Category: New Cars

By on September 22, 2017

Mercedes-Benz Alabama Assembly Line - Image: Mercedes-BenzMercedes-Benz is investing $1 billion into its Tuscaloosa, Alabama, assembly operations in order to facilitate the production of its first EQ-branded SUVs in 2020. The investment, timed to roughly coincide with the beginning of Mercedes-Benz ML production in Alabama, is expected to result in the hiring of another 600 employees.

In the near term, Mercedes-Benz has been open with its doubts regarding the profitability of pure electric vehicles. Evidently, the long-term view is different. And it probably doesn’t hurt to pour more money into a U.S. operations hub that accounts for nearly half the vehicles sold by the automaker in America. Read More >

By on September 22, 2017

2018 Genesis G70 lineup - Image: GenesisFirst, Hyundai wanted American consumers to accept the XG300 as a luxury car alternative. If two decades ago such an idea seemed ludicrous, the XG300 — later the XG350 and then the Azera — set the stage for 2018, a year in which a Hyundai luxury spinoff, Genesis, would complete its luxury sedan lineup.

Yes, complete.

Genesis Motors launched in the United States one year ago with the full-size G90 sedan (the Hyundai Equus in a prior generation) and midsize G80 sedan (renamed from the Hyundai Genesis). In September 2017, we saw the production version of the BMW 3 Series-rivalling Genesis G70, set to arrive in showrooms this winter.

Yet while there will be more vehicles from Genesis, including SUVs and quite likely a coupe, Genesis senior vice president Manfred Fitzgerald says the sedan lineup is complete. The fledgling brand will not be moving downmarket into the CLA250/A3/CT200h arena. 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 21, 2017

Volvo XC40 - exterior

Volvo’s Compact Modular Architecture is turning out to be a little sexier than one might have imagined. With the arrival of the XC40 we were expecting something akin to a baby X90, but we ended up getting a better-looking Range Rover Evoque. It’s certainly reminiscent of its bigger brothers, yet possesses an individual sense of style that Volvo claims will make its way into other models using the CMA platform.

All of this style is likely to come at the expensive of rearward visibility. We haven’t sat behind the wheel of a XC40 but we can already tell you that bulky C-pillar is probably going to get in the way from time to time. That said, it looks so good that it’s difficult to truly fault it — especially when the small SUV is fitted with a black or white contrasting roof.

Offsetting the chic styling is a modest amount of plastic cladding along the bottom of the vehicle. This ought to provide some necessary protection for urban owners forced to park close to banged-up models with drivers less inclined to appreciate the XC40’s unibody beauty.  Read More >

By on September 21, 2017

2018 Toyota Camry SE white - Image: ToyotaYour excitement knows just cause. Upon reporting that the 2018 Toyota Camry would feature the American midsize segment’s most powerful base engine, the masses descended. We could see the hair standing up on the back of your neck through the series of tubes that is the internet.

In the 2018 Toyota Camry L, LE, SE, and XLE trims, the Camry’s new 2.5-liter four-cylinder produces 203 horsepower and 184 lb-ft of torque, at 6,600 and 5,000 rpm, respectively. In the 2018 Toyota Camry XSE, however, the Dynamic Force 2.5-liter produces — wait for it — 206 horsepower and 186 lb-ft of torque, gains of three ponies and two lb-ft.

So what do those major power gains, up from 178 horses and 170 lb-ft in the 2017 Camry, get the owner of the new 2018 Toyota Camry? Read More >

By on September 19, 2017

2018 Land Rover Discovery - Image: Land RoverThe new 2018 Land Rover Discovery (née LR4) is not the automatically handsome successor to the Discovery 4 you assumed it would be.

The front end is visually softened. Viewed from the side, there’s enough bodywork between the windowline and wheelwell to empty the paint shop. The need to maintain a traditional Discovery shape was compromised in part by aero demands, and the result is flat rather than boxy. The C-pillar leaning far forward is more reminiscent of a Lexus RX than a Discovery Series I.

But it’s around the back where Land Rover’s own design boss, Gerry McGovern, has his own problem. “Overall, I like the design of the back of the Discovery for its asymmetry,” McGovern tells Auto Express, “because it’s tipping its hat to the Discoveries of the past.”

The problem then, Mr. McGovern? License plates. Yes. License plates. Read More >

By on September 19, 2017

2018 Ford Fiesta ST three-door - Image: FordOver the last seven years, America, you didn’t buy many Ford Fiestas. Fewer than 430,000, in fact. For perspective, in the much smaller United Kingdom market, Ford sold over 500,000 Fiestas in just the last four years.

But the Fiesta’s lack of popularity — and its dramatic loss of popularity in America — is not a unique-to-Ford situation. U.S. sales of subcompact cars plunged by more than a fifth, year-over-year, during the first eight months of 2017. That tumble comes after U.S. sales of subcompact cars declined in 2015 and 2016, as well.

Nevertheless, it comes as no surprise that Ford, after exploring America’s affordable avenues for one generation of Fiesta, isn’t bringing the seventh-generation version to America. And now we have confirmation that there is absolutely no hope the next-gen Ford Fiesta ST will come stateside, either. Read More >

By on September 19, 2017

2018 Honda Accord Ohio assembly plant - Image: HondaAmerican Honda’s vice president for sales, Ray Mikiciuk, won’t provide a firm forecast for sales of the 10th-generation Honda Accord. But as far as next year goes, “I don’t expect to sell fewer Accords in 2018 with this great new product,” Mikiciuk tells CNBC.

With belief in the company’s new product, Honda has invested $267 million into its Marysville, Ohio, plant where the Accord, Acura TLX, and Acura ILX are assembled. With 300 additional employees, American Honda is following the lead of Toyota’s all-new 2018 Camry.

At the Camry’s Georgetown, Kentucky, assembly plant, production of the new TNGA-based Camry required Toyota to build up its employee count to the highest level ever. That’s certainly not the way rivals are approaching America’s midsize segment. You’ll recall that General Motors cut Chevrolet Malibu production — and consequently, jobs — in Kansas City earlier this summer. Prior to the new Camry’s launch this summer, the Malibu was the freshest midsize sedan on the block, yet Malibu sales have plunged by more than a fifth in 2017.

Ohio production of the 2018 Honda Accord began yesterday, September 18th. But what do Honda’s vague sales forecasts mean in the broader American midsize segment?

More market share. Read More >

By on September 18, 2017

2017 Lexus IS200t - Image: LexusFirst things first: Lexus is hardly the only automaker deserving of blame for unintelligibly altering model nomenclature. Moreover, Lexus continues to offer some models for which the badge makes sense. A Lexus LX570, for example, is an LX with a 5.7-liter V8. The Lexus IS350 we tested earlier this month utilizes a 3.5-liter V6.

How sensible. How obvious. How traditional.

But for 2018, the Lexus IS and its RC stablemate will muddy the displacement waters that were already complicated in 2017 by a detuned 3.5-liter V6 that wore IS300 and RC300 badging. In 2018, while the mid-range car continues to make its power from a 260-horsepower 3.5-liter V6 (not the upgraded 311-horsepower 3.5-liter V6 of the IS350 and RC350), the 2.0-liter turbocharged mill that was previously under the hood of the IS200t and RC200t is now the engine under the hood of the rear-wheel-drive IS300 and RC300.

Confused? Yeah, we are, too. Let’s try that again. 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 15, 2017

2018 Lexus LC - Image: LexusTiming is tough.

Toyota’s Lexus luxury marque launched the fourth-generation Lexus LS for the 2007 model year, just prior to an economic collapse that was followed up by an anti-car/pro-SUV shift. Lexus, which averaged more than 25,000 annual U.S. sales of its LS flagship sedan during its third generation and then topped 35,000 sales in 2007, suddenly found itself struggling to top the 10K marker.

As the fourth-gen LS’s tenure came to an end, Lexus watched as demand for the LS quickly collapsed. From fewer than 11,000 sales in 2013 and fewer than 9,000 in 2014 to barely more than 7,000 in 2015 and only 5,514 in 2016, the once hugely successful Lexus LS — a former leader of America’s large luxury sedan class and the car that was responsible for the genesis of Lexus — became an afterthought.

The fifth-generation Lexus LS is set to go on sale this winter, and Lexus expects to see a huge increase in demand for the new car in 2018. Lexus does not, however, expect the LS to generate anything like the kind of interest the big sedan did prior to the proverbial global financial crisis. Read More >

By on September 15, 2017

2018 Volkswagen Atlas - Image: VolkswagenAt launch, the lone Volkswagen Atlas available in the United States was the more powerful 3.6-liter V6, a Tennessee-built $34,425 three-row crossover with 276 horsepower and 266 lb-ft of torque. All-wheel drive is an $1,800 option. The Atlas was rated at 18 miles per gallon in the city; 25 on the highway. City fuel economy for AWD models dropped by a single mpg; highway mpg fell to 23.

Now we know how much money you can save by purchasing the front-wheel-drive-only Volkswagen Atlas 2.0T, which suffers a loss of 41 horsepower but generates very nearly as much torque as the V6 (258 lb-ft) and does so 1,150-rpm closer to idle.

Not surprisingly, a small, modern, turbocharged engine is barely more efficient than the larger, naturally aspirated V6. Read More >

By on September 14, 2017

2018 Volkswagen T-Roc - Image: VolkswagenAmerica can’t have the Volkswagen T-Roc. Canada can’t have the Volkswagen T-Roc. As far as we know at this point, Australia can’t have the T-Roc even though the segment in which it competes owns a hefty one-tenth of the Australian market.

Volkswagen nevertheless sees huge global potential for the brand’s new subcompact crossover, all the more so since actually unveiling the new model in late August.

The Volkswagen T-Roc’s Portugal assembly plant will therefore not build a modest 70,000 annual units. Though sales aren’t yet underway, Volkswagen board member Jürgen Stackmann says the automaker has already determined it’s necessary to triple annual production, according to CarAdvice. Read More >

By on September 14, 2017

Mercedes-Benz X-Klasse – Ausstattungslinien POWER und PROGRESSIVE - Image: Mercedes-Benz“They build fantastic cars,” BMW senior vice president Hendrik von Kuenheim told Australian automotive media at the Frankfurt Motor Show. “But this one was a disappointment.”

von Kuenheim is talking about the Nissan Navara-based Mercedes-Benz X-Class pickup, a truck not presently destined for North America but one that will appear across the region for which von Kuenheim is in charge: Asia, Australia, South Africa.

“I saw that car in Geneva and was actually disappointed,” BMW’s von Kuenheim says. “Very disappointed.” Calling the X-Class “appalling,” and suggesting we “would have expected something more serious,” von Kuenheim’s comments about the body-on-frame Mercedes-Benz pickup accompanied a number of revelations regarding a future BMW truck.

Don’t expect a BMW pickup to rival the Chevrolet Colorado ZR2. 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 >

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