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Archive for the ‘utility vehicle’ Category

PostHeaderIcon Volvo XC90 T6 AWD Inscription – Driven

Volvo has been making the XC90 since 2002, and with great success. The first generation SUV sold well all over the globe. Even in the U.S., the XC90 sold roughly 35,000 examples annually before the crash of 2009. Updates late in the first-generation XC90’s life kept it kicking, though with only modest sales in America. That’s all changing with the second-generation XC90, which debuted for the 2015 model year. A highbrow design, an opulent interior, sophisticated powertrain options, and a matured sense of luxury all bring the XC90 into the modern times. Even with the 2017 model already two years old, the Volvo SUV continues to look like a futuristic concept.

To get a better feel for the Swede, I spent a week driving a 2017 XC90 fitted with the T6 AWD powertrain and decked out with the high-end Inscription trim line.

For those unfamiliar, the XC90 (and most Volvos, for that matter) come standard in the Momentum trim. The XC90 is also available in the R-Design, the Inscription, and the range-topping Excellence trim. While the limo-like Excellence trim is absolutely stunning thanks to its reclining second row bucket seats and full-length center console, the Inscription trim provides all the luxury anyone without a chauffer could desire. Skipping the Excellence trim also keeps the XC90’s third-row seats.

So what’s it like to live with the 2017 Volvo XC90 T6 AWD Inscription? Keep reading to find out.

Continue reading for more information.


PostHeaderIcon Peugeot Partner Tepee Electric

The second-generation Peugeot Partner was introduced in 2008 alongside its PSA sibling, the Citroen Berlingo. Like its predecessor, the current Partner is available in both panel van and passenger versions, but the latter has been renamed the Partner Tepee. Offered with four-cylinder gasoline and diesel engines since its introduction, the Partner gained an electric drivetrain in 2013. The utility vehicle was updated in 2015 with a redesigned exterior and a revised cabin. At the 2017 Geneva Motor Show, Peugeot introduces the electric version of the Tepee passenger model.

Called the Partner Tepee Electric, the “leisure activity vehicle,” as it’s being described by Peugeot, uses the same electric motor as the pavel van version. Mileage is similar, while the Tepee Electric will also benefit from tax exemption with new VED regulations from 2017. Peugeot also added a range of new features, especially in the connectivity department, as well as a comprehensive battery warranty program.

The new Tepee Electric is basically a passenger-friendly alternative to the panel van EV for customers that need the cargo room of an utility vehicle, while also being able to transport up to four passengers when needed. It also enables Peugeot to finally offer an alternative to the passenger version of the Renault Kangoo Z.E.

“Whether for personal or business use, the Partner Tepee Electric stands out thanks to its blend of practicality and efficiency. The vehicle offers an impressive range and is easy to run and maintain, making it a highly attractive option for those looking to switch to electric,” said David Peel, managing director of Peugeot U.K.

Continue reading to learn more about the Peugeot Partner Tepee Electric.


PostHeaderIcon The Ariel Nomad Might Be The Perfect All-Terrain Vehicle

The BBC’s Top Gear has a new segment called Rory Reid’s Road Trips, and it’s fantastic. In it, the new host takes a long drive through an interesting place while driving an even more interesting vehicle. This time, it’s the Ariel Nomad. Now you’ve surely heard of Ariel, the small British automaker that hand-builds open-air, street-legal cars. They’re best known for the Atom, a super lightweight rocket powered by any number of four-cylinder (or even a V-8!) engines with big, sticky tires and the ability to out-handle supercars. Well, the Nomad is the Atom’s tough cousin.

Built for off-roading adventures, the Nomad is built on a similar skeletal chassis as the Atom, but has big shock absorbers, meaty tires, and tall ground clearance. Though it doesn’t have 4WD, its low curb weight and Honda-sourced four-cylinder with 235 brake horsepower allow the 1,477-pound Nomad to dig its way over any obstacle – including a rally circuit. Oh, and on dry pavement, it’ll hit 60 mph in just 3.4 seconds!

As Rory Reid finds out, the Nomad is a fantastic drifter, both on the road an on the dirt. It performs even better with the legendary rally driver David Higgins behind the wheel. Reid gets schooled on throwing the Nomads rear around a corner, while the throttle pedal is hammered to the floor. Having a handbrake lever doesn’t hurt either.

So this begs the question: is the Nomad the perfect all-terrain vehicle? Well, before we answer that, it’s important to look at the Nomad’s intended function. It’s lack of 4WD means it isn’t intended for deep mud or rock crawling. Rather, this thing is built for moderate to high-speed blasting. Granted, traction isn’t much of an issue thanks to the engine and transmission being directly over the rear wheels. So yeah, it can probably go 75 percent of place anyone in a Jeep Wrangler is willing to go. And if push comes to shove, the Nomad can be fitted with a Warn recovery winch.

In our eyes, the Ariel Nomad might indeed be one of the best all-terrain vehicles sold today. Its open-air cabin, outrageous power-to-weight ratio, and go-anywhere tires and suspension make it impossible not to want.

Let us know what you think in the comments below.


PostHeaderIcon Wait, Mercedes Might Actually Offer X-Class in America?

Mercedes was very clear it had no intentions of offering its upcoming X-Class pickup to North American customers. Adding insult to injury, the German automaker confirmed nearly every other global region outside American and Canada would have access to the luxury pickup, including those in Europe, South Africa, Australia, and South America. But Mercedes might be changing its mind.

News from The Detroit Bureau suggests Mercedes is reevaluating the American pickup market ahead of the X-Class’ launch for the 2019 model year. Volker Mornhingweg, the head of the Mercedes-Benz Vans division, said this at a news conference on February 24, 2017:

“In the past year the (U.S.) mid-sized truck market has come back a bit. We are watching developments very closely, and we will take a decision at the appropriate time.” Mornhingweg was reportedly pointing to the success of General Motors’ mid-size pickups, the Chevrolet Colorado and GMC Canyon.

There’s no doubt Mercedes is also watching Honda’s success with its second-generation Ridgeline, along with Ford’s upcoming Ranger and Hyundai’s upcoming Santa Cruz pickup.

What’s more, Mornhingweg went on to say Mercedes’ assembly plant in Argentina would not have enough capacity to build X-Class trucks for both South and North America. As a result, the U.S.-spec X-Class would likely be built inside the States. That theory is further backed by President Trump’s threat of tariffs on imported goods, meaning a U.S.-built X-Class would be more cost-effective.

Mercedes has several routs it could take for U.S. production of the X-Class. For one, it could add to its existing assembly plants, including the one Tuscaloosa, Alabama or the plant near Charleston, South Carolina that’s currently under initial construction. Mercedes could also build an entirely new assembly plant with the help of Nissan, which partnered with Mercedes in developing the X-Class. Both the X-Class and upcoming Nissan Frontier will share a similar platform. Conversely, Nissan could expand the Frontier’s assembly plant in Canton, Mississippi to accommodate the X-Class.

Needless to say, Mercedes as a number of options, along with a very wide and untapped customer base in the U.S. And based on the number of high-end trim levels available with current pickups, a luxury-minded Mercedes pickup will likely do rather well.

Continue reading for more information.


PostHeaderIcon Land Rover Teases New Velar SUV; Fresh Tech Incoming?

Land Rover just dropped an above-and-behind teaser image of its new Velar SUV, saying it will fill the gap between the smaller Range Rover Evoque and larger Range Rover Sport. The Velar supposedly uses the same platform as the Jaguar F-Pace, and is expected to take on rivals like the BMW X4, Mercedes-Benz GLC-Class Coupe, and Porsche Macan, with four-cylinder, six-cylinder, and possibly even hybrid powerplants offered under the hood.

Land Rover has yet to divulge many details, but did say the Velar will offer “elegant simplicity, a visually reductive approach and all-new consumer technologies,” so we’re guessing a coupe-like, streamlined, and somewhat minimalist exterior, a good dose of interior opulence, and a suite of semi-autonomous driving tech.

Studying the provided press pic, we can also see a large moonroof and a decently sized touchscreen in the dash. Land Rover added that it used “sustainable materials” in the vehicle’s construction.

“We call the Velar the avant-garde Range Rover,” says Gerry McGovern, Land Rover’s Chief Design Officer, in the attached press release. “It brings a new dimension of glamour, modernity and elegance to the brand. The Range Rover Velar changes everything.”

While likely not much more than PR bluster, we’re excited to see if the Velar can truly bring something new and exciting to the segment. The name, after all, harkens back to the first Range Rover prototype from 1969, so maybe there’s something up Land Rover’s sleeve.

Thankfully, we won’t have to wait long to find out the truth. The Range Rover Velar is slated to see a full reveal on March 1st, with an in-the-metal debut in the U.S. at this year’s New York International Auto Show in April.


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 Lamborghini Urus

Rumored for many years, the upcoming Lamborghini Urus, the company’s first-ever SUV, was finally spotted in production form on public roads. Although camouflaged almost entirely, the test vehicle reveals essential details about what Lambo promises to be the world’s fastest and most dynamic SUV.

With Porsche having introduced an SUV in 2003, it was only a matter of time before the other premium sports car and supercar manufacturers joined in the fun. After years of rumors, whispers, and planning, Lamborghini is the next to cross over into the high-performance soccer mom world, a.k.a. the SUV realm, with the oddly named Urus. The name first surfaced in 2008, when Lamborghini trademarked it before the introduction of the Estoque. In 2012, the Urus concept was showcased at the Beijing Auto Show and it didn’t take long before Lamborghini confirmed that a production version is set to follow.

Though the name sounds odd, it is very appropriate for the model. The Urus, also called the Aurochs, is an ancient ancestor of the modern day cow, which went extinct in 1627. These things were massive, ranging from 61 to 71 inches tall at the shoulders and weighing in at 1,500 pounds – phew, that’s a lot of quarter pounders. This makes the urus one of the largest bulls ever recorded, which is appropriate, considering the Lamborghini Urus is almost certainly going to end up being the largest to boast the raging bull emblem.

Now that we have turned off Animal Planet, we can continue with the Lamborghini Urus and not the extinct cow relative. There is some debate as to whether Lamborghini can actually support an SUV, especially after the LM002, the original Lambo SUV, fizzled out in 1993 with only 328 models ever produced.

So, can Lambo actually have a successful SUV this time around, and how does it stack up against the Porsche Cayenne and the Bentley Bentayga? Continue reading to find out more about that.

Continue reading to find out more about Lamborghini Urus.


PostHeaderIcon Is This the Grille for the 2018 Jeep Wrangler?

The upcoming 2018 Jeep Wrangler – known as the JL – is set to make its debut sometime in the near future, and for Jeep fanatics, this is good news. But, the rumor mill has been very busy, and some are worried that the next-gen model, which replaces the decade-old JK – won’t stay true to its roots. To put it simply, the JL’s success relies heavily on whether or not Jeep can deliver a modernized Wrangler that handle better, be more comfortable, is loaded with technology, but can still be cleaned by spraying a little water inside and out. All of the usual media outlets, including ourselves, have created renderings in anticipation of the JL’s long-awaited debut, and just recently, a sheet metal fabricator sent JL Wrangler Forums a picture of what is supposedly the grille of the upcoming JL.

From what we’ve been told, the grille was obtained in the course of a job the anonymous sheet metal fabricator was working on. And, be that is it may, one can’t argue with the fact that it does, indeed, look authentic. It features a widened, seven-slot layout and is even void of the turn signal lights that have been moved and integrated into the front fenders. It also features the mid-section curve. If we had to bet, we would say this is the real deal, but we’ll leave that up to you to decide for yourself.

When it comes to the JL very little is actually known. We’ve seen a leaked photo of a Rubicon hood that was being used for testing, and now we’re looking at this grille. Rumor has it that Jeep may reposition the side-view mirrors to address the legality of on-road usage with the doors removed. When it comes to the roof, there is said to be three different options, including a powered soft top, a hard top glass panel, and a true, three-piece top. This in itself is big news if it turns out to be true, as many have said that lack of a removable roof would be a deal breaker. The other big thing that we’re concerned with is the engine options that are said to include an updated version of the 3.6-liter Pentastar and the addition of a 3.0-liter, EcoDiesel, V-6 that is borrowed from the Ram 1500. Both should be available with the eight-speed ZF automatic transmission while a six-speed manual transmission should also be on the table.

Keep reading for the rest of the story


PostHeaderIcon What Is Volvo Testing Here?

Volvo seems to be up to something interesting. Spotted in the wilds of some urban parking lot is this mutant of an XC90 test mule. Hoisted above its rear cargo area with a one-off support system is a steel pedestal presumably holding extra weight. But that’s not the biggest change. No, this experimental vehicle has a lengthened wheelbase. Its rear axle has been pushed rearward, requiring Volvo engineers to cut a larger wheel well into the XC90’s body. This begs the question: what is Volvo testing here?

We’ve heard nothing of Volvo testing some new type of SUV or even pickup truck, but that’s exactly what our minds conjure up. One theory is Volvo is making a long wheelbase version of the XC90 for China. That easily explains the rearward axle placement on this tester, but what about the weights on top? Perhaps Volvo is planning to offer an armored version of its XC90. Rather than installing armor into a test mule, Volvo engineers simply constructed a massive weight to increase the XC90’s center of gravity. Volvo wouldn’t be the first automaker to offer an armored version of a production vehicle. Mercedes and Audi both offer factory armament up-fits.

Another possibility – and one what pickup truck fans might like – is an XC90-based mid-size pickup. Close examination of the high-mounted load put its exactly between the rear doors and ahead of the rear axle. That’s right here heavy loads should go in a pickup. The XC90’s standard wheelbase measures 117.5 inches, but this long-wheelbase version likely has another 10 inches atop that. A 126.5-inch wheelbase would put it directly in line with other mid-size pickups, including the Honda Ridgeline at 125.3 inches, the Nissan Frontier Crew Cab at 125.9 inches, the global T6 Ford Ranger at 127 inches, and the Chevy Colorado Crew Cab Short Box at 128.3 inches.

Will Volvo enter the mid-size truck segment? Keep reading for more speculation.

Continue reading for the full information.


PostHeaderIcon BMW X7

When BMW joined the SUV market with the X5 back in 1999, little did we know that the German manufacturer will become such an important player in this segment. But in 15 years, the Bavarian brand has launched no fewer than four different crossovers, with the latest model, the X4, having joined the lineup in 2014. As of 2016, it is known that BMW is planning to develop at least two more haulers. While the X2 is just a concept as of this writing, and the company has yet to confirm it, the X7 is already official and well underway.

The Bavarian brand made the announcement in 2014, when it revealed that the X7 will be built at its plant in Spartanburg, South Carolina, which also produces the X3, X5, X5 M, X6, and X6 M models. Although production was initially planned to start in 2016, it appears that the X7 will hit the assembly line later, most likely in 2017. This is also confirmed by the fact that our latest spy shots, which we received in December 2016, show a heavily camouflaged vehicle. This doesn’t mean that it’s far from being ready, but chances are production hasn’t started yet.

There’s no word as to when the X7 will make its public debut, but I expect it to break cover in the second half of 2017, meaning it could go on sale for the 2019 model year. When it arrives in showrooms, it will become BMW’s largest offering yet and will enable the German manufacturer to compete against SUVs such as the Mercedes-Benz GLS, Range Rover, and even the Cadillac Escalade. Will it have what it takes to give the industry’s best luxury SUV a run for their money? Find out in my speculative review.

Updated 01/25/2016: The upcoming BMW X7 was caught testing once again, this time during cold winter conditions in Sweden.

Continue reading to learn more about the upcoming BMW X7.


PostHeaderIcon Arnold Schwarzenegger Goes Terminator on Climate Change; Gets Custom, All-Electric Mercedes G-Class

If you look back in the archives, you’ll find a story we brought you back in September of 2016 about a small startup known as Kreisel Electric that was in the business of developing advanced lithium-ion batteries have completely preserved cells, and thus a higher capacity which ultimately leads to increased range. The company has built a number of custom-made electric conversions with one of the most notable being the Porsche Panamera. But, the company has been very busy since we last mentioned it, and has put together a custom all-electric Mercedes G-Class for none other than Arnold Schwarzenegger himself! That’s right; the man that once owned a fleet of Hummers has decided to fully embrace his new stance on protecting his environment by adding the big, off road, and all electric one-off to his own personal collection.

The vehicle was first unveiled my Kreisel Electric and Arnold at the Hahnenkamm race in Kitzebuehel in January where Arnold not only learned about his new G-Class and took delivery but also took it out for a quick drive in the snow. During the official announcement, Schwarzenegger said, “To me, with the electric version of this fantastic car, a dream has become true. The initial test drive was a real pleasure: The Kreisel is incredibly sporty and perfectly benefits from the advantages e-mobility has to offer. I really look forward to the following test runs and to the gradual further development in California.”

As you can make out from his quote above, he’ll be conducting further testing and providing feedback to Kreisel Electric for some time to come. What’s really more important, though, is what makes this electric conversion so special. See, using an existing chassis and body that wasn’t designed for an all-electric powertrain is a real challenge, but Kreisel Electric’s technology makes it quite a bit easier. By removing the engine and gas tank, the company is able to place the required battery packs and electric motors while preserving the same general weight distribution. In this specific case, that conversion results in a G-Class SUV with 483 all-electric horsepower and a top speed of 133 mph. It is said to achieve 62 mph in as fast as 5.6 seconds, three seconds faster than the standard model, and has a range of about 190 miles.

But, there’s more to this story, so let’s move on down the page.


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 GMC Acadia All-Terrain – Driven

It’s been nearly a year since our Mark McNabb provided a first look at the redesign of the GMC Acadia. Now, we have driven it. Did GMC make good on its promises of better driving dynamics, technology, and efficiency?

In a word, yes. Compared to the first-generation GMC Acadia, the redesigned 2017 model is slightly smaller, a lot lighter, and positively packed with the latest technology. GMC said the newly slimmed-down Acadia positioned the model better between the not-quite-compact, not-quite-midsize Terrain crossover and the gargantuan truck-based Yukon SUV. That strategy is coming into full view that GMC has announced the Terrain will likely take on a similar diet to become smaller and lighter.

Continue reading for the full review.


PostHeaderIcon Retro Review: MotorWeek Looks at Compact Pickups from 1986

The 80s is strong in this 28-miniute comparison review from MotorWeek as the “TV Magazine” judges the four main competitors in the compact pickup segment for the 1986 model year. It was the 1980s that truly solidified the compact pickup as an everyday workhorse and a time in truck history we love remembering. The field includes the Ford Ranger, Chevrolet S-10, Nissan Hard Body, Isuzu P’UP, and Mazda B-2000. Which one comes out on top? Keep reading to find out.

Don’t think I’m going to spoil the answer off the bat, though. This competition is worth the watch. MotorWeek runs the trucks through a battery of criteria that includes sporty appearance, utility, performance, drivability, and affordability. Despite most of them being subjective, these points show the differences between the trucks – two of which are “domestic” and the others being “imports.” Interestingly enough, the Nissan Hard Body was already being built in Tennessee in the mid-1980s.

The comparison test shows just how small these compact these trucks really were. Nothing on the market short of a Smart FourTwo comes close to how tight these trucks’ interiors really were. Modern day mid-size pickup would utterly dwarf these five contenders – not only in shear size, but also in functionality, safety, power, and “sporty styling.”

In the end, it came down to picking winners and losers. Isuzu brought up the rear with a fifth place finish, while Chevy brought in a surprising fourth place. It was Nissan and its Hard Body pickup that landed third place, while the Mazda shockingly came in second. Ford, however, took the top spot thanks to its wins in utility, performance, and drivability, the 1986 Ford Ranger took home MotorWeek’s top honors in this battle of the tiny trucks.

Watch the video and let us know what you think in the comments below. This blast-from-the-past is definitely worth the watch.


PostHeaderIcon The New Honda Odyssey Stole the Show from Chevy in Detroit

One of the nice things about working for an outlet like TopSpeed is being able to check out the various auto shows during the press preview days, long before the general public is allowed into the show. This year, all of the auto manufacturers had their press events scheduled on the first day, so it was very busy. But, that also gave me the unique opportunity to see the reaction people have toward all of the new cars making their debut. With the Detroit Auto Show being an international event, there’s never a dull moment – that you can be sure of – but I never thought I would see the day that a minivan took precedence over an SUV. More specifically, I’m talking about the Honda Odyssey.

Both Honda and Chevy had big debuts scheduled for Monday and were situated catty-corner from each other. Chevy was pulling the sheet off the redesigned Chevy Traverse pretty early on Monday while Honda was gearing up to show off its all-new Odyssey. When it came to shooting the Chevy Traverse, I had to circle back a few times to get as many shots as I could but, when it came to the Honda Odyssey, I didn’t even have a chance to get close to it the first day of the show. Come the second day, and it took me five passes to finally get a good look inside. And it was, in every sense of the word, amazing. But, as I was waiting for the opportunity to get in there on the second day of the show, I noticed something. The Odyssey was still getting tons of attention while the Traverse’s time in the limelight had come and gone. Have pigs actually grown wings?

To be honest, I think so. I made one final stop at the Honda booth Tuesday before leaving the show for the last time, and Honda was still buzzing like crazy. Don’t get me wrong; people were still interested in the new Traverse, but not like they were when it came to Honda’s redesigned minivan. It was pretty wild to see, and all of the representatives seemed to be pretty happy with the turnout. We’ll have a full review of the new Odyssey up in the coming days, but until then, keep reading to learn a little about it and to see a few pictures I took of it during my time at the show.


PostHeaderIcon Volkswagen Atlas R-Line

Volkswagen’s largest SUV to date, the Atlas made its public debut in 2016 Los Angeles Auto Show and went into production for the 2018 model year. Rumored for many years, the Atlas was previewed by the CrossBlue concept all the way back in 2013. The SUV rides on the Volkswagen Group’s MQB platform, which is shared with the slightly smaller Skoda Kodiaq. Although similar is size to the more upscale Audi Q7, the latter uses the newer MLB2 underpinnings. The three-row SUV was unveiled with two turbocharged engines and will be built at the company’s Chattanooga plant in Tennessee. The Atlas will be marketed as the Volkswagen Teramont in China when production in Shanghai will begin in 2017.

Although the Atlas has yet to hit dealerships as of January 2016, Volkswagen has already rolled out a new version. Dubbed R-Line, it’s similar to other vehicles wearing the same badge, sporting a trim package that adds unique features inside and out for a more distinct look among regular models. The R-Line is based on the SE and SEL trims and comes with no upgrades under the hood — which isn’t surprising given that this is the case for other nameplates too. Pricing and launch date are still a mystery, but we should find out more at the 2017 Detroit Auto Show. Meanwhile, continue reading to find out what we already know about the Atlas R-Line.

Continue reading to learn more about the Volkswagen Atlas R-Line.


PostHeaderIcon Honda Ridgeline – Driven

The Ridgeline is completely new for 2017 and ushers in the second generation for Honda’s unibody pickup truck. It shares its underpinnings and a number of drivetrain and interior pieces with the Pilot crossover, but it’s designed to offer more functionality than a crossover thanks to its cargo bed with less tradeoffs of a conventional body-on-frame pickup. But how does it work in the real world? Does this compromise between crossover and pickup really translate into a practical vehicle? To find out, I spent a week with the new Ridgeline and racked up nearly 1,600 miles.

In short, yes, the Ridgeline does offer a great truck-like experience for folks who might normally shop the crossover segment, but also for those who might need something to complete their weekend warrior project list. It boasts a maximum payload capacity of 1,588 pounds, so hauling mulch or firewood isn’t an issue. The bed is even wide and flat enough to haul 4×8 sheets of plywood or drywall. Yet at the same time, the Ridgeline drives like a crossover, gets respectable fuel mileage, and has a highly functional interior. But there’s more to this review than stating the obvious. Let’s get down to business.

Continue reading for the full driven review.


PostHeaderIcon Acura MDX – Driven

The Acura MDX has been roaming streets since the turn of the new millennium. It has held fairly strong sales numbers, with 2014 being its best year with 65,603 examples finding homes. That makes since, as the 2014 model year marked the first year of the current generation. But sales have slowly slipped, with Acura only moving 49,252 MDX models in the first 11 months of 2016. However, the three-row crossover has a new hope – a heavily refreshed face for the 2017 model year.

The new MDX looses the unloved “shield” or “beak,” as some called it, trading it in favor of a pentagonal grille with a massive Acura logo affixed front and center. It takes after the Acura Precision Concept. A revised rear fascia and chrome rocker panels further add a level of luxury not present before.

Matching the updated looks are a slew of updated safety systems. AcuraWatch is now standard on every MDX, and includes Forward Collision Warning, Automatic Emergency Braking, Lane Departure Warning, Lane Keep Assist, and Adaptive Cruise Control. Thanks to these new systems, along with the LED headlights that scored an “Acceptable” rating with the IIHS, the MDX made the IIHS’ Top Safety Pick+ list for 2017.

The underpinnings continue almost unchanged, however, including the 3.5-liter V-6, nine-speed automatic transmission, and Acura’s available Super Handling AWD system. That’s not a big deal, as the V-6 continues to offer excellent power and efficiency. The i-VTEC and direct-injection 3.5-liter makes 290 horsepower and 267 pound-feet of torque while achieving 19 mpg city, 26 mpg highway, and 22 mpg combined on models equipped with SH-AWD.

To get a feel of the refreshed 2017 MDX, Acura sent me an example to test for a week. I used it as a daily driver – chauffeuring the kid to school, picking up groceries, and making runs across town. Here are my thoughts and impressions.

Continue reading for the full driven review.


PostHeaderIcon Chevy Says All-New Traverse Coming to Detroit Auto Show

Chevrolet is bringing its next-generation Traverse to the 2017 North American International Auto Show. The full-size, three-row crossover is currently one of the oldest vehicles in Chevy’s lineup and is said to receive a bold and refined design with “exclusive D-Optic headlamps” that provide more natural lighting that is comparable to daylight.

The Traverse will continue offering room for up to eight people. Chevy anticipates the Traverse, which will likely be a 2018 model, will have segment-leading legroom for its three, third-row passengers. No details were given in the short press release announcing the Traverse’s debut at Detroit.

However, one important detail is noted. The Traverse, because of its eight-passenger seating, will be larger than the 2017 GMC Acadia – a vehicle that used to share its platform with the Traverse. The new Acadia is now smaller than its previous generation and only provides a maximum of seven seats.

Alan Batey, president of GM North American and brand chief of Global Chevrolet, said, “Nobody in the industry offers a broader, fresher lineup of SUVs and crossovers than Chevrolet. From the all-electric Bolt EV to America’s longest-running nameplate, Suburban, we’ve got something for every customer and lifestyle.”

The revamped Traverse will sell along side Chevy’s other crossovers, including the all-new 2018 Equinox and the 2017 Bolt EV (though some might argue the Bolt is a four-door hatchback). Other crossover and SUV models include the Trax, Tahoe, and Suburban.

Though Chevy wasn’t forthright with information on the new headlights, a quick search reveals D-Optic headlights are a new generation of LED leadlight design with multiple 1×1 LEDs close coupled with injection molded lens optics that provide strong forward lighting with minimal energy requirements.

The Traverse will debut on January 9, 2017. Stay tuned to TopSpeed for official information and photos as they become available.

Continue reading for more information.


PostHeaderIcon The U.S. Marines Get a New Toy to Play With

The Marines have been trying to get their hands on a new amphibious combat vehicle, and back in 2015, one of the companies to deliver on that desire is BAE Systems. The company, along with its partner IVECO Defence Vehicles, was awarded a contract worth $103.7 million dollars to develop a new, go-anywhere ride for our boys. The vehicle is known as the ACV 1.1, and the first one has been delivered for testing that will start in the first quarter of 2017. This new vehicle is based on a platform provided by Iveco Defence Vehicles but is said to provide superior protection and improved survivability for its passengers over anything the Marines currently have in this type of vehicle.

Powering this beast is a 700-horsepower broot of an engine that will make the ACV 1.1 faster and torquier than the Assault Amphibious Vehicle that is currently in use. According to BAE Systems, it can haul a total of 13 Marines in suspended seats along with an additional crew of three that handle operating this crazy machine. It is an official 8×8 vehicle, which means power is delivered to every wheel for the all-terrain goodness that our defenders need to go anywhere safely and securely. It can be deployed at sea, and crawl over just about any type of terrain our rocky, water-covered planet can throw in front of it.

To protect the men and women that this thing will undoubtedly haul into less than favorable situations, all other specifications are highly classified. So, don’t expect to learn much more about it. There will be a total of 16 prototypes delivered for testing next year, and BAE systems is confident that the Marines will find them and their state-of-the-art systems to be on point.


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