Acura has unveiled the 2022 Acura MDX, peeling back the curtain on the latest iteration of the luxury SUV with its most dramatic redesign in 20 years. For a brand more reliant on technology, Acura’s new flagship model is daring if not somewhat fearless in its appearance.
Sporting an all-new platform and chassis, the MDX also has new sheetmetal.
Bentley Motors’ initial attempt at an SUV did wonders for its volume. While its status as an automaker catering exclusively to the rich keeps annual production totals exceptionally low, the Bentayga now accounts for almost half of its total output. After the model’s introduction in 2016, the Bentley’s annual deliveries shot up 33 percent in Europe.
That wasn’t a coincidence.
Ever since Porsche’s massive success with the Cayenne (introduced in 2002, if you can believe it), super-premium marques have been hunting for a way to make expensive crossovers work equally well for them. If you’re seeking supportive evidence, look no further than the Lamborghini Urus, Rolls-Royce Cullinan, Aston Martin DBX, or Ferrari Purosangue. Bentley’s Bentayga also qualifies, though the company has a slight lead over the field, giving it the opportunity continue capitalizing on the segment by introducing another model — just like Porsche did with the Macan.
Lamborghini unveiled the Urus SUV today at what was, quite possibly, the most over-the-top product reveal ever witnessed. There was an orchestra, modern dance routine, and rainbow-colored neon light show within the first two minutes. There was almost even a martial arts exhibition ready to break out. Clearly this was a big moment for the Italian automaker and it was more than willing to make a fuss about it.
However, before Lamborghini could get to the Urus announcement, a cavalcade of the brand’s most important models paraded out — followed by a speed skater holding an orange glow stick. Again, it was insane. Eventually the lights were reset and an extended diatribe began on the artistry and pioneering spirit of the brand’s history.
It was boring and included a hefty dollop of marketing speak about Lamborghini’s “evolution.” Then there was another ludicrous dance number, this one somehow tied to automobile production, followed by some rather serious technical difficulties with the presentation. But neither lasted forever and the Urus finally took the stage, rather modestly, to thunderous applause and cheering.
High performance sport utilities are nothing new. Porsche’s Cayenne has been around for a while (15 years, in fact), and for the most part the diehard Zuffenhausen aficionados have at least accepted, if not embraced it. Jeep continues to make its ridiculous SRT variation of the Grand Cherokee, which has the ability to consume fuel and tires at an equally distressing rate. GMC is to blame for starting this foolishness in the early ‘90s with the Typhoon version of its otherwise lamentable S15 Jimmy.
BMW isn’t immune to the desire for a padded bottom line and has provided buyers with several variations of the South Carolina-built X5 mid-size SUV for 18 years now too, including M-branded versions with their own eyebrow-raising performance.
So while comparably priced and dynamically superior 5 Series wagons languished in showrooms, North American drivers climbed over themselves to grab a trendy SUV instead.
There has always been something distinctively inelegant about Lincoln’s Navigator. It never felt nearly as special as the Cadillac Escalade and it was difficult to see its owners as people worthy of emulating. Lincoln made some positive headway in its third generation, but Navigator ownership still felt like you received a bum deal on an well-equipped Ford Expedition. It was working-class utility embellished with the lies of premium luxury and sold for more than it was worth.
While the 2018 Navigator still shares its platform with the Expedition, it has done away with that sense of unsavory sameness. They’re both hulking SUVs and fit for similar duties, but the Lincoln now feels prestigious. You can soon say that you drive one while raising your eyebrows in a suggestively triumphant manner. People might even envy you. The 2018 Navigator finally matches the Escalade in both kitschy flair and genuine class. That doesn’t necessarily mean that it’s better than the Expedition, but it does — for the first time in history — provide a real reason to covet one over the other.
Before we get down to the meat of this week’s question, a brief bit of housekeeping. If you have a question for “Ask Jack”, send it to firstname.lastname@example.org. I will accept and privately answer questions on any topic, regardless of my qualifications to do so. Perhaps you would like to know how to catch the eye of that bored, fidgety, but remarkably attractive housewife down the street. Maybe you need to reshuffle Excel spreadsheets using Perl from a command line, or make a tattoo gun using only the items available in a Midwestern prison. I can help you with any of these queries and a million more. However, in keeping with the fundamental dignity of this website, only questions of an automotive nature will be answered here. No matter what the precise nature of your business might be, please title the email “Ask Jack”.
Now where we were? Oh yes: a fellow with the world’s best car is interested in trading it for the world’s ugliest crossover.
Everyone needs an SUV. That’s the mantra in today’s automotive market, and it’s not solely applicable to consumers.
Jaguar, an automaker that’s traditionally sold sedans and grand touring coupes, has seen its sales skyrocket atop an F-Pace emblazoned missile. Also from England, the Bentley Bentayga sports a fascia only a mother could love. Yet, it seems Bentley has found a number of maternal mothers with deep, offshore bank accounts more than willing to adopt Crewe’s latest offspring, resulting in 56 percent of Bentley’s total U.S. sales coming from its new SUV in August, the Bentayga’s first month on sale.
But those are established, luxury automakers. Surely, a small, single-model automaker can buck the SUV trend if its plan is to offer a limited number of models.
Or maybe it’s more important that it offers an SUV to its deep-pocketed clientele.
When the original Cadillac SRX appeared for the 2004 model year, it rode atop a rear-wheel-drive unibody platform, offered three rows of seats, and asked a question rarely asked today: “V8 with that?”
Six years later, General Motors saw fit to yank the SRX out of that class and plunge it into the murderously competitive front-wheel drive, two-row luxury crossover field, shoving it in direct competition with the segment’s dominant sales king, the Lexus RX. Hand-wringing ensued, yet that iteration of the SRX sold nearly 100,000 copies globally in 2015. Not bad for a five-year-old model on the outs.
For 2017, Cadillac — drunk on the New York City skyline and “image spaces” in SoHo — introduced its CT6 sedan before turning its attention to updating its best seller.
Will Cadillac’s new utility, now christened XT5 and built in Saturn’s old Spring Hill digs in Tennessee, follow the brand’s relentless path to Audi-ization?
The RDX may have supplanted the MDX as Acura’s best-selling model, but Acura hopes to put the their mid-sized crossover back on top with the all-new 2014 MDX. To show us how they plan to do that, Acura invited us to Oregon to sample the new MDX for a day around Newberg. Even without the snazzy trip it’s easy to see that regaining the Acura sales crown shouldn’t be difficult. After all, the current MDX is Acura’s second best-selling vehicle and despite being seven years old (ancient in the auto biz) the MDX is still the best-selling 7-seat luxury SUV in America and the second best-selling mid-sized SUV/crossover period. How does one redesign success? Carefully.
I remember when the RX rolled onto the scene in 1998. It was truly the first successful crossover as we would know it today. While everyone else was trying to produce a truck-based luxury SUV, Lexus took the Camry/ES platform, put a jelly-bean inspired box on top and jacked the ride height up to 7.7 inches. The result was instant sales success. As we all know however, success has a price. The marshmallow-soft FWD RX lacked road feel, steering feel and sex appeal. Although it’s a bit late in the game, Lexus has decided to fix that last problem with the introduction of the 2013 RX F-Sport.
When car companies need to stretch out a model’s useful lifespan, there are a number of tricks they use. After the first year, new colors are added. The next few year options and trim parts are tweaked. Around year four, a limited edition surfaces followed by a drivetrain revamp in year 5. And so it is with Infiniti’s sporty FX crossover, now entering its fifth model year as the “new” 2013 Infiniti FX37. You guessed it, the only thing new about the FX37 is the engine. Today’s burning question is: does a new engine give a luxury vehicle a lease on life? Or is this thinly disguised crossover life support? Click through the jump to find out.
If you thought high gas prices and a questionable economy meant the era of big SUVs was over, you’d be wrong; 2011 saw large SUV sales in the US grow 3.7% with a 7.4% growth in the luxury SUV segment. If you are one of those people with six-figure salaries and snow-filled school runs, the Cadillac Escalade is probably on your short list. But what about the person who isn’t ready to look “gangsta” while dropping Jimmy Jr. off at softball practice? Infiniti might just have the answer: the all-new, all-enormous QX56. Michael Karesh snagged a QX56 from a dealer back in March 2011, and in December Infiniti tossed me the keys to a 7-seat QX to see what the behemoth is like to live with for a week.
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