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What’s new for 2021

By: Ron Corbett, APA Staff Writer     

While there have been no major auto shows since Toronto in mid February, automakers are still unveiling new models. This is part two in our series of "What's New for 2021" updates. Part one, from June 1st of this year, highlighted the luxurious Cadillac CT4, both the Genesis G80 and its big brother the GV80. in addition to economy favourites like the Hyundai Elantra, Nissan Versa, and Mitsubishi Mirage. Also of note are the two new Hybrid offerings for 2021 from Toyota in the shape of the Sienna and the revival of the Venza. You can read part one here.

Due by the end of the year are the Nissan Rogue, Acura TLX, Ford F150 and a heavily revised Lexus IS. The all-electric Ford Mustang Mach-E will be produced in limited numbers by the end of the year; with production hitting its stride in the new year.  

The new Rogue is another example of Nissan's return to comtemporary styling 

After seven long years on the market, the second –generation Rogue steps aside for its all-new replacement, which should be on sale by late 2020.

While the new Rogue maintains its previous footprint it has jettisoned its bland, amorphous look for one that is fresh, contemporary and, considering what Nissan has been selling for the last decade or so, remarkably elegant.

The driver of the top Rogue faces a large-format transistor-film-technology (TFT) configurable gauge cluster that resides in a clean-lined dashboard with a strong horizontal bias. Mainstream buyers will face crisply-marked conventional gauges. Like many contemporary vehicles, a free-standing infotainment screen takes pride of place at the top centre of the instrument panel. The infotainment screen incorporates adjustment knobs and the climate controls located below the screen look straightforward. The electronic gear selector in the new Rogue is similar to those in German-branded cars like BMW, lacks a physical connection with the transmission but liberates a great deal of storage space under the “flying bridge” that contains the gear selector. All Rogues will be equipped with the iOS-Android cellphone interface and wireless Apple CarPlay as well. Wireless cellphone charging will be fitted to premium models. Type A and Type C USB ports are offered in the new Rogue and the vehicle will be compatible with Google Maps and Waze. A heads up display system is a new option for 2021. Heated seats, steering wheel and exterior mirrors are fitted to all trims.

The Rogue’s engine is still a normally-aspirated 2.5L four but Nissan notes the engine is fundamentally new. The engine is now direct injected and features an integrated exhaust manifold and a variable-speed oil pump. Power increases from 170 to 181 for the 2021 Rogue, and torque is marginally higher as well. Regardless of whether it is front or all-wheel drive, all Rogues send power to the wheels via a CVT.

Front-wheel drive is standard, with all-wheel drive optional. The all-wheel drive system has a default front-wheel drive mode with the rear wheels activated by a new electro-hydraulic clutch which is new for 2021. The all-wheel drive system offers Snow, Standard, Eco and Sport settings.

Nissan Safety Shield 360, with autonomous emergency braking, including pedestrians and in reverse, blind spot, rear cross traffic and lane departure warnings, is standard for 2021. Blind spot intervention, traffic sign recognition, active cruise control and ProPilot, a rudimentary self driving system, are standard on fancier trims.

The new Rogue will be on sale by October of this year.  


Heavily revised when new was expected. The 2021 Lexus IS

After seven years on the market, most observers expected an all-new IS but Lexus elected to update the car instead.

Built on the same wheelbase, exterior dimensions are essentially unchanged. All exterior panels look new and more flamboyant than before but the overall styling themes of the car and its silhouette are the same as before.

Cabin space is unchanged and there have been some trim revisions as well as a new 10.3 inch touch screen on cars equipped with Navigation. The iOS-Android cellphone interface is standard for 2021.

Traditional performance drivers can still buy a rear-wheel drive version of the IS, marketed, despite its 2L displacement, as the IS300. The 2L turbo gains Wide Variable Valve Timing Management, which can switch the engine back and forth from the Otto to the Atkinson combustion processes, to enhance efficiency.
Power flows to the rear wheels via a conventional eight-speed automatic transmission. The V6-powered IS models, the IS300 and IS350, are exclusively all-wheel drive. While most competitors offer potent, but also coarse-sounding 2L turbo fours in mainstream versions of their compact luxury cars, Lexus treats buyers to smooth, tuneful, V6 engines. Power reaches all wheels via a six-speed automatic transmission.

Lexus has updated its active safety system for 2021 and renamed it the Lexus Safety System + 2.5 A (LSS+ 2.5. A). Standard equipment includes a forward collision warning with autonomous emergency braking, including pedestrians and cyclists, active cruise control and blind sport and rear cross traffic monitors. Lexus states that improved camera and radar systems combine with the active safety gear combine to deliver enhanced performance this year.

No trim level or pricing details are available at this time. The IS should be on sale by the end of 2020.

One of a number of grilles that will be available on the Mustang Mach-E

The Mach-E, the first purpose-designed electric car from Ford, is not only a crossover, but also a Mustang. According to the denizens of Dearborn, the Mach-E is imbued with the spirit of the legendary Mustang Mach I that was produced between 1969 and 1973 (no comment on the Mach I version for the Mustang II). The idea of a Mustang crossover is bound to be a controversial one for Mustang aficionados, but most buyers won’t care and Ford may get some spin on the fact that the car has a marketing connection with the Mustang.

The vehicle is built on an all-new electric-exclusive architecture to optimize space utilization and to keep the mass of the batteries low in the platform of the new car. The Mach-E is powered by an electric motor that can produce anywhere from 255 to 475 horsepower, with possible range from 325 to 475 kilometres. A 75.7 kWh battery pack is expected to be standard with a 98.8 kWh battery pack optional. All-wheel drive will be standard in Canada.

The Mach-E displays a number of traditional Mustang styling cues, including the galloping Mustang on the grille. The vehicle looks much sleeker and sportier in person than in photos. The interior of the Mach-E is, like the outside, very Mustang, and also looks reasonably roomy.
Ford has a history of announcing new vehicles well before they are ready for production, which creates lots of initial interest that progresses to frustration when the car fails to show up. Some cars will be produced by the end of 2020 but sizeable number likely won't be available until mid-2021.


The 2021 F150 looks unchanged but is all new

Unlike some of its other product lines that linger well past their expiration dates, Ford keeps its perennial best seller very up to date, and has issued a new F150 before many expected it.

While all-new, the styling is clearly evolutionary and only the most devoted Ford fans will be able to spot the latest F150. Easy-to-spot differences are the headlamps and a slimmer grille, or should we say grilles, as 11 treatments will be offered. The aluminum body returns for the new-generation F150.

Regular, SuperCab and SuperCrew body styles are available once again, as are a variety of cargo bed lengths. Wheelbases run from between 122 inches to 163 inches.

Ford has not released horsepower figures yet but the normally-aspirated 3.3L-V6 and 5L-V8 return, as do the turbocharged 2.7L-V6, 3.5L-V6 and the Peugeot-supplied 3L-V6 turbodiesel. New for 2021 is a 3.5L-V6 hybrid. Regardless of engine or drive system, power reaches the wheels via a 10-speed automatic transmission.

The cabin of the previous F150 was disappointing in design and materials, especially when compared with the excellence of the current RAM 1500, which changed the rules as to what a pickup truck cabin should be. Design and materials have improved and Ford has included the now-expected large-format infotainment screen.

Ford has done a lot of research about how F150 drivers use their trucks and have come up with two novel features, one inside and one outside, to fit the needs of users.

Inside, the Interior Work Surface option lets drivers rotate the centre console armrest forward 180 degrees, nestling the gear selector into a recess as it comes to rest, creating a massive work/dining space.

Realizing that many F150 driving contractors carry a generator in the load beds of their trucks, Ford now offers ProPower Outboard, a built-in generator with either 2.0 kW or 2.4kW outputs.

Like other automakers, Ford has been adding active safety features over the last few years and the new F150 is no exception.
Co-PILOT360, with a forward collision warning and autonomous emergency braking, including pedestrian, is standard. Options include blind spot and rear cross traffic warnings, adaptive cruise control with stop and go, evasive steering assist and lane keep assist.

The F150 is a perennial best-seller with contractors and farmers, and in the last decade or so, private buyers as well. It will no doubt remain popular with commercial users but it will be interesting to see if private buyers keep buying them in the post Covid19 economy.

The new F150 should be on sale by late 2020.

Though it is busier looking than it needs to be, the side profile shows a very short front overhang for a car based on a front-wheel drive architecture

After six long years, Acura has unveiled its second-generation TLX which should be on sale by the end of 2020.

Based on the Honda Accord that first went on sale for the 2018 model year, the new TLX is built on a 94 mm (3.7 inch) longer wheelbase, is 74 mm (2.9 inches) greater in overall length and 56 mm (2.2 inches) wider than before.

The previous base engine, a normally-aspirated 2.4L four, has been replaced by a 2L turbo four with 272 horsepower; with a new 3L-V6 replacing the normally aspirated 3.5L-V6 that powered the TLX last year. No V6 power output figures are available but 335 horsepower would not be far off the mark. Acura’s SH-AWD system, now with torque-vectoring is standard and the sole transmission offered is a conventional 10-speed automatic. New for 2021 is an electro-servo brake-by-wire braking system that first debuted in the current NSX supercar.

The new TLX is fronted by Acura’s pentagon- shaped grille, which is flanked by slim-line L.E.D. headlamps and daytime running lights, below which are the large quasi-triangular gashes that are seemingly obligatory for vehicle front ends at this time. The side profile of the TLX telegraphs its long wheelbase and highlights the short overhangs, especially at the front, given that the car rests on a front-wheel drive biased architecture. The rear styling being similar to that of the smallest Acura, the ILX.

The cabin reflects the current “Acura style” that debuted on the current RDX. Drivers face a crisp analogue gauge package. A free-standing infotainment screen occupies the top centre of the dashboard. The dash centre-stack looks like it has been transferred directly from the dashboard of the RDX. A slim, push-button climate control panel resides at the top of the swept-back dash centre stack, below of which is a drive-mode knob which is followed by Acura’s odd, but ultimately logical gear selector. The new TLX uses the same track- pad infotainment interface, which will likely be as frustrating and counter-intuitive in the TLX as it is in the RDX. The rest of the interior looks very upscale, with real open pore wood or aluminum trim and convincing faux alloy accents as well. Likely vinyl seating will be standard, with leather offered on higher trims. The Accord, which the TLX is based on possesses a massive cabin, and this inner space should transfer to the TLX.

AcuraWatch, including a forward collision warning with autonomous emergency braking and a lane departure warning, is standard, as are adaptive cruise control with low-speed follow and Traffic Jam Assist that keeps the car centred in its lane, as well as maintaining a set distance between it and the car being followed.

The base TLX is very nicely equipped but lacks leather seating and blind spot and rear cross traffic monitors. Moving up to the Tech trim adds the blind spot and rear cross traffic monitors, an ELS audio system, navigation, parking sensors and a heated steering wheel, at a very good price. The sport-themed A-Spec model adds suede and leather seating, ventilated front seats and some "go-faster" accents, at a supplement that reflects the content. The range-topping Platinum Elite trim, which adds adaptive suspension, full-leather seating, a heads-up display and wood trim, is a bargain. A V6 turbo has been announced but no pricing details are known.

The 2021 TLX should be on sale by late 2020.


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Part 1: What's New For 2021 (June 1st, 2020)

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