2020 Lexus LC500 Inspiration Series shown in new Nori Green finish.

Celebrating Daytona’s ’50th’, a Baby Bronco, and the Eye-Catching Lexus LC500



In the last few weeks, our coverage of the 2020 Mustang Shelby GT500 has picked up, with official information greatly outweighed by rapid speculation. That said, it’s been reported by mustang6g.com that the GT500 possesses an approximate base curb weight of 4,225 lbs. Slating the vehicle between the 3,890-lb Camaro ZL1 and the 4,450-ln Challenger SRT Hellcat, the weight rating feels appropriate – even if those numbers haven’t been officially released. Needless to say, we’ll keep sharing such morsels until the official specs are dropped.

Another conversation touched on in recent weeks was the tease of the all-electric F-150. But, as you might recall, it was only a few months ago when Ford dropped $500 million to invest in EV rival Rivian. Ford CEO Jim Hackett was recently put on the spot, asked about the nature of that relationship and how it relates to plans for an EV truck. His response? “You shouldn’t go down the path of assuming it’s a pickup.” Since the Rivian platform indicates a large vehicle, such as a truck or SUV, it stands to reason that his statements all-but confirm that the vehicle they are working on together would be the latter, or are simply an epic troll.

But on the topic of Ford trucks, it appears the the upcoming release of a compact pickup (slotted below the Ranger) might bear an offshoot of the revived Bronco branding. Expected to be built on a long-wheelbase version of the Focus’ platform, it is also expected to come front-wheel drive standard with the option of all-wheel drive powered by either a 1.5, 2.0 or 2.5-liter four-cylinder powertrain. At this point, all signs point to a 2022 North American release.

And Ford continues to cash in on the trend of tough, off-road designs aimed at urban markets with the release of the new FX2 package for the 2019 Ford Ranger. Upgrading the two-wheel drive pickup with off-road tuned suspension, 17 or 18-inch tires, front underbody guards and locking rear differential  – the FX2 package offers the appeal of a 4×4 vibe albeit customized to better fit the habits of the more modest adventurer. It joins such popular packages as the Trailer Tow Package and FX4 Off-Road package in expanding the already-immediate appeal of the Ranger, and the upcharge for the FX2 package is priced at $595 with deliveries (of models equipped with it) expected to begin late this year.

GM / Chevy / GMC

General Motors and OnStar found themselves in the crosshairs of a social media backlash this week, following an incident just outside of Miami. Prior to loading her vehicle in a public parking lot, a mother, who had started her vehicle in order to run the A/C for the comfort of her 10-month old child, accidentally locked the vehicle with both her child and the keys inside. At the time, the outside temperature was clocked at 95 degrees. Prior to the arrival of emergency services, she had attempted to gain access through the built-in OnStar system. Unfortunately, her account with OnStar had expired, which deactivated OnStar’s connection to the vehicle; a connection which can only be restored by the driver, by physically reactivating the account by pushing the blue OnStar button found inside of the vehicle. But, as is often the case with social media, keyboard warriors united to condemn both OnStar and GM despite having little-to-no understanding of how the system works. Fortunately, the child was rescued unharmed, but a investigations are being facilitated on all sides. 

Continuing our coverage of the mid-engine 2020 C8 Corvette Stingray, GM has now dropped official price points. Starting at $59,995 MSRP the C8 is slotted about $4,000 higher than its immediate predecessor, and almost $3,000 higher than the Porsche 718 Cayman. Granted, that price point is for the base model only. With two higher trims available, starting pricing is set at $67,295 and $71,945 respectively.

Having previously announced that AT4 off-road treatment would be extended across their entire lineup, GMC has confirmed specs for the 2020 Acadia AT4 including an all-new 2.0-liter turbocharged four-cylinder engine (alongside 2.5 and 3.6-liter powertrain options) and “more aggressive exterior styling”. GMC also confirmed the availability of a 3.0-liter Duramax Diesel , as well as upgraded trailering options for the 2020 Sierra, while the midsize Canyon gains some expanded driver assistive features.

FCA / Dodge / RAM / Jeep

Pleasing muscle fans (such as yours truly) Dodge, Chrysler and SRT design chief Mark Trostle has confirmed that the unapologetically retro styling of both the Challenger and Charger will be retained for the immediate future. Recognizing this design philosophy as a strength, the challenge lies in adapting the next generation platform to retain visual appeal while remaining compliant with regulatory changes. And while FCA has made no secret as to the future of muscle being electrified under the hood, it appears that the goal is retain the same celebrated visual cues in their exterior aesthetic.

Which segues nicely into the 2020 Dodge Charger SRT Hellcat Widebody Daytona 50th Anniversary Edition, a special edition offering that pays homage to the 1969 Charger Daytona which first broke the 200-mph average lap speed and held that distinction for 17 years. The 50th Anniversary Edition comes powered by the current supercharged 6.2-liter, albeit with a 10 point boost to reach 717 horsepower. In addition, buyers gain black faux suede upholstery with blue stiching, flat-bottomed carbon fiber steering wheel, Daytona badging and can choose from four colors: Pitch Black, White Knuckle, Triple Knuckle and B5 Blue. Dealer preorders will be opened up in late fall.

Over at RAM, it has been announced that the third-generation 3.0-liter V6 EcoDiesel powertrain will be priced as a $4,995 option (a $3,000 premium over the 5.7-liter Hemi V8 eTorque). Leading output for the half-ton pickup segment when housed in the RAM 1500, the powertrain delivers 480 lb-ft of torque as well as a 12,560 towing capability. That said, it will now be offered across all models and configurations, including (for the first time) the RAM Rebel.

A few months back, we had reported forward motion on a class action lawsuit against FCA for the dramatically-named Jeep phenomenon known as ‘death wobble’. For those unfamiliar, ‘death wobble’ is used to describe steering wheel vibrating that can occur when a Jeep hits a bump at high speeds – an experience which (however frightening to a driver) FCA claims poses no safety risk. While long-term solutions, as well as scope of the suit itself, have yet to unfold, FCA has announced a new campaign which will support the installation of a stabilizing steering damper. Described by some as a ‘band-aid fix’ it’ll be interesting to watch these events play out.

Toyota / Lexus

And Toyota has confirmed that the Corolla sedan and hatchback will gain the option of the blacked out Nightshade Edition, alongside the 4Runner, Camry, Highlander and Sienna. The upgrade, which consists of blacked out elements such as: 18-inch alloy wheels, grille, badging, roof-mounted shark fin, spoilers, window trim, door handles and exterior handles will be available in three exterior color options: Black Sand Pearl, Classic Silver Metallic, and Super White. In terms of price bump, it is expected to start at around $700

In our only recall announcement of the day, Toyota has announced for 6,925 vehicles produced between April and June of 2019. Due to a faulty brake booster, affected vehicles could experience deactivation of the Vehicle Stability Control system if their booster fail. Should that occur, vehicles will no longer meet federal requirements. Toyota has specified that the issue is estimated to exist in only 25% of the recalled vehicles. Vehicles include 2019 Prius and RAV4 Hybrid, 2020 Prius Prime Corolla Hybrid and a number of Lexus models including: LS500, LC500, ES300h, UX250h and LS500h. Notifications are being sent out to affected parties.

And speaking of the LC500, those of you who enjoyed the featured image of this podcast on AutoInfluence should know that Lexus is introducing the 2020 Inspiration Series which upgrades the celebrated design with a striking Nori Green exterior and two-tone Saddle Tan / Black Amber interior with brown stitching. Limited to just 100 units here in the U.S. the 2020 LC 500 Inspiration Series will go on-sale later this fall, with pricing yet to be advised.

Hyundai / Kia

Hyundai raked in the accolades from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration this week, with the 2020 Hyundai Kona, Santa Fe and Tucson all earning 5-Star Overall Safety Ratings. Credit is contingent upon inclusion of the Hyundai SmartSense safety technologies which supplement award-winning structural engineering to ensure superior crashworthiness and collision avoidance.

And both Hyundai and Kia were recognized by Autopacific in their annual Vehicle Satisfaction Awards. Based on over 50,000 responses designed to evaluate more than 30 separate attributes of new model year offerings winners included: 2019 Hyundai Accent and Tucson for Economy Car and Compact Crossover segments along with the 2019 Kia Forte and Cadenza for compact and large segments, respectively.


Of course, 2019 marks the 30th anniversary of the Infiniti brand and – in celebration of the event – Infiniti has debuted their Edition 30 lineup. Consisting of special edition trims of the 2020 Q50, Q60, QX50, QX60 and QX80 Edition 30 vehicles are slated to arrive at dealerships during the fall, with man of the details associated with them still being kept under wraps. That said, they will feature an array of Driver Assistive technologies as well as high-end exterior and interior accents.

Which just about wraps things up for us this week. Be sure to come back next week for all your current auto news headlines. And until then, say hi to your mom for me.