We came to the Holly Oaks ORV park to get a taste of the off-road chops of the new and revised 2021 Ford Bronco. For the record, ORV stands for off road vehicle-park. This place was about 50 miles northwest of Detroit and on at least the part we saw, there wasn’t a paved road on it. The Bronco has generated an awful lot of ink since it debuted. The SUV has a storied and infamous history that dates to 1965. Its past is both infamous, with the slow-motion police chase of OJ Simpson following the murder of his wife and her friend in 1994 to James Garner, star of the TV show Maverick racing the Bronco on the Baja Peninsula in the late ‘60s and early 70s. There was an exhibit here recounting both as well as other parts of its history. But this was where the rubber hit the road, or sand. There are enough trim lines of the Bronco and engine choices to rival the choices given to pickup truck buyers. Thus, will stick what we drove, or in this case rode in as a passenger.
Let’s get right to it. For the 2021 model year, Toyota has expanded it Supra sports car line. It is a gambit in a crossover world, but the manufacturer obviously thinks it has the goods that will attract enough sports car lovers to make this venture successful. New to the Supra lineup, which was just reintroduced to the market a year ago, is the GR Supra 2.0. There is a GR Supra 3.0, which has more oomph under the hood but we’re not here to talk about that car. Besides, we have not driven it. But we have sat in the driver’s seat of the 2021 GR Toyota Supra 2.0. First, the GR stands for GAZOO Racing. According to our search, GAZOO refers to the word “Garage,” a very intimate place where people work together to improve the smallest details, with the aim of delivering ever-better cars and services for each customer, in each garage. Racing is self-explanatory. Our test vehicle was a prototype, meaning it was not for sale. This close to launch, it was probably a prototype 1, which means this is what’s going to be sold to consumers. All major changes and most of the smaller adjustments as well have been made. This Supra was powered by an inline four-cylinder engine, a first for the Supra, and it had a dual-scroll single turbocharger. This engine generated 255 horsepower and 295 pound-feet of torque at an awfully low 1,550 rpms. The engine was matched to an eight- speed automatic transmission. What’s more it tipped the scales at 3,180 lbs. That is light for a car.
With eyes closed there would be no way to tell that you were driving a Lexus. That occurred to us as we drove a 2021 Lexus 500 Convertible from here to Toledo, Ohio. It was a 64-mile trip and it was long enough for us to get our mind around the character of this LC drop top. Under the hood was a 5.0-liter V8 with an aluminum block, 32 valves and dual variable valve timing. This engine made 471 horsepower and 398 pound-feet of torque. It was mated to a 10-speed automatic transmission with paddle shifters and a manual mode. Rear-wheel-drive, this LC 500 could get to 60 mph from a standstill in 4.6 seconds. Top sped was 168 mph. The fuel rating was 15 miles mpg in the city, 25 mpg on the highway and 18 mpg combined. We were able to do the 140-mile trip on less than one quarter a tank of gas; maximum fuel capacity was 21.7 gallons.
Detroit – With three rows, new heated captain’s chairs for the second row and a nicely appointed interior, the 2020 Mazda CX-9 crossover is the automaker’s flagship. The brand’s style fit nicely on the CX-9. Its size provided plenty of room for the flowing lines that are a mainstay of its Kodo design. The interior was chestnut, there were perforated seats and the front pair was heated and cooled. The touch infotainment screen was atop the dash and the rest of the controls flowed down the face of the dash. The instruments were analogue and laid out in three circles. In the middle was the speedometer, on theft was the odometer and on the right was the circular housing for the temperature and fuel gauges.
We got the chance to have a short stint with the new 2021 Chevrolet Suburban. But first a bit of background. COVID-19 is causing havoc. It had already changed the launch program for the Suburban from a three-day two-night affair, to a one-day program with a central massing point. But as cases of the virus ticked up here, they opted for an overnight home delivery action. In other words, they dropped off the Suburban in the morning and picked it up the next afternoon.
The Hyundai Ioniq is a car of the future. That’s because it comes in three electrified versions: hybrid, plug-in hybrid and all electric. We had the hybrid. The car had an EPA rating of 55 mpg in the city, 54 mpg on the highway and 55 mpg combined. Of course, the caveat is that mileage can differ depending on driving habits. Well on most the readouts we got during excursions, the Ioniq HEV got 46 mpg. That was pretty good. The powertrain for this type of mileage was a 1.6-liter gasoline direct injected Atkinson 4-cylinder engine coupled with a permanent magnet synchronous electric motor. There was a 240-volt Lithium-ion Polymer battery with hybrid starter generator and a six-speed dual clutch automatic transmission. This combination was impressive – for a hybrid. Acceleration was good. There was enough oomph for interstate driving. We had no trouble generating speed to pass.
For the first time ever, Toyota has produced a TRD trim line of its bestselling Camry. The 2020 Toyota Camry is a head turner. And for the record, TRD stands for Toyota Racing Development. This car had an edgier design and an aggressive stance. The body kit included a front splitter, side aero skirts, trunk lid spoiler and rear spoiler. All that improved stability at higher speeds. We thought this car was effortless to drive. Acceleration was top notch; the suspension was a little stiffer than a normal Camry, but it was not harsh. The sedan was by no means sedate. It had a gloss black grille with sport mesh insert and black exterior badging. Distinctive red pin-striping, red painted brake calipers, red TRD badging and polished stainless steel TRD exhaust tips completed the road-hungry look. When we first got in the Camry TRD, what stood out was the fit and finish. The control area had a black piano template. The instruments were analogue and black faced with the numerals reversed out in red. It was a simple layout. The odometer, the speedometer, one held the temperature gauge while the other housed the fuel gauge.
Detroit – Whoa! That’s what we thought when we looked at the price of Hyundai’s 2020 Venue. This small crossover had all the comfort of a larger and more expensive vehicle. When we got inside, it occurred to us that we might be seeing the last days of old-fashioned keys. The Venue had push button lock and unlock. And of course, along with that feature, push button start and stop is normal. The next thing we noticed was the drive mode button on the center console. The Venue had three modes: normal, sport and snow. And we did notice the moonroof too. We thought the use of plastic was nicely camouflaged with the grainy texture they used on the dash. The infotainment touch screen was embedded on the face of the dash with a climate control vent on each side.
Impressive. That’s the first descriptive word we thought of when it came to the 2020 Altima 2.0 Platinum Sedan. The car was outstanding but we’re talking about the transmission. Nissan has probably done more work on continuous variable transmissions than any other automaker and it showed on this day trip from here to Battle Creek, MI. We discovered some traits in the Altima that you can only find in a real-life test drive, like the CVT. It was quiet, it simulated shifts and it was just as effective as a regular transmission.
The 2020 Mazda6 midsize sedan is the automakers flagship. This car was truly a premium sedan. The interior was swathed in leather, the dash had soft touch points. The cockpit was spacious, and the car had a sophisticated feel. However, we thought the heated steering wheel could have been a little thicker. That can make all the difference in the driving experience. This Mazda6 Signature was powered by a turbocharged 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine that made 227 horsepower and 310 pound-feet of torque. It was mated to a six-speed automatic transmission with paddle shifters. It was a front-wheel drive sedan with G-Vectoring control.