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.
I want to get my wife a used SUV. We tried a Volvo wagon, but it’s just too unreliable. My first choice is a 4Runner, but the prices here are insane, even for 10-15 year old ‘Runners. I’ve noticed I can buy a Cayenne or an X5 for similar prices to the aforementioned 4Runner, and that’s with fewer miles and years newer.
So, what gives?
Fiat is marketing its new crossover as bigger, more powerful, and ready for action.
If you caught Fiat’s Super Bowl ad for the 500X, it relies heavily on sex appeal. The implication: that the 500X is more … erm … “excited” than the 500. So I was intrigued when a rental car branch recently told me the only SUV they had left was the 2016 Fiat 500X.
Around fall of last year, my girlfriend and I learned we were going to have a baby. I already have two girls and she has three boys. With the existing brood, we were already traveling places in convoy as her Nissan Maxima and my Honda Accord Coupe V6 could not fit everyone together. We threw our money together to get a third vehicle that could carry the entire family and our future baby.
After much research on my end and exploring all other alternatives, we concluded that we wanted a good ol’ Chevy Suburban. It has plenty of room for all of us, can be had relatively cheap, it’s simple enough to troubleshoot and work on, yet will be pretty handy for future home improvement projects.
The SUV’s rise to king of the automotive fiefdom is well documented. Seizing the chance for fat profits and sales glory, manufacturers took their existing product, added a couple of doors and ladled on the chrome. Buyers flocked to them like Brexiters lining up to change their vote. In time, thanks to Prius driving tofu-twinks wearing nuclear-free peace sandals, these brutes became as politically correct as a Monsanto home fracking kit and, with a few exceptions, have been resigned to the dustbin of history.
OEMs recognized the trend, slowly backing away from the behemoth machines. Modifying their smaller unibody offerings, tall two-box crossovers soon dotted the landscape, watering down the SUV formula until buyers were left with the automotive equivalent of Metamucil.
I’d love to know your thoughts on the proliferation of plastic cladding on pretty much every CUV/SUV on sale today. I’ve noticed that pretty much everyone does it now – Toyota, Mazda, Ford, Jeep, BMW, Mercedes, Land Rover, the list goes on.
It’s no secret that Honda strives to offer a “Goldilocks-just-right” option in just about every segment — not too big, not too small; not too cheap, not too expensive; not too flashy, not too bland, and with a dollop of practicality on top. This formula has led to a lineup of sales successes with few exceptions. Oddly enough, Honda’s new-to-America HR-V is one of those exceptions.
Based on numbers from GoodCarBadCar, the Jeep Renegade is outselling the HR-V at a clip of 1.4:1 so far this year. Even Buick shifted more Encores — just — than Honda sold HR-Vs.
What gives? Have subcompact CUV shoppers forsaken Honda? Is the Renegade that good? Or is there some other explanation?
Upon its introduction in 2003, the Murano possessed a unique combination of traits that, in retrospect, make its La Jolla, California design studio and Design Chief Taiji Toyota look genius.
The Murano was built on the Altima platform, making it relatively inexpensive to build. It had a segment-first four-wheel independent suspension, imparting a genuine car-like driving experience. It featured generous proportions, yet eschewed three-rows in favor of spacious seating for five. Combined with its catchy anti-establishment styling, snappy 245-horsepower V6, and total lack of off-road pretension, it was the 21st century spiritual successor to the personal luxury car.