Tag: SUV

By on July 6, 2020

If it seems like years have passed since we’ve issued an update on Ineos Group’s attempt at building a Defender-inspired SUV, that’s because it has been. The British chemical conglomerate asked Land Rover if it could assemble copies of the then-defunct automobile back in 2016, only to be told to take a hike. Unfazed, CEO Jim Ratcliffe said Ineos would move ahead on the program anyway — focusing instead on building an updated model “influenced” by the utility vehicle, but not a carbon copy.

The company now says the model, dubbed Grenadier, is swiftly approaching production. Even though it doesn’t share any parts with the vintage Defender 110, it still resembles the 4×4 utility to a point that might lead to continued legal troubles with Jaguar Land Rover.  (Read More…)

By on June 29, 2020

1987 Dodge Raider in Colorado junkyard, LH front view - ©2020 Murilee Martin - The Truth About CarsEven after the Mitsubishi Overlords began selling vehicles under their own badging in North America in the early 1980s, Chrysler continued selling those very same vehicles with Dodge, Plymouth, Eagle, and Chrysler emblems. One of these machines didn’t stay on sale for long, but captured the hearts of a devoted American following: the Dodge Raider, twin to the Mitsubishi Montero (aka Pajero).

Here’s one that acquired some mean-looking modifications before meeting its demise in Colorado Springs. (Read More…)

By on June 8, 2020

We’ve talked an awful lot about fuel-sipping hybrids and virtuous electric vehicles in recent days; so much so, one could forget that a great number of buyers want nothing more than to take home the biggest, most spacious SUV on the road today. Ford sells plenty of Expeditions and Lincoln Navigators, and General Motors decided the time was right for an even larger Chevrolet Suburban, GMC Yukon, and Cadillac Escalade.

Big still sells, so it’s no wonder that Fiat Chrysler wants a piece of the action. It’s frankly bizarre that the automaker went the past decade without a full-size SUV.

Well, that streak will soon end, as there’s now rolling proof of the Jeep Wagoneer’s looming return. (Read More…)

By on February 4, 2020

While the next-generation Cadillac Escalade debuts on Tuesday, the cover was pulled off early by automotive photographer Wilco Blok. The model has seen leaks before, helping to validate Blok’s image as authentic. That said, this is probably the best-quality photo we’re likely to see of the model before its official premiere just hours from now.

Visually, the 2021 Escalade maintains its familial resemblance to SUVs from GMC and Chevrolet sharing the same GMT1XX platform and has dramatically scaled back its reliance on bling. However, the de-chromed grille arguably makes it more difficult to tell apart from the Tahoe/Suburban and Yukon, which hardly seems like a wise marketing decision.  (Read More…)

By on January 20, 2020

2002 BMW X5 in Colorado junkyard, RH front view - ©2020 Murilee Martin - The Truth About Cars

Now that I’ve been doing these Junkyard Finds for 13 years and having just written my annual 10 Best Junkyard Cars post, I’m taking a look back to see what historically significant vehicles I’ve neglected as I pursue weird examples of badge engineering and triviaquestion AWD versions. I’ve been working on filling in the blanks with junked BMW 3 and 5 Series cars lately, along with 21stcentury econoboxes, and now I will be trying to shoot more German luxury SUVs.

We’ll start off with this clean-looking ’02 X5, which I found in a yard just south of Denver. (Read More…)

By on September 30, 2019

2013 Ford Flex

Seven years ago today, I bought a 2013 Mineral Gray Ford Flex SE. It wasn’t the ideal combination of options, nor was it the most desirable color — I would have preferred something in a Blue or Red, but Flex inventory was pretty limited, and Ford was offering some sort of quarterly promotion on in-stock inventory that was expiring that same day, so Mineral Gray SE it was.

180,000 miles later, it’s still in service as the family hauler. It’s taken thousand-mile-plus trips to places like Orlando, Minnesota, Kansas, and Iowa every summer, loaded to the gills with suitcases and sleeping bags. It’s endured through dozens of fruit punch spills and had hundreds of Cheerios trampled into its carpets. It even took a 40 mph hit to the rear subframe at a dead stop, and the precious occupants inside, my two young children, suffered nothing except a cup of spilled chocolate milk (which the interior also suffered, with a smell that took multiple cleanings to exorcise).

It started making a weird whirring sound in the dash a few years ago, but when the Ford tech said it would cost a few hundred bucks to fix, we simply got used to it. The “Check Fuel Filler Inlet” warning comes on every so often, as it does with all Fords of this era with capless fuel fillers, but I just clean it out and wait for the CEL to clear. It has consumed six sets of tires, but only two sets of brake pads — and it’s on the original shocks. I nearly knocked myself out with the tailgate once, thanks to the lack of a push-button feature, but honestly, I deserved it.

In other words, the Flex, long since paid off, continues to do exactly what I bought it to do all those years ago — transport my family with relative ease and comfort. I confess that I enjoy not having that $500-a-month payment anymore, and I fully expect to drive it another 2-3 years without issue (knock on wood). But if I did want to replace it, I’d have trouble doing so, because Ford won’t be making it after the 2019 model-year run expires. And that’s kind of a shame, because there’s nothing else like it.

(Read More…)

By on September 26, 2019

Toyota is updating the 2020 4Runner with more safety tech, infotainment options, and a compelling new trim. Based on the TRD Off-Road Premium trim, the 4Runner Venture Edition ditches the chrome to furnish customers with the ever-popular blacked-out experience. Mirrors, door handles, badging, and rear spoiler are all swapped for the darkest hue available.

The rest of the package plays to the body-on-frame 4Runner’s strengths. Toyota has fitted a Yakima Megawarrior roof rack as standard equipment as the vehicle’s crown jewel. Venture Editions also receive gunmetal 17-inch TRD wheels, while removing all other exterior references to Toyota Racing Development. The manufacturer suggests this provides the trim with “a cool, minimalist look,” and we find it difficult to disagree.  (Read More…)

By on September 18, 2019

The 2020 Volkswagen Atlas Cross Sport brings a rakish rear hatch to the refreshed Atlas line, but limits the midsize crossover’s seating configuration to five passengers. Once nestled inside VW’s upcoming Atlas variant, those five occupants will enjoy VW’s next generation Car-Net technology platform, while drivers can expect to be coddled by upgraded driver assistance technologies.

The Cross Sport applies an Audi Q7-esque not-a-coupe treatment that dials up the elegance, even when concealed by camouflage vinyl. If this is all it takes for buyers to feel like they’re avoiding the soccer parent image, then VW can expect to attract a style-sensitive buyer pool ready and willing to lose the small third-row seats. Even though the rear overhang is 5.7 inches shorter than the standard Atlas, it gains storage capacity in the transformation as a result of the removal of those rear seats. In its place is a flat load panel that covers a space-saver spare tire and optional Fender subwoofer. There’s actually a decent volume of unfinished storage capacity I’d expect many owners to find useful for infrequently used items. (Read More…)

By on July 31, 2019

The news of Nissan’s recent financial trouble brought attention right where it needs to be: on lackluster product. In our most recent reporting regarding Nissan’s sales woes, I was asked in the comments whether I had any ideas for improvement. Well that got me thinking (and worked up), and it turns out I do have ideas, and they fall into three major categories.

(Read More…)

By on July 8, 2019

2019 Lexus LX 570 front quarter

In the beginning, Willys created the sports-utility vehicle. Now, the sports was negligible and the utility was strictly for the military-industrial complex, and darkness was over two continents at war. And when the war ended, Willys said “let there be civilians who want to drink cheap beer and go rock crawling,” and there were knobby tires and lift kits.

Then the off-roaders began to multiply, each taking their own form. And it was good. But then one saw that the fruit of a tree in the garden looked like a half-used bar of soap — this tree, known as the crossover, represents all that is evil.

Lexus has embraced everything within the realm of the sports-utility spectrum. From tiny crossovers to this massive 2019 Lexus LX570, nearly all needs can be covered. But is this biggest Lexus good or evil?

(Read More…)

By on July 2, 2019

Hyundai’s luxury Genesis brand is set to launch a new global electric vehicle architecture in 2021. Both a sedan and SUV are said to be in the works, positioning the Korean models to go head-to-head with Tesla Motors. These would be the first electric vehicles created under the Genesis moniker and are just a part of their growing commitment to developing alternative-propulsion vehicles. (Read More…)

By on July 1, 2019

1994 Mazda Navajo in Colorado wrecking yard, RH front view - ©2019 Murilee Martin - The Truth About Cars

Mazda and Ford go way back when it comes to the badge-engineering game, what with all those Mazda-built Ford Couriers, Mazda-based Ford Escorts, Mazda-badged Ford Rangers, and so on. Since I love weird examples of badge engineering in the junkyard, I’m always on the lookout for the likes of a Saab-badged Chevy or Acura-badged Isuzu, and so I have been keeping my eyes open for a rare Mazda-ized Ford Explorer for quite a while. Most of them got crushed long ago, as the early Explorer has very little value today (due to its laughably small size and lack of luxury features, by 21st-century American-market suburban commuter-truck standards), but this ’94 just showed up in a Denver self-service yard.  (Read More…)

By on January 23, 2019

Don’t let the title confuse you; we’re not discussing how to save money on your electric bill. Today’s QOTD hopes to find utility vehicles of value, in both the SUV and CUV categories. Put on your thinking caps.

(Read More…)

By on December 27, 2018

2009 GMC Envoy Denali

Someone at General Motors has been studying the company history books again. Fresh news earlier this year taught us the company is bringing back the storied Blazer nameplate, appending it to a FWD-based crossover in a move that disappointed some fans but will surely delight GM beancounters as they’ll probably sell every one they can make to a crossover-thirsty public, the majority of whom care not one whit about the old body-on-frame machine.

A trademark application uncovered by a GM Inside News forum poster suggests GM could be poised to bring back another well-known badge. This time, it is GMC’s turn to plumb their collective memory for a popular name. The lead image above gives you all the clues you need as to which one it may be.

(Read More…)

By on December 20, 2018

2019 Mazda CX-5

If a gearhead is asked for car shopping advice, there’s a pretty good chance one of their recommendations will be a Mazda. The little Hiroshima Highway Hawks generally land on the sporty side of the segments in which they compete, whether one is talking about compact cars or SUVs.

For ages, the CX-5 has been a stylish entrant in the compact crossover class and is Mazda’s best-selling vehicle in America. It is a car notable for not being imbued with “Handling by Novocain (TM)” like so many of its competitors. For 2019, the CX-5 gains an optional 2.5-liter turbocharged inline-four, meaning the CX-5 finally has a mouth to match its trousers.

And, oh yeah, the guy in charge captained one of the most prolific racing teams in the 24 Hours of Lemons.

(Read More…)

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