The Friday Five:The Ford F-150 “How Much?!”, Mercedes-Benz “Hello. Goodbye.”, and Mini “Shh. We’re Watching a Movie.” Edition

Beverly Braga | Jul 31, 2020

This week, automakers announced as-expected second-quarter losses caused by the ongoing coronavirus pandemic. However, some sectors, like pickup trucks, did show signs of a sales upswing and brands remain hopeful that the previous slow sales months will reverse course. Also in the news were small-scale but big-deal updates to the 2021 Hyundai Veloster N and 2021 Lexus NX

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

2021 Ford F-150 Prices Hit New Lows and Highs

With significant upgrades and fancy new gadgets, the all-new 2021 Ford F-150 is priced to get you in the door but could also scare you with sticker shock. The redesigned pickup is claimed to be 92% new or revised but with only a $195 year-over-year price increase. At $30,635 (including destination), the entry-level F-150 XL model will undercut key competitors, including the current-year Ram 1500 which starts at $33,840. That being said, to go from bare-bones basic to a fully-loaded full-size, expect to tread the $80,000 watermark.

2021 Ford F-150 Limited Towing Airstream Trailer

The 2021 F-150 Limited SuperCrew will start at $72,520 — a $3,090 increase from 2020. Four-wheel drive adds $3,425, the PowerBoost hybrid engine another $2,500, and with other a la carte options, you’re looking at an F-150 comparable in price to a Mercedes-Benz G-Wagen. Other mid- and top-level trims show year-over-year increases in the $3,000-ish range as well. 

But Ford is in no danger of losing its crown as the best-selling vehicle in the U.S. With seven trim levels and a multitude of mix-and-match packages and accessories, consumers will have seemingly endless possibilities in finding the F-150 that best fits their needs and budget.

Mercedes-Benz Future U.S. Lineup to be One of Hellos and Goodbyes

What goes up must invariably come down. In the last few years, Mercedes-Benz’s lineup has swelled with vehicles, particularly models sliding into gray areas between long-established segments. Now, in the coming years, shoppers will see a different sort of vehicle catalog from the luxury automaker.

Mercedes-Benz USA CEO Nicholas Speeks announced during a dealer meeting last month that at least seven models would be dropped from the U.S. market. Although the departing models weren’t specified, rumored to be on the chopping block are the coupe and convertible versions of the C-, E-, and S-Class. But don’t fret. New vehicles will take up some, if not all, of those empty slots. This includes a new CLE that will feature coupe, convertible, and wagon variants. 

Additionally, the upcoming EQ series of electric vehicles starts arriving soon, ranging from an EQA to an EQS, fully-camouflaged versions of the latter recently spied testing in the company of Teslas in Germany.

Mini Releases Guide for the Ultimate Drive-In Movie Experience

Summer is in full swing, but the continuing Covid-19 health crisis has changed how we go about enjoying our seasonal fun, particularly with regard to movie watching. As many indoor theatres remain in shutdown mode due to health restrictions, the old-school drive-in theatre is making a heck of a comeback. And Mini wants to help you enjoy the show.

It’s no secret that the drive-in is far removed from its heyday of some 5,000 theatres during the 1950s and 1960s to less than 500 in operation today. But in this new era of social distancing, it’s the perfect venue for viewing big screen films. The Mini Guide to Drive-In movies is a free digital download that offers a location finder, theatre history, viewing tips, snack ideas, and even a how-to on creating your own drive-in experience with a car club or other large group. 

So, whether you’ve exhausted that streaming channel wish list or are feeling nostalgic, the show must go on. It’s just moved to your car.

2021 Acura TLX Type S Horsepower Rating Released

The redesigned 2021 Acura TLX will be more than new sheet metal and luxury flourishes. Its drivetrain will also hearken back to a performance-oriented past with the return of the Type S. Featuring a turbocharged 3.0-liter V-6, the new Type S will produce 355 horsepower and 354 pound-feet of torque. This puts the premium sedan right between the eyes of the Audi S4 and BMW M340i. 

The specially-tuned Acura TLX Type S will be equipped with torque-vectoring Super Handling All-Wheel Drive (SH-AWD) and an adaptive damping suspension as standard equipment. And a summer performance tire upgrade will be available for the Type S’s standard 20-inch wheels. Your transmission choice is limited to just one, though: a 10-speed automatic. Still, the TLX Type S will not be a one-trick pony as Acura has confirmed plans to apply the nameplate to more models in the future.

Toyota On Schedule with Solid-State Battery for Long-Range, Fast-Charging EVs

Solid-state batteries are said to have greater energy density, which means longer range and quicker charging times compared to current lithium-ion battery technologies. And it’s something Toyota has partnered with Panasonic to develop. According to Keiji Kaita, executive vice president of Toyota’s powertrain division, engineers have working battery prototypes as well as a running concept vehicle in hand. 

Although there are struggles to overcome with solid-state batteries, such as failures after repetitive charging and the stringent requirements of an ultra-dry manufacturing environment, the automaker says research is on schedule for a 2025 limited-production release of the new technology. Once durability and charging issues are overcome, a solid-state battery can reach a full charge in 15 minutes and suffer a capacity loss of only 10 percent over the course of 30 years, further adding to the appeal of EV efficiency.

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