Monday, February 18, 2019

2020 GMC Acadia

 GMC is making the news today with a revised Acadia SUV for 2020. (not all new)
As you can see (new on top) it now has an even larger and more obnoxious grille.
It looks like it is trying really hard to look like the new GMC Sierra pick up.

Which is sad, since I thought the current Acadia was quite a visual improvement over the last generation.
Looking more car-like.
Now they are going back to the "wannabe big luxury truck" look. With a giant grille that just does not fit the rest of the car at all.

From the rear view, it also looks more square now.
Actually, it reminds me a lot of the new Honda Passport.
Especially in the new XT4 off-road trim pictured here (new one on top)

Except for the regular shifter being deleted, I can't see any difference inside.
Which could have used an upgrade.
The wood trim seems new, but, at least on this picture, not really better looking.

Otherwise, the newest version of the 2.0 Liter turbo with 230HP is now available in some trims.
Although the 2.5 Liter is still the base engine. (???)

The new AT4 version comes with the V6 standard. (Just like the Honda Passport).
And off-road tires.

Apparently, the Acadia saw a 20% sales decline last year. Which is really bad news in a market where it seems that every single SUV sells well.
While I am pretty sure the new AT4 version could be quite popular, I am not sure it will be enough to make up the difference.
GM really needs a change of direction for GMC.
I think this new AT4 model is the best way to go for the Acadia.
They should concentrate on an off-road, more masculine look in general. (And get rid of any fake wood trim) And leave the family SUV market to the other GM brands.

GMC should focus more on competing directly with Jeep and the upcoming Bronco from Ford.
Their base versions are covered by Chevrolet SUVs. And their luxury chromy Denali models actually compete with Buick and Cadillac.

Saturday, February 16, 2019

2020 VW Sharan

the current VW Sharan minivan ( second generation) has been on sale in Europe and many other countries since 2010. So a third generation is long overdue.

These pictures are from the next generation Chinese market model. Which might or might not end up in Europe as well.
Since Buick sold almost 150 000 units of their Minivan (The GL8) over there last year, VW figures there is a quite a market for Minivans in China. 

This is the current model sold in Europe.
Which looks like... another generic VW...

Last year, Toyota sold over 87 000 units of the aging Sienna minivan in the US.
While Honda moved over 106 000 Odysseys.
And Chrysler sold around 118 000 Pacificas.

So there is still quite a healthy Minivan market in the US.
VW's best seller in the US last year was the Tiguan with about 103 000 units sold.
You would think they could make some extra cash by selling us the "already designed and ready to go" new Sharan minivan.
What do you think?

Should the Sharan come to the US?

I say why not. You would think they could move at least 50 000 of these here every year.

Friday, February 15, 2019

2020 Mercedes GLS

Mercedes is putting out an amazing number of new, redesigned models lately.

I mean within a few months only we've had brand new versions of the GLE, the A-Class, and the CLA.
And it looks like this all-new GLS is also right around the corner.

Next, are brand new S-Class and C-class sedans. As well as GLA and GLB crossovers.
This is almost "nonstop/all Mercedes all the time".

The next GLS will, of course, compete with the all-new BMW X7 SUV. But also in the US, with the redesigned Navigator and upcoming new Escalade. (And maybe even that big luxurious Jeep they've been telling us about for so many years now...)

So far, the Mercedes looks like the more tasteful choice. Far from that ghastly X7...

(Thanks to a reader for the picture)

More pictures of the 2020 Chevrolet Blazer

For some reason (maybe it's officially going on sale) GM has released more pictures of the all-new Chevrolet Blazer for 2020.
I have seen it in person and think it looks really good.
Its main problem might end up being its name. Since "Blazer" brings images of a more rugged truck.

I think, at least this year, its main competition would be the "new" Honda Passport.
Which is actually a shorter Pilot, and not really all new at all.

The Blazer is cheaper but its based engine is a 2.4 Liter 4 cylinder while the Honda comes standard with a 3.5 Liter V6 for a base price of $31 500.
The base Blazer V6 starts at $34 500.
So the Honda is actually cheaper if you want a V6. And by quite a bit.

I hope to be able to compare both in the coming months (making sure the weather gets better so I can actually drive places...)

What do you think?
Blazer or Passport?

Thursday, February 14, 2019

2020 Land Rover Defender

The all-new Defender will be one of Land Rover's most important new model ever.

Updating such a classic is an almost impossible task and no matter what, super fans of the previous one might not be happy...

Today we get out first look at the interior. (after seeing the exterior from prototypes HERE)
And, of course, it is quite modern. But it does keep things simple. Just like the new Jeep Wrangler did. And unlike the super busy, overdone and almost vulgar new Mergedes G Class interior.
(I especially like the pedals with "stop" and "go" markings. )

Of course, it will be a modern car. With retro touches.
I am sure Land Rover is doing their best to bring the legenday Defender into the 21st Century.

It will be interesting to see how popular it will get. In a world that is now just crazy about "anything SUV". As the previous ones were mostly actually used off road. And known around the world as the unofficial cars used in African safaris for decades...

More very soon...

2020 Volvo Polestar 2: Another teaser

The new second teaser for the Polestar 2 EV is the picture on top.
Which looks quite different from the curvy lines from the previous, first teaser from a few weeks ago (above)
These pictures almost look like they are from different cars. 

This will be the first production EV that will directly challenge the Tesla Model 3.
Which is great, the more the better.

This is Volvo's concept from 2016.
I still think the Polestar 2 might end up looking a lot like this.
With, obviously, different tail lights.
But the general shape could be pretty close...

Wednesday, February 13, 2019

2019 Toyota Corolla Touring Sports

Looks like even in Europe they are afraid of using the word "wagon" these days.
"Touring Sports"... 
Another stupid name for... a wagon.

Not the best looking around (that would be the Mazda6 wagon or any recent Volvo wagon) but still fine.
And available with the same hybrid powertrain that just got rated at 52MPG in the US version of the new Corolla Sedan.
Which is really nice.

Basically a Prius in a more conventional wagon shape. And a larger cargo area.

It has been decades since Toyota has sold us a wagon version of the Corolla.
Even though their compact SUVs sell better and have a higher profit margin, should it make a comeback?

What do you think?

2020 VW Golf.

 Well, it looks like these previous spy shots (HERE and HERE) of the 2020 Golf were the real thing.
I know it is hard to believe since it looks almost exactly the same as the current car.
But that is also due to very clever camouflage from VW.

I remember seeing a few years ago pictures of Tiguan prototypes that looked like they had no camo.
But upon close inspection, they did. It was just not the weird white stuff (Or Toyota's cardboard) we are used to see.

Take the picture above. Which at first glance looks a lot like the current car...

 But a big part of the headlights are still covered up. In the same black color as the body.

You can see a very different headlight design under the black tape. With a thick line of chrome running across the whole front end.
The whole bottom of the bumper is also tweaked with fake chrome etc...

 Some thing for the tail lights. They just put some red camo around the real think to change the shape and size.

As you can see here (this was released a few months ago during their new "Tail Light Personalisation " technology demo) this is probably the real thing and shape from the 2020 Golf tail lights.

So this will be yet another "samo" Golf.
I just wonder how long they can last by designing the same car over and over.
No matter how hard I try, I just cannot see the Golf shape as such an iconic thing that needs to be preserved at all cost. Like the Jeep Wrangelr or Porsche 911.

With all their truly modern electric models coming out soon, the Golf will finally feel and look like something really old. It might finally be forced to look a bit more modern or go away.

They really need to ask Giugiaro to do a super modern take on its original shape.
I am sure he's got some good ideas...

2020 Toyota Highlander

The first 2 pictures are obviously just illustrations. But they do match quite well the prototype that we have seen testing around. (bottom picture)
It now looks like Toyota is going for a 100% trucky look for their Crossovers. 
Since this will probably end up looking like a big 2019 Rav-4.

I think it is still quite a gamble. One that no one else seems to follow.

Ford will basically have 2 parallel line up of SUVs. One more car like with the Explorer, Escape etc...
The other one looking more trucky like the new Bronco and its yet unnamed baby brother.
GM seems to go for a more car-like design direction. Unless they turn GMC into their truck looking brand.
(Which they should)

I just wonder what Toyota will do with the next 4Runner then...

The Highlander has been a constant hit for Toyota ( each year selling more than the previous one since 2009. Ending up with over 244 000 units last year)
The new one will have more competition than ever. A brand new Explorer, Kia Telluride, Hyundai Palisade, Subaru Ascent etc... 
With new versions of the Pathfinder and Honda Pilot not far behind. And many more. 

2020 Honda Urban EV (Concept 2)

Honda has just released a couple of teasers for its upcoming Urban EV.

What they will introduce next month is still called a concept. Although this 2nd version will be very close to the production model coming out later this year.

As you can see, it is quite different from the previous concept. Not as pure.
But still really nice and fun looking.
It does bring back a simplicity Honda used to be known for. Which is great.

The prototype pictures above show the actual production car under camouflage. The tail lights seem to have gone from square to round in the translation from the 1st concept.
And the mirrors are replaced by cameras. (You can see the camera screens on each side of the dashboard)

I can't wait to see this. But Hond has still not confirmed US sales. So far this would be mostly for Europe.
Which would be another big mistake. They are still not offering us the Hybrid version of the HR-V. Or their electric version of the HR-V in the US.

It seems they are really playing catch up with electrification, at least in the US...

Tuesday, February 12, 2019

2020 Bentley Flying Spur

There is a car that really needs a redesign to finally look the part of a $200 000 car.
The Bentley Flying Spur.

The current generation (in grey) never looked like a super premium sedan to me.
It is basically a 4 door version of the Continental GT but while the coupe always looked fantastic and expensive, the translation into a 4 door sedan never really worked.

It looks like this will be changing in a big way later this year.
As the 2020 version, even with camouflage, looks much better. Slicker, more modern and upscale already.
Although let's hope that rear improves once we see the real thing.
(Although it is already 100% better than that sad looking rear end of the current model)

Good to see they can still design nice looking cars. I wasn't sure after the Bentayga...

Monday, February 11, 2019

2020 Ford Escape

The exterior design of the next Escape is a pretty radical change from the current model.
Just like what Toyota did with their new RAV-4.
Except that Ford decided to go the opposite direction. Instead of embracing a more truck look like Toyota, they are going for a high riding carlike design. A tall hatchback/wagon thing.
(The macho/truck look will go on the Bronco and "baby Bronco")

Which is fine, since the new Focus is not being sold in the US. This could almost take its place in the lineup?
Except the Escape, at about $6000 more than the Focus, will not really be a replacement.
No matter how many Focus parts it is using.

And it will be using many.
This is especially obvious inside.

The top picture is the 2020 Escape. While the bottom one is the current European Focus (The one we are not getting in the US)
And, as you can see, they are exactly the same.
Which is sad since the new Focus interior is really nothing special, looking pretty cheap and uninspired.
And that new Escape will still start at over $24 000.
For $6000 more, it should have a different and better interior than the Focus.

Sure, for most US customers, this will be brand new since they've never seen the current Focus.
But Honda doesn't use the Civic interior in the CR-V.
Even the HR-V doesn't have the Fit interior.

The prototype above looks production ready and even the steering wheel is from the Focus.

I smell a giant profit margin here...

(more pictures HERE)

Cadillac XT4 test drive.

I think the new XT4 is a really nice looking small SUV.
Especially with the 20-inch wheels from the Sports version, I got to drive.

At 181 inches long it actually is a bit longer than the Mazda CX-5 but appears shorter.

Same thing inside. It is pretty luxurious while keeping things pretty simple looking.
(Nothing like the super busy recent BMW interiors)

Everything feels solid and well made. As it should.

The Bose stereo in the version I drove sounded great. And loud! (many Bose units in other cars area actually not loud at all)

And the new Cadillac infotainment system is one of the best and easiest to use.
The screen is now very sensitive. Like a phone.
And the rotary control by the center armrest also works great.

It is actually very nice to have both a touch screen and manual control.

The steering wheel is surprisingly thick. maybe even a little bit too much.
Since the steering feel is itself pretty light, it doesn't sem to match.

The electronic shifter actually works fine. I usually don't like these, but I had no problem with it.
The center armrest is comfortable, but not adjustable.
In a "luxury" brand like Cadillac, it should be.

The giant double sunroof is also great. But still a $1550 option on all models...

With 39.5 inches of legroom, the rear seat is very roomy.
This is actually the same as in the larger XT5.

The only part of the interior that desperately needs improvement, is the rear side of the center console.
This super cheap looking plastic faces the rear passengers at all time.

It is really not worthy of a luxury brand and reminds me more of a base model VW Jetta than a Cadillac.

The cargo area is quite spacious. But there is no extra space under the floor.
And it is actually a few inches too short to be able to camp in. Unless you are under 5 feet 5 inches tall...

Unfortunately, the first thing I noticed every day was how noisy the engine sounded when cold.
Something that, of course, disappears quickly, but still. Other versions of GM's 2.0 Liter do not sound that loud when cold.
This newest version used in the XT4 is just not as quiet when you start the car after a while.
Once it is warmed up, things are actually very quiet and smooth.
And there is lots of power all the time.

The 9-speed automatic transmission felt great. Always in the right gear and pretty eager to downshift when needed.
This makes for a pretty sporty experience.

As I mentioned earlier, the steering is very light. With not much feel to it.
It is not vague or too artificial feeling. And is actually precise. 

I match the very smooth ride. Which is quite amazing with huge 20-inch wheels (The other models with smaller 18-inch units must be super smooth)

The XT4 is rated at 22/29MPG.
I was able to get 22MPG around town when I drove like a grandma.
Otherwise, you get more like 17 or 18.

But easily got 35 on the freeway.
Which is actually better than What I got on the freeway with the 2.0 Liter Equinox.

Spending a week with the Cadillac XT4 was great.
A quick, refined and fun car to drive. The only problem I had was with its "noisy when cold" engine.
It is never as bad as what I experienced a few weeks ago with the Mazda 3. 
But not really something I expect in a luxury car. And especially surprising since the 2.0 Liter Turbo engines in other GM cars are always smooth and super quiet. 

As a potential buyer, I would, of course, compare it to others.
 $35 000 to start, is OK.
But, the larger and more powerful Acura RDX starts at around $37 500. 
But it comes standard with the glass roof (A $1550 option on the Cadillac)

And, while the larger XT5 starts at around $42 000, you can get a loaded one for just a couple of thousands more than the $57 000 XT4 I was driving.
If you are into the XT4, just go easy on the options...

The Acura RDX is actually a formidable competition to the XT4. As well as the XT5.
It is right in between both in size. 
But the top of the line version with all options (without the A-Spec) tops out at $47 500.
Which is about $10 000 less than the loaded XT4!

Life it eally tough for luxury brands these days. Even a loaded $38 000 Mazda CX-5 Turbo Signature could actually compete with the XT4.
While the Cadillac has a very nice interior, there is really not much more in design or quality that justifies a $19 000 premium (for the loaded version I was driving)

And even at "just " $10 000 less, the Acura RDX also seems a great deal.
(Except for its complicated Infotainement system)

So, as usual, choose your options wisely...