Toyota 4Runner Gets TRD Stripes for 40th Birthday

While hardly the most modern vehicle in Toyota’s lineup, the 4Runner has developed a reputation for being a versatile body-on-frame SUV with the ability to actually tackle off-road trails — rather than simply looking the part.

This year, the model is celebrating its 40th birthday and Toyota has opted to issue a special edition limited to 4,040 examples. The vehicle in question comes with the 4Runner’s 4.0-liter V6, five-speed automatic transmission, and some visual embellishments designed to set the vehicle apart. These include bronze-colored wheels, bronze-colored badging, and TRD (Toyota Racing Development) stripes down the side. But those are just the broad strokes.

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VW Rumored to Revive Scout Nameplate

Volkswagen Group is reportedly considering reviving the Scout name for North America. Following the merger of trucking subsidiary Traton and Navistar in 2020, VW found itself in possession of the farm-focused International Harvester. While the brand technically hasn’t existed since 1985, the German company effectively owns its intellectual property — including the Scout name — and is keen to leverage some of its nostalgia for an alleged sub-brand specializing in sport utility vehicles.

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Report: Toyota Crown Reimagined as SUV & Coming to North America

Iconic for being Japan’s default taxi or police cruiser for decades, the Toyota Crown has been in production since 1955. Our market even got a taste of the model during its golden years, with the automobile becoming the brand’s first product ever to be exported to North America. While it would eventually be supplanted by the Corona Mark II/Cressida in the 1970s, we’d see parts of the vehicle return to our market through the Toyota Avalon and Lexus GS.

Meanwhile, the Crown executive series of sedans (and occasionally wagons) have been going strong in Japan for nearly 70 years — evolving gradually in the manner that Toyota typically prefers. But there have been stirrings that the company might discontinue the model for Japan, replicating FAW Toyota’s decision to turn the car into a sport-utility vehicle (based on the fourth-generation Highlander) in China. Now we’re getting reports that a similar scenario is being planned for other major markets, including the United States.

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Rare Rides: The International Harvester Scout, Not a Jeep (Part II)

Yesterday’s edition of Rare Rides covered the first-generation International Harvester Scout. Born in 1960 at the very beginning of the recreational sport utility vehicle class, a decade later it was time for the always difficult second album: Scout II.

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Rare Rides: The International Harvester Scout, Not a Jeep (Part I)

Today’s Rare Ride is the fourth International Harvester product featured in this series, after a 1200 D, Travelall, and the 2000s era (and ridiculous) MXT personal semi-truck.

Let’s pay a visit to Scout (the first one).

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Dealers Share Details of Ford Bronco Prototype, New Off-road Vehicle Family

Dealers got an early look at a prototype build of the upcoming Ford Bronco. Gathered in Palm Beach, FL at the behest of the automaker, dealers were asked to hand over their phones in order to avoid any leaks. Fortunately, their memories were sufficient in giving us a better idea as to what to expect come 2020.

While the event’s focus stayed on the Bronco and some of its more-interesting features, Ford also shared its plan to develop a family of off-road vehicles to complement the model. Introductory vehicles include the Bronco, its smaller counterpart, and a little unibody pickup to slot beneath the Ranger.

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2019 BMW X5 Leaked Before Paris Unveiling

A handful of photos of the 2019 BMW X5 leaked over the weekend, but their questionable resolution elicited queries about their authenticity — as did their Chinese origins. Those pics were followed by dozens more a few days later, along with confirmation from BMW that they’re the real deal.

While official photos of the vehicle were supposed to appear later this summer, the X5 isn’t slated to go on display until the Paris Motor Show this October. However, a Chinese auto forum was spotted by CarScoops posting the works Tuesday morning.

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No Fixed Abode: Sleepy In CU-Ville

Genchi gembutsu. It’s a term I heard fairly often during my time in the Great Midwestern Sedan Factory and it means, more or less, “Go look at the issue.” In the years since, I’ve often heard “Agile coaches” and “Scrum masters” in IT talk about “Gemba Walks,” which are supposed to be the same thing. The problem is that software development is nothing like a factory floor, system administration even less so, and if I have to hear one more dimwitted IBM consultant with a two-year DeVry degree lecturing me about “how Japanese manufacturers do things” I’m going to drag said consultant into the paint booth at Marysville and let him drown in whatever shade of grey is being indifferently sprayed on the cars that day. It’s cargo culture at its most pathetic, garnished with a sprig of racism.

Yet there is more than enough truth in the original application of genchi gembutsu. If you’re hearing about a problem on the factory floor, don’t waste time talking about it in the office. Go to the place and look at the problem. Until you do that, you’re just guessing.

It was with that concept in mind that I borrowed a three-row CUV recently for a 1,300-mile trip around the Midwest. Over and over again I’ve decried the modern fetish for massive unibody crossovers, but rarely have I driven one for more than a few miles at a time. This seemed like a good time to “go to the place” and “look at the problem.” I took this vehicle and tested it on its ability to substitute for vehicles both smaller and larger. A week later, I remain shaken, if not stirred, by the experience.

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McLaren Confirms SUVs Aren't for Supercar Manufacturers

Let’s take a moment to consider how ubiquitous sport utility vehicles and crossovers have become. They are, quite literally, everywhere, and reason for this is that they’ve morphed into a jack-of-all-trades type of automobile.

The antiquated definition of SUV included words like “rugged” and “off-road.” But modern examples really only need to ride higher than your typical sedan to qualify. That, along with the segment’s current trendiness, has helped to make such vehicles exceeding popular. So popular, in fact, that practically every automaker is trying to build one to improve sales.

This includes supercar manufacturers. Lamborghini intentionally priced the Urus as an “entry-level” model to ensure volume — and you had better believe Aston Martin and Ferrari will do the same with their upcoming crossovers. Porsche has two SUVs and the more-affordable Macan became its best-selling model last year. However, there is one performance brand that says it has no place for such a vehicle: McLaren.

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Lamborghini Lifts the Neon Curtain on Its Urus: Details, Specs, Price

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.

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Apocalypse With a Plug: Suzuki E-Survivor Unveiled in Tokyo

While in the midst of developing the next Jimny, a model you might remember better as the Samurai, Suzuki also made an effort to set up a secondary compact off-roader at this year’s Tokyo Motor Show. Less grounded than the fourth-generation Jimny, the e-Survivor concept looks like a mashup between Jeep’s Wrangler and the lunar rover NASA took to the moon.

The name suggests something serious but the design speaks directly to weekend rock crawlers and fun-loving dune buggy enthusiasts. It certainly looks capable of both activities. The open-topped two-seater uses a lightweight ladder frame, all-wheel drive, and has enough ground clearance to be a scrappy little off-roader. However, as an electric, its value as a legitimate “survival vehicle” is dubious — unless you’re willing to swap gas canisters for solar panels in your post-apocalyptic scenario.

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Marchionne Confirms Ferrari SUV, Denies Jeep Sale

Despite months of denial, Sergio Marchionne confirmed that Ferrari will put a sport utility vehicle into production on Monday. “We’re dead serious about this,” Marchionne said at the New York Stock Exchange earlier this week. “We need to learn how to master this whole new relationship between exclusivity and scarcity of product, then we’re going to balance this desire to grow with a widening of the product portfolio.”

The working title for Ferrari’s SUV is “FUV” and its confirmation undoes months of Marchionne’s claims that it would “never be built.” In February of 2016, the CEO even said he would have to be shot and killed before Ferrari made an SUV. For his sake, we hope that is no longer a provisional aspect of the build.

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Millennials Are Human After All: Moving to the Suburbs, Buying Large SUVs

It turns out millennials aren’t the freakish alien shape-shifters the media has portrayed them as for the last decade. While still less prone to breeding, poorer than their parents, more educated, and inclined towards city living, they’re human after all.

“Where’s the proof?” you ask?

Recent surveys indicate millennials are, in fact, moving to the suburbs and buying SUVs. But that didn’t stop analysts from being dicks about it. “As more people move out of their parents’ basement — and there’s still quite a few living there — we expect to see continued healthy demand for homes,” explained Svenja Gudell, chief economist for Zillow. “Millennials delayed home ownership, just like they delayed getting married and having kids, but now they’re making very similar decisions to their parents.”

More importantly, home ownership means compulsory sport utility shopping. Large SUV sales have increased 11 percent in the first half of 2017, according to estimates from Ford Motor Company. Meanwhile, midsize family haulers increased by 9 percent and small SUV sales went up by 4 percent. Ford’s market research indicates this could just be the tip of the iceberg.

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The Sport Utility Vehicle: America's Gift That Keeps on Giving

Not to sound overly patriotic or offend my Canadian coworkers, but United States is responsible for giving the world so much greatness that it’s difficult not to get a little misty eyed when I stop to think about it.

America’s long history of inventiveness has blessed the globe with modern marvels like sunglasses, chewing gum, kitty litter, the atomic bomb and, of course, sport utility vehicles. While the atomic bomb doesn’t get much broad praise these days, the rest of the aforementioned items are exceptionally popular outside the nation’s borders — especially SUVs and their bastard offspring, the crossover.

In fact, they’ve been such a runaway success that SUVs accounted for over 25 percent of all European passenger vehicle sales in 2016. That’s up from 21 percent in 2015 and there’s no sign of it stopping anytime soon. Sport utility vehicles are expected to surpass a third of the region’s new vehicle market by 2020. Assumedly, America’s own SUV sales will be hovering around 100 percent by then — maybe more. But let’s not discount how crossover-crazy the rest of the globe has become or forget to remind ourselves that most of the world’s best-selling SUVs aren’t exactly “Made in America.”

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2018 Jeep Grand Cherokee Trackhawk Costs the Same As a Dodge Demon

Jeep announced pricing for the Grand Cherokee Trackhawk this week and whether it’s a good value or not largely depends on your priorities. At $85,900 with an additional $1,095 destination charge, it’s essentially the same price as the Dodge Demon before dealer markups. That’s roughly $20,000 over Dodge’s four-door Charger SRT Hellcat, which uses the same supercharged 6.2-liter V8 engine delivering an identical 707 horsepower.

So, how do you plate the price to make it appear more appetizing? Direct comparisons. Midsize performance SUVs sit in an odd category almost entirely dominated by premium German vehicles and two less-lavish American models using a seven-year-old platform derived with help from Daimler. What sets the Trackhawk apart is it’s the most bonkers of the bunch and manages its madness at a lower price point than the competition.

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  • HotRod It took longer than it should have, but I respect VW for openly acknowledging the system's numerous flaws. Hearing that they intend to bring back physical controls for commonly used features, and that they wish to standardize them across their lineup was the biggest surprise in VW's announcement. It's just so sensible. Rather than using completely different configurations of physical buttons, capacitive controls and touchscreens for every single model, Hyundai/Kia/Genesis would be wise to consider a similar strategy.
  • Zerofoo Ugh - a MKIV VW. Heavy, slow and terrible interior durability to boot. The 1.8t in these things had awful lag, and was made worse by owners swapping K03 for K04 turbos.No Thanks.
  • Oberkanone I'm into it. An occasional trip on the WABAC machine is of interest to me.Thinking of Nissan I have to suspect being an underachiever is their goal. Not since the SE-R has the Sentra been class leading. "Most likely to be a rental" is as appropriate in Nissans yearbook in 2022 as it was 2012.
  • EBFlex Quality though? Was never on the table at Ford.
  • Oberkanone Prefer Trail Duster on rarity basis. Here is a nice one. 1979 Plymouth Trail Duster Sport 4x4 for sale on BaT Auctions - closed on May 14, 2020 (Lot #31,407) | Bring a Trailer