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By on April 18, 2019

Image: Ford

“Ford’s future is not about giving up the car,” company CEO Jim Hackett said in November 2017, not long before taking an axe to all Ford passenger car models, save the Mustang.

“We want to give them what they’re telling us they really want. We’re simply reinventing the American car,” Hackett continued in May of 2018, adding, “We don’t want anyone to think we’re leaving anything. We’re just moving to a modern version. This is an exciting new generation of vehicles coming from Ford.”

A year on from that last statement, the Ford Focus and Taurus are dead, the Fiesta bites the dust next month, and the Fusion lives on borrowed time. Also dead is the promise that the mildly lifted, faux-crossover Focus Active would make its way here from overseas. What’s left? A new product promise, and a long wait. Read More >

By on April 18, 2019

Mazda has certainly bent over backwards to get its new diesel to the U.S. market. Originally slated to premiere inside the 2017 CX-5, Mazda’s Skyactiv-D failed to receive approval from the Environmental Protection Agency. We’ve followed the story for a while, including when it concerned the Mazda 6, sometimes wondering why the company would even bother pursuing such an endeavor.

In addition to appeasing the EPA, Mazda also needed to satisfy thrifty diesel buyers. But it didn’t look like the 2.2-liter Skyactiv-D had the specs necessary to positively impact CX-5 sales. In development for a while and twice stalled by regulators, the end result of this engine overhaul is a compromised powerplant that’s even weaker than we feared, debuting miserably late with a premium price tag.

It’s hard not to feel a little sorry for Mazda. Back when the Skyactiv-D was in the early phases of development, Volkswagen was proving to the world that diesels could deliver… until that turned out to be a huge, unfixable lie. Read More >

By on April 18, 2019

Yep, they still sell this thing. Betcha forgot all about it.

Or perhaps not. The “styled with a t-square” profile of the Flex has always appealed to the funkier side of the crossover/SUV customer base and, if my eight years of toiling for this publication has taught me anything, the B&B is nothing if not funky. Let’s see what this coffin-shaped crossover offers in base form.

Read More >

By on April 17, 2019

It’s getting increasingly difficult to decide what constitutes a luxury vehicle these days. Premium manufacturers seem preoccupied with technology and providing customers with entry-level compacts they’re supposed to pay big money for. Fortunately, things get clearer as you move up the food chain. Nobody would think to doubt the S-Class’ luxury credentials, and Mercedes-Benz is now ready to offer the next generation of the self-proclaimed S-Class of SUVs.

We’re talking, of course, about the large and luxurious GLS. All-new for 2020, the model boasts a longer-wheelbase, more interior space, a “carwash” mode, and an active suspension paired with the brand’s very first mild-hybrid V8.  Read More >

By on April 17, 2019

It’s strange how, after an automaker goes to the trouble of building a car aimed at the perpetually cranky enthusiast crowd, you can sometimes forget the vehicle exists. That’s the case with the Kia Stinger. Introduced in 2017, the liftback sedan — offered in turbo four-cylinder and V6 guise, rear- or all-wheel drive — still eludes some minds when thinking of modern sport sedans.

Well, Kia doesn’t want you to forget. To sucker-punch consumers back into coherence, the Korean brand brought a new, limited edition variant of the Stinger to the New York Auto Show, and the changes are more than paint deep. Read More >

By on April 17, 2019

By now, you’ve all had a chance to digest Lincoln’s new take on a compact CUV. Underpinned by a platform shared with the equally new 2020 Ford Escape and boasting a model-specific rear multi-link type setup (“integral bush suspension” in Lincoln parlance), the 2020 Corsair is the brand’s latest attempt to restore Lincoln’s faded lustre.

“We are American luxury,” said brand boss Joy Falotico during the model’s New York Auto Show debut. Surely, the Corsair embodies this mantra better than its MKC predecessor, with a stronger commitment to interior trappings and exterior style. But what of the plug-in variant that wasn’t a part of today’s debut? Read More >

By on April 17, 2019

Genesis Motors revealed a small city car in The Big Apple this week. However, the model’s debut wasn’t part of the daily goings-on at the New York International Auto Show. Instead, the company decided to unveil the Mint Concept at Hudson Yards, ahead of the trade show’s official press days — utilizing terms like “urban icon” and “reductive versatility” while somehow expecting to be taken seriously.

“As a brand, Genesis embraces progressive design values, and the Mint Concept reinforces this commitment from a previously undiscovered perspective,” Manfred Fitzgerald, Genesis’ executive vice president, said at the vehicle’s introduction. “Mint belongs in the city, and we are proud to introduce our evolution of the ideal city car in New York.”

This is the kind of industrial-grade nonsense your author absolutely despises. However, I am elated Genesis did this, as it’s been a while since I’ve had the opportunity to be exceptionally critical of a Korean brand. Outside of Hyundai’s Nexo, the country’s been on a hot streak lately. It’s wonderful to be able to prove that I’m still an unpleasant crankshaft without bias.  Read More >

By on April 17, 2019

Hyundai

Hyundai’s new Venue is not a large vehicle. At 158.9 inches in length, the sub-subcompact crossover is 5.1 inches shorter than the already petite Kona and 5.9 inches shorter than the Elantra GT. Despite its modest length, the upcoming 2020 Venue, pegged as a cheaper entry point to the Hyundai crossover lineup, doesn’t make many concessions in terms of interior room.

If you’re a hip, urban entrepreneur, Hyundai wants to get you into this front-drive-only Venue. C’mon, you had no intention of taking this thing off-road. Read More >

By on April 17, 2019

 

2020 Toyota Highlander

While you were sleeping, Toyota rolled out the fourth generation of its three-row Highlander crossover. It is an all-wheel drive box powered by a V6 engine, packed with gadgets, and offering an optional hybrid powertrain. Given the tastes of car buyers in this segment, none of these things are surprising.

What is surprising is that this nameplate has been around for 20 model years. Perhaps it’s because your author has never been in the market for a rig like the Highlander, or that the model’s ubiquity has caused the thing to fade into the background like proverbial wallflowers. Whatever the case, Highlander is nearly old enough to order its own drinks, and it’s put on a new set of clothes for the occasion.

Read More >

By on April 17, 2019

1996 Chevrolet Impala SS - Image: ChevroletLast week, we accepted suggestions for our readers’ least favorite front-drive cars from the 1990s, but commenter Art Vandelay (an importer/exporter) wanted more. We’re back a week later to repeat the same question, but with a focus on rear-drive rides. Let the aero-infused criticism begin.

Read More >

By on April 17, 2019

While Lincoln’s compact MKC crossover sold reliably following its mid-2014 introduction, the still-vulnerable brand couldn’t let it grow stale in a hotly competitive segment. Thanks to shrinking sedan sales, Lincoln took a sales hit in 2018 as it awaited salvation in the form of the midsize, rear-drive Aviator — a vehicle designed to add heavily to the profits generated by the top-flight Navigator.

In a market like this, utility vehicles need to pull more than just their own weight. With that in mind, after making the decision to kill off the confusing MK(?) naming strategy, Lincoln set about turning the MKC into a stronger, more compelling entry in the compact premium class.

Enter the Corsair. Read More >

By on April 16, 2019

Mercedes-AMG is updating the GLC 63 model line for 2020, not that it really needed to. The performance variants of this compact crossover already trounce their mainstream counterparts in terms of looks — even the oddly squat GLC “Coupe.”

However, as the manufacturer was not content to simply rest on its laurels, it decided to provide a brief but well-rounded list of upgrades. Read More >

By on April 16, 2019

Last month, Cadillac digitally unveiled the all-new CT5 sedan — leaving little to the imagination. We learned Caddy’s upcoming model will come with either a turbocharged 2.0-liter four or a twin-turbo 3.0-liter V6, though General Motors decided to stop short of sharing output figures and pricing.

While the cost continues to remain a mystery, GM provided output specs and loads of additional details for the CT5’s physical debut at the New York International Auto Show. Read More >

By on April 16, 2019

All-new 2018 Jeep® Wrangler Rubicon

Studies have shown that purchasing a new Jeep Wrangler is almost as stable an investment as buying gold. In terms of retaining value, the Wrangler is king, boasting a rate of depreciation that undercuts the industry average by half.

With this in mind, it’s not common to see people shopping around, sniffing out boffo bargains on hard-to-sell Wranglers polluting local dealer lots. It simply isn’t a thing. If you’re in the market for one, however, now may be a good time to start searching. Read More >

By on April 16, 2019

Fifty years ago, Datsun showed New York that Japan was perfectly capable of producing a sporting automobile that offered everything drivers wanted, without breaking the bank. It may not have been cutting edge, but the 240Z was a GT car well worth coveting. Somewhere between the nimble, although sometimes underpowered, European roadsters and clumsy but savage American muscle cars, Datsun’s Z provided a well-balanced package for enthusiasts and racing teams alike.

This week, Nissan’s paying tribute to the vehicle that launched the Z line with the 2020 Nissan 370Z 50th Anniversary Edition. Painted to resemble the No. 46 BRE (Brock Racing Enterprises) 240Z that helped John Morton win back-to-back SCCA National Championships in the 1970s, the Anniversary Edition is the upside of living in the past.  Read More >

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