Category: Design

By on March 31, 2020

As the status of the North American Honda Fit remains unknown, its more evolved global sibling (the Jazz) hasn’t held our interest. With sales of economy vehicles still losing ground to crossovers and U.S. Fit volume going from modest to borderline meager over the last five years, there’s a good chance Honda may not bother updating it here.

The 2020 Euro-market reboot only offers a hybrid drivetrain — a 1.5-liter Atkinson-cycle engine mated to a 96-kW synchronous AC motor — and adds a plethora of standard safety tech and connectivity features. While other markets will see internal-combustion version, the best Honda has on offer is a pint-sized i-VTEC (988 cc) making 120 horsepower. Frankly, it doesn’t seem like a good fit for this market and may explain the company’s reluctance to confirm anything for North America. But Honda has made some changes that we hope carry over to all of its future products, regardless of the name carried on the rear hatch or the engine lurking beneath the hood.  Read More >

By on February 26, 2020

We’ve had two prior posts discussing the highs and lows of automotive design from the decade most recently closed. Both those times we kept our choices in the affordable category, where starting prices were under $100,000 when new. Today we double that limit, and consider upscale designs.

Read More >

By on January 8, 2020

Cadillac’s recent decision to move its corporate emblem to the top of the grille was, apparently, a very controversial one. While older models carried the badge dead center, current models have allowed the symbol to creep nearer to the hood latch. We failed to notice any riots in the streets over the change, but Cadillac Society contends there are a contingent of customers who don’t appreciate the new look.

It also has the answers for why General Motors thought the modification necessary. Read More >

By on January 17, 2019

Numerous observers walked away from the North American Auto Show, and more specifically Cadillac’s NAIAS Eve unveiling event, wondering whether electric crossovers are even more homogenous looking than their internal combustion brethren.

So, when Ford’s North American president, Kumar Galhotra, claims a Lincoln vehicle born of the Ford Mach E (or some similar name) will carry on the brand’s tradition of “quiet luxury,” one wonders how a vehicle without the need for a traditional grille will avoid getting lost in a sea of anonymity. Read More >

By on December 17, 2018

Image: Lincoln

It’s true. You’ll soon be able to slap down a pile of hard-earned cash for a 2019 Lincoln Continental with suicide coach-style doors. Well, 80 of you will.

To mark the 80th anniversary of the Continental nameplate, Lincoln Motor Company went the extra mile for heritage devotees, revealing a limited-edition model that dispenses with front-hinged rear doors and adds half a foot of wheelbase to pull it off. You’ve never had a better look at the Continental’s B-pillar. Read More >

By on December 6, 2018

Image: GM

Unless you took the past couple of days off to ruminate about our collective existence in a Scandinavian steam hut, you probably noticed there’s a new heavy duty General Motors pickup on the way. We’ve thus far seen only the Silverado LT with the butch Z71 package.

“Polarizing” best describes the vehicle’s looks, but Z71s are traditionally meant to be the most visually striking versions of Chevy’s full-sizers, if only by the smallest of degrees. Well, what happens when the new Silverado HD dresses up for the country club? You have this — a Silverado HD that tones things down and might change a few minds. Read More >

By on December 5, 2018

Images: Brian Williams/Spiedbilde

The Ford Super Duty line grew fairly grotesque in its latest iteration, and yesterday’s reveal of the 2020 Chevrolet Silverado HD turned some people’s hair white with fright. I’ll admit the Chevy’s design works (looks better than the Silverado 1500, IMHO), but it’s jarring nonetheless.

With so much styling excess on hand, this writer often calls up images of the current, aging Ram 2500 and 3500 and breathes a sigh of relief. Soothing nerves since 2010, the Ram HD is. As Fiat Chrysler has now worked out the production bugs plaguing its 2019 Ram 1500, the stage is set for a larger follow-up. Next year brings the first new heavy duty Ram in a decade, and fear was high that FCA might join its Detroit comrades in going way out and wild.

Breathe easy. We’re here with completely uncamouflaged photos of the 2020 Ram HD line to show you there’s nothing to fear. Read More >

By on November 2, 2018

Image: NASCAR

When Chevrolet rolled into last month’s SEMA show with a vivid, one-off Camaro SS show car, our attention was drawn to its new “concept” face. It seemed like the bowtie brand had read Matthew Guy’s mind, swathing the grille’s horizontal crossbar in body color and moving the Chevy emblem to its rightful, slimming place between the headlamps. Before this change, the refreshed-for-2019 SS looked a little homely next to its Camaro 1LE and RS brethren.

Who knows, we thought, maybe it’s not too late to fix a mistake. Our hopes remained guarded, however. Then came Chevy’s eCOPO Camaro electric dragster concept, also premiering at SEMA, which appeared with the same facial quirk. Now, we have the brand’s new NASCAR offering and, lo and behold, the front end is, again, just as we’d like it. Read More >

By on September 28, 2018

Image: Daimler

The Smart (“smart,” officially) experiment continues in North America, only now it’s electric. While the Daimler division has never offered anything other than a single, two-seat model on this side of the Atlantic, Europeans have a modicum of choice when it comes to choosing a Smart. You can even get one with a backseat.

After going the all-electric route in the U.S. last year, Smart wants its small legion of global fans to know it’s thinking of the future. Hence, the ForTwo Electric Drive became the ForEase. Read More >

By on September 11, 2018

Image: Mahindra & Mahindra

A decade-old document signed by Indian automaker Mahindra & Mahindra and Chrysler Group LLC will be at the center of an investigation by the U.S. International Trade Commission.

Announced Tuesday and reported by Reuters, the feds will look into the patent dispute that erupted when Mahindra began importing the very Jeep-like Roxor all-terrain vehicle into the United States. FCA claimed the Roxor looks too much like the classic Jeep CJ line, predecessor to the Wrangler, and filed an intellectual property complaint to the ITC. Nuh uh — we had a deal, Mahindra responded. Read More >

By on September 10, 2018

Image: Kia Motors

By now, you’ve probably read all about Matt’s adventures in fashion, but the unexpected reveal of Kia’s upcoming Telluride SUV during New York City’s Fashion Week has me reeling. And it shouldn’t.

It shouldn’t, because alluring concept vehicle morph into far less savory production vehicles all the time. Or, in the case of Buick and Cadillac’s concepts, they morph back into the invisible nothingness from which they came. Spy photos of the Telluride pointed us towards an expectation of what appeared on Sunday.

Still, it hurts. Why? Read More >

By on September 10, 2018

Two years after the concept’s debut in Detroit, the “production” 2020 Kia Telluride appeared during New York City’s Fashion Week festivities this past weekend.

Fashion is not a subject this author is particularly familiar with. While I know that a button-up and suit jacket serves me better than an oversized Space Jam t-shirt, the reasons why remain a complete mystery. I just know that people are less likely to ask me to leave their establishment when I’m wearing a tie.

Be that as it may, I am savvy enough to know that Fashion Week is a strange locale in which to introduce a new vehicle. However, fashion designer Brandon Maxwell convinced Kia to donate to his childhood school district in Marfa, Texas, in exchange for the opportunity to showcase the automaker’s giant, unibody SUV. Created by Kia’s American design studio in Irvine, California, the customized Telluride that appeared on the runway drew influence from Texas (where everything is bigger). Fittingly, that was also Maxwell’s inspiration for the Spring/Summer 2019 collection — which I’m told is “fabulous.”  Read More >

By on September 10, 2018

There’s a good reason why insurance premiums are rising like your author’s blood pressure while scanning his Twitter feed, and it’s not just because providers really, really like making money. (They do, of course.) Average repair bills in the U.S. rose by about a third in the past three years, mainly due to the proliferation of safety technology, and insurance premiums followed. Country-wide, premiums rose 7.9 percent in 2017.

Cameras, ultrasonic sensors, and radar sensors tend to be located in areas of the vehicle most prone to damage, even in even low-speed collisions, and sturdy, exposed 5 mph bumpers are unfortunately a thing of the past. Many would prefer to see all automakers design their cars with repairs in mind, thus lowering future costs and premiums.

As an example of the headache of repairing technology-festooned vehicles, behold the average front-corner collision repair cost of one rare Korean sedan. Read More >

By on September 7, 2018

The one and only styling refresh bestowed on Tesla’s Model S involved the removal of its phony grille, with CEO Elon Musk claiming the blacked-out nose had done its duty in luring — and lulling — nervous customers. The subsequent Model X went without, and the Model 3 looks like that masked disfigured girl in Eyes Without a Face.

Mercedes-Benz isn’t on the same page. Perhaps believing that Tesla buyers tolerate the lack of grille only because the vehicles are Teslas, the German automaker has vowed to pretend there’s an internal combustion engine and radiator behind the face of each of its electric vehicles. Read More >

By on August 29, 2018

Mahindra ROXOR

There’s an Indo-Italian-American battle heating up in Michigan. Mahindra and Mahindra, maker of the absolutely adorable, U.S.-built Roxor ATV, is fighting back against Fiat Chrysler’s efforts to squash the little all-terrain vehicle’s future in this country.

FCA’s beef is this: the generously proportioned ATV, which is not road legal here (but is in India), bears a striking resemblance to a classic Jeep CJ7. At the beginning of the month, the automaker filed a complaint with the U.S. International Trade Commission in an bid to stop the importation of Roxor parts to the company’s Michigan factory.

Not gonna happen, Mahindra says. You saw our grille and you gave it the thumbs up. Read More >

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