Maybe it’s not reliable, or sucks down fuel like it’s going out of style. Maybe it’s prone to tipping over, catching fire, or having spiders live in it. Or perhaps parts availability is such that the mere thought of owning and driving the thing causes undue stress.
But you just can’t help yourself.
Today I ask: What lousy vehicle do you covet despite the ways it would inevitably ruin your life?
My sister hates the Ford Flex.
She’s never driven a Ford Flex, mind you. She just hates the way it looks.
I, on the other hand, am a huge fan of the Ford Flex’s exterior design, particularly in Blue Jeans paint, particularly without these black wheels.
There are only two sides to this argument. There is no middle ground on which you stand and declare, “Meh, it’s alright.” Since 2008, consumers have fallen on either one side of the fence or the other. You either love the Ford Flex, or you hate the Ford Flex.
Based on the Flex’s lack of marketplace success, there are apparently too many haters. Some nine years after the Flex was launched, inspired in 2008 by the 2005’s Ford Fairlane Concept, Ford’s alternative crossover is increasingly forced into an ever-narrowing niche. The style quotient remains high — at least in the eyes of those who’ve always loved it — but the Flex now manifests too many signs of old age in a market full of remarkably competent and more popular challengers. (Read More…)
We’re forever hearing the tap-tapping of superior keyboards around here and elsewhere on the wild and crazy interwebz, condemning those who drive CUVs for not having a real SUV, and those who have SUVs for not having trucks. And if you have a truck and don’t use it for these paramount truck activities, then you should be in a small sedan. End of discussion.
But since this is (North) America and freedom of choice abounds, I want us all to play a trucky little game for today’s Question of the Day.
Because I think that any highway-legal vehicle made by a farm-equipment manufacturer is interesting, I photograph IHC Scouts when I see them in the junkyards I frequent (and we have not seen a truck in this series since October, so we’re due). Living in Colorado, this happens often.
While the name isn’t as intertwined in Ford history as much as Mustang or F-Series, the Bronco nameplate is something Ford can’t affix to just anything.
And according to rumors we’re hearing, we don’t need to worry about Ford refreshing an Everest for North American consumption and relying on a nostalgic nameplate to carry it off the lot.
We knew it would happen, but now it’s official.
Ford, in two very short paragraphs bookended by more spilled corporate ink over mobility and futurethink, has given me a reason to save my nickels and dimes for 2020.
The Bronco, like the Terminator, will be back.
(Oh, and the Ranger is coming back too.)
GMC rolled out a redesigned 2018 Terrain SUV at the North American Auto Show in Detroit, with the usual promises of added refinement, new electronic convenience and safety features, and greater versatility. But GMC also added one feature not commonly found in an SUV, particularly one of the non-behemoth variety: An available diesel engine.
The diesel Terrain gets a 137-horsepower 1.6-liter turbodiesel with 240 lb-ft of torque matched with a six-speed automatic transmission. Gasoline powertrains include a 170-hp 1.5-liter turbocharged four-cylinder and a 252-hp 2.0-liter turbocharged four cylinder, both with direct injection and paired with a nine-speed automatic.
Sometimes a manufacturer churns out a base trim that is — all things considered — the primo choice for that particular model. Here’s a candidate.
While I may have dipped into the good cheer while penning last week’s Ace of Base, the B&B can rest easy knowing I have been off the sauce for at least the last couple of hours. Hey, where I’m from, the Christmas season extends to January 6th.
Ford made a lot of noise yesterday, broadcasting announcements ranging from a sudden aversion to the label “Hecho en Mexico” to the imminent construction of hybrid Mustangs and F-150s. Now, I get the appeal of hybridization — especially when it results in MOAR POWERRR for fun stuff like burnouts or towing a four-ton trailer. Taking technology that was originally developed to save fuel and subverting it to produce shocking 0-60 times or stump-pulling torque is akin to weaponizing a wind farm.
Update: An earlier version of this story stated the 2017 Honda CR-V was “American-made.” However, the CR-V is manufactured in both the United States and Canada for North American consumption. Sorry, Allistonians.
We sat down for dinner in a rented space shortly after arriving in Monterey, California. The food, standard fare for such a gathering, consisted of no less than three different types of meat, the usual suspects of sides, and one or two items my small-town mind couldn’t infer from the non-Anglo-Saxon names printed on the buffet placement cards.
This was normal for a manufacturer press launch dinner: provide just enough “exotic” items for attendees to feel fancy, privileged, and cultured, but make sure the usual assortment of normal standbys are present so as not to confuse the rest of us with indecipherable choice.
Not adventurous enough to take on that mystery sushi? Here’s some roast beef.
That sauteed vegetable of dubious origin giving you second thoughts? Here, have a potato.
To the front of the room stood two new 2017 Honda CR-Vs. Much like the edibles offered to the journosaur guests, one of the examples wore a resplendent, bright hue; the other a more muted pigmentation for those with more conservative sensibilities.
Everyone needs an SUV. That’s the mantra in today’s automotive market, and it’s not solely applicable to consumers.
Jaguar, an automaker that’s traditionally sold sedans and grand touring coupes, has seen its sales skyrocket atop an F-Pace emblazoned missile. Also from England, the Bentley Bentayga sports a fascia only a mother could love. Yet, it seems Bentley has found a number of maternal mothers with deep, offshore bank accounts more than willing to adopt Crewe’s latest offspring, resulting in 56 percent of Bentley’s total U.S. sales coming from its new SUV in August, the Bentayga’s first month on sale.
But those are established, luxury automakers. Surely, a small, single-model automaker can buck the SUV trend if its plan is to offer a limited number of models.
Or maybe it’s more important that it offers an SUV to its deep-pocketed clientele.
When the original Cadillac SRX appeared for the 2004 model year, it rode atop a rear-wheel-drive unibody platform, offered three rows of seats, and asked a question rarely asked today: “V8 with that?”
Six years later, General Motors saw fit to yank the SRX out of that class and plunge it into the murderously competitive front-wheel drive, two-row luxury crossover field, shoving it in direct competition with the segment’s dominant sales king, the Lexus RX. Hand-wringing ensued, yet that iteration of the SRX sold nearly 100,000 copies globally in 2015. Not bad for a five-year-old model on the outs.
For 2017, Cadillac — drunk on the New York City skyline and “image spaces” in SoHo — introduced its CT6 sedan before turning its attention to updating its best seller.
Will Cadillac’s new utility, now christened XT5 and built in Saturn’s old Spring Hill digs in Tennessee, follow the brand’s relentless path to Audi-ization?
Car shoppers who need to carry more than four people should buy vans. Full stop. The minivan form factor is superior in nearly every manner to the SUV; from passenger comfort, to cargo room, to flexibility, the van wins. Yet American shoppers have largely abandoned the symbol of Eighties momness for the three-row crossover, this decade’s mom taxi.
While Nissan has offered minivans in various forms since the mid-80s, it’s a relative newcomer to the three-row CUV market with the 2013 Pathfinder. For 2017, Nissan has refreshed the Pathfinder — inside, outside, and underneath — all in an effort to make this big wagon appeal to all manner of drivers.
Including those who should be buying vans.
I’ve long since given up on the idea that it’s possible to have a truly unbiased review of an automobile — or anything else, for that matter. Nevertheless, we should not let the perfect be the enemy of the good. In the service of that, I’m going to say up front that I completely despise this generation of Explorer. I didn’t like it when I reviewed an early model five and a half years ago, and I like it even less now that alternatives like the refreshed Grand Cherokee exist.
The worst thing about the Explorer is that it’s fundamentally a crappy version of the Ford Flex. The Flex is a thinking person’s station wagon. The Explorer is an idiot’s SUV. Perhaps a kinder, and more accurate, way to put it is this: the Explorer is a Flex remixed to appeal to women. I’ve yet to meet a woman who likes the Flex. In order to stop this from being a 1,200-word combo-diss-fest-and-Flex-hagiography, I’ve hired the infamous Danger Girl to offer some balance in my review of this brand-spanking-new-with-24-miles, $44,065, front-wheel-drive SUV.
Let’s do this.
Sometimes a manufacturer churns out a base trim that is — all things considered — the primo choice for that particular model. Here’s an example.
A couple of weeks ago, Tim spelled it out for us: Americans finally bought more SUVs than cars.
Now, a good many of these weren’t real SUVs: Rouges, RAVs, and RDXs are pathetic shadows of the segment’s forebears. The Suburban, however, has been unabashedly truck based since 1935. The current model is powered by a 355-horsepower V8 engine fuelled by ground up Priuses and oiled with the tears of David Attenborough. Cargo space is measured in acres instead of square feet.