Category: SUVs

By on June 26, 2017

2017 Chrysler 300C - Image: FCA

Sure, there’s no vinyl bench seats and standard Slant Six engine, but this isn’t 1981 and Chrysler Corporation isn’t trying to boost sales by stripping down a LeBaron and calling it Special. Fiat Chrysler Automobiles is, however, trying to make three models more appealing to the buying masses, meaning trim changes are afoot for 2018.

What models, you ask? Two very old sedans and a crossover. According to ordering documents sent to dealers, FCA plans to ratchet down the entry-level price of the 2018 Chrysler 300 and Jeep Cherokee, while also shaking up the bottom end of the Dodge Charger.  Read More >

By on June 25, 2017

bmw-x3-m40i-2018

BMW wasn’t supposed to issue the global reveal of the new X3 until next week, but it seems its official website in Hong Kong didn’t get the memo. Product details and photos have appeared a few days earlier than expected.

While easily recognizable as an X3, the updated SUV’s more sinister headlamps and gaping air inlets service a more aggressive forward appearance. However, the profile and overall shape has changed very little. With the exception of some gentle buffing of the bodywork, to smooth down the sharper edges and altered taillights, BMW doesn’t appear to have changed much on the exterior.  Read More >

By on June 21, 2017

Image: 1983 Talbot Matra Ranco, image via KGF Classic Cars

Today’s Rare Ride was inspired directly by this comment on the Question of the Day, where I asked which car brand you’d bring back from the dead if given the chance. Commenter Menlo suggested the oft-forgotten Talbot, and specifically a unique vehicle they used to make.

Now we can all learn about the Matra Rancho.

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 15, 2017

2018 ford expedition fx4, Image: Ford Motor Co.

Ford Motor Company has announced a series of engine and transmission upgrades for the facelifted 2018 F-150 and redesigned 2018 Expedition, all designed to provide a boost in both power and fuel economy. For the Expedition, the upgrades also include an off-road package available as soon as 2018 models begin rolling off assembly lines this fall.

Starting with America’s perpetual best-seller, the F-150, Ford’s powertrain improvements include the addition of dual injection to several engines, expanded implementation of the 10-speed automatic, and a new motor for base trim trucks. While Ford hasn’t released fuel economy estimates, it promises there will be improvements across the range. It was, however, willing to divulge enhanced horsepower and torque specs for all light truck engines, minus the Raptor’s. Read More >

By on June 15, 2017

2017 Toyota 4Runner TRD Pro - Image: ToyotaAll across America, Hummer H2s are rolling over in their graves.

What even is a Toyota C-HR? Is the Hyundai Kona an indirect Kia Borrego replacement? The Jeep Renegade shares its platform with… an Italian cute-ute?

But have no fear, dead Hummer. The body-on-frame SUV is here to stay. The surge in crossovers — both the number sold and the number of nameplates available — has not caused the American consumer to leave traditional SUVs behind entirely.

U.S. sales of traditional body-on-frame SUVs are up 7 percent through the first five months of 2017, right on par with the growth rate achieved by the SUV/crossover sector as a whole. Read More >

By on June 15, 2017

2016 Ram 1500 EcoDiesel HFE, Image: FCA

Ram and Jeep fans looking to get into a new 1500 or Grand Cherokee with the highest possible fuel economy picked the wrong year to embark on their search. While owners of 2014-2016 Ram and Grand Cherokee EcoDiesel models wonder whether their vehicles are polluting as the EPA claims, Fiat Chrysler Automobiles’ 2017 EcoDiesels languish in legal limbo.

At first, the Environmental Protection Agency held up the certification of 2017 models as it slogged through a backlog of extra-stringent testing prompted by Volkswagen’s diesel emissions scandal. Then, in January, FCA’s hopes of getting 2017 EcoDiesels to dealers hit a brick wall. The automaker was accused of violating environmental regulations after the EPA discovered unannounced emissions control devices on the models — raising concerns of a possible VW-type defeat device scheme.

Then came a lawsuit filed by the U.S. Department of Justice. So, when can diesel fans get their hands on a light-duty FCA oil burner? It could be a while. 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 13, 2017

2016 Ram 1500 Laramie Crew Cab 4x4 EcoDiesel

The university that sparked the emissions wildfire under Volkswagen has turned its testing equipment on Fiat Chrysler’s 3.0-liter EcoDiesel vehicles. The results aren’t pretty, especially for those with diminished lung capacity.

West Virginia University researchers who tested tailpipe emissions in real-world driving conditions claim the Ram 1500 and Jeep Grand Cherokee EcoDiesels, singled out by the Environmental Protection Agency in January for excess pollution and unauthorized emission control devices, are indeed quite harmful to air quality. The university plans to detail its findings in a report to be published within weeks.

FCA, which proved unable to sidestep the EPA’s wrath or a lawsuit from the U.S. Department of Justice, has spoken out against the university’s methods. Read More >

By on June 10, 2017

2017 Audi Q7, Image: Audi AG

As Audi pushes new and refreshed product out the door in a mad rush, hoping to create the youngest lineup of any German automaker, it can’t ignore the requests of brand loyalists. In the United States, those buyers want one thing more anything else: a bigger SUV.

The three-row Q7 is nice, but in the land of Expeditions and Suburbans, it simply doesn’t measure up. Space-obsessed German vehicle aficionados can climb into a Mercedes-Benz GLS and enjoy more room. Naturally, Audi isn’t about to let an opportunity slip away.

It also wants to do something about those pesky buyers who want more cargo room, but won’t drive an SUV. Read More >

By on June 9, 2017

2017 Hyundai Tucson - Image: HyundaiIt’s time for performance SUVs to leave the luxury domain and make their way down into the mainstream.

And who better to bring a performance utility vehicle to the masses than the man who previously headed up BMW’s M division, Albert Biermann.

Biermann, after three decades at BMW and more than half a decade in charge at BMW M, joined the Hyundai Motor Group as head of vehicle test and high performance development in 2014. His list of responsibilities at Hyundai and Kia is lengthy. His aspirations for Hyundai’s N brand, according to Drive, are lofty.

But while conventional thought would lead you to believe Hyundai’s N performance sub-brand would focus on cars, Biermann says, “The fun-to-drive element is not limited to the size and segment of the car; you can create fun cars in every segment.”

As a result — and this won’t surprise anyone who remembers that Biermann’s previous position included oversight of M versions of the BMW X5 and BMW X6 — there’s likely a Hyundai Tucson N in the future. Read More >

By on June 8, 2017

2017 BMW SAV lineup - Image: BMW USALittle more than 18 months from now, BMW’s utility vehicle lineup will be dramatically altered, primed to absorb rising SUV demand in an increasingly anti-car market.

According to Australia’s Motoring, BMW will expand its entry-level utility vehicle lineup — BMW calls them SAVs — in early 2018 and the top end of the brand’s SAV lineup by late 2018.

The production BMW X2, due early next year, was previewed by the Concept X2 at 2016’s Paris auto show. BMW’s long-awaited Mercedes-Benz GLS challenger, the BMW X7, is a late-2018 arrival.

But the expansion of the BMW SAV lineup is only part of the story, as new versions of the SAVs currently sitting at the heart of BMW’s lineup will arrive in short order, as well. Read More >

By on June 6, 2017

Alfa Romeo Stelvio, Image: Fiat Chrysler Automobiles

Alfa Romeo’s long-awaited Giulia sports sedan is finally trickling down to U.S. buyers in larger numbers and a performance-oriented Stelvio SUV should arrive this summer. You’d think cautious optimism for the re-introduced brand would be the order of the day. Instead, there’s massive optimism coming from Fiat Chrysler Automobiles CEO Stergio Marchionne and nothing but caution from industry analysts.

There’s also plenty of disagreement on how well the two vehicles will sell, and reality is leaning increasingly towards the analysts. Read More >

By on June 6, 2017

2018 Toyota RAV4 Adventure - Image: ToyotaIn late 2015, Toyota revealed that the automaker’s increasingly popular RAV4 would be increasingly leaned upon for major U.S. sales volume.

As of five years ago, Toyota USA had never sold more than 200,000 RAV4s on an annual basis. Toyota didn’t touch the 300,000 marker until 2015.

But the goal set in 2015 was loftier: 400,000 U.S. sales of the RAV4 in 2018. An SE trim level helped. Then the RAV4 Hybrid became a real success. Toyota sold 352,154 RAV4s in 2016 and is on track for 380,000 sales in 2017.

What will put the Toyota RAV4 over the hump?

If all goes according to plan, the 2018 Toyota RAV4 Adventure that goes on sale in September won’t be a mere oddball offshoot. Read More >

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