Flash Drive/Event: 2018 Jeep Wrangler and 2019 Jeep Cherokee

Flash Drive/Event: 2018 Jeep Wrangler and 2019 Jeep Cherokee

Legendary 4X4 Tradition Continues in New Skins

Jeep invited the media to the Santa Monica Mountains in early March to drive the all-new 2018 Wrangler and the new 2019 Cherokee. Our off-road driving reinforced the long tradition of Jeep being sure-footed off the pavement—and impressively so. But stay on the roadways, and the driving attributes, especially of the Cherokee, continue to impress.

Clean Fleet Report takes a look at our brief time in both vehicles and will follow-up in the coming months with in-depth Road Test reviews.

2018 Jeep Wrangler

2018 Jeep Wranglers are all-new, but keep the Jeep look

The All-new 2018 Wrangler

The last time the Wrangler was redesigned was in 2006, which is more than a few lifetimes for a design re-do. Wrangler fans are loyal and were excited that the all-new 2018 Wrangler retained much of the same look, but with refined features that only enhance the off- and on-road driving capability.

The 2018 Wrangler comes in two- and four-door models in up to four trim levels with these base MSRP.

Sport                      $26,995 (2DR); $30,495 (4DR)

Sport S                   $30,195 (2DR); $33,695 (4DR)

Rubicon                 $36,995 (2DR); $40,495 (4DR)

Sahara                    $37,345 (4DR)

Each trim level adds increased features as standard equipment, with the Rubicon being the version that is the most off-road capable. First introduced in 1986, the Wrangler continues as a body-on-frame design that has a removable windshield, roof, side windows and door panels. Stripped-down, the Wrangler is ready for serious off-road adventuring.

2018 Jeep Wrangler

The Wrangler remains a capable off-road machine

The 2018 Wrangler has two power plants. The 2.0-liter turbocharged I4 has Jeep’s eTorque mild-hybrid technology, which includes automatic stop/start, electric power assist and regenerative braking.  The 2.0-liter engine has an output of 270 horsepower (hp) and 295 pound-feet of torque (lb.-ft.) and is paired with an eight-speed automatic transmission.

The 3.6-liter Pentastar V6, with 285 hp and 260 lb.-ft. of torque, is mated to a standard six-speed manual, with the eight-speed automatic transmission being optional.

Clean Fleet Report had the opportunity to drive Wranglers with both transmissions (with the V6) off-road, and felt the manual offered a bit more old-school driving fun. However, the automatic was smooth and gave us complete confidence, whether climbing or descending a steep and rutted grade. Out on the pavement, the automatic shifted smoothly and would be a good option for those who spend the majority of their time commuting.

A 3.0-liter EcoDiesel V6 with 260 hp and a whopping 442 lb.-ft. of torque is scheduled for the 2019 model year. It should get the 2019 Wrangler into the AWD 30 MPG Club.

The New 2019 Jeep Cherokee

The Jeep Cherokee has a more premium look for 2019 with a new front fascia, hood and LED headlamps. There are five wheel designs, hands-free power lift gate and a dual-pane sunroof. The interior has been massaged with satin chrome and piano black trim.

The 2019 Cherokee comes in six trim levels with these base MSRP.

2019 Jeep Cherokee

More conventional looks, but a Jeep underneath

Latitude                   $24,690

Latitude Plus          $26,495

Limited                    $30,375

Trailhawk                $33,320

Overland                  $36,275

Trailhawk Elite       $36,315

Clean Fleet Report recently reviewed the 2017 Jeep Cherokee Overland here.

There are three engine options for the 2019 Cherokee. The all-new 2.0-liter turbocharged I4 engine (shared with the Wrangler and other models) has 270 hp and 295 lb.-ft. of torque. The 3.2-liter Pentastar V6 delivers 271 hp and 239 lb.-ft. of torque. The most fuel-efficient engine is the 2.4-liter Tigershark MultiAir2 with 180 hp and 170 lb.-ft. of torque. All are mated to a nine-speed automatic with the 4X4 models getting the Jeep Active Drive system with Drive Lock.

Clean Fleet Report drove the V6 Cherokee Trailhawk off-road and were impressed with the grip level for a vehicle most owners will keep on the highway.

Observations: 2018 Wrangler and 2019 Cherokee

2019 Jeep Cherokee, 2018 Jeep Wrangler

Jeep holds onto its customers by being consistent

Jeep arguably has the most loyal and devoted fans and owners. Ever heard of the Jeep Jamboree? No other manufacturer has a program where their vehicles are put through such a rugged test by the actual owners. Of course, the Jamboree was created by Jeep owners 65 years ago and only garnered Jeep’s full endorsement well into its now life. Jamboree and the Jeep’s manufacturer are now inseparable.

Clean Fleet Report will drive several Jeep models in the coming months, so make sure to check back for news and reviews. Until then, know that if you are looking for off-road fun combined with a well-mannered street SUV, both the 2018 Wrangler and 2019 Cherokee will meet your needs.

Whatever you end up buying, enjoy your new car and as always, Happy Driving!

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Clean Fleet Report is loaned free test vehicles from automakers to evaluate, typically for a week at a time. Our road tests are based on this one-week drive of a new vehicle. Because of this we don’t address issues such as long-term reliability or total cost of ownership. In addition, we are often invited to manufacturer events highlighting new vehicles or technology. As part of these events we may be offered free transportation, lodging or meals. We do our best to present our unvarnished evaluations of vehicles and news irrespective of these inducements.

Our focus is on vehicles that offer the best fuel economy in their class, which leads us to emphasize electric cars, plug-in hybrids, hybrids and diesels. We also feature those efficient gas-powered vehicles that are among the top mpg vehicles in their class. In addition, we aim to offer reviews and news on advanced technology and the alternative fuel vehicle market. We welcome any feedback from vehicle owners and are dedicated to providing a forum for alternative viewpoints. Please let us know your views at publisher@cleanfleetreport.com.

News: 2019 Hyundai Santa Fe Gets Diesel Engine, Edgy Styling

News: 2019 Hyundai Santa Fe Gets Diesel Engine, Edgy Styling

Diesel Move Is Big Surprise

Hyundai pulled the covers off the all-new fourth generation 2019 Santa Fe SUV this week in South Korea. Heavy with car models and light on crossover SUVs, the new Santa Fe is a big deal for the automaker; it’s the company’s second best-selling model with more than 133,000 sold in the U.S. last year.

2019 Hyundai Santa Fe

For 2019, Hyundai moves the Santa Fe down a new path

The midsize crossover will offer the usual naturally aspirated and turbocharged four-cylinder gas engines, but the biggest news is that the U.S. will be getting a diesel option. But before getting into specifics about what is known about the drivetrains and other details, there are changes for model identification.

The outgoing generation lineup had two distinct models: the two-row Santa Fe Sport and the Santa Fe, a longer-wheelbase three-row model. The new 2019 short-wheelbase, five-seat vehicle will be called simply Santa Fe, with the longer-wheelbase version called Santa Fe XL for now. The company also confirmed that an even bigger eight-seat crossover was on the way with an all-new name.


For those who want torque and the best fuel economy, there’s an optional 2.2-liter CRDi turbodiesel, which arrives in early 2019. Hyundai says the diesel will crank out “around 200 horsepower at 3,000 rpm and an estimated 320 pounds-feet of torque at 1,750 rpm.” Fuel economy numbers weren’t released, but expect the highway number to be in the 30s. Strangely, the diesel version of the Santa Fe is the only model that has what is described as an “occasional use” third-row seat.

2019 Hyundai Santa Fe

The diesel and AWD logoa

Most buyers will likely opt for one of the gasoline engines. The base Santa Fe will offer a naturally aspirated 2.4-liter four-cylinder engine making an estimated 185 horsepower. The upgrade engine will be a turbocharged 2.0-liter four-cylinder making an estimated 232 horsepower. All engines come mated to a new in-house-designed eight-speed automatic transmission and will have the option of Hyundai’s Htrac all-wheel drive.

Other changes beneath the sheetmetal are a revised suspension, particularly in the rear, to provide a smoother and more comfortable ride. Hyundai will also offer an optional load-leveling suspension to maintain a consistent ride height, even when loaded with cargo or towing.

New From the Ground Up

The 2019 Hyundai Santa Fe has a new look that is less crossover and more SUV than before. The styling is revolutionary next to today’s comparatively staid version. The new model incorporates the automaker’s latest design cues, including a new take on the company’s “Cascading” grille, along with LED daytime running lights at the top corners of the front end with LED headlights that are clustered below that. With more upright body panels, larger rear quarter glass, and a 2.8-inch growth spurt in overall length, the Santa Fe stands out next to more conservatively styled competitors.

2019 Hyundai Santa Fe

The Santa Fe interior gets an upgrade, too

Along with additional interior space, there’s an all-new dashboard design that incorporates a 7.0-inch tablet-style infotainment system and an available digital gauge cluster. All trim levels receive Apple CarPlay and Android Auto capability, while a navigation system and a head-up display that projects an 8.5-inch image on the windshield giving driving and navigation information is optional. Upper trim levels include a larger eight-inch screen with Hyundai’s latest AVN 5.0 navigation system and a 630-watt, 12-speaker surround-sound Infinity audio system. Thankfully, there are knobs and buttons to control climate and audio controls.

Fittingly for a family vehicle, the 2019 Santa Fe incorporates some interesting safety features. Smart Sense, which will be standard on trim levels SE and higher, will come with forward collision warning and avoidance, blind-spot warning, lane keeping assist, adaptive cruise control with stop-and-go functionality, a 360-degree camera system, rear cross-traffic warning and collision avoidance, and automatic high beams.

Safe Exit Assist, a system that monitors vehicles approaching from the rear and prevents passengers from throwing open the doors and potentially stepping in front of a passing car, motor cycle or bicycle is folded into Smart Sense. So too is rear seat occupant alert. It uses ultrasonic sensors to detect motion of kids or pets in the back so they are not locked inside the vehicle.

On sale this (2018) summer, the 2019 Santa Fe will be joined by at least two other new Hyundai SUV models this year, including the entry-level Kona subcompact and the Nexo fuel cell. Pricing for the new Santa Fe will be available closer to the release date.

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Road Test: 2018 Chevrolet Equinox

Road Test: 2018 Chevrolet Equinox

Third Gen’s a Charm

The Equinox compact crossover has been a big hit for Chevrolet, but the latest model is hitting new high marks for fuel economy. With nearly two million sold since its debut in 2004 as a 2005 model, the all-new 2018 Chevrolet Equinox represents a third generation after a long life for the second (2010-2017). It’s one of five Chevrolet crossovers/SUVs.

2108 Chevrolet Equinox

You’ve seen this look before, but not in a high-mpg compact crossover

If you like the look of the Chevrolet Malibu, Cruze, and Volt, you’ll appreciate the Equinox’s new design. It’s sharply drawn, but thankfully, not overdone. The latest chiseled brand face is there, as is a multi-faceted hood and a high, straight shoulder that mimics the look of big brother Suburban and Tahoe. Though all-new, the vehicle still evokes the general feeling and proportions of the old model, which is a good idea, considering its success.

New Inside

Inside, you can see the influence of the siblings as well. There’s lots of movement along the dash and doors, with black control panels and silver accents, and chrome sparkles on the vents and handles. The center of the instrument panel provides useful information straight ahead. The speedometer, common today, goes up to an unattainable 160 mph.

2108 Chevrolet Equinox

Lots to like in the Equinox interior upgrades

The fat, leather-wrapped steering wheel is GM standard, but that’s a good thing. It flaunts lots of handy buttons for controlling audio and other features, so you can keep your eyes on the road.

There are two USB ports in the front of the center console for using and charging devices. You can plug in your phone and see it projected on the 7 or 8-inch center screen, thanks to Apple CarPlay and Android Auto.

Efficiency Boost

Part of the goal of the new Equinox, besides to look fresh, is to increase efficiency, which is why about 400 pounds was taken out of this model. It still comes in at between 3,274 and 3,682 pounds, but that’s significant nonetheless.

2018 Chevrolet Equinox

The Equinox’ interior can take you long

Crossover vehicles like the Equinox are very popular today, because they combine the higher-riding, greater-hauling, cooler-looking SUV experience with a comfortable-riding car platform. The Equinox has a firmness to the ride that feels just right, and the leather buckets are comfortable for commuting. I didn’t have a chance to take this one on a long trip, but it looks well up to the job.

Many Choices

This compact hauler comes in four trims—S, LS, LT, and Premier. And there are three engine choices, too, all of which are turbocharged. The base engine is a 1.5-liter four with 170 horsepower (hp) and 203 pounds-feet (lb.-ft.) of torque. My Cajun Red Tintcoat tester was a top-level Premier, but had this base engine. You can step up to a 2.0-liter four with 252 hp and 260 lb.-ft. It may not appeal to you, but if you’re interested in a diesel, a new 1.6-liter unit is optional, with a mere 137 hp, but a hearty 240 lb.-ft. of torque. Diesel is surrounded by controversy today, after the revelations of malfeasance at VW, but it offers higher fuel efficiency and range for certain applications.

2018 Chevrolet Equinox

Options are many, but you’ll want to check out what you can get in the center stack

The 1.5-liter four seems up to the job in this car. It was unmemorable, but didn’t leave me feeling let down, either. The existence of the 2.0-liter option means you can get added grunt if you know you’re going to be carrying several passengers and cargo, which could affect performance significantly. The 2.0-liter engine is mated to a new nine-speed transmission, while the 1.5 gets a traditional six-speed.

My 1.5-liter-equipped tester earned EPA numbers of 24 city/30 highway/26 combined. Those are not bad stats. Green numbers are a pair of 5’s for Smog and Greenhouse Gas.

You can choose front-wheel or all-wheel drive in this crossover. The all-wheel drive system automatically disconnects from the rear axle when not needed, for greater efficiency. Having this choice means that if you live in sunny California and are not planning on skiing, you can skip AWD and save a few bucks while improving your miles-per-gallon numbers by two.

Options, There Are More Than a Few

There’s a vast set of safety features, many standard and some optional—too many to list here. See http://www.chevrolet.com/suvs/equinox-compact-suv for details.

2018 Chevrolet Equinox

Let’s not forget what crossovers are all about–space

Pricing starts at $24.525 for the S model. My Premier tester had the base engine, but included the Sun, Sound & Navigation package ($3,320) and charged $395 for the Cajun Red paint. The package does include a power sunroof, 19-inch wheels, MyLink Navigation and a Bose Premium seven-speaker system, so the total came to $39,040. That’s one pricey compact crossover.

The all-new Equinox is truly North American, built in Canada with a U.S-sourced engine and transmission and 40 percent Mexican parts. It’s a very important entry in the growing compact crossover segment, battling the two perennial favorites, the Honda CR-V and Toyota RAV4, as well as the popular Nissan Rogue, Ford Escape, Hyundai Tucson, Mazda CX-5, and the rest. With this introduction, Chevrolet’s fleet is looking very fresh.

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Clean Fleet Report is loaned free test vehicles from automakers to evaluate, typically for a week at a time. Our road tests are based on this one-week drive of a new vehicle. Because of this we don’t address issues such as long-term reliability or total cost of ownership. In addition, we are often invited to manufacturer events highlighting new vehicles or technology. As part of these events we may be offered free transportation, lodging or meals. We do our best to present our unvarnished evaluations of vehicles and news irrespective of these inducements.

Our focus is on vehicles that offer the best fuel economy in their class, which leads us to emphasize electric cars, plug-in hybrids, hybrids and diesels. We also feature those efficient gas-powered vehicles that are among the top mpg vehicles in their class. In addition, we aim to offer reviews and news on advanced technology and the alternative fuel vehicle market. We welcome any feedback from vehicle owners and are dedicated to providing a forum for alternative viewpoints. Please let us know your views at publisher@cleanfleetreport.com.

News: Chevrolet Silverado Diesel Signals Resurgence

News: Chevrolet Silverado Diesel Signals Resurgence

Four of Five Light-duty Pickups Will Now Offer Diesel Engines

Like Samuel Clemens’ famous anti-epitaph, the death of diesel engine during this past year has been greatly exaggerated, if you look at the news coming out of the North American International Auto Show in Detroit. Saturday, Jan. 13, Chevrolet announced that its 2019 Silverado pickup will get a healthy dose of car tech along with a stout diesel engine that will allow it to go toe-to-toe with the just-announced 2019 Ford F-150 diesel and two incumbents, the Ram 1500 EcoDiesel and Nissan Titan XD.

2019 Chevrolet Silverado

With the Duramax six, all three pickup leaders now will offer diesels

The Chevrolet Silverado Duramax diesel is an inline six that GM’s Global Product Development Chief Mark Reuss said would be the “best-performing” engine in the class. No specs were released, so it is unclear if Reuss was talking about horsepower, torque, fuel economy or some combination of them all. More details were promised soon.

The new Duramax and the revised carryover 5.3-liter and 6.2-liter V8 will mate up with a new Hydra-Matic 10-speed transmission to optimize fuel economy. Those engines will also get something GM is calling Dynamic Fuel Management, which has the ability to shut off cylinders not needed for acceleration. That technology, on which they didn’t elaborate, sounds like Tula Technology’s Dynamic Skip Fire that Clean Fleet Report recently test drove. The engine also will add start-stop capability.

Materials News

In another swipe at its cross-town rival, Chevrolet made a major point of its up to 450-pound weight loss without simply swapping out steel for aluminum. GM took a much more complicated path of analyzing each part and component on the truck and determining the best material to use that would deliver weight reduction while maintaining durability, safety and functionality.

2019 Chevrolet Silverado

Chevy’s weight-loss program meant using different materials throughout the truck

That process results in the 2019 Silverado, which ends up with aluminum doors, hood and tailgate, steel body panels and bed, high strength steel chassis and advanced high strength steel for some of the key structural pieces of the cab (they ended up with seven different grades of steel in the truck in the end). The same analysis resulted in substitutions such as carbon-composite second stage-springs that saved more than 12 pounds wherever they were used compared to the previous stamped steel units.

The weight reduction program is even more remarkable when you look at the dimensions of the new truck. It has grown almost four inches in wheelbase and 1.6 inches overall compared to its predecessor. Those extra inches have been used to increase cabin and cargo space.

In addition to weight reduction, the Silverado also got some serious wind tunnel work to reduce aerodynamic drag. Engineers also added features borrowed from car models such as the air curtains in the grill first seen in the sixth generation Camaro.

And All the Car Tech

2019 Chevrolet Silverado

Inside, the Silverado gets even more car-like

The 2019 Chevrolet Silverado (as well as its GMC Sierra cousin, which will be introduced later this year) receives a healthy dose of previously car-based technology. Reuss promised the new Silverado would be “the most connected” truck GM has ever offered. They didn’t announce all of the features, but said the Silverado will get wireless phone charging, 4G LTE Wi-Fi connectivity, Apple Car Play, Android Auto and more features to be announced later.

Chevrolet’s adding three new trim levels to the Silverado so customers will now be able to choose from nine different models of the pickup. The packages highlight options designed for odd-roading and different tire-wheel combos. Compared to passenger cars, pickup trucks remain highly customizable vehicles, something Chevy clearly wants to tap into.

New 2019 Chevrolet Silverados are expected to go on sale this fall. Pricing will be announced closer to launch, but it’s likely there will be little change from current pricing because of the highly competitive truck market.

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News: 2018 Ford F-150 Gets A Diesel Engine, Finally

News: 2018 Ford F-150 Gets A Diesel Engine, Finally

Best Fuel Economy And Towing Promised

More than 10 years ago, Ford jointly developed a 3.0-liter turbocharged diesel engine with PSA Peugeot Citroën, which is currently used in some Land Rover models. Recently, the same engineering group that brought the 6.7-liter Power Stroke diesel to the Ford heavy-duty pickup lineup in 2011 upgraded and tweaked the old 3.0-liter diesel and can’t wait to tell us about it.

2018 Ford F-150 Power Stroke Diesel

Ford promises a towing power and fuel economy boost

This morning Ford revealed details about the 2018 Ford F-150 diesel-powered pickup that debuts next week at the Detroit auto show. The new F-150 Power Stroke diesel targets:

  • EPA-estimated 30 mpg highway rating,
  • Best-in-class 11,400 pounds of towing capacity,
  • 2,020 pounds of payload capacity, plus
  • Best-in-class (diesel) 250 horsepower and 440 pounds-feet of torque.

“The magic number is the 30-mpg target,” says Dave Felipe, vice president-global powertrain engineering. “The more you tow and the longer you haul, the more you’ll appreciate its class-leading towing and payload capacity and how efficient it is at the pump.”

The company expects about a five percent take rate for the diesel option, with an estimated 85 percent of those buyers towing on a regular basis. Ford sold almost 900,000 F-Series (which includes the heavy-duty models) so even five percent could end up being equal to the total sales of the Nissan Titan, for instance.

Engine Details

The dual-overhead camshaft (DOHC), four-valves-per-cylinder Power Stroke diesel engine features a compacted-graphite iron block, a forged-steel crank, common-rail fuel

2018 Ford F-150 Power Stroke Diesel

Diesel power comes to the F-150 lineup for the first time

injection and a high-efficiency, variable-geometry single-scroll turbocharger. Dual fuel filters are added for improved break-in, while a cast-aluminum oil pan and two-stage oil pump mean reduced parasitic loss and improved fuel efficiency.

The engine features a mechanical engine-driven cooling fan and dual radiator shutters for improved high-temperature and high-altitude driving in harsh performance conditions.

“We know that competing diesels with electric cooling fans have to dial back on power under extreme heat and altitude, so we decided on a viscous-controlled mechanical fan that has the capacity to move much more air across the radiator and intercooler in extreme conditions,” says David Ives, Ford diesel engine technical specialist.

Calibrated specifically for the all-new 3.0-liter Power Stroke diesel’s low-end power and torque curves, a standard 10-speed automatic transmission, jointly developed with General Motors, maximizes shift points and gear ratios to optimize power, low-rpm torque and efficiency. To help reduce fuel consumption and vehicle emissions during city driving, start-stop also comes standard.

Ford says there will be a 150,000-mile service interval on the timing belt, and the 5.4-gallon exhaust after treatment fluid supply should be good for 10,000 miles per fill. Powertrain warranty coverage will match that of the F-150’s other engines: Five years/60,000 miles.

Inside, changes are limited to a Diesel Exhaust Fluid (DEF) gauge, some optional diesel information screens borrowed from the 6.7-liter Power Stroke models, and a water-level warning light for the water-separating fuel filter.

Customer Orders Begin in Mid-January

2018 Ford F-150 Power Stroke Diesel

Ford moves the Power Stroke name down a weight class

Customers in the U.S. and Canada will be able to place orders of the 2018 F-150 Power Stroke diesel trucks in a couple of weeks, with delivery this spring. The diesel will add between $2,400 and $4,000 to the sticker price, depending on trim.

Retail customers will be able to order the engine on Lariat, King Ranch, and Platinum trim levels on SuperCrew cabs with 5.5- or 6.5-foot beds or on Lariat SuperCabs with a 6.5- or 8.0-foot bed. The option will add $4,000 to the Lariat trim price, or $3,000 to the two higher trim levels. In both cases the diesel price represents a $2,400 premium over the optional 3.5-liter EcoBoost V-6.

Fleet customers only will be able to order the engine on XL and XLT SuperCab or SuperCrew cabs with 6.5- or 8.0-foot beds. Fleet pricing was not revealed.

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