Category: Platforms

By on July 11, 2018

Image: Ford

The attractive Ford Fusion seems to be on track to linger around a bit longer than its passenger car stablemates, even in its current form. Focus, Taurus, and Fiesta production should wrap up by the middle of next year, with the Fusion’s end date currently shrouded by haze. All signs point to the current midsize sedan ending its run in 2021.

But that doesn’t mean there isn’t a new Fusion waiting to replace it. Read More >

By on June 2, 2018

2018 Dodge Challenger Shakedown

When the first LX-platform Chryslers appeared in late 2004, buyers who had long grown wary of the automaker’s products took solace in the fact that the new 300 and Dodge Charger/Magnum borrowed so many components from bedmate Mercedes-Benz.

While not a direct carryover, the front and rear suspension, floorpan, and five-speed automatic transmission (among other items) all boasted German heritage. DaimlerChrysler found itself with a hit on its hands. Thirteen years later, after many updates and styling refreshes, LX cars still trundle off Fiat Chrysler’s Brampton, Ontario assembly line and into the waiting arms of North American traditionalists.

It was long expected that, after FCA hit snooze on a planned 2019 platform swap, we’d see new underpinnings for the old rear-drivers by 2021. Hold your horses, says CEO Sergio Marchionne. Read More >

By on May 24, 2018

Volvo, back from near death and feeling pretty pleased with itself, wants to capitalize on the modular platform found beneath the XC40 compact crossover. With 80,000 orders for the new-for-2018 ‘ute under its belt, the Chinese-owned Swede plans to spawn more models and reassert itself in the small car space.

On Thursday, the company said it would throttle up production of the XC40 at its Belgian assembly plant, which will soon boast quite a bit of usable space. The S60 sedan’s headed to South Carolina later this year. Meanwhile, the V60 wagon sibling will move most of its production to a Swedish plant.

What does this mean for the United States? Perhaps more than you’d expect. Read More >

By on May 22, 2018

Ford badge emblem logo

Ford’s upcoming “Mustang inspired” electric crossover, which appeared (or didn’t, really) in a video shown the Detroit auto show, stands to ride on a new architecture that doesn’t bring to mind either the Mustang or the Explorer.

While a new report doesn’t provide us with an OEM-sourced image of the 2020 crossover, which may carry the Mach 1 name, it gives as sense of what to expect in terms of size. Read More >

By on May 18, 2018

Daimler AG has announced an investment of 500 million euros ($589 million) for its plant in Hambach, France, to start production on a compact electric car for the Mercedes-Benz EQ brand. Known as “Smartville,” the complex was purpose built in the 1990s to supply the automaker with the first batch of Smart ForTwos and has been humming along ever since.

While numerous outlets have billed the model as a “Tesla fighter,” the rumor mill claims this vehicle is quite a bit smaller than the Model 3. That sounds reasonable enough, considering the new model would be produced in the same facility as the electric ForTwo and cabrio. However, the multi-million dollar investment will presumably go toward expanding the factory and procuring the EQ its own assembly line. We’ve heard nothing about the new Mercedes being a rebranded Smart vehicle.

There are actually a lot of gray areas to navigate here. While Mercedes spent a lot of time billing EQ as an electrified subsidiary, it’s already tacking the name onto electric Smart cars. The nomenclature now seems intended for any Daimler model with an electric powertrain, plus cleverly styled concept vehicles. Spyshots of the EQC sport utility vehicle, Mercedes’ first official entry into its broader EV effort, show the heavily camouflaged vehicle looking very much like the standard GLC-Class — not the concept EQs we’ve seen in the past.  Read More >

By on May 1, 2018

Image: Wikimedia (CC BY-SA 4.0)

Oh man, they even got the paint right. Who knew retro design cues could feel so authentic?

Hold on, that’s not the upcoming midsize Chevrolet Blazer — it’s a 1979 model (in alluring Cheyenne trim). Obviously, General Motors expects the public to hold fond memories of the Blazers of yesteryear, otherwise it wouldn’t affix the brawny, rugged name to its newest crossover. Yes, crossover. The Tahoe, which replaced the two-door K5 Blazer back in the mid ’90s, remains the top choice for drivers looking for bowties and body-on-frame construction.

However, there’s plenty of space between the newly downsized Equinox and sprawling Traverse. Into the breach drives the Blazer. Read More >

By on April 16, 2018

Beneath the recently unveiled next-generation Ford Focus is an architecture that stands to proliferate through the Ford ranks, underpinning models as large as the Ford Edge.

While American consumers won’t see the new Focus until the latter half of 2019, well after buyers in Europe and China (where the U.S.-bound model will be built), the unnamed platform, which barely got any type of billing during the model’s reveal, stands to bring Ford’s front-drive vehicles into the third decade of the 20th century. Read More >

By on March 26, 2018

2017 Volkswagen Amarok, Image: Volkswagen

Buyers in foreign markets enjoy far greater midsize pickup choice than their counterparts in North America. Besides the usual products from General Motors and Ford (the latter of which we’re only just being introduced to), there’s offerings from Mitsubishi, Fiat, even Volkswagen. Has decades of full-size truck dominance made North America too unforgiving for smaller entries? Sales of the Toyota Tacoma, Nissan Frontier, and Chevrolet Colorado say otherwise.

There’s midsize ground to be gained here, but no new model faces a guarantee of success. Volkswagen, which sells the body-on-frame Amarok (seen above) overseas, apparently wants to find out how Americans would feel about a smaller, lighter entry in the midsize pickup game. According to sources, it wants to find out this week. Read More >

By on March 6, 2018

Image: Volkswagen Group

Volkswagen’s Vizzion of the future — a fully autonomous concept car with an all-knowing hologram chauffeur and suicide doors — just came back down to Earth. The sedan will now start life as a normal car, albeit one with two electric motors and all-wheel drive.

Positioned as the flagship of Volkswagen’s upcoming line of I.D.-badged electric models, the Vizzion is on track to start production in 2022. With this car, VW gains a lower-priced alternative to vehicles like Tesla’s Model S and Porsche’s Mission E. Read More >

By on March 1, 2018

Image: Volkswagen/YouTube

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. Read More >

By on January 24, 2018

jeep renegade grille

The emergence of Jeep as a global brand with lofty sales ambitions means satisfying everyone, everywhere, no matter what the location or income of the would-be buyer. While Fiat Chrysler feels there’s definitely room to go bigger and pricier in the United States (we’re still waiting on that six-figure Grand Wagoneer), there’s also a desire to go smaller in overseas markets.

We’re talking sub-Renegade. And it just so happens Jeep has access to the platform underpinning the tiny Fiat 500 city car and plucky/adorable Fiat Panda that would make just such a model possible.

The question for Jeep is: does it really want to go there? 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

As we’ve told you before, Mitsubishi’s acceptance into the massive Renault-Nissan fold spells new opportunities for the struggling brand. Platform and technology sharing, affordably developed new models, no further risk of bankruptcy — the future looks a lot brighter than it did just a couple of years ago.

Among those potential new products is a pickup truck — a segment Mitsu’s courted in the past, with varying degrees of success. Apparently, the brand’s urge to join the growing pickup field hasn’t waned, but the timeline for another new product — a downsized Outlander Sport — now appears less urgent than it once did. Read More >

By on January 17, 2018

Image: Infiniti

There’s that misleading word again. At this week’s North American International Auto Show, Infiniti promised it would only field new products featuring some sort of electrified propulsion starting in 2021, thus joining half the automotive universe in promising an “electric” future.

In reality, this means each new model appearing after the target date will launch with at least a hybrid variant in tow. In Infiniti’s case, it means a handful of fully electric vehicles, plus the use of a novel Nissan technology that sees a gasoline engine running at all times. Read More >

By on December 1, 2017

Volkswagen I.D. CROZZ, Image: Volkswagen Group

It’s hard picturing the world automakers have painted for us. You know the one — it’s the exciting, progressive near-future vision in which electric crossovers sprout from everywhere all at once, instantly winning the approval of a populace hooked on the convenience of  gasoline.

With the all-electric vehicle’s market share hovering at just over half of one percent in the United States, it’s difficult to imagine the needle budging significantly by 2020. Or even 2025. Still, an ever-increasing number of automakers are promising exactly this. Volkswagen’s among them, announcing at this week’s L.A. Auto Show that its horribly named I.D. Crozz concept will form the basis of a new crossover that arrives stateside in 2020, followed two years later by a reborn electric Microbus (or I.D. Buzz, in VW parlance).
Read More >

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