Ride of the Week: The 2019 Volvo XC40 Crossover

One of the more anticipated cars of this year has finally made its debut. Introducing the 2019 Volvo XC40 Crossover.

This new crossover from Volvo has a 2.0-liter turbocharged four-cylinder engine that puts out 247 horses through its all-wheel drive transmission. More than just boasting a capable powerplant, however, the car features a bevy of new safety features (it is a Volvo after all), a striking design, and a new flat-fee leasing program. Thanks to Volvo’s new ‘Care’ program, buyers can purchase a car without having to haggle with dealerships; all of your maintenance and more is covered in the monthly price. The program even allows you to get a new car after just a year of payments. For a safe trip every time, Volvo has equipped their new crossover with Run-off Road protection, a 360-degree camera, and City Safety that detects cyclists, animals, pedestrians, and even other cars, automatically applying the brakes when needed. Right now there are no alternative fuel options for the vehicle, but it’s safe to assume they’re coming down the line not too long from now.

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Ride of the Week: The Pontiac Firebird TT Concept

For most car enthusiasts, their ultimate dream car is something that does (or at least likely could) exist. But, for a few dreamers, the possibilities go beyond the possible to a place few people, if any had imagined. Which is exactly the case with this Pontiac Firebird TT concept by Kasim Tlibekov.

A digital artist and automotive designer from Russia, Tlibekov has gifted us with this absolutely stunning resto-mod styled drag race-friendly rendering of a Firebird that never was. You’ll notice its wide and low stance (perfect for tearing up the road a quarter-mile at a time), paired with a front splitter, a big rear-end spoiler, rear window louvers, a quad-exhaust, and unique side-view cameras (in lieu of mirrors). For now, this rendering will remain nothing more than a dream, but we hope it falls into the hands of a ballsy custom builder and maybe someday sees the light of day.

Ride of the Week: The Ford Ranger Raptor Is Coming in 2018

Hold onto your hats ladies and gentlemen because it’s finally official—the Ford Ranger Raptor is coming in 2018. Aside from the fact we know the Ranger Raptor will be available across Asia Pacific in 2018, Ford is keeping other official details close to the chest, but they did release a testing video that teases the capabilities of the truck. It slides. It jumps. It tackles the dust, the dirt and the grass. It’s fast as hell and it looks great even if it’s still completely decked out in automotive camouflage. The Ranger Raptor in the video was tested by Ford Performance and Ford Australia in the Outback, but there’s still no word yet on whether or not this model will ever make it stateside. In a conversation with Ford Truck Enthusiasts an official spokesperson had this to say: “We are talking about the new Ranger Raptor for Asia Pacific. We do not have any information to share about a Ranger Raptor for North American customers.” That’s definitely not a no from the brand, and we do know the Ranger is coming back, so here’s hoping we have the chance to jump behind the wheel of one of these bad boys in the US.

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The House Just Passed a Bill to Help Put More Autonomous Cars on U.S. Roads

The U.S. House passed a bill on Wednesday that will allow self-driving car manufacturers to put thousands of autonomous cars on the road over the next few years.

The bill, known as the SELF-DRIVE Act, was first put forth in July and received approval shortly after. In addition to letting companies like GM, Ford, and Google introduce up to 100,000 cars to U.S. roads, they can also be exempt from safety guidelines that do not apply to autonomous driving technology.

In the past, companies invested in the future of self-driving cars have complained that laws created in relation to the technology could slow down its development. This latest bill, then, works in their favor.

Not everyone supports the bill, however: state and local officials have said they’re being passed over in favor of the federal government, which will have sole authority to control how autonomous cars are designed. That said, it would still be up to individual states to allow (or prohibit) self-driving cars on their roads.

According to Recode, consumer groups such as the Consumers Union wanted stronger safety regulations applied to self-driving cars. The group also expressed concerns about the tech’s impact on jobs — specifically those of truck drivers.

The bill hasn’t become law yet, as it still needs to make its way through the Senate. If it does, it will push us one step closer to life with autonomous cars. While some have argued they may pose a threat to our driving abilities, autonomous cars have also been heralded as the key to reducing traffic jams and accidents.

Navigate Through The Hurricane In This Off-Road Bentley Continental GT

When you think of Bentley cars, their off-road capabilities aren’t the first thing to come to mind – but all that’s changed with this customized Bentley Continental GT.

The car was featured in the National Geographic series Supercar Megabuild, where it received $32,424 in upgrades to turn into an off-road machine that’s still fully drivable on the road. It includes a four-wheel-drive, a 6.0-liter W12 engine, 17-inch wheels, a steel external roll-cage, eight Quantum Racing adjustable shocks along with bash plates.

The car has received 92 bids, with $52,242 currently in first place. Browse through the images, then head over to eBay to check out the listing.

Ride of the Week: Volkswagen Confirms Its Electric Microbus Is Coming in 2022

Earlier this year, Volkswagen showcased the I.D. Buzz, a fully-electronic concept vehicle based on the famous Volkswagen Microbus from the 1960s. The project was well received, so much so that the German automobile manufacturer has decided to move forward with the concept and bring it into production. If all things go according to plan, the electric Microbus is expected to reach dealerships by 2022, with North America, Europe and Asia as the target markets. Volkswagen CEO of the North American Region Hinrich J. Woebcken said in a written statement that the vehicle brings more to the table than just nostalgia.

We are delighted that our parent company has taken the decision to produce the I.D. BUZZ. This vehicle is the perfect balance between emotion, usability and sustainability, while also showcasing our technological leadership. The high seating position, cargo capacity, overall versatility and all-wheel drive option packaged into such an appealing design is just what our customers want from us. And it’s the perfect fit for the zero-emissions American lifestyle.

On top of this, Woebcken said that the company is planning on releasing a cargo version of the I.D. Buzz, allowing the zero-emission vehicle to be used for work purposes. Because electric components take up less space than their gas-powered counterparts, the I.D. Buzz will be built with even more space for passengers than the original. ”The vehicle looks like a compact commercial van on the outside, even though it offers the generous interior space of a large SUV,” explains Volkswagen CEO Hubert Diess. According to reports, the Buzz I.D. will also be capable of level 3 autonomous driving.

Ride of the Week: BMW Z4 Concept

Thanks to leaked images ahead of the Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance, we have our first look at the new BMW Z4 Concept. Slated to launch next year as a 2019 model, the two-seater roadster is an aggressive looking beast. An immediate eye-catcher, the front features stacked headlights and a grill and air intakes that look like a shark and a bull (think Lamborghini) mated and produced an unbelievably good looking offspring. Along the sides of the car, the lines are unique and bold, guiding the eye to the rear where the taillights look similar to the BMW i8 plug-in hybrid. To give the Z4 its aggressive stance, 20-inch wheels are wrapped with Michelin Pilot Sport Cup 2 tires.

As is the case with many luxury vehicles nowadays, carbon fiber highlights in the form of a front and rear diffuser and front spoiler with Z4 lettering grace the car. Contrasting all the carbon fiber goodies is an Energetic Orange paint job which is part of the BMW Frozen (matte) paint line. For the interior, the driver’s side is swathed in black leather while orange suede covers the passenger side. A hidden set of headrests and a futuristic dash bring everything together.

Stay tuned for the official unveil of the BMW Z4 and let us know if you’d change anything on the concept.

Ride of the Week: 1969 Dodge Charger ‘GENERAL LEE’

There’s a fairly short list of classic TV cars, but none of them are perhaps as iconic as the ‘General Lee’ from The Dukes of Hazzard. Well, now one of those very cars – a 1969 Dodge Charger – which was owned by actor John Schneider (better known as ‘Bo Duke’) is headed to auction, courtesy of Mecum.

Loaded with a 7.2-liter RB V8 engine (which once had a brake-horsepower rating of 375) mated to an automatic transmission, this is the ultimate nostalgia-inducing retro car for fans of both television and American Muscle. And it’s not just a slick paint job and a notable owner, either – as both the driver’s side sun visor and bottom of the hood have been signed by the cast and crew of the classic TV show. So whether you’re into awesome old-school autos or you’re just looking for the ideal car on which to slide across the hood – you might want to consider putting a bid down on this one when it hits the block at Mecum’s Las Vegas auction later this year.

Ride of the Week: The Jaguar XJR575 Sedan

The new flagship of the XJ range, the Jaguar XJR575 Sedan is named for the output of its 5.0L supercharged V8. When combined with the electronic active differential to help control the delivery of all that power and maximize traction, the four-door moves from a standstill to 62 mph in just 4.4 seconds and hits its top speed of 186 in an equally impressive 44 seconds. The interior also sees upgrades in the form of a larger touchscreen, 4G Wifi, and diamond-quilted seating, while the exterior — available in two exclusive colors — gets a custom rear spoiler, side sills, front bumper, and air intakes, as well as 20-inch Farallon glossy black wheels.

New Research Considers Skateboarding an Important Mode of Transportation

As I began skateboarding to work, I found that I wasn’t allowed to skateboard on the sidewalks, the streets or the newly constructed Riverwalk in the City of Tampa. Skateboarding was pretty much banned in the city except for the designated Skate Park that Tampa built solely as consolation. The first offense? A warning. But the second offense? A fine designed to teach you the error of your ways.

That didn’t stop me, nor many of the skaters whom have hopped on a board to skate the city.

However that may be changing….

Now, Fang, a transportation researcher, has made skateboarding a focus of his studies. In his latest paper, published Monday in the journal Transportation, Fang shows how non-motorized transit like skateboards, rollerblades, and ol’ fashioned scooters are already moving large numbers of people — and have the power to do a whole lot more.

When interviewing members of the skater community at UC Davis, he found that skateboards filled a big gap in transportation, smack dab between walking and biking. Basically, skateboards can go almost as fast as a bike on certain terrains. But they’re easier than a bike to store on a jam-packed commuter bus or while at work or school during the day.

That portability makes them an ideal remedy for what urban planners call the the ‘last mile problem’. Since people are unwilling to use public transportation if it means they have to walk a mile to and from the main hubs, other forms of transportation need to be there to cover that final mile more quickly. That could mean biking, hopping on a streetcar, or skateboarding.

But that doesn’t mean skateboarding is popular with police or urban planners.

Most cities in the United States ban skateboards because they don’t like recreational skaters and aren’t even aware skateboarding commuters exist, Fang says. As a result, American skateboarders carry a lot of cultural baggage.

For starters, skateboarding is typically seen as a kid’s activity. While adults see the built environment as something to preserve, teens see sidewalks, park benches, and front stoops as the raw materials for epic stunts. “In most cases, [cities] don’t come out and say why there’s skateboarding regulations,” Fang says. “[But] they talk about property damage or safety… [And] then you get some that are generalizations of skateboarders themselves.” In some cities, Fang says, policy makers have even advocated for skateboard regulations because boarders were reportedly rude to senior citizens — an unusual motivation for urban planning.

Though skateboarding certainly has its roots in recreation, statistics suggest it’s grown beyond its original purpose. Of the 300 combined billion miles people travel in California each year, Fang’s study reports, 48 million of them involved non-motorized vehicles like skateboards. That’s an extremely small piece of an overwhelming pie, but it’s still a ton of miles traveled.

And it’s not just limited to the Golden State: Portland, Oregon, is the biggest city in the United States to embrace skating as part of daily life. The city is rife with bona fide skateboarding commuters and dedicated “skate routes” weaving through downtown.

While it may sound like another Portlandia joke — the perfect anecdote from a city where “young people go to retire” — Fang says more communities should get on board with this eco-friendly mode of transit.

“Skateboarding provides a unique level of convenience that you don’t get with walking or bicycling,” he says. It allows people to go faster than walking, with none of the inconvenience of storing a bike while on the train or at work for the day.

For all its charms, convincing commuters to rely on skateboards won’t be easy. Many people continue to look down on skateboarders and cities policy banning boards get in the way. Plus, in many cities where skateboard travel isn’t well-integrated into urban design, gliding down a street dominated by cars can be dangerous.

But Fang isn’t discouraged. “It probably won’t become as popular as conventional modes of travel,” he says, “but I could see it growing a bit from where it is now.” He sees particular opportunities in places with lots of flat terrain, plenty of bike lanes, and areas with good transit service where people can use skateboards to go that last little bit of the way home. As cities continue to transform in the 21st century, they should open up lots more places like that, setting the stage for a skateboarding renaissance.

And besides, Fang says, skateboarding is just really fun — even if one’s skateboarding chops aren’t exactly up to snuff, a category Fang says he falls into. “[I skate] a little bit and poorly,” he says. “When I was still at my old school, skateboarding was prohibited, so I did it under the cover of darkness.”

If Fang is right, skateboarding might soon be ready to step out of that darkness and into the limelight.