Road & Track columnist Peter Egan once wrote, “Cars are considered to be an art form, yet the Mona Lisa, I’ve noticed, never needs a cooling system flush or new brake pads.” Automotive design has been an integral part of the car industry since the 1920s, when GM began to develop the first year-over-year changes to their cars’ visual appearance. As makes and models have evolved, so have the varying design languages associated with them—with varying degrees of success.
I remember when I realized that Ford SUVs in this country have names that start with the letter E.
It happened when Ford discontinued the Excursion in 2007. I realized that the remaining Fords were the Escape, Explorer, Edge, and Expedition. Those SUVs made up Ford’s alliteration-happy little world and I wondered what the company would choose next. My thought was something along the lines of Everest.
It’s a name that conveys strength and capability, it’s foreboding and nearly impossible to conquer. It’s the perfect name for a SUV, but it never came to fruition in the United States.
The Ford Everest has, however, existed in Asia, South Africa, and Australia since 2003. Could it finally come here?
Sure, there are some exotic vehicles on display at the Frankfurt Motor Show, including the Bentley Bentayga and the Lamborghini Huracan LP 610-4 Spyder. However, there are plenty of models coming to the U.S. that made their debut overseas and could impact your buying choices in the near future.
Kia Sportage It seems hard to believe, but the 2017 version will be the fourth generation of the Kia Sportage. The European version was introduced in Frankfurt, but there’s little reason to believe the U.S. version will look substantially different on the exterior.
Hyundai: maker of cheap, utilitarian cars or competitor to established high-performance brands?
Most of us would agree that Hyundai, the South Korean automaker that introduced the 100,000-mile warranty, falls into the cheap, utilitarian category.
The carmaker gained its fame for building inexpensive alternatives to the mainstream brands, but in the process became a mainstream brand. The next challenge is to build cheaper alternatives to high-performance brands and try to change the landscape of the high-powered car business.
The best way to do that is to hire one of the industry’s most successful engineers and let him loose on a new performance sub-brand.
Ready be driven wild by Hyundai?
During World War II a blitzkrieg was a German military tactic designed to create disorganization in enemies through short, fierce military campaigns. It’s also been referred to as a “lightning war.”
We’re all friends now, of course, but can the term be applied to what the German automakers want to do to Tesla, the scrappy American automaker?
Tesla, as everyone knows, continues to do the impossible by shattering expectations of what a car company should be. Unlike established automakers, it doesn’t have a dealer network, it sells only electric cars, and its best-selling car is only 3 years old.
Yet the Model S is hands-down the most popular electric car in the world.
Can the German juggernauts stop it?
These are the zombie cars.
These are the cars that died ages ago, forgotten and unwanted by the American masses. They are the Chrysler Pacifica, the Dodge Magnum, the Pontiac Aztek, and the Chevy TrailBlazer. There are many more, but today it’s these cars that have caught our attention.
Because they are back from the dead and living among us once more.
The source of their surprise resurrection might be a little shocking. It’s not the original owners looking to experience the vehicles they let get away. No, this time it’s their kids.
It’s the new generation, the group known as the millennials, who are snatching up these old dead cars and bringing them back to life.
If Lamborghini had made an SUV 10 years ago, this is what it might have looked like.
This isn’t a Lamborghini concept from the past, though. This is the modern, and surprising, incarnation of the Lexus RX, a vehicle not traditionally known for outrageous design.
There was a time in my life when I owned a 2004 Lexus RX 330, a vehicle more fitting for an aging real-estate agent than a young family man. It was a nice looking car, but quite staid and always seemed to smell like an old lady’s perfume inside.
This new RX should lead the way in bringing Lexus to a new generation, though that old-lady smell may never go away.
Way back in 2010, we noticed the auto world’s inconvenient truth: Manual transmissions are dying out. Any red-blooded gearhead will agree that learning to drive a manual-transmission car is a rite of passage, an art form every true CarGuru has to learn. The trouble is, how do you learn to drive a manual if you don’t own one? Many of us learned in our parents’ cars, where the sound of grinding gears didn’t incite mechanic-shop nightmares. Others had friends who cared about sharing the secrets of the stick shift more than preserving the mechanical well-being of their own transmissions.
Five years ago a car like this would have been considered a gift from the heavens, but today Toyota is trying its best to keep it relevant. The same can be said for the new Chevy Volt, which comes with 53 miles of electric range and a gas-powered engine good for a total of 430 miles.
Cars that use fuel sparingly find themselves in a tough market now that gas is well below $3 per gallon. The battle will only get harder if predictions of sub-$2 gas hold true.
The 2016 Toyota Prius had its global debut Tuesday in Las Vegas. The main message at the premiere was not fuel economy. It was looks and handling.
Sure, almost every car in the world is sold on looks and handling, but that’s a huge change in direction for the most fuel-efficient car on the market that doesn’t have a plug. Toyota didn’t totally step away from that message. After all, it expects the Prius, when it goes on sale early in 2016, to get a combined 55 mpg.
It’s not a problem unique to the Prius, either. Fuel efficiency is an almost impossible selling point when the national price for gas is $2.39, according to AAA, which predicts prices could fall below $2. That’s great for us as consumers, but lousy for Toyota as it introduces its latest and greatest hybrid vehicle.