Ford Edge:

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

2015 Ford Edge Goes Sportier… and Global

0

2015 Ford Edge F342015 Ford Edge R34Ford has one of the broadest SUV lineups in the industry with Escape, Edge, Explorer, Flex and Expedition and the 2015 model year is time for a new Edge.  Interestingly, Ford’s introduction to the Edge omitted the word “crossover”.  They are merely referring to it as a “mid-size utility”.  The concept execution of the new Edge was shown to the media on Tuesday, November 19 at a venue in the Los Angeles garment district.  It was shown to the wider media at the Los Angeles Auto Show the next day.

The 2015 Ford Edge is designed to be sold globally and especially targeted at China and the USA.  It is based on the front wheel drive platform of the hot-selling Ford Fusion.  It retains the dimensions of its predecessor but adds an inch of wheelbase.  The styling is sportier than before with the new Ford hexagonal grille treatment, more muscular bodyside graphics and a faster backlite.  At a glance, it is still obviously an Edge.

The styling of the new Edge is an appropriate evolution from its predecessor, but technology may be where the Edge breaks the mold.  Ford executives were using the term “democratization of technology” a lot at the show.  This means that new technology will be available up and down the Ford lineup from the Escape and Focus to the Flex and Taurus.

The upcoming Edge has a full suite of whizbang features available:  EcoBoost powertrains, active park assist, a lane-keeping system, adaptive cruise control, blind spot information system, MyFordTouch.  The concept is shown with a 10-inch touch screen in the center stack.  They make a big deal that their old capacitive switches are gone and replaced with “premium mechanical switchgear”.

While the LA Show vehicle is officially termed a “concept”, it is very close to the production model coming later in 2014.


Continue Reading

Porsche Macan – Hubba Hubba

0

2015 Porsche Macan F342015 Porsche Macan R34Porsche is broadening its line adding a compact crossover SUV (XSUV) beneath its highly successful Cayenne SUV.  The Porsche Macan is named after an Indonesian tiger.  Not so unusual since the Cayenne is named for a pepper and Cayman after an alligator.  While Porsche purists may cringe that the brand is adding one more vehicle line that has four doors, the Macan will add volume to Porsche around the world and add greatly to its already heady profits.  Limited to only 50,000 units a year from its Leipzig, Germany factory, the volume will be split roughly one-third for the USA, one third for the EU and one third for the rest of the world.  With the USA limited to “only” about 15,000-18,000 units per year dealers can hold out for nice profits especially in its early years.

Factoid:  More Porsches now sold have four doors than two.

Go to the Porsche Cars North America website and check out the configurator (http://www.porsche.com/usa/modelstart/all/?modelrange=macan) for the Macan.  Sure, the vehicle starts at $49,900, but I quickly got one specced out the way I would want it up to $66,000.  PCNA expects the median transaction price for the Macan to be around $73,000.  For those of you who check all the boxes and choose the upmarket turbo model, you can spend over $100,000 for a Macan Turbo.  Given the complexity of the Porsche configurator, the bet is that most of them will be ordered rather than bought from dealer stock.

The Macan S is priced similarly to the base Cayenne.  This telegraphs Porsche’s strategy of adding a less pricey base Macan later.  Following Porsche’s strategy of launching with the mid-range vehicle and then adding a lower priced version, expect a less expensive Macan down the road simply called “Macan”.

Macan is to be the sportiest compact XSUV on the market.  The $49,900 model is the Macan S powered by a 340HP 3.0L Turbo V6.  For those wanting even more power, the Macan Turbo has 400HP and adds about $16,000 to the price tag.  All Macans have all wheel drive and Porsche’s 7-speed PDK (Porsche Doppelkupplung) transmission (automatic).  The Macan S is no lightweight coming in at over 4000 pounds, but it can get up to 60mph in 5.2 seconds according to Porsche’s data.

2015 Porsche Macan CockpitThe Macan is loosely based on the Audi Q5, but 70% of the parts are new to Porsche.  The exterior is clearly all Porsche.  Porsche DNA is evident in the face of the vehicle, the shape of the roof, the wheel openings, even the haunch over the rear wheels.  To give the Macan a lower, sports car feel, the seating positions are a bit lower than in the Q5 and the rear seat is pretty tight.  But being the sportiest compact XSUV, these things are expected.  The interior is a special place indeed.  The instrument panel is well-laid out and the switchgear on the console is reminiscent of the Porsche Panamera.  The steering wheel comes from the 918 Spyder.

Other XSUVs were introduced at the Los Angeles Auto Show and will be on the market at the same time as the Macan – the smaller 2015 Lincoln MKC and the mid-size 2015 Ford Edge.  Compared with the new Edge, the Macan is about three-inches lower, and its wheelbase about 1.5 inches shorter, but the shadow of the two vehicles is nearly identical.  For all intents and purposes the overall lengths and widths are the same.  With the Ford getting a bit sportier for 2015 with a faster backlite, its silhouette is even similar to the compact XSUV sports car – the Macan.  Checking all the boxes on the Ford can get its price up to the mid-forties.  But even though the vehicles are similar specification- and style-wise, they will attract dramatically different buyers.

Which brings us to the Lincoln MKC.  Based on the Escape platform, MKC has a starting price of $33,995 quite a difference from the Macan.  Of course the Lincoln will not have the powertrain or performance chops of the Macan, and its price will not reach into the hundreds of thousands.  Loading up the MKC might get its price over $50,000.  Somehow, the well-equipped Macan at $66,000 seems like a better value.2015 Porsche Macan Cargo Area


Continue Reading

Honda Pilot – Most Ideal Premium Mid-Size XSUV in AutoPacific Research

0

AutoPacific’s Ideal Vehicle Award (IVA) recognizes the vehicle that best hits the target its buyers demand.  Winning an IVA shows the product planners, engineers and designers of the manufacturer understand what their target customers want and have created the vehicle to best meet their demands.

Pilot Slips By Ford Edge for IVA Win: The 2012 Honda Pilot comes closest to the ideal of any Premium Mid-Size Crossover SUV.  The Pilot slips by the second place Ford Edge by 3 rating points to win in a class that has become increasingly competitive.   Having eighty-percent or more of owners rating a characteristic ideal is outstanding.  Achieving a score of ninety-percent is even more impressive.  Ninety-percent or more of Pilot owners rate its driver’s seat comfort, ride and handling and tires ideal.  Eighty-percent or more of Pilot owners find these additional characteristics ideal:  exterior size, interior lighting, driver’s seat visibility, passenger roominess, wheels, interior storage compartments and safety features.

The Honda Pilot was also best in class in AutoPacific’s 2012 Vehicle Satisfaction Award research.

A Few Shortfalls – Some Could Have Been Offset by Selecting Available Options: About 31% of Pilot owners want more infotainment technology than now.  About 27% want better ease of getting in and out.  About 25% of Honda Pilot owners want more cargo space.  About 18% of Pilot owners want more power and acceleration but an equal percentage would trade off power and acceleration for better fuel economy.

You can find an Autobytel review of this IVA award winner at  http://www.autobytel.com/auto-news/awards/ideal-suvs-pickups-rated-by-owners-in-2012-iva-awards-112117/

For a complete summary of all AutoPacific 2012 Ideal Vehicle Award results contact karin.turner@vehiclevoice.com and title your email “IVA Results”.  A copy of the results will be emailed to you within 48-hours.


Continue Reading

SUVs Most Satisfying Vehicle Type

0

AutoPacific’s 2008 Vehicle Satisfaction Awards results are in. AutoPacific’s awards collect the opinions of OWNERS. There is no subjectivity added by AutoPacific at all.
As usual, there are expected winners and unexpected losers, but let’s take a look at some overall results that will surprise many of you.

Escalade Blog.jpg

Truck-Based Traditional SUVs Most Satisfying
The vehicle type with the highest Vehicle Satisfaction Score is the Traditional Sport Utility Vehicle category. These are truck-based SUVs like the Cadillac Escalade, Toyota Sequoia, Ford Explorer, Toyota 4Runner, Kia Sorento, HUMMER H3 and Toyota FJ Cruiser. In fact, the Toyota Sequoia was the top scoring vehicle – car or truck – in AutoPacific’s 2008 Vehicle Satisfaction results.
Audi Q7 F34 blog.jpg

Car-Based Crossover SUVs More Satisfying than Cars, Minivans, Pickups
The second highest scoring category was the Crossover Sport Utility Vehicle category. These are car-based SUVs like the Audi Q7, BMW X3, Acura RDX, Buick Enclave, GMC Acadia, Hyundai Veracruz, Suzuki XL-7, Ford Edge, Saturn Vue, Toyota RAV4 and Nissan Rogue. Crossovers are the response by the automakers to make more user-friendly SUVs and in 2006 Crossover SUVs began outselling Traditional SUVs… a trend that will not be reversed.
Rated substantially behind SUVs are Cars, Minivans and Pickups.
Clearly, even in times of high and increasing fuel prices, SUVs are here to stay. Their Swiss Army Knife utility guarantees they will be a central part of a high many family fleets in the future. The continuing jihad against SUVs has failed again!


Continue Reading

Ford Edge Wins AutoPacific 2007 Ideal Vehicle Award for Premium Mid-Size Crossover SUV:

0

Edge.png

Showing that Ford Motor Company planners, designers and engineers not only know the traditional SUV market better than most with Ideal Vehicle Award wins by the Ford Expedition and Ford Explorer, Ford’s all new crossover SUVs win in their categories as well. Ford’s new Edge wins as Ideal Premium Crossover SUV. Edge not only wins its category, but has the highest “Ideal” ratings of any SUV overall. Edge is a sales success…and buyers often consider it near ideal. Few buyers would change the exterior size or styling. Both ride and handling are highly rated, as are technology level and interior storage.


Continue Reading

Mazda CX-9 – Flagship from Hiroshima

0

Mazda CX-9 2007 F34.jpg

VehicleVoice staffers had been looking forward to the Mazda CX-9 to see how the new Mazda flagship stacks up against competition. One of a plethora of new Crossover SUVs, Mazda is venturing into uncharted, for them, territory.
Mid-Size or Large Crossover SUV… a Tweener?
The CX-9 is a “large” Crossover SUV – not the size of the Tahoe-sized GM Lambda Crossover SUVs like the GMC Acadia, Saturn Outlook and Buick Enclave, but still big enough to have a relatively comfortable 3rd row seat. AutoPacific carries CX-9 in our Premium Mid-Size Crossover SUV segment (what a mouthful). It may actually deserve to be categorized in the Large Crossover Segment. We’re taking a look at it.
Styling is Modern, but Blends in With Other Contemporary Crossover SUVs
The styling of the CX-9 is modern without being overdone like its lower priced stablemate the CX-7. There are no wheel arch accents over the front wheel like the CX-7, RX-8 and Miata, but I don’t know if this is good. I was kinda getting into the more blatant Mazda front end look. The CX-9 doesn’t offend, it just blends. So from an overall styling standpoint, it seems to “blend” rather than turn heads. Some folks wondered if it was a new Lexus RX, so I guess being mistaken for an RX (like the Hyundai Veracruz is) ain’t too bad.


Continue Reading

Podcast #69 – Living on the Edge Ain't So Hard

0

Continue Reading

Ford S-Max – European Crossover OK for USA?

4

I’ve been driving the Ford S-Max Crossover for about a week now through England and Wales. The S-Max is a derivative of Ford’s European Minivan – the Galaxy – and its European Mid-Size Car – the Mondeo. Very impressive vehicle in many ways. It was selected as the European 2007 Car of the Year as judged by 58 journalists across 22 European countries. Apparently, Alan Mulally, Ford’s new CEO is trying to bring the S-Max to the USA in 2009 or so. Will the S-Max work in America?

Ford S-Max F34.jpg

Ford S-Max Fender Gills.jpg

Is S-Max a Crossover SUV, Minivan, Station Wagon or Something Un-Identifiable?
Specification Comparison.jpg

First, what is it? We at VehicleVoice and AutoPacific have found that if a buyer cannot categorize a vehicle, i.e. figure out if it is a Minivan or SUV or Wagon, they will shy away from it. This is what happened to the Chrysler Pacifica and the Mercedes R-Type. Ford positions the S-Max as a Crossover SUV – a segment that is booming in the USA. At a glance, S-Max has little “SUV” ambiance. It is a very useful MPV – meaning multi-purpose vehicle – but where is the SUV DNA? S-Max has a very fast windshield with “canard” windows between the windshield and the A-Pillar. This gives a very sporty silhouette, but may yield a shape that is too Minivan-like.
Ford S-Max SV.jpg

The S-Max is a seven-passenger vehicle with a small third-row seat. The third row easily folds flat for loading luggage. If S-Max were introduced in the USA, how would S-Max fit among the other Ford Crossover SUVs – the 5-passenger Ford Escape, 5-passenger Ford Edge, and the 7-Passenger Ford Taurus X (Freestyle)? It is not as SUV-like as Escape and Edge – maybe similar to the SUV DNA of Freestyle/Taurus X.
Ford S-Max R34.jpg

Ford S-Max Cargo.jpg

S-Max, in some ways, comes across as similar to the Mazda CX-7 or a slightly smaller version of the Mazda CX-9. It does not come across as similar to the larger General Motors Lambda Crossover SUVs like the Saturn Outlook, GMC Acadia or Buick Enclave.


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