Though tagged as a concept, and though it has many concept car-like features (the real metal trimmings on the seats is a dead giveaway that this is not a production-intent vehicle), make no mistake that the Lincoln MKC is coming, and most likely with the MKC name, and will be an absolutely critical launch for the Lincoln brand next year.
The 2012 Volkswagen Tiguan is a refreshed model for this year. For 2012 the Tiguan has received a revised exterior and upgraded transmission bits that help it look more like the rest of its family and remain competitive in the pile of little SUVs. In a word, the little VW is adorable. The Tiguan wins the award for the car that I have driven that garnered the most approving looks from the women that it encountered. The Tiguan is easily likable, but like a lot of things little and adorable, it can do things that make you want to scold it and put it in a corner.
By Roger Boylan
GM offers three versions of this pleasant vehicle: the working-stiff’s Chevrolet Equinox (previously reviewed in these pages), the fancy-pants Cadillac SRX (actually on a premium version of this platform shared with the recently deceased Saab 9-4x), and the present, modestly upscale iteration, the GMC Terrain, which was my ride for a week. (The also recently deceased Saturn Vue was another close relation.) While the vehicle may be similar in feel and specs to its relatives, at least GM has made it look completely different from the Equinox – for better or worse.
By Chris Haak
Ford has spilled the beans on its all-new 2013 Escape, and after more than a decade of following the same basic template (that is, cute-ute, car-based mechanicals wrapped around a traditional SUV shape), the all-new 2013 model completely turns to a new chapter in this vehicle’s evolution.
By Chris Haak
When I was growing up, I always thought the word “express” meant “fast.” But then a few years ago, I had a colleague with a different theory on what the word meant. “When did ‘express’ get a new definition that means ‘same thing, only smaller? Holiday Inn Express: same thing, only smaller. Pizza Hut Express: same thing, only smaller.”
By Roger Boylan
The last RAV4 I was in was the original cute ute, a ‘97 with a stick shift, a bare-naked spare tire stuck to its backside and 120 horses under the hood. It was solid enough for its small size, but pretty noisy on the highway, with mediocre interior comfort and, as I recall, fuel economy that was OK, no more. But it had Energizer Bunny-like endurance, and aging models can be had cheap, which is why I still see them gathering bird poo under wilting trees in our local student ghetto, where beerstained sofas and old cars go to die.
Over in the posher precincts is where you must seek today’s RAV4, although you might not recognize it when you find it. It’s about as different from its humble ancestor as it could be, short of having evolved into a Lamborghini, or a bus–of both of which it could be said to have elements, being much faster, especially in the V6 version, than its predecessor, and offering a more spacious interior than the old RAV, while remaining manageably compact externally.
By Charles Krome
Frankly, I didn’t hold out much hope for the success of GMC when General Motors decided to make the truck-only division one of its core brands. Not only did I think truck sales in general would begin slipping, but I also thought it would be particularly difficult to make a go of things in the post-bankruptcy auto industry with a lineup that essentially duplicates the Chevy Truck roster. Well, I was obviously wrong on the first point (at least so far), and that made me especially curious about the second.
Today, I can consider that curiosity satisfied, because I just spent a few days living with a fully loaded 2011 GMC Terrain, provided to me with a full tank of gas by the friendly folks at General Motors.
By Charles Krome
It’s amazing how quickly time flies in the auto industry. There was a moment back in January of 2010 when the Hyundai Tucson represented the cutting edge of South Korean automotive culture here in the U.S. It was the very first of the new-school Hyundai models—beating the Sonata to market by a matter of weeks—and was light years ahead of the outgoing Tucson. Today, however, it’s a different story. With the pace of automotive advances accelerating so quickly, and expectations for Hyundai products rising in lockstep, the Tucson could end up disappointing some customers—depending on how they approach it. At least that’s my takeaway from a recent test drive with a 2011 Hyundai Tucson GLS FWD, provided to me by Hyundai with a full tank of gas.
Now, I’m just going to start with the bottom line here: The Tucson that ended up in my driveway had an MSRP of $21,845 (although it’s listed on the website at $21,995) and the only options it had were the $100 carpeted floor mats. Add in a $795 destination charge, and you end up at $22,740. That’s a bargain price in today’s marketplace, especially when you consider how unlikely it is that anyone would be paying the full MSRP for the vehicle. And it’s not like this was some stripper model, either. It had all the usual “safe” driving technologies, like electronic brake-force distribution, brake assist, downhill brake control and hill-start assist, along with 17-inch alloy wheels, a nice-ish AM/FM/CD/MP3/XM sound system, some leather interior accents and Bluetooth compatibility.
By Chris Haak
Since the launch of the 2010 Chevrolet Equinox, GM has struggled to keep up with demand for its popular small crossover. First, it acquired sole ownership of the CAMI plant in Ingersoll, Ontario from Suzuki where the Equinox and Terrain are built. Suzuki had been building the GM-based XL7 there, but the Suzuki kind of fizzled out in the market, leaving Suzuki with no product and GM with the opportunity to add to its production capacity.
Then, to further boost output, GM began shipping incomplete Equinox body shells from Ingersoll to its flexible and underutilized car plant in Oshawa for painting and final assembly. That move added 60,000 to 80,000 additional units of Equinox production capacity and allowed additional Terrain production at the original plant. Still, it’s not enough for dealers, who still report that they can’t get enough of the hot-selling vehicles, more than a year after their launch. Last month, dealers had only a 30 day supply of new Equinoxes in inventory, which is half of the ideal 60-day level.
By Chris Haak
With the poaching of design head Peter Schreyer from Audi several years ago, Kia has turned itself from a brand that had no design identity to one that has a coherent language across its lineup, and that one drapes Kia vehicles in interesting and dynamic shapes. With the 2011 Optima and Sportage now on sale, Kia’s lineup has nearly been completely transformed from also-rans into competitively-styled vehicles.
While design is certainly a differentiator among new vehicles, and can catch the attention of buyers, it takes more than just good looks to establish and sustain success in a very competitive automotive landscape. Kia loaned me a 2011 Sportage for a week so I could find out if it also had beauty within, or if in fact its beauty was just skin deep.
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