A few short weeks ago, I was inside a very purple 2016 RAV4 marveling that Toyota’s compact crossover nearly outsells the Mazda brand. My bottom line for that RAV4 read like this:
Why are the RAV4’s sales so high when there are more fun options out there? The reasons can be found in its strong value proposition, a soft ride about which journalists often complain, included scheduled maintenance and Toyota’s reputation for reliability.
The 2016 RAV4 isn’t going to light many souls on fire, but it gives the average CUV shopper more of what they obviously want.
Except fuel economy or performance.
That’s where the first full-hybrid compact crossover since Ford abandoned the Escape Hybrid five years ago comes in.
There sure has been a lot of talk about crossovers around here lately, hasn’t there? Regardless of your opinion on owning a CUV, it’s hard to deny the functionality that a three-row CUV offers the business and/or pleasure rental customer. The ability to carry an entire sales team to a meeting, as well as some presentation materials and suitcases? Useful. The capability to take a family of five to the beach, including assorted coolers and pool toys? Valuable.
Therefore, gents, if you absolutely must have a crossover for your rental or personal needs, well, you might as well have the manliest damn crossover money can buy. That honor goes to the 2016 Dodge Durango. Ladies, I have a feeling that you’ll enjoy the big D, too. Allow me to share my thoughts with you from the week I spent in the ATL with FCA’s entry in the hotly-contested three-row segment.
We recently reviewed the 2016 Volvo XC90, the long overdue redesign of Volvo’s family hauler. First introduced as a 2002 model, the XC90 was a teenager by the time it was finally replaced. Oddly enough, it’s a similar story with the Audi Q7.
In response to Volvo’s then-new XC90, Audi began development of the seven-seater Q7 in 2002, which later hit the market in 2005. It received a facelift in 2009, but the basics of the slab-sided Audi remained. Eleven years later, and at around the same time as the new XC90, Audi has finally reinvented the Q7 as a sort of soft-road A8 Avant.
Can it compete against the new XC90 for the hearts and minds of luxury-minded families?
Across the vast and majestic gulf of time and space, the jimmies rustled not-so-softly when I published last week’s column on the reasons people choose crossovers. I was accused of persecuting everybody from innocent children to Fox Wolfie Galen. The author of the guest editorial to which my column was a reply claimed that he would leave TTAC forever unless I renounced my views on traditional masculinity, essentially attempting to no-platform me right off a site that I personally dragged from the abyss just two and a half years ago (with all of your help, of course). But seriously — I edited multiple news items for this site from a hospital bed a couple of hours after they cut out my spleen and this guy thinks I’m going to quit just to spare his delicate feelings.
Not that there wasn’t some intelligent, reasonable, principled opposition among the B&B to what I had to say, of course. Some of it resonated with me long after I put my laptop down for the day and picked up my bottle of Ketel One for the evening. I started to think about why people settle: for jobs, for spouses, for vacations — but most of all, why they settle for certain cars. Why have so many of us made the pansy-assed decision to buy something like a crossover? And why do so many of us feel the need to defend that decision to the Internet death?
A few hours later, as I unsteadily unbuttoned the blouse of a woman who was a toddler back when I started driving my father’s 733i, I asked myself: What if I took that easy contempt that I feel for crossover-driving single men and pointed that high-powered perception on myself, so to speak? When did I settle, and why did I do it?
Earlier this week, I had the pleasure of editing Daniel Ho’s theories on crossovers as reflections of the zeitgeist. In his thoughtfully-written piece, Daniel argues that crossovers are chimeras, reflecting a social trend towards generalized products that combine social signaling attributes from multiple socio-economic categories. The crossover, therefore, is the “blazer and jeans” look, offering broader but shallower capabilities than the specialized vehicles that preceded it.
It is my hope that Daniel, and the rest of the B&B, will take it as a signal mark of my esteem and admiration for the both the substance of Daniel’s original argument and his stylish manner of expressing it when I say that he is absolutely, completely, thoroughly wrong.
(Welcome Daniel Ho — a.k.a. “Waftable Torque” — who’s here to school you proles on the true appeal of the crossover/cute-ute/abominable mom-van. — JB)
There has seldom been a topic that riles automotive journalists and commentators up as much as crossovers. They inhabit categories that are successfully profitable and growing. Non-existent 20 years ago, they have become increasingly aspirational to a large segment of today’s drivers. There have been many theories as to why they’re successful. Some blame CAFE, others the baby boomers, and others still blame American exceptionalism. They may all be right.
The Truth About Cars has always pointed out things others don’t see. Sometimes it’s the authors who provide the evidence, but sometimes it’s the commentators who supply the observation. I’d like to show you something that, once you see it, you can never un-see.
The crossover is merely the tip of the iceberg.
Compact crossovers are big business and the Toyota RAV4 is one of the segment’s corporate all-stars.
In 2015, the RAV4 almost outsold Mazda. I’m not talking about the RAV4 outselling the Mazda CX-5, which it did handily by over 200,000 units. No, I’m talking about the RAV4 outselling Mazda in its entirely. Everything Mazda sells. All model sales put together. The RAV4 almost outsold MAZDA.
Toyota’s fourth-generation crossover has received a nip-tuck to keep it fresh after just three model years on the market. Its lineup is bolstered this year with the addition of the new RAV4 Hybrid, which we’ll be getting our hands on that in a few weeks. In the meantime, let’s take a deep dive into the second best-selling CUV in the USA in traditional gas-burner guise.
It’s quite trendy nowadays for auto writers to trash the very notion of the crossover, mostly because it doesn’t fit in with their self-defined image of being a swashbuckling, tire squealing, craft-beer-drinking car guy. Also, the economics of writing about cars tend to dictate a certain set of values and behaviors upon said auto writers, meaning that they aren’t incredibly likely to have families or, you know, own a lot of stuff. Finally, don’t forget that in the world of automotive journalism, anything mainstream is lame and everything that sells in single digits annually is awesome.
Thus, it’s now become incredibly bold for an auto writer to say something that is patently and plainly obvious to the vast majority of people who actually buy new cars. So I will: The 2016 Ford Escape is a good vehicle that fits the needs of a great many consumers, and it represents a fair value in the automotive marketplace.
When is a BMW not a BMW? Some would say: when it has four wheels. Others will say: when it’s front wheel drive. But here we are. BMW’s smallest crossover has ditched its BMW 3-Series roots for underpinnings shared with the Mini Countryman.
Americans may be surprised to hear that the X1 is not BMW’s first front driver. Neither is it the last BMW with a transverse engine. Our European friends will soon be seeing the 2 Series Gran Tourer — a small 7-seat … minivan. Yes, a BMW minivan. What’s that sound, you ask? Minds blowing.
For purists, the notion of a trio of transverse-engined BMWs prowling around the countryside is an abomination; an affront to everything E46 M3 owners holds sacred.
For the rest of you? It’s no big deal. Seriously.
Volkswagen may bring to Geneva two new small crossovers to complement its aging crossover lineup —including a production version of the T-ROC Concept it showed off in Geneva two years ago — Autocar reported (via Car and Driver).
The T-ROC and reported T-Cross would both be MQB-based crossovers. The T-ROC is Golf-sized and much more probable for North American audiences than the Polo-sized T-Cross.
That’s in line with what we’ve heard, but don’t bet on a refreshed Golf to bow in Geneva in March — we’re hearing Paris in October for that particular reveal. (Read More…)