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Autos

The NHRA is preparing for an electric drag racing future

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Ford Mustang Cobra Jet 1400 prototype

The National Hot Rod Association (NHRA) is the latest racing sanctioning body to take a serious look at electric cars. Organizers are asking for input on how to make electric cars a bigger part of drag racing, the association announced on Monday.

The NHRA plans to host a series of meetings on the topic, beginning with one during the Gatornationals at Florida’s Gainesville Raceway later this month. It’s an “open invitation to interested parties to participate in an open dialogue on the topic,” the organization said in a press release Tuesday.

That invitation, includes, but is not limited to, automakers, aftermarket parts suppliers, race-car builders, and safety-equipment manufacturers, the NHRA said. The organization hopes to gauge interest in electric drag racing, and discuss safety protocols for electric race cars.

“When it comes to drag racing electric vehicles, we want NHRA to be the leader, not a follower,” Ned Walliser, NHRA vice president of competition, said in a statement.

Ford Mustang Cobra Jet 1400 prototype

Electric drag racing is nothing new. The NHRA noted that electric cars and motorcycles have been included in its rulebook “for many years,” and YouTube is full of videos of Teslas humiliating internal-combustion cars at the dragstrip. Long before Tesla, drag racing was a major outlet for homebuilt EVs, with cars like the “White Zombie” 1972 Datsun 1200 showing the potential of electric power.

However, the NHRA believes now is the time to get more invested in EVs, hoping it will bring in a younger demographic and dovetail with automaker efforts to electrify road cars. While this might make room for a class of cars like the Chevrolet eCOPO Camaro and Ford Mustang Cobra Jet 1400 prototypes, don’t expect electric cars to replace traditional dragsters anytime soon.

“We certainly have no intentions of abandoning our current platform, which has proven to be extremely popular with racers and fans alike,” Walliser said.

Like road cars, race cars are slowly getting greener. Formula E has carved out a niche for electric single-seater racing, and is adding the Extreme E off-road racing series. Formula One already uses hybrid powertrains, and IndyCar plans to follow suit in 2023 (one year later than planned due to coronavirus delays). NASCAR is also considering hybrid powertrains.

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Alfa Romeo, Alpine, McLaren and Mercedes-Benz AMG show 2021 Formula One cars

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2021 Alpine A521 Formula One race car

The 2021 Formula One World Championship is almost upon us and competing teams are showing off their new race cars.

Of the actual automakers competing this season, Mercedes-Benz AMG (W12 E Performance), McLaren (MCL35M), Alpine (A521) and Alfa Romeo (C41) have all shown their contenders. Still to go is Aston Martin which will reveal its car on Wednesday and Ferrari which plans to reveal its car on March 10.

Aston Martin and Alpine are new names this season. Aston Martin, which will use a Mercedes power unit, is basically a rebranded Racing Point. Alpine, too, is simply a rebranding of the previous Renault team, and as a result will use a Renault power unit also rebranded as an Alpine.

2021 Alpine A521 Formula One race car

F1 was due to introduce major changes to the car design for 2021 but organizers last year decided to delay this until the 2022 season due to the hardship experienced by many teams from the Covid-19 situation. Instead, teams were allowed to carry over the 2020 design into 2021.

There have been some key changes in the regulations surrounding the aerodynamics, though. In particular are the rules for the outer floor design, which have been implemented to reduce downforce and in turn reduce lap times. Overcoming this has been the main challenge for teams in designing their 2021 cars.

In addition, Pirelli is supplying tires with a tougher but heavier compound. As a result, organizers have increased the minimum weight for the cars by about 13 pounds.

2021 McLaren MCL35M Formula One race car

2021 McLaren MCL35M Formula One race car

2021 McLaren MCL35M Formula One race car

2021 McLaren MCL35M Formula One race car

2021 McLaren MCL35M Formula One race car

2021 McLaren MCL35M Formula One race car

All cars feature a similar power unit configuration. It consists of a 1.6-liter turbocharged V-6 working with two motor-generators, one integrated with the turbocharger and the other with the engine in the main driveline. Power unit suppliers this season include Alpine, Ferrari, Honda and Mercedes.

The pre-season tests are scheduled for Mar. 12-14 in Bahrain ahead of the season-opening Bahrain Grand Prix on Mar. 28. The season was meant to start as always with the Australian Grand Prix but due to Covid-19 restrictions the Australian race has been delayed until November.

Despite the ongoing Covid-19 situation, F1 organizers are still hopeful of holding a record 23 rounds this season, with a new Saudi Arabian Grand Prix joining the calendar, as well as the Dutch Grand Prix making a return. The Chinese Grand Prix and a proposed Vietnamese Grand Prix are no longer happening this season, with special Emilia Romagna Grand Prix and Portuguese Grand Prix rounds set to fill in.

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Take it apart, rebuild, repeat

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2021 Ford Bronco

The 2021 Ford Bronco isn’t constructed like most other cars. Instead, it’s like a life-size Lego car as every body panel can bolt on or off. The process isn’t quick and easy, but it should make the Bronco cheaper and quicker to repair, and easier to modify with the bolt-on aftermarket parts that are sure to come.

The Jeep Wrangler is similar, but it’s rear quarter panels don’t bolt on and off, and its fender flares are harder to remove.

Should a shopping cart at Target roll into your shiny new Bronco a replacement can’t simply be ordered from a local Ford dealership and bolted on. Bronco’s Chief Designer Paul Wraith told Motor Authority owners will still need to call a body shop to order replacement panels.

A body shop will also be needed to paint the new panels as they won’t come painted in the color of your vehicle. DIYers might try to paint the panels with a can spray paint, but a body shop will be needed to properly blend the paint to match the new panels.

2021 Ford Bronco

The bolt-on body panels will make life easier should a Bronco get into a fender bender. Shop foreman Mike Gelakoski (known as Jelly) of 38 years at Sears Imported Autos Body Shop in Minneapolis, told Motor Authority “if a car went and got damaged, you’re talking the difference between a couple weeks and a couple days.” Shorter repair times will also mean fewer labor hours and less-expensive repairs.

Jelly explained that, other than a Saturn Ion and BMW Z3, rear quarter panel replacements require you to “screw, glue, and rivet it. Some cars you have to weld and you can burn it (the metal).”

BMW Z3s have rear quarter panels that simply bolt on making replacement a simple process that doesn’t take 20 hours, according to Jelly. The Bronco is like the BMW Z3 and that will make replacing panels “quicker, simpler, and easier,” Jelly said.

Ford’s new Bronco is sure to be the darling of the aftermarket scene and the next superstar at the SEMA show. President and founder of American Expedition Vehicles (AEV), David Harriton told Motor Authority the Bronco’s construction “opens a lot of opportunities for the aftermarket.” AEV is an outfitter specializing in Jeep Wranglers, Ram Power Wagons, and Chevrolet Colorados.

“The ability to take these vehicles off road, have an accident, and then replace the body panel is critical,” Harriton said.

2021 Ford Bronco

2021 Ford Bronco

Some Bronco fans will also buy aftermarket panels and add them to their Broncos. Again, a body shop will be needed to paint these panels to match the rest of the Bronco. However, some owners may choose to wrap their panels or paint them themselves, eliminating the need for a body shop.

It’s not just the body panels. The fender flares pop on and off with the simple twist of a few fasteners in about 30 seconds. “That’s pretty cool that you can be legal driving to and from the trail and then pop off the flares for the trail to keep them looking nice. That’s a pretty great idea,” Harriton said.

From the aftermarket and modification scene to repairing a Bronco dented at the local Starbucks, the way Ford’s latest SUV’s screwed together could be a boon for consumers and the aftermarket alike.

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