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 June 6, 2018

Audi finally revealed its latest entry in the increasingly popular luxury SUV segment: the Q8. Think of it as a more contemporary take on the Q7. The automaker calls it an expressive new design that serves as “the new face of the Q family.” While we’re all for German manufacturers occasionally drawing outside of the lines, we’re not positive it was a good idea in this case.

No shortage of hype preceded the debut, which tricked many into thinking the vehicle behind the curtain would reveal itself as irrefutably gorgeous. Instead, what we received is an interesting looking crossover that’s certain to be (at least somewhat) polarizing, heralded by dozens of teasers — including an internet-based video drama.

Despite my best efforts, I couldn’t bring myself to continue discussing the turd sandwich that was Audi’s promotional miniseries for the Q8. It was only ever going to progress into more and more hateful rants. However, I now fully recommend you watch the series in its entirety, as the ending was dumb enough to prompt a violent laughing fit. (Read More…)

By on April 20, 2018

Mercedes-Maybach gently teased its new “Ultimate Luxury” concept before its official debut at the Beijing Motor Show, but one outlet’s itchy trigger finger resulted in every official image of it being sprayed all over the internet prematurely. The vehicle, dubbed the Vision Mercedes-Maybach Ultimate Luxury, is incredibly difficult to summarize.

While it’s considered a sport utility vehicle by the manufacturer, the bodywork is so unabashedly sedan-like that it almost seems like a parody of modern crossovers. The Vision Mercedes-Maybach 6 was similarly ridiculous, but that concept coupe was intentionally fantastical. It was a “look what our styling department can do” kind of car, whereas the Ultimate Luxury is something else entirely.

We think it’s the automotive equivalent of when a successful businessman decides to remove his shoes and socks on an airplane — upscale, but disgusting.  (Read More…)

By on December 21, 2017

2019 Acura RDX Prototype
This week, Acura teased the prototype of its third-generation RDX ahead of its world debut at the 2018 North American International Auto Show in Detroit. Claiming its to be the “most extensive Acura redesign in more than a decade,” the brand believes it will usher in a “new era” for the company.

While the shadowy images hint at more aggressive and angular styling, the RDX needs more than a pretty face to compete in an increasingly crowded segment. It seems as if every luxury automaker fields a midsize crossover these days, though often at higher price points than the RDX. However, Acura isn’t going to bunt here and hope a freshened model boosts this years’ weaker sales. It’s bringing an entirely new platform that’s exclusive to the brand.  (Read More…)

By on December 6, 2017

2017 Cadillac XT5 - Image: Cadillac

Project Pinnacle hasn’t been incredibly popular with dealerships. Low approval ratings required multiple revisions of the plan, and dealers still found themselves irritated with the final version. There was a lengthy delay, refusal of noncompliant stores to accept General Motors’ buyout plan, and difficulties ensuring eligible shops adhered to the plan’s high standards of service.

Cadillac now says it will weigh customer satisfaction scores and compliance with brand standards more than actual sales volumes when determining U.S. dealer bonuses for 2018. The reason for this comes down to so many dealerships not meeting this year’s sales targets. That’s good news for those smaller outlets that were upset with Pinnacle to begin with(Read More…)

By on October 6, 2017

2018 BMW X3 M40i - Image: BMWMunich HQ has huge expectations for the third-generation BMW X3. The X3, after all, was the vehicle that ignited the compact luxury SUV craze, the vehicle that spawned competitors such as the Audi Q5, Acura RDX, Mercedes-Benz GLK/GLC, Volvo XC60, Lexus NX, and Porsche Macan. Surely the X3 has the power, the might, the capacity for sales domination, right?

“We created that segment,” BMW CEO Harald Krueger said in July. “The No. 1 approach and target I clearly have is, there shouldn’t be anyone besides us who is No. 1.”

“If somebody on my team is not performing to that, well, he has a problem,” Krueger says, making clear to BMW USA’s Bernhard Kuhnt that greater global production of the X3 will mean greater allocation, which had better mean greater U.S. sales.

BMW will not, however, seek to achieve the lofty sales goals by introducing the 2018 X3 with a price that undercuts its key rivals. (Read More…)

By on September 21, 2017

2017 INFINITI QX50 - Image: InfinitiAs Infiniti prepares to launch the replacement for the Infiniti QX50 next year, quite likely fitted with a unique new turbocharged engine with continuously altered cylinder compression ratios, the first-generation Infiniti QX50 takes a breather for the 2018 model year.

It may not be a well-deserved break — the QX50, formerly known as the EX35 and EX37, accomplished little for the Infiniti brand in America — but it’s a long overdue pause on Infiniti’s compact crossover.

It’s an odd duck, the QX50. Essentially a fast but outdated wagon, frequently sold in rear-wheel-drive form, the QX50 is still widely available prior to its relaunch for MY2019. The Infiniti QX60 Hybrid, on the other hand, is was the fuel-efficient version of Infiniti’s most popular product. At the end of the 2017 model year, the QX60 Hybrid is dead, Motor Authority reports. (Read More…)

By on September 21, 2017

New Volvo XC40 - exterior - Image: VolvoOf the 1.4 million new vehicles sold in the United States of America each month, premium auto brands account for slightly more than one out of every ten new vehicle acquisitions.

More than 55 percent of the vehicles now sold by premium auto brands in America are utility vehicles. Of the nearly 100,000 luxury SUVs/crossovers sold in America each month, 7 percent are subcompacts, vehicles positioned below the compact BMW X3, Mercedes-Benz GLC, Audi Q5, and a variety others.

It’s a sliver of a slice of a chunk of a pie. But that sliver is growing far faster than the overall U.S. auto market, far faster than the U.S. luxury vehicle market, and far faster than the U.S. luxury SUV/crossover market.

Into that four-vehicle premium subcompact crossover segment now jumps the Volvo XC40, timed to roughly coincide with the arrival of the Jaguar E-Pace. It’s a segment that, to date, no automaker has yet found a way to dominate. (Read More…)

By on September 8, 2017

2017 Porsche 911 Carrera - Image: PorschePorsche revealed a new, third-generation Cayenne on a new platform late last month, but the U.S. arrival of the third version of Porsche’s original SUV won’t take place until the second half of 2018.

While the new Cayenne will be sold in some markets as a MY2018 vehicle, the 2018 Cayenne on this side of the Atlantic is the outgoing Cayenne. Yes, that Cayenne, the Cayenne that’s suffering from a sharp sales decline.

In August 2017, the Cayenne’s gradual and not entirely unpredictable old-age decline was matched to a sudden downward shift from its smaller sibling, as well. Macan sales plunged 29 percent last month. Cayenne volume was down 28 percent. Jointly, the duo lost 1,003 sales, year-over-year.

You know what that means. The overwhelming majority, the lion’s share, most, nearly half, more than a third of the vehicles sold in Porsche’s U.S. showrooms in August 2017 were sports cars. Yes, Porsche still builds sports cars, rather decent ones, in fact. And in August, Porsche’s sports car sales were very healthy indeed. (Read More…)

By on August 15, 2017

2017 Buick Envision Preferred AWD - Image: © Timothy CainGeneral Motors apparently believes you’ll pay a genuinely lofty price for the 2017 Buick Envision precisely because it’s a Buick.

A basic 2017 Buick Envision, upgraded with Preferred trim in order to select the $1,850 all-wheel drive system, costs $38,645. That’s correct: the least costly AWD Envision is priced from $38,645. General Motors will sell you a larger, V6-engined, AWD GMC Acadia for only $445 more.

But that’s a GMC. A generic, garden variety, menial GMC. The Envision seeks to mercilessly trample on the Acadia’s blue collar status.

Who would want a spacious GMC when you could own a Buick; a smaller, less powerful, China-made Buick with cloth seats, no sunroof, blank switches at the front of the center console, and no advanced safety gear? Evidently, the person who’s willing to pay a premium for the Buick tri-shield badge. You know, the buyer who places a value on supposed Buick prestige over and above any accompanying equipment that may (or may not) accompany this alleged luxury SUV. (Read More…)

By on July 25, 2017

2016 Volvo Concept 40.1 - Image: VolvoThere’s no denying the Volvo 40.1 concept that previewed this fall’s production XC40 appears both to be sufficiently Volvo-like and sufficiently unlike anything else.

If the actual Volvo XC40 maintains this relatively unusual design, Volvo will have a viable, eye-catching alternative to the Audi Q3, BMW X1, Infiniti QX30, and Mercedes-Benz GLA before most luxury auto brands.

As for the Q3, X1, QX30, and GLA, Volvo isn’t entirely sold on their merits. (Read More…)

By on July 14, 2017

2018 Jaguar E-Pace - Image: JaguarNot to be confused with the electric Jaguar I-Pace crossover, the 2018 Jaguar E-Pace was unveiled July 13 with a blend of F-Type and F-Pace styling cues.

Set to challenge the BMW X1, Mercedes-Benz GLA, Audi Q3, and Infiniti QX30 when it goes on sale in the United States in January 2018, the Jaguar E-Pace will be marketed with standard all-wheel drive, a nine-speed automatic, and turbocharged 2.0-liter four-cylinder powerplants generating either 246 or 296 horsepower.

Globally, the E-Pace will quickly become Jaguar’s best-selling model. In the United States, Jaguar expects the E-Pace to, at the very least, sell just as often as the larger F-Pace, which has generated 19,575 U.S. sales for the previously struggling Jaguar brand since going on sale in May 2016. (Read More…)

By on July 7, 2017

2018 BMW X3 - Image: BMW“We created that segment,” BMW CEO says of the sector in which the BMW X3 arrived before Acura, Audi, Infiniti, Lexus, Lincoln, Mercedes-Benz, Porsche, and Volvo.

“The No.1 approach and target I clearly have is, there shouldn’t be anyone besides us who is No.1,” Krueger told Automotive News Europe.

In the U.S., where Krueger’s goals (expectations? demands?) for the South Carolina-built BMW X3 are lofty, the X3 ranked a distant fifth in the category in 2016.

But Krueger ain’t kiddin’ around. (Read More…)

By on June 30, 2017

Mag-X Lexus RX Three-Row Tokyo - Image: Mag-X via AutoguideThe Lexus RX is, by a massive margin, America’s top-selling luxury utility vehicle.

Through the first five months of 2017, Lexus had already sold 38,329 copies of the RX350 and RX450h in the United States. Most competing luxury crossovers won’t produce that many sales in all of 2017.

But Lexus wants more, and with car sales plunging — Lexus car sales are down 29 percent so far this year — there’s no better means of adding volume than by expanding the utility vehicle division. Lexus has already introduced the NX to sit below the RX, and it’s a verifiable hit. But the GX and LX at the top of the Lexus SUV/CUV heap add only incremental volume.

Thus, Lexus is readying a three-row version of the Lexus RX, a natural fit given the RX’s connections to the three-row Toyota Highlander. This much we knew.

Now, based on reports from Japan’s Mag-X, we also know the seven-seat Lexus RX will debut at the Tokyo in late October 2017. (Read More…)

By on June 8, 2017

2017 BMW SAV lineup - Image: BMW USALittle more than 18 months from now, BMW’s utility vehicle lineup will be dramatically altered, primed to absorb rising SUV demand in an increasingly anti-car market.

According to Australia’s Motoring, BMW will expand its entry-level utility vehicle lineup — BMW calls them SAVs — in early 2018 and the top end of the brand’s SAV lineup by late 2018.

The production BMW X2, due early next year, was previewed by the Concept X2 at 2016’s Paris auto show. BMW’s long-awaited Mercedes-Benz GLS challenger, the BMW X7, is a late-2018 arrival.

But the expansion of the BMW SAV lineup is only part of the story, as new versions of the SAVs currently sitting at the heart of BMW’s lineup will arrive in short order, as well. (Read More…)

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