In case you didn’t know it, Kia’s on a roll. Sales have more than doubled since 2009, propelling Kia from a Mazda-sized player in the American market to one that outsold established brands like Subaru, GMC, Chrysler and Volkswagen.
Kia’s transformation may seem like a night-and-day makeover, but closer inspection reveals that it’s really the result of consistent incremental improvements to its products, frequent designs and refreshes, and astute pricing.
You can think of the Sportage as the final piece of Kia’s evolving puzzle. Sales may be on a roll for the Korean automaker, but the Sportage has never sold in large numbers. It finished 14th in a segment of 17 models last year. (The Sportage beat the Volkswagen Tiguan, Mitsubishi Outlander, and Chevrolet Captiva Sport). It could be that the Kia Sorento did a better job of nipping at the heels of mid-trim Toyota RAV4 and Honda CR-V models. For 2017, Kia gives us a new Sportage targeted more at Mazda and Ford than Toyota.
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.
Ford unveiled Tuesday its refreshed 2017 Ford Escape complete with two new-ish engines and a slew of new technologies, including stop-start, that could help the crossover catch the best-selling Honda CR-V.
The base Escape still comes equipped with a 2.5-liter four, but Ford replaced its 1.6-liter turbo four with a 1.5-liter turbo four that produces the same power in higher trims. The outgoing 1.6-liter engine was the subject of at least two different recalls, including an incorrectly installed fuel line and overheating problem that could potentially cause fires.
A 2-liter boosted four from the Edge will also be available in the Escape. That engine produces 245 horsepower and will be available in SE and Titanium trims. (Read More…)
Coming to the Ford Fiesta and Escape this summer is the automaker’s Sync 3 connected-vehicle system, where it will be listed as an option on the order form.
TTAC Commentator sundvl76 writes:
Your post of 2 Mar 2011 was a great explanation regarding the cause of the “T” joint oil leak I’ve been experiencing. No one on any of the normal Ford sites has been able to pinpoint the problem, so I thank you for the information. (I’d discovered the source, but didn’t know the cause/fix until your post.) TTAC is now on my Favorites list! (Read More…)
When the RAV4 landed, I wasn’t sure what to make of it. In a world of unified corporate identity the RAv4 goes off script with a look all to its own. While the old RAV sold on mini-truck looks, the new one is undisguised crossover. The new nose has grown on me slightly since I recorded the video above, but I still find the look a little awkward. Since I was scolded for wearing striped pants with a striped shirt the week I tested the RAV4, feel free take my style opinion with a grain of salt as you click through the jump.
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. (Read More…)
Like their products or not, Ford has been on a roll. It all started when the blue oval financed their metamorphosis by mortgaging everything that wasn’t nailed down a year before the bankocalypse. Next came a wave of new products like the Astonesque Fusion, Prius fighting C-MAX and the Euro-derived Fiesta and Focus. Ford’s recovery plan hinges on unifying their worldwide lineup rather than making unique vehicles for every market. Ford calls this plan “One Ford,” while I call it “Ford’s Euro love affair.” The latest warrior in the Euro invasion is none other than the Ford Kuga, you’ll know it as the new Escape. It would appear Ford’s timing couldn’t be better since they just lost the small-SUV sales crown to Honda. Can the European soft-roader take back the crown? Or has Ford gone too far by ditching the boxy Escape for world-wide homogeny?
Ford is pointing fingers at supplier TI Automotive who is to blame for last week’s surprise recall of about 11,500 Escape SUVs. The trucks were deemed a fire risk because of a flaw in its fuel lines. Ford told the NHTSA that some of the fuel lines were “mechanically scored” at TI Automotive’s plant in Ashley, Indiana. (Read More…)
Ford is recalling 11,500 new 2013 model Ford Escape SUVs with 1.6-liter engines. The company also warned drivers to stop driving them immediately due to a risk of engine fire. “It is extremely rare for an automaker to warn drivers to stop driving their recalled vehicles,” Reuters says in a flash report. (Read More…)
The sun may shine bright upon my old Kentucky home, but that doesn’t mean things here can’t always be good. In the case of Ford, it’s not so good right now for the automaker’s efforts in Louisville.
Ford’s outgoing Escape is neither the newest, nor the nicest compact crossover on the market, but man does it sell well. How something so relatively old and uncompetitive maintained such strong volume in the market has long been a bit of a mystery, but my theory is that the Escape offered two basic attributes that the market desires: low price and SUV looks (without SUV efficiency). And by combining Escape with Europe’s Kuga to create one global compact crossover, Ford has been forced away from those two basic attributes: Escape likely won’t be cheap with its turbocharged engines and upscale interior (though pricing hasn’t been released), and it definitely doesn’t look like an old-school SUV anymore. Will a new approach to the compact crossover segment pay off for Ford, or is this Escape too “global,” or too similar to other “cute utes” to succeed in the US market? Is this the point at which the “One Ford” ethos crashes against the rocks of America’s appreciation for boxy, rugged utilities?