To say the Sorento’s transformation from rugged body-on-frame SUV to car-based softroader has been a sales success is putting it mildly. In the first 27 months of production Kia shifted more Sorentos than they did the 8 years prior. Sales numbers like that catapulted the Korean krossover (couldn’t help it) from CX-9/Xtera/Murano competition to 7th place in the midsized battlefield. Three model years later, Kia is spicing things up with a refresh. I know what you’re thinking: why bother looking at a refresh? Because 2014 brings enough changes to call the 2014 Sorento a redesign.
I remember when the RX rolled onto the scene in 1998. It was truly the first successful crossover as we would know it today. While everyone else was trying to produce a truck-based luxury SUV, Lexus took the Camry/ES platform, put a jelly-bean inspired box on top and jacked the ride height up to 7.7 inches. The result was instant sales success. As we all know however, success has a price. The marshmallow-soft FWD RX lacked road feel, steering feel and sex appeal. Although it’s a bit late in the game, Lexus has decided to fix that last problem with the introduction of the 2013 RX F-Sport. (Read More…)
The Stagecoach Music Festival is a lot of things to a lot of people. Really, it’s the lifeblood of the place where they hold it, though I’m not entirely sure where that is, because I hadn’t heard of it until yesterday when Toyota released the redesigned 2014 4Runner there.
By “redesigned,” which is Toyota’s word, what I actually mean is “facelifted.” And by “facelifted,” what I actually mean is: I have absolutely no idea what’s changed. I’ve looked over the photos and it still looks identical to the old 4Runner, which is to say that it’s 5 percent brawny, hulking SUV and 95 percent brawny, hulking wheel arches. Also, there are now LEDs.
By coincidence, I got behind a 4Runner in traffic the other day. This provided me with some good reading, because all 4Runner owners are required by Toyota to have bumper stickers. Seriously. When you’re test driving one at the Toyota dealer, they say: do you have a lacrosse bumper sticker? If you reply “no,” they show you a Highlander.
Between the bumper stickers and the Stagecoach Music Festival, I was lost in thought about Toyota SUVs. And that’s when it hit me: Toyota now sells seven different sport-utility vehicles. How did this happen?
I admit that upon first viewing the Buick Encore, I was repulsed by its goofy proportions and the poor fit and finish on the interior of multiple examples (yes, they were production examples, not hastily slapped together pre-production cars). But the market is what makes the winners and losers in the end, and the baby Buick is putting up some solid numbers.
The rest of the world is becoming just as crossover obsessed as North America, and in the premium segment, a crossover is an absolute must for any car maker. PSA’s most recent round of efforts have been pretty poor, using the Mitsubishi Outlander as a starting point, but for their upscale DS brand, PSA is starting from scratch.
Lexus will launch a RAV4-based small crossover, intended to compete against the BMW X1 and Audi Q3. Automotive News claims that the new crossover will be a hybrid and debut at the Geneva Auto Show, with a concept premiering at November’s Tokyo Auto Show.
The new crossover may not make it to North America. The compact premium SUV segment is very much a European-centric segment – for now. The success of the X1 may cause Lexus to change their minds about the new baby crossover
You never really know what ideas will be successful in the auto industry. In the early 1990s, for example, a guy at Subaru actually said the following: “I know! Let’s raise the Legacy an inch, change its name, and paint the bottom part gold!” When you really think about it, this sounds no stupider than “Why isn’t there a version of the GMC Envoy for people who transport grandfather clocks?”
Buick’s been on a roll this year, their sales are up and their owner demographics are younger than they have been in recent memory. The cynic in my says that’s because half their clientele died of old age, but it has more to do with their product portfolio. Say what? Yep, it’s true, the brand I wrote off for dead last decade is targeting younger buyers with designs imported from Europe and finding sales success. The Verano turbo shattered my preconceptions, but can Buick do it again? A brown Encore arrived one rainy morning to see if it was possible. (Read More…)
What’s happening here? Is Toyota finally getting some style all of a sudden? The 2014 Highlander, shown here in Sanjeev Brown (my new name for Brown, in honor of all the misspellings of our dear Sajeev’s name that come across TTAC’s inbox) actually looks macho and handsome. The 2.7L 4-cylinder and 3.5L V6 are standard Toyota fare, though a new 6-speed automatic is a welcome update. All the usual active safety features, from lane departure warning to cross traffic alert to a blind spot monitoring system, are standards.
Jeep finally released the rest of the Cherokee lineup, including the more rugged Trailhawk version (above). The new Cherokee will have a choice of the Dart’s 2.4L Tigershark 4-cylinder, or a 3.2L version of the Pentastar V6, making 271 horsepower. Power will come through a 9-speed automatic transmission.
A selection of different all-wheel drive systems will be available. Jeep Active Drive I will be a basic all-wheel drive system, whle Jeep Active Drive II will include a low-range mode. Jeep Active Drive will have low-range and a rear locking differential. None of these modes will employ a transfer case – instead, there will be a planetary gearset at the differentials.
This years New York Auto Show marks the end of car show season – we won’t be treated to another one until the Los Angeles Auto Show in November. Like the Geneva show that preceded it, this one will be crossover and hybrid heavy, with a sprinkling of American muscle thrown in for good measure.
Here in Colorado, retired members of the Land Rover family are lined up in large numbers in every self-service wrecking yard. Range Rovers and Discoveries were (and are) extremely popular here, most likely as a form of rebellion against the Subaru Outback-driving hordes whose maintenance expenses (even with all the blown head gaskets and nuked center diffs) come to a boring 0.004% of the total per-vehicle annual cost of Range Rover ownership. I’ve been ignoring these trucks when I see them in junkyards, but today we’re going to look at a typical example, chosen at random. (Read More…)
I can’t say I ever envisioned myself getting excited about reviewing a three-row crossover, but Hyundai’s latest tall wagon holds a special place in my heart. From 2007-2011, a Hyundai Santa Fe Limited was my main mode of transportation, and despite all miles it racked up on road trips, beer runs and even a couple of extralegal time trials on gravel roads (sorry, Mum and Dad), nobody bothered to take a single picture of it for me to include in this review. I guess it really was that boring.