By on May 5, 2017

2018 Volkswagen Atlas yellow front quarter on road

Volkswagen Group’s core brand has targeted an end to profit losses in the North America by the end of the decade, setting its break-even point for 2020. Central themes of the plan are dependent on cost cutting measures and higher-margin SUV models it believes will bring it back from emissions scandal purgatory. In its most recent announcement, VW continued to tout electric vehicles as an inevitable key focus by 2025, but hasn’t lifted the veil on all that entails.

In the short term, however, Volkswagen is promising the “biggest product offensive in its history,” with ten new models coming this year alone. In actuality the number is half that, as five of those vehicles are updated versions of existing models. The real number could be even smaller if VW is counting the Atlas/Teramont as separate vehicles; the same goes for the two wheelbases of the Tiguan. And, based on the information it provided us, that does appear to be the case.  (Read More…)

By on April 28, 2017

2017 Volkswagen model range – Image: Volkswagen

Volkswagen Group is about to drop gas and diesel engines like names at a swank party.

The automaker’s CEO has announced a multi-billion push to prepare the company for a much more stringent marketplace, part of which includes giving its internal combustion engine lineup a haircut.

Speaking at an auto industry conference in Vienna, Matthias Müller said the company needs to boost the efficiency of its engines by 10 to 15 percent to stay ahead of picky European and American regulators, Reuters reports. Reaching that goal carries a price tag of $11 billion, spread out over the next five years.

Up to 40 percent of the company’s engines won’t survive the operation, Müller claims. (Read More…)

By on April 18, 2017

2017 Honda SUV lineup – Images: Honda

American Honda will build a Pilot-based SUV intended to carve out a space between the Honda CR-V and Honda Pilot.

According to a report published by WardsAuto with AutoForecast Solutions, Honda will assemble this Co-Pilot in Alabama alongside the Pilot beginning in the fall of 2018.

Co-Pilot? How about Honda Pilot Sport? Nah, that’s Michelin territory. Honda Pilot Sidekick? Suzuki grabbed that one already. Honda Pilot Junior? Too juvenile.

The name matters less than the positioning. Is there room for a midsize two-row utility vehicle in between the CR-V, traditionally America’s top-selling SUV/crossover, and the Pilot, one of America’s most popular three-row vehicles?

It’s a gap Ford, Nissan, and Hyundai have no trouble filling. (Read More…)

By on April 13, 2017

2017 Subaru Ascent Concept - Image: Subaru

Still nearly eight months away from being revealed in final production form, it’s already assumed inside Subaru HQ that the 2018 Subaru Ascent will generate the bulk of its conquests from inside the Subaru family.

Subaru expects to sell approximately 60,000 Ascents on an annual basis in the United States. But according to statements made about the long-awaited three-row Tribeca replacement by Subaru CEO Yasuyuki Yoshinaga at last month’s Geneva Motor Show, the Ascent won’t be stealing many sales of the Honda Pilot, Toyota Highlander, Ford Explorer, Chevrolet Traverse, and Nissan Pathfinder.

Hey, Outback and Forester: Subaru’s looking at you for donations to the Ascent’s cause. (Read More…)

By on April 12, 2017

[Image: Steph Willems/The Truth About Cars]

The Subaru Ascent concept SUV unveiled today at the New York International Auto Show heralds a very real vehicle with similar proportions, styling, and name.

While the model’s name aptly describes the automaker’s sales performance, the Subaru brand hasn’t fielded a large-ish utility vehicle since the slow-selling, second-generation Tribeca disappeared after 2014. With the Ascent, due to appear in production form in 2018, the brand delivers a three-row, seven-passenger vehicle with a wheelbase that’s longer than a Chevrolet Tahoe. (Read More…)

By on April 5, 2017

2018 Buick Regal TourX

With every automaker going all-in on cavernous crossovers and SUVs, Buick certainly hasn’t ignored the trend. The traditional, big-car brand even went so far as to bring us a crossover from China. Still, there’s a legacy nameplate in the lineup in need of nurturing, and it seems only natural (and prudent) that the next-generation Regal ratchets up the versatility.

For 2018, the Regal splits into two body styles, with the traditional variant offering more cargo room than before. Thanks to the midsize model’s Opel Insignia architecture, we’re here to announce a funeral for a longtime member of the automotive world — the Regal’s trunk lid. Yes, this sedan sports a liftback.

If it doesn’t seem like this newly enlarged cargo space will swallow your family’s lifestyle debris, Buick would also like to offer you an all-wheel-drive wagon. (Read More…)

By on March 9, 2017

Honda zsx-1-copy

Spy photos of a mid-engined roadster that couldn’t possibly be a production vehicle just rolled in from California, providing a tantalizing hint that Honda’s trademarked ZSX name might find its way onto a new addition to the company’s stable.

What appears to be a design study or full-on concept vehicle could herald a production vehicle, possibly the rumored “baby NSX.” Whatever the vehicle portents, it certainly looks ready for spotlights and a revolving pedestal. The wheels and mock license plate scream to any bystander (or shutterbug) that this is indeed a Honda-built vehicle. (Read More…)

By on March 3, 2017

2005 Jeep Gladiator Concept Vehicle, Image: FCA

With the possible exception of the upcoming Ford Bronco, no automotive product has more Americans feeling giddy with anticipation than the pickup version of Jeep’s beloved Wrangler.

Dreamed of by wistful Jeep aficionados for years, the go-ahead given to the Holy Grail of Jeepdom seemed to signal that yes, your dreams really can come true. Unfortunately, this seems to be a case of “all good things come to those who wait,” because wait you will. Two and a half years, to be exact.

Some of that time will be spent figuring out a name that doesn’t offend people. (Read More…)

By on March 3, 2017

2018 Toyota C-HR - Image: Toyota

Toyota hasn’t even delivered the new 2018 C-HR to dealers and there are already plans to supplement the automaker’s subcompact crossover lineup.

In concert with the C-HR’s U.S. launch next month, April 2017 will also play host to the Toyota debut of a small crossover concept at the New York International Auto Show if all goes according to plan.

“I think we’re very well set up (with the C-HR and midsize RAV4 CUV), but we’re also kind of looking at what else could we be doing there if this continues to be a growing segment, which we anticipate it will,” Bill Fay, vice president for the Toyota division, told Wards Auto.

Toyota expects to sell 60,000 C-HRs in the United States annually, more than the Yaris, Yaris iA, and Prius C combined. For America’s third-highest-volume SUV brand, that’s apparently not enough.

Slip an extra SUV on the barbie. (Read More…)

By on March 2, 2017

2018 Opel Insignia Country Tourer Spy Shot Front, Image: CarPix

Automakers, having long since abandoned the once-hot American wagon market, are returning to see if a lingering spark can be rekindled.

Consider Buick as one of the brands brave enough to cast its line into the pool in the hopes of a bite. The next-generation Regal, which already graces European car mags as the Opel Insignia, won’t come to the U.S. simply as a sedan. Opel’s Insignia Sports Tourer creates a fine opportunity for Buick to deliver a new wagon to these SUV-crazed shores..

However, we’re a go-anywhere, do-anything bunch over here, and any wagon coming to America had better have some cladding and about an inch and a half of lift!

(Read More…)

By on February 9, 2017

Dodge Challenger SRT Demon

Man, they really make you suffer for it.

In this instance, “they” refers to the Fiat Chrysler Automobiles team that inserted a line from Metallica in the ongoing peep show that is the Dodge Challenger SRT Demon’s teaser campaign. Sigh…

Besides a quote from the most cheesily overused song in the automotive playlist, there’s a technical tidbit to be found in the latest release that sheds a whole lot of light on how the Demon will top its Hellcat sibling in terms of power output.

This antisocial, one-seater Challenger variant sucks a whole lot of air. (Read More…)

By on February 2, 2017

Sick of seeing Alfa Romeo Giulias everywhere you go? Fiat Chrysler Automobiles would love that to be the case, but the model is only just ramping up in the U.S. after its December introduction. January saw a whopping 70 sales, beating December’s 29 by a mile.

Positioned as a rear-drive alternative to BMW’s 3 and 4 Series, as well as other German competitors, the long-to-arrive Giulia’s American success is far from guaranteed, though its broad price range leaves plenty of room for new customers enticed by its Italian flair.

Alfa’s plan to cement its U.S. return includes launching nine new models over the next five years. According to one report, the next model coming down the pipe is a no-brainer. (Read More…)

By on February 1, 2017

2018 dodge srt hellcat demon

Things are getting downright kooky in Auburn Hills.

Fiat Chrysler Automobiles has become quite chatty in the past day, with company spokespersons confirming bizarre new details about the upcoming Dodge Challenger SRT Demon. Apparently, the beastly LX-platform variant is a real stripper.

Yes, to shed as much weight as possible from the Challenger Hellcat’s considerable mass, the mysterious Demon with make do without many of the things we’ve come to associate with modern automobiles.

Including seats. (Read More…)

By on January 30, 2017

Audi TT Sportback concept

“Four-door coupe.” The exasperating designation won’t go away, despite the best efforts from automakers to endow all sedans and five-doors with coupe-like rooflines. Did we forget to mention crossovers and SUVs? Yes, those can be four-door coupes, too.

In traditional use, a four-door coupe designates a sedan with a different roofline and an extra dose of luxury, though the dose is often mental, not physical. Not one to let an opportunity to pick up a few extra sales pass by, Audi is gearing up to bring the four-door coupe lifestyle to customers at the bottom of its product ladder.

Think of it as climbing an extra rung, but without paying for it. (Read More…)

By on January 17, 2017

2015 Hyundai Santa Cruz Concept - Image: Hyundai

Two years have passed since Hyundai dropped the Santa Cruz Crossover Truck Concept at 2015’s North American International Auto Show.

A small, stylish, affordable, diesel-powered trucklet? Give’er the green light, the internet says.

Hyundai has consistently supplied plenty of information in the 24 months since the truck’s debut to stoke Santa Cruz-oriented hype. “There is a very high probability we get the approval of the truck soon,” now-departed Hyundai USA boss Dave Zuchowski said 20 months ago.

Soon? Clearly not.

Acknowledging Hyundai is “working as hard as we can to make it happen,” Hyundai’s vice president of corporate and product planning, Mike O’Brien, told Car And Driver that Hyundai is still not entirely certain the Santa Cruz is bound for production. (Read More…)

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