Earlier this year, nearly eight years after Ford started divesting its controlling interest in Mazda, the Japanese brand finally replaced the last of the products that shared hardware with the Dearborn brand. Mazda’s biggest vehicle was also its oldest with the original CX-9 lasting nearly a decade before a complete redesign. Now that the CX-9 is new and fresh, does it finally fit in with the rest of the family from the brand that says “driving matters?”
While the SUV in its various flavors is quickly expanding its hold on the American driver, the car isn’t quite dead yet. In fact, at Hyundai, its two best-selling models remain the Elantra and Sonata. With nearly 173,000 sold in the first ten months of 2016, The Elantra certainly appeals to a significant portion of the market and Hyundai wants to expand on that with a new variant for 2017, the Elantra Eco. Despite continuing cheap gas across the U.S. the Eco is definitely a car that consumers should consider.
Recently, Fiat Chrysler’s Windsor, Ontario assembly plant celebrated the 33th anniversary of the production launch of the original T-Wagon. If there was any one single vehicle that really defined Chrysler in the 1980s and early 1990s, this was was it, the minivan. The minivan no longer holds the position of importance in the American marketplace that it once did, but as a people-mover, no SUV or crossover can hold a candle to this form factor and FCA knows it. This year, FCA has rebooted its icon once again with a new design and the revival of a previously failed nameplate. Can the 2017 Pacifica still haul in the cash for Chrysler?
Torque is a good thing. To any gearhead, having copious quantities of readily available torque available under their right foot is always welcome and the 2010 BMW X6 M has plenty to spare.
As the western coast of the United States rises up from the vast expanse of the Pacific Ocean, a 655-mile stretch of the boundary between land and water is marked by a strip of pavement known as California Route 1. Known in various locations as the Pacific Coast Highway or Cabrillo Highway, the road winds, climbs and falls as it seeks purchase along the perimeter of the continent. It’s the ideal road for the kinds of cars built by Jaguar and I recently spent some time there in one of the venerable British brand’s newest products. But rather than a car, I was driving the all-new F-Pace S.
We exist in a world of pervasive screens and connectivity and touch interfaces. In that world, almost everything we do is intermediated, filtered and converted through layers of ones and zeros. In fact, in the not too distant future, it’s likely that many if not most of us will never actively drive a car again. Fortunately, we’re not quite at that final place yet and there remain a handful of virtually unfiltered driving experiences like the 2016 Alfa Romeo 4C Spider.
It’s been a quarter century since I drove a BMW for the first time. After years of reading Car and Driver’s praise of the 3 and 5 Series, my entre into the brand came via the big coupe which in those days was the 850i. The 8 series had supplanted the 6 series while moving significantly upmarket. The 8 was only produced for a single generation before giving way to an eventual revival of the 6 which I finally had a chance to drive recently in 650i form.
Up until the early-1970s the Detroit-based automakers absolutely dominated the American market. However, ever since then they have progressively lost share to brands from Asia and Europe in virtually every segment of the market, save one. Somehow Detroit has managed to maintain a near stranglehold on the full-size pickup truck. After what can only described as a swing and whiff with its original Titan pickup, Nissan is back to try again and this time they have really stepped up their game. But is it enough?
Despite the best efforts of Volkswagen to kill the appeal of compression ignition engines in America once and for all, Dr. Diesel’s combustion cycle still holds some significant appeal as a means of improving fuel efficiency and reducing greenhouse gas emissions. The latest automaker to jump in with diesel engines is Jaguar Land Rover with the 2016 Range Rover Td6. While relatively few Americans will ever have the opportunity to drive this high-dollar luxury SUV, it’s actually surprisingly relevant as a probable preview of the 2018 Ford F-150.
By no means am I an expert in branding. Nonetheless, it seems intuitively obvious that if you want to build brand equity, you might want some consistency over time so that consumers develop an understanding of what the brand stands for. Case in point 911, Corvette and Mustang. All cars that have been around with the same name for more than half a century. Aside from Mustang and F-Series, Ford tends to be notoriously fickle with its branding, especially for its compact cars. With any luck Focus and ST will be brands that stick around for a good long time.