AutoPacific:

2020 Silverado HD – Chevy’s Response to Ford’s Super Duty

0

Flint, Michigan:  Chevrolet is bringing the fight to Ford’s Super Duty line-up with the all new 2020 Silverado HD pickup line.  In a reveal at GM’s Flint heavy duty truck assembly plant Chevrolet showcased the new 2020 Silverado HD.  

A week earlier Ford showcased its Super Duty freshening for 2020 and it was impressive.  In essence, the changes to the Chevrolet are an attempt to catch up with the Ford Super Duty that was launched in 2016.  

Ford showed an all new 7.3L big block V8 added to the Super Duty.  Chevrolet showed an all new 6.6L small block V8.  It has an impressive 401HP and 464 lb-ft of torque. Ford announced it was applying its 10-speed automatic transmission to the Super Duty.  Chevrolet continues with its tried and proven 6-speed automatic.

2020 Silverado HD Larger Than Before

The all-new 2020 Silverado HD is bigger all-around; longer, wider, higher.  The wheelbase for Crew Cab has been increased by over 5-inches.  This gives rest Cb about 3-inches more interior length.  Overall length over 10-inches longer.  Width is a bit over an inch wider.  Height is about 2-inches taller.  These trucks are simply getting HUGE.

Styling is evolutionary but the skin is all new with only the roof panels shared with the Silverado 1500 which was new for 2019.  The front end style is stronger and more brutish than the Silverado 1500.  Better differentiation than before.

Twenty-two combinations are available across five trim levels – Work, Custom, LT, LTZ and the luxurious High Country model.  As expected, each gets a unique grill design – five in all.  Go back to the Ford Super Duty grill count – ten.  The horizontal brand identifier includes “CHEVROLET” nomenclature on the four lower trim levels of the 2020 Silverado HD.  Only the High Coutry model gets the gold Chevrolet bow tie.

Trailer Towing a Strong Emphasis

There is tremendous attention made to drivers who tow.  More than 90% of Chevrolet HD drivers tow at some point.  Through chassis, suspension and Powertrain upgrades, Chevrolet increased towing capabilities across the line, not just for dually buyers.  For instance, a sophisticated camera system with 15 views is available to make driving with a trailer safer and more convenient.  This camera system enables a “transparent trailer” where the driver can virtually view the trailer and its surroundings.

Trailer Towing Bragging Rights a Very Low Volume Affair

Chevrolet is claiming a 35,500 pound towing capacity for a very specific 2020 Silverado HD model; 6.6L Duramax V8 turbo-diesel with 445HP and 910 lb-ft of torque and new Allison 10-speed automatic transmission.  But the max towing rating comes with a very specific body style: 4×2 regular cab with dual rear wheels.  In a market overwhelmingly choosing higher trim levels and Crew Cab models, it seems like the max towing HD model will be a very, very low volume configuration.

Ford Likely Wins “Heavy Duty Show-Down for 2020” vs. 2020 Silverado HD.  

Without having the details of the 2020 RAM HD pickups, it appears the updates included in the freshening of the Ford Super Duty have headed off the 2020 Silverado HD at the pass.  The Silverado HD is a strong effort, but Ford’s all-new for 2016 Super Duty combined with the comprehensive freshening for 2020 keep Ford in the lead.

#SilveradoHD


Continue Reading

2020 Ford Super Duty Aims to Stay Ahead of Competition

0
2020 Ford Super Duty - All New King Ranch Super Duty

2020 Ford Super Duty King Ranch – F-250 Model

Detroit, Michigan, January 30, 2019:  Ford Commercial vehicles generated over $70 billion in revenue in 2018.  That’s equivalent to a Fortune 40 company.  Thought differently, Ford Commercial vehicle revenue was larger than that of Procter and Gamble.  No wonder, Ford is on the accelerator to keep their Super Duty line, Transit vans and Transit Connect small vans more than competitive.  The 2020 Ford Super Duty is the big news, but information on the rest of the Commercial Vehicle lineup will follow.

The Ford Super Duties were all new in 2016 when they adopted the F-150’s cab and many aluminum body and chassis components. The 2020 Ford Super Duty will be released later in 2019, but their competition hasn’t been standing still.  Both General Motors and FCA’s Ram brand will launch their new Heavy Duty trucks earlier in 2019.  2019 is definitely the year of the Heavy Duty pickup.

This mid-cycle change comes four model years following its major change.  Ford management hints that the next major change will be in three years giving this Super Duty generation a seven year cycle.

Consider the 2020 Ford Super Duty changes to be a mild mid-cycle freshening.  The grilles (ten of them; styled differently) are new, headlamps are new, taillamps are new.  You can tell the difference if you are a devoted Super Duty buyer.  The interiors of the three highest trim levels – Lariat, Limited and Platinum have been updated significantly to bring  a more upscale experience for the buyers of these very expensive trucks who want only to spend more.

Ford has gone to town in the powertrain arena as well.  There is an all new 7.3L big block V8 for the F-250 through the F-750.  Ford believes it will be the most powerful V8 available in heavy duty applications.  The 3rd Generation 6.7L V8 turbo diesel is more powerful and has more torque than the 2019 version.  The base engine for these trucks is Ford’s 6.2L V8 that continues as the affordable alternative.

Each engine gets Ford’s excellent 10-speed TorqShift automatic transmission that has everyone impressed with its smoothness and durability.  The 10-speed includes five selectable drive modes – normal, tow/haul, eco, slippery and deep sand and snow.

The Super Duties get safety and convenience features picked from the Ford ProPilot 360 system.  Things really needed in a truck this large like blind spot monitoring, lane keep alert, pre-collision assist with automatic emergency braking are either standard or available depending on trim level.

Ford has a substantial lead in the heavy duty pickup market and has enhanced the vehicle offerings to attract government, construction, horse haulers, boat haulers, RV haulers and any other vocation needing a heavy duty pickup.  After all, when you check all the boxes, Ford offers a lineup that can be priced over $100,000 per truck.


Continue Reading

2019 Honda Passport Fills Gap in Honda’s XSUV Lineup

0

Honda PassportPassport Fills Excess Capacity at Honda’s Lincoln Alabama Plant  Honda realized it had a gap in its crossover SUV lineup. They were losing customers who wanted mid-size XSUVs (crossover sport utility vehicles) but did not want seven passenger capacity.They estimate they have lost at least 35,000 sales to competitors every year they did not have a competitive 5-passenger, two-row crossover SUV in their product mix.  Hence the all new 2019 Honda Passport.

Derivative of Popular Pilot Crossover SUV  Honda’s usual methodological approach led to the development of the all new Passport – a five-passenger derivative of the popular Pilot 7-passenger XSUV.

In terms of big SUV programs, Honda has taken a very efficient approach. Think of the 2019 Honda Passport as a Pilot from the C-Pillar forward. Passport’s wheelbase is equal to the Pilot’s. Losing the third row seat allowed Honda to reduce the rear overhang and adopt sportier styling in the rear quarters and rear end. The rear quarter window differentiates the Passport from the Pilot in the sideview.  This means Honda designed and tooled up a new roof, new quarter panels, new liftgate, new rear quarter glass and liftgate glass.  The interior is essentially the same as the Pilot for the first two rows and instrument panel.

From the front, styling cues like a black textured grille and slightly more macho grille texture also differentiate the Passport from Pilot. Ground clearance is increased by 0.8 inches to provide more ground clearance for off reading.

Passport Very Competent Off-Road  Off-roading in an XSUV? Hah! Interestingly XSUV-makers have been trying to prove their off-road chops for a couple of years now. Honda even showed Pilot’s capabilities in a moderately tough off-road course in Southern California.

Proving Passport’s capabilities brought Honda to Moab Utah and the Sorrel River Ranch Resort and Spa. Nestled along the Colorado River and below the towering buttes of Eastern Utah, this was an outstanding choice for demonstrating the dynamic capabilities of the Passport.

Leaving Sorrel River Ranch, the group of seventeen identical silver Passports soon arrived at the off road trails. It had snowed and rained a bit the preceding night so the track promised to be challenging. Following a lead Passport, the silver convoy variously crawled over rock ledges, waded through muddy pits, or sped through twisty dirt paths in the Arches National Park. The capability of Passport’s AWD system was quickly proven. Even the most difficult challenges were not a concern. You quickly learned that the right way to control the Passport through a slippery curve was to give it more accelerator rather than backing off. Total fun! Totally capable.

Are there areas where a hard-core off-roader will not be satisfied with the 2019 Honda Passport?  Yes.  It lacks a couple of off-road technologies its facing competitors have like hill descent control.  It does have a terrain management system Honda calls the Intelligent Traction Management.  Terrain management can tailor traction, performance and drivability to any weather condition or surface condition.  Passport’s system includes special settings for snow, mud and sand.

It does not appear that Honda needs to fear any of its facing competition other than the Jeep Grand Cherokee in off-road situations. The competition Honda identified for Passport were: Chevrolet Equinox, Ford Edge, Toyota 4Runner (a real SUV) and Grand Cherokee.

Who will buy the 2019 Honda Passport?  Honda perceives these people to be younger and more affluent than the folks opting for the “more mature” seven-passenger versions.  These could be Millennials wanting a more serious XSUV than Honda’s very popular CR-V. These also could be empty nesters no longer needing or wanting a three-row, seven passenger vehicle.

Honda’s main challenge may be finding enough production capacity for its Passport in its Alabama assembly plant. The Lincoln, Alabama plant also produces the Pilot (2018 sales = 159,615), Ridgeline pickup (30,592) and Odyssey Minivan (106,327). Lincoln has a capacity of 340,000 vehicles. Honda sold almost 297,000 units from Lincoln in 2018.  They moved the Acura MDX from Lincoln to East Liberty, Ohio at its latest major change.  MDX sold 56,000 units in 2018.  So, it looks like Honda can sell between 40,000 and 50,000 without any major changes to Lincoln.  Honda, however, has been known eke out small capacity gains from plant adjustments.  AutoPacific’s Industry Analysis office expects more than that from Passport in the coming years.

Job 1 for the Passport was on December 6, 2018. Sales begin in February 2019.  #hondapassport #2019passport


Continue Reading

Ford SUVs – Juggernaut Continues

0

Ford SUVs are the key to future success in Ford’s business.  As Ford leaves the sedan (not car) business, they have given the first glimpse of their all new 2020 Explorer Crossover SUV (XSUV). The new Explorer replaces the fifth generation D4 platform Explorer with a totally modern platform. The all new body is unitized just like its predecessor but it is now rear wheel drive giving up its previous front wheel drive architecture. Explorer looks much like its predecessors with evolutionary, but modern, styling. Rear wheel drive lets its proportions be much more contemporary.

Features will be a major part of the Explorer story going forward.  The new Explorer XSUV gains the Ford CoPilot 360+ suite of safety and driver assistance features. When launched, Explorer arguably will be the most feature laden vehicle offered by Ford.

Of particular note is Explorer’s Powertrain lineup. Base engine is a 300HP 2.3L EcoBoost 4-cylinder, the upscale engine will be a 3.0L Twin-Turbo V6 making 365HP.  The sporty ST model goes one step further gaining 35 more horsepower with the 3.0L Twin Turbo. There is also a hybrid version available that mainly will be pitched to police forces due to its higher fuel economy.

We haven’t driven the Explorer yet, but it promises to be very good and probably the best Explorer off-road than ever. Admittedly, previous gen Explorers were pretty mediocre off-road compared to competition.

The story of Ford SUVs doesn’t end with Explorer. It is educational to look at their present SUV lineup in the charts below. Starting with the barely competitive EcoSport, the lineup marches upwards in five to ten inch increments with Ford SUVs covering everything from the EcoSport Compact XSUV to the gargantuan Expedition Max.

EcoSport is the oldest of the bunch, but the platform for the Premium Mid-Size Edge is getting a little long in the tooth even with a 2019MY freshening. The high volume Escape gets a complete re-do in late 2019 or early 2020. Coming later is a reincarnation of the off-road Bronco to combat Jeep’s popular Wrangler.  Also later, an additional baby Bronco will be launched slotted below the hard-core off-reader.

Ford clearly does not intend to give up any ground it the hyper-competitive SUV market.


Continue Reading

All-new Toyota RAV4 to Remain Toyota’s Top Seller?

0

What better place to experience Toyota’s all-new RAV4 than in Carmel-by-the-Sea, California?  Staging out of the Carmel Valley Ranch, Toyota gave journalists and analysts the chance to drive the all-new RAV4.  As Toyota’s top-seller in 2017 with about 400,000 units sold, Toyota cannot afford to make a mistake that would damage its sales potential.  The RAV4 started the XSUV (crossover SUV) category in 1996.  The 2019 version is the fifth generation of RAV4.

TNGA-K Platform:  From a product standpoint the all-new RAV4 is a significant upgrade to its predecessor.  Riding on Toyota’s new TNGA-K (Toyota New Global Architecture) platform, the RAV4 rides and handles very well.  The body is tight and the ride is quiet – at least in the top-of-the-line models we were driving.  The styling moves from milquetoast to bordering on bad ass like the most recent Tacoma pickup.  Toyota’s designers paid special attention to outward visibility to give the sense of confidence and spaciousness.  Maybe the rearward visibility could be better, but that is a minor niggle.  The all-new RAV4 rides on a longer wheelbase and the interior benefits by having more passenger and cargo room.  Ingress/egress is easy and ergonomics are top-notch.

Good Ergonomics:  With the battle of the center stack so critical to all manufacturers these days, Toyota has done a good job making the displays bright and crisp and easy to understand and use.  Driving off in an Adventure model, the heated steering wheel was on.  Couldn’t figure out hot to turn it off until one of the car wranglers helping with the event pointed out it was next to the steering column by your left knee completely out of sight.  Funny, one of the first images of the cockpit I took clearly shows the button.  Just can’t see it from the driver’s seat. The RAV4 comes with Apple CarPlay standard, but Android Auto is not available.

Off-Road Capable:  While it is an XSUV (crossover SUV), the all-new RAV4 isn’t a less capable soft-roader like some of its competition.  It is competent on road and off-road.  As crossover SUVs have taken the market by storm over the past several years, manufacturers are beefing up their off-road capability.  Most will never be driven aggressively off-road, but the new entries can take on moderate to challenging off-road tasks.  A product generation ago, an XSUV-maker would always avoid anything more challenging than a smooth logging road to demonstrate all wheel drive.  Now they are stepping up the demonstrations of XSUV capabilities.  These recent off-road courses are not Jeep Rubicon-ready type of runs, but they do put the vehicles through its off-road paces.  Toyota laid out a nicely challenging off-road course on the Carmel Valley Ranch property and the RAV4 ate it up with little problem.

Powertrains:  There are two powertrains for the RAV4 – a 2.5L “Dynamic Force” 4-cylinder with  203-horsepower.  Paired with an 8-speed automatic transmission, this powertrain achieves 29mpg combined fuel economy.  A hybrid powertrain will be available in March 2019 with 213-horsepower achieving 39mpg combined.  The hybrid has a CVT transmission.  RAV4 is standard with front wheel drive, but torque-vectoring all wheel drive is available on the gasoline models.  The hybrid all wheel drive system uses a separate rear-mounted electric motor to drive ist rear wheels.  The hybrid model is priced $2,200 higher than the gasoline model in comparable trim levels.  So, at today’s fuel prices, it would take almost 75,000 miles for the hybrid to pay off financially.

Fully Featured:  RAV4 is an econo-box XSUV no more.  Now you can get practically every driver assist feature and comfort and convenience feature available on the all-new RAV4.  While the RAV4 comes standard with Toyota’s Safety Sense suite of features plus Apple CarPlay and Amazon Alexa connectivity, many more features can be added.  While we won’t go into those here, you begin with a base price RAV4 at $25,500 and can end up with a price of nearly $40,000!  Who woulda thunk?  Still, for what you get it does not seem outrageous.

RAV4 versus Competition:  The big dogs in this competition are the Honda CR-V, Nissan Rogue and Ford Escape.   CR-V and Rogue are also their brand’s top sellers.  RAV4 competes very well from a product and price standpoint with these competitors.  Escape is due for complete update in 2019 so expect the fight for supremacy to continue to be vicious.


Continue Reading

Cadillac XT4 Small Crossover SUV – Nice Vehicle, High Price.

0

Driving the new Cadillac XT4 on the excellent country roads around Seattle and Bainbridge Island revealed a vehicle that is well conceived and well put-together.

Let’s Talk About the Styling: Cadillac designers and engineers have developed a vehicle with outstanding proportions using an all new platform. They have pushed the wheels out to the corners of the vehicle so the stance of the XT4 is great. Some small XSUVs seem too narrow and too tall. The XT4 looks wide enough to have a very purposeful appearance.

The styling cues are pretty distinctive. Cadillac is known for unique “light pipe” daylight running lights. The XT4 goes the typical light pipe one better. An eyebrow flowing towards the grille from the vertical light pipe gives XT4 a hard-to-miss look. Carried over into the vertical taillamps, XT4 takes advantage of new LED lighting technology. While XT4 looks modern, it does not rely on an extremely fast windshield to give it a sense of motion. XT4 is styling is different, but not too contrived.

2019 Cadillac XT4 Sport:  Source – Cadillac

2019 Cadillac XT4 Sport:  Source – Cadillac

Let’s Talk About the Package: For a Cadillac, XT4 is small, but it does not feel small when you are looking at it, sitting in it or driving it. Many of XT4 competitors are difficult to get into and out of. Not the XT4. XT4 has generous door openings that invite you into the interior. The driver’s seat is comfortable and visibility is excellent all around. XT4 is an exercise in effective package design.

Ergonomics Excellent:  The layout of the instrument panel, instrument cluster and console area are excellent.  Everything is easy to see and most is easy to use.  While no car can pass the rental car test today (Hertz, midnight, pouring rain, set radio, HVAC, start and drive away), the AT4 interface comes pretty close.  It does not however solve my ongoing bugaboo of showing street name on the nav map, but no city name.  Only Ford seems to do that at present.

2019 Cadillac XT4 Sport:  Source – Cadillac

2019 Cadillac XT4 Sport:  Source – Cadillac

Powertrain is Competitive: The XT4 is powered by an upgraded Spring Hill, TN-assembled, 2.0L 4-cylinder turbo that has 237-horsepower and 258 lb-ft torque. That is enough power and torque to propel the XT4 around town and on the freeway. In fact, 4-cylinder engines with these basic specifications have become the default engine for everything from small and mid-size XSUVs and mid-size cars.

The XT4 4-cylinder is mated to a new 9-speed automatic transmission. The Powertrain combination yields good fuel economy. The 9-speed is designed to deliver quick, smooth shifts throughout the power band.

Now the Problem – Price: The XT4 base price is $35,790 including destination. This seems pretty reasonable. In fact, going to the upper trim levels – Premium Luxury and Sport – both at $40,290 seems like a good deal. But these upper models do not include all the features consumers have come to expect in premium and even popular brand vehicles. Once those features are added – adaptive cruise control, lane keeping assist, blind spot warning, navigation, all wheel drive – the price skyrockets. Vehicles provided for the press preview were all in the $56,000 to $59,000 range.

For reference a small XSUV from popular-brand Hyundai – the Kona – tops out at around $30,000 with features similar to the XT4. Of course it is full of plastic. It’s seats are not as comfortable. It is not as quiet. But is the XT4 worth twice as much. Not fair, a Hyundai does not compare to a Cadillac. Fair enough. Let’s look at the all new Acura RD-X. It is powered by a 2.0L Turbo similar to the XT4, but the Acura 2.0L puts out 272HP – 35HP more than the XT4. Loading up an RD-X yields a price of about $47,000. Maybe Acura is not a Cadillac, but is the Cadillac brand worth a $10,000 premium over a Cadillac?

Fairfax, Kansas Assembly: XT4 is assembled at General Motors’ Fairfax, KS Assembly Plant. The Chevrolet Malibu is also assembled there. Cadillac assures us that the XT4 is totally unique and does not share any Malibu parts. The capacity allocated to XT4 is 45,000 units. If demand warrants it, additional capacity can be added. That depends on whether the millennial audience Cadillac is depending on buying XT4 really reacts positively to it at its price.


Continue Reading

Atomization – Auto Industry Apocalypse Ahead – Vehicle Nameplates Soar as Sales Fall

0

Over the past decades, the American auto industry has “atomized” with more and more new car and light truck models being added to the lineups each year.  The reason for this rapid addition of nameplates – atomization – has been an attempt by auto designers and marketers to provide products targeted to much more finely defined product niches.  Consumers demand more and more focused products and today’s automotive consumer research can identify exactly what those consumers want.  Current product development techniques allow vehicles to be developed more quickly and efficiently than in the past.  So, why not develop a vehicle targeted at each well-defined buyer group?

17-million Sales Years Not Sustainable

During the ‘90s, a good year was 15 million car and light truck sales.  By early in the first decade of the 2000s, the industry was expecting 17 million units per year.  Companies began adding more and more nameplates to take advantage of these robust sales numbers and to target their customers more closely.  As more nameplates were added, the market softened.

At the industry peak in 2000, sales hit 17.3 million units and there were 232 car and light truck nameplates on the market in the United States. This resulted in an average sales volume of about 73,000 units per nameplate.  In 2010 the industry cratered to 10.2 million units. There were 301 nameplates resulting in an average of only 34,000 units sold per nameplate; a whopping 39,000-unit deterioration in the average sales volume per nameplate from 2000.

Jump forward to 2017, the next peak sales year when sales hit 17.2 million units.  The nameplate count remained stable at 302 nameplates.  Average sales per nameplate in 2017 were about 57,000 units.  However, due to adding nameplates, the average was still 16,000 lower than in the year 2000 on average.  In a 17 million unit year, a lot of nameplates can be fed.

Forecast for 2023 – 15.7-million Sales but 80 more Nameplates to Sell – Atomization

But, as history has shown, 17 million unit sales years are not sustainable.  AutoPacific’s Industry Analysis team forecasts sales for 2023 will be 15.7 million units.  Automakers have plans to add 80 more nameplates between 2017 and 2023.  This means that 382 nameplates will average just 41,000 sales apiece.

In 2017, there were 163 car nameplates and 139 truck (pickups, SUVs, crossovers and vans) nameplates.  In 2019 there will be more truck nameplates than cars and by 2023 there are forecast to be 214 truck nameplates.  Most of these added trucks are SUVs and crossovers.  Truck penetration in the market is expected to be 72% in 2023.  Crossover SUVs alone will add about 70 nameplates between 2017 and 2023!

Top Ten Vehicles Account for 27% of Sales

To add to the challenge, the top ten best-selling vehicles, like the Ford F-Series, Chevrolet Silverado, Ram 1500, etc., account for 27% of the market.  In 2023, that leaves 372 nameplates to battle over about 11,500,000 sales after removing the top ten volume.  The result is a further drop in average sales per nameplate to about 31,000.

This is a very simplistic analysis, but it is clear that the next five years will be a marketing challenge for the automotive industry.  “The marketing challenge is real,” says AutoPacific president George Peterson. “AutoPacific has helped many automakers launch targeted new vehicles and how they navigate this impending crisis should result in a marketing war that hasn’t been seen in years.”

•     •     •     •     •

AutoPacific is an automotive specialist research and product planning consulting firm headquartered in North Tustin, California.  Since 1986, AutoPacific has been providing market and product research services to automotive OEMs and Tier 1 suppliers around the world.  This press release is based on an analysis by AutoPacific’s Industry Analysis team “Atomization – the 2018 View Looking to 2023 – Auto Crisis on the Horizon.”

Contact George Peterson at 714.838.4234 or Ed Kim at 562.541.5360 to discuss these results.


Continue Reading

2019 GMC Sierra Steps Up – Literally

0

What could make spending a few days in the beautiful northeast Canadian Province of Newfoundland better? Spending it driving the new 2019 GMC Sierra. Spacious, comfortable and smooth-riding, the Sierra Denali was a joy to experience, as a driver and passenger.

Steady and Smooth

Exploring the countryside through curves, hills, small towns roads and highways, it was easy to forget I was riding in a truck. The “brace yourself” moments when you expect to jerk to the side, or feel the dreaded bed bounce never arrived. Redesigned from the ground up, the new Sierra Denali has Adaptive Ride Control, a Denali-exclusive, that adjusts damping for exceptional control and ride.

Impressive Bed Access and Functionality

By far the most functional feature is the MultiPro Tailgate. This six-function tailgate makes loading, stepping, hauling and working easier with just a few quick steps. Have trouble getting up into the bed? In addition to the steps built into the rear side bumpers, the MultiPro tailgate has an inner gate that folds out to a step. An extendable pole located in the bed acts as a helping hand for climbing up or down. The tailgate also has a position for second-tier loading, a load-stop barrier, standing workstation, and easier access to items in the bed when the inner gate is folded down, enabling a further reach into the bed. The MultiPro tailgate is standard on Denali, SLT and AT4.

Load the truck bed so high you can’t see behind you? A segment-first rear camera mirror is available. The mirror functions as a regular rearview mirror that can turn into a camera mirror to provide a more unobstructed view. While nighttime use of the mirror results in some image fuzziness, daytime resolution is bright, crisp and clear.

 

A personal favorite is the new Prograde Trailering System designed to help ease the process of trailering for rookies through professionals. The advanced camera technologies provide hitch guidance through a hitch view mode that allows the driver to zoom in on the hitch and provides guidance lines for easy positioning. Side view cameras integrated into the side mirrors provide a view down the side of the truck and trailer for greater visibility during lane changes or when backing up. An available, third-party seller auxiliary camera can also be mounted on the rear of the trailer to display on the center screen.

Enhanced Safety Technology Offerings

New car and truck buyers want safety features and 2019 Sierra delivers. Front pedestrian braking, lane change alert with side blind zone alert and rear cross traffic alert are available. Sierra also offers surround vision to assist with parking and visibility during low-speed maneuvering. I love head-up displays and Sierra’s segment-first Multi-Color Head-up Display is wonderful. Larger than their previous version, the 3-inch by 7-inch display projects key, customizable vehicle data such as speed, infotainment, phone and navigation, on the windshield.

Family-Friendly Rear Seat Storage, Spaciousness and Comfort

As a soccer mom/chauffeur of teenagers, interior spaciousness, storage and rear comfort features don’t go overlooked. The new Sierra also has a longer wheelbase, providing about 3 inches more rear legroom than its predecessor. The rear seat also has a convenient and very innovative seatback compartment for storing those little items you want to always have with you (love this!), but don’t want out in view or in the way. New rear seat air vents keep rear passengers comfortable.

The 2019 GMC Sierra is an impressive truck for the truck buyer but also gives SUV buyers who could use the additional functionality of a pickup a very reasonable option that doesn’t compromise in comfort, styling or features.


Continue Reading

New Hyundai Santa Fe Raises the Bar

0

The Hyundai Santa Fe (@hyundaisantafe) was the first Korean brand vehicle to win AutoPacific’s Vehicle Satisfaction Award. That was in 2001. There have been four generations of the Hyundai Santa Fe selling 1.6 million units in the USA. All have been successively better than its predecessor. The 5th Generation Hyundai Santa Fe, the 2019 model, has just been released and all Hyundai dealers should have them in their showrooms by the end of August 2018.

2019 Santa Fe – a REAL SUV 

Hyundai Motor America product planners rightly concluded that the previous generation had gotten too soft and sporty. The stylists of that fourth generation sacrificed utility for style making the windshield faster and making the side glass narrower. This gave the impression of a smaller vehicle.

The 2019 Hyundai Santa Fe moves away from the swoopy, sporty look of the 4th generation.  It evolves to a style that is stronger and more confident looking.  Clearly, the fact that a vehicle is a crossover – meaning unit body construction instead of the traditional SUV body-on-frame construction – does not detract from its SUV-ness.

The windshield is stiffer which improves ease of getting in and out. The side windows are larger due to a lower belt line. This provides better all-around visibility. The vehicle is a bit larger and the final result is a crossover SUV that is within a half-inch here and a half-inch there of its facing completion. There are no deficiencies in its package.

Loaded With Technology Still Reasonably Priced 

As is customary with Hyundai products, the 2019 Hyundai Santa Fe is loaded with the latest technology and especially new safety technology. The 5th generation has Hyundai’s SafetySense suite of features as standard equipment. This adds to the vehicle’s cost and subsequently its price, but HMA management says its dealers find customers are accepting slightly higher prices for the improved safety features.

When you check all the boxes and get the highest model and all the features, prices can move a bit above $35,000.  This still seems like a value. At this price point the 2019 Hyundai Santa Fe feature set includes Hyundai SafetySense, head up display, memory heated and cooled front seats, heated rear seats, automatic climate control, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, navigation system, premium sound and others.

Interior Design Top Notch 

The interior design shows attention to detail found in more expensive XSUVs. The instrument panel is a double cockpit design with a sweeping concave area holding the instrument cluster in front of the driver. There is a spacious shape mimicking the driver’s area in front of the front seat passenger. This is a design that is very difficult to get right in production because the fit and finish on each side can be very difficult to line up. The Santa Fe examples I saw were all very well aligned.

Enough Oomph for Most Driving Conditions 

The 2019 Hyundai Santa Fe is powered by either a 185-horsepower 2.4L DOHC Naturally Aspirated 4-cylinder or a 2.0L Turbo 4-cylinder. The examples we drove were the 2.0L Turbo four mated to an 8-speed automatic transmission. With 235-horsepower and 260 lb-ft torque the Santa Fe performed better than expected at the high altitudes where we drove the vehicle.

Hyundai was not shy about taking the Santa Fe on rough roads. Dirt, washboards, the Santa Fe handled it all with no problem. The final proof that the Santa Fe is a very capable XSUV off-road was a steep hill climb over dirt, mud and rocks. No problem. While almost no owner of a Hyundai Santa Fe will ever take their vehicle on a climb like this one, the vehicle is capable of relatively aggressive off-roading and more.

All-in-all, the 2019 Hyundai Santa Fe is an outstanding replacement for the outgoing 4th generation Santa Fe and should help Hyundai improve its truck mix from 43.5% July 2018 calendar year to date to 50% in pretty short order.

Future Hyundai XSUVs Will Push Truck Mix over 50%

Santa Fe cannot achieve that mix increase alone. There will be several additional XSUVs added to the Hyundai truck line-up. There will be a very small XSUV positioned below the small, and very successful, Hyundai Kona. There will be the Hyundai Nexo fuel cell XSUV. There will be a larger three row seven/eight passenger XSUV above the Hyundai Santa Fe. Finally, Hyundai is very serious about competing in the


Continue Reading

Honda Trucks Now 52% of Honda Sales in USA

0

Honda 2019 Truck Lineup – 52% of Honda Sales

2019 Honda Pilot with Dealer Installed Accessory Decal Kit – Say it isn’t so!

Honda is a car company, right?  Their premium mid-size truck offerings – Honda Pilot, Honda Odyssey, Honda Ridgeline – are all doing very well thank you.

Honda’s Accord and Civic sedans have been among the best selling vehicles for years.  Honda usually counts retail sales when they are quoting sales figures because their sales to fleets is virtually non-existent.  But their best selling vehicle is the Honda CR-V – a mid-size crossover SUV (XSUV).  It seems like every other woman in Orange County is driving one.  Year to date, “truck sales” have accounted for 52% of Honda’s sales in the USA.  (AutoPacific’s forecast is that truck sales will be over 70% of the industry within the next five years).

We had an opportunity to drive Honda’s truck line-up at the Epona Estate in Hidden Hills near Westlake Village.  The event featured the freshened 2019 Honda Pilot Premium Mid-Size XSUV and the Honda HR-V.  The promise of the event was there was going to be an off-road course for the Pilot.  Unfortunately, the HR-V was not available to drive because of the cars being stranded in a flood in Mexico.

2019 Honda Pilot:  The Honda Pilot freshening is relatively minor and adds to the character of an already good product.  Honda Pilot is standard with 8-passenger seating, but can had with second row captain’s chairs giving a capacity of 7-passengers.  HondaSensing is standard on all Pilots for 2019.  This is Honda’s suite of driver assistance technologies including adaptive cruise control, lane keeping assist, etc.  Also, all Honda Pilots get LED headlamps, LED daytime running lights and automatic high beams.

Honda has finessed the 280HP 3.5L V6 and 6-speed automatic transmission in the Pilot to enhance noise, vibration and harshness.  The drive vehicles were Elite models which checks all the boxes and upgrades the transmission to a 9-speed unit.  The drive is seamless, quiet and confident.

Honda is fighting the features war with the Honda Pilot adding features not previously available or now being expected on a Premium Mid-Size XSUV.  Cabin control is on the second step up EX model.  Memory driver seat and mirrors are on the EX-L model (52% of sales).  So are 2nd row seat sunshades.  If you pop for the EX-L with Navi and RSE you get the navigation system and rear seat entertainment (for those of us who don’t want RSE, it is unfortunately standard on the upper Touring (25%) and Elite (10%) models).   By the time you have selected the Elite model you have power moonroof, power liftgate, Homelink, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, parking sensors, dual-pane panoramic moonroof, ventilated front seats and rain sensing wipers.  Clearly, you can get a fully equipped Pilot that leaves almost nothing to desire.

Honda did the unthinkable with an XSUV, they let us drive the Honda Pilot off-road on an albeit mild off-road course.  Not the stuff of Jeep off-roading events, but much more than most XSUV makers will attempt.  These are shots of Pilot doing things you wouldn’t think it was capable of.  Good going, Honda…

2019 HR-V:  It is too bad the HR-V couldn’t be driven.  This is a delightful compact crossover XSUV.  With its magic seating system, HR-V is an extremely flexible package.  For 2019, HR-V adds Sport and Touring trim levels to broaden its appeal.  Sport is one notch above the base LX trim level and should account for 20% of HR-V sales.  The top of the line Touring trim gets a nod for 7% of the mix.  You have to get to the EX trim (42%) to get HondaSensing.  At the top in the Touring package AWD is standard as is Navigation, LED headlamps and foglights.  This begs the question if there is room in the HR-V lineup for an even more fully equipped Elite model?

Ridgeline, Odyssey and CR-V:  Honda also had the rest of its truck lineup on hand for local drives.  All are top notch, but surprisingly the Ridgeline pickup proved to be the most fun.  It is a good size has good performance and is quiet and solid-feeling.  If I needed a pickup, the Ridgeline would certainly be in my consideration set.  (FYI:  Ridgeline won both AutoPacific awards in 2019 – Vehicle Satisfaction Award and Ideal Vehicle Award.  Odyssey also won both AutoPacific awards for 2019 – quite a sweep!)

#HondaPilot, #HondaHRV, #HondaRidgeline, #HondaCRV, #HondaOdyssey, #AutoPacific


Continue Reading

Follow VehicleVoice

RSS Feed   Facebook   Twitter

2018 NVSS

2018 New Vehicle Satisfaction Survey
By Invitation Only


Start Survey

Membership

Join

Recent Winners

Sid P., Washington - $100
Ken G., Nevada - $100
Brad T., Wisconsin - $100
Tom M., Virginia - $100
Kathy F., New Jersey - $100
John M., Massachusetts - $100
Mike M., California - $100
Carol R., Texas - $100
James D., Georgia - $100
Martha B., New Jersey - $100
Kerry B., Pennsylvania - $100

What is VehicleVoice?

About Vehicle Voice