By on July 14, 2017

2018 Jaguar E-Pace - Image: JaguarNot to be confused with the electric Jaguar I-Pace crossover, the 2018 Jaguar E-Pace was unveiled July 13 with a blend of F-Type and F-Pace styling cues.

Set to challenge the BMW X1, Mercedes-Benz GLA, Audi Q3, and Infiniti QX30 when it goes on sale in the United States in January 2018, the Jaguar E-Pace will be marketed with standard all-wheel drive, a nine-speed automatic, and turbocharged 2.0-liter four-cylinder powerplants generating either 246 or 296 horsepower.

Globally, the E-Pace will quickly become Jaguar’s best-selling model. In the United States, Jaguar expects the E-Pace to, at the very least, sell just as often as the larger F-Pace, which has generated 19,575 U.S. sales for the previously struggling Jaguar brand since going on sale in May 2016. (Read More…)

By on June 13, 2017

2018 Hyundai Kona - Image: Hyundai

Nearly seven years after the Nissan Juke. Five years after the Buick Encore. Three years after the Jeep Renegade. Two and a half years after the Honda HR-V. Finally, the 2018 Hyundai Kona is set to arrive as the fourth and smallest member of Hyundai’s utility vehicle lineup.

With the silhouette of a Mazda CX-3, the quirky light treatment of a Nissan Juke, and the cladding of a Pontiac Vibe, the Hyundai Kona will arrive in North America in early 2018 with optional all-wheel drive and a new platform that will be shared with the unfortunately named Kia Stonic.

The platform, Hyundai says, “is optimized to permit SUV levels of ground clearance.” Don’t expect more than 6.7 inches, yet in the Kona’s segment, the little Hyundai won’t actually be that low. But it is small. At 164 inches from bumper to bumper, the Hyundai Kona stretches only two inches longer than a Hyundai Accent hatchback and is four inches shorter than the Mazda CX-3.

Yet by 2020, Hyundai intends to strengthen its crossover lineup by positioning below the B-segment Kona an even smaller A-segment utility vehicle. Like a sidecar for your Santa Fe. (Read More…)

By on June 7, 2017

2018 Toyota C-HR profile, Image: © Timothy Cain

Forget, if only for the next few minutes, the way it looks. You may hate it, you may love it. But don’t let your interpretation of the 2018 Toyota C-HR’s exterior angles cloud your judgement.

While you’re at it, set aside class designations, as well. Whether you, like me, consider the 2018 Toyota C-HR to be unqualified for “crossover” status because it’s missing all-wheel-drive availability, the C-HR is still positioned as a rival for front-wheel-drive HR-Vs, Renegades, Encores, and CX-3s, among others.

The Toyota C-HR was initially intended to form part of the Scion lineup in North America, but with that brand’s demise, Toyota wisely moved the C-HR into its own lineup. Slotted below the Toyota RAV4 with dimensions that all but mirror the old Toyota Matrix, the 2018 Toyota C-HR is a $23,495-25,435 hatchback that’s garnered more attention during its stay with me than any vehicle I’ve ever tested.

To my surprise, almost all of that attention was positive. But is the Toyota C-HR worthy of such attention? (Read More…)

By on June 7, 2017

Kia Stonic, Image: Kia Motors

Few automakers can afford to sit on the sidelines while rivals do battle in the growing subcompact crossover segment, and Kia sure isn’t one of them. Back in January, a trademark filing revealed Kia was developing a vehicle bearing an odd name — Stonic — which many rightly guessed would become the brand’s newest crossover. Well, that mystery vehicle is no longer a mystery.

The automaker has released concept sketches of its upcoming subcompact crossover, a high-beltline, low-roof runabout with wheels tailor-made for pelting stones off its sickly off-gold paint. (Read More…)

By on May 22, 2017

hyundai-kona-teaser

Hyundai, which found itself lagging behind its rivals in the lucrative crossover and SUV market and figured it should do something about it, is having trouble getting its desperately needed subcompact crossover into production.

The 2018 Kona, which we’ve so far seen only a portion of, is part of a better-late-than-never product push by the Korean automaker. A new small crossover was needed to to mine a growing segment and boost Hyundai’s flagging U.S. sales, but the reality of building cars in Korea has thrown up a roadblock. (Read More…)

By on May 1, 2017

Acura CDX

If you’re not familiar with Acura’s subcompact CDX crossover, take a gander at Honda’s HR-V and think of China. Right now, that’s the only country that gets to buy the HR-V-based utility, but things could change.

Acura is reportedly mulling a trans-Pacific journey for the little CUV as it takes stock of its meager U.S. utility lineup. (Read More…)

By on April 28, 2017

hyundai-kona-teaser

Hyundai has teased its entry into the subcompact crossover segment in the past but only acknowledged that it would have at least one thin LED headlamp, be called the Kona, and finally serve round out the company’s SUV lineup. On Friday, the company released another teaser to give us a better sense of what the little crossover will actually look like.

For starters, the thin LED strips are now running lamps positioned above the vehicle’s actual headlights, à la Nissan Juke. However, Hyundai appears to have accomplished it in a much more understated manner than Nissan. Unlike the Juke, the Kona has its light strips running just below the hood opening and very near the actual illumination sources. It’s a lot less funky, but should be interesting enough to set it apart from the rest of the segment — an important consideration, as there’s much more stylistic variation between subcompact crossovers than between their compact equivalents.  (Read More…)

By on April 19, 2017

volvo emblem logo grille

With the stately S90 sedan and V90 wagon out of the way, Volvo’s main focus falls on the upcoming S40 and XC40 compact sedan and crossover. In the middle ground, the Swedish automaker has already unveiled the handsomely redesigned 2018 XC60.

Will it stop there? Not according to Volvo Car USA’s president and CEO.  (Read More…)

By on April 12, 2017

2017 Buick Encore Premium AWD – Image: © Timothy Cain

You’re about to read a review of the 2017 Buick Encore Premium AWD, and you’re quite possibly well aware of the criticism the Encore has endured here at The Truth About Cars.

“The Encore is one of the worst cars I’ve driven in a long time,” TTAC’s former managing editor wrote in 2015. “Is the Encore the worst Buick ever?” Corey Lewis asked late last year.

Meanwhile, the Encore has appeared on my personal list of the eight vehicles I don’t want to own for four consecutive years.

Building good small cars is hard. It turns out, building good small SUVs — we can call them subcompact crossovers — based on those small cars can be just as challenging. That doesn’t mean Buick got the Chevrolet Sonic-based Encore all wrong. Refreshed for 2017, the Buick Encore has some redeeming qualities.

Would I buy one? At $35,825, you can’t be serious. But I’m beginning to understand why your mother might want an Encore. (Read More…)

By on April 3, 2017

2018 hyundai kona

After its skyrocketing post-recessions sales hit a roadblock in the United States, Hyundai can’t wait to sell Americans more crossovers. It just needs to build them first.

While the Korean automaker already has plans to tinker around with its existing utility lineup, it lacks product on the small end of the scale, which currently gives rivals an edge.

Well, not for long.

Today, Hyundai revealed the name that will soon join the subcompact CUV fray — Kona. Overseas markets will see the Kona in the second half of this year, but those all-important U.S. buyers will have to wait just a little while longer.  (Read More…)

By on March 31, 2017

2017 Audi Q3 Quattro Daytona Grey - Image: © Timothy Cain

Some cars genuinely suck. There is essentially no price at which, for instance, wooden ride quality and inept handling and nonexistent acceleration and uncomfortable seats and disappointing fuel economy are worth the asking price. There are simply far too many decent alternatives for a vehicle such as, oh, I don’t know, the Mitsubishi Mirage.

Some cars, however, only suck in the context of their respective MSRPs. Take the Ford Flex we reviewed recently as an example. Though showing signs of age, it’s still a fine family hauler. But at the $50,000 as-tested price, the Flex is uncompetitive.

Then there’s this 2017 Audi Q3. Perhaps it’s an acceptable machine at its $33,875 entry price. But optioned up to $44,150, the aged Q3 may be guilty of simply resting upon the laurels of its four-ring badge.

Does the 2017 Audi Q3 suck, or does it only suck when it strays out of Single-A ball into the Major Leagues? (Read More…)

By on March 30, 2017

2017 Mini Cooper S Countryman All4 - Image: Mini USA

It’s can be difficult to wipe the smug look of a home field advantage off your face.

Yet in its home English market, the all-new second-generation 2017 Mini Countryman is failing to find favor with British car critics. evo Magazine, never one to pull its punches, published a review of the 2017 Mini Countryman chock full of significant objections.

“Mini’s new SUV has grown up, but it’s lost the Mini fun factor along the way,” Antony Ingram writes. evo says it expects “the BMW-owned company to turn out cars that are fun to drive and show up their rivals as sloppy, dull and character-free.” Yet, Ingram says, “the latest Mini Countryman doesn’t manage that.”

Citing poor value, disappointing acceleration in the hi-po S model, un-Mini-like dynamics, a cabin too twee, and a design that continues “to look ever more contrived,” evo suggests you may prefer — get this — a Toyota C-HR. (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 February 27, 2017

2017 Mazda CX-3 AWD – Image: Mazda USA

Operating in the burgeoning subcompact crossover market that’s soon to welcome new entries from Toyota and Ford, the still fresh Mazda CX-3 is already suffering from declining sales.

And the CX-3 is not declining from a particularly high and lofty point achieved earlier in its short lifecycle. There was no hot start for the Mazda CX-3, no early high-volume response to hyped-up demand from which sales would inevitably decrease.

Over the last three months, U.S. sales of the Mazda CX-3’s direct competitors have grown 21 percent, year-over-year. Yet sales of the CX-3 during the same period have declined 4 percent.

The Mazda CX-3 is a new model, only on sale for a year and a half. It’s attractive and highly regarded by reviewers. Yet sales are slowing at the very same time as sales of its competitors are flourishing.

Mazda doesn’t intend to chase volume for volume’s sake, but Mazda does intend to get the CX-3 product mix right before the CX-3 is labelled a flop. (Read More…)

By on January 26, 2017

kia Niro

Korean automakers desperately need more sport utility vehicles. Frankly, they should have had them 36 months ago when demand for crossovers began to explode. Hyundai Motor Group, which includes Kia Motors, has watched its sales dwindle after the post-recession buying boom cooled off and everyone started losing their appetite for small affordable cars. That poor financial performance has forced the Korean automotive group into austerity measures, reallocating funds for new vehicle projects aimed at getting customers back on its side — specifically with something riding an extra inch or two from the pavement.

During this week’s earnings report, Kia said it planned to launch a desperately needed sport utility vehicle for South Korea and Europe later this year. According to the company, the model would be a Rio-based subcompact “crossover utility vehicle.”

While overseas markets are top of mind for the automaker, they might not be the only ones receiving the mystery crossover. (Read More…)

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