Category: Crossovers

By on February 27, 2017

2017 Mazda CX-3 AWD – Image: Mazda USA

Operating in the burgeoning subcompact crossover market that’s soon to welcome new entries from Toyota and Ford, the still fresh Mazda CX-3 is already suffering from declining sales.

And the CX-3 is not declining from a particularly high and lofty point achieved earlier in its short lifecycle. There was no hot start for the Mazda CX-3, no early high-volume response to hyped-up demand from which sales would inevitably decrease.

Over the last three months, U.S. sales of the Mazda CX-3’s direct competitors have grown 21 percent, year-over-year. Yet sales of the CX-3 during the same period have declined 4 percent.

The Mazda CX-3 is a new model, only on sale for a year and a half. It’s attractive and highly regarded by reviewers. Yet sales are slowing at the very same time as sales of its competitors are flourishing.

Mazda doesn’t intend to chase volume for volume’s sake, but Mazda does intend to get the CX-3 product mix right before the CX-3 is labelled a flop. Read More >

By on February 19, 2017

2015 Honda CR-V

Sport utility and crossover vehicles have gradually become hotter than the surface of the sun as the public has come to treat sedans with the sort of disdain usually reserved for an old high school flame. It was decent while it lasted, but now you don’t even really want to acknowledge that it was ever a part of your life.

Sales have reflected this and automakers have hurried to supply an eager market with utility vehicles. While some did not quite meet demand, and have suffered for it, others are seeing rising incentives to meet the growing inventory surplus — giving us our first indications that interest in SUVs and crossovers has its limits.  Read More >

By on February 16, 2017

2018 Toyota RAV4 Adventure Trail - Image: Toyota USARidicule it if you must, but the 2017 Toyota RAV4 Adventure gives the people more of what the people want.

Yes, consumers are buying utility vehicles for reasons related to hatchback practicality, all-wheel-drive availability, and peer review equivalency. But they’re also buying SUVs and crossovers — more often than cars now — because they sit up high.

And the RAV4 Adventure sits up a little higher. Improved towing capacity, black wheels, more black cladding, and “dirt-inspired styling” have, however, led Toyota Canada to call the 2017 Toyota RAV4 Adventure the Toyota RAV4 Trail.

Yes, Trail — a name Toyota off-road enthusiasts will know well. Why isn’t Toyota using the Trail name in the United States?

Because the Trail, my friends, has ended. Read More >

By on February 14, 2017

Eclipse Cross

Today, Mitsubishi announced that its next model will be called the Eclipse Cross, acknowledging the defunct sport compact beloved by enthusiasts and teenage girls alike while simultaneously spitting on its memory. “Cross is short for crossover,” Mitsubishi helpfully explained in its announcement, as if anyone would have had trouble piecing that puzzle together.

“Eclipse is a word used to describe an astronomical event,” the Japanese automaker continued. “Marrying stylish coupe lines with the freedom of movement the SUV genre gives, the Eclipse Cross’ beautiful, dynamic form serves to bring about the same sense of excitement and inspiration as the diamond ring seen immediately before and after a total solar eclipse does.”

That’s sounds a lot better than saying it looks a lot like a Honda CR-V with a dash of Outlander.  Read More >

By on February 10, 2017

2017 Nissan Rogue SL - Image: Nissan

In January 2017, the best-selling SUV/crossover in America was the Honda CR-V.

In calendar year 2016, the best-selling SUV/crossover in America was the Honda CR-V.

But in December 2016 and the preceding three months, the best-selling SUV/crossover in America was the Nissan Rogue, sales of which rose to record November levels in 2016, record January levels last month, and all-time record levels of 40,477 units in December 2016.

Not the most powerful, refined, reliable, or dynamically competent, the Rogue is nevertheless Nissan’s most popular vehicle in America and a hugely consequential member of the SUV sector.

Yet the sheriff in town is wearing a new uniform, the Rogue is about to be joined by a new sibling, and 2017 is the second-generation Rogue’s fourth model year. Can Nissan continue to grow U.S. Rogue sales by more than 17 percent per month, and can Nissan make the Rogue America’s top-selling utility vehicle on a consistent basis? Read More >

By on February 7, 2017

2016 Ford Explorer

By the year 2020, you’ll probably forget all about words like “Focus” and “Fusion.”

That’s because Ford, to capitalize on the relentless juggernaut that is the utility vehicle market, plans to add five crossovers or SUVs on the market in three years. Lincoln will see another non-car join its ranks, too.

That’ll bring the Ford brand’s utility lineup up to 12 vehicles, and Lincoln’s to four. The identity of four of the vehicles is well known, but we now have a better grasp of what to expect from the remainder. Read More >

By on February 6, 2017

The great philosopher Jerry Seinfeld one ridiculed automobile naming conventions, reserving an extra helping of scorn for the long-running Ford LTD.

“Yes, it’s limited to the number we can sell.”

Mitsubishi won’t have to worry about jokes — not that particular joke, anyways — when it trots out the Outlander Sport Limited Edition to its dealer network. The value-packed variant, inserted near the bottom of the trim ladder, is, like the model itself, not long for this world. Read More >

By on February 2, 2017

2017 Cadillac XT5 luxury crossover

Okay, who’s getting all excited about the upcoming refreshed XTS? Anybody? Hello?

While the prospect of a mildly revamped front-drive holdover might not set the enthusiast blogs on fire, the sedan’s recent salvation from the Island of Defunct Models is a prudent move for the troubled automaker.

It’s also the only “new” product you’ll see between now and the middle of next year.

Read More >

By on February 1, 2017

2017 Cadillac Escalade

With consumers crawling all over crossovers and SUVs, you’d think that automakers would be eager to make some extra cash by generously hiking transaction prices.

Well, automakers might want it, but they certainly aren’t foolish enough to do it. Not in this stagnating marketplace, and not with the importance heaped on that wildly competitive segment. According to Kelley Blue Book, the average transaction price growth in all SUV and crossover segments remains at or below inflation.

However, when it compared transaction prices — minus incentives — in January of this year compared to the same month last year, the research company found that a certain hot-selling segment saw a consistent drop in window sticker value. Read More >

By on January 31, 2017

2017 Kia Niro - Blue

Kia’s new hybrid crossover, the Niro, should expect a sister model that dispenses with fossil fuel altogether.

A Kia official has implied that an all-electric version of the model is coming, joining a vehicle that arrives this spring in hybrid form, with a plug-in version on the way. By offering a Niro EV, Kia would have two electric crossover-style vehicles on the market — and plenty of green clout. Read More >

By on January 26, 2017

kia Niro

Korean automakers desperately need more sport utility vehicles. Frankly, they should have had them 36 months ago when demand for crossovers began to explode. Hyundai Motor Group, which includes Kia Motors, has watched its sales dwindle after the post-recession buying boom cooled off and everyone started losing their appetite for small affordable cars. That poor financial performance has forced the Korean automotive group into austerity measures, reallocating funds for new vehicle projects aimed at getting customers back on its side — specifically with something riding an extra inch or two from the pavement.

During this week’s earnings report, Kia said it planned to launch a desperately needed sport utility vehicle for South Korea and Europe later this year. According to the company, the model would be a Rio-based subcompact “crossover utility vehicle.”

While overseas markets are top of mind for the automaker, they might not be the only ones receiving the mystery crossover. Read More >

By on January 24, 2017

Kia has released the price list for its new hybrid crossover, the Niro.

The Niro, which launches in the first quarter of this year, carries a base sticker price of $23,785 after destination. Carrying a brand name that doesn’t immediately spring to mind when utility-hungry shoppers think “crossovers,” the front-wheel-drive-only hybrid Niro stands out on the basis of its powertrain alone, but is it what people want? Read More >

By on January 24, 2017

all-new-mitsubishi-suv-to-debut-at-the-2017-geneva-motor-show

A few tech-conscious Americans are still waiting (and waiting, and waiting) for the capable and big-in-Europe Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV — a plug-in crossover introduced in 2014 — to arrive on these fair shores.

Everyone else, however, has had ample time to scratch that compact crossover itch with the Toyota RAV4, Honda CR-V, Nissan Rogue, Ford Escape, Dodge Journey (the midsize priced like a compact), and a host of others. A lesser proportion of buyers opted for the smaller Mitsubishi Outlander Sport (aka RVR in Canada).

Crossovers and SUVs aren’t just big — they’re essential. Without them, automakers are left shaking the money tap to loosen a few extra drops of cash. Well, Mitsubishi doesn’t want to shake the tap anymore. Read More >

By on January 23, 2017

Jaguar logo

Jaguar is giving the F-Pace a baby brother and, unfortunately, it is going to continue the company’s terrible SUV-naming trend and dub it the E-Pace — a moniker it probably should have reserved for the all-electric I-Pace concept. Sized as a compact crossover, its existence meshes with Jaguar’s current modus operandi and brand manager Steven de Ploey’s promise to expect “a family of SUVs.”

Destined to be a direct competitor for the Audi Q3 and BMW X1, the E-Pace is Britain’s attempt to get a piece of the freshly-baked pie that is the compact crossover segment.  Read More >

By on January 21, 2017

Image: Nissan 2017 Nissan Rogue One Star Wars

If compact crossovers were feature films, Nissan’s Rogue would be tapped for an Academy Award statuette. The surging model ended a record sales year with a truly boffo month, and Nissan can give partial thanks to the visibility heaped on it by the Rogue One marketing campaign.

You couldn’t escape it — simply, it was everywhere. No longer dodging monsters made out of ice, the Rogue spend the holiday season dodging lasers as it plowed across a Martian-like landscape. The automaker’s partnership with Lucasfilm took the vast marketing power of the Star Wars franchise and brought it to bear on a relative latecomer to the crossover game, cranking its exposure up to “11.”

That, coupled with a cringe-inducing (or lustworthy) limited-edition Rogue and an end-of-year sales push, made the Rogue the best-selling non-pickup vehicle in the U.S. for the month of December. Unfortunately for Nissan, nothing lasts forever. Rogue One won’t stay in theaters forever, and there’s no new partnership on the horizon.

What to do? Read More >

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