Category: Product Planning

By on March 28, 2017

Kia Stinger Detroit Auto Show, Image KIA Motors

It was jarring, when the 2018 Kia Stinger debuted, to see the automaker’s corporate badge prominently displayed on a desirable, rear-drive sports sedan. In spite of the sales gloom that surrounds the traditional passenger car market, some of us have wondered whether the badge alone might cause performance-minded premium car buyers to overlook the model when it appears on dealer lots.

In Korea, however, no one will be able to blame the model’s success or failure on the presence of a “Kia” badge. That’s because it won’t have one. Read More >

By on March 28, 2017

Refreshed 2018 Acura TLX to Make World Debut

Slowly but surely, the inhabitants of the Acura stable are dropping the toned-down version of the brand’s polarizing “shield” grille in favor of the far more appealing “diamond pentagon” mouth.

That grille debuted on Acura’s Precision concept car before appearing on the redesigned 2017 MDX. Now, it’s the TLX sedan’s turn for plastic surgery. The automaker promises a refreshed and shieldless TLX at the New York International Auto Show on April 11, hoping that a new face might turn the tide on the midsize sedan’s flagging fortunes. Read More >

By on March 27, 2017

2015-Chevrolet-CorvetteZ06-003-sm

Former General Motors vice chairman and product development bigwig Bob Lutz has always had lots to say about the Chevrolet Corvette, and advanced age hasn’t diminished his enthusiasm for the model and its potential.

Even in the pre-recession, pre-bankruptcy days, a pre-retirement Lutz opined that the ‘Vette nameplate could host more than just a sports car. Back then, Lutz wasn’t saying that Corvette should be spun off as its own make, but he is now. Read More >

By on March 27, 2017

2017 Honda Civic Coupe Si – Image: Honda

Honda isn’t one to dish details on a new product miles ahead of a debut, but information has a way of springing leaks.

An email sent to Honda aficionados from the automaker has ended up on the CivicX forum, and its description of the upcoming Civic Si’s torque rating is apparently legit. However, those fans wish it wasn’t, as the number isn’t exactly that of a performance monster. Read More >

By on March 27, 2017

2018 Chevrolet Equinox

To say the 2018 Chevrolet Equinox is an important model for General Motors is to downplay the importance of the crucial compact crossover segment. Lighter, trimmer and more fuel efficient than before, the new right-sized Equinox erases many of the drawbacks of its long-in-the-tooth predecessor.

However, if “Old GM” was still in existence (and some would argue it still is), the 2018 model would have arrived on dealer lots with a built-in drawback approved by Detroit bigwigs. By that, we mean design. According to the vehicle’s chief engineer, the third-generation model’s initial design sent focus groups scurrying up a tree. Read More >

By on March 25, 2017

2013 Audi Sport Quattro Concept, Image Source: Audi

The Audi Sport Quattro Concept, which served as an homage to the original Audi Quattro of Group B rallying fame, won’t make it to production after all.

Read More >

By on March 24, 2017

Buick Velite 5

Badge-engineered bliss awaits environmentally conscious General Motors buyers in China. Announced today, the Buick Velite 5 range-extended electric vehicle will soon launch in the car-hungry marketplace, but Americans might recognize it as something else.

Hiding in plain sight behind that Buick badge — which carries plenty of sales clout in China — is a Chevrolet Volt, which aims to compete against a host of low-cost electrics and gas-powered compacts. Read More >

By on March 24, 2017

t-roc teaser

There’s a Terminator-like CGI image floating around that purports to show the upcoming Volkswagen T-Roc compact crossover. If it is VW’s new sub-Tiguan utility vehicle, and you’ve already seen the flashy T-Roc concept, prepare to be underwhelmed.

As we reported earlier this week, the T-Roc — which might adopt a new moniker in the U.S. — was reportedly green-lit for the American market after dealers gave it their seal of approval. VW needs utility vehicles, and a youthful, sporty little ride that encourages owners to drop their tops seems like just the ticket to stimulate interest in the brand. However, it seems the targa-top, pillarless two-door will lose all of those unique features before appearing on dealer lots.

If this image is indeed the T-Roc, well, those reports didn’t lie. Read More >

By on March 23, 2017

2017 BMW 340i manual shifter – Image: BMW USA

The manual transmission isn’t dead. But it appears to be dying. Now Munich is making sure everybody knows BMW has a hand in the demise of the third pedal.

At the traditional core of BMW’s U.S. lineup, the manual transmission 7 Series disappeared three decades ago. So foreign is a manual shifter to buyers in the full-size luxury limo category, this seems entirely natural.

M models aside, the U.S. market lost BMW 5 Series manual transmission availability after the 2014 model year.

What’s next?

“Across the world, virtually all of our 3 Series models and above already have automatic transmissions,” BMW sales boss Ian Robertson tells Car And Driver.

“We will certainly see fewer and fewer manual transmissions being offered,” says Robertson.

Ultimate Driving Machine? Read More >

By on March 22, 2017

2017_toyota_prius_prime_premium_014_8d5a6573abb048f9ab660135c367b951ccab9f15

Can a hybrid vehicle really shine when there’s a plug-in sibling hogging both the spotlight and the technological podium? For some automakers new to the game, time will tell. But at Toyota, which first made “hybrid” a household word, it seems the introduction of a new Prius variant has tentatively confirmed doubts about the viability of the stock Prius.

We’ll gain better perspective as 2017 plays out, but so far, it’s looking like the Prius Prime plug-in is doing well, and the Prius is maintaining the status quo. Which is to say, it’s not doing well. Read More >

By on March 22, 2017

2018_toyota_yaris_01_12e90e8bedc710042b70543cfdc7b82c262cf824-1

If you didn’t stay up to the wee hours last night excitedly singing the Toyota Yaris’ praises in an internet chat group, you’re forgiven. Demand for the subcompact hatch has fallen to remarkably low levels compared to years past, as newer, more dynamic hatches increasingly hijack buyers’ attention.

Still, the subcompact segment isn’t one Toyota wants to yield to its rivals. As such, the little Yaris (not to be confused with the Mazda 2-based Yaris iA) is due for a makeover. While the refreshed 2018 Yaris hasn’t been to the gym, it does look like it stared in the window and took notes. Read More >

By on March 21, 2017

2016 Jeep® Compass 75th Anniversary edition

Thanks to the weird and inexact science of pinning down a model year for a new introduction, Jeep finds itself playing a game of “hide the Compass.” The old Compass, that is.

You know the one. Barely updated over its decade-long lifespan, hated by TTAC but loved by consumers? That Compass. Certainly not the larger, second-generation model, with its new platform, upgraded looks and carryover engine. That global model is the one Jeep wants everyone to know about and, of course, buy.

Unfortunately, the model year conventions found in some overseas countries means the global model launching this spring carries a 2017 designation. As does the final cohort of the old Compass. Read More >

By on March 21, 2017

AstonMartinRapide

We’re all used to driving curvaceous V12 sedans, right? Now, how would you react to news that your luxury automaker of choice planned to strip all fossil fuel-related hardware from it just to satisfy some squares with exceptionally strong regulatory powers?

That’s the situation for fans of the Rapide S, which Aston Martin claims is — in AMR guise — the world’s fastest four-door vehicle. Aston claims it just can’t keep building all of these 12-cylinder beauties in Europe’s regulatory environment. For some vehicles, gas has to go. And guess which model takes the first hit? Read More >

By on March 20, 2017

Tesla Model 3 Unveil, Image: Tesla Motors

After deciding that its analytic tools are top-notch and will tell it everything it needs to know, Tesla is skipping the “beta” phase of the Model 3’s development cycle.

In a conference call to investors last week, Tesla CEO Elon Musk said the automaker doesn’t need to bother with that crop of pre-production models. Early release model 3s built on the company’s production assembly line — not specialty one-offs built in a corner of the shop — should be rolling by this week or next, he said. Read More >

By on March 20, 2017

tesla model-s-rear

Tesla is taking its most affordable model off the market next month. In order to “simplify the ordering process,” the automaker has decided to abandon the Model S 60 and 60D, according to its official newsletter.

It hasn’t even been a full year since the 60kWh trim returned after the more-expensive Model S 70 replaced it in 2015. Good riddance. Read More >

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