By on August 26, 2019

Toyota TJ Cruiser Concept

Toyota’s FJ Cruiser was big and brash — a gas-sucking, body-on frame bruiser that combined rugged off-road capability and distinctive looks with a clamshell door configuration that gives this writer goosebumps. While owners continue to enjoy high resale values, the FJ Cruiser is long dead, and pedestrian offerings like the RAV4 Adventure are not a valid alternative for true off-road minded individualists.

On paper, neither is the TJ Cruiser, a versatile 2017 concept vehicle that blends a unibody CUV with minivan trappings. It is, however, very distinctive, and it could be headed for a production line. (Read More…)

By on August 22, 2019

Hyundai is bringing a retro-future concept vehicle to the Frankfurt Motor Show next month. Called the 45, the car appears to be an electrified hatchback and has the stated mission of helping the brand shape future EV designs. While we’ve only seen a single teaser image of the model thus far, we like where this is heading.

The automaker says the 45 was “inspired by looking back at the brand’s first model in the 1970s,” meaning the Ford Cortina is (and probably always was) off the table. The South Korean manufacturer is likely referencing the rear-drive Pony subcompact. It certainly appears to be the correct shape and the taillight location is similar enough for us not to rule it out. However, the total package seems to be more inspired by the DeLorean DMC-12 and 1980s concepts like the Citroën Karin or Ford Maya.  (Read More…)

By on August 22, 2019

Electric concept cars are often a snoozefest, nothing but vaporware bait aimed at the techie crowd, but a vehicle coming to Tokyo’s annual auto show in October will likely herald a production vehicle. Specifically, the Lexus brand’s first EV.

Both Toyota and its premium division plan to field a total of 10 electric models by the middle of next decade. If a report detailing the Lexus concept is anything to go on, the brand’s first electric offering might be boxy, modestly sized, and — if Lexus designers really do plan on emulating an older concept — possibly pretty ugly. (Read More…)

By on August 13, 2019

Image: Acura

Acura pulled the digital wraps off its Type S Concept two days ahead of its public debut at Monterey Car Week, heralding the Type S designation’s return to the brand’s model line. The car seen here hints at what to expect of the looming next-generation TLX and its confirmed Type S performance variant.

“Performance.” That implies something more than just a racy appearance package and maybe an upgraded brake and suspension setup, right? Ideally, yes, but in this case Acura does promise more “go” to back up the show.
(Read More…)

By on May 14, 2019

Kia

Kia continues to tease the global market — well, most of it, anyway — with a small crossover it plans to reveal this summer. Our latest glimpse of the upcoming model is this artist’s rendering, which appears to be a rendering of a concept vehicle we’ve already seen.

Suffice it to say the new small Kia will look almost exactly like the SP Signature Concept, a vehicle that, unlike other concepts, looked perfectly ready for production during its reveal earlier this year. (Read More…)

By on April 17, 2019

Genesis Motors revealed a small city car in The Big Apple this week. However, the model’s debut wasn’t part of the daily goings-on at the New York International Auto Show. Instead, the company decided to unveil the Mint Concept at Hudson Yards, ahead of the trade show’s official press days — utilizing terms like “urban icon” and “reductive versatility” while somehow expecting to be taken seriously.

“As a brand, Genesis embraces progressive design values, and the Mint Concept reinforces this commitment from a previously undiscovered perspective,” Manfred Fitzgerald, Genesis’ executive vice president, said at the vehicle’s introduction. “Mint belongs in the city, and we are proud to introduce our evolution of the ideal city car in New York.”

This is the kind of industrial-grade nonsense your author absolutely despises. However, I am elated Genesis did this, as it’s been a while since I’ve had the opportunity to be exceptionally critical of a Korean brand. Outside of Hyundai’s Nexo, the country’s been on a hot streak lately. It’s wonderful to be able to prove that I’m still an unpleasant crankshaft without bias.  (Read More…)

By on April 15, 2019

Audi’s pitching more than just new models at Auto Shanghai this month; it’s promoting a new way to drive. The AI:ME Concept is a summonable, self-driving urban electric, aimed at reshaping the company’s business model — or at least examining that possibility. While Audi refers to the vehicle as a highly specialized premium automobile that can be ordered as needed and offers “extensive possibilities for individualization as part of an on-demand offer,” the company also noted the AI:ME “need not pass into permanent personal ownership.”

The automaker was careful not to use the phrase, but these vehicles would operate under a loosely defined subscription or rental model where customers book a car via their smartphone or computer, stipulating how they need it to be configured for their journey. From there, the vehicle makes its way to the designated pickup point and applies the final adjustments based on previously established seating, climate, lighting, entertainment, and control preferences. (Read More…)

By on April 14, 2019

Right now, Volkswagen’s electric womb is holding onto a full litter. While we’ve long assumed that only a limited selection of its offspring will be birthed into the world to take their place within its I.D. sub-brand, it’s beginning to look as though most will make the cut. Its sixth prospective offspring, the I.D. Roomzz, was teased earlier this month — coming across as your standard concept EV. However, the vehicle that’s being shown off at Auto Shanghai is much closer to being production-ready than we had guessed.

The crossover (minivan?) the automaker is displaying in Asia has two rows of bucket seats, providing space for just four, but Volkswagen is saying the production version will have three rows and could furnish up to eight occupants if bench seats are optioned for the second and third rows. Access is granted through a full set of sliding doors, which we doubt will make it into production. But it’s okay to dream.  (Read More…)

By on April 7, 2019

Faraday Future is my favorite automaker and it’s not because they build the best cars. With the exception of a few prototypes of the FF91, Faraday hasn’t really built much of anything. But I’ve become enamored with the story of a mysterious automotive company, funded by a controversial Chinese backer, that continues to defy the odds by just surviving — despite a long history of ridiculous mistakes, financial shortfalls, and missed production targets. For me, its been a suitable substitute for soap operas.

The last time we checked in on Faraday, it had just broken ties with its savior-turned-destructor Evergrande.  The company announced in January that it had agreed to restructure its $2 billion investment in FF and that both parties had acquiesced to drop all litigation against each other. Now Faraday is back with a new joint partnership and a new model — a minivan straight out of a late 20th century sci-fi flick.  (Read More…)

By on March 28, 2019

Image: Kia Motors

When your author hears the word “Masterpiece,” his mind conjures up images of a coveted line of K-frame Smith & Wesson revolvers, one of which still exists on the market. Kia’s not thinking about guns, though the themes of toughness, precision, and premium appeal carry over to the automotive world.

Masterpiece is the name applied to one of two Kia concept SUVs unveiled Thursday at the Seoul Motor Show, but it’s the second of the two vehicles that might be most relevant to North American buyers. (Read More…)

By on March 8, 2019

Despite the growing importance of crossover vehicles, Acura is one of the few automakers that has not abandoned its commitment to sedans. It intends to prove that by bringing a production-ready vehicle, based heavily on the 2016 Precision Concept (seen above), to Pebble Beach this summer.

The car will also signal Acura’s entry into a new era of styling, underpinned by muscular shapes offset with inorganic angles — sort of like a sexy robot. If you want sense of what that looks like, and are made uncomfortable by the notion of having to Google the words “sexy robot,” contrast the 2018 RDX with the 2019 model to get a taste of Acura’s updated design language(Read More…)

By on March 6, 2019

Kia’s much-teased EV concept turned out to be less attractive and more serious than we initially assumed. Following an announcement suggesting the vehicle’s wild arrangement of 21 interior screens was a humorous jab at industry trends, the automaker officially debuted the car at the Geneva Motor Show. Styled at the company’s European design centre in Frankfurt, the “Imagine by Kia” concept manifested into a slightly puffy crossover serving as an exercise in design.

In the end, Imagine is guilty of some of the show car sins Kia seemed to be railing against. For starters, it uses a single sheet of glass for the windscreen and roof, features rear-hinged doors at the back, rides on bespoke Goodyear tires, and hosts the ever-popular menagerie of interior displays.  (Read More…)

By on March 5, 2019

Subaru has unveiled yet another concept wearing the Viziv name. This time it’s called the “Adrenaline” and appears to foreshadow the next Crosstrek. Styling is suitably wild for a show vehicle, but enough of Subaru’s current design language remains to make us believe the model isn’t terribly far away from a production model.

However, no one can say anything definitive. Subaru provided no indication that the vehicle is anything other than an opportunity to test its new design concept — a spin-off of its earlier “Dynamic x Solid” styling theory, which the manufacturer calls the “BOLDER” design philosophy. Bolder is the word for it, too, because the vehicle features a pretty wild roof design and some of the most aggressive panel protection we’ve ever seen on a vehicle not entering a combat zone.  (Read More…)

By on March 5, 2019

Image: Mitsubishi Motors

It might not be your author’s cup of tea, but Mitsubishi’s Engelberg Tourer — a crossover show vehicle whose name sounds like that of a nagged German child — is the face the resurgent brand wants to put forward.

It’s also a good hint at what we can expect from the next-generation Outlander, once Mitsu gets around to revamping its largest model. (Read More…)

By on February 19, 2019

Automakers across the globe are readying teaser images for models they intend to debut at the 89th Geneva International Motor Show next month. For Subaru, that means the latest addition to its Viziv line of concept vehicles.

While initial Viziv concepts were highly conceptual designs, the line has gradually evolved to deliver models more in line with Subaru’s production vehicles. The 2016 Viziv-7 ultimately led to the creation of the Ascent and both the 2017 Viziv Performance Concept and 2018 Tourer Concept appear to directly foreshadow future incarnations of the WRX. But the new concept is an unknown quantity.  (Read More…)

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