Raising the Bar in a Competitive Segment The Koreans keep getting better and the new 2016 Hyundai Tucson (product code TL) is an example of how Hyundai has executed a segment-beater. Competing against big sellers Honda CR-V, Toyota RAV4, Ford Escape, Jeep Cherokee, Chevrolet Equinox, Mazda CX-5, etc. the new Tucson checks all the boxes. It is well styled and immediately identifiable as a Hyundai (looks almost too much like the Santa Fe Sport). It has a great package - good visibility, spacious front and rear seating, good cargo room, easy ingress/egress. The fit and finish is excellent inside and out. The interior trim materials have moved upwards - almost up to the next higher price class.
Maxima remains easy to get into and out of and the interior seems very spacious with good headroom. Like the 2015 Nissan Murano, the Maxima has "floating roof" styling with a black character line sweeping through the C-Pillar. The beltline has a bright character molding flowing to a kicked up rear quarter. Like most newly released vehicles these days, Maxima's headlamps are highlighted by boomerang shaped LED light pipes. Adopting Nissan's new front end DNA, Maxima gets a prominent V-Motion Grille. The boomerang headlamp graphic is repeated in the taillamps. Maxima's coefficient of drag has been reduced from 0.34 to 0.29 for improved aerodynamics. For some, exterior styling of the 2016 Nissan Maxima will be too busy. Others will like the fact that it turns heads.
The 2016 Honda Pilot is now well-styled with modern and contemporary lines. Gone is the BOX shape of the previous vehicle and curvaceous styling that is now more the norm has been adopted. Honda contends that Pilot moves from traditional and rugged (translated UGLY) to modern and refined. We agree. The 2016 Honda Pilot is a very good looker. The key, says Honda, is to keep Pilot's capability and clothe it in a style that makes its buyer feel serene, athletic and smart.
The 2016 Ford Explorer marks the 25th anniversary of the vehicle line. When it launched as a 1991 model, the Explorer redefined what a sport utility vehicle should be. 7,000,000 sales later, Ford is launching a nicely updated product. When the 2016 Ford Explorer launches, most people won't be able to tell the difference from the present Explorer. While the vehicle's sheetmetal ahead of the A-Pillar is all new and the liftgate and taillamps are all new, the differences are subtle to the casual observer. So while the change for 2016 is major, its appearance change is minor.
Honda launches its all-new 2016 HR-V sub-compact crossover sport utility vehicle in May, 2015. The 2016 Honda HR-V, based on Honda's diminutive Fit sub-compact, is very spacious for what it is. The interior - at least the passenger compartment - feels about as big as the larger Honda CR-V. HR-V's wheelbase is only a half inch shorter than CR-V allowing the big seating area, but its overall length is about ten inches shorter - less cargo room. The front seating area feels wider than you would expect in a vehicle this small. Ingress and egress are easy to the front seats. The rear seats are a bit tight. You have to maneuver your feet to get between the B-pillar and the seat and there is not much knee room. Cargo room is larger than it looks. The best feature Honda takes from the architecture of the Fit are the "Magic Seat" rear seats that flip and fold several ways to maximize the flexibility of the area behind the front seats.
At a glance, the 2016 Fiat 500X is a solid addition to the Fiat lineup in the USA. Built alongside the Jeep Renegade at FCA's Melfi, Italy plant the 500X shares the Renegade's platform but has a dramatically different mission that demands tuning and settings to be very different. While the Renegade Trailhawk is at home off-road, the 500X is for the cities and suburbs.
We keep watching the hand wringing of automotive enthusiasts (of which we are a member) about the manual transmission fading from the American vehicle fleet. Over the years, we have been proponents of automatics especially when they have become so efficient. Based on AutoPacific research we have the data and here are the tidbits.
First, it was the Ford Transit Connect van from Turkey that has been ubiquitous in Europe for years before being seen on American roads. Small, styled with a brash quirkiness, tinny beyond imagination especially in taxi fleets, the Transit Connect caught on. Then Ford replaced the original Transit Connect with a lower roof, more stylish van built in Spain that is actually fun to drive. Nissan responded with the Nissan NV200 that is supposed to be the Taxi of Tomorrow for the New York City taxi fleet. It is assembled in Mexico. Not so fun to drive and assembled with more than a dollop of plastic. Most recently is the launch of the Ram (FCA US LLC, aka FCAGroup, Fiat Chrysler Automobiles, Dodge Trucks) Promaster City.
The 2015 Nissan Murano crossover SUV went on sale Friday, December 5, 2014. The third generation of the Murano pushes the envelope on crossover styling and brings new Nissan design cues to the vehicle. The Murano has been a sweet spot among crossover SUVs since its launch. Each iteration has been very easy to live with and the 2015 version is no exception. Easy to drive, maneuverable, quiet and up to date, the Murano provides Nissan with a suitable vehicle to attract its target buyer. Media attending the product preview in Napa Valley were surprised that Nissan admitted its target market is empty nester couples 45 years of age or older. These people do not need seven or eight passenger seating they might have required during their family formation years, but they do want reasonable cargo capacity and a spacious rear seat. This 5-passenger crossover SUV meets their requirements