The Truth About Cars » mpv The Truth About Cars is dedicated to providing candid, unbiased automobile reviews and the latest in auto industry news. Thu, 17 Apr 2014 14:00:20 +0000 en-US hourly 1 The Truth About Cars is dedicated to providing candid, unbiased automobile reviews and the latest in auto industry news. The Truth About Cars no The Truth About Cars (The Truth About Cars) 2006-2009 The Truth About Cars The Truth About Cars is dedicated to providing candid, unbiased automobile reviews and the latest in auto industry news. The Truth About Cars » mpv Canada Capsule Review: 2014 Kia Rondo Fri, 01 Nov 2013 17:31:54 +0000 ???????????????????????????????

TTAC readers seem to care not a whit for the flashy stuff. The Jaguar F-Type, possibly the most anticipated press car this year among journalists, lifestyle bloggers and other dubiously affiliated members of the media, garnered less than 50 reader comments. Meanwhile, reviews of the Chrysler minivans regularly generate hundreds. In a quest to be of greater service to our readers (and because I know that another Generation Why can scarcely be tolerated), I decided to sample something that is hopefully of genuine interest to you all: a minivan that is not available in the United States. Like the Chevrolet Orlando, the Kia Rondo is available in a number of countries that did not support the Iraq War, among them, Canada. Like the Chevrolet Orlando, it is supposedly “right-sized” for Canada, thanks to a smaller engine, a smaller physical footprint and an available manual transmission (which will be popular in Northen Quebec and nowhere else). And like the Chevrolet Orlando, it’s hard to rationalize buying one of these when you can have a Dodge Caravan for similar money. Like the Orlando and the Mazda5, the Rondo’s roots lay in a global compact car platform – in this case, the same one that underpins the Hyundai Elantra and the Kia Forte. The relationship between the products is akin to how the Volkswagen Touran is the slightly larger, MPV twin of the Volkswagen Golf. The strut suspension up front, the torsion beam out back and even the 2.0L Theta 4-cylinder and 6-speed automatic are carried over from the Hyundai/Kia corporate parts bin, and the cars don’t feel terribly different to drive.

Around town, the higher driving position and premium-feeling interior make the Rondo a decent place to spend time. Visibility is excellent, thanks to the wraparound glass throughout the greenhouse, and the CUV-esque way that you sit up high in the car. Kia’s UVO infotainment system is one of the easier ones to operate, with clear, intuitive menus and an easy to operate touchscreen. All of the controls are well laid out, though there are some odd quirks – the top model EX Luxury that we tested only has a cooled driver’s seat, but the passenger seat doesn’t get that same consideration. At a glance, the materials and design of the interior looks “premium”, but look a little deeper and the facade disappears. The lids of the many storage bids feel a bit flimsy on closer inspection, while the headliner has the “egg carton” feel of a typical economy car when pressed. Even so, I would give it the edge over the rather drab Orlando and the now-dated Mazda5 as far as interiors go. Like most of these European-style MPVs, seating in the second row is generous but the third-row is useless for anyone past puberty. With the seats up, there’s a measly 8.6 cubic feet of space, which then expands to 32.2 cubic feet once folded. With both rows down, you’re up to 65.5 cubic feet.

The Rondo’s road manners also leave something to be desired, resembling the base Elantra rather than the more sporting Elantra GT. All of the chassis and powertrain flaws present in this vehicle family are only magnified in the Rondo, though it does a good job of masking them. In a daily commute, the Rondo is basically transparent, moving along in relative silence, isolating you from most road imperfections. Handling is as you’d expect – not great. Excess bodyroll makes the Rondo feel like a Bayliner through corners, while the three-model steering system, as seen on the Elantra GT and other Hyundai/Kia products, does little to help improve driver engagement. I left it in Sport the entire time, and while it firmed up the steering a fair bit, feedback was non-existent.

Power from the 2.0L engine, with its 164 horsepower and 156 lb-ft of torque is adequate. On the freeway, there’s enough power to pass other cars without making it a white knuckle experience. Around town, it’s let down by poor throttle calibration and a sluggish 6-speed automatic transmission – similar to the Dodge Dart, the Rondo suffered from a perceptible lag when trying to weave and bob through urban traffic. Press the accelerator and there would be a very noticeable “One onethousand, two onethousand” gap between when your foot moved and when the car would start moving forward. When you’re trying to close a gap that might get you out of a blocked lane in congested, rush hour traffic, this kind of delay can be the difference between making it and having someone else get there first. Fuel economy in mostly city driving was 23 mpg, three mpg off of its city rating, and a rather respectable showing given that downtown Toronto’s driving conditions are far from those mandated in fuel economy tests.

The Rondo’s biggest issue isn’t its competitive set, but the Dodge Grand Caravan. In an urban metro area like Toronto, the Rondo has a lot going for it. It’s quite fuel-efficient, easy to drive in traffic (though the lag in power is a real problem) and is “right-sized”, in that it’s short enough to park easily while also narrow enough to weave its way through busy streets and tight parking garages. It has lots of premium features, from heated rear seats to a panoramic sunroof to a backup camera, that make it a very nice place to be when you’re doing errands around town. But you’ll pay for all of that too. In Canada, where vehicles are a fair bit more expensive than the United States, our tester rang up at $32,195.

But I’m not sure that’s quite good enough. Dodge has an iron grip on the Canadian minivan market for a reason. The Caravan is cheap, powerful and has enough room for multiple hockey bags, and you don’t necessarily have to fold the third row of seats to accommodate them. When it’s time for that, the Stow ‘N Go system makes it as easy as possible for a harried parent to do so. Fitting just one hockey bag in the Rondo would immediately require the folding of the third row, and then some creative maneuvering to make it fit. Oh, and there’s also the whole “sliding doors vs hinged doors” debate. For many people, the Rondo will be on the losing side of that one.

Talk of hockey bags and thriftiness may seem like a tired joke to our American audience, but Canadian readers will be able to affirm that these are the realities of life up in the Frozen North, and our auto market reflects that. Last year, Dodge sold 51,552 Grand Carvans in Canada, making it the fourth best selling vehicle in the country. Our love for small vehicles and fuel efficiency would suggest that a vehicle like the Rondo would do well here, but in 2012, just 6316 Rondos were sold, with the Mazda5 and Chevrolet Orlando not doing much better either. Canadian consumers seem to be playing against type in this particular segment, and given their unique needs and the absolute rock bottom prices one can get a Caravan for, it’s easy to understand why.

Kia provided insurance, a tank of gas and the press vehicle for one week. Thanks to for the photography.

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Piston Slap: The Awful Side Effect of Being Really, REALLY Good Looking Mon, 30 Sep 2013 12:00:20 +0000

Tim writes:


One of the awful side effects of being really really good looking is that you tend to have lots of kids; and four kids later I find myself driving a VW Touran. It is the sensible-shoes option for the sexually successful in Europe- cheap to buy, cheap to run. Drinking in the TTAC cool aid, on a recent trip to the USA I booked a Lincoln Town Car for the six of us from Hertz, and ended up in a Dodge Durango; after which I have found a bit of red on my neck.

Its generosity of proportion, it’s easy livin’ spec (TV for the kids, keyless entry, self-opening boot, sat nav, sirus music…) made the trip back from the airport car park miserable. What car available in Europe makes family life easier (excluding stupendously expensive premium SUVs) if you have already mated; and thus do not need to tick the ego boxes of looks, brand and image.



Sajeev answers:

And here I thought you sexually successful people in Europe had more restraint, less braggadocio than us crude chaps in the States!  Did Clarkson lie to us Yanks about our relative horrible-ness?

That said, how can you go wrong with a Chrysler Voyager in Europe?  Considering your stunning “prowess” and the accompanying lack of ego (Porsche Cayenne, please?) that’s simply not possible. This Autocar review is a fair assessment of our USA breadwinner, relative to the mainstream MPVs in your home continent.

Sure, the Ford Galaxy/S-Max, Seat Alhambra, VW Sharan and Vauxhall Zafira Tourer and all the rest possess sensible Euro styling sensibilities and (probably) superior diesel engines, but you don’t need that shit. You need the Yankee van with the fold into the floor seats. Because it is bad ass. It’s what embodies the American Spirit.  All the goodies available in Chrysler’s breadwinner add to your hustle game, with no red-necked side effects.

More to the point, you’d drive the Voyager as I do with TTAC’s Rio Brown 1983 Ford Sierra Ghia: hipster ironically.  Need an example to prove the point?

Here I am parked at BP’s H-town headquarters enjoying a little break before tackling the pictured roundabout.  While I’d normally give the task to my Texa-Guido Lincoln Mark VIII, the Ford Sierra was the more ironic choice. No doubt the displaced Brit that felt the need to add some “London” to Houston agrees with my choice.


Tim, my friend, you could be this self-aware. You could be me and the Sierra: easily reproducing this in a Voyager somewhere near your place of residence. You gotta do it, to it…Son!


Send your queries to Spare no details and ask for a speedy resolution if you’re in a hurry…but be realistic, and use your make/model specific forums instead of TTAC for more timely advice.


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We Called It: Next Datsun Is An MPV Tue, 17 Sep 2013 16:51:12 +0000 1534312680914254236

Datsun’s newest vehicle, unveiled in Jakarta today, is a stretched version of the Go, dubbed the Go+. While this will elict a shrug of the shoulders for most of you, it’s an astute move by Datsun.

Indonesia’s auto market is dominated by small minivans. Toyota has an iron grip on the market with the Avanza, a rear-drive, rather basic vehicle. GM is trying to unseat Toyota with the Spin, a front-drive minivan with more modern bones. The Go+, which can seat 7 (perhaps in some degree of discomfort), is Nissan’s attempt to capture a slice of what many think is the next big car market.

With this knowledge in mind, TTAC predicted that the next Datsun would likely be an MPV, and it turned out we were correct. That and 37, 504 Indonesian rupiah will get you a Big Mac combo in Jakarta.

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Will The Real Fiat Multipla Please Stand Up Wed, 19 Jun 2013 17:09:57 +0000 fiat-500l-living

Hours after I longed for a return of the Fiat Multipla, Fiat delivered. The 500L Living will be a true MPV, carrying seven. The last Multipla only carried six. It will be a bit longer than our 500L and have the option of a 0.9L TwinAir engine, two diesels or a naturally aspirated 1.4L gasoline engine making 95 horsepower. I’ll pass. It’s not ugly enough to stoke my boiler. But it’s not coming to North America anyways.

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The Most Important French Car Of The Decade Is A Minivan Tue, 02 Apr 2013 12:00:33 +0000

The MPV segment, so popular in Europe, was basically invented by the French. The Renault Espace, the grandfather of the modern minivan, was originally supposed to be a Peugeot, until PSA deemed it too expensive and sold it to Renault. Nearly two decades later, Renault disrupted the segment again with their compact Scenic minivan, which spawned imitators from nearly every single brand.

Citroen’s newest MPV, the C4 Picasso, is a massively important car for PSA and the French car industry. It’s not as sexy as the Renaultsport or Alpine products coming down the pipeline, nor does it have the enthusiast-weirdo cachet of previous PSA products. But this car will be one of the products that determines PSA’s future. Having missed the boat on making a push in the low-cost segment, the C4 and the Peugeot 208 will define the next generation of PSA products, as the two brands attempt a convoluted re-positioning in the marketplace.

The Picasso is the first car to ride on PSA’s new EMP2 modular architecture. The Picasso will be chock full of PSA’s latest tech, from blind spot cameras to massive touchscreens to adaptive cruise control. New diesel powertrains will offer in excess of 70 mpg on the European cycle and C02 emissions on par with a Toyota Prius; not hugely exciting, but if you ever hail a cab in Paris, you’ll probably be riding in one of these.

PSA desperately needs to C4 to succeed. As the test best for their next generation architecture, the future of PSA hangs in the balance. Strong sales will mean a whole new generation of EMP2 based vehicles. Failure could entail another bailout or worse.

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2013 Ford C-Max Undercuts Toyota Prius V By $555 Thu, 17 May 2012 13:54:51 +0000

Ford has priced their C-Max MPV with a base sticker of $25,995, or $555 less than its main rival, the Toyota Prius V.

Ford claims that the C-Max has a few more cubic feet of cargo room, as well as a taller roofline than the Prius V for more headroom. Features like MyFordTouch will be offered as standard.

Ford expects the C-Max to best the Prius V in fuel economy as well, but figures weren’t announced. Also conspicuously absent was pricing for the C-Max Energi plug-in hybrid – which Ford claims can beat the fuel economy of the Prius Plug-In. The base C-Max uses the 2.0L Atkinson cycle engine and hybrid powertrain similar to the Ford Fusion Hybrid.

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Review: Chevrolet Orlando Thu, 22 Mar 2012 19:07:41 +0000

It’s not often that automakers go to the trouble of bringing a car to Canada, but refrain from selling it in the United States. With one tenth the population and different homologation laws than the United States, the costs rarely make it worthwhile for automakers to import unique products to the Canadian market.

 Vehicles like the Mercedes-Benz B-Class or Nissan X-Trail are exceptions to the rule – compact utility vehicles that are fuel efficient and priced in the lower end of their segments. General Motors originally intended to sell the Chevrolet Orlando in the United States, but according to GM Canada, American engineers wanted to include features like knee airbags to help the Orlando meet an obscure American crash test regulation, but the cost of this change would have made the venture unprofitable. Since the vehicle already met every other unified North American standard, it was an easy choice to sell it in Canada, where higher fuel prices and a love of smaller vehicles would make it an attractive choice.

Minivans may be considered “uncool” by some, but they’ve yet to lose their luster up here. The Dodge Grand Caravan is one of Canada’s best-selling vehicles, and starts at the bargain basement price of $19,995 – identical to the Orlando. The similarities end there, as the Orlando is more a re-incarnation of the first generation Odyssey than a successor to the dreadful Uplander minivan that most of us have erased from our memories.

Like the old Odyssey, the Korean-built Orlando has conventionally hinged doors, a 4-cylinder engine and a smaller footprint than most traditional minivans. The Orlando, at 183 inches long, is nearly two feet shorter than a Grand Caravan and is 669 lbs lighter. The Orlando’s lack of heft means it feels like a big Cruze behind the wheel, with the same well-weighted but somewhat vague steering and relatively car-like driving dynamics. A 2.4L Ecotec engine and 6-speed automatic transmission are employed here, and while they feel slightly taxed in this application, the Orlando has enough power to get out of its own way. Pity that the GM 6-speed automatic still feels as if it’s on a 5-second delay to catch any instances of vehicular obscenity, as it spoils what could otherwise be a well-matched powertrain. Fuel economy around town was about 23 mpg, or 1 mpg better than GM’s city rating (supposedly it will return 34 mpg on the highway). A manual transmission is available, but the market for this unit is probably smaller than those Canadians who favor privatized healthcare or more lax gun laws.

The cabin of our tester was utilitarian, with all-black fabric and black plastic surfaces throughout our 2LT tester. The dash is basically identical to the Cruze, and all the controls will be familiar to anyone who has been in a recent GM product. One neat feature is a hinged stereo faceplate that can flip upwards to reveal a hidden storage compartment – great for cell phones, iPods and other gadgets. The seat fabric appears to be some kind of easy-to-clean material rather than plush cloth, likely a concession to owners who will want to clean up spilled apple juice rather than luxuriate in some fine imported fabric.

What the Orlando adds on the “car” side of the equation, it lacks on the “utility vehicle” side. There is no fancy stow-and-go seating arrangement like the Caravan, just conventional folding seats in the second row. The third row is very tight and suitable only for small kids. Owners would frankly be better off folding them flat, which opens up a much larger cargo area that would easily swallow up a couple suitcases.

Sales of the Orlando haven’t been that brisk, with the Mazda5 outselling it by over 100 units so far in 2012, and the Caravan comprising 60 percent of the total minivan market. The Caravan’s Stow ‘N Go seats, and the ability to swallow multiple hockey bags (thanks to the Caravan’s larger size) and identical pricing – both base models start at $19,995, and a Caravan with Stow ‘N Go starts at $23,995, while our Orlando 2LT starts at $500 less. The Orlando’s car-like nature made it easy to park and maneuver in the tight confines of downtown Toronto, and was able to haul myself, 4 friends and a dog around with ease on a weekend jaunt to a local park. But with most minivan buyers residing in the suburbs and ferrying multiple kids to school, hockey and all points in between, it’s easy to see why a traditional minivan may suit their needs better than the Orlando, despite the Chevrolet’s merits.

orlandotitle orlandotitle Zemanta Related Posts Thumbnail 2012 Chevrolet Orlando. Photo courtesy Chris Blanchette for The Truth About Cars TTAC 2012 Chevrolet Orlando. Photo courtesy Chris Blanchette for The Truth About Cars TTAC 2012 Chevrolet Orlando. Photo courtesy Chris Blanchette for The Truth About Cars TTAC 2012 Chevrolet Orlando. Photo courtesy Chris Blanchette for The Truth About Cars TTAC 2012 Chevrolet Orlando. Photo courtesy Chris Blanchette for The Truth About Cars TTAC 2012 Chevrolet Orlando. Photo courtesy Chris Blanchette for The Truth About Cars TTAC 2012 Chevrolet Orlando. Photo courtesy Chris Blanchette for The Truth About Cars TTAC 2012 Chevrolet Orlando. Photo courtesy Chris Blanchette for The Truth About Cars TTAC IMG_0098 IMG_0094 IMG_0093 IMG_0092 IMG_0087 IMG_0085 IMG_0084 IMG_0077 IMG_0071 IMG_0062 IMG_0055 IMG_0051 IMG_0042 IMG_0038 IMG_0035 IMG_0031 IMG_0030 IMG_0021 IMG_0003 IMG_0101



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Mulally Tells Canadian Newspaper Ford B-Max Coming To North America After All Fri, 16 Mar 2012 15:31:17 +0000

Contrary to initial reports, Ford CEO Alan Mulally told Canadian newspaper The Globe and Mail that the Ford B-Max MPV will be coming to North America after all.

Jeremy Cato, reporting from the floor of the Geneva Auto Show said that

“The nifty new Ford B-Max, which CEO Alan Mulally said will eventually go on sale in North America, will be sold here in Europe with a three-cylinder, 1.0-litre EcoBoost turbo gas engine. 

…he added that it most likely will have a spot in Ford’s North American lineup. Exactly when he would not say, but he was pretty emphatic about the B-Max having a future in Canada and the United States.

As vague as that may be, Mulally is about as reliable a source as one can get within Ford. The B-Max doesn’t exactly seem like the kind of vehicle that Americans would adopt in droves – Canada, on the other hand, may be a much better market for a small, ultra-efficient MPV-type vehicle. But the specter of the $19,995 Dodge Caravan (an extremely popular choice in the Great White North) may prove to be a stumbling block to positioning the avant-garde but bite-sized B-Max at a reasonable price. The Grand Caravan is Canada’s fourth best selling vehicle so far this year, while the Chevrolet Orlando, which slots between the B-Max and the Caravan, doesn’t even crack the Top 30.

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Ford B-Max To Debut At Consumer Electronics Show Wed, 15 Feb 2012 13:48:38 +0000

Ford is showing its fealty to the machines putting its money where its mouth is regarding telematics systems by unveiling their new B-MAX MPV at Barcelona’s Mobile World Congress, a week before the Geneva Auto Show begins.

The B-MAX is also expected to show off some of Ford’s newest in-car mobile technologies (which have not yet been announced to the press). Bill Ford, the company’s chairman, will deliver a keynote address on the future of mobility as well as the role that mobile technology will play in the automobile’s future. The move is not without precedent for Ford, as the company unveiled their Focus EV at the 2011 Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas, which overlapped with the North American International Auto Show in Detroit.

Ford’s new habit of unveiling cars at electronics shows is something to look out for – don’t be surprised if other OEMs start copying the Blue Oval as they look for greater exposure for their new product. The car is not necessarily the star of an automaker’s lineup, and if major tech companies like Microsoft are on board, then launching a new car at a geek show, rather than an auto show, might be the way of the future for OEMs with major tech tie-ups – especially when their partner is launching a brand new mobile platform.

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GM Shows First Fruits Of Indian JV With China’s SAIC Fri, 06 Jan 2012 17:14:21 +0000 In GM’s darkest hour, in December 2009, GM and SAIC cut a strange deal: GM ceded control of the 50:50 China joint venture by selling 1 percent to SAIC. GM also transferred half of GM’s India operations to the Chinese company. GM received a $400 million line of credit. SAIC received access to the Indian market, which it had coveted, but the Indians had sworn to keep the Chinese out. Now they rode in on GM’s coattails.

At the New Delhi auto expo, GM India yesterday “unveiled the first two products from its joint venture with SAIC,” while our friends of were in attendance to snap pictures. As announced two years ago, the first products are of the “small trucks and passenger cars” variant, but not much else survived the test of time.

The passenger car is not the Nano-killing $3,500 sub-Spark model that was dreamt up by the Indian press last year, and the truck is no cheap Wuling.

The car is a “Chevrolet Sail premium hatchback,” and the truck is a big 8-seater MPV, spacious enough for big Indians with big families.

Not much else is available officially on the two cars. The Sail will have “GM India’s latest Smartech engines,” in both gasoline and diesel engines (but wait until you read which one.) Speaking of fuel, it is housed in a fuel tank in the middle of the car, surrounded by “steel beam-rolling ribs” and the members of the family.

The MPV is just a concept. It has input from Lotus, which worked with GM India “for more than a year and a half to tune the chassis.”

The choice of diesel engines is interesting: According to Motorbeam, the diesel engine both for the Sail and the MPV concept will get a 1.3 liter FIAT diesel engine. This is not in the official press release.

SAIL Premium Hatchback, Indian spec. Picture cortesy GM MPV Concept, Indian spec. Picture cortesy ]]> 3
Dacia Lodgy Emerges, UK Sales Questionable Thu, 05 Jan 2012 20:24:21 +0000

Dacia showed off their Lodgy MPV today, giving more fodder for Dacia fans who became aware of the brand via their slavish devotion to Top Gear. The Lodgy is a small minivan available in 5 or 7 seat configuration and sold under a Romanian auto brand certain to go on sale in the rest of Europe, but maybe not in the UK.

Buried within the Dacia press release is a vague statement about UK sales. According to Dacia a”…decision on commercialisation of Lodgy in right-hand drive for the UK market is still to be finalised.” Dacia, as you’ll remember, is owned by Renault, which just heavily consolidated (or purged, in the parlance of Ceaucescu-era Romania) their UK lineup amid drastically falling sales.

While the famed Renaultsport hot hatches were untouched, practically everything else was given the ax in the UK, along with a 33 percent of their dealers. Renault is hoping to move upmarket, leaving Dacia to sell the cheap stuff (while their big Laguna range will be replaced with crossovers) the Scenic MPV, which also offers 5 and 7 passenger seating. Renault is likely evaluating whether there’s a business case to be made for the Lodgy, or if the car will cannibalize sales of the Scenic. One thing is certain; we won’t be the first to make “Dodgy Lodgy” jokes or puns.

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GM: No Volt Variations Until 2015 Fri, 30 Sep 2011 22:47:34 +0000 From the “how did we miss that?” file comes this Automotive News [sub] story, filed at the beginning of the week, which asked GM Europe boss Nick Reilly about plans for Volt-based variants. Reilly replied

We won’t do it with this generation, and that will run to 2015. You’d have to wait until after that until you see it.

Which is peculiar, considering GM just announced that it will build a Cadillac Converj-style Volt variant at some point. GM has also shown a near-production-look Volt MPV5 Concept, although that has never been confirmed as a future production model. But Reilly explains that current Volt’s slow ramp-up and “expensive technology” have doomed any possibility of a Volt family of vehicles before the next generation drivetrain launches.

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Reuters: Honda Fit Shuttle US-Bound Thu, 16 Jun 2011 21:05:29 +0000

Small-n-funky vehicle nerds, Honda Fit freaks and JDM fetishists with families take note: though we’ve heard no indication of it in the mainstream auto media (and Honda offers no hints of it at its “future cars” page), some Reuters reporting seems to indicate that the Fit Shuttle, which just debuted in Japan, is heading to the US market. Towards the end of a piece on Honda’s silly discount guarantee on out-of-stock cars (Japanese-built cars need not apply… go figure), Reuters notes:

The No. 3 Japanese automaker warned investors on Tuesday that operating profit could fall as much as 65 percent this year because it has had to delay the launch in the United States of major models, including its new Fit Shuttle and a new version of its top-selling Civic

Honda already has 7,000 pre-orders for the Fit Shuttle in Japan, according to another report, which goes on to note that the Shuttle Hybrid costs about $5k less than the Toyota Prius V in Japan. Remind us again, why did Ford decide to cancel its seven-passenger C-Max? To compete more directly with this one-two punch of Japanese hybrids?

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Ford Cancels 7-Passenger C-Max For US, Now Coming As Hybrid/Plug-In Only Thu, 09 Jun 2011 17:54:33 +0000

When Ford showed the world its new crop of compact-based cars and MPVs at January’s Detroit Auto Show, it announced that its C-Max compact MPV would be coming to the US in 7-passenger Grand C-Max form. But in a strangely prophetic turn of events (see video above), the 7-passenger model refused to show up. Now, according to Ford, the 7-passenger Grand C-Max won’t be coming to the US… instead the 5-passenger version will be sold as a dedicated hybrid model with a plug-in option. Why? Because it’s big in Europe… and because “One Ford.” Hit the jump for Ford’s explanation, and then wonder along with us: seriously, why not sell the 7-seat version too?

According to Ford’s presser:

The new Ford C-MAX five-passenger vehicle, which is the base for the C-MAX Hybrid and C-MAX Energi plug-in hybrid, is leaving European dealer lots at twice the rate of last year’s model. More than 100,000 of these new vehicles have been sold in Europe since its launch in late 2010, and Ford is already finding new ways to produce more European C-MAX models than originally expected at its Valencia, Spain, plant.

“European customers are snapping up our C-MAX five-passenger models, telling us they love the vehicle’s sporty appearance, driving quality, interior comfort and clever use of space,” Farley said. “We plan to be aggressive in delivering products like this that people really want and make smart decisions supporting our One Ford plan.”

Ford’s plan to invest in even more capacity for its five-passenger C-MAX electrified models for North America replaces an earlier plan of introducing the gasoline-engine-powered seven-passenger C-MAX multi-activity vehicle.

This also marks the first time North American customers will have the choice of a dedicated body style for a range of Ford electrified vehicles.

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Are You Ready For: A Neo-xB… With A Twist? Thu, 26 May 2011 00:52:22 +0000

See that? Looks a bit like a first-generation Scion xB, doesn’t it? It’s actually a new Kia, codenamed “Tam,” built on its new A-segment Picanto Morning platform, but featuring first-gen xB-style tall-body MPV packaging. The Picanto’s wheelbase is actually slightly smaller than the xB’s, and there’s another key difference here as well: see that rear door? Look where the handle is placed. That’s right, it’s a slider! But that’s not all…

Here’s where things get kooky: on the driver’s side the rear door is a normal front-hinger. At least, that’s what it looks like here. And with Hyundai experimenting with asymmetrical door configurations on its B-segment Veloster, would it be so surprising for Kia to do the same with this wilfully funky little thing? As far as this blogger is concerned, the only thing about this new Kia city-hauler that would be truly surprising would be hearing that it’s coming to the US. A smaller, more-efficient ur-xB with sliding door(s)? Keep dreaming… although a Veloster/Soul/Tam lineup would pretty much show Scion how it’s done.

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Is This Buick’s “Baby Enclave”? Wed, 18 May 2011 15:11:38 +0000

Not to cut speculation short or anything, but the answer is “probably not.” GM has already said that its “Baby Enclave” will be built at its Orion Township plant, alongside the new Aveo-replacing Chevy Sonic, which indicates a subcompact (Gamma II)-based MPV will be Buick’s next vehicle. Add to that the fact that GM has said the “Baby Enclave” would bear the styling cues of the Buick Business concept, which the Opel Meriva more closely resembles, and it’s clear that Buick’s first MPV will be the suicide-doored subcompact. But, since Buick won’t bring the Chinese-market GL8 minivan stateside, this compact, Astra-based mini-minivan could be coming to a Trishield dealer at some point… in fact, some might even argue that a compact MPV would do better as a Buick than a subcompact one (even with suicide doors). Either way, the new Zafira will be crucial to Opel’s attempts to right its sinking ship over the next several years.
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What’s Wrong With This Picture: The Plus-Sized Prius Edition Tue, 26 Oct 2010 18:12:10 +0000

Toyota’s been talking about adding to the Prius family for some time, and a plus-sized MPV has been rumored as the first addition. Now [via Jalopnik] thinks it’s found the first images of the Prius MPV, which might take the name Prius Verso in Italy, and may be called the “Prius Alpha” in other markets. These images show a vehicle that is unmistakeably Prius-related, but boasts a longer wheelbase and a higher roofline at the rear. But does it differentiate itself well enough from the Prius, or would even more length and sliding doors help make its case?

The Prius's plus one? ToyotaPriusVerso1 ]]> 34
What’s Wrong With This Picture: The Four-Season Fiesta Edition Mon, 06 Sep 2010 16:14:59 +0000

Via Autocar come these pictures of a jacked-up Fiesta variant undergoing development testing. Rumors of a Fiesta-based MPV have been rampant, as European competitors have been bombarding the B-segment with bigger, and/or butched-up new models like Kia’s Venga (and it’s forthcoming sibling, the Hyundai ix20), Opel’s suicide-doored Meriva, Toyota’s Verso S,and VW’s PoloCross. Ford’s Fiesta-based entry could resemble the brand’s Iosis-Max concept, and it will probably be built in Romania. Based on the dearth of camouflage, we’d also guess it’s going for the “butch” more than the “big” section of the B segment. Needless to say, it’s unlikely to ever arrive in the US, where the idea of taking a B-segment hatch into the dirt occurs only to the desperately  unwell.

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What’s Wrong With This Picture: Toyota’s High-iQ Minivan Edition Tue, 31 Aug 2010 17:06:54 +0000

Toyota’s Verso S will debut at the forthcoming Paris Auto Show, and these first pictures show that iQ-inspired styling is starting to creep across the Toyota small-car lineup. So does the edgier (by Toyota standards) iQ-inspired design language mean the shortest micro-MPV in Europe (at under 4 meters) might make it stateside as a Scion-branded van? Anything’s possible, but Toyota ain’t saying… for now.

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What’s Wrong With This Picture: Getting To Orlando Edition Wed, 25 Aug 2010 15:51:58 +0000
Having recently invested in an all-new global compact car, the Cruze, it was inevitable that Chevrolet would eventually come out with an MPV based on the Cruze’s underpinnings. When the unavoidable people-mover debuted at the 2008 Paris Auto Show as the severely handsome Orlando Concept, its clean yet distinctive look certainly got our attention. And with initial plans calling for US production (Hamtramck), it seemed that The General really was ready to put up to seven Americans in a compact-car-based vehicle. But after we called the Orlando “The Cruze To Wait For,” GM entered bailout hell and the Orlando was canceled and uncanceled for the US market with every new executive that passed through the RenCen.Now, with the first images of the production Orlando hitting the web, the post-concept reality of Chevy’s “Delta MPV7″ reflects its troubled development.

The very European-looking concept has been softened into what looks more like a US-market crossover (i.e. something you might spot in Orlando)… but it’s going to be made by Daewoo in South Korea, and is focused on the European market. And based on the current plans, Americans looking for this kind of car from GM will have to spring for a GMC Granite “Urban Utility Vehicle.” Because apparently GM’s product planners think Europeans are into generic, American-named people movers, while Americans are looking for over-the-top designs and an upmarket brand from their fuel-efficient kiddy haulers. On the other hand, as little sense as that premise makes, the production look of the Chevy Orlando won’t exactly inspire anyone to contradict it.
chevyorlando1 It's an old, old story... chevyorlando Zemanta Related Posts Thumbnail chevyorlandoconcept1 chevyorlandoconcept

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Suicide Doors: Still A Gimmick Wed, 18 Aug 2010 17:00:50 +0000

As Europe moves towards ever more premium subcompact cars, Opel has sought to hop on the bandwagon by giving its Corsa-based Meriva Micro-MPV stylish suicide doors. And with Buick moving towards simple rebadges of Opel’s product, the suicide-doored Meriva seems almost certain to arrive stateside as the so-called “Baby Enclave” MPV, expected to debut in the US market in 2012. There’s little doubt of the suicide door concept’s gimmick value, and we’ve said before that this factor alone could get Americans excited about the first-ever Buick subcompact… but just how much of a difference do the rear-hinged doors make in real life? According to the first German-market comparison test (by Auto Motor und Sport print edition), the Meriva’s suicide doors are still just a gimmick.

With the “FlexDoor” door concept (as it’s known in marketing-speak), Opel promises easier installation of child seats. Theoretically, its advantage is in the ability to move the child seat in and out by moving forward rather than side to side. But then one must still squeeze it through the narrow door frames. Here the small opening and far-back-positioned bench annoy even more when the child seat should be resting against the child-seat-anchor or be belted in… even lifting a child into the Meriva is not noticeably more comfortable [than the competition].

Thank the Meriva’s B-Pillars for the compromise, as safety and cost required the extra steel to make the suicide door concept work. And as could be expected, the design has also taken a toll on that perennial GM bugaboo, weight. With a 120 hp 1.4 liter engine, the Gamma II-platform (next-gen Aveo-based) Meriva weighs 3,064 lbs, making the Meriva the only car in the comparison over 3k lbs (it was tested against the Citroen C3 Picasso, the Kia Venga, the Renault Grand Modus and the Skoda Roomster). Gimmicks are good for business, but only if they don’t require huge sacrifices. With much hype over the Buick Meriva’s suicide doors likely in the years leading up to its US release, it’s nice to know that there’s nothing to get too excited about.

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China To Get Handsome Buick GL8 MPV. And The U.S.? Tue, 18 May 2010 12:25:02 +0000

At the Beijing Auto Show, they had a fine-looking and well-appointed Buick MPV, called the “Business Concept” (shown above.) I gave it no mention. After all, who cares about a concept MPV that will never see the light? Big mistake, Schmitt: It will see the light faster that I thought, namely by the end of the year.

In China, it will take over as the latest generation of the Buick GL8, replacing a definitely blander predecessor (think Pontiac Montana or Buick Terrazza.) The first gen GL8 was a pioneering venture for Shanghai-GM. It was designed in partnership between SAIC and GM as a “China only” model, albeit with heavy input from GM. The GL8 quickly became the business MPV to have amongst companies that had to pick up clients at the airport (a Chinese tradition.) The GL8 did a lot to Buick China sales.

According to China Car Times, the new GL8 will be powered by a new 2.4L engine from the Lacrosse and Regal, or a new 3.0L V6 from Opel’s HFV6 range. A mild hybrid is possible. Camouflaged pre-production models have already been spotted in China (they are kind of obvious.) If you mentally (or photoshopally) remove the camo, it won’t look much different than the “Concept” above.

The MPV was developed in China by the Pan Asia Technical Automotive Center (PATAC), a design and engineering joint venture between General Motors and SAIC. No word on a U.S. appearance.

If a U.S. model would look half as good as what I’d seen in Beijing, I wouldn’t mind handing the key to a valet parking attendant.

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Chevy Cancels US-Market Plans For Orlando Compact MPV Mon, 03 May 2010 15:15:22 +0000

Chevrolet has had a difficult time deciding if its Cruze-based MPV, known as the Orlando, is a good fit for the US-market. Initially, Chevy debuted the Orlando concept at the Paris auto show, and said it had no plans for a US-market version. Then it was approved for the US ahead of the 2009 Detroit Auto Show, and now, according to Automotive News [sub], it’s off again. The (up to) seven-passenger MPV, built on GM’s “Delta II” compact architecture will be sold in Europe, Asia, and even Canada… just not in the US. Chevy spokesfolks explain:

The best thing to do for Chevrolet is to focus on the brands we’ve already brought to market: the Traverse, Equinox, Malibu and, soon to come, the Cruze. We feel that with those vehicles, Chevrolet has plenty of options for the modern family.

Of course, Chevy sells all three of those vehicles in Canada as well… so how are these three options “plenty” for US consumers, but not for our friendly neighbors to the North?

According to AN [sub], GM’s most vaunted “car guy” executive (now that Bob Lutz has hit the dusty trail) Mark Reuss made the move to cancel a US-market Orlando… but why? The short answer: GM’s product pipeline is jammed with compact-to-midsize crossover/MPVs. With Chevy, Buick and GMC versions of the Delta-II MPV as well as possible Buick-GMC versions of a Gamma II-platform (Aveo) MPV planned, GM had a lot of products to fit between the more-MPV-like Aveo and the Theta-platform crossovers (Equinox, Terrain) in its 2012 lineup. By offering a seven-seat compact MPV in the US, GM would be creating competition for the more profitable Theta and Lambda (Enclave, Traverse, Acadia) crossovers… and that’s the good scenario. The bad scenario would be the Orlando selling at Mazda5 levels.

And then there’s one more crucial consideration: with a Volt MPV5 being shown at the Beijing Auto Show, there’s a good chance the five-seat plug-in is coming to the US. And because the MPV5 looks so much like an Orlando with a Volt grille slapped on, GM’s planners might have thought that the MPV5 would be more successful in the US as a plug-in -only model. And maybe they’re right. Still, the Orlando is one of the more compelling (if awfully named) vehicles to be teased by GM of late… we can’t say we’re thrilled to see the US-version canceled.

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Beijing Auto Show: GM Previews Volt MPV5 Concept Thu, 22 Apr 2010 18:43:07 +0000

Look everyone, it’s a Chevy Volt that can seat more than four people! Official images of the Volt MPV5 concept have leaked today [via AutoblogGreen], confirming what recently-discovered line drawings hinted at: a people-carrying version of Chevy’s Volt is under development. The extra rear seat and the 30.5 cubic feet of storage space (62.3 cubic feet with rear seats folded) does come at a price though, as GM says the MPV5 comes up 8 miles short of the Volt’s marketing-mission-critical 40 miles of electric range using the same drivetrain. On the upside, it will almost certainly be classified as a light truck (despite its compact, FWD underpinnings), making it the perfect vehicle to goose increasing CAFE standards.

A Volt from the blue? (courtesy: AutoblogGreen) Volt MPV5 Concept Interior Volt MPV5 Concept Interior Volt MPV5 Concept Rear Quarter View Volt MPV5 Concept Side View Zemanta Related Posts Thumbnail ]]> 15
What’s Wrong With This Picture: Ham-Fist of Furai Edition Wed, 20 Jan 2010 18:24:30 +0000 Mazda Five is Alive

We should have seen this coming when Mazda first called its Furai and Nagare concepts “design studies” instead of “the unfortunate results of a savage brown-acid-and-Lovecraft bender at Mazda’s design studios.” New direct-injection, stop-start engines are approved for the European version of the new Mazda5, but as usual there are no guarantees they’ll make it to the US market version. More details when Mazda5 comes alive at the Geneva auto show.

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