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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.


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 [...]

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 [...]

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 [...]

Chevrolet Receives Most Brand Wins, Sweeps Pickup Segments; Tesla Returns to the Top

Automotive research and consulting firm AutoPacific, Inc. today announced the 2018 Ideal Vehicle Awards (IVA), recognizing vehicles that best meet owners’ expectations for the product. The 2018 awards are based on responses from more than 58,000 owners of new vehicles across all major manufacturers.

Based solely on owner input, AutoPacific IVAs measure the fusion between owner expectations and reality.  “IVA’s speak to a vehicle’s layout and design,” says AutoPacific president George Peterson. “Giving owners a chance to tell us what they would change and how they would change it reveals which vehicles are designed to meet their needs and expectations. In other words, having owners who are happy with things the way they are says the manufacturer did their upfront research and [...]

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 [...]

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 [...]

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 [...]

The results of AutoPacific's 22nd annual Vehicle Satisfaction Awards (VSAs) identify the most satisfying vehicles in the market. An industry benchmark for measuring how satisfied an owner is with his/her new vehicle, VSAs are based on survey responses from over 58,000 owners of new 2017 and 2018 cars and light trucks.

The all new 2018 Hyundai Kona small crossover SUV (XSUV) has just been shown to the press in an event held, wait for it, on the Kona Coast of The Big Island of Hawaii.  There were 23 or 24 Konas on hand for the journalists to drive around the island.  So, this was a pretty big event for Hyundai Motor America (HMA).

In AutoPacific’s 2017 Small XSUV Consultancy, 38 XSUVs with a wheelbase of 110-inches or less are included.  There were enough data to do complete analyses on that many individual vehicles.  There are an additional seven all new small XSUVs on sale now but too new to have been included in the AutoPacific database.  That makes 45 entries in the small XSUV category.  Now comes the 2018 Hyundai Kona wading into the fray.2018 Hyundai Kona F34 View

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