The Truth About Cars » crossovers http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com The Truth About Cars is dedicated to providing candid, unbiased automobile reviews and the latest in auto industry news. Mon, 29 Sep 2014 21:20:29 +0000 en-US hourly 1 http://wordpress.org/?v=3.9.2 The Truth About Cars is dedicated to providing candid, unbiased automobile reviews and the latest in auto industry news. The Truth About Cars no The Truth About Cars editors@ttac.com editors@ttac.com (The Truth About Cars) 2006-2009 The Truth About Cars The Truth About Cars is dedicated to providing candid, unbiased automobile reviews and the latest in auto industry news. The Truth About Cars » crossovers http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/wp-content/themes/ttac-theme/images/logo.gif http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com Amid All That Bad News, Lotus Sales Are Actually Up 46%, Sedan & Crossover ‘On The Table’ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/09/amid-bad-news-lotus-sales-actually-46-sedan-crossover-table/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/09/amid-bad-news-lotus-sales-actually-46-sedan-crossover-table/#comments Fri, 26 Sep 2014 12:43:59 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=919602 With news that Lotus won’t be selling any 2015 model year cars in the United States, minuscule sales in their home market of the UK, and announcement of the impending layoff of about a quarter of the firm’s global workforce, many observers think that the company Colin Chapman founded 62 years ago is circling the […]

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Lotus CEO Jean-Marc Gales

Lotus CEO Jean-Marc Gales

With news that Lotus won’t be selling any 2015 model year cars in the United States, minuscule sales in their home market of the UK, and announcement of the impending layoff of about a quarter of the firm’s global workforce, many observers think that the company Colin Chapman founded 62 years ago is circling the drain. While there are certainly dark clouds in Lotus’ financial picture, having booked about $447 million in loses over the previous two fiscal years, there is some silver lining some of those clouds. Worldwide Lotus car sales are up dramatically.

Of course when you’re starting with a baseline of selling just 1,232 cars in a year as Lotus did last year, selling just a few more cars can result in dramatic percentage increases, but the fact remains that from the start of the current fiscal year in April through the month of August, Lotus’ global sales are up 46% to 914 cars during that period. As U.S. dealers will have to make do with existing stock of new unsold 2014 (and some 2013) cars until a FMVSS complaint car is offered in 2016, European Lotus dealers have had a pretty good year so far with sales up 21% through August for a total of 450 cars.

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Lotus Engineering’s aluminum intensive 2006 APX crossover concept.

The fact that American consumers will have to make do with old stock is really nothing new in Lotus history. The company has almost always had spotty distribution and a weak dealer network in the States. Following Chapman’s death the company went through a number of U.S. distributors, though I believe currently American distribution is handled by a wholly owned subsidiary.

The number of dealers in the U.S. and worldwide will be one issue that new Lotus CEO Jean-Marc Gales will be addressing, according to an interview he gave with  Automotive News Europe. Talking about the Hethel based specialist and engineering firm’s dealer situation, Gales’ comments bear light on Tim Cain’s TTAC post about Lotus’ weak sales in the UK.

“Even in the UK we don’t have enough dealers. If you look in London there is not a single one. There is no dealer in Paris, no dealer in Madrid, none in the north of Italy, none in Hamburg, none in Berlin,” he said. “Our sales network basically did not provide enough coverage for our sales ambition.”

The plan is to follow the addition of nine new Lotus stores around the world in the last six months, including in Iran and the Philippines, with up to 20 new dealerships this fiscal year.

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Gales also said that the current lineup of the Elise, Exige and Evora will continue. “The current range has still got a lot of life left,” Gales said, though he stressed that he company will be focusing on making those cars lighter and faster. New models based on Lotus’ scaleable platform made of bonded aluminum extrusions will be introduced “in the next two years”.

Though the Lotus CEO never mentioned the word Porsche, he also indicated that the company may be following the German sports car maker in offering profitable vehicles that aren’t sports cars, saying that Lotus brand values that use lightweight practices to produce fun, engaging driving dynamics along with good fuel economy don’t just need to be restricted to sports cars. “These values can be attached to any segment you can imagine,” Gales said. He was more specific with Autocar, telling them that a Lotus crossover or sedan is very much on the table.

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While the notion of a Lotus sedan or worse, a crossover, seems to depart from what the brand means, it should be pointed out that at the time of founder Colin Chapman’s death, Lotus was working on an executive four door sedan. Also, in 2006, Lotus Engineering showed the APX, the Aluminium Performance Crossover as a showcase for Lotus’ Versatile Vehicle Architecture.

Ronnie Schreiber edits Cars In Depth, a realistic perspective on cars & car culture and the original 3D car site. If you found this post worthwhile, you can get a parallax view at Cars In Depth. If the 3D thing freaks you out, don’t worry, all the photo and video players in use at the site have mono options. Thanks for reading – RJS

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Capsule Review: 2014 Chevrolet Traverse LT AWD http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/09/capsule-review-2014-chevrolet-traverse-lt-awd/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/09/capsule-review-2014-chevrolet-traverse-lt-awd/#comments Mon, 01 Sep 2014 12:00:27 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=902794 My, haven’t you matured. You’re a few years removed from realizing that a society’s population must grow if it is to thrive over the long haul. Yet instead of traditional government tactics like recruiting doctors from the other side of the Atlantic and engineers from the other side of the Pacific, you made the hilarious […]

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2014 Chevrolet Traverse LT AWDMy, haven’t you matured.

You’re a few years removed from realizing that a society’s population must grow if it is to thrive over the long haul. Yet instead of traditional government tactics like recruiting doctors from the other side of the Atlantic and engineers from the other side of the Pacific, you made the hilarious decision to utilize an in-house solution.

You’ve expanded the population all right. By way of the womb.

Child number one brought with him a surprising amount of stuff. Child number two takes up a lot of space, as well. But it’s the third and fourth kids that suddenly made the first bungalow and the first CR-V seem so very small.

Odds are, you’re not about to buy a minivan.

In July, Americans registered 46,519 new minivans. The Ford Explorer, Toyota Highlander, Honda Pilot, Nissan Pathfinder, and Dodge Durango combined for 53,467 sales. (Another 12,649 sales were generated by premium three-row crossovers from Acura, BMW, Infiniti, and Audi.)

And then there are the very popular Lambda platform crossovers from General Motors. Of the three, the Chevrolet Traverse stands out as the most likely minivan comparison tool because of its lower base price: $31,870 for an LS front-wheel-drive Traverse, $34,745 to add all-wheel-drive, $40,565 for an AWD Traverse 2LT with rear seat entertainment.

2014 Chevrolet Traverse LT AWD profileOn paper, none of the three three-row crossovers which sell more often than the Traverse in the United States encourage as favourable a comparison with the ultimate family vehicle, the minivan. The Traverse offers greater available cargo space behind the third row, second row, and first row than the Ford Explorer, Toyota Highlander, and Honda Pilot.

Not much wonder. The Traverse is 6.6 inches longer than the Explorer, 12.6 inches longer than the Highlander, and 12.3 inches longer than the Pilot. It’s longer than the Dodge Grand Caravan, as well, and comes within three-tenths of an inch of stretching as far as the Chevrolet Tahoe from bumper to bumper.

Traverses can also tow in quite a truck-like fashion, with a maximum rating of 5200 pounds, slightly more than the Explorer and Highlander; 700 pounds more than the Pilot.

The Traverse is more.

But as we know, less is actually sometimes more, and bigger is not always better.

2014 Chevrolet Traverse LT rearThe third row in the Traverse that GM Canada sent our way in August is more challenging to access than the third row in the Nissan Pathfinder, in part because of the Traverse’s flimsy second row levers. It’s roomy enough back there for typical third row occupants, but the seats themselves are torturous little items, hard and flat afterthoughts in what should be a contemporary minivan alternative.

Second row passengers are granted more space and comfort. Our test Traverse didn’t have the expansive glass roof, however, so one glance up reveals a fuzzy headliner. (One look around also reveals great deal of unfortunate grey-beige.)

For the driver and front passenger, there’s no arguing with the comfort level in highway cruise mode. This is a huge cabin with very adjustable seats. But almost all of the controls felt as though they were mounted too low, particularly in comparison to the very intelligent design of the latest Toyota Highlander’s cabin, where the screen is mounted high, a shelf holds items you want to easily grab hold of, and a massive centre bin swallows the lunch order for a family of eight.

GM’s MyLink is still slow, a trait which was admittedly exacerbated by the fact that during the Traverse’s stay, I also spent time with a Tesla Model S’s fast-acting touchscreen.

It’s not that there are any great complaints regarding the Traverse’s on-road behaviour. The ride quality could be slightly firmer, just enough to remove a hint of float. There’s something to be said for the way a modern near-5000-pound high-rider can handle. If 3000-pound sedans had made these kinds of advances over the last 15 years we’d be in awe. Even the brakes offer real bite, and the 281-horsepower 3.6L/6-speed automatic combo never struggles to adequately motivate the Traverse. More low-down torque would be appreciated, as thoroughly wringing out the V6 to locate that adequate motivation feels somewhat out of character for this not-a-minivan.

2014 Chevrolet Traverse LT AWD interiorIn fact, the most significant dynamic issue isn’t found under the hood or near the wheels, it’s in the cabin. The steering wheel is pencil-thin, as if GM is saying, “You were never going to have fun piloting this behemoth, so we’ve made sure the steering wheel reminds you of the least sporting Oldsmobile you’ve ever driven.”

So the Traverse is vast, it doesn’t need to be expensive, and it remains surprisingly composed in motion. It nevertheless feels like a product designed as a Saturn Outlook for an introduction in late 2006. That was a while ago.

There’s a cheapness to the often-touched interior parts that’s out of keeping with the huge cabin quality increases we’ve seen over the last seven years. That roughness around the edges – from the gravelly second row seat operation to the crude operation of the driver’s armrest and a sliding panel in the centre console – would disappoint in a vehicle of any price.

Even with the 2013 redesign, the Traverse looks like a bloated second-generation Hyundai Santa Fe, which wasn’t ugly, but isn’t exactly current.

Although the fuel economy our Traverse achieved during a mostly low-speed week on the highway easily beat its EPA ratings, the all-wheel-drive Traverse is rated at 16 mpg in the city. The Pathfinder is rated at 19; the Highlander and stretched Santa Fe at 18. Consuming between 12% and 19% more fuel in city driving isn’t a way of winning friends, nor will it positively influence buyers.

The Traverse is undeniably showing signs of age. That it remains relatively competitive is perhaps a symbol of some level of inherent goodness. It may also relate to the idea that, for many family car buyers, bigger is simply better. Though you may frequently have doubts about how accurately that maxim applies to the size of your own family.

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Volvo Restructuring To Three Families, Configurations By 2019 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/08/volvo-restructuring-three-families-configurations-2019/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/08/volvo-restructuring-three-families-configurations-2019/#comments Fri, 29 Aug 2014 10:00:44 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=903194 By 2019, the face of Volvo will change as the Sino-Swedish automaker begins restructuring its offerings, with the new XC90 leading the way. Autoblog reports Volvo will align its lineup portfolio around three families (40, 60, 90) and three designations/configurations (S sedan, V wagon, XC crossover). In turn, the 40 family will share a platform […]

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By 2019, the face of Volvo will change as the Sino-Swedish automaker begins restructuring its offerings, with the new XC90 leading the way.

Autoblog reports Volvo will align its lineup portfolio around three families (40, 60, 90) and three designations/configurations (S sedan, V wagon, XC crossover). In turn, the 40 family will share a platform with parent company Geely’s offerings, while the 60 and 90 families will use Volvo’s SPA modular platform.

Additionally, the V40/V60/V90 wagons will have a Cross Country variant, matching up with Audi’s and Subaru’s offroad formula for their respective non-rugged base offerings. Meanwhile, R-Design and Polestar will apply their magic performance touches to a few of the new vehicles, going up against similar efforts from BMW, Mercedes and Audi.

All of the above are expected to come online within the next four years, but no coupes or convertibles are in the plans, citing a lack of a case for either at this time. Volvo will instead focus on boosting its volume, with a goal of 800,000 units for 2014 alone.

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Lightly Revised Mazda CX-5 Caught By Spy Cameras http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/08/lightly-revised-mazda-cx-5-caught-spy-cameras/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/08/lightly-revised-mazda-cx-5-caught-spy-cameras/#comments Fri, 15 Aug 2014 10:00:59 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=893394 The Mazda CX-5 is doing well for itself among critics and customers alike, but like anyone else, the automaker has some ideas on how the crossover can keep its edge. Autoblog reports spy cameras caught a lightly camo’d CX-5 testing somewhere in Europe with tape covering parts of its face and backside. The head and […]

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2013 Mazda CX-5. Picture courtesy motortrend.com

The Mazda CX-5 is doing well for itself among critics and customers alike, but like anyone else, the automaker has some ideas on how the crossover can keep its edge.

Autoblog reports spy cameras caught a lightly camo’d CX-5 testing somewhere in Europe with tape covering parts of its face and backside. The head and rear lamps have been revised, along with the grill, and the side mirrors boast integrated turn signals.

Expect to see everything unmasked around the Los Angeles Auto Show this November prior to going on sale the following autumn for the 2016 model year.

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2016 Cadillac SRX May See Local Production In China http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/07/2016-cadillac-srx-may-see-local-production-in-china/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/07/2016-cadillac-srx-may-see-local-production-in-china/#comments Wed, 09 Jul 2014 12:00:29 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=862161 On the strength of rising SUV sales in China, General Motors will likely add production of its next-generation Cadillac SRX in the emerging market in order to better capitalize on said sales. The Wall Street Journal reports Cadillac as a whole is doing well in China, sales rising 72 percent from January through May 2014 […]

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On the strength of rising SUV sales in China, General Motors will likely add production of its next-generation Cadillac SRX in the emerging market in order to better capitalize on said sales.

The Wall Street Journal reports Cadillac as a whole is doing well in China, sales rising 72 percent from January through May 2014 to 33,760 units with the SRX making up the bulk of those sales at 14,496 units, a rise of 23 percent for the crossover in the same five-month period compared to 2013. The current model goes for ¥420,000 ($67,770 USD), and has been on sale in China since 2009.

The new SRX would likely arrive as a 2016 model, with the hope Chinese production would help the automaker avoid tariffs on imported models; the crossover is only assembled in Mexico at the present. GM itself has big plans for its premium brand, including a $1.3 billion plant in Shanghai, and a goal of 300,000 units sold/10 percent share of China’s premium market by 2020.

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2015 Infiniti ESQ Caught In The Wet In Spy Photos http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/06/2015-infiniti-esq-caught-in-the-wet-in-spy-photos/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/06/2015-infiniti-esq-caught-in-the-wet-in-spy-photos/#comments Fri, 13 Jun 2014 10:00:44 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=843345 Yesterday, we received word of the China-only Infiniti ESQ crossover, which is really the Nissan Juke minus the Nissan. Today, we have some spy shots and some information on the ESQ. CarNewsChina reports the ESQ will enter the market by the end of the year, and will have few differences in appearance with the Juke, […]

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infiniti esq 1

Yesterday, we received word of the China-only Infiniti ESQ crossover, which is really the Nissan Juke minus the Nissan. Today, we have some spy shots and some information on the ESQ.

CarNewsChina reports the ESQ will enter the market by the end of the year, and will have few differences in appearance with the Juke, though most consumers won’t likely know about the badge-engineering exercise on the showroom floor; the Juke is not sold at all either as an import or as a locally made product.

Infiniti’s crossover will be assembled by the Dongfeng-Nissan joint venture, and will have the same 1.6-liter turbo delivering 200 horsepower and 184 ft-lb of torque to all four corners via CVT as the Juke Nismo. No price of admission has been given thus far.

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Jeep’s Nine-Speed Undergoes Second Reflash For 100k Cherokees http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/05/jeeps-nine-speed-undergoes-second-reflash-for-100k-cherokees/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/05/jeeps-nine-speed-undergoes-second-reflash-for-100k-cherokees/#comments Fri, 30 May 2014 10:00:10 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=834313 Remember the nine-speed transmission in the new Jeep Cherokee that gave our rising superstar managing editor a hard time, followed by everyone else giving him a hard time about the truth of this car before walking back their statements in light of their seeing the light? More than 100,000 of the crossovers built before May […]

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2014 Jeep Cherokee Limited V6 Exterior-002

Remember the nine-speed transmission in the new Jeep Cherokee that gave our rising superstar managing editor a hard time, followed by everyone else giving him a hard time about the truth of this car before walking back their statements in light of their seeing the light? More than 100,000 of the crossovers built before May 5 will need theirs readjusted.

Automotive News reports the software in the affected units will be subject to a five-minute software reflash, followed by a 78-minute test drive to ensure the transmission’s ability to learn how its owner drives is no longer hindered by digital bugs. While all owners will not need to bring their vehicles in for the work, those who do feel their transmission is lacking will have the fix covered for free under warranty.

The nine-speed, which also feeds power to the front and/or all four corners of the 2015 Chrysler 200, has been reflashed once before, and problems early on led to a delay in the introduction of the new Cherokee to sort out the kinks. For what it’s worth, Fiat Chrysler Automobiles CEO Sergio Marchionne isn’t concerned about what may be dinging the quality of the new transmission:

There are always teething issues with every transmission I’ve ever built, and I mean that literally. We keep tuning the transmission more and more as we get more familiar with it.

I’m never satisfied, but I think I’m OK with its application in the current car. It will get better six months from now, trust me.

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Editorial: Volkswagen’s Plan For A Cheaper Phaeton Is Another Disaster In The Making http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/05/editorial-volkswagens-plan-for-a-cheaper-phaeton-is-another-disaster-in-the-making/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/05/editorial-volkswagens-plan-for-a-cheaper-phaeton-is-another-disaster-in-the-making/#comments Tue, 20 May 2014 15:22:53 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=826882 The internet is abuzz with the possibility that the Volkswagen Phaeton might make a return to the United States – with a cheaper price point as well. Unfortunately, it’s a terrible idea. But not for the reason you might think. At this point in the essay, other outlets would launch into a heartfelt soliloquy about […]

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The internet is abuzz with the possibility that the Volkswagen Phaeton might make a return to the United States – with a cheaper price point as well. Unfortunately, it’s a terrible idea. But not for the reason you might think.

At this point in the essay, other outlets would launch into a heartfelt soliloquy about the Phaeton’s technological brilliance, its lack of appreciation by the buying public and how a lower price point would tarnish its legacy as a Bentley Flying Spur built with the wrong badge.

None of that matters. Virtually nobody in America cared about the Phaeton, and fewer people bought one – save for our EIC pro tem, who has a great track record of buying rare, enthusiast vehicles that people praise online but consistently fail to purchase.

The big issue with this plan is that it is unbelievably nonsensical when looked at from a “business case” standpoint. The full-size car market is constantly contracting, with most nameplates – especially the Ford Taurus that VW cited as possible competition – seeing declining sales. Overall, the segment relies on fleet sales for about 50 percent of its volume – but given VW’s tactic of dumping Jettas and Passats in rental fleets, it might be possible to get a “Volkswagen Phaeton or similar” on your 2017 Disneyworld Vacation to Orlando.

Even more ironic is what’s taking sales away from full-size sedans. It’s crossovers, particularly the larger kind that VW doesn’t have, the kind that dealers are crying out for, the kind that VW cannot decide on where to build. For all its success in the rest of the world, Volkswagen seems constitutionally incapable of understanding the American market and its tastes. Some things can be chalked up to miscalculations. If the Phaeton arrives before a full-size crossover, it will be nothing less than unforgivable stupidity.

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Detroit Three Lead The Charge In Chinese SUV Boom http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/04/detroit-three-lead-the-charge-in-chinese-suv-boom/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/04/detroit-three-lead-the-charge-in-chinese-suv-boom/#comments Tue, 29 Apr 2014 13:00:50 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=812234 Long after the first SUV gold rush in the United States, the Detroit Three are gearing up for a second gold rush, this time in China. Automotive News reports SUVs and crossovers have snagged 19 percent of the local market in 2013 as the once-dominant luxury sedan market fell from 47 percent in 2000 to […]

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2014 Lincoln MKX Concept

Long after the first SUV gold rush in the United States, the Detroit Three are gearing up for a second gold rush, this time in China.

Automotive News reports SUVs and crossovers have snagged 19 percent of the local market in 2013 as the once-dominant luxury sedan market fell from 47 percent in 2000 to 15 percent. General Motors forecasts as many as 7 million SUVs will leave the showroom by 2020, with president Dan Ammann noting that 60 percent of first-time buyers in China bought an SUV last year. Further, Ford credits crossovers for a sales surge of 49 percent in 2013, pushing Toyota out of the No. 5 slot in a local market that views SUVs and crossovers as being, in the words of Chevrolet dealer He Sei, “sportier, more fashionable and more youthful” than other vehicles.

To capitalize upon the upcoming boom, GM brought the Chevrolet Trax to last week’s Beijing Motor Show with plans to add 10 SUVs during the next five years, while Ford introduced concept versions of the body-on-frame Everest and Lincoln MKX crossover, both of which will soon see production. Finally, Fiat Chrysler Automobiles will resume Jeep production in China through a joint venture with Guangzhou Automobile Group Company, with three models due in 2015.

Meanwhile, Lexus, Audi, Hyundai, Volkswagen and Citroen are following the Detroit Three’s lead into the Chinese SUV/crossover market, bringing a number of concepts and production-ready vehicles to Beijing. That said, they will have a hard battle against the three U.S. automakers, as SUVs and crossovers have been their bread and butter since the first rush in the early 1990s through the late 2000s.

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Cain’s Segments: Luxury Crossovers http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/03/cains-segments-luxury-crossovers/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/03/cains-segments-luxury-crossovers/#comments Wed, 12 Mar 2014 12:30:07 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=770786 A strong start to 2014 has the BMW X3 leading its segment even as it’s challenged more closely in BMW showrooms by the slightly smaller and less expensive X1. X1 sales in February jumped 57% to 2329 units, only 318 units shy of what BMW USA managed in January and February of 2013 combined. More […]

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A strong start to 2014 has the BMW X3 leading its segment even as it’s challenged more closely in BMW showrooms by the slightly smaller and less expensive X1.

X1 sales in February jumped 57% to 2329 units, only 318 units shy of what BMW USA managed in January and February of 2013 combined. More direct competition for the X1 is set to arrive soon in the form of the Mercedes-Benz GLA and Audi Q3.

At this time, however, potential X1 buyers look across the BMW showroom floor and wonder why they wouldn’t pay a bit more for the X3. Over the last two months, 62% of the X1/X3 juggernaut’s sales have been X3-derived, up just a hair from last year’s 61%.

The X3 outsold Acura’s much less costly RDX by 390 units in February. The RDX is wildly popular, but like the X3, it’s not among the quartet of top-selling premium utility vehicle nameplates in America.

That group begins with the Lexus RX, a viable alternative to these entry-level crossovers, particularly as Lexus doesn’t yet offer a production version of the LF-NX Concept. Likewise, the Cadillac SRX would be seen by many to be Detroit’s rival for the X3, RDX, Q5, and GLK, at least until Lincoln’s MKC arrives. The third-ranked premium SUV/CUV nameplate in America is the Acura MDX; it’s followed by the Mercedes-Benz M-Class.

Although they don’t lead the way for premium automakers, for many buyers these entry points to the brands’ crossover lineups form the entry point to the brand, full stop. Forget the CLA, A3, and 2-Series; passenger cars with trunks that they are. Growth from these luxury crossovers is significant, especially when one considers that America’s new vehicle market hasn’t grown at all in 2014. The RDX, Q5, X1, X3, QX50, LR2, and GLK have all sold more often over the last two months than during the first two months of 2013.

The Audi Q5’s slight February decline was the first such decrease for the Q5 since October 2012. Q5 volume has improved each year since the model arrived in 2009. Land Rover’s Range Rover Evoque is certainly small enough to be displayed here, although its base price might place it out of reach for a typical Acura RDX customer. Evoque sales are down 5% this year; February volume slid by 54 units. (The Range Rover Sport generated two-thirds of Land Rover’s U.S. February volume.)

Volvo’s XC60 is, not unlike the Volvo brand which it helps to lead, struggling in the United States. Like the Q5, XC60 sales have improved each year since it arrived in 2009, but 2014’s inauspicious start is not terribly surprising given the brand’s recent struggles to attract large numbers of American buyers.

Nevertheless, the story of small luxury crossovers is not told with an emphasis on irregular year-over-year decreases. The RDX, X1, X3, QX50, LR2, and GLK jointly rose 26% in February 2014. Those were not at all the sorts of figures commonly achieved by automakers last month.

Auto
Feb.
2014
Feb.
2013
%
Change
2 mos.
2014
2 mos.
2013
%
Change
Acura RDX
2911 2795 + 4.2% 5641 5284 + 6.8%
Audi Q5
2643 2753 - 4.0% 5417 5097 + 6.3%
BMW X1
2329 1482 + 57.2% 3661 2647 + 38.3%
BMW X3
3301 2175 + 51.8% 6000 4180 + 43.5%
Infiniti QX50/EX
220 150 + 46.7% 417 318 + 31.1%
Land Rover LR2
358 273 + 31.1% 721 573 + 25.8%
Land Rover Range Rover Evoque
927 981 - 5.5% 1806 1910 - 5.4%
Mercedes-Benz GLK-Class
2624 2420 + 8.4% 4926 4816 + 2.3%
Volvo XC60
1146 1496 - 23.4% 2088 3062 - 31.8%
Total
16,459
14,525 + 13.3% 30,677 27,887 + 10.0%

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Winterkorn: T-ROC Will Be Built If Customers Want It http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/03/winterkorn-t-roc-will-be-built-if-customers-want-it/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/03/winterkorn-t-roc-will-be-built-if-customers-want-it/#comments Sat, 08 Mar 2014 14:00:10 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=767265 Volkswagen Group CEO Martin Winterkorn is optimistic for the future of the T-ROC, with the automaker willing to build the crossover if the customers want it. Automotive News Europe reports the production version of the concept crossover — based upon the MQB architecture found in the Audi A3 and Volkswagen Golf — would slot between […]

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Volkswagen Group CEO Martin Winterkorn is optimistic for the future of the T-ROC, with the automaker willing to build the crossover if the customers want it.

Automotive News Europe reports the production version of the concept crossover — based upon the MQB architecture found in the Audi A3 and Volkswagen Golf — would slot between the compact Tiguan and VW’s planned Taigun subcompact SUV.

Winterkorn believes the concept will have a mass appeal for the automaker’s customer base — especially as sales of crossovers and small SUVs rise in Europe and the United States. VW brand head of development Dr. Heinz-Jakob Neusser concurred, dubbing the T-ROC a logical evolution of the Golf.

The three-door T-ROC seats four, comes with a removable tablet infotainment display, and is powered by a 2-liter diesel found in the Golf GTD, pushing 182 horses through all four wheels.

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New York 2014: BMW X4 Photos, Specs Revealed http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/03/new-york-2014-bmw-x4-photos-specs-revealed/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/03/new-york-2014-bmw-x4-photos-specs-revealed/#comments Fri, 07 Mar 2014 06:42:37 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=767129 Ahead of its debut at the 2014 New York Auto Show, BMW has revealed photos and specs of their X4 crossover. Automotive News reports the X4, underpinned by a slightly longer and lower X3 architecture — will be sold in the United States with the automaker’s xDrive AWD system mated to two turbocharged options: the […]

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BMW X4 05

Ahead of its debut at the 2014 New York Auto Show, BMW has revealed photos and specs of their X4 crossover.

Automotive News reports the X4, underpinned by a slightly longer and lower X3 architecture — will be sold in the United States with the automaker’s xDrive AWD system mated to two turbocharged options: the xDrive28i 2-liter four pushing 240 horsepower, and the xDrive35i 3-liter six driving 300 horses. Both will be paired with an eight-speed automatic accessed via flappy paddles.

Standard features revealed include variable sport steering — with matching sports leather steering wheel — performance control and rear parking assist.

The X4s will exit the BMW factory in Spartanburg, S.C. this spring with a price of $45,625 for the 28i, $48,925 for the 35i

BMW X4 02 BMW X4 05 BMW X4 BMW X4 01 BMW X4 06 BMW X4 04 BMW X4 07 BMW X4 08

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Mazda CX-5 Closes In On 100,000 Sold http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/02/mazda-cx-5-closes-in-on-100000-sold/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/02/mazda-cx-5-closes-in-on-100000-sold/#comments Wed, 19 Feb 2014 16:15:20 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=748425 Mazda moved nearly 80,000 CX-5s from the lot to the highway in 2013. If the automaker has its way this year, the C segment crossover may break 100,000 units sold. WardsAuto reports Mazda North American Operations CEO Jim O’Sullivan his employer can hit the 100,000-mark again with the CX-5, placing the crossover alongside the Mazda3 […]

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2013 Mazda CX-5. Picture courtesy motortrend.com

Mazda moved nearly 80,000 CX-5s from the lot to the highway in 2013. If the automaker has its way this year, the C segment crossover may break 100,000 units sold.

WardsAuto reports Mazda North American Operations CEO Jim O’Sullivan his employer can hit the 100,000-mark again with the CX-5, placing the crossover alongside the Mazda3 within the company, and the Toyota RAV4, Nissan Rogue, Ford Escape and Honda CR-V in the overall C segment crossover record books.

Factors cited by O’Sullivan in his hopes for the CX-5 include a recovering United States auto industry, brand awareness among U.S. consumers, reduced fleet volume, a new plant in Mexico that will build the Mazda3 while allowing more capacity in Japan to be used for CX-5 assembly, and a growing enthusiasm for the C segment and small crossovers:

We’re seeing really good, organic growth from our current-generation Mazda3 customers that have bought maybe (the old compact) Protege, then Mazda3, (and) now (are) moving into crossovers and the CX-5.

Speaking of crossovers, O’Sullivan says Mazda is looking at entering the B segment with a subcompact crossover slotted under the CX-5. The so-called CX-3, expected to be based upon the Mazda2, would see production in Mexico beginning July 2015.

Finally, the CX-9 will undergo a new redesign for 2016, and will make use of the automaker’s SkyActiv brand of fuel efficiency technology upon introduction late next year.

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Hyundai, Mazda Eyeing Small Crossover Market http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/02/hyundai-mazda-eyeing-small-crossover-market/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/02/hyundai-mazda-eyeing-small-crossover-market/#comments Tue, 18 Feb 2014 14:30:14 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=743737 The growing small crossover segment, featuring the likes of the Nissan Juke, Buick Encore, Honda Vezel and Kia Soul, may soon find two new players in the game as both Hyundai and Mazda have their eyes on the prize. Automotive News Europe and Automotive News report the two automakers are planning to release subcompact CUVs […]

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The growing small crossover segment, featuring the likes of the Nissan Juke, Buick Encore, Honda Vezel and Kia Soul, may soon find two new players in the game as both Hyundai and Mazda have their eyes on the prize.

Automotive News Europe and Automotive News report the two automakers are planning to release subcompact CUVs of their own down the road, with Mazda tying theirs to the newly redesigned Mazda2 due out later this year. The crossover would slot underneath the current CX-5 in Mazda’s home market, and would be priced between 1.5 million and 2 million yen ($15,000 – $20,000 USD).

Mazda also aims to bring the mid-size CX-9 to Japan as soon as 2015 following its next redesign; both new models would expand the automaker’s crossover lineup to three vehicles in their home market.

Meanwhile, Hyundai’s subcompact crossover is in the study phase according to Hyundai Motor America CEO Dave Zuchowski:

We’re always looking at segments that we’re not in right now that maybe we should be based on where the market’s going. We’re very intrigued by this B-segment CUV.

Zuchowski also announced that his employer may also bring a smaller luxury sports sedan within a couple of years, which would form a trinity with the Equus and Genesis sedans.

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Farley: Ford’s Global Growth Driven By Crossovers http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/02/farley-fords-global-growth-driven-by-crossovers/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/02/farley-fords-global-growth-driven-by-crossovers/#comments Fri, 14 Feb 2014 12:00:35 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=741409 Though the F-150 rules over Truck Mountain and North America with an aluminium fist, Ford marketing boss Jim Farley told reporters in a meeting that crossovers are driving his employer’s sales growth all over the globe. Automotive News reports Ford’s shifting focus to crossovers is thanks in part to the popularity among the automaker’s global […]

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Though the F-150 rules over Truck Mountain and North America with an aluminium fist, Ford marketing boss Jim Farley told reporters in a meeting that crossovers are driving his employer’s sales growth all over the globe.

Automotive News reports Ford’s shifting focus to crossovers is thanks in part to the popularity among the automaker’s global audience for the particular body style, as Farley notes:

“Most people think the F series drove our top line unit growth. The No. 1 vehicle was the Escape/Kuga. No. 2 was EcoSport. Together they had about half-million-unit growth for us. The F series was a distant third.”

Farley expects global crossover sales to reach 20 million units by 2018, with 90 percent of the sales — led by the massive hit EcoSport — to be gained outside of the North American market. The aforementioned EcoSport was developed for Brazil, only to see sales jump 220 percent in 2013 upon launch in Europe, India and China.

Speaking of China, the nation is the biggest driver of the global growth now being experienced by Ford, where not only are subcompact crossovers are doing well as are exported North American mainstays Edge and Explorer. The Blue Oval aims to continue the trend when Lincoln’s MKC luxury compact crossover takes the global stage in June against the likes of the Audi Q5, BMW X3 and Land Rover Evoque.

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Ford Expects SUVs, Crossovers to Drive Global Success http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2013/11/ford-expects-suvs-crossovers-to-drive-global-success/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2013/11/ford-expects-suvs-crossovers-to-drive-global-success/#comments Wed, 27 Nov 2013 15:12:40 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=665546 Is the future of motoring in the global marketplace in the good hands of the Golf, Forte and Fiesta? Not if you’re Ford’s vice president of Global Marketing, Jim Farley. In his mind, it’ll be a page from the 1991 Explorer’s successful playbook that will help his employer gain market and mind share the world […]

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Explorer Sport front quarter, picture courtesy Michael Karesh

Is the future of motoring in the global marketplace in the good hands of the Golf, Forte and Fiesta? Not if you’re Ford’s vice president of Global Marketing, Jim Farley. In his mind, it’ll be a page from the 1991 Explorer’s successful playbook that will help his employer gain market and mind share the world over.

According to Farley, the Blue Oval will experience an overall 23 percent growth in sales between last year and 2017, while utility vehicle sales will boom to 41 percent in the same period (and straight up explode in China with help from smaller crossover utility models such as the oft-beleaguered Escape/Kuga, EcoSport and, of course, Explorer).

As for sales in established markets, though Ford and their competitors have had difficulties overall in the European market, utility sales are expanding like the universe at the start of the Big Bang. The automaker expect their utility sales to grow 65 percent between last year and 2017, while the overall utility market is projected to grow 30 percent.

To capitalize on this potential gold mine, Ford will use their One Ford plan to globalize their lineup of utility vehicles.

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Los Angeles 2013: Lincoln MKC, Gets Brand Specific 2.3 Liter EcoBoost http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2013/11/los-angeles-2013-lincoln-mkc-gets-brand-specific-2-3-liter-ecoboost/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2013/11/los-angeles-2013-lincoln-mkc-gets-brand-specific-2-3-liter-ecoboost/#comments Thu, 21 Nov 2013 14:46:57 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=657914 There are so many automakers chasing the segment, perceived to be red hot, that one is tempted to set up a keyboard macro to type out “compact crossover”. The next step in Ford’s attempt to revive the Lincoln brand is exactly one of those, the 2015 MKC.   Though it’s based on the Ford Escape, […]

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2015 Lincoln MKC

There are so many automakers chasing the segment, perceived to be red hot, that one is tempted to set up a keyboard macro to type out “compact crossover”. The next step in Ford’s attempt to revive the Lincoln brand is exactly one of those, the 2015 MKC.

 

Though it’s based on the Ford Escape, the relationship isn’t obvious, with the MKC getting all new sheetmetal integrating the latest version of Lincoln’s split-wing grille and the brand’s new signature, taillamps that run from corner to corner. Offered on the MKC but not available on the Escape will be the new 2.3 liter EcoBoost four cylinder engine with 275 horsepower and 300 lb-ft of torque (the base 2 liter EcoBoost is rated at 240/270). Available in either front wheel drive or all wheel drive, the MKC offers what Lincoln is calling Continuously Controlled Damping adaptive suspension.

2015 Lincoln MKC 2015 Lincoln MKC 2015 Lincoln MKC 2015 Lincoln MKC 2015 Lincoln MKC white 2015 Lincoln MKC 2015 Lincoln MKC 2015 Lincoln MKC 2015 Lincoln MKC 2015 Lincoln MKC 2015 Lincoln MKC 2015 Lincoln MKC

 

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Los Angeles 2013: Nissan Juke NISMO RS Gains More Power http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2013/11/los-angeles-2013-nissan-juke-nismo-rs-gains-more-power/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2013/11/los-angeles-2013-nissan-juke-nismo-rs-gains-more-power/#comments Thu, 21 Nov 2013 05:15:25 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=659106 Though the Juke is marketed as a fun-to-drive vehicle for members of Generation Why, Nissan knows it could do better to make the crossover a performance monster, too. Enter the Juke NISMO RS. The RS brings to the table 215 horsepower out front from its 1.6-liter turbo-4 through a manual, or 211 through a CVT, […]

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Nissan Juke NISMO RS 02

Though the Juke is marketed as a fun-to-drive vehicle for members of Generation Why, Nissan knows it could do better to make the crossover a performance monster, too. Enter the Juke NISMO RS.

The RS brings to the table 215 horsepower out front from its 1.6-liter turbo-4 through a manual, or 211 through a CVT, with all-wheel drive available on the latter The suspension and steering have been tuned for better handling, with larger discs up front and vented ones in the back to bring the bug-eyed sprite to a halt. A revised exhaust and ECU also do their best to make the RS all that it was meant to be.

Inside, Recaro seats in red leather and black suede wait to hug you while the optional satnav — the only option available to both CVT and manual models — will help take you from one hipster hangout to the next.

Nissan expect the Juke NISMO RS to arrive in showrooms in early 2014.

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Cadillac Considers Lambda Based Unibody Crossover to Extend Escalade Brand http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2013/10/cadillac-considers-lambda-based-unibody-crossover-to-extend-escalade-brand/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2013/10/cadillac-considers-lambda-based-unibody-crossover-to-extend-escalade-brand/#comments Tue, 08 Oct 2013 16:46:50 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=615153 As Cadillac introduces the all-new 2015 Escalade body-on-frame SUV, the luxury marque is considering extending the Escalade brand to include a large crossover that would slot in between the full size ‘Slade and the midsize SRX CUV. “I think there’s a lot of equity in Escalade,” Bob Ferguson, senior vice president of global Cadillac, told […]

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As Cadillac introduces the all-new 2015 Escalade body-on-frame SUV, the luxury marque is considering extending the Escalade brand to include a large crossover that would slot in between the full size ‘Slade and the midsize SRX CUV. “I think there’s a lot of equity in Escalade,” Bob Ferguson, senior vice president of global Cadillac, told Automotive News at the NYC reveal of the revamped SUV, “I’d like to explore the notion of other vehicles that would carry that brand name.”

Ferguson said that GM planners “are still looking at” a unibody crossover larger than the SRX to complement the Escalade SUV, which is based on a GM truck platform. There is a segment of consumers that are looking for a large utility vehicle but one that’s more car-like. Of course with similar construction and layouts there’s no reason why an Escalade shouldn’t ride just as smoothly as a 1960s era BOF Cadillac sedan, but perception isn’t always the same as reality, and crossovers are a fast growing market segment. Since GM already makes the large Buick Enclave, GMC Acadia and Chevrolet Traverse CUVs on the unibody “Lambda” platform, it seems likely that the next generation Lambdas will include a Cadillac.

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Rolls-Royce “Intensively Thinking About” Selling An SUV http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2013/09/rolls-royce-intensively-thinking-about-selling-an-suv/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2013/09/rolls-royce-intensively-thinking-about-selling-an-suv/#comments Thu, 12 Sep 2013 12:00:02 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=516585 No sooner did Bentley confirm that they will indeed be producing a premium priced crossover, then Rolls-Royce CEO Torsten Mueller-Oetvoes announced that they will join the other British ultra luxury marque in offering a utility vehicle, likely to cost even more than the Bentley, which is expected to start at about $250,000. The least expensive […]

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Illustration by Garrett Bradford. All rights reserved, used with permission.

No sooner did Bentley confirm that they will indeed be producing a premium priced crossover, then Rolls-Royce CEO Torsten Mueller-Oetvoes announced that they will join the other British ultra luxury marque in offering a utility vehicle, likely to cost even more than the Bentley, which is expected to start at about $250,000.

The least expensive Rolls-Royce, the BMW 7 Series based Ghost, starts at more than that price. BMW owns Rolls-Royce while another German automaker, Volkswagen, owns Bentley. “We are intensively thinking about entering the SUV segment,” Mueller-Oetvoes told Bloomberg in an interview at the Frankfurt auto show. “The SUV segment is very interesting. It has been incredibly stable during the crisis, and I think a luxury niche will develop.”

Crossover frenzy seems to be gripping the auto industry at all price points, including among luxury brands. The Rolls-Royce announcement follows previous news that Maserati would sell the Levante SUV starting in 2015 and CUV concept reveals at the Frankfurt Motor Show by both Jaguar and Infiniti.

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Illustration by Garrett Bradford. All rights reserved, used with permission.

 

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Jaguar Will Take on 3 Series Segment & More With New Modular All Aluminum Architecture http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2013/09/jaguar-will-take-on-3-series-segment-more-with-new-modular-all-aluminum-architecture/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2013/09/jaguar-will-take-on-3-series-segment-more-with-new-modular-all-aluminum-architecture/#comments Tue, 10 Sep 2013 11:20:30 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=513697 The mid-sized mass-market luxury car segment is defined by the BMW 3 Series. Jaguar once tried to enter that segment with the X Type, but the “mini XJ” never caught on, in part because it was derided as a badge engineered Ford Mondeo. According to Automotive News The C-X17 crossover concept revealed in Frankfurt this week […]

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Jaguar has a core competency in aluminum architecture. XJ bodies being assembled.

Jaguar has a core competency in aluminum architecture that will be applied to their new sedan and crossover. Pictured, XJ bodies being assembled.

The mid-sized mass-market luxury car segment is defined by the BMW 3 Series. Jaguar once tried to enter that segment with the X Type, but the “mini XJ” never caught on, in part because it was derided as a badge engineered Ford Mondeo. According to Automotive News The C-X17 crossover concept revealed in Frankfurt this week is based on a new all-aluminum platform that will underpin a “range of future Jaguars”, the most important of which will be a mid-sized sedan to again take on the BMW 3 and its competitors. Jaguar has a core competency in aluminum construction and having the first all-aluminum car in the C and D segments will be a selling point for the new models. While Jaguar Land Rover’s current sales are the strongest the British car maker has had, JLR’s owners, Tata, are hoping that JLR will reach three quarters of a million units by 2020 and ultimately joining the ranks of automakers selling a million or more cars a year. To do that Jaguar needs a volume product, the most logical being a mid-sizer. With CUVs sales booming, a crossover based on the C-X17 will also help reach that volume. While differentiating between a Jaguar crossover and the Land Rover lineup will be an issue, Jaguar does say that the CUV will have some off-road capabilities.

Smaller displacement engines are seen as the auto industry’s future and JLR has invested $776 million in a new engine factory in Wolverhampton, England that will produce an all-new JLR designed four cylinder engine in both diesel and petrol versions that will likely be the standard powerplants in the vehicles based on the new platform. However, since a very large percentage of luxury cars sold in North America are currently sold with V6 engines, expect a version of Jaguar’s new V6 to be available as well. The availability of all wheel drive is critical for selling cars in the northern half of the United States, and Jaguar made a big splash this past winter about offering AWD on the XJ and XF, so you can likewise expect the new sedan to share the crossover’s AWD components.

Another current trend in the industry is modular architecture and Jaguar says that the new platform will be scalable, so it could in theory be the basis of cars the size of a BMW 5 or Mercedes-Benz E Class, or crossovers larger than the C-X17, which is about the size of an Audi Q5.

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Cain’s Segments: Small Premium Utilities – August 2013 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2013/09/cains-segments-small-premium-utilities-august-2013/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2013/09/cains-segments-small-premium-utilities-august-2013/#comments Tue, 10 Sep 2013 11:00:43 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=514545 We’ll confirm it. Again. America is becoming ever more hungry for small premium brand crossovers, and that’s not simply a result of there being more $40,000 German utility vehicles from which to choose. Exclude the BMW X1, which only became available late in the third quarter of 2012, and the small luxury SUV market (as […]

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We’ll confirm it. Again. America is becoming ever more hungry for small premium brand crossovers, and that’s not simply a result of there being more $40,000 German utility vehicles from which to choose.

Exclude the BMW X1, which only became available late in the third quarter of 2012, and the small luxury SUV market (as we’ve defined it in the table below) grew 29% in the first eight months of 2013.

Sure, perhaps some of this growth can be attributed to an increased effort to lease vehicles to consumers who might otherwise consider a Ford Escape Titanium. But the growth rate in this category is far in excess of the overall industry’s 9.5% improvement; better than the overall SUV/CUV market’s 13.5% improvement, as well.

As is bound to be the case, improvement can’t be found in all corners of the category. The BMW X3’s 5% year-over-year drop through eight months, however, has occurred with a combined 74% increase in X1/X3 volume. And while Infiniti’s outdated QX50 (formerly EX) is down 47% this year, having fallen 42% last year, the gains of Infiniti’s three-row QX60 (formerly JX) have propelled Infiniti’s four-pronged utility vehicle lineup to a 19% boost in 2013.

Meanwhile, the year-over-year increases reported by the Acura RDX, Audi Q5, Range Rover Evoque, Mercedes-Benz GLK, and Volvo XC60 have outpaced the industry average. Even Land Rover’s LR2 is selling better than it did in 2011 or 2012, although at little more than one-third the rate it did just six years ago.

Not unlike a hyped-up sports car that initially sells very well then gradually reaches a mature, steady monthly output, small luxury crossovers form an immature group. The difference, in this case, relates to the fact that consistent volume, a levelling off, may not occur for some time.

The Audi Q3, Mercedes-Benz GLA, and Porsche Macan can attract more buyers than they pull away from the Q5 and GLK and Cayenne. The Lexus LF-NX Concept certainly doesn’t look like something that would attract most conservative RX buyers. And it’s not as though automakers will allow their current models to languish. Even in their current iterations, hoods are opening up to reveal diesel powerplants. Neither have we seen what will be done with second-generation versions of most vehicles in the segment.

So are consumers currently attracted to Q5s, RDXs, X3s, GLKs, and Evoques because they’re fresh and shiny? Of course, but there’s not about to be any lack of freshness or shine. On one hand, sales will not continue to grow at otherworldly rates; not forever. On the other, the BMW 3-Series Sports Wagon isn’t about to make a dent in the small luxury crossover category’s move up the ladder.

The Audi A4 Allroad rose 13% to 456 units in August and 161% to 3665 units year-to-date. The RX and SRX from Lexus and Cadillac, America’s two top-selling premium brand utility vehicles, combined for 18,634 August sales, up from 13,831 in August 2012. Year-to-date, the RX and SRX are up to 101,822 units from 95,566 during the same period in 2012. Base prices for the RX and SRX put them up against the smaller luxury crossovers. The Buick Encore, if you must throw it in the mix, has achieved August/YTD totals of 4296 and 19,724 units.

These nine tall wagons are responsible for 1.3% of America’s new vehicle sales so far this year, up from 1% during the first two-thirds of 2012.

Times have changed. In 2007, when the RDX, X3, and LR2 were laying the foundation, only 0.4% of the market belonged to the category.

—–

Auto
August
2013
August
2012
August
%
Change
8
mos.
2013
8
mos.
2012
8 mos.
%
Change
Acura RDX
4381 2926 + 49.7% 30,517 16,863 + 81.0%
Audi Q5
3845 2007 + 91.6% 25,331 17,641 + 43.6%
BMW X1
2278 576 + 295% 16,504 576 + 2765%
BMW X3
2146 2829 - 24.1% 18,485 19,557 - 5.5%
Infiniti EX/QX50
236 216 + 9.3% 1189 2227 - 46.6%
Land Rover LR2
347 250 + 38.8% 2070 2038 + 1.6%
Land Rover Range Rover Evoque
1070 700 + 52.9% 7463 5676 + 31.5%
Mercedes-Benz GLK-Class
2372 2775 - 14.5% 20,898 16,935 + 23.4%
Volvo XC60
1793 1897 - 5.5% 14,086 12,188 + 15.6%
Total
18,468
14,176 + 30.3% 136,543 93,701 + 45.7%

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Crossover Sales Soar http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2013/09/crossover-sales-soar/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2013/09/crossover-sales-soar/#comments Mon, 09 Sep 2013 19:00:32 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=513585 If you want to know why Jaguar and Lexus are introducing compact crossover concepts at the Frankfurt Auto Show this week, all you have to do is check the sales data. Crossover sales are soaring, particularly compacts. Last month, Toyota’s RAV4 was up 50% year to year, and the CR-V at Honda had its best […]

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If you want to know why Jaguar and Lexus are introducing compact crossover concepts at the Frankfurt Auto Show this week, all you have to do is check the sales data. Crossover sales are soaring, particularly compacts. Last month, Toyota’s RAV4 was up 50% year to year, and the CR-V at Honda had its best sales month yet. Car sales in general are good in the United States right now, with overall August sales up 17%, but sales of smaller crossovers have doubled that and then some at 36%. Crossovers have gained market share for 10 straight months and now take just over a quarter of the total market, on a pace to sell about 4 million units this year. Overall crossover sales are up about 2% from last year, with compacts making most of that difference. As recently as 2007, crossovers only made up 15% of U.S. light vehicle sales. Pickup trucks are usually seen as America’s favorite vehicles, but in August crossovers outsold pickups by almost a 2 to 1 margin.

Ford and Honda hope to sell as many as 300,000 Escapes and CR-Vs and Toyota is looking at selling more than 200,000 RAV4s this year, which would be a record for that model. Escape sales were down 5% in August, which Ford attributed to short supplies.

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Editorial: Event Horizon For Compact Crossovers http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2013/08/editorial-event-horizon-for-compact-crossovers/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2013/08/editorial-event-horizon-for-compact-crossovers/#comments Wed, 14 Aug 2013 15:25:37 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=499361 Normally this is something I would have saved for our “TTAC Staff” news items, but I’m the arrival of the Mercedes-Benz GLA is significant. We’ve reached the event horizon for compact crossovers and their global proliferation. There’s long been a dichotomy in North America regarding SUVs and station wagons. Ask a certain group of car […]

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Normally this is something I would have saved for our “TTAC Staff” news items, but I’m the arrival of the Mercedes-Benz GLA is significant. We’ve reached the event horizon for compact crossovers and their global proliferation.

There’s long been a dichotomy in North America regarding SUVs and station wagons. Ask a certain group of car enthusiast and they’ll tell you that Americans, in their profligacy and pig-headedness, preferred wasteful, dynamically unsatisfying SUVs built on archaic ladder-frame truck underpinnings, or worse, crossovers, which had all the drawbacks of both cars and trucks. According to our wagon evangelists, Europhiles and tenured academics (oftentimes the three intersected), Europeans were wiser in preferring more efficient, car-based station wagons, which were more European and therefore superior to two-box vehicles with taller ride heights.

The past two years have turned that notion on its head. Buyers from Amsterdam to Mumbai to Zaragoza have been flocking to compact crossovers like the Opel Mokka and Dacia Duster, while those who have been less hard hit by the Eurozone crisis are flocking to the Audi Q3 and BMW X1. Even in emerging markets like Brazil, small crossovers are in demand (click here for Marcelo’s definitive explanation of why these vehicles are so well suited for developing countries). It turns out that a raised driving position, higher ride height and SUV-like styling have resonated with consumers the world over. A list of France’s top-selling crossovers shows that 9 of the top 10 sellers are available in North America as well as Europe.

Products like the Mokka, Duster, the Renault Captur and VW Tiguan are all first-generation vehicles, and the segment itself is one of the few bright spots in a dismal European car market. There is plenty of room for growth too. The Nissan Qashqai, credited with inventing the segment in outside North America, has only been on sale since 2007, but its instant success has meant that nearly every brand is readying a competitor for the Qashqai or the smaller, B-segment Juke, for sale in the next couple years.

Beyond Europe, these vehicles are also gaining ground in global markets like the BRIC countries, Australia and even America, where Buick can’t keep enough rebadged Mokkas (dubbed the Encore) on dealer lots. Globally, Range Rover’s Evoque has been an unprecedented success, with Jaguar Land Rover unable to meet demand despite building the cars literally 24 hours a day.

Consumers aside, small crossovers are a profitable proposition for car makers as well. The Encore and Mokka share the Gamma II platform with more modest offerings like the Chevrolet Spin (a low cost minivan built in Indonesia and Brazil) and the Sonic subcompact in North America and Australia. While a Sonic can cost just over $14,000, an Encore’s base price is roughly $10,000 more. And one look at an Encore will reveal that the two cars aren’t terribly different both inside and out (even sharing the same 1.4: turbocharged powertrain).

For luxury car makers like Mercedes-Benz, which is introducing a new compact front-wheel drive architecture, the GLA will serve a similar purpose as the higher margin version of a premium compact sedan. Crucially for Mercedes, it will finally have something to compete against the Audi A3 and BMW X1, rather than letting its two rivals gobble up market share. While BMW continues to build the X1 in Germany, Audi and Mercedes have chosen lower cost production sites like Spain and Mexico (for Audi) and Hungary (for Mercedes) which can help maintain profit margins while also keeping assembly costs down.

The success of these vehicles mean that these vehicles aren’t going anywhere, and current conditions will only help entrench them further. Consumer tastes, the need for ever greater economies of scale through increased volume and utilizing of existing platforms. The enhanced potential for profit through these vehicles means that auto makers will be doing all they can to sell them worldwide. They also provide a regulatory boost for many OEMs when it comes to CAFE or Euro emissions regulations, as the smaller, more-efficient compact crossovers offset less efficient luxury and performance vehicles.

Luckily, wagons aren’t going anywhere, especially outside North America. But compact crossovers are here to stay. And I was totally wrong about them.

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Hyundai Next To Enter The Small Crossover Party? http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2013/07/hyundai-next-to-enter-the-small-crossover-party/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2013/07/hyundai-next-to-enter-the-small-crossover-party/#comments Wed, 17 Jul 2013 14:45:58 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=495565 For all of Hyundai’s successes in Europe, it is conspicuously absent in perhaps the lone major growth segment on the continent; small crossovers. We’re not talking “small” in the sense of the Hyundai Tucson either. Think more along the lines of the Opel Mokka (our Buick Encore), the Ford EcoSport and the Dacia Duster. Even […]

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For all of Hyundai’s successes in Europe, it is conspicuously absent in perhaps the lone major growth segment on the continent; small crossovers. We’re not talking “small” in the sense of the Hyundai Tucson either. Think more along the lines of the Opel Mokka (our Buick Encore), the Ford EcoSport and the Dacia Duster. Even premium brands are getting into the fold, with the BMW X1, Audi Q3 and the upcoming Mercedes-Benz GLA vying for market share.

It would only make sense that Hyundai would be whipping something up to compete in that space, and this was only confirmed by Hyundai Motor America CEO John Krafcik, who told Edmunds

“I think it is something that we have to look at,” Krafcik said. “We don’t have any plans. (But) it does seem like there is a lot of action in stuff below RAV4- and Tucson-sized vehicles. A new segment is emerging.”

Krafcik is certainly correct about the emergence of a segment that barely existed in the United States prior to the arrival of the Buick Encore. Sure, the Suzuki SX4 existed, but it was basically irrelevant in the broader context of the market. The Encore has had a relatively stable time on the market so far – inventories suddenly shot up this month to 72 days, but prior to that, they were firmly in the 30 day range. Sales have been in the 2,000-3,000 month ballpark, a respectable figure for a very niche vehicle.

Small cars have traditionally been less than popular in America, but when wrapped in crossover packaging, it may prove more palatable to Americans. In world markets, these cars have been astoundingly popular for different reasons. While small cars are the norm over there, Europeans tend to like the higher driving position without sacrificing the small size required for their tight urban spaces. In the BRIC countries, the SUV-aesthetics are considered a premium feature over regular small cars. Either way, it looks like we’ll be getting a few more of these products in the near future – Hyundai included.

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