Mercedes to Focus on Premium Luxury Vehicles Again
Mercedes-Benz has said it will cut back its entry-level offers to better prioritize premium vehicles with loftier margins. While this strategy has become relatively uncommon throughout the industry, even among some mainstream brands, Mercedes has historically been synonymous with high-end luxury cars. One wonders why it bothered chasing volume to begin with, especially since it doesn’t seem to have panned out for the company.
While executives had previously hinted at its revised strategy in interviews, Mercedes officially unveiled its plan to investors on Thursday. The German brand will focus investments on top-of-the-heap models like the S-Class at the expense of entry-level products that have failed to garner juicy profits.
Junkyard Find: 1988 Cadillac Fleetwood D'Elegance
1988 was an interesting year for The General’s Cadillac Division. The Cavalier-based Cimarron was in its final year of sales, the Hamtramck/Turin-built Allanté was in its second year (and priced about the same as a Mercedes-Benz S-Class), and the “traditional” rear-wheel-drive Brougham sedan shared showroom space with the front-wheel-drive De Villes, Eldorados, and Sevilles. The old Sixty Special name was still being used, along with such slightly newer titles as Elegante and d’Elegance. While the Allanté lived at the top of the GM prestige pyramid for ’88, the Fleetwood was the car of choice for those very wealthy Cadillac shoppers who insisted on four doors and zero Pininfarina nonsense. Here’s one of those cars, found in excellent condition in a Denver yard last spring.
2022 Acura MDX SUV Insurers' Top Safety Pick
The 2022 Acura MDX SUV’s Top Safety Pick (TSP) from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety runs counter to all the racing around done in Acura’s commercials. The MDX is the automaker’s third vehicle to receive the IIHS’s highest safety rating, along with the RDX and TLX.
Connected Vehicle Sales Grow by 20 Percent in 2021
Connected vehicle sales will grow 20 percent in 2021, with a 10.4 percent compound annual growth rate (CAGR) between 2020-2026 according to ABI Research, a tech market advisory group.
BMW Art Cars Exhibited
BMW art cars debuted today, using artificial intelligence (AI) software to generate new works of art. In conjunction with Frieze New York, the fair takes place in Manhattan from May 5 – 9, 2021.
Frieze New York has works of art from over 60 galleries, mainly located in New York. A viewing room with over 160 exhibitors runs through May 14, bringing together galleries worldwide, and audiences who can’t travel.
2022 Mercedes-Benz AMG GLC 63S: Ready to Rock
The 2022 Mercedes-Benz AMG GLC 63 S SUV is the only V8, biturbo-powered, compact SUV. According to Mercedes, it’ll do 0–60 mph in 3.6 seconds, which makes for a quick dash to the mini-mart.
QOTD: Is the 2021 Rolls-Royce-Based Overdose Actually Overkill?
A Rolls-Royce Black Badge Wraith is already a limited production vehicle. German tuner Novitec, and its Spofec division, are modifying three of these cars for worldwide distribution. The question of the day is whether the Spofec Overdose Wraiths are overkill, or not?
Rich People Are Finally Back On Top, Mercedes Takes U.S. Quarterly Sales Honors
Mercedes-Benz had an enviable first-quarter and managed to find itself back on top of U.S. luxury sales, icing out its chief rival BMW after two years of living in its shadow. Mercedes reportedly sold 78,256 vehicles within the first three months of 2021, thanks largely to its crossover vehicles.
It’s a year-over-year increase of 16 percent and helps to explain why the brand is relegating the CLS to a single trim while expanding its options for heavy hitters like the GLC Class. But Mercedes’ recent success may have more to do with the way the luxury segment is rebounding as a whole. As pedestrian models are finding themselves coming out of the pandemic with fewer customers, especially of the subprime variety, high-end luxury brands are enjoying clearer skies.
2021 Maybach S 580 Tips the Scales at $184,900
Yesterday, Maybach heralded the arrival of the S 580, with the type of announcement you’d expect if you started at $184,900, or roughly 69 percent of the $269,039 median home price nationwide, according to Zillow.com.
Land Rover Defender of the Faith
The Land Rover Defender, absent from the U.S. for a quarter of a century, has made its return in both a 90 and 110 super size. Available from 296 HP mild to 518 HP wild, there’s one available in just about any configuration you’d want.
Too-Sexy BMW on the Catwalk at NY Fashion Week
New York Fashion Week 2021, which oddly enough begins today and ends tomorrow, marks the return of BMW of North America to the catwalk. BMW rejoins Fashion Week, a celebration of fashion, culture, design, and economic development.
2022 Infiniti QX60 Luxo Crossover Announced
Infiniti’s 2022 QX60 has merged a 9-speed automatic transmission with the company’s 295-horsepower, 3.5-liter V6 in the latest SUV in the QX stable.
Lamborghini Aventador GT Evolution Gets Kitted
Never mind that the Lamborghini Aventador GT Evo is already fairly exclusive, with only around 10,000 units produced worldwide thus far. If you have one, distinguishing yours from other run-of-the-mill Aventadors is imperative, and that’s why there’s a new body kit from Liberty Walk.
Toyota's Land Cruiser Grounded After 2021
Toyota’s Land Cruiser is soon to be a casualty of technological advancement, after rumors of the venerable SUV being dropped were confirmed by Car and Driver when they spoke with a partner in a large dealer franchise who said that 2021 would be the end of the road for this premium SUV. This seems to confirm some earlier reporting we shared from Motor Authority.
2021 Mercedes-Benz Elevates S-Class Standards and Pricing
The all-new 2021 Mercedes-Benz S-Class, the flagship of the line, will arrive in US dealerships in the first half of 2021. Boosting greater comfort, safety, and the overall experience for driver and passengers, the S-Class embodies not only the brand’s flagship, but a 12.9 percent increase from the 2020 S 450 4Matic Sedan, to the 2021 S 500 4Matic Sedan’s starting price of $109,800.
2020 Genesis G90: Korea's Flagship Tries a Bolder Look
Representing a good value among the premium full-size sedan set, the Genesis G90 remains thin on the ground — and not just because of America’s fondness for crossovers and SUVs. As it begins its roll-out of standalone Genesis stores, the fledgling brand planned to kick off the new dealer strategy by fielding only 2019 model-year vehicles. That meant a sell-down of existing stock throughout the summer and fall.
For the 2020 model year, the second model launched by Hyundai’s luxury division, the G90, undergoes a significant refresh, though the marque’s future hinges on a trio of yet-to-be-seen crossovers.
Maserati Will Finally Get the Love It Needs: Manley
In between local radio spots that endlessly hawk Mitsubishis with free winter tires and incentives piled high on the hood, there’s sometimes an ad for, oddly, the Maserati Ghibli — the aging luxury sedan named after a late-60s sex bomb of a performance coupe. It looks like no one’s getting the message.
Sales and profits have tumbled at the Fiat Chrysler-owned marque, and FCA CEO Mike Manley now admits bundling the Italian brand with Alfa Romeo was a mistake.
Gas-guzzling Former Roommates Poised to Become Eco Rivals
For nearly five decades, Rolls-Royce and Bentley shared the same bed, then lived amicably under the same roof for another 18 years, becoming ever closer to each other due to dwindling shared finances. Then two Germans showed up and they parted ways, forever.
While still representing the richly browned upper crust of British motoring, the two brands have maintained fairly similar development paths, launching sedans, coupes, and now SUVs in quick succession of each other. Now, because green types look down on ornate, porky, roadgoing behemoths powered by gas-swilling eight- and twelve-cylinder engines, both brands have decided to embrace the environmental movement.
Naturally, news of these tentative electric product plans hit the presses almost simultaneously.
Die Rivalitt: BMW Ekes Out Another Sales Win Over Mercedes-Benz
Without rivalry, there wouldn’t be sports, and the Atlantic Ocean probably would have been crossed for the first time by a multinational team assembled sometime in the late 1930s, backed by a top-heavy bureaucracy.
Rivalry, at least outside the workplace, is usually fun, and the fierce competition among Germany’s luxury marques remains an interesting one, simply due to the length of time this has been going on. U.S. sales figures from August show that Mercedes-Benz, which muscled out long-running best-seller BMW from its lofty perch in 2016, has at least some reason to be worried about its rival reclaiming lost ground.
QOTD: Luxury Car or Loaded Truck?
Yesterday’s first-drive review of the 2019 GMC Sierra Denali and its macho sibling, the AT4, sparked some debate in the comment section. Yes, it’s true that the Denali-trimmed version sports a grille capable of blinding airline pilots if the sun hits it just right. One of you even said the mass of gleaming chrome was ostentatious enough to make Liberace blush.
And yet automakers build these high-end trucks because customers can’t seem to get enough of them. After all, who’s foolish enough to turn down an opportunity to grow margins by plumbing the depths of this high-profit market? From these comments, a question materialized: If handed a stack of cash totalling $60k to $70k, what would you buy — a nice, respectable, and perhaps even sporty luxury sedan, or one of the gilded luxo-dozers offered by Ford, Ram, or GMC? And why?
All Things Being Equal: The Changing Face of Luxury
There’s a growing assumption that automobiles have become so universally satisfactory, there’s nothing to gripe about anymore. We’re inclined to disagree. There will always be models that fail to meet our expectations and industry trends we’re not particularly fond of. However, we will happily acknowledge that low-tier automobiles have become decidedly less terrible when thrown together into a pool.
A weird side effect of this has been mainstream brands moving upmarket and offering a bevy of luxury options while extravagant nameplates do the inverse. For example, the Kia Cadenza can easily be outfitted to surpass the base Cadillac ATS in terms of luxury features and overall price. It doesn’t have the prestige, but you’re still buying a larger automobile with a focus on lavishness that can deliver on an exceptionally quiet and comfortable ride.
On the flip side of things, Cadillac is busy prepping its new small crossover for the general market. Priced for a mainstream budget, the XT4 should be a win for General Motors. But it further showcases the amount of overlap happening within the industry right now. Value manufacturers are becoming increasingly willing to move upmarket while luxury brands are trying to burn the money candle at both ends.
Someone'll Pay: BMW Probably Won't Stop at the 8 Series
Like a grinning child whose dad is pushing them on the swings, BMW wants to go higher. Higher!
In both price and model designation, BMW knows there’s loftier ground to claim — and buyers willing to fork over the contents of their bulging bank accounts to make it profitable. That’s why the looming 8 Series, a luxurious coupe bearing a resurrected name, likely won’t be the pinnacle of Bimmer’s range for long.
The Perils of Second Place: Denali Is GMC's Biggest Worry, Greatest Asset
Travel back in time and tell someone that luxury pickup trucks will one day become the auto industry’s biggest money makers. They’ll laugh, but you’ll have the last one.
As the Denali sub-brand grows in importance for parent General Motors, the luxo treatment applied to GMC trucks and SUVs has never been in more danger from rival automakers in Dearborn and Auburn Hills. Keeping Denali healthy and growing means walking a thin line. Still, there’s those who fear the sub-brand isn’t realizing its true potential.
No Ford Buyers Allowed: To Seize the Future, Lincoln Needs Fancy Stores and Personal Space
The product pipeline is already in place, but what about the dealerships? That’s where Lincoln Motor Company’s focus now lies, as it begins rolling out a plan that will see standalone Lincoln dealerships pop up in 30 high-volume markets.
As the premium brand attempts to shuffle off sliding sales with a utility vehicle onslaught, the brand wants those high-rising vehicles shown off on well-lit runways encased in glass cubes. Lincoln calls this design “Vitrine.” It’s not just important to the brand — it’s “critical.”
Yes, That Is the 2019 Buick Regal Avenir
What do buyers like? Ultra-lux trims and big-bucks window stickers, that’s what. At least, that’s the gist of General Motors’ media run-down of the new 2019 Buick Regal Avenir — the third vehicle in the Buick stable to undergo the high-zoot treatment, and a model we uncovered last week.
“Avenir” debuted on the revamped-for-2018 Enclave, then made its way to the LaCrosse sedan. It exists because Denali exists, and Buick saw what the addition of that sub-brand did for GMC sales, to say nothing of average transaction price and profits. After crunching some numbers, Buick decided the Regal Sportback was the next obvious candidate for the brand’s “highest expression of luxury.”
Cleverest Girl? F-150 Limited Gets Raptor Power
The F-150 Limited – which is, naturally, limited only to the number they can sell – currently sits atop the truck’s totem pole, usurping the King Ranch and Platinum as the most expensive half-ton F-Series pickup. This will last until the boffins at Ford dream up a new super-lux trim called the Rhodium Precious Bullion Edition.
Recognizing that folks who have the means to lay out nearly a hundred grand on a pickup want the most powerful engine available, the Blue Oval has decided to plug the Raptor’s powertrain between the Limited’s fenders. This means that 450 horsepower and 510 lb-ft of torque are now at the disposal of drivers who prefer sumptuous leather seats instead of desert-busting suspensions.
Midsize Luxury: Buick Ready to Launch Regal Avenir
As you might have heard, Buick’s Avenir luxury sub-brand is off to a good start. Playing the same tune written by GMC’s Denali line, “Avenir” debuted on the second-generation Enclave crossover for 2018, then bestowed its luxurious trappings on the LaCrosse sedan.
According to Automotive News, Enclave sales are up 15 percent over the first half of 2018, with the Avenir trim counting for 25 percent of all units sold. That’s money in Buick’s pocket, as the Avenir badge adds roughly $14k to the model’s base MSRP. Average Enclave transaction prices are up $5,000 from a year prior.
Buick boss Duncan Aldred said last winter that the case for Avenir would be made on a vehicle-by-vehicle basis, adding that we should expect to see more models add the new trim (and price point) in the future. It now looks like the redesigned Regal will be the third Avenir model.
Tweaked for 2019, Acura's Largest Wants You to Let a Bit of Your Hair Down
Having first appeared back in 2000 as a 2001 model, the Acura MDX is the Ed Asner of premium midsize import crossovers and a crucial breadwinner in the brand’s utility-light portfolio. While the model’s smaller sibling, the RDX, just underwent massive changes, the MDX soldiers on into 2019 muttering, “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.” Thus, most changes fall into the minor but meaningful category.
One thing the 2019 MDX does seek to fix is its mildly conservative persona, but only for buyers willing to take that leap.
Coupe-tastic: BMW Brings Back the 8 Series
Fair warning: this post will include more photos than a normal news item. Why? Because BMW is once again applying an 8 Series badge to the trunklid of a slinky two-door.
I like big coupés, and I cannot lie.
Rolls-Royce Wants to Out-luxury All SUVs, so Bentley's Planning to Out-power Its Luxo Barge Rivals
The top end of the automotive market is home to surprising levels of competitiveness, even among brands traditionally seen as staid and reserved. Rolls-Royce fits this description, though the maker of opulent drawing rooms on wheels isn’t one to back down from a schoolyard scrap (as we saw earlier this year following some mild trash talk from Aston Martin-owned Lagonda).
Bentley, the rival-turned-family-member-turned-rival-again, has always positioned itself as the sportier alternative to Rolls-Royce, so it’s only natural that the lads in Crewe are planning a response to their competitor’s introduction of an ultra-lux SUV. Sure, the Cullinan pampers its occupants until they develop gout, but can it pull out their remaining hair follicles through sheer speed?
Designer of Very Tall Cars Hits the Road, Leaves Rolls-Royce With a Blank Slate
Don’t ask Corey Lewis about the new Rolls-Royce Phantom, as you’ll get a rundown of all the things wrong with it. Mainly, that it lacks grace and its flanks appear too tall.
Beauty is always in the eye of the beholder, but Giles Taylor, the design chief behind the revamped ultra-lux sedan and recently introduced “ high-bodied car” (Cullinan SUV) isn’t sticking around to craft another vehicle. Taylor’s leaving the company, placing the brand’s design future in limbo.
Lagonda Vs Rolls-Royce Battle Continues, Now With Fewer Petty Insults
Egg spoons fell to the tabletop and kippers went uneaten as noblemen across the land gazed in slack-jawed silence at the new Cullinan [s]SUV[/s] high-bodied car unveiled by Rolls-Royce this morning.
It’s a vehicle so excessive in its dimensions and interior trappings, even long-deceased kings might find it gauche. Or, perhaps, just the right thing with which to ferry their corpulence from one sherry-stained dinner function to another. Polarizing, to say the least. One internet wag remarked that the Cullinan resembled a hearse with a backseat.
Regardless of how you feel about it, no one’s going to deny that Rolls-Royce now stands regally atop the luxury SUV hill, gazing down upon its lesser rivals with contempt. Clearly, the thought of the century-old British automaker pulling this off must have ground Lagonda’s gears, as the recently revived British luxury marque sought to get out in front of the introduction with an announcement of its own.
It seems the rivalry didn’t end after a testy spat earlier this year.
Rolls-Royce Cullinan: An SUV for 1 Percent of the 1 Percent
Those in the market for a brand new Roller are not apt to inquire about trivialities such as price or fuel economy. That’s why I highly doubt news of oil reaching its highest price in 3.5 years will give any Cullinan prospect a moment’s pause before they sign on the dotted line with a solid-gold Montblanc pen.
Rolls-Royce refuses to describe the Cullinan as an SUV. In every reference, it’s called an “all-terrain high-bodied car.” Company marketers were surely sequestered in a windowless conference room for ages before they settled on that term.
Porsche Reportedly Working on a Two-door Version of a Four-door Car (Don't Worry, There's a Four-door 'Coupe' SUV, Too)
The auto industry has become so unconventional, so bizarro world, that I became momentarily confused after reading a report that Porsche has a Panamera coupe in development.
Automakers don’t develop new coupes. They develop slightly more curvaceous versions of four-door crossovers and SUVs and call them coupes, but they’re certainly not coupes. Thus, I found myself picturing a curvaceous four-door liftback version of a curvaceous four-door liftback. Reality bent and flexed around me and the universe crumbled.
That’s apparently what Porsche is up to, though, and it’s looking like the two-door version of the Panamera — if built — will serve as a spiritual successor to the long departed 928.
Lexus Got What It Hoped for With the New LS - At Least for Now
Every large, traditional Toyota and Lexus sedan seems to have hit that point in its lifespan where drastic surgery is needed to keep up with the younger crowd. Were these staid sedans people, they’d be milling about in the seating area of a local plastic surgeon’s office.
The first model to bend to Toyota’s desire for large cars that ooze dignified luxury but are also kind of green (and maybe kind of sporty?) was the 2018 Lexus LS flagship, appearing last year with a new platform and racy sheetmetal. The Avalon and ES will soon follow suit.
By revamping its LS, Lexus hoped to jam the brakes on a sales plunge that began after the recession and only got worse from there. Still, the automaker knew it couldn’t turn back the clock completely. There was a very specific sales goal mentioned during the launch, and it looks like the new LS delivered. Almost perfectly, in fact.
2019 Lexus ES: The Most Conservative Car in the Lexus Barn Lets Its Hair Down, Dons F Sport Label
Long the preferred ride of the casual golf membership set, the Lexus ES enjoys a reputation of high reliability and very gradual change. Toss that cred out the window, as the 2019 ES undergoes what’s arguably the most significant revamp in its nearly three-decade-long history.
Revealed Wednesday in Beijing, the new ES rides atop a platform shared with its fellow Kentucky-built stablemate, the Toyota Avalon, and grows in all the time-honored ways. It’s longer, lower, and wider than the outgoing version. More power and more speeds come to the sedan’s sole powertrain, while the body undergoes a transformation that takes years off (the age of its perceived driver).
With this 2019 model, Lexus seems pretty determined to rid the ES of its longstanding image as a staid conveyance for those with high-performing mutual funds. How determined? There’s now, for the first time, an ES F Sport.
Attempting to Understand the Chinese Luxury Aesthetic
Thanks to an interested and better-financed populace, luxury purchases have been on the rise in China for the past decade. Chinese consumers currently drop around $7.6 billion per year on premium goods, accounting for almost a third of the global luxury market. This has resulted in a massive influx of high-end items and brands that want to capture the public’s attention and, more importantly, cash.
This includes automotive brands — all of which are desperate to expand into the Chinese market. But finding the correct approach is tricky. Plenty of fashionable brands attempted to incorporate authentic Chinese elements into their designs, but failed to do so in an elegant or convincing way. There’s a bit of a balancing act required. Market research shows younger consumers like clean designs and a little bit of bling, but don’t want these established brands catering too much to Chinese tastes. Older consumers, however, are willing to enjoy a little bit more ostentatiousness and adherence to tradition.
That’s one reason why you see so many new cars showing up at auto shows painted red. In China, red represents good fortune and crops up on significant items on important dates all the time. Wedding dresses are traditionally red, as are envelopes containing monetary gifts to commemorate the birth of a child or the new year.
However, we have to wonder if some brands aren’t going a little overboard. Mercedes-Maybach, which just released a hideous concept SUV intended to whet Chinese appetites, has followed up that eyebrow-raising effort with “the pinnacle of luxury living.”
Chasing the Dragon: Lincoln's Plan to Capture the Chinese Market
While both Buick and Cadillac have a healthy lead over Lincoln in terms of domestic deliveries, the space between them is far more pronounced in China. At home, Ford moved 111,159 examples of its premium marque in 2017 against Cadillac’s 156,440. However, China’s Caddy sales clocked in at 175,489 last year — a number Lincoln could only muse about in its wildest fantasies.
That’s because Ford exports all of its luxury vehicles to China, while GM tends to build them locally. But the Lincoln brand shows a lot of promise in Asia. Ford moved roughly 80,000 vehicles in the People’s Republic in 2017 and 54,124 of those models wore the Lincoln cross. In theory, if Ford could localize and bolster its product lineup within the country, a higher volume would be all but assured. It’s a theory the automaker intends to test, too.
2019 Kia K900 Debuts, Does Its Damndest to Get Noticed
“Hey, what are you doing with my car?”
“Oh, I’m sorry, I thought this was my Kia K900.”
That’s the scene Kia Motors wants to see play out in parking lots across America, now that the second generation of the brand’s flagship has seen the spotlight at the New York International Auto Show.
On sale later this year, the 2019 K900 — which sounds like the name of a Soviet submarine — aims to attract the buyers its predecessor lacked through understated style, piles of luxury features, attractive interior fittings, and improved driving dynamics. Kia’s an eternal optimist, we’ll give it that.
Cadillac Is Holding Out for a Halo
Visually arresting, technologically complex, ultra luxurious, and undeniably trendsetting, halo cars sprinkle lustre all over a brand and ensure viewers of hip-hop videos know the artist is absolutely loaded with cash.
Cadillac’s not there yet. Give it time, says the brand’s president — a halo Cadillac model will indeed appear, just not until well into the coming decade. There’s a few things to take care of first.
Lincoln Aviator: Right-sized SUV Cleared for Takeoff
Remember that scene where a severally obsessive-compulsive Howard Hughes (played by the boy from Titanic) can’t stop repeating the same phrase in the movie The Aviator? I suspect a similar phrase hung in the minds of Ford Motor Company executives while signing off on this model.
A large-ish, rear-wheel-drive, three-row crossover (SUV, according to Lincoln) is surely just the ticket to make up for declining passenger car sales — after all, is there any evidence to the contrary? The way of the future, indeed.
What’s amusing is that, in this case, Lincoln’s future success appears to rest partially on a model resurrected from the past. The first Lincoln Aviator graced our landscape for just three model years, 2003 to 2005, and looked very much like a shrunken Navigator. Well, the second-generation model is clearly cut from the same cloth as its larger sibling, but differences abound.
Please Be True: Lincoln Planning a Return to Suicide Doors on Continental, Report Claims
The future of the slow-selling Lincoln Continental couldn’t be more hazy, but a new report claims the brand is preparing a last-ditch effort to revive interest in the flagship sedan. How does Lincoln plan to reverse a sales slide amid an industry addicted to crossovers?
Yes, the novel layout once favored by luxury American automakers — and returned to prominence with the iconic 1961-1969 Continentals — could make a comeback.
Uptown Living: Mazda Dealer Council Boss Says Brand Is a 'Strong Seven or Weak Eight' on the Classy Scale
There’s still a ways to go, but the transition of Mazda’s image into that of a semi-premium automaker is well underway. The latest interiors — and exteriors — emerging from the brand boast extra refinement, better materials, and a subdued elegance you won’t find on, say, a Nissan.
Mazda’s getting there, but in the meantime, sales remain an issue. Between the brand’s recent U.S. sales pinnacle in 2015 and the end of 2017, volume fell 9.3 percent. There’s a plan to turn it around, and it doesn’t all have to do with the automaker’s looming mystery crossover.
2019 Kia K900 Piles on the Luxury, but Will Buyers Pile on the K900?
Everyone’s favourite full-size, rear-drive Kia sedan returns with all-new clothing for 2019, and the Korean brand has seen fit to show us the car’s exterior before its debut at this month’s New York Auto Show. That’s good, as we’re not likely to invest much time in it at the show. Sorry, Kia.
Stubbornly refusing to vacate the full-size luxury field, Kia’s new K900 — sold as the prestigious K9 in the automaker’s home market — looks to bump up refinement in areas drivers found lacking. Given that the K900 is widely expected to borrow the Genesis G90’s platform and powertrains, ride quality and muscle shouldn’t be an issue.
Is the Mercedes-Maybach Pullman the Perfect Family Vehicle?
With the minivan now dethroned by sport utility vehicles and crossovers as the king of family transportation, we’ve run into a problem. Larger three-row SUVs can be expensive, while their more affordable counterparts frequently sacrifice cargo space and comfort to accommodate that last row of seats. Another issue is that adults who decided to spawn four children are forced to interact with them during long drives by occupying the same cabin.
Wouldn’t it be incredible if a manufacturer invented a vehicle that could solve most of these problems? Well, some already have. Limousines have been around for ages and it’s ludicrous that they haven’t been co-opted for family use. But, if you’re going to purchase a high-end luxury transport specifically for road trips with the brood, you had better make sure it’s so decadently comfortable and quiet in the back that they can’t help but fall asleep. That’s why the perfect family vehicle is probably the new Mercedes-Maybach Pullman S650.
Granted, the long-wheelbase version of the already lengthened variant of the S-Class isn’t intended for familial use. It’s supposed signal the wealth of overachieving business persons. But exceedingly wealthy parents who think way outside the box might find it worthy of double duty.
Ahoy: Lexus Now Focusing on Premium Boat Business
Lexus sales slipped in the United States over the last two years. While overall deliveries remain relatively strong, the Japanese luxury brand saw its annual volume surpassed by Mercedes-Benz in 2013. BMW followed suit in 2017 and the gap only looks to be widening this year. So, what does a high-end nameplate do to lure back customers?
The answer is an obvious one: it starts building boats. It might shock you to learn this, but boats have actually been around since prehistoric times and physical examples have been discovered that are at least 10,000 years old. Meanwhile, most cars aren’t even 100 years old. Basic math proves boats to be the more sustainable product and a sounder investment. Cars had a good run, but autonomous vehicles and ride-sharing services are about to convert driving into a passive and homogeneous experience in a totally hypothetical and undetermined amount of time. Boats will be where it’s at very soon and every automaker will eventually become a sloop manufacturer.
Alright, I’ll stop being a prick (for now). What Lexus is really attempting to do is gussy up its image, endearing itself to the growing legions of super-rich people by providing contemporary yachts — something Mercedes-Benz has done in the past.
McLaren Promises BP23 Will Be the Fastest Car in Brand's History
It wasn’t long after the invention of the automobile that people became obsessed with acquiring more speed. For manufacturers, having the world’s fastest production car was a major honor, though it took a few decades before objectively minded trade publications made it possible to compete on a level playing field.
Most production vehicles only manage to hold the record for a few years. There are, of course, exceptions. Lamborghini’s Miura P400 maintained its title as world’s fastest production car from 1970 to 1982, when the LP500 S version of the Countach debuted. The next decade would see the record change hands almost yearly until McLaren’s carbon-bodied F1 achieved 240 mph — destroying the previous benchmark by a wide margin.
While there is some contention that the F1’s maximum speed was only achievable via the elimination of its rev limiter, it still set the record at Volkswagen’s Ehra-Lessien proving ground in 1993 under accepted guidelines and held that record until 2005. With the limiter intact, many argue the Jaguar XJ220 or RUF CTR2 would have been king of the hill until the Bugatti Veyron’s debut. Regardless, McLaren still built a production vehicle that was physically capable of reaching 240 mph and never bothered to reach any higher.
That’s expected to change once the company’s love song to the F1, the BP23 Hyper-GT, comes out.
One Does Not Simply Tell Rolls-Royce How to Sell a Car
Aston Martin is pretty damn pleased with itself, having just debuted a futuristic and luxurious electric car concept in Geneva — one it says will attract the next generation of ultra-well-heeled motorcar buyers.
The Lagonda Vision Concept previews a real-world car scheduled for production in 2021, with another to follow by 2023. Bearing a re-launched brand name long associated with the Aston marque, this Lagonda coddles its passengers in a Blade Runner-esque shell that’s outfitted like one of those sexy, Roger Moore-era James Bond escape pods. There’s cashmere and silk. Savile Row tailors were brought in to handle the upholstery. Quite simply, it’s the future of motoring, Aston Martin claims, so you’d better get used to it.
Filled with unbridled enthusiasm over his new creation, Aston design chief Marek Reichman got a little personal during an interview with Britain’s Autocar. Let’s just say his target, now aghast, is having none of this nonsense.
2019 Volkswagen Touareg: The SUV That's Too Exclusive for America
Ahead of its premiere at the Beijing auto show this spring, the next-generation Volkswagen Touareg has appeared in an official teaser video wearing next to nothing, as far as camo goes.
Crisp lines and upmarket styling cues set this VW utility vehicle apart from, say, the three-row Atlas, which is all we’ll ever see of a midsize vee-dub ute on this side of the ocean. That’s because the all-new 2019 Touareg is just not suited for life in America. Many would say its predecessor wasn’t, either.
With the UX, Lexus Now Has a Finger In Every Utility Vehicle Pie
The only thing missing is a cabriolet. With the unveiling of its new UX subcompact (“urban compact crossover” in Lexus parlance), Toyota’s premium division now spans the utility segment gamut, with models ranging from ultra-small unibodies to full-size, body-on-frame luxo-barges.
Lexus’ European arm pulled the wraps off the UX on Tuesday, ahead of the global model’s world premiere in Geneva next week. In the model’s sights are a trio of pint-sized Germans and a singular Japanese foe, all competing for a slice of a segment with unclear growth prospects.
2019 Kia K900 Plans to Do Something Its Predecessor Didn't - Find Buyers
The photo you see above is your first glimpse of the 2019 Kia K900 — the second generation of the Korean automaker’s full-size flagship sedan. If Kia’s lucky, it won’t be your last time seeing it.
Sold overseas as the K9 or Quoris, the first-gen model appeared on U.S. shores in early 2014 with Hyundai Equus underpinnings, rear-wheel motivation, a choice of V6 and V8 engine, and LeBron James as a spokesman. Sales crested the 2,500-unit mark in 2015 before falling to 455 in 2017. Like Bigfoot, the K900 is large and rarely spotted.
Kia hopes to change that with the new model.
Domestic Luxury Trucks Now Usurping Germany's Market Share of Premium Vehicles
We did it! Thanks to the modern obsession with larger vehicles and opulence, domestic luxury brands are taking off like a rocket. It’s going so well, in fact, that American automakers are starting to steal market share from high-end import manufacturers. Of course, this is only applicable to SUV and crossover sales.
As you know, sedan sales are losing ground to their high-riding counterparts. While this hasn’t resulted in the obliteration of the passenger car market, despite claims to the contrary, those vehicles are being massacred by wayward consumers. Sedans are becoming passé and this has allowed sport utility and crossover vehicles to amass a significant portion of the pie.
Nowhere is this more apparent than in the luxury market. The rapid growth of the luxury truck segment has substantially increased the United States’ share of domestic models sold with an average transaction price of $60,000 or more. Apparently, the inarguably phenomenal Mercedes-Benz S-Class doesn’t have jack squat on the GMC Yukon Denali.
Suck it, cars.
High Roller: RR Confirms 'Cullinan' as SUV Nameplate
The rumor of an SUV from one of luxury’s mightiest brands has been kicking around for about three years now. Today, the folks at Rolls-Royce confirmed they will be calling it the Cullinan. Hey, at least it’s better than Urus.
In the spirit of not playing by any rules whatsoever, Rolls is referring to the Cullinan as a “high-bodied car.” Well, then. *adjusts monocle*
Former Banker Wants Wealthy Individuals to Share Racing Cars Via New App
The former digital chief of Credit Suisse, Marco Abele, intends to introduce an app allowing wealthy individuals to share ownership of experiential assets — things like vineyards, works of art, and even fine automobiles.
Abele calls the digital service a “blockchain-based investment platform,” which is just a bullshit businessman buzzword way to say there will be a transaction ledger. By keeping things transparent, the group’s owners can ensure nobody gets financially burned when someone drives a shared $300,000 Lamborghini Huracan Super Trofeo Evo into a barricade.
At any rate, it sounds like communism for rich people.
A Car! A Car! - Volkswagen's 2019 Arteon Is Not, in Fact, a Crossover or Some Such Thing
Forgive the headline writer’s apparent shock. He thought Volkswagen was all about SUVs now, yet before him stands a premium midsize fastback sedan from none other than that German utility vehicle giant. Well, “sedan” isn’t entirely accurate.
In the interest of giving passenger cars that extra little bit of added utility, automakers are suddenly pretending it’s the late ’80s again, grafting liftbacks onto the back of sedans from Audi to Buick to VW. The strange-sounding Arteon is no exception. Arriving for the 2019 model year, VW’s Arteon dons a rear liftback as it accepts the role of the brand’s new flagship, replacing the departed CC.
With SUVs and crossovers taking over the world, it’s always interesting to see a new car model appear.
It Didn't Take Long for Another Automaker to Screw Up a Marketing Ploy
Think back. Waaay back — to 11:19 a.m.
In that article, we chronicled Fiat Chrysler’s deft handling (and perhaps, planning) of a historical Super Bowl Ram commercial that sparked a fierce social media backlash, all thanks to the spot’s use of dialogue from Martin Luther King, Jr.
We told you, all that time ago, and with all the certainty of someone knowing the sun will rise again, that the next automaker might not find itself so unscatched by a marketing blunder (if indeed you view the Ram ad as a blunder). Well, that time has come. Mercedes-Benz just offended a whole country.
Class Warfare: Ford Appends the Word 'Elite' to Its Titanium Edge
Apparently running out of precious metals with which to name their fancy crossovers (and not yet ready to bring the Vignale badge across the pond), Ford has created a Titanium Elite trim for the freshly revised Ford Edge.
And they say the world of crossovers isn’t exciting.
Bigland Gets a Break as Fiat Chrysler Shuffles the Executive Deck
There’s going to be a lot less Italian in Reid Bigland’s diet going forward, after Fiat Chrysler Automobiles removed the Alfa Romeo and Maserati portfolios from the high-ranking executive’s oversight. It’s all part of a broader raft of management changes announced today.
Bigland, quite a star in FCA’s upper echelon, will continue in his existing role as head of U.S. sales and president and CEO of FCA Canada. The executive had the two Italian luxury brands dropped in his lap back in May 2016. Earlier in his career, he headed up the Dodge and Ram brands.
Other changes are afoot as FCA attempts to give Alfa and Maserati the full-time guardian the two brands need in order to thrive.
Good News, K900 Fans - Kia's Got a Second-generation Model Ready to Go
You’re probably picking your toast up off the floor right now, so we apologize for not softening the shock of that headline. But it’s true, and it comes straight from Kia Motors America’s product boss.
The other day, we told you the Korean automaker is poised to announce the production of a bigger, butchier crossover aimed at tempting buyers in the largest utility class. While the looming Telluride soaked up the lion’s share of a Wards Auto interview with Orth Hedrick, Kia’s North American vice president of product planning, a brief mention at the end of the article caught our eye.
According to Wards, Hendrick “hints the [second-generation K900] will be shown at the New York auto show in late March.”
Hey, pick up your toast again!
Why Bring Back the Insight? Because a Hybrid Civic Just Isn't Done
Honda raised a few eyebrows by announcing the return of the Insight hybrid for 2019, this time as a larger and plusher four-door sedan. While the model holds the title of America’s first hybrid car, its groundbreaking status didn’t carry over into the model’s second generation, which, despite selling better than the two-seater first-gen model, quietly (and slowly) disappeared from the market after its 2014 discontinuation.
The automaker sold three “new” 2014 Insights last year, and 67 the year before.
Throughout the second Insight’s run, and continuing through 2015, the Civic Hybrid was also available to lower-end electrified car shoppers. Which begs the question: why didn’t Honda just make a hybrid version of its wildly popular 10th-generation Civic?
Oh no, Honda couldn’t do that.