Tesla shaves some door handles, Honda turns some lap times, Kia updates its largest family hauler. All this and more in today’s Morning Dump.
Welcome to The Morning Dump, bite-sized stories corralled into a single article for your morning perusal. If your morning coffee’s working a little too well, pull up a throne and have a gander at the best of the rest of yesterday.
It’s Official, The Tesla Cybertruck Won’t Have Door Handles
It looks like Tesla’s stainless steel doorstop is inching closer to production. At an event on Thursday called the Cyber Rodeo (yes, really) [Editor’s note: Ford has an off-road program called “Bronco Off-Roadeo,” so nobody’s really innocent, here -DT ], Elon Musk trotted out a version of the Cybertruck with mirrors, a windshield wiper and a relatively normal wheel and tire package. Conspicuously absent? Door handles. According to Musk, owners will be able to just walk up to their Cybertrucks and have the doors swing open. While this should theoretically eliminate the issue of frozen flush-fit door handles in snowy climates, it’s also a possible entry into the door ding Olympics. We’ll find out a little more about how this system works in 2023, when the Cybertruck is now slated to go on sale.
Other news from the Cyber Rodeo? Musk has promised a futuristic-looking ‘dedicated robotaxi,’ although no timeline was given for this product. That’s probably a smart move, given that Musk has a long history of over-promising on delivery times. Speaking of timelines, Tesla’s robot now has a name and a possible production date. Dubbed Optimus, Musk claims that the humanoid “will do everything humans don’t want to do,” and that it could enter production “hopefully next year.”
In addition to Cybertruck production, a full North American rollout of Tesla’s “Full Self Driving” assistance system and promises of Tesla Semi and Roadster production are on the table for 2023. Whether this deadline is actually met remains to be seen, but I’m really hoping production happens next year. Customers plunked down a lot of money for the Roadster, so it would be nice to see product in their hands. As for the Cybertruck, it’s not everyone’s cup of tea but it should make the roads a little less boring.
The New Civic Type R Turns Up The Wick
For JDM enthusiasts, Suzuka International Racing Course is hallowed ground. Commissioned by Soichiro Honda himself, Suzuka has played host to Formula 1, MotoGP, The Ferrari Challenge, and the World Touring Car Championship. It’s also Honda’s playground for developing the next-generation Civic Type R. Early lap times for a pre-production unit came in on Thursday and, best believe, they are incredible.
A pre-production version of the next Civic Type R just lapped Suzuka in 2:23.12, 0.873 of a second faster than the special, stripped-out, Michelin Cup 2-shod Civic Type R Limited Edition from 2021. As Suzuka’s Grand Prix circuit is 3.609 miles (5.807 km) long, that gives the new Type R an average speed of 90.779 MPH (146.095 km/h), 0.55 MPH (0.885 km/h) faster than the old Limited Edition car. Useful stuff for say, the Nürburgring Nordschleife. While Honda hasn’t explicitly stated that it’d take a swipe at the Renault Mégane R.S. Trophy-R’s front-wheel-drive lap record, I’m sure the company is champing at the bit.
Kia Facelifts The Telluride
If you’re in the market for a three-row family hauler and can get your hands on a Kia Telluride right now, you’re luckier than a four-leaf clover growing out of a horseshoe. If you can’t, don’t worry – a facelifted model arrives next model year and it looks quite promising. Kia released this teaser on Thursday and, although it’s deliberately obscure, it offers some big hints to the future of the Telluride.
Let’s start with the exterior shot, where the big news is in the daytime running lights. The signature rectangular amber DRLs are gone, replaced with two vertical lines on each headlamp. While the black-and-white teaser shot doesn’t reveal if the new DRLs are white or amber, I’d be extremely sad to see the amber go. It’s just such a distinctive styling touch. Also visible are new raised roof rails, although it’s hard to say whether or not those are exclusive to the new X-Pro trim level Kia’s announced. It’s not surprising to see Kia chasing the bearded-up outdoorsy look with a special trim level, but it seems at odds with the Telluride’s ethos. Part of the big crossover’s appeal is its elegance, although I suppose if the market demands the option of a rugged appearance, the market can have it. The front fascia also appears to be reworked, better integrating the center grille with the lower one.
On the inside, the revised Telluride gains exactly what it’s needed – bigger screens. Moving from a single infotainment screen with a semi-analog gauge cluster to a single-frame binnacle with a digital cluster should give the Telluride some new tricks, like the blind-spot camera display function from the Hyundai Palisade. Otherwise, the interior still looks largely the same as the outgoing car. Physical knobs for climate controls are maintained, the funky console grab-handles with integrated heated seat controls are still there, and the confident four-spoke steering wheel seems untouched. Hopefully a volume knob is hiding in the pitch black of the teaser because capacitive-touch fuckery is absolutely a no-go when it comes to dashboard volume controls. The refreshed Telluride is set to debut at the New York Auto Show, so expect more details next week.
Volvos Are Still As Safe As Bubble-Wrap Suits
The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety’s 2022 Top Safety Pick+ award results are in, and to the surprise of absolutely nobody, Volvo is in the lead with an award for every single thing it makes. No fewer than 13 models score the IIHS’ most prestigious award, although the institute did separate electrified models from strictly gasoline-powered vehicles. To qualify for the IIHS’ top award, vehicles must pass a variety of passive and active safety tests. On the passive side, vehicles must get top marks in small-overlap crash tests on both sides, a moderate-overlap frontal crash test, a side-impact crash test, a roof crush test and head restraint testing. On the active side, vehicles must offer automatic emergency braking that meets IIHS criteria of Superior or Advanced and come equipped as standard with headlights that meet the IIHS’ top two rankings of Good or Acceptable.
It really shouldn’t be a surprise that Volvo’s Scalable Product Architecture is holding up well some eight years after its debut. Check out this small overlap crash test of the old P2-platform XC90, a vehicle that saw few significant body changes since it debuted in 2002. What’s Swedish for ‘rock-solid’?
Whelp, time to drop the lid on this edition of The Morning Dump. Good news, it’s Friday, the weekend is just around the corner. In a few hours, many of us will be making our last commute of the week. Whether you get to work on two wheels, four wheels, pedal power or public transit, we’d love to know what your commute is like, how you make it less stressful and what you’d love to change about it.
Lead photo credit: Courtesy of Tesla, Inc.