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 10, 2017

2017 Volvo XC90 Excellence - Image: VolvoIn anticipation of a welcoming party for 2018 models, non-Volvo luxury car owners are currently eligible for a discount valued at $23,500 on a handful of remaining copies of the 2017 Volvo XC90 T8 Excellence.

There’s only one problem. The Volvo XC90 T8 Excellence is not exactly the most affordable member of the second-generation XC90 lineup. In fact, the T8 Excellence is the most expensive XC90 in America — by a wide margin. While the XC90 range opens at $46,745 for a five-seat front-wheel-drive variant, the T8 Hybrid turns on the lights with 400-horsepower for $69,895. Bump up another couple of trim levels and you’ll find yourself at the — let me clear my throat — $105,895 XC90 T8 Excellence.

Yet the $20,000 bonus Volvo is paying to dealers for XC90s in T8 Excellence trim means the laughably high $105,895 price — $1,005 more than a Land Rover Range Rover Supercharged — and a $3,500 conquest bonus drops the $105,895 XC90 T8 Excellence way down to $82,395.

It also means you lay hold on what CarsDirect’s Alex Bernstein says is, “the single largest discount on any vehicle at the moment.” (Read More…)

By on July 17, 2017

2017 BMW X1 white off road - Image: BMWDepending where you live, it’s possible the shift away from luxury cars to luxury SUVs is dramatically more apparent than America’s nationwide figures suggest.

In 48 of 50 states, luxury utility vehicles outsell luxury cars. In seven states, premium brand utility vehicles form more than 65 percent of the premium market.

But according to Edmunds, the two states in which luxury cars still outperform luxury utility vehicles account for 31 percent of America’s luxury SUV market. (Read More…)

By on July 12, 2017

Volkswagen Slovakia Werk Bratislava - Image: VolkswagenAn inconsequential 1,630 copies of the Volkswagen Touareg were sold in the United States during the first half of 2017.

It’s therefore unlikely you’ll notice the Volkswagen luxury SUV’s absence now that Volkswagen has decided to eliminate the Touareg from its 2018 U.S. lineup.

Initially reported by Motor Trend yesterday, Volkswagen’s decision to discontinue the Touareg was confirmed to TTAC by Volkswagen of America spokesperson Jessica Anderson today. “Our focus for the 2018 model year is the all-new Atlas and redesigned Tiguan.”

So is the Touareg done, or just done for now? Volkswagen of America won’t say. (Read More…)

By on July 7, 2017

2017 Land Rover Discovery - Image: Land Rover“But in some cases, the traditionalists are going to
maybe pine over the squarer shape of the previous four iterations.”

– Jaguar Land Rover Australia Managing Director, Matthew Wiesner

The Land Rover Discovery, known for a time in North America as the LR3 and then LR4 whilst alphanumeric nomenclature was deemed necessary if one was to steal market share from the Lexus GX460, is a box.

Or rather, it was a box. For nearly three decades, through the Series I and Series II and then the LR3 and LR4 that ran for a dozen years or so, Land Rover’s sub-Range Rover was squared off. Hard lines. Rectangles. Right angles. No Bangles.

Land Rover has rediscovered the Discovery name in North America, but the brand did not manage to rediscover the Discovery’s styling themes. And on the other side of the world from Land Rover’s Coventry HQ, Australia’s Jaguar Land Rover boss is vocalizing a major concern.

“The new shape is certainly going to test some of the traditional owners of Discovery,” Matthew Wiesner told CarAdvice.

(Read More…)

By on July 7, 2017

2018 BMW X3 - Image: BMW“We created that segment,” BMW CEO says of the sector in which the BMW X3 arrived before Acura, Audi, Infiniti, Lexus, Lincoln, Mercedes-Benz, Porsche, and Volvo.

“The No.1 approach and target I clearly have is, there shouldn’t be anyone besides us who is No.1,” Krueger told Automotive News Europe.

In the U.S., where Krueger’s goals (expectations? demands?) for the South Carolina-built BMW X3 are lofty, the X3 ranked a distant fifth in the category in 2016.

But Krueger ain’t kiddin’ around. (Read More…)

By on June 30, 2017

Mag-X Lexus RX Three-Row Tokyo - Image: Mag-X via AutoguideThe Lexus RX is, by a massive margin, America’s top-selling luxury utility vehicle.

Through the first five months of 2017, Lexus had already sold 38,329 copies of the RX350 and RX450h in the United States. Most competing luxury crossovers won’t produce that many sales in all of 2017.

But Lexus wants more, and with car sales plunging — Lexus car sales are down 29 percent so far this year — there’s no better means of adding volume than by expanding the utility vehicle division. Lexus has already introduced the NX to sit below the RX, and it’s a verifiable hit. But the GX and LX at the top of the Lexus SUV/CUV heap add only incremental volume.

Thus, Lexus is readying a three-row version of the Lexus RX, a natural fit given the RX’s connections to the three-row Toyota Highlander. This much we knew.

Now, based on reports from Japan’s Mag-X, we also know the seven-seat Lexus RX will debut at the Tokyo in late October 2017. (Read More…)

By on June 19, 2017

2017 Mercedes-AMG GLC43 4Matic Coupe - Image: © Timothy CainTwo turbochargers. 362 horsepower. 384 lb-ft of torque. AMG’s 31:69 front/rear torque bias. 0-60 mph in 4.8 seconds. AMG-tuned air suspension. 14.2-inch front rotors. 285/40R20 rear tires. 640 watts and 14 speakers of Burmester surround sound.

Forget all that.

This is a story all about cargo volume. 10-14 percent more cargo volume. Sweet, sultry, scintillating cargo volume.

The 2017 Mercedes-AMG GLC43 4Matic lineup is two vehicles strong. In one AMG GLC43, your dog stands up and waits for the liftgate to close. In the other, your dog rolls over, plays dead, and doesn’t get up until the end of your journey.

This is the latter, the 2017 Mercedes-AMG GLC43 4Matic Coupe. It’s a genuine performance vehicle, with the power, grip, tenacity, and even finesse one expects from a performance vehicle, but also with style — love it or loathe it — that has practical implications for ol’ Bailey, the Bouvier des Flandres. (Read More…)

By on June 8, 2017

2017 BMW SAV lineup - Image: BMW USALittle more than 18 months from now, BMW’s utility vehicle lineup will be dramatically altered, primed to absorb rising SUV demand in an increasingly anti-car market.

According to Australia’s Motoring, BMW will expand its entry-level utility vehicle lineup — BMW calls them SAVs — in early 2018 and the top end of the brand’s SAV lineup by late 2018.

The production BMW X2, due early next year, was previewed by the Concept X2 at 2016’s Paris auto show. BMW’s long-awaited Mercedes-Benz GLS challenger, the BMW X7, is a late-2018 arrival.

But the expansion of the BMW SAV lineup is only part of the story, as new versions of the SAVs currently sitting at the heart of BMW’s lineup will arrive in short order, as well. (Read More…)

By on March 20, 2017

2017 BMW 4 Series Convertible – Image: BMW

Choice is good for car buyers. But in the never-ending quest to produce incremental volume gains, the planet’s largest premium auto brands agree that certain niches are quickly becoming untenable.

Known for questioning in 2014 whether the global sports car market would ever recover from its post-recession collapse, BMW sales boss Ian Robertson told Car And Driver earlier this month that “some body styles will be removed in the future.”

Meanwhile, the head of Mercedes-Benz Dieter Zetsche said at the Geneva auto show that the lack of Chinese uptake for specialty cars “makes the business case for these vehicles less easy.”

Yet long before a model cull returns us to the days of tidy luxury lineups — 3 Series, 5 Series, 7 Series, and 8 Series as the 1990s intended! — premium German marques will first introduce a slew of new models. And the body styles destined for removal? Likely not the silly four-door coupes and impractical SUVs you love to hate. (Read More…)

By on March 17, 2017

2017 Acura MDX Sport Hybrid - Image: Acura

At American Honda’s upmarket division, the Acura MDX is the lifeblood; the premium crossover that keeps Acura’s trains running on time.

In 8 of the last 10 years — including each of the last 7 — the Acura MDX has been Acura’s best-selling model. Fully one-third of Acura’s U.S. volume over the last decade has been generated by the MDX.

Honda knows best of all just how important the MDX has been to Acura’s fortunes, having watched as the brand’s passenger car volume was essentially chopped in half over the last decade. Honda is removing the interference caused by the Pilot, Odyssey, and Ridgeline at the MDX’s Alabama plant by moving production of the big Acura to Ohio.

And more importantly for consumers, the first hybridized MDX — the 2017 Acura MDX Sport Hybrid — is launching now with a pricing scheme that evidently makes the hybrid the best MDX of all. (Read More…)

By on March 6, 2017

1990 Land Rover Range Rover in Denver wrecking yard, LH front view - ©2017 Murilee Martin - The Truth About Cars

Denver drivers love their luxury SUVs, and European luxury vehicles tend to depreciate in a hurry. This means plenty of Land Rovers show up in the area’s big self-service wrecking yards. While this is good news for the several Coloradans who might be interested in finding a Rover V8 to drop into a homegrown MGB-GT V8, I don’t pay much attention to these trucks. IHC Scouts, sure, and maybe the occasional Jeep Cherokee get into this series, but I have walked right by hundreds of discarded British status-boxes and not paid much attention.

A Range Rover with 266,666 miles on the clock, though, is another story. (Read More…)

By on January 11, 2017

Acura MDX Honda Pilot Odyssey Ridgeline – Images: American Honda

Throughout much of the third-generation Honda Pilot’s tenure, U.S. sales have not measured up to the success of the previous-generation model, though not for lack of demand.

In a market gone mad for SUVs and crossovers, three other vehicles have constrained production of the Pilot in Lincoln, Alabama. In addition to the Pilot, American Honda builds the Honda Odyssey in Lincoln, along with the Acura MDX. The second-generation Ridgeline started rolling off the Alabama line in May 2016.

As a result, Honda dealers have had a difficult time getting their hands on enough Pilots to sate the predictably high level of interest in a respected three-row crossover nameplate. Heading into December, for instance, Honda only had 36 days of Pilot supply according to Automotive News, about half the current industry average.

But with an all-new 2018 Odyssey about to pick up steam and the Ridgeline reaching a second-gen high of 4,085 sales in December, the Pilot needs room to breathe.  (Read More…)

By on December 20, 2016

2016 BMW X1 and 340i - Image: BMW USA

BMW continues to spend industry-leading levels of money to lure luxury car buyers in the United States. Yet November was the twelfth consecutive month in which sales at the BMW Group declined, year-over-year, in the U.S..

Through the first 11 months of 2016, sales at BMW are down 10 percent compared with the same period in 2015; Mini volume is off 11 percent.

According to TrueCar, however, no automaker is spending more in incentives, on a per vehicle basis, than BMW of North America. November 2016 incentives at the BMW Group jumped 25 percent compared with November 2015 yet sales fell 16 percent.

How much cash on the hood do American luxury car buyers want? (Read More…)

By on September 19, 2016

2017 Cadillac XT5 rear

In 1999, GM altered the front fascia and slightly upgraded the interior of the GMC Yukon Denali to introduce the Cadillac Escalade. Although Cadillac was late to the Lincoln Navigator’s game, the biggest, baddest, boldest Cadillac quickly became an undeniable hit.

Now in fourth-generation form, U.S. sales of the regular-wheelbase Cadillac Escalade are on track to rise to an eight-year high in 2016.

Joining the Escalade in Cadillac’s SUV/crossover lineup in 2003 was the first-generation Cadillac SRX. With a two-row mainstream approach in generation two, the Cadillac SRX also became a huge success. Propelled forward in part by incentives, the SRX’s ability to claim its best ever U.S. sales total in 2015, its final full year, was nevertheless impressive.

Less than half a year into its run, the SRX-replacing Cadillac XT5 is likewise a formidable hit; yet more proof that Cadillac knows how to shake its moneymakers. Which makes you wonder why Cadillac hasn’t already brought to market more moneymakers for the brand to shake. (Read More…)

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