Ford is pushing new updates out to it’s bread and butter truck and celebrating its 40 years of sales leadership with more power, a new look and a 10-speed automatic paired with all but the base engines. The best way to identify the 2018 models is with the two bars stretching across the entire span of the grille. Every trim features a different grille finish to further identify them and the top trims are more luxurious than ever. We don’t have final power figures but Ford did announce that a diesel is joining the lineup, albeit not until mid-2018. For now we will have to be content that the blue oval continues to refine their best seller.
You say you long for the Nissan Sentra SE-R that was once praised as a modern interpretation of the BMW 2002? Well, Nissan has decided the way to scratch that small-car performance itch is to offer you the Sentra NISMO. Powered by a turbocharge four, gears are manually(!) swapped via a six speed transmission with a good old-fashioned clutch pedal in order to best wring out the 188 horses and 177 lb-ft of torque. Large bolsters on the front seats and a red stripe on the steering wheel pointing up round out the enthusiast oriented interior. Red rocker panel trim hints that this car is more than basic economy transportation. The package is rounded out with 18” wheels. No pricing is officially announced by we expect this will run a couple thousand dollars more than the $21,990 SR Turbo.
The Chrysler Pacific kicked off the North American International Auto Show by receiving the first ever North American Utility of the Year Award. The jury of journalists likely recognized the goodness of the overall package, but no doubt were influenced by the class-exclusive plug-in hybrid drivetrain. The Pacific Hybrid offers an all-electric driving range of 33 miles and delivers an overall EPA rating of 84 MPGe. The overall driving range with combined electric and gas power is a respectable 566 miles. The gas side of the hybrid equation is an upgraded 287 horsepower 3.6L Pentastar V6 mated to a 9-speed automatic. The battery pack locates under the floor, so minivan buyers in love with the stow-and-go seating will have to sacrifice that versatility. Eight passenger seating also is not available on the Hybrid so you’ll have to limit your passenger count to seven. It appears that with the Pacifica Hybrid, the inventors of the modern minivan are not content to give up their stronghold on the market.
Lexus owes its existence to the flagship LS so they take their time developing replacements and leave it up to consumers to decide if the wait was worth it. With the 2018 LS 500, the wait was a particularly long one and until we drive it the jury will remain hung on the verdict. Our problem with the styling comes down to the greenhouse as it approaches the c-pillar and the substantial window tracking required on the rear doors. Its a surprisingly inelegant wart on an otherwise polished design. The already substantial wheelbase grows to 123 inches and a twin-turbo 415hp V6 is the only power plant. We found that interesting since the closely related LC Coupe is launching with V8 power. Will it matter to the average Lexus buyer? Probably not as long as the 10 speed automatic shifts unobtrusively and no noise makes it into the cabin. Look for the next LS in showrooms this fall.
Well, we should have seen this coming. After following the pattern Toyota set forth over 25 years ago with the Lexus line, Hyundai has spun its Genesis sedans off as a separate brand. Heralding the debut of this new premium brand is the G90. The G90 is effectively the replacement for the value-priced but ambiguously styled Equus executive sedan. Where the Equus styling was contrived and cluttered, the G90 is stately and sports what Genesis calls ‘athletic elegance’. The G90 will be accompanied by the current Hyundai Genesis sedan which will be rebranded as the Genesis G80. Genesis will then add a G70 sport sedan and an ‘N’ performance trim to various models in its lineup. No word beyond the initial three sedans but we would be surprised if Genesis doesn’t branch out into other vehicle segments. No word on G90 pricing but we would expect it to be in line with the Equus which starts around $61,000. Propulsion is provided by means of a 3.3L twin turbocharged V6 or a Hyundai’s 5.0L V8. Expect a suite of safety technology such as automatic emergency braking, pedestrian detection, smart cruise control, stop/start, blind spot detection, and lane keep assist. We look forward to seeing how Hyundai’s new brand develops.
Lincoln’s big unveiling at this year’s North American International Auto Show was clearly the all-new Continental. But Lincoln chose not to leave the smaller MKZ without updates of its own. Strategically featuring a grille mimicking the flagship Continental Lincoln will have a uniform styling language with this pair of 2017 sedans (the MKS is not expected to survive past 2016). Astonishingly, the mid-size MKZ will offer 400 horsepower with a 3.0L V6 driving all four wheels. While Lincoln executives literally scoffed at the focus of Nürbugring lap times during their press conference they clearly recognize even buyers of ‘quiet luxury’ cars don’t want to be left at the stoplight. Buyers can also opt for the available Driver’s Package that combines dynamic torque vectoring, sport-tuned suspension with continuously controlled damping, a unique grille, 19-inch wheels, and painted brake calibers. Come to think of it, that doesn’t sound like ‘quiet luxury’ to us, but more like ‘hot rod Lincoln.’ Seems to us like Lincoln is due for a proper rear wheel drive sport sedan, lap times included.
Sometimes the automotive world isn’t fair. When Cadillac introduced the original SRX crossover auto journalists largely embraced the three-row largely due to its wagon-like looks, and its enthusiast oriented rear or all-wheel drive layout. The SRX was invisible in the marketplace so the second generation was transformed into a front-wheel drive based 5-passenger crossover that had no enthusiast-car leanings whatsoever. It, of course, became a best seller. So the SRX replacement, the XT5 is more of the same. Don’t let the name confuse you, the XT5 has nothing to do with the large Cadillac XTS sedan. The XT5 looks to us like a crossover that has adopted the styling themes of the Cadillac ELR plug-in hybrid coupe with its plunging fender line. XT5 offers a standard 3.6L V6 coupled with an eight-speed automatic transmission. Though the XT5 comes standard with the sometimes finicky CUE infotainment system, some of the potentially useful technology on board includes a rear camera mirror that eliminates the view of obstructions to rear vision such as the rear passengers, headrests, and bodywork. Drivers can select the ride modes to adjust the suspension which feature real time damping.
For 2017 the Buick LaCrosse enters into its third generation. The new car adopts much of last year’s Avenir show car including a grille which suspends the now colorized tri-shield logo. The red, white, and blue colors have played well in China where the American origins are appreciated. Here’s a fun fact, that tri-shield logo was introduced in 1959 and each shield represented each all-new model name in Buick’s portfolio: LeSabre, Invicta, and Electra. In today’s Buick hierarchy, the LaCrosse would take the role of the Electra as the largest and most expensive sedan Buick offers with the Regal and Verano slotting in below. The new body features sweeping lines, a longish rear overhang, and a six window greenhouse. The interior is outfitted with the expected high quality materials as a well as a very BMW-like automatic shift lever in the suspended center console. The LaCrosse has the expected assortment of technology, including 4G LTe Wi-Fi, automatic parking assist, 8-inch touch screen with Apple CarPlay or Android Auto, Navigation, and QuietTuning technology that blocks and absorbs outside noise. All this technology is escorted down the interstate by means of an all-new 3.6L V6 and an optional Twin-Clutch all-wheel drive system. The LaCrosse will be available this summer.
As enthusiasts, we love to complain about the cars that manufacturers offer in foreign markets but withhold from us in the United States. One body style that has a tendency to be offered in Europe and Asia but seldom here is the hatchback. Chevrolet has humored us and decided to offer its fully redesigned Cruze as a sedan and hatchback in the land of the free. The Cruze hatchback promises the added versatility and utility that is normally restricted on a conventional sedan. Indeed, the Cruze hatch offers 47.2 cubic feet of cargo space with the rear seats folded down. Like the 2016 sedan, the hatch offers a standard 1.4L turbo 4-cylinder as well as support for Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. We anticipate powertrains and options to largely mirror those of the sedan. We expect to see the Cruze hatchback on sale next to its sedan sibling in the fall. Now, if we could just convince Chevy to offer a Cruze wagon…
GMC’s Acadia has been around for ages. To say that the Acadia hasn’t been redesigned since its introduction as a 2007 model (count it, that is a full 10 model years ago) isn’t entirely true. As a mid-cycle update it adopted the body shell from the orphaned Saturn Outlook in 2013. There have been products that have lingered for longer than the Acadia, but not many, and those tend to be legacy fleet models not core products. Even so, GMC claims that 2015 was Acadias best-selling year. So how to follow up on the success of such a vehicle? GMC executives claim that the 2017 Acadia is repositioned to match the way most Acadia customers use their vehicle. The Acadia has been shrunk, losing one seating position and a staggering 700 lbs! Maximum seating is now seven, rather than eight, when equipped with the now optional third seat. The new Acadia seems to be more of a successor to the long discontinued Envoy SUV rather than a more fashionable alternative to a minivan. Denail remains the top offering and an All Terrain trim is added above the familiar SLT. One unique safety feature GMC has developed is a rear seat reminder that intends to help driver’s check to make sure they haven’t accidentally left a child unattended in a locked vehicle. For the first time, a 4-cyldiner is the standard engine and is mated to a 6-speed automatic. This configuration on front wheel drive models achieves 28 mpg highway and 22 mpg in the city due to start/stop technology. An optional 310 horsepower V6 is also available. Expect to see the all-new Acadia on streets in spring 2016.