By on March 25, 2019

Dealers got an early look at a prototype build of the upcoming Ford Bronco. Gathered in Palm Beach, FL at the behest of the automaker, dealers were asked to hand over their phones in order to avoid any leaks. Fortunately, their memories were sufficient in giving us a better idea as to what to expect come 2020.

While the event’s focus stayed on the Bronco and some of its more-interesting features, Ford also shared its plan to develop a family of off-road vehicles to complement the model. Introductory vehicles include the Bronco, its smaller counterpart, and a little unibody pickup to slot beneath the Ranger.  (Read More…)

By on June 5, 2018

A handful of photos of the 2019 BMW X5 leaked over the weekend, but their questionable resolution elicited queries about their authenticity — as did their Chinese origins. Those pics were followed by dozens more a few days later, along with confirmation from BMW that they’re the real deal.

While official photos of the vehicle were supposed to appear later this summer, the X5 isn’t slated to go on display until the Paris Motor Show this October. However, a Chinese auto forum was spotted by CarScoops posting the works Tuesday morning.  (Read More…)

By on May 10, 2018

Genchi gembutsu. It’s a term I heard fairly often during my time in the Great Midwestern Sedan Factory and it means, more or less, “Go look at the issue.” In the years since, I’ve often heard “Agile coaches” and “Scrum masters” in IT talk about “Gemba Walks,” which are supposed to be the same thing. The problem is that software development is nothing like a factory floor, system administration even less so, and if I have to hear one more dimwitted IBM consultant with a two-year DeVry degree lecturing me about “how Japanese manufacturers do things” I’m going to drag said consultant into the paint booth at Marysville and let him drown in whatever shade of grey is being indifferently sprayed on the cars that day. It’s cargo culture at its most pathetic, garnished with a sprig of racism.

Yet there is more than enough truth in the original application of genchi gembutsu. If you’re hearing about a problem on the factory floor, don’t waste time talking about it in the office. Go to the place and look at the problem. Until you do that, you’re just guessing.

It was with that concept in mind that I borrowed a three-row CUV recently for a 1,300-mile trip around the Midwest. Over and over again I’ve decried the modern fetish for massive unibody crossovers, but rarely have I driven one for more than a few miles at a time. This seemed like a good time to “go to the place” and “look at the problem.” I took this vehicle and tested it on its ability to substitute for vehicles both smaller and larger. A week later, I remain shaken, if not stirred, by the experience.

(Read More…)

By on January 19, 2018

2017 McLaren 570S yellow - Image: McLaren

Let’s take a moment to consider how ubiquitous sport utility vehicles and crossovers have become. They are, quite literally, everywhere, and reason for this is that they’ve morphed into a jack-of-all-trades type of automobile.

The antiquated definition of SUV included words like “rugged” and “off-road.” But modern examples really only need to ride higher than your typical sedan to qualify. That, along with the segment’s current trendiness, has helped to make such vehicles exceeding popular. So popular, in fact, that practically every automaker is trying to build one to improve sales.

This includes supercar manufacturers. Lamborghini intentionally priced the Urus as an “entry-level” model to ensure volume — and you had better believe Aston Martin and Ferrari will do the same with their upcoming crossovers. Porsche has two SUVs and the more-affordable Macan became its best-selling model last year. However, there is one performance brand that says it has no place for such a vehicle: McLaren.  (Read More…)

By on December 4, 2017

2019 Lamborghini Urus

Lamborghini unveiled the Urus SUV today at what was, quite possibly, the most over-the-top product reveal ever witnessed. There was an orchestra, modern dance routine, and rainbow-colored neon light show within the first two minutes. There was almost even a martial arts exhibition ready to break out. Clearly this was a big moment for the Italian automaker and it was more than willing to make a fuss about it.

However, before Lamborghini could get to the Urus announcement, a cavalcade of the brand’s most important models paraded out — followed by a speed skater holding an orange glow stick. Again, it was insane. Eventually the lights were reset and an extended diatribe began on the artistry and pioneering spirit of the brand’s history.

It was boring and included a hefty dollop of marketing speak about Lamborghini’s “evolution.” Then there was another ludicrous dance number, this one somehow tied to automobile production, followed by some rather serious technical difficulties with the presentation. But neither lasted forever and the Urus finally took the stage, rather modestly, to thunderous applause and cheering.  (Read More…)

By on October 26, 2017

suzuki-e-survivor

While in the midst of developing the next Jimny, a model you might remember better as the Samurai, Suzuki also made an effort to set up a secondary compact off-roader at this year’s Tokyo Motor Show. Less grounded than the fourth-generation Jimny, the e-Survivor concept looks like a mashup between Jeep’s Wrangler and the lunar rover NASA took to the moon.

The name suggests something serious but the design speaks directly to weekend rock crawlers and fun-loving dune buggy enthusiasts. It certainly looks capable of both activities. The open-topped two-seater uses a lightweight ladder frame, all-wheel drive, and has enough ground clearance to be a scrappy little off-roader. However, as an electric, its value as a legitimate “survival vehicle” is dubious — unless you’re willing to swap gas canisters for solar panels in your post-apocalyptic scenario.  (Read More…)

By on October 10, 2017

Ferrari emblem logo

Despite months of denial, Sergio Marchionne confirmed that Ferrari will put a sport utility vehicle into production on Monday. “We’re dead serious about this,” Marchionne said at the New York Stock Exchange earlier this week. “We need to learn how to master this whole new relationship between exclusivity and scarcity of product, then we’re going to balance this desire to grow with a widening of the product portfolio.”

The working title for Ferrari’s SUV is “FUV” and its confirmation undoes months of Marchionne’s claims that it would “never be built.” In February of 2016, the CEO even said he would have to be shot and killed before Ferrari made an SUV. For his sake, we hope that is no longer a provisional aspect of the build.  (Read More…)

By on August 22, 2017

2018 Chevrolet Tahoe RST

It turns out millennials aren’t the freakish alien shape-shifters the media has portrayed them as for the last decade. While still less prone to breeding, poorer than their parents, more educated, and inclined towards city living, they’re human after all.

“Where’s the proof?” you ask?

Recent surveys indicate millennials are, in fact, moving to the suburbs and buying SUVs. But that didn’t stop analysts from being dicks about it. “As more people move out of their parents’ basement — and there’s still quite a few living there — we expect to see continued healthy demand for homes,” explained Svenja Gudell, chief economist for Zillow. “Millennials delayed home ownership, just like they delayed getting married and having kids, but now they’re making very similar decisions to their parents.”

More importantly, home ownership means compulsory sport utility shopping. Large SUV sales have increased 11 percent in the first half of 2017, according to estimates from Ford Motor Company. Meanwhile, midsize family haulers increased by 9 percent and small SUV sales went up by 4 percent. Ford’s market research indicates this could just be the tip of the iceberg.  (Read More…)

By on August 11, 2017

Jeep Cherokee

Not to sound overly patriotic or offend my Canadian coworkers, but United States is responsible for giving the world so much greatness that it’s difficult not to get a little misty eyed when I stop to think about it.

America’s long history of inventiveness has blessed the globe with modern marvels like sunglasses, chewing gum, kitty litter, the atomic bomb and, of course, sport utility vehicles. While the atomic bomb doesn’t get much broad praise these days, the rest of the aforementioned items are exceptionally popular outside the nation’s borders — especially SUVs and their bastard offspring, the crossover.

In fact, they’ve been such a runaway success that SUVs accounted for over 25 percent of all European passenger vehicle sales in 2016. That’s up from 21 percent in 2015 and there’s no sign of it stopping anytime soon. Sport utility vehicles are expected to surpass a third of the region’s new vehicle market by 2020. Assumedly, America’s own SUV sales will be hovering around 100 percent by then — maybe more. But let’s not discount how crossover-crazy the rest of the globe has become or forget to remind ourselves that most of the world’s best-selling SUVs aren’t exactly “Made in America.”  (Read More…)

By on August 9, 2017

Jeep Trackhawk

Jeep announced pricing for the Grand Cherokee Trackhawk this week and whether it’s a good value or not largely depends on your priorities. At $85,900 with an additional $1,095 destination charge, it’s essentially the same price as the Dodge Demon before dealer markups. That’s roughly $20,000 over Dodge’s four-door Charger SRT Hellcat, which uses the same supercharged 6.2-liter V8 engine delivering an identical 707 horsepower.

So, how do you plate the price to make it appear more appetizing? Direct comparisons. Midsize performance SUVs sit in an odd category almost entirely dominated by premium German vehicles and two less-lavish American models using a seven-year-old platform derived with help from Daimler. What sets the Trackhawk apart is it’s the most bonkers of the bunch and manages its madness at a lower price point than the competition.  (Read More…)

By on August 2, 2017

Ferrari emblem logo

Ferrari will likely add a comparatively spacious four-seat “utility vehicle” to its lineup in the hopes of bolstering volume and doubling its profits by 2022. The strategy certainly has worked for Porsche. So well, in fact, that Lamborghini has made plans to introduce the Urus SUV for 2019 — using Volkswagen Group’s MLB platform. The spiritual successor to the wild LM002 is expected to outperform Bentley’s ludicrous Bentayga and would likely be Ferrari’s chief rival in the super sport utility segment.

The concept of a Ferrari-built SUV has drifted around the automaker’s Maranello and Amsterdam offices for a few years, but now inside sources claim a comprehensive strategy for the vehicle should be unveiled by 2018. However, enacting it would fundamentally change the brand.

As a low-volume automaker, Ferrari is not subject to the same rigid emissions regulations imposed on other car companies. But CEO and sweater aficionado Sergio Marchionne has been pressing the company to increase volume ever since taking the company’s helm in 2014, consequences be damned.  (Read More…)

By on April 12, 2017

gv80-concept-exterior-city

Genesis Motors doesn’t exactly have the most diverse lineup in the industry. Hyundai may have only cut it loose as a standalone brand a couple of years ago, but its current showroom offerings amount to a full-sized luxury sedan and its little (midsized) brother. Genesis is working on fleshing itself out, though. The brand has plans to bring six new models to market before 2021 — including two all-important sport utility vehicles.

Providing us with a “subtle glimpses into the bold future,” Genesis has brought its GV80 Concept SUV to the New York International Auto Show. But if this is supposed to be a taste of what’s to come from Hyundai Motor Group’s premium luxury brand, there is reason to worry about its future. It isn’t because the concept is a plug-in hydrogen fuel cell electric — although a case could be made — but because the path its styling has taken is more than a little perplexing.  (Read More…)

By on April 11, 2017

18-ford-explorer-sport_hr_01

When Ford updated the Explorer for 2016, many wondered if the mid-cycle refresh was extensive enough. If those voices were on the fence two years ago, then the 2018 update must have them fuming. Where the 2016 model year saw observable styling changes, an improved digital interface, and a brand new engine option, the 2018 model year will receive next to nothing.

While Ford did upgrade the visuals, distinguishing it from the 2017 MY is exceptionally difficult. Ford altered the Explorer’s front clip and grille slightly to make it look 2 percent more like something built by Land Rover, and changes to the rest of the bodywork are far too subtle to notice.

Unless you have a strong affinity toward quad exhaust ports or wifi access, there really isn’t any reason to rush out and buy one.  (Read More…)

By on April 11, 2017

Audi Q8 Concept Front 3/4, Image: © 2017 Jeff Wilson/The Truth About Cars

Audi issued a press release today to remind the world that it’s going to be Germany’s preeminent source for sport utility vehicles. While every major automaker is making a push into the segment, Volkswagen Group has assigned Audi with one of the largest.

Today, the company outlined its production strategy for the forthcoming Q4 and Q8 models, reaffirming its claim that crossovers could account for half of its global sales in the very near future. By 2019, Audi will have expanded its SUV lineup to include seven individual models and increased its overall production volume to meet the growing demand. (Read More…)

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