Category: Crossovers

By on September 21, 2017

2017 INFINITI QX50 - Image: InfinitiAs Infiniti prepares to launch the replacement for the Infiniti QX50 next year, quite likely fitted with a unique new turbocharged engine with continuously altered cylinder compression ratios, the first-generation Infiniti QX50 takes a breather for the 2018 model year.

It may not be a well-deserved break — the QX50, formerly known as the EX35 and EX37, accomplished little for the Infiniti brand in America — but it’s a long overdue pause on Infiniti’s compact crossover.

It’s an odd duck, the QX50. Essentially a fast but outdated wagon, frequently sold in rear-wheel-drive form, the QX50 is still widely available prior to its relaunch for MY2019. The Infiniti QX60 Hybrid, on the other hand, is was the fuel-efficient version of Infiniti’s most popular product. At the end of the 2017 model year, the QX60 Hybrid is dead, Motor Authority reports. Read More >

By on September 21, 2017

New Volvo XC40 - exterior - Image: VolvoOf the 1.4 million new vehicles sold in the United States of America each month, premium auto brands account for slightly more than one out of every ten new vehicle acquisitions.

More than 55 percent of the vehicles now sold by premium auto brands in America are utility vehicles. Of the nearly 100,000 luxury SUVs/crossovers sold in America each month, 7 percent are subcompacts, vehicles positioned below the compact BMW X3, Mercedes-Benz GLC, Audi Q5, and a variety others.

It’s a sliver of a slice of a chunk of a pie. But that sliver is growing far faster than the overall U.S. auto market, far faster than the U.S. luxury vehicle market, and far faster than the U.S. luxury SUV/crossover market.

Into that four-vehicle premium subcompact crossover segment now jumps the Volvo XC40, timed to roughly coincide with the arrival of the Jaguar E-Pace. It’s a segment that, to date, no automaker has yet found a way to dominate. Read More >

By on September 15, 2017

2018 Ford Escape Titanium aWD - Image: FordFor the 2018 model year, your local Blue Oval dealer will sell you an India-built Ford EcoSport Titanium AWD, with a handful of options, for $29,960.

Yes, that’s an uncomfortable MSRP for the funny-looking, tippy-toe-styled EcoSport, which Ford likes to pronounce echo-sport as if it’s a particularly athletic Toyota subcompact sedan circa 2003. But the entry point for Ford’s new entry-level crossover is much, much lower. At $20,990 including delivery — a 16-percent discount compared with the Ford Escape S — a 2018 Ford EcoSport sends power from its 1.0-liter turbo triple to the front wheels through a standard six-speed automatic transmission.  Read More >

By on September 14, 2017

2018 Mazda CX-8 rear - Image: MazdaWe’ve told you before. Now, with the Mazda CX-8 making its proper debut, we’ll tell you one more time after yet more confirmation from Mazda.

The Mazda CX-8 is not coming to America.

Mazda has its reasons. Read More >

By on September 12, 2017

2018 Kia Stonic, Image: Kia

If you’re an aspiring B-segment crossover owner looking for Korean value and a fresh face, but aren’t exactly enamored with the 2018 Hyundai Kona‘s looks, you’re out of luck. For now, anyways. The Kia Stonic, revealed in Europe earlier this summer, is definitely not making the boat ride to America. Well, probably definitely.

Definitely maybe.

The automaker says it has no current plans to offer the subcompact crossover — which is arguably better looking than the U.S.-bound Kona — to utility-crazed on this side of the ocean. It’s clear Kia isn’t so sure of the extent of Americans’ appetite for non-cavernous vehicles. Read More >

By on September 12, 2017

2016 Mazda CX-9 - Image: MazdaMazda is increasing the base price of its CX-9 flagship by $610 for the 2018 model year.

With more standard safety kit, Mazda’s $32,460 2017 CX-9 (after delivery) now becomes the $33,070 2018 Mazda CX-9.

But can Mazda, which sells the CX-9 at a slower rate than essentially all of its competitors, operate at an even higher price point? The second-generation Mazda CX-9 was already priced at a premium: $775 more than Pilot, $835 more than Highlander, $1,210 more than Pathfinder, $1,370 more than Durango, $1,585 more than the 2018 Traverse.

Mazda doesn’t seem terribly bothered. The majority of CX-9s sold in America are already top-spec Grand Touring and Signature models, higher-margin vehicles that are helping Mazda slowly craft an image as a premium mainstream brand, buoyed along by Driver’s Choice commercials and, as we can see now, CX-9s with $33,070 base MSRPs. Read More >

By on September 8, 2017

2018 Chevrolet Equinox - Image: GMCrossovers.

New crossovers.

New crossovers in the biggest crossover segments.

General Motors reported a 7-percent year-over-year U.S. sales improvement in August 2017 — in stark contrast to GM’s declines in four preceding months — as the U.S. auto industry reported its eighth consecutive sales decline.

Don’t thank GM’s cars, sales of which tumbled by more than a tenth. Pickup-truck sales edged up only slightly, rising less than 3 percent compared with August 2016. But crossovers — especially newly launched crossovers, especially newly launched crossovers in America’s largest utility vehicle segments — produced massive U.S. sales improvements for GM in August 2017.

How massive? Apart from the Chevrolet Equinox, Chevrolet Traverse, GMC Terrain, and GMC Acadia, General Motors’ U.S. sales were down 2 percent last month. Read More >

By on September 7, 2017

2017 BMW 5 Series - Image: BMWBMW’s North American CEO, Bernhard Kuhnt, blames inventory issues for the brand’s sharp utility vehicle sales decline in August 2017.

BMW reported only 8,847 utility vehicle sales in August, a harsh 21-percent year-over-year drop for the five-model lineup. Sales of Spartanburg, South Carolina-built X3s, X4s, X5s, and X6s plunged 30 percent as BMW was fortunately boosted by — strange as it may sound — elevated passenger-car sales.

Has the tide turned? Is America’s BMW buyer forsaking his X3 for a 330i; her X5 for an M550i?

Don’t believe it for a second. Read More >

By on September 6, 2017

Image: 1986 Nissan Stanza Wagon, via seller

Nissan and Datsun brought quirky, interesting, innovative vehicles to North American shores in the years prior to roughly 1994. Commenters — okay, I — brought up our subject Stanza in a post the other day about AMC Eagle creator Roy Lunn. Mr. Lunn used American Motors’ rather slim budget to create what was arguably the very first crossover vehicle from an assemblage of existing parts.

Let’s see what Nissan did with its early proto-crossover vehicle idea.

Read More >

By on September 1, 2017

2018 Volkswagen Tiguan Habanero Orange - Image: © Timothy CainIt took Volkswagen forever. But finally, in 2008, more than a decade after the compact SUV craze began, the first-generation Tiguan landed on U.S. shores. The Tiguan was more premium-priced than it deserved to be and smaller than it needed to be, but with a potent powerplant and fun-loving on-road behavior, those who could afford it and fit in it were happy.

It took Volkswagen forever. But finally, in the summer of 2017, nearly a decade after the first Tiguan arrived and eventually watched the release of two new Honda CR-Vs, two new Hyundai Tucsons, countless rival redesigns, and a bevy of new competitors, the second-generation Tiguan landed on U.S. shores.

The 2018 Volkswagen Tiguan is now competitively priced. It’s properly sized — marginally larger than many rivals rather than distinctly smaller. This time, however, because of extra weight and an intransigent powertrain, the Tiguan doesn’t feel quite so punchy off the line. And in place of a dynamic repertoire vaguely reminiscent of an Mk5 Golf GTI — lively steering, quick turn-in, grippy cornering — the 2018 Tiguan is comfort-focused, keen on absorbing and mollifying and coddling.

Bigger, more comfortable, and arguably more attractive? The 2018 Volkswagen Tiguan finally sounds like a Tiguan American crossover buyers might actually want. Read More >

By on August 29, 2017

Der neue Volkswagen T-Roc - Image: VolkswagenNot only is Volkswagen’s recently unveiled T-Roc subcompact crossover destined to avoid U.S. shores, Volkswagen’s Canadian dealers won’t be offering the T-Roc, either.

Revealed last week, we had always assumed the T-Roc was the logical next step for a Volkswagen brand that had suffered long and hard from a limited, delayed, premium SUV strategy in North America.

But it turns out Volkswagen of America will skip the T-Roc, likely in favor of a different small utility vehicle. So we asked Volkswagen Canada whether the T-Roc would arrive for the 2018 model year, the 2019 model year, or never at all.

Volkswagen’s response is the third option. “At least for now,” company spokesperson Thomas Tetzlaff tells TTAC.

Surely small-car-loving Canada — where the Honda Civic has been Canada’s top-selling car for 19 consecutive years and subcompact cars hold 19 percent more market share than they do in the U.S. — wants another subcompact crossover? Nah, not so much. Like Americans, Canadians haven’t fully latched onto the subcompact crossover, either. Not yet. Read More >

By on August 29, 2017

2018 Mazda CX-3 - Image: MazdaAccompanied by a modest price increase of $150, Mazda’s first-generation CX-3 undergoes numerous under-the-skin updates for the subcompact crossover’s third model year.

Mazda’s Smart City Brake Support is now standard across all 2018 CX-3s. G-Vectoring Control, a nifty piece of software that sharpens steering response while reducing driver effort, is also standard on every 2018 Mazda CX-3. Mid-grade CX-3 Tourings are now equipped with auto headlights, auto climate control, and rain-sensing wipers.

Thicker glass, more sound deadening, and improved door seals bolster every CX-3’s refinement quotient. Mazda has also altered the suspension tuning of all CX-3s for the 2018 model year. Mazda claims revised bushings, new front lower control arms, recalibrated dampers, and new engine mounts will improve the CX-3’s “already class-leading chassis dynamics.”

Mazda’s probably not wrong. The 2016-2017 CX-3 was an exceptionally pleasing subcompact crossover to drive. And on that particular subject — on-road behavior — we’re apt to trust Mazda when the company says the refreshed model will be even better. But this is just a refresh, and an invisible refresh at that. As a result, the Mazda CX-3 has the same limitations for MY2018 that it had before, the kind of limitations that severely cramp demand.

It’s very small. Read More >

By on August 28, 2017

Der neue Volkswagen T-Roc - Image: VolkswagenVolkswagen is perpetually late to the SUV party. That much we knew already. The Volkswagen Touareg came late, and was improperly positioned. The Volkswagen Tiguan was much later, and it too was overpriced and undersized. The Volkswagen Atlas, the brand’s first three-row crossover, only arrived in America this spring.

The Volkswagen T-Roc was clearly not the first guest to arrive, either. The Nissan Juke, Mini Countryman, Subaru Crosstrek, Buick Encore, Chevrolet Trax, Jeep Renegade, Fiat 500X, Honda HR-V, and Mazda CX-3 have been collecting U.S. sales for years. But it’s not as though Volkswagen was the only major automaker late to the party. Ford’s EcoSport still isn’t here, the Hyundai Kona and Kia Stonic were unveiled only recently, and Toyota’s C-HR is a fresh release that lacks an all-wheel-drive option.

But the Volkswagen T-Roc, revealed last week, will be more than just late to the party. In the United States, the Volkswagen T-Roc has returned its invitation by ticking the wrong box. Regret to decline.

Volkswagen of America has confirmed to TTAC that the Volkswagen T-Roc will not come to the United States, probably not ever. Read More >

By on August 28, 2017

2019 GMC subcompact crossover rendering - Illustration: Matt Posky, General MotorsSmall crossovers are a natural fit for a brand that sells not a single passenger car, but GMC has been sorely lacking in smaller utility vehicles for much of its tenure.

The first-generation GMC Terrain, something of a tweener-sized utility vehicle, didn’t arrive until 2009. For its predecessor, General Motors decided to concentrate attention on its Pontiac brand, which resulted in the oft-forgotten Torrent.

But down another rung on the ladder sits subcompact utility vehicles. GMC brand boss Duncan Aldred says General Motors’ all-light-truck division “should have been first in the segment.” Instead, the Buick Encore and Chevrolet Trax generate 13,000 monthly U.S. sales, thereby controlling America’s subcompact crossover category.

GMC? On the sidelines, waiting for the next generation of GM subcompacts to spawn a crossover for the very brand that should have had one in the first place. Read More >

By on August 23, 2017

2014 Volkswagen T-Roc Concept - Image: Volkswagen“I don’t know why we are late.”
– Frank Welsch, head of development for Volkswagen, ahead of T-Roc launch

It’s been less than one week since TTAC’s B&B had its collective say on the subject of Volkswagen’s SUV delays. But in an interview with Autocar, Volkswagen’s head of development, Frank Welsch, certainly isn’t denying the problem.

“I don’t know why we are late,” Welsch says, speaking not only of utility vehicles such as the T-Roc, but Euro-MPVs as well. “With the Touran we were late, the Sharan we were late. I cannot explain why, here we are.”

“I’m happy to have this car now.”

As if stepping out of a rehab program for automakers addicted to ignoring obvious trends, Volkswagen has finally completed the first step: recognizing the problem. The T-Roc will be unveiled this afternoon, August 23, 2017, years after the Nissan Juke, Mini Countryman, Subaru Crosstrek, Buick Encore, Chevrolet Trax, Jeep Renegade, Honda HR-V, and Mazda CX-3 took control of the subcompact crossover segment. Read More >

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