By on October 13, 2017

2018 Honda CR-V - Image: Honda AustraliaIf Australia is an effective test bed for American tastes — and it most definitely isn’t — then the three-row version of the fifth-generation Honda CR-V would be a hit stateside.

We told you way back in April that there were plans afoot at American Honda for a utility vehicle to slot in between Honda’s two-row CR-V and three-row Pilot. We then watched, intrigued, at the level of interest among TTAC readers when we showed you images in July of Honda Australia’s three-row CR-V. Could this be the SUV Honda plans to squeeze between the CR-V and Pilot? At the time, Honda told TTAC, “We can’t make comments about any future possibilities.”

So you’re telling me there’s a possibility.

There likely is only the most limited sort of possibility. The third row can’t be linked with all-wheel drive, for starters. It’s obviously snug. And American Honda already has the Pilot, which Honda does not offer in Australia.

Nevertheless, if the Australian test bed is looked upon as a case study, American Honda would discover a three-row, seven-seat CR-V that turns out to be more popular than expected.
(Read More…)

By on July 26, 2017

2018 Honda CR-V three-row - Images: Honda AustraliaWith the launch of the seven-seat Honda CR-V in another ASEAN market, this time Australia, one wonders about the potential popularity of a three-row CR-V in the United States.

The Honda CR-V, America’s top-selling utility vehicle in each of the last five years, currently tops American Honda’s sales charts. The CR-V now accounts for more than one-quarter of Honda’s U.S. sales and generated more volume in the first half of 2017 than in any of the CR-V nameplates’s first 10 calendar years.

Broadening the already popular CR-V’s appeal sounds, at first glance, like an entirely reasonable plan.  (Read More…)

By on June 15, 2017

2017 Audi Q7 blue front quarter

I was incredulous. My eyes must have been deceiving me. The number at the top of the page surely did not belong with the number at the bottom of the page. I rubbed my eyes, took another swig of the awful office coffee, and looked again at the window sticker that arrived in my inbox.

The price was indeed right. Audi would be delivering a $58,725 Q7 to my door the next day.

However, the 2.0T nomenclature at the top of the page was a shock. A three-row luxury SUV from a premier German manufacturer with a four-cylinder engine under the hood? Inconceivable. Can the two-liter turbo really move this big SUV with Teutonic aplomb?

(Read More…)

By on April 7, 2017

2018 Volkswagen Atlas grey front quarter off road

For whatever reason, Volkswagen has shied away from the mainstream, large, family vehicle market for decades. When most American parents and spawn headed to Wally World in massive station wagons, Volkswagen offered the Microbus. When minivans became the rage, the sages of Wolfsburg set forth the quirky, rear-engined Vanagon. And through the ‘90s, as the SUV became the default soccer mom transport, the Eurovan continued the tall and narrow van theme.

Certainly, the Routan was a typical minivan — albeit provided by Chrysler — and the Touareg followed a traditional (if pricey) luxury SUV path, but VW hasn’t been a player in the meat of the market. Considering the challenges the company has faced over the last couple years, Volkswagen simply cannot afford to yield high-volume market segments. Besieged dealers need something bigger than a midsized sedan to sell.

Most of all, as noted by Michael Lovati, Volkswagen’s Vice President of Midsize and Fullsize vehicles in North America, “VW needs to regain trust.”

Step one in rebuilding trust is the all-new, American-made 2018 Volkswagen Atlas, which aims squarely at the ever-popular three-row midsize crossover market, especially the beloved Ford Explorer and Honda Pilot.

Does Atlas hit the bulls-eye, or miss wildly?

(Read More…)

By on September 15, 2016

vw teramont

At the dawn of recorded history, a German auto manufacturer unveiled a concept vehicle and promised North America — then weighed down by the oppressive bulk of towering ice sheets — a new midsize SUV.

Okay, that was only 2013, but it seems that the Volkswagen Teramont (VW hasn’t confirmed the name) has been in development for eons. Billed by some as the automaker’s make-or-break model in the U.S., the Teramont is a seven-seat SUV that borrows its design language from the CrossBlue concept. The automaker’s Chattanooga, Tennessee assembly plant will give birth to the model next year.

Now we know what lies under its hood. (Read More…)

By on August 29, 2016

2017 Nissan Pathfinder blue front quarter

Car shoppers who need to carry more than four people should buy vans. Full stop. The minivan form factor is superior in nearly every manner to the SUV; from passenger comfort, to cargo room, to flexibility, the van wins. Yet American shoppers have largely abandoned the symbol of Eighties momness for the three-row crossover, this decade’s mom taxi.

While Nissan has offered minivans in various forms since the mid-80s, it’s a relative newcomer to the three-row CUV market with the 2013 Pathfinder. For 2017, Nissan has refreshed the Pathfinder — inside, outside, and underneath — all in an effort to make this big wagon appeal to all manner of drivers.

Including those who should be buying vans.

(Read More…)

By on May 5, 2016

Volkswagen Chattanooga

Volkswagen’s “Everything Americans want in one lovely package” SUV has been talked about and teased seemingly forever, but now there’s some physical evidence to look at.

The automaker just issued a photo of the midsize SUV’s first assembled test body at its Chattanooga, Tennessee facility, where production of the model kicks off later this year. (Read More…)

By on November 6, 2015

2014 Toyota Highlander Hybrid Platinum

I was driving along the other day and I realized something: the Toyota Highlander Hybrid is currently the most popular vehicle in North America.

Okay, this might be a slight exaggeration. For instance, I am told that the bicycle is quite popular. But on a list of today’s most popular vehicles, the Highlander Hybrid is right up there with the bicycle, and the wheelchair, and that Ford pickup that sells more units in an afternoon than Ferrari sells globally in an entire calendar year.

It is very obvious to see why the Highlander Hybrid is so popular. For one thing, it’s a normal family SUV with three-row seating, which is incredibly hot right now; so hot that I am quite certain it is not actually possible to rear children in today’s society without a three-row SUV. If you showed up at a child’s birthday party in a Toyota Camry, and you had forgotten to dress your child, and you had brought the wrong child, and your child was vomiting all over everything in sight, people would not call attention to your child-related issues. They would ask: Why don’t you have a three-row SUV?

(Read More…)

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