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Ford Ranger plug-in hybrid reportedly coming

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2022 Ford Ranger spy shots - Photo credit: S. Baldauf/SB-Medien

Ford is in the process of redesigning its Ranger, with the new mid-size pickup truck expected to debut later this year as a 2022 model.

While we may not see it at the launch, a plug-in hybrid option is reportedly in the cards for the next Ranger.

Citing a spokesperson for Ford of Europe, Australia’s Car Expert reported last week that a Ranger capable of driving with zero emissions will be available in the European market by 2024. It’s said to be part of Ford’s plan announced last week to have its European lineup consist purely of plug-in hybrids, battery-electric vehicles, and other types of zero-emission capable vehicles by 2026.

2022 Ford Ranger spy shots – Photo credit: S. Baldauf/SB-Medien

Car Expert expects the Ranger to receive a plug-in hybrid system utilizing a 2.3-liter turbocharged inline-4 as its internal-combustion component. The setup will reportedly be good for about 362 hp and 501 lb-ft of torque.

Since the next Ranger will share a platform with the Bronco, we could theoretically see the plug-in hybrid setup offered in the SUV as well, should the powertrain be offered in the U.S.

As for other powertrains in the next Ranger, the Bronco may provide some clues. The SUV’s existing powertrains, a 2.3-liter turbocharged inline-4 with 270 hp and a 2.7-liter twin-turbo V-6 with 310 hp, are expected to feature in the next Ranger, with the 2.7-liter twin-turbo V-6 possibly dialed for higher output in a planned Ranger Raptor. Stay tuned.

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2021 24 Hours of Le Mans delayed until mid-August

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No. 97 Aston Martin Vantage GTE race car at the 2020 24 Hours of Le Mans

Organizers of the 24 Hours of Le Mans announced Thursday that this year’s running of the French endurance classic has been delayed until the weekend starting August 21.

The race, which serves as the highlight event of the World Endurance Championship, was originally scheduled to run the weekend starting June 12.

The organizers decided to delay the race as by the August date there is a better chance a public audience will be allowed to attend.

Last year’s race was held without spectators and sticking to the original June date for this year’s race would likely have meant another year without the public, based on the current outlook for Covid-19 restrictions in France.

No. 97 Aston Martin Vantage GTE race car at the 2020 24 Hours of Le Mans

“Holding the 24 Hours of Le Mans behind closed doors for the second year running would be unthinkable,” Pierre Fillon, president of race organizer ACO, said in a statement. “We are therefore doing all we can to avoid that happening and to give competitors a clear view of the whole season.”

While the Le Mans race has lacked some excitement in recent years due to Toyota being the only automaker in the premier LMP1 class, things will heat up this year with the new Le Mans Hypercar class replacing LMP1 as the top class.

In LMH, Toyota will go up against America’s Scuderia Cameron Glickenhaus and Germany’s ByKolles this year. Peugeot is set to join the fray most likely in 2022 and Ferrari has said it will be there in 2023. Porsche will also be there in 2023, albeit in the separate LMDh class sanctioned by IMSA.

Pre-season testing for the 2021 WEC season is scheduled for March 30-31 at Portugal’s Portimao racetrack. The opening round will be held on April 4, also at Portimao.

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2021 Ram 1500 TRX marks peak truck

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2021 Ram 1500 TRX

You know that scene in the “Jurassic Park” movies where the T-Rex rears up and roars in the visitor center or on the helipad to show everyone it’s king?

This is that moment in truck history.

2021 Ram 1500 TRX

The 2021 Ram 1500 TRX has reared up and roared, and we’ve hit peak truck. With a Hellcat engine, a long-travel suspension, and looks meant to menace, the TRX drips in excess everything. Nobody needs a TRX, but it’s not hard to understand why some people want one.

I spent a week climbing hills and doing donuts in the snow, running errands, and taking my kids to school in the 2021 Ram 1500 TRX. Here’s what I learned about where Ram’s monstrous truck hits and where it misses.

2021 Ram 1500 TRX I Photography by Allex Bellus Photography

2021 Ram 1500 TRX I Photography by Allex Bellus Photography

2021 Ram 1500 TRX I Photography by Allex Bellus Photography

2021 Ram 1500 TRX I Photography by Allex Bellus Photography

2021 Ram 1500 TRX I Photography by Allex Bellus Photography

2021 Ram 1500 TRX I Photography by Allex Bellus Photography

Hit: It’s fast

With the Hellcat’s supercharged 6.2-liter V-8 under its hood, the TRX produces 702 hp and 650 lb-ft of torque, which goes to all four wheels at all times. Ram quotes a 0-60 mph run of 4.5 seconds. That feels about right by the seat of my pants, and it’s insanely quick for a vehicle that weighs 6,350 pounds. It’s also ’s half a second quicker than the 2020 Ford F-150 Raptor, but the experience is vastly different, and it comes down to weight and drama. The Ram TRX weighs 653 pounds more, is much louder, and has launch control. Floor it and the feeling of acceleration drops your gut and makes your insides feel funny as all that weight shifts and lunges forward. Performing this feat a few times in a row might make some people sick.

2021 Ram 1500 TRX

2021 Ram 1500 TRX

Miss: Expensive to feed

Hellcats aren’t known for fuel economy, but the TRX is laughably insatiable. A colleague achieved 11 mpg in mostly highway driving in the TRX. That’s bad. During a frigid week in Minnesota with temperatures dipping to 20 below, I averaged 8.0 mpg over the course of 351 miles of mixed driving. That’s horrendous. The TRX has EPA fuel economy ratings of 10 mpg city, 14 highway, and 12 combined. Those seem a little optimistic. Your mileage may vary, but don’t expect it to vary on the high side of the ratings.

2021 Ram 1500 TRX I Photography by Allex Bellus Photography

2021 Ram 1500 TRX I Photography by Allex Bellus Photography

Hit and miss: It’s heavy

Carrying all that weight, the TRX feels more substantial than a Raptor, like it was cut from a block of steel, which instills confidence that this thing is built to take a massive beating.

That heft does it no favors for handling or efficiency. It drinks gas like a college kid at a frat party, and the TRX is never light on its feet whereas the Raptor feels a bit lighter than it is. Extra weight is also a detriment when performing off-road jumps. The TRX and Raptor are technically designed for such antics.

Hit: Roars loud and proud

Editorial Director Marty Padgett once said Hellcats are “grandma’s screaming on cell phones loud.” If that’s true, the TRX is an entire nursing home screaming at the TV screen loud. The exhaust note could wake the dead upon cold start, and boy does it sound angry. Ram revised the air intake compared to all other Hellcat models to keep dust and dirt out of the engine and to accommodate water fording. This actually enhances the supercharger whine, which is always present and always loud. Hope your neighbors can stomach loud trucks.

2021 Ram 1500 TRX

2021 Ram 1500 TRX

2021 Ram 1500 TRX

2021 Ram 1500 TRX

2021 Ram 1500 TRX

2021 Ram 1500 TRX

Miss: Raptor’s more imposing

The TRX looks mean. If it came flying up in your rearview mirror you’d have every right to be nervous, but the Raptor looks meaner. The reason is width. The Raptor is 8 feet wide and looks like a Baja truck on the street thanks to its punched-out, squared-off fenders. The Ram’s 7-foot-3-inch width is immense, but the curved, flowing fenders give it a softer look.

2021 Ram 1500 TRX

2021 Ram 1500 TRX

2021 Ram 1500 TRX

2021 Ram 1500 TRX

2021 Ram 1500 TRX

2021 Ram 1500 TRX

Hit: People like dinosaurs

It didn’t matter whether I was filling up the TRX (a frequent activity) with 91 octane or parking at Fleet Farm, people knew what the TRX was. It gets them excited, and they want to see its suspension, look inside it, and ask you questions. Kids love it. They want to ride in it, climb into it, and hear the supercharger whine.

2021 Ram 1500 TRX

2021 Ram 1500 TRX

Hit: Float like a butterfly

The powertrain stings like a bee but the off-road suspension floated over broken Midwest pavement in the middle of winter. The adaptive Bilstein Black Hawk e2 shocks and rear coil springs make the TRX a supremely comfortable truck around town with the ability to smother anything they roll over. The only other half-ton pickup that is this comfortable pounding the pavement is the Raptor.

2021 Ram 1500 TRX

2021 Ram 1500 TRX

Miss: Dinosaurs aren’t practical

The TRX doesn’t like to, or want to, be contained in small spaces. It comes only as a crew cab model with a 5-foot-7-inch bed, so it’s long as well as wide. Parking at the grocery store isn’t fun. Three-point turns are frequently needed. Know what you’ll be living with and your tolerances for such things before committing to a TRX.

2021 Ram 1500 TRX

2021 Ram 1500 TRX

Miss: Crazy expensive

The 2021 Ram 1500 TRX costs $71,890, which is a crazy expensive truck, and that’s not even the TRX you want. It lacks heated front seats, LED bed lighting, blind-spot monitors, and automatic emergency braking. The TRX you want is probably closer to $87,000 while my well-equipped tester had a sticker price of $91,205. It featured everything from bead-lock capable 18-inch aluminum wheels and rock ralis to carbon-fiber trim and a head-up display.

The Ram TRX is peak truck. It’s breathtakingly expensive, with ludicrous power and capability. It’s so absurd that it makes adults feel like kids.

2021 Ram 1500 TRX

2021 Ram 1500 TRX

2021 Ram 1500 TRX

2021 Ram 1500 TRX

2021 Ram 1500 TRX

2021 Ram 1500 TRX

This is the end. The TRX is about as powerful as a gas-powered truck will get. Sure, the 2022 Ford F-150 Raptor R is coming. It’ll likely have the supercharged 5.2-liter V-8 from the Mustang Shelby GT500 with slightly more power than the TRX. Maybe the TRX will get the Hellcat Redeye’s 797-hp engine to counter the Raptor R. But it won’t matter because at that point it’s just a game of one-upmanship.

The 2021 Ram 1500 TRX plants its flag and roars as the ultimate predator, but this is the end. By the end of the year, there will be at least one, if not more, electric pickup trucks that can do 0-60 mph in 3.5 or even 3.0 seconds. They’ll be quicker and far more efficient, and they’ll soon make dinosaurs like the TRX extinct.

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2021 Ram 1500 TRX

Base price: $71,890
Price as tested: $91,205
EPA fuel economy: 10/14/12 mpg
The hits: Fast, loud, comfortable off-road suspension, feels solid, people love it
The misses: Heavy, ponderous, thirsty, expensive, overkill defined

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7-seat electric crossover for Chinese market spotted

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Volkswagen ID Roomzz concept

The next member of Volkswagen’s growing family of ID-badged electric vehicles has been spotted.

It’s a mid-size crossover SUV with third-row seats that VW previewed in 2019 with the ID Roomzz concept, and in production guise it will go by the name ID.6 X. The debut will take place this fall and VW plans to limit sales to the Chinese market.

Volkswagen ID Roomzz concept

With the debut not that far away, there isn’t much camouflage gear on the prototypes. The only elements hidden are the lights and grille. They’ve been covered with stickers designed to make the vehicle resemble a tester for a Peugeot.

Like the ID Roomzz concept, the ID.6 X rides on a stretched version of Volkswagen Group’s flexible MEB platform, the automaker’s mainstream EV architecture. The ID Roomzz measured 193.5 inches in length and the ID.6 X prototype looks to be about the same. The ID.6 X misses out on the concept’s minivan-style sliding doors and camera-based side mirrors, though.

VW MEB platform

VW MEB platform

There will likely be multiple powertrain options to choose from. Looking once again to the ID Roomzz, we can expect at least one powertrain to consist of a dual-motor system delivering about 302 hp or enough for 0-62 mph acceleration in 6.6 seconds and a top speed of 111 mph.

The ID Roomzz was also fitted with an 82-kilowatt-hour lithium-ion battery. VW said the battery could deliver 250 miles of range and, with fast charging, could add an 80% charge in about 30 minutes.

2021 Volkswagen ID.4

2021 Volkswagen ID.4

The first of VW’s ID electric vehicles to reach the United States is the 2021 ID.4 compact crossover which is starting deliveries right about now. A sporty ID.4 GTX is planned and a coupe-like variant to be called the ID.5 is also a good bet for our market.

A spiritual successor to the iconic Microbus is coming in 2023 (the reveal will take place in 2022), and a sedan and wagon are also a possibility for our market. Stay tuned.

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