The Friday Five:The Bronco Overlands Over Everything, MX-5 Miata Awarded to Community Heroes, and Mercedes EQ Lineup Boosted Edition

Beverly Braga | Oct 09, 2020

This week, we previewed the 2021 models of the Honda Ridgeline and Jaguar XF as well as covered updates to the new Nissan Rogue and Toyota RAV4. And we offered up some advice on checking your car battery and how to get into the business of buying auction cars.

But that’s not everything that was happening in the automotive space.

Ford Bronco Overland Concept Built for Out-There Camping

Ford continues to build more Bronco adventure concepts, and the latest one to showcase purpose-built accessories is the Bronco Overland. The Overland made its debut at the Bronco Super Celebration East, the largest gathering of classic Bronco vehicles in North America.

2021 Ford Bronco Overland Concept Tent on Roof

Based on a 4-Door Badlands model, the Ford Bronco Overland is made for off-the-grid campers. Painted in Area 51 (a two-tone dark gray), the concept is outfitted with a winch mounted to a modular steel front bumper, both developed by Ford Performance. It also sports a 1x40 Rigid roof rack-mounted light bar with extra lights for a 360-degree lighting configuration and a tall CB antenna on the back bumper. The vehicle sits on 17-inch Fifteen52 Turbomatic heavy-duty wheels wrapped in 35-inch BFGoodrich KM3 off-road tires.

In the cargo area, Ford adds an ARB refrigerator, cooking kit, and stove built into a storage management system. A tailgate table with matching chairs makes dining outdoors easier, and Molle-style tactical grids affixed to the rear quarter windows supply additional storage. Up top is a heavy-duty, two-person Yakima tent. A 2.3-liter turbocharged 4-cylinder engine paired with a 7-speed manual supplies the power, sent to all four wheels.

2021 Chevrolet Silverado HD Changes Result in Trailering Improvements

Although redesigned just last year, the Chevrolet Silverado Heavy Duty lineup receives several enhancements for 2021, most of which beef up the truck’s trailering and towing capabilities. For example, its already best-in-class tow rating gets another 500-pound bump to a maximum of 36,000 pounds. Applicable to a specifically-configured Silverado 3500 HD Work Truck, hardware updates to the suspension and packaging help the vehicle achieve the high rating. 

New trailering technology includes the following:

  • A trailer length indicator, which assists with gauging truck-plus-trailer length during lane changes
  • A jack-knife alert, which tracks truck and trailer positioning and warns of a potential jack-knife situation
  • A cargo bed view enhancement, which helps with setting up a fifth-wheel trailer
  • A rear trailer view with added guidelines and trailer-angle indicator
  • A split-view display on either side of the truck when driving forward and in reverse

Four special edition models also arrive, including Carhartt, Midnight, Z71 Sport, and Z71 Chrome Sport. Additionally, features like the bed view camera and SiriusXM satellite radio have become either standard or newly available for more models.

Mazda Wants to Honor Local Heroes by Gifting Them a Special-Edition MX-5 Miata

Mazda is looking for a few good heroes. Fifty of them, to be exact, as the automaker wants to reward them with a limited-edition MX-5 Miata 100th Anniversary model.

“This year marks Mazda’s 100th Anniversary. We had hoped this time would be filled with moments of celebration and appreciation for our fans, employees, and partners,” said Mazda President Jeff Guyton. “But given the many tragic events of 2020, we decided to express in another way our brand’s unique heritage of trying to make things better.”

As part of its “Mazda Heroes: Honoring the Human Spirit” program, anyone can submit nominations for those who have gone above and beyond to help their neighbors, communities, and others, especially during these trying times. Nominations are due by October 25, and Mazda will announce honorees on December 2.

Mercedes-Benz Looks to Expand its EV Footprint Across All Brands

Some high-voltage news came from Mercedes-Benz earlier this week as CEO Ola Källenius not only confirmed the timeline of the all-electric EQ sub-brand but also discussed plans to add electrification and expand its ultra-performance and uber-luxury AMG, G, and Maybach lineups. Maybach will double in size — model-wise, not size-wise.

The upcoming EV-only EQ lineup will parallel that of the German automaker’s petrol-powered vehicles. This means the S-Class, E-Class, and even G-Class will have electric twins. Mercedes-Benz had long confirmed the EQA, EQC, and EQS sedan models but now adds EQB, EQE (sedan and SUV), and EQS SUV. Hopefully, they offer a periodic table of models in the future as well.

Interestingly, all this Mercedes-Benz expansion follows a nearly cutthroat slashing of the U.S. model lineup. Nevertheless, the EQA and EQS will be the first to arrive, debuting next year.

NHTSA: First Half of 2020 Saw Fatal Crashes Decrease, Intoxication Increase

Peak coronavirus months seems to have led to complacency behind the wheel, at least according to a recent report from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA). Measuring data for the same January-June period in 2019 and 2020, the NHTSA finds a 2% decrease in traffic fatalities compared to last year. As expected, vehicle miles driven (VMT) is also down (16.6%) due to shelter-in-place, work-from-home mandates during the time. However, the fatalities rate increased from 1.06 deaths per 100 million VMT to 1.25. If looking by quarter, in 2020, deaths were up to 1.4 per 100 million VMT in the spring.

According to NHTSA, even with fewer cars on the road, more drivers were careless, exhibiting behavior such as speeding, not buckling up, and driving while under the influence. All figures involving drug and alcohol use was up. Toxicology reports showed a 64.7% increase in positive tests for some kind of active drug in a person’s system compared to 50.8% pre-pandemic. Overall, young males between the ages of 18 and 34 took the most risks, and those living in rural areas. NHTSA plans to adjust its public safety messaging to improve outreach.

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