Category: Luxury

By on January 26, 2018

Image: Kia Motors

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! Read More >

By on January 23, 2018

Image: Honda

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. Read More >

By on January 22, 2018

2018 Lexus LC500 front - Image: Lexus

Okay, that headline’s just a tad disingenuous — Lexus knows exactly how to pick up new customers, and that’s by offering crossovers, crossovers, crossovers. Longer crossovers. Smaller crossovers. More seats and fewer seats.

Still, as much as an ever-expanding roster of utility vehicles can sway buyers to a brand, visibility counts for something. And a starring role in a potential blockbuster film isn’t something any automaker would pass up. Such is the case with Black Panther, a superhero movie for superhero-loving nerds, which Lexus feels is the perfect vehicle for pumping up a little brand recognition.

Lexus, you see, wants to be back on top. Read More >

By on January 19, 2018

2018 Buick Enclave Avenir grille - Image: Buick

Launched last fall on the new-for-2018 Enclave crossover and extended to the LaCrosse large sedan, Buick now is making noises that the Avenir sub-brand will extend across the lineup, potentially landing on every model it sells.

That didn’t take long. Less than three months ago, we reported Buick brand boss Duncan Aldred said, in reference to Avenir, “We’re not going to force it,” while speaking at a media event near Detroit. It must be tempting to do so, however, when the brand looks across the showroom to see Denali trucks helping push the GMC brand to a record average transaction price north of $55,000.

Read More >

By on January 9, 2018

FIsker EMotion with Hinrick

Fisker, now called Fisker, Inc. after the company Henrik Fisker originally created fell into bankruptcy, is going after the luxury EV market for a second time. Don’t let past money troubles worry you too much, though. Even Henry Ford filed for bankruptcy twice before forming the company that build the Model T.

Instead, let your fears stem from the questionable build quality of the Fisker Karma, which faltered on the market in 2012. Because the new model, dubbed the EMotion, appears to be a rehash of the old formula with its ambitions set much higher. Offering self-driving abilities, an impressive electric range, an extravagant design, and some of the market’s most desirable infotainment functions, the EMotion is either a trumped-up prototype or the absolute pinnacle of electric luxury sedans. Read More >

By on January 9, 2018

2018 Buick LaCrosse Avenir, Image: GM

We joke, but there’s many among us — even here at TTAC — who would love to see the full-size sedan segment return to its former glory. Ford can ditch this EcoSport idea and get back to building Galaxies and LTDs and Fairlanes, Dodge can reintroduce the Monaco and Polara, and Buick can slot the Electra 225 above its current LaCrosse.

Sadly, aficionados of the traditional passenger car, especially the largest class, are dwindling in the face of intense wooing from the crossover brigade. Once one discover what a high seating position and all-wheel drive can do for your life (and your confidence), one rarely goes back. Each year, fewer and fewer return for the LaCrosse.

It is against this backdrop that the division’s flagship sedan debuts its newly luxurious Avenir trim. As the second model to wear the name of Buick’s premium sub-brand, can the new trim lift the model’s falling fortunes? Read More >

By on December 18, 2017

2017 Mercedes-AMG C43 Group - Image: Mercedes-Benz

GMC has its Denali sub-brand, and Buick now has its Avenir, but German premium marques aren’t in need of added luxury. Extra horsepower and speed earns that inflated sticker price.

Mercedes-Benz’s AMG sub-brand isn’t the small stable of tuned performance cars it once was. The automaker’s made it painfully clear it wants to AMG all the things, with the brand’s large crop of SUVs (and SUV “coupes”) serving as the latest canvas for AMG’s brushstrokes. A lineup that began the current year with 34 models will likely celebrate New Year’s Eve with 42.

The folks at Mercedes-Benz USA are already reaping the reward. Read More >

By on November 29, 2017

2019 Lincoln Nautilus, Image: Ford Motor Company

As we learned yesterday, the midsize Lincoln MKX will soon be no more, replaced by a vehicle that’s very similar in appearance but definitely not in name. Nautilus, the Jules Verne-inspired moniker that graces the crossover’s flanks starting next summer, is a signal that real names are back, baby. Take note, rival automakers.

Besides freeing the former MKX from the abyss of alphanumeric naming hell, the arrival of Nautilus means significant powertrain changes and a design detour — pushing Lincoln’s best-selling model ever so slightly further upscale while adding a dose of fuel savings. Read More >

By on November 24, 2017

2019 INFINITI QX50, Image: Infiniti

You saw a teaser the other day, but here’s the real thing. Infiniti’s next-generation 2019 QX50 midsize crossover has appeared online before its official unveiling at next week’s L.A. Auto Show.

The model’s uncloaking doesn’t yield any great design surprises, as this next-generation model — bearing Infiniti’s new “Powerful Elegance” styling — was preceded, somewhat oddly, by its own namesake concept vehicle. One surprise, however, is the model’s anticipated fuel economy.

With a 2.0-liter variable compression four-cylinder resting under the hood, the new QX50 sips less gas than initially claimed. Read More >

By on November 17, 2017

Infiniti Q80 Inspiration

Nearly 30 years ago, Infiniti introduced the first-generation Q45 — a remarkable flagship sedan packed with performance and technology but whose rocks-and-trees ad campaign went on to become a staple of “what not to do” in undergrad marketing courses across the land.

Infiniti pulled the plug on its flagship after the 2006 model year, following poor sales performances that plumbed the depths of Excel charts heretofore unknown to any model since the Lincoln Blackwood.

Which was unfortunate because the Q, by and large, was an excellent car. Now, there appears to be a good chance we’ll see a new Infiniti flagship sedan, perhaps as soon as the Detroit Auto Show in January.
Read More >

By on November 16, 2017

Lexus RX350LThe grandpappy of all luxury crossovers, the Lexus RX, has long been the runaway sales leader in its segment. Last year, the RX crushed its competition like beetles under its feet, selling 109,435 units. That’s nearly one-in-five midsize luxury crossovers.

Intent on proving that too much of a good thing is a good thing, the RX will further cement its domination with the introduction of a three-row version, set to appear at this year’s L.A. Auto Show.

Read More >

By on November 14, 2017

2018 INFINITI QX80, Image: Infiniti

I recall once having a discussion in TTAC’s Slack chatroom. The topic, one that doesn’t come up all that often these days, was styling excess. Way too much gingerbread, far too much latter-day Baroque flourishes, and too confusing a design can turn a high-priced vehicle into a dog’s breakfast.

In my opinion, that described the Infiniti QX80 to a “T.”

When Infiniti’s full-size, body-on-frame SUV launched in mid-2013, “understated,” “muted,” and “tasteful” were not words that jumped to the forefront of one’s mind. Thankfully, Infiniti has taken an eraser to the model’s most controversial elements for 2018, resulting in a vehicle that’s much more cohesive, yet similar in profile. Read More >

By on November 8, 2017

2018 Buick LaCrosse Avenir

Being good at something doesn’t necessarily make you popular. Witness the New York Yankees of the late ‘90s, for example. The current Buick LaCrosse falls in that same unfortunate boat. Given its mission, I think it’s a great car. Sadly, that’s its problem — it’s a car, not a crossover, and the market is demanding the latter.

Buick is attempting to push a few more of the large sedans through the showroom by adding the Avenir sub-brand to the LaCrosse lineup. Will it work? Well, let’s see what one gets with the addition.

Read More >

By on November 7, 2017

2018 Lincoln Navigator, Image: Ford Motor Company

Despite the addition of a corporate split grill a few years ago, there’s no denying Lincoln’s outgoing Navigator is one old piece of kit. As such, the glitzy premiere of the new-for-2018 Navigator heralded greater full-size Lincoln SUV sales not just from new buyers, but returning ones.

Having seen what Dearborn was up to, it seems some inhabitants of the Renaissance Center decided to try and spoil Lincoln’s fun. If you’re the owner of a 1999 or newer Lincoln vehicle who’s thinking of maybe getting into a new Navigator, Cadillac would like you to know there’s 5,000 smackeroos waiting for you on the hood of your nearest Escalade. Read More >

By on October 30, 2017

2018 Buick Enclave Avenir - Image: Buick

Denali. It’s the Ford LTD of trims. Just take an existing model, add a dash of content and a sprinkling of chrome, and boom — a significantly inflated MSRP and legions of willing buyers. So impressed by GMC’s Denali sub-brand was Buick, executives decided it needed one of its own.

Enter the Avenir sub-brand, which serves as the top trim podium for the redesigned 2018 Enclave. Not only is Avenir designed to milk larger volumes of dollars out of existing Buick products, it’s also meant to draw more eyes to the brand — something Buick needs now, not later.

Still, despite its high expectations for the Avenir experiment, Buick knows it can’t come in too hot. Read More >

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