By on September 29, 2020

Volkswagen Taos teaser. Image: VW

We speculated before that the Volkswagen Taos would get an existing VW engine, likely the 1.4-liter turbo-four from the Jetta.

We were close.

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By on September 15, 2020

2022 Hyundai Tucson

Car Twitter is a weird “place” (as much as an ephemeral part of social media can be a “place”). There are all kinds of arguments about all sorts of things on that part of the Twitterverse, including new and upcoming products, and the next Hyundai Tucson was as divisive as anything I’ve seen in recent weeks.

Some journalists loved it. Some hated it. Others were in between. And that’s just in reference to the exterior styling.

Love it, like it, hate it, or indifferent, you can’t deny that Hyundai took some chances.

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By on September 8, 2020

VW teaser

Hey kids! What time is it? That’s right, it’s teaser time!

Add Volkswagen to the list of brands looking to fill every possible niche in the SUV/CUV lineup, from subcompact to Canyonero sized.

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By on September 2, 2020

Hyundai showcased a number of updates for its subcompact Kona on Tuesday without minimizing the funkiness it’s already famous for. In fact, the Korean crossover might even have a little more personality than it did before.

While the grille has been reduced in size and some of the hard edges rounded off, it remains impressive how many interesting little details Hyundai managed to tack onto the front of this thing without turning it into an eyesore.

Still too busy for you? That’s understandable. But know that Hyundai is offering an N Line variant that ditches the contrasting plastic cladding for color matching body panels that make the 2020 model almost look like a regular hatchback. As an added benefit, it also offers enhanced performance via the all-new 1.6-liter T-GDI Smartstream engine making a claimed 197 horsepower. (Read More…)

By on April 22, 2020

Volkswagen may be a mainstream brand, but it’s difficult to criticize when it comes to the polish of its products. Regardless of how long their individual components actually last under sustained usage, climbing into a VW model frequently gives the impression that you’ve found yourself inside a quality item. If that’s all it took to make a great car, VW would be king of the scrap heap every year. Yet people tend to demand a lot from their vehicle, including performance, and that’s an area where the automaker often falters.

Going up in trim on a Volkswagen rarely includes a burlier powertrain. The brand is all about rightsizing the basics in the U.S., leaving the options list for technological enhancements and all-wheel drive. There’s also an expansive R-Line trim, but its upgrades are mostly cosmetic, offering the style of a performance trim with nothing to back it up. If you want real thrills from the manufacturer, you’d best select a Golf model with the GTI or R suffix.

What if you don’t want a modestly sized hatchback, though? It’s not like there will ever be a compact crossover equivalent, as VW promised the GTI name would remain exclusive to small, peppy economy cars back in 2017. Could an automaker go back on its word? Provided there’s sufficient time between promises made, of course it can.  (Read More…)

By on March 30, 2020

Considering the insanity our consumer markets have seen over the past few weeks, I’m kicking myself for having let my warehouse club membership lapse a year or so ago. I reasoned that there was absolutely no need for me to buy staple foods (or paper products) in bulk quantities. There would be no circumstance short of the apocalypse where my regular supermarket could not adequately fill the needs of my family.

Yeah, I’m kicking myself.

Anyhow, that got me thinking about other things that one could buy in larger packages than normal. Looking at the photos of the 2020 Mini Cooper S Countryman I drove a few weeks ago, it clicked – this is the bulk package Mini Cooper. A fair bit more Mini than the standard three-door hatchback, the Countryman is the Mini for families.

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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…)

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