Honda CR-V:

2016 Hyundai Tucson – Compact XSUV Benchmark?

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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.

MY16 Hyundai Tucson

MY16 Hyundai Tucson

MY16 Hyundai Tucson

MY16 Hyundai Tucson

Hyundai Fell Behind in Segment – 2016 Hyundai Tucson Provides Conquest Opportunity  The product is good enough to begin some serious conquesting.  As the compact crossover SUV market has boomed over the past several years (growing 14.9% 2015CYTD), Hyundai has been left with a less-than-competitive product capable of selling around 45,000 per year.  As such, Hyundai Motor America’s share of the segment slipped from about 6% to 2.5%.  Some of that is due to capacity constraints from its Korean plant.  A new plant in the Czech Republic has come on line and will be supplying Europe freeing up Korean capacity.  With the new Tucson on sale in August, 2015, HMA’s volume is expected to rise to 56,200 in 2015 and up to 90,000 or higher in 2016.  The 2015 Hyundai Tucson is good enough to pull that off if there is strong marketing support behind the vehicle (the last generation was essentially a “launch and leave” proposition with little marketing support).  At 90,000 units, the Tucson will have about 6% of the segment.

Pre-Family Market Target  Who will buy the 2016 Hyundai Tucson?  HMA sees this as the entry targeted at “pre-family” singles and couples.  Tucson is 8.5-inches shorter than the Santa Fe Sport that is targeted at “post-family” couples who no longer need the seven-passenger three row capacity of the 8.5-inch longer (than Santa Fe Sport) Santa Fe.  Santa Fe is targeted at “core families”.  Tucson democratizes technology by offering most of the latest gee whiz electronic features available on higher classes of products.

Hyundai describes its styling as bold and confident and it certainly comes across that way.  It has a slightly more vertical windshield that helps ingress to the front seats.  Tucson adopts Hyundai’s new corporate face with the hexagonal grille.  From the side view, the Tucson is lean and wedgy.  Exterior styling was by Hyundai’s European studio.  The interior was styled in California.  Ergonomics are outstanding with controls placed where expected.  There is an 8-inch information screen with navigation and Hyundai’s BlueLink interface.  The only criticism is with map graphics that don’t show enough detail and seem to show only major arteries, not the interesting spur roads you pass.

MY16 Hyundai Tucson

MY16 Hyundai Tucson

Powertrain OK but Full Throttle is Disappointing  The base engine is Hyundai’s Nu 2.0L GDI 4-cylinder that has 164-horsepower and 151 lb ft of torque.  The 2.0 L mileage figures are 23/31/26mpg.  The 2.0L gets a six-speed automatic transmission.  The optional engine, and the engine on the majority of Tucson models, is the Gamma 1.6L 4-cylinder Turbo with 175-horsepower and 195 lb ft of torque.  The 1.6L mileage figures are 26/33/29mpg).  The 1.6L gets a seven-speed dual clutch transmission.  You definitely want the higher torque 1.6L Turbo.  The torque is the key to performance feel.  In the examples of the Tucson I drove, there was a noticeable lag when full throttle acceleration was wanted or needed from a stop (with traffic approaching, for instance).  Pedal to the metal was disappointing.  On a part throttle take off, this was not evident.  It seemed to happen only when you really wanted the oomph.  This is a characteristic an owner will learn over time, but Hyundai should sort it out ASAP.


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2016 Honda HR-V – Perfectly Pleasant

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2016 Honda HR-V F34Honda 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.


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2016 Acura ILX Updated – Improved

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Acura’s entry premium compact car is being updated for the 2016 model year.  The 2016 Acura ILX is what Acura terms its “Gateway Model” – the entry to the Acura lineup.  The strategy for the 2016 Acura ILX is much like Honda implemented for its CR-V compact crossover SUV.  Honda termed that a Major Mid-Cycle Change.  Similarly, ILX has been freshened and given a better powertrain than before.

2016 Acura ILX F34 VehicleVoiceMild Styling Changes  The 2016 Acura ILX looks basically the same as the 2015 model.  It is a compact sedan with pleasant, slightly sporty styling.  For 2016, the car gets a new more aggressive front end appearance with LED accent lights and LED headlamps.  All Acuras will have LED front lights from now on.  The grille is tougher looking and the “parrot’s beak” has been toned down somewhat.  The tall lamps are upgraded and more distinctive than before.  In the industry, this is called a front and rear six – think of it as a face and butt lift.2016 Acura ILX SV Feature

The interior gets minor updates with upgraded seat material and contrasting stitching on the steering wheel, shift knob and parking brake handle.

Upgraded Powertrain with Only One Choice  The news, however, is under the skin.  The only engine/transmission choice now is a 2.4L direct injection 4-cylinder with 201-horsepower mated to an 8-speed dual clutch transmission.  If this sounds familiar it should because it is basically the same 4-cylinder used in the mid-market TLX.  Since 2016 Acura ILX is now made at Honda’s Marysville, OH plant alongside the TLX this communization makes sense.

No Manual Transmission – YEA!  The enthusiasts among you may be asking where the manual transmission formerly with the 2.4L went?  It was dropped in favor of the fast-shifting dual clutch transmission and the fact that no one was buying them.  Gone also is the hybrid model, also for lack of interest.  AutoPacific’s research confirms that this is the right direction to go.  Consideration for manual transmissions is very low and hybrid consideration continues to drop as gasoline prices in the USA fall.

Technology and Stuff  Recognizing that a premium brand has to deliver more refinement, Acura has increased the sound deadening in the ILX to make the car much quieter than now.  Also, following the CR-V strategy with HondaSense, AcuraWatch suite of advanced safety and driver assist features is available on the car for the first time.  This feature suite includes adaptive cruise control, lane keeping assist, road departure mitigation,  collision mitigation braking system, upgraded rear camera.  Once again, we are seeing a manufacturer “democratize” its technology taking stuff formerly available on upper level models and making them available on lower line products.


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Honda CR-V Most Ideal Mid-Size Crossover SUV

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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.

Honda CR-V Edges Subaru Forester for IVA Win: The 2012 Honda CR-V comes closest to the ideal of any Mid-Size Crossover SUV.  The CR-V edges out the second place Subaru Forester by 27 rating points to win in its class.   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 Honda CR-V owners rate its wheels ideal.  Eighty-percent or more of Honda CR-V owners find these additional characteristics ideal:  exterior size, interior lighting, passenger roominess, cargo space, exterior styling, driver’s seat comfort, ride and handling, tires, ease of getting in and out and safety features.

The Honda CR-V 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 26% of CR-V owners want better infotainment technology than now.  About 25% want better driver’s seat visibility.  About 24% want more power and acceleration than now.  About 23% want more interior storage compartments than now.

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.


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2009 Honda CR-V: Motorist Choice Award Winner

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Hon_07_CRV_LX_6 copy.jpg“The Honda CR-V wins the 2009 Motorist Choice Award in the Mid-Size Crossover SUV segment. Traditional CR-V strengths include brand reputation, vehicle reputation, reliability/dependability, durability, and overall quality. What a base to build upon! Even subjective attributes like exterior styling and environmental friendliness were highly rated. A solid winner.” — AutoPacific
“The CR-V has best-in-segment ownership costs. The CR-V has the highest retained value and strong insurance, fuel, and maintenance costs.” — IntelliChoice
Owner Satisfaction Highlights
* Brand and Vehicle Reputation
* Reliability / Dependability
* Durability
* Overall Quality
* Safety Features/Feeling Safe While Driving
Cost-of-Ownership Strengths
* Best-in-Segment Ownership Costs
* Best Retained Value
* Low Insurance Costs
* Low Fuel Costs
* Low Maintenance Costs


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2009 Subaru Forester – Alright, NOW you can call it a Crossover SUV

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The real news with the 2009MY Forester is not the drivetrain; because you still get the 2.5L H4. Nor is it the trim levels available; from X to XT to the L.L. Bean edition. The real news is image. The next generation Forester will have a much bolder image for 2009 and as a result fewer snide ‘station wagon’ remarks.

Sub_09_Forester_XT_bl_6.jpg

Segmentation
Around here segmentation is very important, it’s not always easy and it changes every year. The whole, “If it walks like a duck and quacks like a duck…” thing doesn’t always work. When it comes to segmentation there are multiple variables at work, vehicle platform, body, seating position, competition, profitability, etc., etc. And when it comes to the Subaru Forester, it seems to be one of those vehicles lost in segmentation limbo. From Subaru owner blog sites to critics asking “Is it a station wagon or a ‘crossover’ it’s been somewhat of an issue plaguing the Subaru Forester.


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Honda CR-V Wins AutoPacific 2007 Ideal Vehicle Award for Mid-Size Crossover SUV:

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CR-V.png

The Honda CR-V is one of only two vehicles that have won all three AutoPacific awards in 2007 – the Ideal Vehicle Award, the Vehicle Satisfaction Award and the Motorist Choice Award with IntelliChoice. This is an extremely rare occurrence. Honda CR-V buyers like their exterior size, passenger room, cargo room, and level of technology. Some owners would prefer more visibility, and some CR-V owners would prefer more power and acceleration, but overall, CR-V is an Ideal, satisfying Mid-Size Crossover SUV that meets the requirements of the buyer.


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Nissan Rogue Adds to Crossover Count

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The Nissan Rogue is a small Crossover SUV derived from the Nissan/Renault global C-Class platform – i.e. Nissan Sentra, Nissan Qashqai, Renault Megane. VehicleVoice was given the chance to drive several Rogues in the desert East of San Diego. Here’s the scoop.

Nissan Rogue F34.jpg

Justification for Rogue – It Was Easy to Do
The 4-cylinder-only Rogue begs the question, “Why?” Did Nissan feel they HAD TO add a small Crossover SUV to their lineup to compete with the Honda CR-V? Yes. Is there anything particularly intriguing about Rogue? No. It is another is a plethora of conveniently sized, pleasant to drive, reasonably priced small wagons available with all wheel drive. So, I guess it is OK to call it a “Crossover SUV” because definitions in the segment are very broad.
Rogue’s styling does not turn heads. Its target market is the same one as all the other small wagons – married male in early 30s just starting a family and needing more utility than his previous sporty coupe (or more likely Chevrolet Silverado or Dodge Ram full size pickup) gave him. Not that we are down on the Rogue. It’s just that it doesn’t answer questions much differently from any other small Crossover SUV.
Nissan Rogue Dominick.jpg

Nissan North America Vice President of Product Planning, Larry Dominique, gives walkaround of new Rogue in San Diego

Conclusion: Nissan had a competent, flexible global platform that could be efficiently stretched from a sedan (Sentra) to a small Crossover. It couldn’t carry a V6, but that’s OK because the class leading Honda CR-V doesn’t have a V6 either. So here we have a low cost program, assembled in Kyushu, Japan that can fill a niche in the broad Nissan lineup.


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Honda CR-V Wins AutoPacific 2007 Vehicle Satisfaction Award for Mid-Size Crossover SUV

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Honda CR-V Wins AutoPacific 2007 Vehicle Satisfaction Award for Mid-Size Crossover SUV:
“The all-new Honda CR-V is a segment winner primarily based on Overall Quality and Overall Satisfaction. While there few attributes where the CR-V soundly beat the segment average, (Brand Reputation was very strong) there were no areas where the CR-V was rated below average. They won by making the fewest mistakes! A defensive strategy, but it works! The fact that the CR-V is the only Crossover SUV in its class without a V6 engine available apparently did not hurt its performance much,” says AutoPacific president George Peterson.


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2008 Nissan Rogue – 4-Cylinder Wimp-Roader?

Nissan’s introduction of its 2008 Rogue Crossover SUV at the North American International Auto Show launches a Nissan competitor to the Toyota RAV4, Honda CR-V, Subaru Forester and Mitsubishi Outlander. Rogue’s styling, while “pleasant”, is too milquetoast for even a small Crossover SUV in the first decade of the 21st Century.

Nissan Rogue F78.jpg

VehicleVoice and AutoPacific staffers were given a download on Rogue at the Los Angeles Auto Show in November, but couldn’t really report on it until now. The Rogue is clearly derived from the European Nissan Quashqai.
Rogue’s Styling Does Not Communicate Tough, Rugged Bad-Boy. It’s a Chick’s SUV
With Toyota, Honda and Mitsubishi adopting much stronger design themes for their small SUVs, Nissan launches a smoothly tailored wagon designed to be inoffensive to anybody. There is nothing intimidating or in-your-face about the Rogue. In fact the most intimidating aspect may be its name.
Nissan perceives that Rogue will communicate a “bad-boy” image that will appeal to young males, but we see only a girly SUV… nothing macho about its looks. So, Rogue will go the way of the many other soft-roaders and be bought by women of all ages. Rogue certainly is not a Crossover Xterra. It looks like a wimp-roader.
Crossover SUVs outsold traditional SUVs for the first time in 2006. Nissan has been behind the curve in getting into the Crossover SUV business relying instead on its traditional entries – Xterra, Pathfinder, Armada. The closest Crossover SUV in Nissan’s stable is the Murano (a winner of AutoPacific’s Vehicle Satisfaction Award) and the Infiniti FX (no, the Murano and FX are not similar – Murano is based on a front wheel drive car platform – FX is based on a rear wheel drive platform). So, Rogue gives the Nissan brand something below Murano to compete with the smaller Crossover SUVs.


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