By on August 17, 2017

2018 Land Rover Range Rover Velar - Image: Land RoverIt’s 2017. If this isn’t The Year Of The Luxury SUV, then surely we’re fast approaching The Year Of The Luxury SUV.

Therefore, Land Rover can pretty well do whatever it wants. “A brand like ours,” says Land Rover’s chief design officer Gerry McGovern, “has this ability to stretch.”

Bentley Bentayga rival? “Absolutely,” McGovern says.

Identically sized Range Rovers? “If they had two personalities then they’ve both got equal appeal but to different customers,” McGovern tells Automotive News Europe.

There’s no reason to doubt Land Rover’s self-belief. (Read More…)

By on August 17, 2017

2017 BMW Z4 Roadster Concept - Image: BimmerfileThis is not the next BMW Z4.

But it’s very likely an accurate portrayal of what the production version of BMW’s third-generation Z4 (and successor to the Z3) will look like when it goes on sale next year.

Love it or hate it, the BMW Roadster Concept that BMW will officially unveil in Pebble Beach later today is an eye-catching followup to the departing Z4 that appeared eight years ago. Now we wait to see whether the next Z4, which shares its underpinnings with the reborn Toyota Supra, will attract any buyers.

U.S. sales of the Z4 plunged by more than 90 percent between 2003 and 2015.  (Read More…)

By on August 17, 2017

2017-hyundai-next-gen-fuel-cell-suv, Image: Hyundai

Hyundai isn’t about to let Tesla hog all the eco glory. The automaker has announced a near-term roadmap for green vehicle production, promising 31 hybrid, plug-in hybrid, electric, and fuel cell models by 2020, shared between the Hyundai, Kia, and Genesis brands.

Having already joined the fray with its compact Ioniq, offered in hybrid, plug-in, and EV flavors, the company wants a larger presence in the fledgling (but growing) EV scene. To this end, it’s planning long-range, high-end EVs built on a dedicated platform, as well as a much-needed crossover that dispenses with gas stations altogether. The Kona, which arrives in the U.S. in gas-powered guise this winter, serves as a body donor.

Will a 242-mile electric crossover give Elon Musk reason to sweat? (Read More…)

By on August 15, 2017

2018 Jeep Wrangler, Image: Reddit

Someone at Fiat Chrysler Automobile’s Toledo, Ohio, assembly complex might be in trouble. That’s assuming management pins down the person who whipped out a phone while a next-generation Jeep Wrangler Unlimited sat exposed on the plant floor. (We’re assuming it’s Toledo, for obvious reasons.)

A photograph posted to Reddit this morning, clearly shot in a hasty manner as workers line both sides of the vehicle, shows part of the 2018 Wrangler — a.k.a. the JL/JLU Wrangler. It’s a vehicle at the center of an expensive redesign and lightweighting process, and it’s also one of the most heavily leaked vehicles in years.

So, what does this picture show us? (Read More…)

By on August 13, 2017

Ford Ranger Raptor, Image: Spiedbilde/The Truth About Cars

This ties in nicely with an earlier post detailing the only two options available for midsize pickup buyers wanting more off-road prowess. For now, it’s Chevrolet and Toyota’s arena. Both GM and Toyota dominate the midsize pickup segment — a class that saw its U.S. market share rise to 17 percent of total pickup sales last year.

However, Ford’s late-to-the-game Ranger pickup, arriving on these shores in 2019 as a 2020 model, should bring a third player to the midsize mud and rock jamboree. It might not carry the Raptor name made famous by its bigger brother F-150, but this spied test vehicle shows Ford isn’t willing to send the Ranger to America wearing just work clothes. (Read More…)

By on August 10, 2017

2013 Opel Monza Concept - Image: OpelIt was to be called the Monza.

GM Europe expected to assemble the Opel Insignia-based SUV, roughly the size of the Ford Edge, right alongside the Opel Insignia at its Rüsselsheim, Germany, assembly plant. Which is in Rüsselsheim.

But development of the so-called Monza was either lost in the shuffle or used as a bargaining chip, depending on whom you ask, when Groupe PSA (Peugeot and Citroën) announced the $2.3-billion purchase of its European brands, Opel and Vauxhall. Now it appears the Monza project is suspended, according to AutoExpress, as PSA decides to “freeze all GM-related projects.”

What’s it mean for Buick? (Read More…)

By on August 10, 2017

Ferrari Dino 206 GT - Image: Ferrari2018 marks the 50th anniversary of Ferrari’s V6-engined Dino, an entry-level Ferrari that never actually wore Ferrari’s prancing horse badge.

With challenging regulatory environments and emissions targets to meet, 2018 surely seems like a fine time to resurrect the Dino name and concept. Yet it appears far more likely Ferrari will look to burst through its 10,000-unit annual production barrier with an FUV, rather than a Dino that, Automotive News reports, would likely be priced 20-percent below the current entry-level Ferrari.

The California T stickers from $202,723.

“We need to explore ways to attract customers to traditional values of the brand such as style, performance and engine sound before downgrading the entry level price for the brand,” Ferrari CEO Sergio Marchionne told analysts.

Downgrade. Pfft. Downgrading is for Porsche and McLaren.
(Read More…)

By on August 9, 2017

2017 Ssangyong Rexton - Image: SsangyongOn one end of the spectrum, there’s the Ssangyong Rodius, which actually isn’t as catastrophically designed in its second-generation form as it was from 2004 to 2013.

On the other, there’s the Ferrari 250 GT Coupe Pininfarina.

Somewhere in between will be the next edition of Ssangyong’s large Rexton SUV, due in the early part of the next decade and styled by one of the world’s foremost design houses.

Bentley Bentayga, BMW X4, Lexus LX570? Get in line. The Ssangyong Rexton has secured Pininfarina’s services already. (Read More…)

By on August 9, 2017

2017 Mazda 3 - Image: MazdaMazda announced on August 8th what had long been rumored. The small Japanese automaker has successfully overcome the remaining issues which held at bay mass production of gasoline compression ignition.

Essentially, Mazda’s Skyactiv-X engines, due first in the next-generation 2019 Mazda 3, is intended to bring diesel-like ignition to small, supercharged four-cylinder engines, along with diesel-like fuel economy. However, the gas-fired Skyactiv-X engines will be wildly cleaner than diesel powerplants. Mazda has said in the past that these HCCI engines will likely limit the need for continuously variable transmissions. We also learned, with Mazda’s latest pronouncement, that the company’s Skyactiv-X engines will be significantly torquier than their Skyactiv-G predecessors.

If Mazda can live up to its pronouncements — the company says the engines are “still under development and figures are subject to change” — it’ll be a win for both the environment and driving enthusiasts. And because Mazda also claims a 20-30-percent improvement in fuel efficiency, it’ll be a win for your bank account, as well.

We wanted to see exactly where Mazda’s alleged fuel savings will put Mazda’s current products on the EPA’s miles per gallon scale, so here are the results of some quick math. (Read More…)

By on August 8, 2017

Mazda CX9 Skyactiv Turbo engine - Image: Mazda

There’ll still be spark ignition available, but Mazda doesn’t expect you’ll get a whole lot of use out of it. With its just-revealed Skyactiv-X engine technology, the gasoline-loving automaker has added a new way of making power to the automotive realm: the compression ignition gas engine.

It’s something we’ve known about for a while, but today saw its confirmation. Mazda’s Skyactiv-X engine, bound for its vehicle lineup in 2019, adopts technology forever associated with diesel engines and combines it with a lighter, much cleaner fuel. Apparently, going green needn’t require batteries and AC motors. (Read More…)

By on August 2, 2017

2018 Volkswagen T-Roc

It’s the moment you’ve been waiting for. No, not the unveiling of Fiat Chrysler’s pavement-incinerating Dodge Demon, nor Tesla’s world — no, universe-saving Model 3.

No, the hottest thing in the land is the crossover, and no crossover breaks with staid utility vehicle norms quite like Volkswagen’s radical, two-door, pillarless, targa-top creation, the compact T-Roc. Hold on, that was the concept. Scratch that. The four-door, fixed-roof, happily pillared product of the concept’s metamorphosis will soon get its time in the spotlight, having been green-lit for production by a profit-focused VW.

The T-Roc, which kept the 2014 concept’s name despite dropping its ready-for-the-beach bodystyle, gets its big reveal on August 23rd, ahead of a global premiere at next month’s Frankfurt Auto Show. Can you handle it? (Read More…)

By on July 28, 2017

2017 Cadillac CT6 - Image: Cadillac

Lately, it seems everyone wants to talk about Cadillac sedans. Too bad few people want to buy one. The future of the storied brand’s traditional passenger car offerings was recently called into question by a report claiming two Cadillac sedans, including the CT6, are slated for execution.

Hashtag fake news, brand president Johan de Nysschen responded. In a reply only slightly less vague than the initial report itself, the brand president said no sedan models were on the chopping block. Nope, the Cadillac lineup will strut into the 2020s with three sedans, he said, making no mention of the fact Cadillac has four sedans.

Okay, so we knew the aging (but facelifted for 2018) XTS had no long-term future. But what about the survivors? In a recent interview, de Nysschen spelled out the plan. (Read More…)

By on July 28, 2017

autonomous hardware

Thanks to rhetoric beaten into us by the automotive industry, we know autonomous vehicles are “right around the corner.” Some manufacturers predict self-driving vehicles will be on the commercial market by an ambitiously early target date of 2021. However, those trick new rides are going to come at a premium that’ll keep them out of the hands of most normal people for a while.

LIDAR, the imaging system that allows an autonomous vehicle’s software to make sense of the road, is prohibitively expensive. High-end systems can approach the six-figure threshold while lower quality units rarely fall below 10 grand. Burgeoning technology is never affordable and automakers have traditionally found a way to produce advancements in cost-

effective ways. But the timeline for autonomous cars is too short, meaning any manufacturer wanting to sell one is going to have to have to accept the costs or defer production.  (Read More…)

By on July 25, 2017

2016 Volvo Concept 40.1 - Image: VolvoThere’s no denying the Volvo 40.1 concept that previewed this fall’s production XC40 appears both to be sufficiently Volvo-like and sufficiently unlike anything else.

If the actual Volvo XC40 maintains this relatively unusual design, Volvo will have a viable, eye-catching alternative to the Audi Q3, BMW X1, Infiniti QX30, and Mercedes-Benz GLA before most luxury auto brands.

As for the Q3, X1, QX30, and GLA, Volvo isn’t entirely sold on their merits. (Read More…)

By on July 21, 2017

2018 Hyundai Kona - Image: Hyundai“Each model will have its own identity.” – Luc Donckerwolke,
senior vice president, head of Hyundai Motor Design Center

Finally, long after the Nissan Juke, Subaru Crosstrek, Chevrolet Trax, Jeep Renegade, Honda HR-V, and Mazda CX-3, Hyundai is ready to launch the Kona subcompact crossover, at least in moderate volumes.

The Hyundai Kona is hardly a Tucson Lite; not remotely an Accent Allroad. An unusual face and bizarre use of cladding are all the more obvious because of the Kona’s tidy dimensions.

But while the 2018 Kona showcases a new Hyundai utility vehicle design language, Hyundai’s design leadership promises that future models won’t merely be enlargements of the same. (Read More…)

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