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Archive for the ‘crossover’ Category

PostHeaderIcon Subaru Ascent

It’s no longer a secret that Subaru wants to bring the seven-passenger SUV back to the U.S., but the 2017 New York Auto Show confirms that the vehicle is very close to arriving in dealerships. Specifically, Subaru announced that the Ascent concept will go on sale in 2018 as a spiritual successor for the Tribeca. Based on the Viziv-7 concept showcased in 2016, the Ascent is much closer to production form, but it will likely lose some of its features before hitting the assembly line.

Subaru’s confirmation of the seven-seat SUV and Ascent name comes after 64 months of consecutive record-breaking sales in the United States. The Japanese firm has been growing slowly but steady in North America, and it now needs to step into new markets to keep the hype alive. A seven-seat hauler seems like a safe bet, especially with not so many companies offering this type of layout nowadays. The Ascent will be built at Subaru of Indiana plant in Lafayette and won’t be sold outside North America. Until the production model arrives, let’s find out more about the concept car in the review below.

Continue reading to learn more about the Subaru Ascent concept.


PostHeaderIcon Subaru XV Crosstrek

When crossovers and SUVs got their second wind on the market, automakers jumped on the opportunity to open the gates and flood each and every segment of the market with as many models as possible. But, some automakers have taken an interesting approach where they take a car body and throw it on a jacked-up chassis and suspension – a quick way to create new models without spending heaps of cash on research and design. The new Subaru XV is one of these models and, like the 2016 Subaru XV Concept, it sports the body of the 2017 Subaru Impreza five-door with a raised suspension; just enough to make it appealing to the masses who, predominantly, love these high-riding people-haulers a lot more than they probably should. The big news, however, is that the new XV is built upon Subie’s revamped Global platform that brings extra rigidity and strength to the table. There’s also a revamped suspension system, revised interior, and 80-percent of the parts used in that 2.0-liter Boxer engine have been revamped to deliver more power and better fuel economy in an overall lighter package.

As was the case with the first XV model that hit the market in 2013, the XV is essentially an Impreza with jacked up suspension, but this time around, Subaru has gone the distance to make the XV safer, stronger, more powerful, and nicer inside and out. When it comes to strength and safety, we’re not exactly talking small numbers either – the new XV, according to Subaru, offers an increase in torsional rigidity of 70 percent and a decrease in body roll of 50 percent compared to the outgoing model. But, before we get too far into that, let’s a stroll down the page talk more about the “all-new” Subaru XV.

Updated 04/03/2017: Subaru announced that the 2018 Crosstrek will be making its North American debut at the 2018 New York Auto Show.

Continue reading to learn more about the 2018 Subaru XV Crosstrek.


PostHeaderIcon Hyundai Santa Fe – Driven

Midsize crossovers are plentiful. They’re among the most popular vehicles on our roads today. As such, the 2017 Hyundai Santa Fe has its work cut out for it. After all, this is the segment of such titans as the Ford Explorer, Chevrolet Traverse, Nissan Pathfinder, Honda Pilot, and Toyota Highlander.

Those who pay attention to the vehicles around them on the road every day probably see a lot of midsize crossovers. It’s a super-popular class. Right-sized and relatively budget-friendly, these are the station wagons of our day.

With so much competition, it would be easy to get lost in the crowd. Ask Mazda’s CX-9 – the slowest-selling in this class in the 2016 calendar year, not counting the oddball, high-priced Volkswagen Touareg. With that in mind, Korean automaker Hyundai has its act together, and sales bear this out: The company moved 131,257 Santa Fes in 2016, an 11.1-percent increase over the year prior.

Continue reading for the full story.


PostHeaderIcon Watch the 2018 Volvo XC60 get Demolished for Safety's Sake

Ah the crash test – it involves slamming a brand new car into an object to determine how well it holds up during an accident. There’s the small frontal overlap test, the moderate overlap test, the side impact test, and rollover test, among others. Well, the all-new 2018 Volvo XC60 just underwent the full barrage, getting slammed seven ways to Sunday. And it turns out (not surprisingly, really) that Volvo built an exceptionally safe crossover.

The videos below show the testing methods, as well as the mechanical carnage involved. The high-speed, slow motion film captures details not otherwise seen by the naked eye. The shots are almost beautiful in nature, though hauntingly eerie when considering those dummies represent real people like you and your family. That realization makes knowing the XC60’s good performance that much sweeter.

You won’t hear IIHS, NHTSA, or NCAP scores for these tests, however. These were actually done in-house by Volvo at its Stockholm-based Safety Center long before the XC60’s debut at the 2017 Geneva Motor Show.

For those who don’t know, Volvo is on a mission to have zero fatalities or serious injuries in its new vehicles by 2020. It’s a lofty goal, but one that’s far less self-serving than most long-term goals automakers make.

Anyway, for those wanting to see the XC60 in action, click past the jump for the videos.

Continue reading for more information.


PostHeaderIcon Renault Captur Gets Mild Tweaks and More Refined Interior

This year’s Geneva Motor Show may be packed with loads of flashy supercars and special-edition models, but the event is also about daily drivers focused on practicality and affordability. One of them is the Renault Captur, Europe’s best-selling B-segment crossover in 2016, which has received some light mid-cycle tweaks.

Identical to the outgoing model for the most part, the Captur retains its two-tone body color option and gets two new hues. In all, customers now have access to 36 color combinations. New features include full LED headlamps (optional), a fixed glass roof for models with the two-tone paint, and new 16- and 17-inch wheels. The Captur also gained a few features from the bigger Kadjar model, including a chrome strip on the front grille and new skid plates for both bumpers.

Inside, the crossover features more upmarket materials for the steering wheel and a revised gear lever. Renault also crafted new seats with enhanced lateral support on some trims, while a new Signature S Nav trim adds heated Nappa leather seats, full-grain Nappa leather steering wheel, leather door panels, aluminum pedals, and chrome trim.

There’s no word of any drivetrain modifications, so it’s safe to assume that the Captur carries over with the previous engines. Options include the 0.9-liter three-cylinder with 90 horsepower and 100 pound-feet, the 1.2-liter four-cylinder with 116 horses and 140 pound-feet, and the 1.5-liter diesel with 90 horsepower and 162 pound-feet.

Continue reading for the full story.


PostHeaderIcon Renault Captur Gets Mild Tweaks and More Refined Interior

This year’s Geneva Motor Show may be packed with loads of flashy supercars and special-edition models, but the event is also about daily drivers focused on practicality and affordability. One of them is the Renault Captur, Europe’s best-selling B-segment crossover in 2016, which has received some light mid-cycle tweaks.

Identical to the outgoing model for the most part, the Captur retains its two-tone body color option and gets two new hues. In all, customers now have access to 36 color combinations. New features include full LED headlamps (optional), a fixed glass roof for models with the two-tone paint, and new 16- and 17-inch wheels. The Captur also gained a few features from the bigger Kadjar model, including a chrome strip on the front grille and new skid plates for both bumpers.

Inside, the crossover features more upmarket materials for the steering wheel and a revised gear lever. Renault also crafted new seats with enhanced lateral support on some trims, while a new Signature S Nav trim adds heated Nappa leather seats, full-grain Nappa leather steering wheel, leather door panels, aluminum pedals, and chrome trim.

There’s no word of any drivetrain modifications, so it’s safe to assume that the Captur carries over with the previous engines. Options include the 0.9-liter three-cylinder with 90 horsepower and 100 pound-feet, the 1.2-liter four-cylinder with 116 horses and 140 pound-feet, and the 1.5-liter diesel with 90 horsepower and 162 pound-feet.

Continue reading for the full story.


PostHeaderIcon DS 7 Crossback

Citroën has been around since 1919, but its premium sub-brand, DS Automobiles has only been around since its announcement back in 2009 – making the brand just shy of a decade old. Since then, the brand has released a few concepts and no fewer than six individual models that include the DS 3, DS 6, two iterations of the DS 4, and two iterations of the DS 5. Now with the upcoming Geneva Auto Show, the DS brand is set to release a new SUV, aptly called the DS7.

It will fight against models like the Lexus NX, Audi Q2, and even the BMW X1 – a tall order, but not exactly unfathomable given the looks, luxury, and comfort offered by the brand’s newest SUV… uhem… Crossback. Designed with comfort and performance in mind, the DS 7 features a plug-in hybrid drivetrain that delivers some 300 ponies through all four wheels when needed. Features like DS Night Vision, DS Active Scan Suspension, DS Connected Pilot, and a pair of 12-inch screens inside are present – all of which poses a strong proposition for the competition.

There are even rumors that this newest model could, in fact, bring the Citroën brand – or at least some derivative of it – back to the U.S. for the first time in nearly three decades. Of course, word has it that its initial reentry will be trough a company called TravelCar which would help the brand introduce its newest models to the U.S. market as rental or ride-share vehicles. But, before we get too far ahead of ourselves and get too excited, that’s still some time away, and the DS7 is still headed to Geneva Motor Show. So, let’s take a better look at DS’ newest SUV and talk more about it.

Continue reading to learn more about the DS 7 Crossback.


PostHeaderIcon Fiat 500X S-Design Special

There once was a time when a high-riding Fiat 500 would’ve amounted to some form of ridicule. The 500, after all, has been around for 60 years and at no point did it venture past being a small compact car. But time has a way of flipping long-standing narratives in the auto industry, and no more is that more evident than the launch of the Fiat 500X back in 2015. Essentially a small crossover version of the 500, the 500X checks off some boxes that the traditional 500 can’t. It’s bigger, more spacious, and provides a fresh alternative to the established compact city car. Ahead of the 2017 Geneva Motor Show, the 500X will be well-represented at the event with a special edition model called the 500X S-Design Special.

Mind you, this isn’t exactly unchartered territory for the biggest variant of the Fiat 500. We’ve seen it get an Opening Edition in the past and it’s also been a staple in SEMA for the past few years. But the S-Design Special is different, not only because it’s Geneva-bound, but because it’s also arguably the most dressed-up version of the Fiat 500X that we’ve seen so far.

Okay, so it’s not exactly dripping with exclusive features, but it does have a lot of unique qualities unto itself. It has a new paint finish and a slew of unique exterior and interior details that help shape the exclusivity attached to this model. It also has tinted windows, which apparently is significant enough to warrant a mention in the Italian automaker’s press release.

Altogether, these features help create the identity of the Fiat 500X S-Design Special Edition. For what it’s worth, we’re all going to see how appealing the special edition 500X is in the eyes of customers since Fiat plans to open orders for the model in June 2017, a few months after it debuts in Geneva.

Continue after the jump to read more about the Fiat 500X S-Design Special Edition


PostHeaderIcon Toyota's Street Fighter-Themed Commercial For the C-HR Is The Ad The Super Bowl Should Have Had

Excuse us for getting a little too pumped up about a car commercial two weeks after the Super Bowl. We’re making an exception here because this ad by Toyota for its new C-HR crossover is that good.

The commercial takes a page from Japan’s rich culture of developing the most iconic video games in history. Toyota, presumably with the help of Capcom, released this commercial of the C-HR for the Japanese market. That’s the not the news here, though. Rather, it’s the treatment of the ad, which puts the C-HR inside the world of Street Fighter II, arguably the biggest and most popular fighting game in history.

The ad starts off with the CH-R lining up to battle Ryu, the Hadouken-throwing protagonist of the video game franchise. But instead of fighting each other, Ryu instead hops inside the CH-R before going on a tour of sorts to the home stages of the game’s other characters. In the process, it gets a car wash from E. Honda in Japan, performs a drift with Blanka in Brazil, and does a wheelie with Zangief in Russia, all before ending up in Thailand to face the game’s final boss, M. Bison.

With Ryu behind the wheel of the CH-R, the crossover somehow defends itself from M. Bison’s attacks by popping up its hood before shooting off some hadoukens from its headlights to finish off the big baddie. Who knew the CH-R came with that option?

It’s an incredible ad that touches on the two things at the core of Japanese culture: cars and video games. It sets up as one of the most memorable we’ve seen this year. And for what it’s worth, that final scene of all the Street Fighter II characters celebrating the CH-R’s win with Ryu polishing it off with a shoryuken uppercut is as fitting a conclusion to a commercial as you can get.

Continue after the jump to read the full story.


PostHeaderIcon Honda CR-V – Driven

Honda has made millions of CR-Vs since its introduction in 1996, selling them all over the world. Even in hard times, the CR-V as remained one of Honda’s most go-to models in terms of sales volumes. And who could blame customers for choosing the functional, fun, fuel efficient, and frugal crossover? It’s combination of Civic-based goodness mixed with a high-riding suspension and relatively voluminous interior make it a great those needing to split the difference between a traditional SUV and wagon.

That recipe carries over for the 2017 model year, though everything else about the CR-V changes. Honda introduces the CR-V’s fifth generation this year, which brings an all-new design language, a new chassis, a new interior, and a new 1.5-liter four-cylinder turbocharged engine. The CR-V is a bit larger, too, now slotting more evenly between the small HR-V and the three-row Pilot SUV. Honda says the new CR-V has class-leading second-row legroom, to boot. The CR-V’s Cargo room offers an impressive 75.8 cubic feet of room with the second row bench seat folded flat. That’s far more than the Ford Escape (67.8 cubic feet) and just a touch bigger than the Toyota RAV4’s (73.4 cubic feet). Despite this, the CR-V’s footprint isn’t much bigger than its competition.

Honda undoubtedly needs the CR-V to success. It can’t have a repeat of the 2011 Civic and its sudden redesign for 2012. I wholeheartedly think Honda won’t have that issue, but feel free to leave your thoughts on the new CR-V in the comments below.

Continue reading for the full driven review.


PostHeaderIcon Chevrolet Traverse Redline Edition

Unveiled for the 2018 model year, the second-generation Chevrolet Traverse is as fresh as it gets in 2017. Built around the new C1XX platform, which is shared with the Cadillac XT5 and replaces the old GM Lambda underpinnings, the redesigned Traverse is actually a tad shorter than its predecessor but, at the same time, it’s slightly wider and has a longer wheelbase. The new, fresh design is backed by a roomier interior with state-of-the-art technology, while the 2.0-liter four-cylinder makes the entry-level version an attractive proposition to those concerned about fuel economy. At the 2017 Chicago Auto Show, the Traverse gained its first-ever special edition, called the Redline Edition.

Part of a bigger effort that includes Redline Edition versions of the Cruze, Malibu, Camaro, Trax, Equinox, Colorado, and Silverado, the limited-edition Traverse stands out by means of blacked-out exterior features. It’s also based on the range-topping Premium model, which means it comes with plenty of standard equipment. On the flipside, it’s also the most expensive model in the lineup.

The Redline Edition is based on a couple of concepts that Chevy unveiled at SEMA Show events in 2015 and 2016 and will go on sale by the end of 2017.

“Redline is another example of Chevrolet bringing SEMA concepts to showrooms,” said Brian Sweeney, U.S. vice president of Chevrolet. “The SEMA show has proven to be a great way to identify customization trends in the industry, and quickly apply those trends to our most popular Chevrolet models. Based on the strong interest Redline attracted at the show, we believe they will be very popular with customers looking for standout cars, trucks, and crossovers.

Continue reading to learn more about the Chevrolet Traverse Redline Edition.


PostHeaderIcon Chevrolet Equinox Redline Edition

Chevrolet first introduced the mid-size Equinox crossover in 2004, rolling out a variety of additional trim levels and even a special Winter Olympic Games-themed model throughout the course of the first generation’s lifecycle. In 2009, the second-generation Equinox debuted at the North American International Auto Show in Detroit with a 2.4-liter inline four-cylinder engine as standard and an available 3.0-liter V-6. Finally, the latest third generation was introduced on September 22nd of last year with three engine choices, forward collision warning, and support for Apple CarPlay and Android Auto for the infotainment system. At the moment, the Equinox is Chevy’s second best-selling model, which means it was shoe-in for the recent rash of Redline special editions introduced at this year’s Chicago Auto Show. Upgrades include just a few tweaks here and there for the styling, while the rest of the car’s mechanicals and interior remain unaltered.

The 2018 Equinox Redline Edition takes inspiration from the Redline product preview first shown in Las Vegas for the 2015 SEMA Show. All the upgrades can be found on the exterior, including in the nose, where a new grille with a diamond-pattern insert and black finish sits front and center. Moving to the sides, you’ll also find the black-out treatment added to the side-view mirror covers, while in the corners sit large 19-inch wheels, also with a black finish. The rear windows continue the theme with an inky black tint, while the various Chevy bowtie badges are also blacked out.

The Equinox Redline package is offered with the mid-grade LT trim level. Joining the model in Chicago are equal treatments for the Cruze, Malibu, Camaro, Trax, Traverse, Colorado, and Silverado.

Each of the new Redline models will be available by the end of the year, with the Equinox Redline Edition slated to hit dealerships by October.

Continue reading to learn more about the Chevrolet Equinox Redline Edition.


PostHeaderIcon Chevrolet Trax Redline Edition

Chevrolet introduced the Trax subcompact crossover in 2012 at the Paris Auto Show, followed by a U.S. debut at the 2013 North American International Auto Show in Detroit. Essentially a Buick Encore with a few bowties scattered here and there, the latest model Trax got a facelift just last year, receiving new styling outside, new trim levels, and a 7.0-inch display screen for the interior. So far, the Trax has been selling quite well, moving some 400,000 units in worldwide markets since its global debut. To help bolster that success, Chevy has introduced the new Trax Redline Edition at the 2017 Chicago Auto Show, adding the tall-bodied model to a lineup of no less than eight other Redline’d cars and trucks in a flurry of CAS special editions.

The first time we got a look at Chevy’s concept for the Redline special edition was at SEMA in 2015, and now, we have a huge variety of models to choose from when opting for something with the Redline look. Included in this latest release is the Cruze LT, Malibu LT, Camaro LT and SS, Equinox LT, Traverse Premier, Colorado LT, and Silverado Double Cab LT Z71 and Crew Cab LTZ Z71.

Meanwhile, the Trax is offered with the Redline package at the LT trim level. Upgrades include wheels in a black finish with a red dash on a potion of the outside rim, nameplates that are finished in black and outlined in red, a grille with a black finish, and a bowtie badge that’s finished in black as well.

Look for the Chevrolet Trax Redline Edition in dealerships this July.

Continue reading to learn more about the Chevrolet Trax Redline Edition.


PostHeaderIcon Nissan Murano Midnight Edition

This year’s Chicago Auto Show is shaping up to be a bonanza of special edition models, with every other debut being some sort of tweaked and tuned car, truck, or crossover. Nissan is no different, announcing that no less than five models will now enjoy the Midnight Edition special trimmings. Originally slated solely for the Maxima SR trim grade, the Midnight Edition package now makes its way to the Murano mid-size crossover, bearing visual updates like blacked-out wheels, trim pieces, and aero, as well as offering optional special edition floor mats.

In addition to the Murano, the Midnight Edition package can also be had with the Sentra, Altima, Rogue, and Pathfinder, not to mention the original Maxima as well. The move makes sense for a number of reasons – not only are blacked-out special editions particularly popular right now, but Nissan has divulged that the original Midnight Edition package was included in an impressive 85 percent of sales when it was originally just for the Maxima SR. As such, it makes sense to extend the styling tweaks to the models that make up the majority of Nissan’s U.S. sales.

For the Murano, the Midnight Edition package was made available for the Platinum trim level, the highest in the range. Like the other Midnight Edition models, the Murano Midnight Edition gets new wheels, a black spoiler, black side-view mirrors, and optional special edition floor mats.

The Murano’s exclusive wheels come with a 20-inch diameter and are made from aluminum alloy. The Murano’s roof rails were also painted black for the package, as are the splash guards behind the wheels. The unique floor mats get Midnight Edition badging and a dark coloring.

Speaking of hue, the Midnight Package was originally only offered with black for the exterior body panels, but now it can be added to models painted in Pearl White Cayenne Red, Gun Metallic, and Magnetic Black.

Interestingly, Nissan says adding the package will actually save a few bucks when compared to optioning in all the extras piece by piece. The package is on sale now and retails for $1,195, while the Murano Platinum trim level (sans-Midnight Edition) starts at $39,610.

Continue reading to learn more about the Nissan Murano Midnight Edition.


PostHeaderIcon Subaru XV

When crossovers and SUVs got their second wind on the market, automakers jumped on the opportunity to open the gates and flood each and every segment of the market with as many models as possible. But, some automakers have taken an interesting approach where they take a car body and throw it on a jacked-up chassis and suspension – a quick way to create new models without spending heaps of cash on research and design. The new Subaru XV is one of these models and, like the 2016 Subaru XV Concept, it sports the body of the 2017 Subaru Impreza five-door with a raised suspension; just enough to make it appealing to the masses who, predominantly, love these high-riding people-haulers a lot more than they probably should. The big news, however, is that the new XV is built upon Subie’s revamped Global platform that brings extra rigidity and strength to the table. There’s also a revamped suspension system, revised interior, and 80-percent of the parts used in that 2.0-liter Boxer engine have been revamped to deliver more power and better fuel economy in an overall lighter package.

As was the case with the first XV model that hit the market in 2013, the XV is essentially an Impreza with jacked up suspension, but this time around, Subaru has gone the distance to make the XV safer, stronger, more powerful, and nicer inside and out. When it comes to strength and safety, we’re not exactly talking small numbers either – the new XV, according to Subaru, offers an increase in torsional rigidity of 70 percent and a decrease in body roll of 50 percent compared to the outgoing model. But, before we get too far into that, let’s a stroll down the page talk more about the “all-new” Subaru XV.

Continue reading to learn more about the 2018 Subaru XV.


PostHeaderIcon Take Two: Nissan Rogue Sport is the Right Idea with the Wrong Engine

Our Ciprian Florea recently said the Nissan Rogue Sport unveiled at North American International Auto Show was a sign of “what’s wrong with the industry.” I disagree – mostly.

I think the Nissan Rogue Sport – Qashqai to Nissan outside the U.S. – is a great idea with the wrong engine.

Size matters

Florea took issue with the Rogue Sport’s size being too close to that of the Rogue. I say buyers will like that it’s more than a foot shorter than Rogue. And Nissan engineers deserve kudos because they did this without much compromise on the wheelbase, which is only 2.3 inches shorter than the Rogue. This should make for an interior that is surprisingly roomy compared to the exterior footprint.

More importantly, it will slot the Rogue Sport into a sweet spot in Nissan’s lineup. While the Nissan Juke is widely credited with igniting the subcompact crossover segment in America, many find it too small.

Last time my wife was car-shopping, she first test drove the current-generation Rogue. She liked the interior space, but found the vehicle somewhat intimidating to maneuver in tight parking lots. Several years of daily driving a snub-nosed Nissan cube will do that to you, I guess. Mostly, she was intimidated when backing the Rogue, though Nissan’s AroundView monitor was helpful, she said.

Right after she drove the Rogue, she drove a Nissan Juke at my insistence. The Juke is a fun little thing, and it’s not much larger than the cube to which she was accustomed. I thought it might be a winner. She had less trouble parking it and could back it more easily, but the interior was simply too cramped for our family.

She ultimately settled on a second cube, buying one of the last 2014s available in the knowledge that Nissan would not be importing the model to America in 2015. But now that she’s seen the Rogue Sport, she says she would have liked to had a chance to drive it.

The other thing about the Rogue Sport’s size that will be attractive to buyers, including my wife: Smaller tends to mean lighter, which tends to mean better fuel economy. Nissan hasn’t released EPA fuel economy estimates yet, but I would expect it to do better in the real world than the Rogue, which itself gets pretty good fuel economy. The last Rogue I reviewed a couple of years ago averaged miles per gallon in the mid-20s in mixed city/highway driving. The EPA rates the current Rogue at 33 mpg highway, 26 mpg city, 29 combined.

I think the Rogue Sport will be, for a lot of buyers, the Goldilocks of the Nissan SUV lineup: Not too big, not too small, not too thirsty – just right.

Keep reading for the rest of the story


PostHeaderIcon Melissa McCarthy Is Running Away From Something In Kia's Super Bowl Teaser

Comedienne Melissa McCarthy is one of the funniest women in Hollywood these days, so if an automaker really wanted to make a comedic splash with its Super Bowl commercial, having McCarthy in the fold is a good way to get that done. Give credit then to Kia for understanding that because McCarthy is headlining Kia’s contribution to the NFL’s advertisement pot of gold where she will be joined by the the Niro, Kia’s latest offering into the hybrid market.

Obviously, the spectacle of Super Bowl commercials has gotten so big that 60-second ads are getting their own 15-second teasers now. That’s exactly the instance we see here as Kia’s trailer reveals nothing other than McCarthy, decked in full explorer/treasure hunter get-up, running away from something. We don’t know that “something” is at this point, but it could very well be a villainous, gas-guzzling rig of a machine like something you’d see in Mad Max. It does make sense for the Ghostbusters star to run for her life in the face of such an apocalyptic beast, only to find her savior in the form of the Kia Niro running to her aide like Gandalf in Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King.

Okay, that’s enough on the movie references, although the vagueness of the teaser did invite such measures. What’s important here is that Kia has created an aura of interest surrounding its Super Bowl LI commercial, which it says will air in the third quarter of the Big Game. The automaker further adds to the intrigue by describing the commercial as a “heroic and harrowing journey stretching from the polar ice caps to an arid desert.”

It’s hard to picture how that’s going to translate into a full 60-second ad but at least we’re looking forward to seeing it happen. That in itself makes this 15-second teaser starring Melissa McCarthy worth the money Kia spent to produce it.

Continue after the jump to read the full story.


PostHeaderIcon Kia Sorento SXL – Driven

It’s hard to believe the Kia Sorento has been around since 2002, but this body-on-frame SUV turned unibody crossover has gained a respectable foothold in the American market thanks to its growing size and continually improvement refinement with each generation. Kia last reworked the Sorento for the 2016 model year. This third-generation crossover now wears a handsome exterior with a surprisingly supple and spacious interior. A few minor changes happen for the 2017 model year, including the addition of automatic emergency braking and making the Technology Package and V-6 standard equipment in the range-topping SXL.

Kia sent me such a model to test for a week. It came loaded with just about every option available, including all-wheel drive and that 3.3-liter V-6. Also packed in back is the Sorento’s optional third row seat, which actually comes standard on the SXL. Prices have also increased for 2017, with the base trims seeing as little as $290 and a whopping $4,000 for the SXL. The huge price jump on the SXL is patricianly explained by the $2,500 Technology Package being made standard, as well as the V-6. AWD is now the SXL’s only major option, though several smaller accessories can be purchased.

The 2017 Sorento is positioned to compete in two vehicle categories and in a higher pricing bracket than most would expect. It can be stacked against the two-row Ford Flex or the spacious, three-row Dodge Durango. It can compete with the family-friendly and affordable Hyundai Santa Fe Sport or the middle-class Jeep Grand Cherokee. It all depends on how the Kia Sorento is optioned. But how well does the Sorento perform at all these tasks? That’s what we’re here to find out.

Continue reading for the full driven review.


PostHeaderIcon 2018 Mini Countryman John Cooper Works Unveiled

Mini just revealed the new Countryman John Cooper Works, which means the compact crossover now gets more space, more style, and more importantly, more speed. Now in its second generation, the Countryman JCW is the largest and most powerful Mini yet.

In case you were unaware, John Cooper Works is Mini’s performance badge, homage to the famous sports car designer of the same name. Any modern Mini with an inkling of sporting intent carries the JCW designation, and as such, the Countryman JCW gets upgrades to the engine, transmission, AWD system, suspension, aero, and interior design.

Let’s get down to the specifics then, shall we? Mounted behind the grille is a 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine, which was turbocharged to 228 horsepower at 5,000 rpm, and 258 pound-feat of torque between 1,450 and 4,500 rpm. And if you’re keeping score, that’s 20 ponies more than the outgoing Countryman.

Features include direct fuel injection, plus variable valve control and variable camshaft control (a.k.a. BMW’s Double Vanos system). Specific to the JCW model are new pistons, a new intercooler, and an additional radiator. There’s also a sport exhaust with a controllable flap and dual chrome tips.

Incredibly, Mini says the turbo pumps out an eye-popping 2.2 bar of boost (31.9 psi), but that’s gotta be a typo – we think 1.2 bar (17.4 psi) is closer to the truth!

Performance figures look like 6.2 seconds to 60 mph, while top speed is capped at 145 mph.

Cog swaps come courtesy of a standard six-speed manual, while an eight-speed Steptronic Sport Automatic is optional. Further JCW touches include a sportier suspension, 18-inch alloy rollers, and a Brembo brake package.

Outside, you’ll find more aerodynamic touches, plus larger intakes up front. The headlights get LEDs as standard. The body also gains 6.7 inches in length, 1.3 inches in width, and an extra 2.9 inches in the wheelbase.

Inside is seating for five, plus JCW-specific sports seats. Pilots can select from multiple driving modes, and should enjoy the 6.5-inch infotainment screen and various Connected features.

The 2018 Mini Countryman JCW will make its worldwide debut this coming April at the 2017 Shanghai Motor Show. Look for it in U.S. dealerships around that time.


PostHeaderIcon GMC Terrain

The GMC Terrain hit the market in 2010 as GMC’s smallest SUV, but because of its odd size, it lingered between the compact and midsize segments, often being called a “tweener” by some. It soldiered on for six years without any change until 2016 when GMC did a mild update. Even then, it wasn’t up to competing well and common complaints included that it was inferior in terms of technology and design. So, to remain relevant, GMC had to start working on the next-gen model, and it finally debuted at the 2017 Detroit Auto Show as a 2018 model. With the new generation comes a sleeker and stylish exterior design that leaves the SUV’s old, boxy nature in the past. It gets some new technology that includes LED daytime running lights, HID headlamps on some trim levels, and an updated infotainment system that finally brings it into the modern ages. Under the hood, you’ll find the option of three different turbocharged four-bangers, one of which is a diesel and a pair of all-new nine-speed automatic transmission. But, more importantly, it rides on GM’s new D2XX architecture which should mean a lower curb weight and a stronger framework.

Speaking of Framework, that D2XX platform is the same architecture that underpins models like the Chevy Bolt, Chevy Cruze, 2018 Chevy Equinox, and even the Buick Envision – that’s right, these days buying an SUV means you get the same basic framework that is found in cars. As rumors suggested prior to its debut, the option of a V-6 engine dies off with the current generation, but those turbocharged four bangers should offer superior fuel economy. But, this new-gen model brings a lot more to the table than we can talk about here, so take a virtual walk with me, and we’ll go into the finer details before this baby hits showrooms.


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