Though the original A6-based Audi Allroad was designed for the US market, it hit the market at the height of SUV mania, and as a result never sold more than 6,357 units per year (in 2001, its second year on the market). By the end of 2005, Audi pulled the “Avant Outback” from the US where it was replaced by the hulking Q7 SUV, but the brand did develop a new version for Europe, which debuted in 2006. In many ways, this evolution mirrors the Subaru Outback’s shift from jacked-up wagon to full-blown CUV, and reflects America’s growing preference for unique-bodied car-based crossovers. And with a Q5 already on sale in the US, and a Q3 on its way, it seems unlikely that Audi will bring this smaller, A4-based Allroad to the US. But fashion being what it is, doesn’t it seem likely that the pendulum will eventually swing back, and that air-suspension-equipped wagons will once again enjoy a moment of vogue? And if anything is going to bring about such a fad, isn’t it this freshly facelifted A4 Allroad?
My family of 5 (1 spouse, 2 four year olds, 1 2 year old) shares 3 cars. A 2003 Passat Wagon, purchased used with 30,000 miles is our primary family car. It gets good mileage (33 mpg on the highway!), fits three kids seats across the back row, and carries a ton of luggage (more than many SUV’s). It handles reasonably well and has good driving dynamics and comfort (and a tight turning radius). Our second car is a 1996 Honda Civic two door hatch, which gets great mileage, was purchased with 8000 miles on it, and was recently declared a rolling hazard with the head gasket ready to fail at any moment. It gets driven 10-15 miles a week at speeds below 35 mph. Our third vehicle serves the dual purpose of track/date car, a 1995 BMW M3 Lightweight, purchased with 60,000 miles on the clock. These three cars have been more than adequate for our family’s needs for 5 years. Until now. We need something that carries 7.
Sajeev and Steve,
This is not a pressing question (yet) but it is a frequent and ongoing conversation with my wife and several of our friends. We are expecting our first child in one month. One. Month. We are as ready as ready can be, but recognize that our wheels might be an issue before long.
My wife has a 2002 Camry 2.4L with about 140k miles. No real problems, although the valvetrain was rebuilt about 30k miles ago due to what Toyota emphatically claimed was not sludging. It is also going to need new struts soon… Austin streets are just brutal. It still gets about 32 MPG on the highway, which is our baseline requirement for fuel economy (the wife commutes about 60 miles round trip). It’s also paid for. Our rear-facing child seat fits in the back no problem, leaving legroom for both driver and front passenger (those things are unbelievably massive). Hypothetically, once we load up the dog, luggage, and all the baby accoutrement (and what if we have another?), it’s pretty cramped at best. Problem.
Though the Compact CUV segment continues to add volume, its starting to become one of the older segments, as models like Escape, Rogue, CR-V and RAV4 approach the ends of their life cycles. And yet only one of those competitors, the Toyota RAV4, has fallen off sharply. The Equinox seems to have permanently passed the Toyota model in the YTD race, and the Rogue could end up passing it as well before the year is over. Meanwhile, as we start looking ahead to the new look of this segment, there will be some divergence between the top two models that bears keeping an eye on. The Escape, long a cheap-n-rugged entry in this segment will be replaced with a more premium, European-style global crossover (see the Vertrek concept), while Honda is taking a more conservative approach, adding room but keeping the vehicle’s basic image intact. It should be interesting how those changes affect the top of this segment going forward…
Despite what Frank Greve might tell you, some automotive journalists (well, automotive writers anyway. Car writers. Hacks.) don’t have gleaming new cars dropped off curbside, with caviar and champagne in the cupholders and an eight-ball of coke in the glovebox. Instead, a jobbing freelancer such as myself usually has to hoof it on the ol’ public transit network to wherever the fleet cars are kept, staring out the window at people picking their noses in Toyota Corollas and pretending not to notice the pressure on my thigh as the portly, odiferous gentleman on my left overflows his seat.
This time though, BMW being so far out of the way, I grabbed a lift from a friend in a track-prepped, bright orange Lotus Elise. I have never indulged in methamphetamines, but now I no longer need to: never mind road feel, that car was effectively fifteen miles of licking the tarmacadam.
After such a Habanero sorbet, the drive back in the BMW was fairly muted. Ho-hum, another big heavy heffalump with a fancy badge on the nose and an options pricing list that reads like the GDP of Belgium. Right? Next morning at the on-ramp: um, actually no. This thing’s a rocket.
I have a friend who just got her PhD and is moving to Texas for her post-doc. She has never owned a car, but now needs to get one so she can go out in the field to do research. I’ve agreed to help her find something used, probably a small manual-transmission pickup truck. Needless to say she’s not a car person at all, just wants something inexpensive (under 5k), that she won’t have to worry about too much. I’m recommending something after 96 or so, to get the R134A A/C and maybe a few more airbags and safety features.
I have owned a couple Nissans (Frontier and Rogue), and a Toyota Tacoma, and my brother owned a Nissan Frontier, all were mostly problem free. I also had a 91 Ford Explorer before that, which also gave me few problems up to 200k miles.
Given my experiences, I’ve been thinking Tacoma or Frontier for my friend, I think they will be more reliable at the high mileages she can afford. But looking in the local (Phoenix, AZ) Craigslist – By Owner section, I see that Tacomas are relatively more expensive, older Frontiers are cheaper but less common (many are also heavily modified), and there seem to be lots of less expensive Ford Rangers available.
Do you agree with the 96 or later idea? Or do you think something older could work? What about the Ranger’s reliability as opposed to the imports? Also, are there any other models with a proven track record she should consider? And finally, given that a 10+ year old truck with over 100k miles is going to need maintenance no matter what, what about parts availability and ease-of-maintenance between the brands? (Read More…)
Think “French Crossover” and you might picture something like the Peugeot Bipper Tepee: willfully weird, wildly named and highly functional in a boring, European delivery van kind of way. But Peugeot seems determined to craft a new image for its people-carrying future, starting with this HX1, which it says represents what a crossover offering could be in 2020. With “4 + 2″ modular seating and a version of Peugeot’s real-world diesel-hybrid AWD system, the HX1 belies its concept-y dimensions and half-scissor doors. And though its style is based on the design language that debuted with the SR-1 Concept, it’s long-and-low looks remind me of its sister-brand Citroen’s recent Metropolis Concept. In any case, it’s got as much in common with the Bipper Tepee as I do with Laetitia Casta… which gives me some hope for the crossover future.
Sajeev and Steve,
I think it’s time to replace my wife’s 2005 Honda Odyssey EX-L. It’s got 48,000 on the clock and has developed a few problems over the years. Power side doors that get wonky on really cold days, a slow leak in the AC system, a leak somewhere around the windshield, and an intermittent airbag light most recently, to name a few. None of these things is that big a deal, but considering that my wife has held a grudge against me for convincing her to buy a minivan in the first place, they are just mounting evidence in her case to replace the Ody.
Everyone knows what a Hofmeister Kink is… but until today’s debut of the Infiniti JX, nobody had ever heard of a Hofmeister Curve. Well, here it is… what do you think of it? Gimmick or gamechanger?
Think the Q5 is a bit too small? Do you find the Q7 altogether too large? You’re in luck! Rather than simply continuing to bracket the meat of the German luxury SUV market, Audi is stretching and widening its Q5 chassis in order to directly challenge the “just right” Mercedes ML/BMW X5 segment. The end result is supposed to look more coupe-like (read: more BMW X6-like) than this pieced-together mule, as Auto Motor und Sport calls the Q6 the “sporting connection between Q5 and Q7.” Let’s hope those wild test wheels are an option when Q6s start rolling off production lines sometime in 2014.
Sales of all car-based crossovers continue to climb, far outstripping demand for body-on-frame utes as well as pickup trucks. But strangely enough, a lot of the growth and volume among crossovers is in the compact-CUV segment, where the top-selling model last month beat July’s mid/full-CUV winner by some 10,000 units. This suggests that The Great American Downsizing, as we’ve called it, isn’t as simple as former SUV owners replacing their BOF beast with one of these comparable mid/full-CUVs. Still, this is an important segment because although the stakes aren’t wildly high, the competition is fierce. GM won by a whisker last month, but Ford’s got a strong one-two punch as well with its Explorer/Edge combo. Meanwhile, Honda’s Crosstour and Ford’s Flex have bombed all the way off our monthly volume chart. Hit the jump to find out their Year-To-Date numbers, and to find out who the somewhat surprising YTD volume winner is.
Does the world need another luxury car brand? Hold up, let me rephrase that: does the world need another $250k luxury crossover with a new brand that sounds like a bad Infiniti knockoff? Well, whether we need it or not, it’s coming… and from Britain, not China! Or maybe it does?
I’ve got a tough set of requirements for you. I’ve been driving a 1996 Honda Civic Si for many years and it’s time to retire the old girl.
I live in Denver and I love to play in the mountains. I ski, backpack and rock climb, so I need a vehicle that can handle icy I-70 and rough forest service roads (need some ground clearance). I don’t need a large vehicle and I’d like to get at least 25 mpg highway. But I also really enjoy going quickly through the twisty bits, so handling is important too!
I’ve been considering the Kia Sportage SX, although the fuel economy in the AWD model isn’t great and I’ve read the Sportage steering leaves a lot to be desired. Still, the new 2 liter engine sounds fun. I’m mostly looking in the $25-30k range. For something really nice I could probably go up to $35k.
I feel like there must be some other options out there, but I haven’t had much luck finding anything!
Platform shared with the Evo + three rows of seating = the ideal vehicle for an enthusiast with kids? This formula encapsulates the promise of the second-generation Mitsubishi Outlander. But back when it was introduced, for the 2007 model year, the reality fell short, with too many rough edges in both the chassis and the interior. Last year the Outlander was freshened with a more Evo-like nose, an upgraded interior, and a new GT trim that added an active front differential. More than ever Mitsubishi was pitching the Outlander as the family hauler for enthusiasts. But do the tweaks go deep enough?
With the 2004 X3, BMW offered a compact SUV a half-decade ahead of other German car manufacturers. So not long after Audi and Mercedes have introduced their first such vehicle BMW has an all-new second-generation X3. The first-generation X3 had its strengths, but its weaknesses tended to outweigh them, especially in the U.S. market. The larger X5 has outsold it on this side of the Atlantic many times over despite a higher price. Has BMW learned enough in the past seven years to address these weaknesses and keep ahead of the new competition?