Category: Luxury

By on November 27, 2018

Image: Genesis Motors

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. Read More >

By on November 17, 2018

Image: Maserati

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.  Read More >

By on October 30, 2018

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. Read More >

By on September 5, 2018

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. Read More >

By on August 28, 2018

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? Read More >

By on August 27, 2018

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.  Read More >

By on August 23, 2018

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. Read More >

By on August 22, 2018

Image: Steph Willems/TTAC

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. Read More >

By on August 13, 2018

2018 Lincoln Navigator

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.” Read More >

By on August 1, 2018

Image: General Motors

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.” Read More >

By on July 26, 2018

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.

Read More >

By on July 25, 2018

2018 Buick Regal GS profile - Image: Buick

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. Read More >

By on July 17, 2018

Image: Acura

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. Read More >

By on June 18, 2018

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.

Read More >

By on June 15, 2018

Bentayga V8 - 2

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?

Hardly. Read More >

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