With the 2010MY, it could be said that Cadillac launched their first real modern crossover SUV. The 2004-09MY SRX was not without its charm, but it always felt more like a big wagon than SUV, with its length, stiff sides, and flat roof. Today’s SRX, previewed by the cleverly named 2008 Provoq concept, brings style and elegance to the formula, evolving and warming the Cadillac design themes.
Our first drive in a 2010 Cadillac SRX came this winter, in a nice, snow white (actually Platinum Ice Tricoat, a color worth its $995 premium) exterior. The interior, a two-tone shale with brownstone, was warm and inviting. Our $47,010 test car, being a Premium FWD model, took navigation as standard, including the 40GB hard drive, Bluetooth phone, rearview camera, Ultraview extra-long sunroof, autosense windshield wipers, intelligent key, and heated rear as well as front seats; the only options were the paint color and a $1295 rear-seat entertainment system. The Premium model makes my favorite, gotta-have features standard, appropriate for Cadillac and easier than sorting through a series of bundles and packages to get the right mix of content.
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. The all-new Lincoln MKX wins as the Most Ideal Luxury Crossover SUV. MKX is highly rated for exterior style, passenger room, visibility, and level of technology. In fact MKX owners are more likely than segment average buyers to prefer the same level for all attributes tested except for power and acceleration (where they want more, of course).
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.
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.
Lincoln MKX Wins AutoPacific 2007 Vehicle Satisfaction Award for Luxury Crossover SUV:
“A new entry in a new segment, the Lincoln MKX scored well. Very well. It fact it was the highest scoring truck in the industry,” says AutoPacific president George Peterson. “MKX strengths include high ratings for Value, a Flexible/Changeable Interior, Vehicle and Audio Controls, Cupholders, Wheels/Tire Size and Appearance, and Quietness. The Dealership Experience also received a high rating. Looks like a good start for the new Lincoln Crossover. The Ford Division companion Crossover SUV to the Lincoln MKX also won its class. Clearly, Ford successfully designed for their target buyers”.
AutoPacific has announced the results of its 2007 model year vehicle satisfaction research. AutoPacific’s Vehicle Satisfaction Award (VSA) is an industry benchmark for objectively measuring how satisfied an owner is with their new car or light truck.
The top ranked brand this year is Infiniti, winner of a close shoot-out between Infiniti, Lincoln, Cadillac and Lexus. The top ranked vehicle and top ranked car is the Cadillac DTS. The top ranked truck is the all-new Lincoln MKX. The Ford Edge also won its category giving Ford’s new Crossover SUVs an impressive outing.
Of twenty-eight vehicles receiving awards (there were three ties among our twenty-five categories), twelve were new this year. Of thirteen car winners three were from Detroit Three brands, seven were Japanese or Korean, three were European. Of the fifteen truck winners, seven were from the Detroit Three and the remaining eight were from Japanese or Korean marques.
GM and Toyota won six awards apiece. Ford Motor Company won five. Hyundai and Nissan won three apiece and Honda won two. No vehicle from DaimlerChrysler (Mercedes-Benz and Chrysler Group) was ranked at the top of a category.
AutoPacific’s Vehicle Satisfaction measurement is more valid than counting things gone wrong. How well a buyer is satisfied with the vehicle is the true test of how the product has been designed, engineered and manufactured. Often times, the most satisfying vehicle is the one with the most personality, not the one that is screwed together the best.
“Infiniti wins the Vehicle Satisfaction Award as the top brand in the closest race in years. Strong satisfaction performance by Infiniti cars and trucks has Infiniti winning over strong performances by Lincoln, Cadillac, Lexus and other luxury marques,” says AutoPacific president George Peterson. “The dual wins by Ford Motor Company’s new Crossover SUVs – the Lincoln MKX and Ford Edge – shows Ford was on target when developing these important new vehicles.”
Peterson continues, “The Cadillac DTS is the highest rated car and vehicle overall. The Hyundai Santa Fe was the first Korean vehicle to win AutoPacific’s Vehicle Satisfaction Award – in 2001 – and continues its strong performance for the sixth year in a row. Winning an AutoPacific VSA is testament for any vehicle that their owners are confident they have made the right choice.”
2007 Vehicle Satisfaction Award Winners
Premium Luxury Car: Lexus LS/BMW 7-Series
Aspirational Luxury Car: Jaguar X-Type
Large Luxury Car: Cadillac DTS
Large Car: Hyundai Azera/Toyota Avalon
Luxury Mid-Size Car: Nissan Maxima
Premium Mid-Size Car: Nissan Altima
Mid-Size Car: Saturn Aura
Image Compact Car: Audi A3
Compact Car: Pontiac G5
Economy Car: Honda Fit
Premium Sports Car: Lexus SC
Sports Car: Porsche Boxster
Sporty Car: Scion tC
Large Light-Duty Pickup: Chevrolet Silverado
Large Heavy-Duty Pickup: Chevrolet Silverado HD
Compact Pickup: Ford Explorer Sport Trac
Luxury Sport Utility: Lincoln Navigator
Large Sport Utility: GMC Yukon XL
Mid-Size Sport Utility: Toyota 4Runner
Compact SUV/Off-Road Vehicle: Toyota FJ Cruiser
Luxury Crossover SUV: Lincoln MKX
Premium Mid-Size Crossover SUV: Ford Edge/Hyundai Santa Fe
Mid-Size Crossover SUV: Honda CR-V
Compact Crossover SUV: Hyundai Tucson
Minivan : Nissan Quest
In addition to identifying category winners, VSA also establishes numerical satisfaction ratings for virtually every passenger car and light truck in the North American market. Owner satisfaction is measured across 46 specific areas related to a vehicle’s operation, comfort, safety and the overall purchase/lease experience. The 2007 ratings reflect input from buyers and lessees of new vehicles acquired September through December 2006.
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When VehicleVoice correspondent David Barrett and AutoPacific’s Dan Hall take a walk through a major auto show, don’t expect to see them anytime soon. They can talk each other hoarse about cars, and they never get tired of looking at the latest the industry has to offer.
At the North American International Auto Show in Detroit earlier this winter, Dan and David spent some time in the Lincoln booth trying to make sense of all the MK-ness everywhere. They checked out Lincoln’s version of the Ford Edge, called the MKX, a crossover with some nice Lincoln styling and a hot concept on the show floor called the MKR. The MKR is a big, powerful American sedan, and David and Dan were in a crowd of admirers. Was it the 415 horsepower, twin-turbocharged V6 or the over-the-top styling?
In the Chevy booth, David and Dan reminisced about their high school days when they stepped in front of the new Camaro Convertible Concept. Seems both of them are surprised they’re alive today after their exposure to the original Camaro. The new version promises to be the stuff of legends as well.
New Vehicles and Concepts -
2007 Lincoln MKX
Lincoln MKR Concept
Chevy Camaro Convertible Concept
Show Runtime – 11:48
For a dyed-in-the-wool cynic, it’d be easy to dismiss the Lincoln MKX as little more than a tarted up Ford Edge. MKX could be another case of a redressed everyman’s car devised by sinister marketing types to pick the pockets of the gullible wealthy. Sure it uses the same platform, drivetrain, chassis bits and much of the sheetmetal with the more affordably priced, er, Ford. But this kind of misanthropic thinking sells the premium-badged vehicle short in many ways. Frankly, AutoPacific and VehicleVoice correspondents were suitably impressed by the MKX and how different it was from the Edge.
For starters, Lincolns spun off high-volume Ford products have been the norm rather than the exception over the luxury nameplate’s 85 years of Ford ownership. After a calamitous attempt at building overweight Mercury and Lincoln vehicles off a common platform in 1949, both brands pretty much fell into lockstep with the lowly Ford. Other than a couple of other unsuccessful tries to build stand-alone Lincolns in mid-fifties for a decade or so, common sense (and rising development costs) meant Lincolns would have to be derived from higher volume platforms.
After disseminating Motorist’s Choice Awards (an AutoPacific and IntelliChoice award recognizing the most satisfying and highest value vehicles) to MCA winners it was time to preview vehicles showcased at the 2007-Model Orange County Auto Show. There were some vehicles you’d want to take home, a few you’d keep covered in the garage and others you’d never let onto your driveway.
Subaru WRX STI
Starting at Subaru, the WRX STI is still a favorite among enthusiasts. For those turbocharged, intercooled, Rally Car junkies who need more than an over-the-counter Impreza, the 300 horsepower, 300 lb. Ft. of torque, WRX STI comes as more of a prescription or antidote to the common car.
Remember the Trans Am Mustangs? Parnelli Jones and George Follmer vs. Mark Donohue
Winding our way through the course we came across the new Mustangs; including the GT500 and Boss 302. I kept looking around for a dark blue Sunoco Camaro and Mark Donohue out in front of the Mustard Yellow Boss 302, reminiscent of the TransAm Series in the late 60’s and early 70’s, but to no avail (maybe 2009?). Of course, then we’d need Parnelli Jones and George Follmer to compete.
Those retro Ford Mustangs may be galloping along through open pastures at the moment but it won’t be too long before we see the Mustang archrivals of yesteryear saddling up for another canter through the meadow. Built off of the Chrysler 300M platform and coated in ‘HEMI’ Orange paint (now called Orange Pearl-Thanks Daimler) the ‘muscle car’ that may beat the Chevrolet Camaro to showrooms is the Dodge Challenger. Fitted with a 6.1 Liter HEMI engine, pumping out 425 horses, the American Muscle Car era will be back in full swing. That is, until fuel prices neuter the craze once again.
Lincoln MKX – Em Kay Ex
For those seeking a little bit more estrogen, front wheel or all-wheel-drive, and a lot more utility, Lincoln was showing off their all-new MKX. The MKX is an upscale Ford Edge with fascia that has been likened to an integral bug catcher. It utilizes the Ford CD3 car platform, shared with the Zephyr (MKZ), Milan and Fusion. Before its introduction and after some entanglements with Honda, regarding the Acura MDX, it was called a “Mark-Ex”, but now we’re back to “Em-Kay-Ex”. This spawned Lincoln’s current promotional campaign where new owners receive a can of alphabet soup and a Speak & Spell with every new vehicle.
Lincoln will probably sell quite a few MKX’s but it seems like they’re just catching up to the competition. It’s an SUV built off of a car platform. This type of crossover SUV, like the Lexus RX (built off of the Camry) was being produced almost a decade ago. Does it take a disappointment like the Lincoln Aviator and nearly ten years for action to be taken?
The 2007 Lincoln Navigator was also on display. It carried a front grill fashioned in a similar style, but what was even more interesting was the 1970’s Ford Country Squire instrument cluster they’ve wired up into the new Navigator’s dash.
Other Fresh New Entries at The OC Auto Show
After playing the name game over at Lincoln it was off to visit other new arrivals like the GMC Acadia (pictured above), Audi Q7, Mitsubishi Outlander, and Toyota Tundra. The GMC Acadia is a Crossover SUV offering built off of the Lambda platform. It will share much of it’s sheet metal with the Saturn Outlook but will flaunt some more professional grade features like exterior rear view mirrors with integrated turn signals and an interior that flaunts brushed aluminum rather than wood. But both the Saturn Outlook and GMC Acadia have the ‘Smart Slide Feature’ where the second row seats can move fore and aft or collapsed with one hand. This makes getting into the third row seat really easy, not to mention that a full-size human can fit into the third row with decent headroom.
Even though Audi recently decided to increase production of the Q7 from 200 to 300 units a day they just anounced that it will be cutting back on Q7 shipments to the US (from 50% to 30%). Built in Bratislava, Slovakia they are selling much better in Europe than the U.S., which I found surprising given their size. However, with the importation issue, rising fuel costs and the weak dollar the future of the Q7 remains uncertain.
The all-new Outlander is said to be superior to the first generation. Larger and more powerful, it is to both ride and handle better as it sits on the next-generation Lancer platform.
After backing Ford, GM, and Dodge into a perverbial corner (read: Full-size truck market) Toyota is going in for the knock-out. The full-size truck market seemed to be a safe haven for Ford, GM, and Dodge, with loyal, even patriotic buyers, and very little competition. The Nissan Titan took a stab at it, but it might just be the Toyota Tundra that’s grown up, built the muscle, and secured the towing capacity (over 10,000 lbs.) to really take on the competition. However, the full-size truck market is fickle and the dynamic in this segment is different than any other. It will be interesting to find out how the new Tundra sits with full-size truck owners. It will really be those consumers who decide the Tundra’s fate.
Ford has all but guaranteed the demise of its luxury Lincoln brand through a series of strategy, marketing and product blunders not recently seen in the American car industry. In effect, Ford has forced Lincoln’s suicide. While we would like to write the epitaph now, Lincoln’s death seems like a long, slow, painful trauma that will provide fodder for the business press for the next decade. VehicleVoice counts the various ways Lincoln has been killing itself over the past couple of years.
Lincoln Shoots Itself in the Stomach by Cancelling V8 engine on 2009 Lincoln MKS (pronounced Em Kay Ess, not Mark S): This guarantees Lincoln will no longer be a luxury brand but a premium brand like Acura or Buick. Maybe the MKS will be an OK car, but with AWD and only a 260-plus horsepower V6 it can, at best, be an “almost-Acura-RL” which is off-concept at best. Even rumors of a range topping Twin-Turbo V6 with well over 300 horsepower will not offset the lack of the needed V8.
Lincoln Shoots Itself in the Shoulder by Cancelling the Lincoln Town Car: The Lincoln Town Car has not pretended to be at the top of the luxury car heap for decades, but with few improvements over the years, Town Car devolved into the Executive Car loved by livery buyers. Few Town Car sales were for personal use. So Ford allowed the Town Car to deteriorate from any Luxury Car pretenses it may have had, and become a luxurious black taxi driven by cabbies with ties. Just think what Ford could have achieved if they had implemented a major major change on the rear wheel drive Panther platform. New Town Car, New Grand Marquis, New Crown Vic… all built in Canada. Now, put in the 300HP 4.6L V8 and you could have a something to talk about