The Friday Five:The Nissan Leaf is the Cheapest EV, Ford Maverick Hybrid Already in Short Supply, and Toyota Swaps Out a Car for an SUV Edition

Beverly Braga | Aug 06, 2021

This week, significant automotive-related announcements came from the White House. The Biden administration released details of a $1-trillion infrastructure bill as well as an executive order that, by 2030, half of all new-car sales be zero-emission vehicles. Although nothing is set in stone, the infrastructure proposal is receiving bipartisan support. And while the electric vehicle (EV) sales target is merely a goal, many automakers have announced support for the EV growth.

Other coverage includes a new XRT trim for the 2022 Hyundai Santa Fe and a supercar swan song in the form of the 2022 Acura NSX Type S. Our latest expert review features the 2021 Dodge Durango, and we pit the 2022 Audi Q5 and 2022 BMW X3 against each other in a new SUV comparison test.

Also, new tech talk pieces include explainers on solid-state batteriesLiDAR, and automatic emergency braking.

But that's not everything that was happening in the automotive space.

Ford Maverick Hybrid Won't be Stockpiled on Dealership Lots - Find the best Ford deals!

2022 Ford Maverick Hybrid XLT Blue Front Quarter View in Motion

Those of you clamoring for a fuel-efficient compact truck, don't head to the local Ford dealership. Because when the all-new Maverick arrives next month, the hybrid models on the lot will already be spoken for, allocated to customer orders.

According to MaverickTruckClub.com, initial Maverick production will be 65 percent EcoBoost engine and 35 percent hybrid engine—even though the hybrid is the standard powertrain. The Maverick Hybrid will see limited production through at least October. Ford said the ongoing chip shortage coupled with high vehicle demand is fueling the production challenges.

Stellantis Announces Electrification Timelines for Alfa Romeo, Dodge, Jeep

A month ago, Stellantis made EV headlines by announcing that electrification would impact all of its 14 global brands. Specifics, however, have been rather piecemeal, with a hint of an all-electric muscle car here and an off-roading Wrangler there. But, finally, we have guesstimated dates!

During an investor presentation, Stellantis confirmed we'll be seeing a Dodge plug-in hybrid and a Maserati battery-electric model next year, Jeep's first EV will arrive in the first half of 2023, and Alfa Romeo will be an EV-only brand starting in 2027. Left off the two-year plan were Chrysler and Ram.

To be fair, the Chrysler Pacifica Hybrid already exists. However, no electrified Ram 1500 in the near future is an eyebrow-raiser considering the Ford F-150 Lightning has debuted and a glut of EV truck startups are on the horizon.

2022 Nissan Leaf is the Cheapest EV Available - Find the best Nissan deals!

One EV that's been available for more than a decade is the Nissan Leaf. And thanks to a more than $4,000 price drop, the ever-quirky Leaf is now the cheapest EV on the market.

With a starting price of $27,400 (not including destination fees and taxes but before any credits and incentives), the 2022 Leaf undercuts the also sub-$30,000 MINI Electric, which has a starting price of $29,900. Yes, two completely different vehicles, but that's good news for consumers in that there's variety and affordability when going EV.

The entry-level Nissan Leaf has an estimated range of 149 miles. Moving up to a Plus model means more than 200 miles on a single charge. But as range and amenities increase, so does the price. The top-of-the-line SL Plus starts at $37,400.

Toyota Avalon Gone, Grand Highlander Possible - Find the best Toyota deals!

For the Toyota Avalon, its production time is coming to a close. A year from now will mark the end of the full-size sedan's nearly 30-year run, with 2022 being its final model year.

The Avalon's pending departure follows a trend of big cars going bye-bye. The Chevrolet ImpalaFord TaurusKia Cadenza, and every passenger-car model sold by Buick have been discontinued. Those that remain are the Chrysler 300Dodge Charger, and Nissan Maxima.

We'll see for how much longer, though, as automakers focus on the more profitable crossover and SUV market. In fact, industry reports have Toyota setting its sights on a larger version of its popular Highlander with plans to name the third-row model simply Grand Highlander.

Report: Most Crash-Related Deaths Due to Not Buckling Up

Many people instinctively buckle their seat belts once they get into a vehicle. But, according to a Wall Street Journal report, too many don't, and they accounted for the majority of crash-related deaths. Preventable deaths.

Last year, although total miles driven dropped, the number of car-crash deaths increased by 7 percent compared to 2019. An estimated 38,680 people died in a car crash last year, and more than half were not wearing safety belts. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), that's a 15-percent year-over-year increase. Ejections, specifically, increased by 20 percent.

The NHTSA states that, overall, 90 percent of vehicle occupants do wear their seat belts. However, only 20 states consider being unbuckled a first offense, meaning you can be pulled over and cited. But one state, New Hampshire, has no adult seat belt law and, unsurprisingly, has the lowest usage rate at 71 percent.

The automakers are the sources of information for this article. It was accurate on August 6, 2021, but it may have changed since that date.

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