By on January 25, 2020

Image: Hyundai

Perhaps realizing that his job was done, Michael O’Brien, Hyundai Motor America’s vice president for product, announced his departure from the automaker late Friday.

O’Brien leaves the company he served for nearly 20 years on February 3rd, heading off to pursue “other interests,” the grateful automaker said in a statement. Put in charge of the Korean brand’s product direction, O’Brien played a major role in turning around a flagging sales situation with a surge of crossovers big and small. (Read More…)

By on January 24, 2020

Image: Volvo Cars

Volvo’s XC90 midsize crossover is both a tony vehicle and a solid seller, but the push into electrification that began with the crossover’s second generation will be completed in its third.

The automaker has announced that the third-gen XC90, which arrives in 2022, will ditch gas-only powerplants for good. (Read More…)

By on January 24, 2020

Image: Suzuki

You’re right — there’s no way we can determine with any certainty what the internet’s actual favorite ride is, but the amount of lust poured out over the unattainable Suzuki Jimny is noteworthy. People love this little Japanese box, even if its short wheelbase and solid axles add up to a ride most wouldn’t want to live with on a daily basis.

Not available to North American consumers, it looks like the wee Jimny will soon bow out of another significant market. Blame the environment. (Read More…)

By on January 23, 2020

This is a tidbit we certainly hope is true. After Cadillac was forced on the defensive for debuting a V-badged CT5 sedan widely seen as lacking in the power department, word comes that a wilder variant with a very familiar heart is just around the corner.

The brand is expected to stage a return of the powerplant that made the new model’s CTS-V predecessor great. (Read More…)

By on January 22, 2020

Cruise

Did General Motors’ self-driving arm reveal the future on Tuesday night? The automaker and its Cruise LLC subsidiary sure hope so, as both see big, big dollars coming from future autonomous ridesharing fleets.

The Cruise Origin unveiled in San Francisco last night is supposedly the vehicle (don’t call it a car) that will make that revenue stream possible. It certainly doesn’t look like a car, and the difference grows even greater when those side doors part. (Read More…)

By on January 21, 2020

Cruise AV interior

Cruise LLC, General Motors’ self-driving arm, plans to reveal a revolutionary vehicle in San Francisco on Tuesday, Bloomberg has learned. It will not be a modified Chevrolet Bolt that’s missing its steering wheel.

The expected reveal comes after a multiple rounds of funding and promises of near-future production and a planned ridesharing fleet. (Read More…)

By on January 21, 2020

Crosstrek Hybrid

Like it or not, Subaru plans to make up for lost time by delving deep into the world of electrification. In a technical briefing Monday, the automaker outlined a plan to draw 40 percent of its global sales from electric or hybrid vehicles by the beginning of the next decade.

Currently, the automaker only sells the Crosstrek Hybrid, but that will change as its newly strengthened partnership with Toyota starts to bear fruit. (Read More…)

By on January 20, 2020

While other manufacturers are downsizing engines and sticking turbos anywhere they’ll fit, Mazda has attempted to maintain a home for naturally aspirated motors — engines it believes should be sized appropriately for their intended application. On paper, this appears to be giving the competition an edge. Yet Mazda remains committed to offering the right tool for the job, introducing naturally aspirated Skyactiv engines with unusually high compression ratios. The latest, Skyactiv-X, combines spark-controlled gasoline combustion and compression-ignition diesel tech with a 24-volt mild-hybrid system.

The system delivers 178 horsepower and 164 lb-ft of torque in 2.0-liter guise, plus MPG improvements of up to 20 percent vs the old Skyactiv-G. But there’s a problem. With Mazda attempting to go upmarket, an economy-focused powertrain has to deliver in whatever region it’s sold, and introductory Skyactiv-X units are now viewed as too small for the United States. The result? The technology’s delayed arrival in North America, despite its deployment via the new 2.0 liter found in the 2020 Mazda 3 and CX-30 sold in Japan and Europe.  (Read More…)

By on January 20, 2020

The second-generation Infiniti QX50 is a seldom talked-about model that gets plenty of mention on these digital pages, what with its technological wizardry and big launch expectations… that didn’t seem to do the compact crossover much good when it finally reached dealerships.

No problem — maybe customers will take more kindly to its QX55 sibling, teased late last year ahead of an early summer 2020 release. But hold on a second! It appears the QX55 won’t show up at the party until much later than expected. (Read More…)

By on January 17, 2020

While it still makes appearances at tuner events and car shows, the Nissan 370Z has roughly the same marketing heat as a pair of secondhand shoes. Last year, Nissan only moved 2,384 in the United States, with another 701 being sold in Europe — suggesting the decade-old (albeit fun) coupe may have outlived its usefulness years ago.

Its successor remains elusive, but persistent rumors claim Nissan is working on something to replace the venerable Z. Despite the manufacturer withholding any kind of confirmation, details leaked from dealer meetings suggest the brand is going with a heritage-inspired look, tapping vintage Z models for the design. (Read More…)

By on January 17, 2020

2018 Kia Niro PHEV gauges

Whether you or I like it or want it, the industry is changing — pivoting towards things that cause many readers’ blood to run cold and their soul to wither and die. Futuristic things like electrification and mobility and autonomous driving. Soulless things, to some.

For most — if not all — industry players, this pivot is Plan B (Plan A being the traditional selling of internal combustion automobiles to customers who walk into dealerships). For Kia, it falls under the official title of Plan S. This week, the automaker dived into what it means for loyal customers. (Read More…)

By on January 17, 2020

Tesla

While we’re on the subject of American (or somewhat American) automakers looking to beat the Chinese at their own EV game, Tesla has announced a new direction in that massive electric vehicle market.

With Model 3s now rolling into buyers’ hands from its just-opened Shanghai assembly plant, the automaker has turned its eye to the lower end of the market. (Read More…)

By on January 16, 2020

With the mid-engined C8 Corvette just weeks away from production, hype surrounding the model has died down. The same cannot be said for the Z06 variant, which is the next ‘Vette on Chevrolet’s performance docket. While current details remain scant, news arose this week of the car receiving a humongous rear spoiler.

Sources familiar with the project tell GM Authority that the wing will be exclusive to the Z06 (for now) and larger than the unit found on the C7 ZR1 (pictured below the break), though similar in its overall shape. It’s said to be reminiscent of the spoiler found on the Koenigsegg Agera RS, which is adaptive.  (Read More…)

By on January 16, 2020

Polaris

Retirement stands to become even more special in the just-revealed 2020 Polaris Slingshot. Revamped and re-engined for the coming year, the oddball three-wheeler that may or may not require you to wear a helmet (check local laws) remains a colorful choice for weekend outings.

Forgive the author for noting the age of your average Slingshot driver.

With the new model, buyers receive not just an in-house engine, but a transmission designed to atrophy your left leg muscles. (Read More…)

By on January 15, 2020

Thanks largely to its status as a niche product, the Toyota 86 and Subaru BRZ have been on deathwatch for years. But their saving grace as stellar machines to drive has kept them from being abandoned. The Toyobaru Twins still receive quite a bit of love, even if the affection is not spread around all that liberally. Despite this, both models are expected to receive a successor.

While a quick glance at their sales record makes this seem like a losing strategy, Toyota remains obsessed with rebuilding its reputation within motorsport (often with help from another manufacturer). Toyota head Akio Toyoda has even expressed a personal dream of returning to an era where the company has revived — or replaced — its most iconic performance models. The Supra and 86 are already here, leaving room for the Celica and/or MR2. Ditching the 86 would be a step backwards, even if it only moved 3,398 units in the United States last year — its worst showing to date.  (Read More…)

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