BFGoodrich Tires, the company that created the first all-terrain tire back in 1976, is about to launch its most capable light truck tire ever this fall – The all-new BFGoodrich Tires All-Terrain T/A KO2. Engineered from BFGoodrich’s championship off-road motorsports racing technology, the KO2 promises to deliver exceptional toughness, durability and traction for traversing harsh conditions, including gravel, dirt, rock, mud and snow.
To prove just how capable these new tires are, BFGoodrich could have invited us out to Moab or another off-road destination. But no, instead they brought us down to Northern Baja, where over the course of two days we tackled everything from rocks, dirt, sand and mud as we drove on parts of previous and current SCORE Baja 500 and 1000 courses. Talk about an epic (and slightly terrifying) experience!
Now if you follow Baja racing, you know that BFGoodrich’s got a rich history with this area, one that started nearly 40 years ago, back in 1975 when their engineers first descended on Baja to test out their new “radial light truck tire”, a concept that was initially laughed at by die-hard off roaders. The guys from BFG learned a lot during their time in Baja (like that there was a difference between “laboratory tough” and “Baja tough”), so when they debuted the Radial All-Terrain T/A tire the following year, it only made sense to come back down to Baja to prove the durability of this new tire by competing in their first race. The rest is history.
So 38 years and 80 Baja wins later, BFGoodrich decided to come full circle by bringing a group of journalists down to Baja to experience the All-Terrain T/A KO2 in it’s natural habitat. And it makes sense when you think about it.. After all, if the KO2’s could handle the grueling landscape of Baja, truly some of the toughest terrain on the planet, they should be able to handle anything you throw it’s way!
How Does The KO2 Differ From The KO?
Now before we get into the nitty-gritty of this amazing trip to Baja, let’s talk a little about the tire that we came down here to test. The BFGoodrich All-Terrain T/A KO has defined the all-terrain tire category for decades, so clearly BFG has some pretty big shoes to fill. The KO2’s give you what you’ve come to expect from the KO’s, along with better grip on mud and snow, and longer lasting tread life on gravel and asphalt.
In developing the KO2, BFG engineers leveraged the latest off-road racing technology to provide consumers with an advanced tire to meet a range of conditions. KO2 borrows heavily from the BFGoodrich Baja T/A KR2 tire, which was equipped on nine of the top 10 finishers in the 2014 Tecate SCORE Baja 500.
Key features of the KO2 include:
- 20% Tougher Sidewalls: The KO2 uses CoreGard technology developed in the Baja T/A KR2 for split and bruise-resistant sidewall rubber and a thicker, extended shoulder to prevent sidewall failures. Computer modeling was used to predict object paths and create a sidewall design most likely to deflect protruding objects, reducing the chances of splits and snags. The result is a tougher tire as consumers take on trails of various conditions.
- Longer Treadlife: The KO2 has a new tread design and rubber formulation that helps it last twice as long on gravel and 15% longer on asphalt than the previous tire. The tread rubber has been optimally blended to reduce chips and tears on gravel. A new footprint shape and interlocking tread design provide more uniform wear over the long haul. Special stone ejectors push objects out of the tread to reduce drilling into the tire.
- Aggressive Traction: The KO2 also has a range of tread features for better mud and snow traction. Side-Biter lugs in the sidewall improve traction in mud, snow and rocks. Raised bars in the shoulder help release compacted mud for better traction in soft soil. 3-D sipes create biting edges for better snow traction.
Putting The KO2’s To The Test
When we landed in San Diego, we were greeted by some BFGoodrich reps who checked us in and gave us some paperwork to go over. Of particular note was the Binational Emergency Life Saver Card, which would provide an airlift back to the States should we need medical treatment. OMG, what did I get myself into?!
Once everyone had arrived, we boarded a bus and made our way towards Mexico. Two hours later, we finally arrived at Horsepower Ranch in Ensenada, where we had a vehicle introduction and safety session. For the next 2 days, we’d be driving Wide Open Baja BC cars and Ford Racing/Miller Motorsports Park Ford Raptors, and they wanted to make sure we knew what we were doing before heading out into the desert. Afterwards, we headed inside for a technical presentation on the KO2’s, followed by an authentic Mexican dinner.
The following morning, we got our vehicle assignments, donned our helmets (complete with dust skirts and an air filtration system, since these are open air buggies), secured our harnesses, adjusted our seats and mirrors, and got ready to leave Horsepower Ranch.
Leaving in groups of five, we headed out of town and onto sections of the course used in the Baja 500 and 1000, which was a truly exhilarating experience. We covered roughly 200 miles on the first day, experiencing quite a variety of Baja terrain that would have lesser tires begging for mercy. But everyone arrived at Mike’s Sky Ranch (an iconic pit-stop for Baja racers out in the middle of nowhere) in one piece, though most of us were covered in LOTS of dirt and mud.
The following morning, we jumped into our BC cars and left Mike’s Sky Ranch by way of Simpson Hill. This was easily one of the toughest trails I’ve ever experienced, and it took us nearly an hour to traverse about 10 miles of “road”, if you could call it that. That was pretty gnarly!
Next, we started making our way up to the summit. Now this is the Baja I was expecting, narrow gravel roads with huge drop-offs, and no guard rails to save you if you make a wrong move. Having gotten spooked earlier when I nearly lost control of my buggy (my rear-end got loose at 60mph, I overcorrected, and it was seriously touch and go for a few seconds), I dialed it WAY down for this part of the course, as a mistake here could have been fatal, and I wasn’t about to end up in the hospital.. or worse!
After a pulse-pounding morning like that, the rest of the day was pretty uneventful in comparison. After lunch, we finally got behind the wheels of the Raptors, where we drove along a length of sandy beach, made our way through some local towns, and took on some gravel roads until we reached our final pit stop. While the Raptors were fun, they couldn’t compare to the BC cars that we had been driving for the past 36 hours, it’s just a night and day difference.
Overall, we were beyond impressed with the performance of the BFGoodrich All-Terrain T/A KO2’s, as they handled everything Baja could throw at them with ease. It’s clear to see why BFG’s motto for the KO2 is “Our Toughest All-Terrain Tire Ever.’
Pricing / Availability
The BFGoodrich All-Terrain T/A KO2 will be released on November 1st, initially in 12 sizes fitting a range of vehicles, including Ford, Chevrolet, GMC, Dodge, Toyota and Nissan pick-up trucks and SUV’s, as well as Plus Fitments for a wide variety of vehicles.
The MSRP for the tire starts at $222. Additional sizes will be released in 2015. More information on the KO2’s can be found at www.bfgoodrichtires.com.
The Rolls-Royce Cullinan Is The Most Luxurious SUV You’ve Ever Seen
After years of anticipation, Rolls-Royce finally took the wraps off its ultra-luxury SUV today in London, revealing to the world the Rolls-Royce Cullinan in all of its glory.
Now as you might imagine, the notion of a Rolls-Royce SUV caused quite a stir among purists, who believed that the world’s leading super-luxury brand should stick with cars. But according to Rolls-Royce, their customers were asking for a car that would allow them to “go everywhere in luxury, effortlessly and without compromise, conquering the most challenging terrain to enjoy life’s most enriching experiences, wherever they may be.”
With the super-luxury lifestyle evolving, so did Rolls-Royce, leading to the development of a vehicle that offers uncompromised luxury wherever they dare to venture. Cullinan is that car.
The Rolls-Royce Cullinan, named for a diamond that’s part of the British crown jewels, follows in the footsteps of the Bentley Bentayga and Lamborghini Urus, offering up an ultra-luxe SUV that can satisfy the adventurous urges of their clients.
Under the hood, there’s a 6.75-liter twin-turbo V12 engine that delivers 563 horsepower and 627 lb-ft of torque to an all-new, all-wheel drive, all-wheel steer system. This engine has been reworked to make the Cullinan comfortable even while it’s off-roading.
A “Magic Carpet Ride” air suspension system keeps things civilized in the cabin when you’re off the beaten path, because you wouldn’t want a passenger to spill their glass of champagne.
Naturally, being a Rolls-Royce, the interior is bespoke and fit for a king, with only the finest leathers and appointments. But perhaps the most interesting feature is the pair of jump seats that come out of the trunk, presumably so you can sit while falconing in the desert.
The 2019 Rolls-Royce Cullinan is expected to go on sale late this year, with a starting price of around $325,000. Of course, one you start adding bespoke features and customization options, that price could go north of half a million in a hurry.
What do you think of the Rolls-Royce Cullinan?
First Drive: 2018 Ford F-150 Power Stroke Diesel
It’s hard to believe, but the Ford F-150 has never been offered with a diesel engine.. until now.
While Ford has offered a diesel engine in it’s F-Series Super Duty trucks for quite awhile now, not everyone out there wants (or needs) a bigger truck. So when Ford finally announced that they would be offering a diesel engine for the F-150, people were excited.
So when Ford invited us out to Denver, Colorado to drive the 2018 Ford F-150 Power Stroke Diesel for ourselves, we were only too happy to accept. And after spending a day behind the wheel of it in the Mile High City, I’m happy to report that it was worth the wait.
Now you might be asking yourself, why do we need yet another engine choice for the F-150, when there are already five great powerplants to choose from? Simply put, diesel engines are ideal for drivers who tow and haul frequently, with tons of torque and higher fuel economy.
While the F-150 Power Stroke Diesel’s 250 horsepower might not be anything to write home about, it’s all about that torque.. all 440 lb-ft of it! The F-150 Diesel has a best-in-class 11,400 pounds of towing capacity and 2,020 pounds of payload capacity, so it’s more than capable of towing a horse trailer, camper, or even a small boat.
We started off the day by towing a 5,500 pound horse trailer around town with the truck, and it handled it like it was nothing, with the 10-speed SelectShift transmission keeping us in the sweet spot of the powerband as needed. We thought the truck might struggle slightly given the high elevation of Colorado, but that proved to be a non-issue.
Honestly, if you didn’t know better, you would swear there was a V8 under the hood. Even the telltale diesel engine sound is really muted, much to the chagrin of some diesel enthusiasts who enjoy the sounds of their noisy engines.
Later on, we hopped into a F-150 Platinum to see if we could achieve the impressive 30MPG highway numbers that Ford claims, and indeed we did.. And then I discovered Sport mode, at which point all bets were off. It’s WAY more fun off the line, but you’re going to pay for it at the pump. Still, totally worth it in my opinion. 🙂
Next, we hit up an off-road course, and the Power Stroke was an absolute beast, making short work of this challenging course as we worked our way through thick mud, ruts, steep inclines, and the like. While most people won’t put their trucks through this kind of abuse, it’s good to see that the F-150 is “Built Ford Tough” and can handle whatever comes its way.
Overall, there’s a lot to like about the 2018 Ford F-150 Power Stroke Diesel. If you’re someone who regularly tows or goes off-roading, this might be just the engine choice for you. But keep in mind that there’s a slight price premium for the Power Stroke engine, to the tune of $4,000 (and it is only available on Lariat or higher trims). Still, when you factor in the fuel savings over time, it isn’t that bad of a deal at all.
So if you’re in the market for light-duty, half-ton diesel-powered pickup truck for your towing needs, you should definitely check out the new 2018 Ford F-150 Power Stroke Diesel, which is set to arrive at dealers this May, and experience the truck’s stump-pulling torque for yourself!
Click here to learn more about the 2018 Ford F-150 truck lineup.
Review: 2018 Infiniti QX80
The Infiniti QX80 is like putting John Cena in a tuxedo. It’s elegant and ready for champagne, sure, but it’s still big and bulky. Which isn’t such a bad thing given the great combination of svelte comfort and capability that the 2018 QX80 offers. Luxurious power is kinda nice.
The 2018 QX80 has seen some updating to its design, with both exterior and interior changes for the new model year. This already luxurious SUV has become even more so with these updates, adding some nice modern amenities.
On the outside, changes include a softened front fascia with less bulk and more sophisticated tones. The overbite is gone and bumper thickness is deemphasized to give the big QX80 a refined look. Narrower headlamps help accent this refinement while the bulky fenders remain to keep the muscularity of the 2018 QX80 in place. A few changes to the rear of the QX80 mirror those up front while the tow kit and roof rails are now standard equipment.
Inside, the 2018 Infiniti QX80 is filled with quality materials and excellent workmanship that notes both luxury and robustness. A new center stack for the console has been designed, adding some small item storage to boost ergonomics. Including a new cell phone pocket ahead of the shift knob. Comfortable seating and excellent design remain the norm in this luxury SUV with spaciousness being key. No matter how big or tall, there’s room in the QX80.
The third row is meant primarily for kids, despite this being a big full-sized SUV. It’s still good, though, and very usable in that vein. Parents will note how easily child safety seats can be installed and removed from the third row using the rear hatch. The middle row is also good for child safety accommodation. Cargo space in the big QX80 is a massive 95 cubic feet overall with 49.6 cubes behind the second row and 16.6 behind the third. That’s a lot of golf bags, luggage, or camping gear.
Technology in the 2018 Infiniti QX80 is also good with the base model of the SUV having a very well-done infotainment setup. The 8-inch touchscreen is standard in the QX80 and offers good usability with plenty of connectivity options such as Bluetooth, voice control, etc. Satellite radio and navigation are also standard equipment. The graphics quality and speed of the base model infotainment is a bit dated, though. The upgrade option adds WiFi in the car as well as some apps and improves that interface some.
Several driver aids and convenience items are standard in the 2018 QX80. Adaptive cruise control, a 360-degree parking camera, and so forth are standard equipment. Updates include parking assistance, screen casting for infotainment, and so on. A rear seat entertainment package is also an option for the QX80 and includes wireless headphones and a built-in DVD player.
Driving the big 2018 Infiniti QX80 is a lesson on truck-based SUVs becoming far road friendlier thanks to modern engineering. The QX80 is smooth and predictable with a confident gate and excellent road dampening. Despite the serious off-pavement credibility of this big SUV, it’s a very comfortable, quiet highway ride. Powering that is a big (sometimes throaty) 5.6-liter V8 that outputs 400 horsepower. A well-done seven-speed automatic transmission is standard, running rear-wheel drive. Four-wheel drive is an option and shifting is seamless. Towing is rated at 8,500 pounds.
Fuel economy is a weak point in the QX80, though, at a mere 13 mpg in the city and 19 mpg on the highway. In the real world, a driver can expect closer to that 13 mpg overall, though, with our week proving out at only a 14 mpg average in all. That low fuel economy wouldn’t be a big deal, given the price point and likely lack of interest in MPG returns from the QX80’s market, but a small fuel tank means that the low MPGs will become frequent fuel stops.
With a big, capable machine like the 2018 Infiniti QX80, though, it’s important that the look, feel, and attitude all be there. The QX80 makes no bones about its muscularity or ostentatious nature. It flaunts its luxury and capability to the world. This new, luxury-oriented, and less truck-appearing QX80 brings a great option to the luxury full-sized SUV market.