Category: Product Planning

By on June 23, 2017

2014 Toyota Tundra Exterior-016

Now that pickup trucks have graduated from the role of farm and construction site conveyance to family hauler, space and seating have become as important as bed length and payload capacity. Not surprisingly, regular cab pickups and even extended-cab models have become a scarce sight on local roads.

Ram, Toyota and General Motors have since turned their extended cab full-sizers into front-hinged, almost-crew-cab four-doors, leaving Ford and Nissan with the only clamshell layouts in the business. As for regular cabs, who even thinks of those? Not many. So few, in fact, that Toyota beancounters decided to drop the axe.

Yup, there’ll be no regular cab Tundra when the refreshed 2018 models arrive in late summer. Are you sad? Read More >

By on June 23, 2017

2018 Nissan Leaf [Image: Nissan]

After hemming and hawing for what seemed like forever, Nissan will bring American electric vehicle enthusiasts a long-overdue new Leaf later this year. Say goodbye to that old, swoopy body and 107-mile range (at best), and give a cheerful hello to a not-yet-revealed body, undisclosed driving range, and these headlights.

Okay, so there’s not a whole lot known about the next Leaf except that it won’t be an ancient thing that appeared at the dawn of the electric car resurrection. You might be able to drive to a nearby city and back. However, we now know that trip doesn’t have to be as hands-on as it once was. Read More >

By on June 22, 2017

2017 Ram Power Wagon

Impassioned calls for Ram to drop the Cummins 6.7-liter inline-six diesel into the Power Wagon are not new, nor is Ram’s response. I recently spoke with Jeff Johnson, Ram’s brand manager for heavy duty trucks, who unequivocally stated, “Ram has no plans to offer the Power Wagon with a diesel.”

Johnson pointed to the increased weight of the 6.7-liter Cummins versus the 6.4-liter Hemi V8 presently under Power Wagon hoods, as well as the difficulty of engineering the front end to accommodate both the diesel’s cooling requirements and the truck’s standard 12,000-pound winch.

We accept the reality of these challenges. But could Ram overcome them?

Absolutely, though Ram’s engineers have determined the cost outweighs the benefits. Even setting my enthusiast hat aside, I am not confident that bypassing this opportunity altogether is the best choice for Ram. Read More >

By on June 21, 2017

2018 Subaru WRX STI and WRX - Image: Subaru

Even thought Subaru’s new Impreza is already here and riding on the company’s new global platform, an updated WRX appears to be a long way off. In fact, it might be another three years until we see an updated performance sedan from the (mostly) all-wheel-drive automaker.

While the current incarnations of the WRX and its hotter STI variant still provide balanced dynamics and remain well liked by driving enthusiasts, seven years without a significant upgrade is a long time to wait. Read More >

By on June 21, 2017

Polestar logo, Image: Volvo Cars

Think of it as a green brand known for producing some very blue cars. Polestar, Volvo’s performance wing, will be spun off into an electrified automaker under a new plan from the Swedish car manufacturer.

Expected to do battle with the likes of Tesla and BMW’s i sub-brand, future Polestars — like their gasoline-powered predecessors — will stake out space in the performance arena, only this time in a different niche. Read More >

By on June 21, 2017

2018 ford expedition fx4, Image: Ford Motor Co.

You’ll have to shell out a fair bit of extra cash to get into a 2018 Ford Expedition, as the completely redesigned full-size SUV now carries an entry price above the $50,000 marker. Ford has to pay for that aluminum body, you know.

Of course, buyers aren’t just receiving a lighter body and long-overdue styling update. More standard features and considerably more power comes as part of the package, as well as the return of an off-road package that disappeared as an option years ago. As buyers move up the trim scale, they’ll soon discover the price gap between 2017 and 2018 Expedition models only grows larger. Read More >

By on June 20, 2017

2018 Lincoln Navigator, Image: Ford Motor Company

Large. Imposing. Square-rigged. Bold. All apt descriptions of the totally redesigned 2018 Lincoln Navigator. After withering on the vine for years as it weathered refresh after refresh, Lincoln’s full-size SUV flagship was finally given the architecture and hardware it needs to battle its chief rival, Cadillac.

However, as impressive a redesign as it was, the new Navigator (unlike its predecessor) lacked one thing compared to Cadillac’s Escalade: a choice of body lengths and the ability to haul more cargo. Not anymore, it seems.

Earlier today, brand executives revealed the 2018 Navigator will appear in showrooms this fall with two body lengths. Yes, you can have your new Navigator and stretch it, too. Read More >

By on June 19, 2017

2017 Civic Type R (European Version)

You’re not likely to find another car sporting over 300 horsepower and a price below $35,000 with the same kind of visual impact as the Honda Civic Type R. Call it over the top, call it arresting, or call it exactly what you’ve been waiting for.

Honda designers and engineers know what buyers they want to reach — as many as possible. Otherwise, it wouldn’t have decided to spice up its every-popular Civic with warm (Si) and hot (Type R) variants. With both models, deciding on power and price meant walking a fine line. Honda wants the Civic to be a big tent model. Nothing too exclusive, thank you very much.

Regular Civics for the masses, a 205 hp offering for the lively commute type, and a 306 hp hatch festooned with go-fast add-ons for the wannabe (or legitimate) racers. Seems like a pretty good range, right? Nope, there’s still white space in need of filling, says the Civic’s head engineer. Read More >

By on June 19, 2017

A Class Concept Mercedes, Image: Daimler AG

Get ’em young and get ’em poor upwardly mobile. That seems to be Mercedes-Benz’s rationale behind the upcoming A-Class sedan, which should arrive in the U.S. later next year.

According to dealers who spoke to Automotive News, the German automaker has confirmed the front-wheel drive model will indeed appear on these shores, slotted below brand’s current least-expensive car, the CLA. No longer a somewhat geeky, Euro-centric mini hatch, the global A-Class appears tailor-made to lure buyers away from other brands. Read More >

By on June 18, 2017

2017 Ram 3500 Heavy Duty, Image: FCA

It’s hard to hear the name Cummins and not immediately think of a Ram pickup struggling valiantly to pull a gnarled tree stump out of the unyielding earth. Certainly, the company’s diesel inline-six and V8 engines are to the truck world what Nike is to professional sports.

While Cummins’ fossil fuel-powered engines and power systems show no signs of becoming passé, a company ignores the future at its own peril. The green revolution is afoot, we’re told, and internal combustion power will one day occupy the niche currently inhabited by electric propulsion. With this in mind, Cummins has a plan. Read More >

By on June 17, 2017

2017 Audi Q7 blue front

Audi’s European introduction of the beastly SQ7 SUV caused no shortage of speculation last year. Even as Volkswagen Group’s emissions scandal raged, many hoped the raw power of the SQ7’s cutting-edge diesel engine would be enough to compel Audi to bring the model stateside.

Waiting followed. Then, even more waiting. Audi told excited journos it hadn’t greenlit the model for a U.S. launch, despite its very marketable 435 horsepower and 664 lb-ft of torque — power made possible by 4.0 liters of displacement, two turbochargers and a lightning-quick electric supercharger.

Late last year, Volkswagen CEO Herbert Diess put the chill on expectations, telling everyone it wasn’t likely they’d ever see a new diesel Volkswagen product in the United States. This, despite current advancements in diesel technology. It now seems any hesitation the automaker might have felt about that proclamation has evaporated.

Diesels? Dream on. Read More >

By on June 16, 2017

2018 subaru crosstrek, Image: Subaru

An extra one, that is. As Subaru prepares its second-generation Crosstrek for a trip to dealers this summer, just-released pricing shows buyers won’t have to dig much deeper into their wallet.

To get into a new Crosstrek, which adopts the stiffer Subaru Global Platform and massaged 2.0-liter Boxer four of its Impreza sibling, customers will need to pull out just one extra bill: a Benjamin. With an MSRP of $21,795 for a 2.0i base model, the 2018 Crosstrek costs just $100 more than the 2017 model. A destination and delivery charge of $915 brings the price to $22,710.

However, if you’re simply not up to the task of rowing through the new six-speed manual transmission, Subaru has a deal for you. Read More >

By on June 16, 2017

2018 Volkswagen Golf GTI - Image: VolkswagenGot your heart set on a 2018 Volkswagen Atlas, one with upsized wheels, stickier tires, bigger brakes, some red piping around the grille, and tartan seats?

I feel you. But Volkswagen’s illustrious GTI range is not about to co-sign any legislation on the other side of the aisle. Atlas? Tiguan? Tiguan Limited? Touareg? T-Roc? Amarok? Westfalia? Eurovan?

No.

“I think with the three [GTI models] we have now, we are set,” Volkswagen board chairman Herbert Diess told Autocar.

Unfortunately for the United States hot hatch market, however, only one-third of Volkswagen’s GTI lineup actually makes it to America.

Maybe a Tiguan GTI wouldn’t be so bad? Read More >

By on June 15, 2017

2018 Lincoln MKC , Image: © 2017 Spiedbilde/The Truth About Carse

Lincoln’s littlest utility vehicle, the MKC, always risked being overshadowed by the larger offerings emanating from the resurgent luxury brand. That doesn’t mean it’s forgotten — either by the buying public or its builder.

The four-cylinder-only MKC went on sale in May 2014 as a 2015 model, heralding a new, decidedly non-Ford-like design direction for the brand’s utility vehicles. Sporting a toned-down version of the whale-like corporate split grille, the little utility was Lincoln’s first attempt to tap into the growing compact luxury CUV market. No longer was a Lincoln utility just a warmed-over Ford with a revised face and taillights.

Now that Lincoln’s moving away from the whale look, the 2018 MKC, judging by these spy photos, will follow the brand’s recent “Make like Continental!” design philosophy. Read More >

By on June 15, 2017

2017 Mazda CX-9 2.5 Turbo - Image: MazdaFull autonomy by 2020? An all-electric automotive portfolio by 2025? Not at Mazda, where deputy general manager for product, Kenichiro Saruwatari, says the internal combustion engine will be a part of Mazda’s lineup for at least another three decades.

“We need to have the internal combustion engine,” Saruwatri told Motoring. “Even beyond 2050 we will still utilise the combustion engine.”

But just because Mazda’s plans for the future aren’t limited to hybrids, EVs, and fuel cell vehicles doesn’t mean the engines under the hood of your 2050 Mazda CX-5 will resemble the engines of today. Read More >

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