By on September 12, 2019

I don’t understand what Ford is doing anymore. While the company is branding itself as this tech-savvy mobility firm, bent on delivery cutting-edge electrics that will save the planet, it has also removed its most-economical models from the U.S. market — leaving us with the EcoSport, some plug-ins, and the soon-to-be-gone Fiesta. Meanwhile, an ocean away, Europe is getting more small cars that it knows what to do with.

Considering utilities, crossovers and trucks pay the bills, that’s not a problem in itself. But it muddles Ford’s corporate identity to a point where I just have to shrug my shoulders. I had another opportunity to raise those bad boys up to my freaking ears this week when Blue Oval debuted the brand-new Puma in its top-tier Titanium X trim — a product the manufacturer has already said it doesn’t plan on bringing to North America. (Read More…)

By on May 20, 2019

Lincoln Motor Company brass aren’t afraid to tout the brand’s concerted push to redefine the idea of what an upscale American vehicle should be — in the process, hopefully ridding itself of a longstanding stigma born of lackluster past offerings. The latest entry in Lincoln’s renewed lineup is the 2020 Corsair, bound for dealers late this year.

A replacement for the compact MKC, the Corsair lists the Mercedes-Benz GLC, BMW X3, Audi Q3, and especially the new Cadillac XT4 as its main rivals. As Lincoln has now bestowed pricing upon the Corsair, we’re able to contrast those two domestic challengers. (Read More…)

By on April 19, 2019

2019 Mazda CX-5 Signature front quarter

Does a crossover really need to be good to drive, or is mere competence good enough to win buyers? Most carmakers settle for “good enough,” and yet they keep selling.

Mazda, of course, doesn’t settle. Performance is baked into everything it offers. I’m certain that if Mazda offered a panel van, some fool out there would start racing a Mazda Los Pollos Hermanos truck.

Thus, I had high hopes when a turbocharged crossover was announced. Already the best-driving crossover available, the 2019 Mazda CX-5 Signature adds power and class to family hauling perfection.

(Read More…)

By on February 7, 2019

At the 2017 North American International Auto Show, Nissan revealed its plans to slot the North American version of its Qashqai crossover between the Juke and Rogue. While the company ultimately decided to call the model the “Rogue Sport” in the United States, replacing the Juke with the Kicks shortly thereafter, the rest of the plan went off without a hitch.

There was just one itty-bitty problem — the North American crossover was based on a model that debuted globally in 2013.

At the 2019 Chicago Auto Show, Nissan has once again decided to give North America the rest of the world’s leftovers. The Qashqai received a mid-life facelift in 2017 and now so will the Rogue Sport. Fortunately, both versions of the crossover should remain worthy of reasonable praise, as the changes help bring the model visually closer to the rest of Nissan’s fleet and further away from looking like a utility version of the 2004 Pontiac Sunfire.  (Read More…)

By on September 13, 2018

mazda cx-5

America knows what it wants, and the rest of the world — even those hard-to-reach places — is beginning to follow. Each week brings us news from far-flung locales pointing to increased demand for affordable crossover vehicles, if not the wholesale abandonment of certain car segments by certain automakers. Basically, the global auto industry in 2018 boils down to this: build a crossover, or become (or remain) a struggling niche company.

It’s hardly a new situation, but it’s hammered home with each passing month — as cars continue trickling out of every parking lot you pass and trunks begin appear on “Missing” posters at the post office.

Given that the compact crossover is arguably the most ubiquitous vehicle on the roads today, your author decided to look at just how prevalent their sales really are. Tossing aside premium or luxury offerings (a category we’ve tossed Buick into), this data dive focuses solely on the mainstream. The results? It’s grim stuff if you’re not the family type, so brace yourself. (Read More…)

By on September 7, 2018

BMW has chucked a new M Performance variant into its X2 range, as no vehicle in the automaker’s lineup should ever have to go without the thirteenth letter of the alphabet. Fortunately, the brand’s decision to install a range-topping X2 also involves installing the most powerful four-cylinder engine in BMW’s history. (Read More…)

By on July 25, 2018

When you think about Porsche, you’re probably thinking of the 911. However, you really should be thinking about the Macan. It may have started out as a supplementary model for families interested in the Cayenne SUV but who found it beyond their means, but it’s quickly become the company’s best-selling vehicle. You now see them in every neighborhood where status is the deciding factor in automobile purchases.

Fortunately, the Macan also drives better than any compact crossover has a right to — further helping its popularity. But, with more competition within the premium utility segment than ever before, Porsche can’t leave the model to rest on its laurels. The manufacturer has updated the model for 2019 with loads of changes, but spotting them is a little like tackling the Double Check in a Highlights magazine under the influence of a rather severe childhood learning disability. (Read More…)

By on July 24, 2018

2017 Mirage GT

Having already bastardized the Eclipse name by affixing it to a new crossover vehicle, there’s palpable fear within the automotive media that Mitsubishi might try the same with another iconic property. While FTO and 3000GT don’t have the right ring to them, we can imagine trendy performance SUV wearing an Evolution badge — to our chagrin.

In our fantasies, we imagine Mitsubishi bringing back a new, harder-hitting Lancer compact and a menacing mid-sized Galant. Maybe the Starion could even make an appearance. However, those models probably wouldn’t sell outside the Land of Make Believe even if they were stellar models. Sport utility vehicles and crossovers are where the money’s at right now, and cash is exactly what Mitsubishi is after.

Keeping that in mind, a new rumor claims the brand is working with Nissan to get its Alliance partner’s modular platform inside the Mirage, or whatever replaces it. The end result will be a small crossover with sporting pretensions, which doesn’t sound bad in the least.  (Read More…)

By on May 23, 2018

While it seems a little early for Kia’s Sportage to gain a visual refresh, the manufacturer apparently didn’t feel its new engine option should arrive unaccompanied. The automaker is launching a 48-volt diesel mild hybrid system in Europe for 2019, and chucked in a handful of aesthetic enhancements for good measure.

The jury’s still out on the motor’s availability in North America. While the diesel decline in Europe is palpable, they still sell a lot more passenger cars equipped with them than we do. However, since it does fall into that weird hybrid category, there’s a chance it could crop up in extremely limited numbers. We’d bank on seeing a mild hybrid system from Kia make its way to the U.S. and Canada soon, only coupled to a gasoline motor. But expect to see some upgraded bodywork and interior touches for the coming model year.  (Read More…)

By on May 3, 2018

Mazda has released pricing details for the 2019 CX-3. Refreshed for the upcoming model year, the subcompact crossover doesn’t change its already handsome looks all that much, but it does include more standard tech. This translates into a higher MSRP.

However, we doubt many buyers will mind a modest increase in price when the new CX-3 goes on sale later this month. All models now receive direct tire pressure monitoring, blind spot monitoring with rear cross-traffic alert, and Mazda’s G-Vectoring Control as standard equipment. In addition to the gently touched-up visuals, tacking on an extra $290 to the pre-destination base price doesn’t sting all that badly.  (Read More…)

By on April 4, 2018

The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) has released new ratings for seven small utility vehicles. For the most part, the pint-sized crossovers performed amicably. However, none of the models were worthy of the group’s coveted “Top Safety Pick Plus” award due to subpar headlamp performance, while a couple of models were found structurally deficient after being confronted with the dreaded small overlap crash test.

Ford’s Escape received an overall poor rating and came away from the test with the worst structural deformation within the group. Senior IIHS research engineer Becky Muller noted that Ford reinforced the diver’s side of the vehicle for the 2017 model year but negated extending that courtesy to passengers.

“Disparities like this one are why we decided to formally rate the passenger side in the small overlap test after five years of evaluating only the driver side,” she explained. “Manufacturers shouldn’t shortchange protection for front-seat passengers.” (Read More…)

By on March 18, 2018

2018 Volkswagen T-Roc - Image: Volkswagen

We were a little disappointed that Volkswagen decided to keep the T-Roc in Europe — not because we were clamoring for another subcompact crossover but because this one actually seemed sort of interesting. Its two-tone paint scheme and hinted specs seemed ready to take on the likes of the Jeep Renegade, Nissan Juke, and Fiat 500X. But VW said it wasn’t well-suited for the American market.

Although, there was no way the company could possibly leave the fast-growing segment alone and we assumed it would eventually come up with something else for the United States and Canada — which is exactly what happened. During a press conference in Wolfsburg, Germany, VW said it would export a new small crossover from Mexico into the U.S. but that the first run of the model will take place in China.

Referred to internally as the “Volks-SUV,” the vehicle should be a bit smaller than the recently upsized Tiguan but larger and less car-like than the European T-Roc.  (Read More…)

By on March 13, 2018

Toyota is updating the insanely popular RAV4 for the 2019 model year, which means it may be able to leave the shadow of the much newer Honda CR-V. That’s not a knock against Toyota, as the company offers a serviceable compact crossover that people seem to really love. In fact, the brand sold 407,594 RAV4s in the United States last year while Honda only moved 377,895 CR-Vs.

But the high-volume RAV4 is getting on in years. When Honda introduced the updated CR-V, the Toyota was already five years old and beginning to look a little dated. Fortunately, a fifth-generation model is being readied for the 2018 New York Auto Show. Toyota even issued a shadowy teaser image to whet our appetites.

While the shape doesn’t appear to be radically different from the current crossover, it’s much more SUV-like overall. Toyota is definitely moving the model’s styling in a new direction. Sadly, the backlit image obscures much of the vehicle’s finer features — making a detailed assessment next to impossible. Fortunately, we’ve utilized high-end photo manipulation software to boost the brightness and give you a better look at the upcoming RAV4.  (Read More…)

By on January 5, 2018

2018 Volkswagen Tiguan - Image: Volkswagen

Volkswagen’s pre-dieselgate “take over the world” scheme appears to have returned in a smaller, more manageable form. Now, VW’s plan is simply to plunder the compact crossover segment — not an easy task, given the fierce competition.

The automaker’s strategy involves spanning the segment with two vehicles carrying the name badge. The old, criticised-for-its-size Tiguan continues on as the Tiguan Limited, while the new-for-2018 next-generation model ferries three rows of passengers on a nearly 11-inch longer wheelbase. Now, we learn of Phase 2 of VW’s plan. Chop the price. (Read More…)

By on September 27, 2017

2017 Mazda CX-5 Diesel info page - Image: MazdaUSA.comThe potential for success is limited, but Mazda nevertheless announced in Los Angeles in November 2016 that the revamped 2017 Mazda CX-5 would be available with a 2.2-liter diesel torque monster.

Diesel? 2017? The Volkswagen diesel emissions scandal that broke in late 2015 ended diesel’s run at Volkswagen of America and eventually ended with the withdrawal of diesel engines in Mercedes-Benz USA’s lineup, as well.

Yet diesel persists. General Motors, for example, is selling diesel variants of the Chevrolet Cruze and Equinox and the Equinox’s GMC Terrain sibling. And with Mazda’s decision to sell a 310-lb-ft diesel CX-5, compact crossover shoppers would have three choices.

Mazda said last year that “it will offer the Skyactiv-D 2.2 clean diesel engine in the all-new Mazda CX-5 for North America from the second half of 2017.”

Only half of the second half remains, and MazdaUSA.com still lists the 2017 CX-5 Diesel as a future vehicle. So where’s the 2017 Mazda CX-5 Diesel we were promised? (Read More…)

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