Car manufacturers would start to roll out their new models right about now under normal circumstances, getting the word out to journalists about what they’re doing in the upcoming year.
Traditionally, new car introductions, press briefings, test drives and interviews with the brass would be the preferred method of spreading the word.
But with COVID-19, all that has gone away. And car makers seem to be at a bit of a loss as to how to get their message across when the usual avenues of communication are gone.
Still, they’re trying. And a couple of new model introductions have come my way lately.
2021 Nissan Ariya
This is an all-electric crossover SUV that the company is describing as “a new chapter for Nissan electric vehicles.” Available in four variations, it can be had with two-wheel or four-wheel drive, and the company is claiming a range of some 482 km (300 miles) per charge. Twin electric motors propel the Ariya, and a lithium battery pack is located in the middle of the vehicle – under the floor – to provide stability.
Introduced at last year’s Tokyo Motor Show, the Ariya features what Nissan calls “iki” styling, which is apparently – in Nissan’s words – “characterized by a distinctive Japanese approach conveyed in a simple-yet-powerfully modern way.”
Needless to say, the interior of the Ariya is about as iki as you can get. Among other things, it features a completely flat floor, virtually no conventional switches and buttons, an adjustable centre console, fold-out centre tray and my favourite: Zero Gravity seats. Oh, and let’s not forget the “haptic” switches, which vibrate when activated. Okay then.
The seemingly inevitable nanny features include lane-keeping technology based on map data stored within the car’s computer, emergency braking with pedestrian protection, hands-off steering, blind spot detection and rear intelligent emergency braking.
The Ariya will go on sale in Japan in mid-2021, with North American availability to follow later in 2021.
2021 Ford Bronco
Over at Ford after a 24-year absence, there’s a new Bronco on the block.
Introduced electronically last week, the Bronco “returns as the flagship of an all-new family of rugged 4×4-only SUVs” and will be offered in two-wheel or four-wheel drive configurations, and a two- or four-door body style. Engine choices will be a 2.3-litre four cylinder or 2.7-litre V6. Both are turbocharged and develop 270 and 310 horsepower, respectively.
Ford is aiming the new Bronco at diehard off-roaders, with independent front suspension, a solid rear axle design featuring coil springs with five locating links, and long-travel position-sensitive Bilstein dampers with end-stop control valves for added off-road durability and reduced harshness. Up to seven driver-selectable modes are offered, including Normal, Eco, Sport, Slippery, Sand, Baja, Mud/Ruts and Rock Crawl for off-road driving.
It will also have – and I love this – detachable roof panels and quarter-lights (no-drafts to you baby boomers), and removable doors. The latter items are lightweight and frameless, and can be stored on the vehicle.
To prevent – or enhance – getting completely lost in the boonies, the Bronco will have an available off-road navigation system. In Ford’s words, it will have “over-the-air updates and software that will allow drivers to plan, navigate and share their off-road adventure. Not to mention an available 360-degree camera system with off-road spotter views to provide additional visibility in technical pursuits such as rock crawling.” Should make for some interesting bushwhacking for those who like to be as far away from civilization as possible.
Ford describes the new Bronco as a kind of combination of the F-150 pickup and the Mustang, and designers borrowed heavily from the original model when it came to styling. It is, says Ford, “similar to the first-generation model Bronco’s square proportions, short overhangs and wide stance.”
Manufactured in Wayne, Mich., the new Bronco will be offered in models ranging from a base model – a no-frills SUV for those who want to customize their own – to Big Bend, Black Diamond and Outerbanks versions. There are a variety of options and colours, topping out with Wildtrak and Badlands iterations, for more extreme off-road adventuring.
Ford is setting a base price of just under $40,500 for the new Bronco and is taking orders now.
Ted Laturnus writes for Troy Media’s Driver Seat Associate website. An automotive journalist since 1976, he has been named Canadian Automotive Journalist of the Year twice and is past-president of the Automotive Journalists Association of Canada (AJAC).