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The Hamilton Spectator - - WHEELS -

Ram goes af­ter the Rap­tor: The Spy Guy notes that the rough-and-tough Ford Rap­tor pickup con­tin­ues to draw im­i­ta­tors look­ing to cap­i­tal­ize on the lat­est off-road-style craze. The lat­est to cash in on this trend is Fiat Chrysler Au­to­mo­biles’ Ram brand. Word from in-the-know sources has it that a new model based on the Rebel TRX Con­cept truck will hit the trail by the end of 2017, com­plete with a su­per­charged 6.2-litre V-8 (the same en­gine used in the Dodge Chal­lenger Hell­cat, but in de­tuned form) rated at 575 horse­power. Rebel TRX equip­ment in­cludes spe­cial off-road sus­pen­sion pieces and 37-inch knobby tires that fit in­side widened fend­ers. Pric­ing has not yet been con­firmed, but some­where north of $65,000 would be a rea­son­able guess.

The lat­est scoop for “Trekies”: There’s good news and not-so-good news for fans of the Subaru Crosstrek, thinks The Sleuth. The good news is that the pop­u­lar all-wheel-drive model will adopt most of the phys­i­cal and me­chan­i­cal changes af­forded the 2017 Im­preza — upon which it’s based — when the Crosstrek ar­rives for the 2018 model year. The lifted sus­pen­sion ap­pears slightly more pro­nounced than be­fore, although not enough to make en­ter­ing or ex­it­ing the ve­hi­cle prob­lem­atic. There are also nu­mer­ous in­te­rior and dy­namic safety up­grades that are in­stalled in a qui­eter cabin. The not-so-good news is for peo­ple hop­ing for more per­for­mance. They will be sad­dened to hear that the same mod­est 152-horse­power four-cylin­der non-turbo en­gine used in the Im­preza will also be in the Crosstrek.

Ford’s self-driv­ers are on track for 2021, but only to fleets: Ac­cord­ing to The Sleuth’s op­er­a­tives, it seems that the Blue Oval au­tomaker is fur­ther along in de­vel­op­ing au­tonomous (self-driv­ing) ve­hi­cles that was orig­i­nally sus­pected. Within the next five years, Ford will have mar­ket-ready mod­els that can be op­er­ated with­out hu­man in­ter­ven­tion, although they can still be op­er­ated by peo­ple, if so de­sired. None of the ve­hi­cles will be avail­able for sale to the pub­lic, but rather they will be leased to spe­cific fleets such as taxis and ride-shar­ing com­pa­nies. Ford be­lieves this ap­proach is the best way to eval­u­ate the ad­vanced self-driv­ing tech­nolo­gies it’s de­vel­op­ing be­fore putting the cars in the hands of the gen­eral pub­lic. That’s not ex­pected to hap­pen un­til the mid-2020s, at the ear­li­est.

A sign of the times for Buick’s royal brand: The Sleuthy One notes the fur­ther demise of the four-door sedan. This time it’s the Buick Re­gal’s trunk lid that dis­ap­pears, re­placed in­stead by an all-new Re­gal Sport­back hatch­back (well, it’s sort of sedan-like) and an elon­gated Re­gal TourX wagon for the 2018 model year. In par­tic­u­lar, the Sneak­ster is in­clined to think that the forth­com­ing wagon is an at­tempt by Buick to em­u­late the Audi All­road and Volvo V90 square-back mod­els that, although at­trac­tive enough, don’t usu­ally sell in sig­nif­i­cant quan­ti­ties in North Amer­ica. The en­gine used in front-wheeldrive ver­sions is a tur­bocharged 2.0-litre four-cylin­der en­gine that makes 250 horse­power 260 pound-feet of torque. Se­lect­ing AWD gets you an ex­tra 35 pound-feet.

BUICK

With the new Re­gal TourX, Buick is at­tempt­ing to get with the times and per­haps fol­low­ing in the foot­steps of Audi and Volvo.

SUBARU

The new Crosstrek ben­e­fits from the new Im­preza plat­form, but has no power up­grade.

DODGE

Dodge’s com­peti­tor to the Ford Rap­tor will have a 575-horse­power su­per­charged V-8.

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