News overview: Coquihalla reopens, Bronco Raptor, Escalade V, long-haul BMWs and more

In this week’s news, one of the country’s major highways is reopening, two large SUVs are arriving, GM is offering a new clean charging solution for EVs, BMW’s iX goes further than expected and Ford has a new Raptor in town.

Bronco Raptor

Ford launched the Bronco Raptor this morning, giving the SUV seriously enhanced off-road capabilities. Starting with a new 3.0-liter twin-turbo V6 that delivers 400 horsepower, the Bronco Raptor has 37-inch-tall tires and is nearly 250mm wider than the standard version. A reinforced body and chassis support the new Fox adaptive dampers and long-travel suspension. Even the tie rods are tougher on this one. Riding modes include a drag/pull mode that allows it to tow 4500 lbs, and there’s an anti-lag Baja mode for the turbochargers. The bodywork changes are equally hefty to hold the wider tires and wheels (and stronger axles), with special Ford Performance orange trim inside to make it special. Order books open in March.

Coquihalla opens

More than two months after closures caused by extreme flooding, BC’s Coquihalla Highway has reopened. Devastating storms destroyed seven bridges and more than 20 roads on Highway 5 (the Coquihalla), closing all other major routes through the province. The highway reopened to commercial traffic with restrictions last month, but is now open to anyone with temporary repairs. DriveBC warns that a journey from Hope to Merritt will take 45 minutes longer than usual and that there are changes in travel pattern and lower speed limits.

New Sequoia

Last week, two large SUVs were teased, one from Toyota and one from Cadillac. The 2023 Toyota Sequoia is a long-awaited replacement for the brand’s Tundra-based three-row SUV, much of the same vehicle that debuted in 2007. With an all-new Tundra pickup for sale, an all-new Sequoia is coming to match. Expect the Tundra’s new 3.5-litre twin-turbo V6 with hybrid option, as well as extensive cabin and chassis upgrades.

Escalade goes V

Cadillac’s scourge was the 2023 Escalade V-Series. It’s the first time Cadillac has applied its performance badge to the large SUV, which is frankly a surprise. Cadillac didn’t give us much information about the new SUV and said we’ll have to wait for spring. Cadillac did let us hear the sound of a very powerful engine under the hood, one that bears a striking audio resemblance to the 6.2-liter supercharged V8 that produces 668 horsepower under the hood of the CT5-V Blackwing.

Hydrogen charging stations

General Motors is considering combining its hydrogen fuel cell technology with EVs, but not in the way you might think. This is not a solution for the car. Instead, GM has built a prototype that allows a remote mobile power generator to use hydrogen to generate electricity and quickly charge electric cars without heavy electrical infrastructure. It could enable existing service stations to add L3 600 kW charging without new power lines, as well as installing charging stations in remote areas. It can also replace gas and diesel generators in temporary environments where they are used.

BMW iX Series

BMW has reported official range figures for its iX and i4 EVs, which are much higher than the company’s own internal estimates. The 2022 BMW iX xDrive50, with 516 horsepower and 20-inch wheels, has an official figure of 521 km, 46 more than BMW’s estimates. It just puts it shy of a Tesla Model X Performance’s 549 miles. Take 21 inch wheels and count on 491 km while 22s should give 507. The xDrive40 and M60 have no official figures yet. The i4 M50 offers 435 km with 19-inch wheels, while the 355 hp eDrive40 offers 484 km. The two EVs should hit showrooms next month.

New tests for driver assistance systems

The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, a US group best known for crash testing and safety awards, is launching a new set of assessments to evaluate what it calls partial automation systems. This means advanced driver aids, both hands-on (like Tesla’s FSD) and hands-off (like GM’s Super Cruise and Ford’s Blue Cruise). Deliberate misuse of the systems, IIHS says, such as drivers watching movies and playing games behind the wheel, fueled the new test. Criteria include handling lane changes and emergency operation, as well as the ability to control the driver. It expects the first scores of the new test to be released this year.

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