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    The Ford Explorer “Cherokee Truckster” Is Neither Jeep Nor Proper Family Truckster

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    But what if the Griswold’s road trip took place a decade later? Would the family still hit the road in a station wagon? Maybe. Then again, Clark might have decided to join the hoards of families embracing truck-based SUVs such as the still rather new Ford Explorer. For better or worse, such a vision of this alternate timeline exists and is pictured here. The rather unfortunate vehicle bears the name Cherokee Truckster. 

    Presumably a tie-in between the fictional Wagon Queen brand and Ford, the 1994 Ford Explorer Cherokee Truckster proudly wears its Blue Oval and Explorer badges. However, the Cherokee Truckster kit adds an unmistakably Family Truckster-inspired style to Ford’s family SUV. Green paint? Check. (This is reportedly one of just three Explorers to leave the factory in this hue.) Tacky faux wood paneling? Yep. Loads of luggage tied to the roof racks? You know it.

    This special Explorer also features a host of era-specific additions, too, such as oversized running boards, large mud flaps, and tacky chrome bits surrounding the wheel wells and lower door panels. Look past the exterior bits, though, and this looks like any run-of-the-mill XLT-grade 1994 Explorer, from its gray cloth interior to its 4.0-liter V-6 engine. 

    Then again, would you expect Clark Griswold, of all people, to pay extra for a vehicle with meaningful comfort and convenience or performance upgrades? Of course not. Clark’s the sort of sucker to get upsold on an extra such as the Cherokee Truckster package—one that adds little substance, but reeks of terrible taste.

    Not that we’d ever say such things about the individual or family that ultimately signs the title of this Cherokee Truckster (at least not to their faces), which is set to hit the block at Mecum’s upcoming Kissimmee, Florida auction. Credit our colleagues at Motor1.com for making us aware of this piece of vehicular fan fiction. More

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    2022 Subaru BRZ: Everything We Know About the Miata Fighter

    Subaru’s BRZ sports car skips the 2021 model year as it gears up for a redesign. Before you go out and snap up one of the remaining 2020 models left on dealer lots, take a look with us at its upcoming replacement. Marking the model’s second generation, the 2022 BRZ will build on the bones of its predecessor by welcoming significant dynamic and styling improvements. In other words, the 2022 Subaru BRZ promises to fix the foibles of its forebear while continuing to affordably deliver rear-drive sports car athleticism.

    2022 Subaru BRZ: Turbo Power?

    Despite sharing its basic rear-drive architecture with the prior BRZ, the new model ought to benefit from a number of dynamic alterations, including additional chassis bracing and reworked suspension pieces. Nevertheless, we expect the 2022 BRZ to remain just as playful as the first-gen model. 

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    In fact, it may even offer more enjoyment from the driver’s seat. Credit the arrival of a new 2.4-liter flat-four engine. Like the smaller 2.0-liter unit it replaces, the new BRZ powerplant once again forgoes forced induction. That said, the bigger four-cylinder ought to improve upon the 2.0-liter’s 205-hp peak output figure while also—hopefully—leaving behind the outgoing engine’s more agricultural qualities.

    The 2022 BRZ will surely continue to offer buyers the option to row their own gears courtesy of a standard six-speed manual gearbox. An automatic transmission with steering-wheel-mounted paddle shifters will almost certainly find its way to the options menu. Similarly, we expect Subaru to bring back the BRZ’s optional Performance package, which adds items such as stickier rubber, better brakes, and suspension upgrades to the 2020 BRZ.

    2022 Subaru BRZ: 2 + 2 = Fun

    Unlike its closest competitor, the two-seat Mazda MX-5 Miata, the 2022 BRZ will return with seating for four courtesy of a small rear bench seat with room for two. We expect it will retain the ability to swallow four sets of wheels (with tires mounted) inside the trunk and cabin with the rear seats folded, as can today’s BRZ; the unusual feature allows owners to drive to the track with a separate, harder-core set of wheels of tires and swap them on for lapping so as to avoid wearing out their street rubber.

    Although its interior space will remain largely the same as before, the BRZ’s insides should look and feel more welcoming. Credit a new dashboard design that uses higher-end materials and brings Subaru’s latest infotainment setup into the small sports car’s cabin. Look for an available touchscreen infotainment system that’s notably larger than the outgoing car’s 7.0-inch unit.

    2022 Subaru BRZ: Rear-Drive Style

    Images of 2022 BRZ test vehicles reveal an evolutionary design that appears to carry over the same essential greenhouse and proportions (including a relatively long hood and stubby rear end) from the previous model. Look closely at the details, though, and you’ll spot a number of noteworthy changes, such as a more pronounced trunk lip and larger taillights that appear to blend with the trunk’s cutlines.

    Larger and vertically oriented—and seemingly functional—side vents now reside aft of the front wheels, as opposed to the slim, horizontal units that lived fore of the old car’s windshield base. Likewise, expect the new BRZ to feature a front end with a wider grille and more upright headlights—likely featuring standard LED illumination.

    2022 Subaru BRZ: Price and On-Sale Date

    Look for Subaru to reveal the 2022 BRZ before the end of the year with sales kicking off before the middle of 2021. Pricing ought to remain close to that of the 2020 model, which starts at $29,745. More

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    2023 Nissan Z: Everything We Know About the Supra-Fighting Sports Coupe

    After more than a decade on the market, the Nissan 370Z is finally retiring. In its place comes the 400Z. Or at least that’s what we expect Nissan to christen the new Z. Unlike today’s sports car, the upcoming 2023 Z’s digits are not expected to represent the displacement of its engine but instead its outright horsepower. 

    Don’t worry purists, the new Z won’t abandon its history of packing six cylinders under its hood. Nor will it lose its third pedal option. 

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    2023 Nissan Z: Powertrain and Performance

    Anticipated to pack a stable of 400 horses, the upcoming 400Z is sure to have the power needed to properly compete with the likes of the Toyota Supra and the Porsche 718 Cayman sports coupes. Look for the new Z to rely on a twin-turbocharged 3.0-liter V-6 for motivation. 

    2023 Nissan Z: Looks and Styling

    Look for the new Z’s styling to ride the coattails of its predecessors. As such, buyers can anticipate retro cues that evoke the original Datsun 240Z’s round headlights, long hood, and stubby rear end. Even the car’s badging will embrace an old-school font. 

    Similarly, we expect the new Z’s insides to combine modern technology with design elements that give a nod toward the past. Nissan is sure to fit the car with a trio auxiliary gauges atop its dashboard.

    2023 Nissan Z: On-Sale Date and Price

    We anticipate the 2023 Nissan Z will reach dealerships in the United States before the end of 2022. Although Nissan will initially sell the new Z exclusively as a coupe (with a hatch to access the cargo area), it may resurrect the model’s convertible body style a year or two down the line.

    Regardless, the new Z’s price will rise dramatically from that of the 2020 model, which starts at $31,015. In fact, we’d guess the new Z will skirt the pricing line between the four- and six-cylinder Supra models, which start at $43,985 and $51,985, respectively. In other words, plan to cut a check for north of $45,000 to get behind the wheel of an entry-level 2023 Nissan Z. More

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    The 2022 Chevrolet Corvette Z06 Will Pack a Screaming NA V-8 Engine

    The frustrating part when writing one of our “What We Know” stories is that the info in it becomes obsolete the moment we know more. Take the upcoming C8 version of the Chevrolet Corvette Z06. Thanks to a source at GM, we now know a lot more about the racier model.

    Are you ready? The next Corvette Z06 will have a naturally aspirated 5.5-liter flat-plane twin-cam V-8 that spins to 9,000 rpm. Again, naturally aspirated and redlines at nine grand. Can we get a hallelujah? If we may, a Lamborghini Huracan Evo’s 10-cylinder engine spins to 8,500 rpm, while the Lambo Aventador SVJ’s V-12 only hits 8,700 rpm. The Ferrari 812 Superfast? It says 9,000 rpm on the tach, but everyone knows (wink) that its superlative V-12 is only good until 8,900 revs. No, only the discontinued Porsche 911 GT3/GT3 RS/Speedster’s 4.0-liter chunk of rear-mounted perfection spins all the way up to 9,000 rpm. Well, the upcoming 992 GT3’s engine (probably) will, too. As will the new C8 Z06.

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    How Much Horsepower?

    We’re guessing that this, for now, unnamed engine’s output will come in at right around 625 hp, with well over 400 lb-ft of torque (figure 485 lb-ft). Not quite as much as the old Z06’s supercharged 6.2-liter LT4—650 hp/650 lb-ft of torque—but who cares? To use Porsche as an example for a moment, the 911 Turbo makes more power than the 911 GT3. Yet, every car geek wants the GT3. Back to that power for a moment, over 600 naturally aspirated ponies from only 5.5-liters is impressive. Assuming we’re right about the 625 hp number, that means the Z06 will pack 99 horses more than the world’s next most powerful naturally aspirated V-8: the 526-hp Voodoo V-8 found in the Shelby GT350/GT350R. To put this possible 625 hp in perspective, the sadly deceased Dodge Viper cranked out 645 hp from a massive 8.4-liter V-10 engine. To quote our source, the Z06’s engine is, “going to be a screamer.”

    Back to the Shelby GT350’s flat-plane Voodoo V-8 (526 hp, 429 lb-ft of torque, redline at 8,250 rpm) for a moment; its 5.2-liter displacement is going to be the closest to the Z06’s. That’s oversized for a flat-plane engine, and Ford deals with this by placing a large, rubber dampener on the non-transmission side of the crankshaft to eat unwanted vibrations. We’re not sure how Chevy is dealing with the unscrew-the-head bolts third-order vibrations inherent to flat-plane V-8s (vibrations that grow more violent as displacement grows), but the bowtie brand has been racing with (essentially) this same, albeit detuned engine (500 hp, 480 lb-ft of torque) in the C8.R, so some sort of solution must exist. Chevrolet had to buy back an awful lot of heat-soaked C7 Z06s thanks to a class-action lawsuit, which led the company to enact much more stringent testing procedures. We bet the big-displacement vibration issue is a non-issue.

    Turbo Time?

    What about those two turbochargers we thought we knew about? Well, turns out we were right, just about the wrong car. Like Chevy has done for the past two generations, there will be a high-horsepower ZR1 version of the C8. That car will get two turbochargers piped into its 5.5-liter engine (along with all the accompanying cooling hardware). We think 800 hp seems about right from this variant of the twin-cam engine.

    There will also be a gasoline-electric hybrid variant that uses the twin-turbo V-8 and at least one electric motor to produce a total system output of 1,000 hp (or more). Expect it to bear the name Zora, after the father of the Corvette, Zora Arkus-Duntov. One sad bit of news (so we hear) is that there will not be a C8 Grand Sport. Why not? We do not know. We’re just hearing it’s not in the cards—don’t shoot the messenger. However, there will be an all-electric Corvette. Unfortunately, we know next to nothing about that model…for now. More

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    2022 Mercedes-AMG SL: What We Know About the New Roadster

    The aging, slow-selling current-generation Mercedes-Benz SL is not long for this world. Waiting in the wings is a new take on the venerable formula—after all, the SL is Mercedes’ longest-running nameplate with a wealth of history. And serious performance roots, as well—something that hasn’t been at the forefront of the SL conversation for a long time. Let’s take a closer look at what plans Mercedes—and specifically, and notably, Mercedes-AMG—has for the model.

    2022 Mercedes-AMG SL: Engines From Mild to Wild Hybrid

    Globally, the new SL will have a host of engines that should roughly mirror the related AMG GT family of vehicles (more on that in a second). That means AMG power levels of “43” all the way up to “73e.” As you’re probably aware, those two-digit powertrain indicators are no longer directly related to engine displacement, but rather indicate a certain performance level. The SL 43 will likely feature a high-output turbocharged inline-four, the SL 53 a turbocharged I-6 with a “mild-hybrid” system, and the 73e will top the range with a gasoline-electric hybrid powertrain that features AMG’s powerful and ubiquitous twin-turbo 4.0-liter V-8. An SL 63 and an SL 55 will fill out the range, although we’re not completely clear on what engines those will feature. All-wheel drive with Drift Mode (4Matic+ in Mercedes-speak) should be available on everything north of the SL 43.

    Translation: the AMG SL will be awfully quick. We’re pegging the SL 73e to produce more than 800 horses at its peak. Figure on a dual-clutch transaxle, likely the same seven-cog unit offered in the current AMG GT.

    2022 Mercedes-AMG SL: Part of the GT Family

    While the current SL is offered as both a Mercedes-Benz (SL 450, SL 550) and (until recently) a Mercedes-AMG (SL 63), the new SL will almost certainly only be sold as an AMG model. That’s because AMG has taken the lead in the development of the new sports car, which will ride on the next-generation version of the AMG GT chassis.

    That’s probably good for vehicle dynamics, given the division’s unrelenting focus on sportiness. But it’ll mean that the SL will be more of a 2+2 convertible than a roadster. Even though previous models could be had with vestigial rear seats, the last couple of generations have been pure two-seaters. At least there’s precedent for a 2+2 SL, however useless the rear seats may have been. That said, we expect the 2022’s rear seats to be at least minimally functional. Why? We think it’s intended to take the role in the model range left by the departure of the four-passenger S-Class convertible.

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    Vorserienfahrzeuge des neuen SL Roadster starten zu ausführlichen Straßentests

    2022 Mercedes-AMG SL: Coming Soon?

    It sure looks like development is advancing rapidly. Affalterbach released these images of the new SL testing on public roads. If past tailpipe shape is any clue, we’re looking at both an SL 53 and an SL 63 variant. It seems the SL will adopt a canvass roof, and the overall shape and stance of the new car is seriously evocative of the AMG GT two-doors—no surprise there. There’s clearly a lither, sportier demeanor than the blunt, brawny R231-generation SL that’s on sale now. We expect the new SL to be on sale by the second half of next year. More