IIHS Grouses About Passenger Safety in Rear Seats
The crash test dummies at the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) have been doing great work in ratcheting up the difficulty of their impact examinations, often requiring automakers to return to their drawing boards in search of the elusive Top Safety Pick+ designation. Now, the group is increasingly casting an eye toward how backseat passengers fare in a wreck.
Hyundai Shows New Kona
Just when you thought it was impossible for Hyundai illumination to get any thinner, along comes the new Kona. Unveiled today in Korea, this subcompact crossover will seek to build upon the successes of its predecessor – a model which sold over 90,000 units in America even during the topsy-turvy 2021 calendar year.
Make Trax: Chevy Revamps Its Little Crossover
Now that the Spark hatchback has shuffled off this mortal coil, the Trax serves as Chevy’s lowest-priced vehicle. For 2024, the bowtie brand is giving it an overhaul by binning its awkward appearance and overhauling the drivetrain. Will better looks and lower price but less power and half the driven wheels prove a winning formula?
The New RX: A Prescription for Lexus Crossovers
Those of you with checkered shirts in yer closet and a few pogs still kicking around may recall it was the original Lexus RX from the late ‘90s which arguably kicked off the “tall wagon” car-based luxury crossover craze. Sure, the first Ford Explorer put us all on a path to what we see in suburban driveways today, but it was the RX which placed them in the hands of moneyed types.
Lexus introduced a new RX yesterday near its home base in Texas, expanding the number of powertrains and (finally) dumping the ill-advised three-row model. And, oh yeah – we need to have a conversation about that grille.
Mercedes Teases New GLC
Automakers remain enamored with slowly teasing new and upcoming products, choosing to release dribs and drabs of information rather than smacking us in the face with all the details at once. Cynics in our audience will (rightly) point out it gives us a news story to run. Congratulations, Sherlock – you’re totally onto us.
Next up is a shadowy image of the next GLC crossover from Mercedes-Benz. That’s the bite-sized machine that serves as a gateway drug introductory model for many customers to the three-pointed star lifestyle in an endless quest to one-up the neighbors.
Dodge Hornet to Debut This Summer, Maybe
Dodge CEO Tim Kuniskis has effectively indicated that the brand will be rebadging Alfa Romeo Tonale to better tackle the subcompact crossover segment. Called the Hornet, the vehicle harkens back to the miniature MPV (pictured) that debuted back in 2006 of the same name. At the time, the plan was for Dodge to release the model in Europe in 2010. However, the financial crisis forced Fiat Chrysler Automobiles to restructure, with the boxy hornet Hornet being one of several casualties.
The concept has since been revised, with Kuniskis confirming the vehicle’s summer debut with The Detroit News. While the CEO said the company would like to introduce the model in August between the Dodge-sponsored Roadkill Nights and Michigan’s annual Woodward Dream Cruise, he noted that supply chain disruptions could force a revised timeline.
“This gray hair that I’m getting? It’s not COVID, it’s not lockdowns, it’s supply chain, man,” Kuniskis said during a virtual news conference. “But every single thing we’re doing is like in Jell-O right now, because it’s so hard to plan anything.” At this point, it’s getting hard to drum up sympathy for the industry. People are paying out the nose for vehicles because of the automotive sector’s collective inability to manufacture at scale. Granted, not every setback can be pinned on the manufacturer. But we’re over two years deep into constant disruptions, relentless product delays, and dealerships robbing people blind with very few tangible solutions being offered. Though even if Dodge continues having problems, you may still be able to nab something closely related to the Hornet. Alfa Romeo has already revealed the Tonale and it looks as though Stellantis plans on using it as the template for the similarly small Dodge. From The Detroit News:
He declined to confirm where the vehicle will be built, but it’s set to be assembled alongside the Alfa Romeo Tonale at Stellantis’ plant in Pomigliano, Italy, according to AutoForecast Solutions LLC. In February, Alfa revealed the four-door Tonale, its first subcompact SUV that launches in June with deliveries to the United States expected to arrive before the end of the year. It comes standard with a gas-powered 2.0-liter turbo-4 engine, but also is available as a plug-in hybrid (PHEV) with 272 horsepower from twin electric motors mated to a 1.3-liter turbocharged engine.
Previously, the Hornet was a concept, two-door small SUV that Dodge revealed in 2006 at the Geneva Motor Show. The brand at the time said it combined American attitude with European function. Dodge trademarked the name for passenger vehicles in March 2020.
The upcoming Hornet is also said to come with a PHEV option, which Kuniskis suggested could launch in 2023. Expect it to be more-or-less identical to Alfa’s crossover with fewer creature comforts and a slightly lower price tag.
“The Dodge brand needs something,” said Sam Fiorani, vice president of global forecasting for AutoForecast Solutions. “They can’t survive the brand on muscle cars. Making a fun-to-drive compact crossover fits into the Dodge brand.”
“You kind of have to move up a price class to get to the real fun-to-drive ones,” he continued. “If it’s under $30,000, it’s usually packaged and sold as transportation, lifestyle vehicles with price being key and fun-to-drive being secondary. It could potentially break open a market for Dodge, especially if they can keep the price low enough.”
Dodge is also supposed to be launching an all-electric performance car the company has cringingly dubbed “eMuscle” in 2024 with its planned debut preceding the Hornet introduction. Mr. Kuniskis suggested this could also be delayed, however. Apparently, the manufacturer is waiting on an important piece he said was “outside of my control, it’s outside our industry, quite frankly” before the car should be shown.
“I’m pushing to get it in the public view and show you what we’re doing and how we’re doing it different as fast as I can,” he said. “Because it drives me crazy that other people are way out in front of their headlights, and I’m not.”
Kuniskis also issued an ominous warning to dealerships and the aftermarket community after musing about electrification and evolving business models.
“There’s a change going on in the industry that’s going to affect our retail partners, our dealers, our partners in this business, and when we go to full electrification across the industry, they’re going to lose a revenue stream that they have today,” he elaborated. “They’re going to see a decrease in revenue and parts and service and maintenance. That’s just a fact.”
The Detroit News also made mention of the stage kits from the Direct Connection performance parts program Dodge had relaunched to sell certified, factory warranty-backed modifications to boost the power on Dodge vehicles when installed by a dealership. Guess what? They’re delayed, too. Though this was a combination of the absent semiconductors and approval by the California Air Resources Board so they can be sold in all 50 states.
2023 Mazda CX-50 First Drive - Treading New Ground
There’s an argument to be made Mazda is the little car company that could. Representing a sliver of the American market compared to its larger competitors, the Hiroshima-made vehicles are typically infused with the type of driving fun that’s seemingly been surgically removed from the vehicles with which it competes.
Actually, the term ‘Hiroshima-made’ is no longer totally correct. With the introduction of the 2023 CX-50 crossover you see on these digital pages, Mazda now has a manufacturing footprint in this country to the annual tune of 150,000 vehicles. It’s only fitting they’d deploy this new capability for the type of rig most Americans prefer: An all-wheel-drive crossover with an off-road attitude.
The Right Spec: 2022 Genesis GV70
Some of us who are rapidly approaching a certain age will clearly recall when Lexus (and Infiniti, to a lesser extent) first showed up on the luxury car scene and promptly took the establishment to school. Fast forward 30+ years and we find an upstart Korean brand attempting the same thing – and being largely successful.
The GV70 plugged an important hole in the Genesis lineup, given the perpetual thirst of Americans for crossovers and SUVs. Its unique lighting treatments might be a love-it-or-leave-it affair, but there’s no denying this thing brings the goods to a cutthroat segment.
2022 Honda Passport Drops Base Trim, Wears New Higher Price
If you’re looking to get behind the wheel of Honda’s entrant in the two-row midsize crossover segment, be prepared to open your wallet a bit further than last year. A first blush, it might appear as if Honda jacked prices skyward by five grand but the reality is actually a lot simpler – they simply binned the base model.
Seven of Mine: Hyundai Assimilates Electric Power
Appearing on the same day as certain other vehicles under which one will find the E-GMP architecture, the annoyingly capitalized Hyundai SEVEN was introduced today at the L.A. Auto Show. Billed as a preview of a future sport utility electric vehicle, it’s meant to further the burgeoning all-electric IONIQ sub-brand while also being one of the building clocks for Hyundai’s kick at reaching carbon neutrality by 2045.
Why they didn’t have Jeri Ryan drive the thing on stage is beyond this author’s comprehension.
Kia Rolls Out a Brace of Electrified Crossovers in L.A.
It will surprise exactly no one that this year’s L.A. Auto Show has been home to several reveals of various and sundry electrified vehicles. Some, like the Kia Sportage Hybrid, are existing rigs with some electrons infused into their body. Others, such as this K9 Concept, are built from the ground up as an all-electric vehicle.
RAV4 Celebrates 25 Years, Toyota Gifts It New Trims
Believe it or not, the ubiquitous RAV4 has been around for two-and-a-half decades, appearing on the scene as a right-sized trucklet available in either two- or four-door guise. Remember when the RAV could be had with a removable roof? Pepperidge Farm remembers.
Twenty-five years on, the model has grown in size and cemented itself as a leader in its segment. Fun fact: the original four-door RAV was just 162 inches long, about two feet shorter than a Camry of the day, on a wheelbase of 94.5 inches. For 2022, Toyota has added a couple of extra trims and fiddled with some of its styling details.
Global Debut of Subaru Solterra Takes Place Ahead of American Reveal
While this year’s L.A. Auto Show will be the location in which Subaru shows its new all-electric Solterra on this side on the pond, the new EV – developed in conjunction with Toyota – popped up in an official capacity at a reveal event in Japan. Save for having its steering wheel on the opposite side of the cabin, the machine you see here will be much like the one appearing next week in Los Angeles.
It also looks a lot like its Toyota cousin – much more so than some industry observers expected.
Kia Releases Shadowy Teaser of Upcoming EV9
It’ll surprise exactly zero percent of our readers that automakers have gone all-in on electric SUVs and crossovers. That news continues apace, with Kia showing a ghostly image of its upcoming EV9. Set to fully appear as a concept car within the next month, there’s a strong possibility it’ll share much with its corporate cousin Hyundai Ioniq 7.
The Right Spec: 2022 Infiniti QX60
Fresh off the line for this model year, the new QX60 turns Infiniti’s offering in the brutally competitive luxury crossover segment from a long-in-the-tooth ride to a modern new whip with screens and tech galore. Snicker if you will at my choice of mentioning those two features off the top, but customers spending in excess of 50 large on a rig like this tend to be entranced by those items.
There is a quartet of trims on tap for the 2022 QX60, all of which are propelled by the same engine and transmission combo. Our man Tim had the chance to sample a top-shelf trim in the tony environs of Napa Valley, but is that the one to get? Let’s break down the options and find out.