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Posts Tagged ‘compact crossovers’

Big Things in Small Packages: Americans Falling for Pint-Sized SUVs

Demand for B-segment crossovers expected to triple in 2015.

by on May.05, 2015

The compact crossover is quickly becoming one of the world's fastest-growing market segment.

When it comes to cars, Americans have traditionally thought that bigger is better. Yet, Honda is betting big on the smallest entry in its expanding SUV line-up. The new 2016 HR-V shares the same underlying platform as the Japanese maker’s subcompact Fit hatchback, and it’s expected to serve as “a gateway to our line-up,” says Jeff Conrad, the general manager of the Honda brand.

But Honda is by no means alone. What was once a modest niche is rapidly becoming one of the market’s hottest segments. It’s hard to find a single major manufacturer that doesn’t have a small utility vehicle in its showrooms, or at least one on the way.

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Sales are expected to nearly triple this year, to around 236,000, forecasts Stephanie Brinley, a lead analyst with IHS Automotive, in large part because automakers have been able to supply both the chicken and the egg.

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First Drive: 2015 Lincoln MKC

A new look and feel from an old brand.

by on Jun.11, 2014

The 2015 Lincoln MKC is more than just a new compact crossover, it shows that Lincoln actually can challenge key competitors like Acura and Audi.

There was a time when change in the luxury market came at an almost glacial pace. No longer. Old models are being refreshed at an ever-quicker pace, while all-new products are coming to market so quickly it’s difficult to keep up – and they’re filling “white spaces” you might never have even considered before..

Consider Mercedes-Benz, which recently revealed plans to roll out 30 new or completely updated products by decade’s end, about one per quarter. BMW and Audi aren’t far behind. Now, compare that to Lincoln which has promised to add just four products to its line-up between the end of 2012 and 2016 – five, if you count the minimal revisions coming to the big Navigator SUV.

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No wonder many observers – and upscale buyers – have written off Ford Motor Co.’s luxury brand. Once rivaling Cadillac for dominance, it is today given barely an afterthought. But Lincoln fans shouldn’t abandon all hope, not just yet. After spending a day logging several hundred miles behind the wheel of the new 2015 Lincoln MKC we have to pause and reconsider. If this compact crossover is any indication, there just might be some life left in this long-struggling Detroit brand.

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High Hopes and Global Ambitions for New Lincoln MKC

New crossover could soon become brand's best-seller.

by on Jun.06, 2014

The 2015 Lincoln MKC is one of the lowest-priced models in its rapidly expanding segment.

No, the “C” doesn’t stand for “China,” but it might as well.

Lincoln has a lot riding on the upcoming launch of its new MKC crossover, the latest in a series of all-new models intended to help revive the long-struggling luxury brand. With sales of compact CUVs booming, in fact, the new MKC could soon become Lincoln’s top seller, company officials noted during a media drive in Santa Barbara, California.

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But preliminary orders for the compact crossover are already exceeding initial expectations in China, a market that could be the make-it-or-break-it for Lincoln’s long-term turnaround.

“The (compact CUV) segment remains on fire here, as well as globally,” said Matt Vandyke, the director of Lincoln’s worldwide expansion plans.

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Audi Unveils New Q3 Compact Crossover

New Audi coupe crossover concept also set to debut in Detroit.

by on Jan.09, 2014

Audi enters the fast-growing compact crossover segment with the debut of the new Q3.

German maker Audi recently announced plans to invest $30 billion in a chase for luxury segment leadership, a move that will see it boost its current model count from 49 to 60 by 2020.  The Volkswagen AG subsidiary isn’t waiting to get there, however, and plans to reveal not only an all-new compact crossover at the North American International Auto Show in Detroit next week, but to also give us a hint at another CUV in the works.

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The newest addition to the line-up is the Audi Q3 which will take the maker’s current line of crossover-utes, the Q5 and Q7, a step down-market. It’s a logical addition considering the compact CUV segment is expected to be one of the hottest global market niches for much of the rest of the decade.

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Lincoln Hopes to Undercut Competition with $34,000 MKC

Ford luxury brand makes foray into fast-growing compact CUV segment.

by on Dec.17, 2013

The 2015 Lincoln MKC is expected to become the lowest-priced model in its rapidly expanding segment.

Lincoln hopes to undercut its competition in the increasingly crowded compact luxury crossover segment – but whether a price tag starting below $34,000 will help it gain traction against offerings from makers like BMW, Acura and Audi remains to be seen.

The Lincoln MKC is the second of four all-new models the Ford Motor Co. luxury brand has announced – with still more products under development – as part of its attempted revival. It follows the debut of the MKZ luxury sedan. But the 2015 MKC provides a significant opportunity for Lincoln to position itself in what many industry observers expect to become one of the market’s fastest-growing segments over the rest of the decade.

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“As the newest entrant in small premium utility, which is the fastest-growing luxury segment, we have to offer our clients a fresh and compelling proposition,” said Matt VanDyke, director of Global Lincoln. “The Lincoln MKC offers the lowest base entry price in the segment as well as a host of first-to-segment features.”

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Compact Crossovers Commanding Big Car Prices

Pushing $110,000 with the new Porsche Macan.

by on Nov.25, 2013

Porsche reveals the new Macan at the LA Auto Show.

American motorists have long lived by the mantra, “bigger is better.” And that’s been fine for automakers, as well, as they’ve traditionally tied prices – and profit margins – to the size of the vehicles they’ve sold.

But with the steady run-up in fuel prices, Americans are downsizing at a pace not seen since the twin oil shocks of the 1970s.  Indeed, compact crossovers have become the fastest-growing segment in the U.S. market – echoing trends in other key markets around the world.  And while you can still get a reasonably good bargain on some of these smaller, mainstream CUVs, the industry has been fracturing the traditional equation that measures price by the pound and inch.

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That’s especially true in the luxury end of the spectrum where manufacturers are charging into the compact crossover segment.  Just last week, Lincoln and Porsche entered the fray at the L.A. Auto Show.

Porsche has had a history of challenging conventional wisdom.  It proved naysayers wrong when it launched its first crossover-utility vehicle for the 2004 model-year, then did it again with the four-door Panamera – today, the brand’s best-selling models.  Now, it’s hoping to score again with what’s been called the “baby Cayenne,” the compact Macan.

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First Drive: 2014 Nissan Rogue

Affordable, stylish, comfortable.

by on Nov.01, 2013

Nissan strives for segment design leadership with the launch of the 2014 Rogue.

Compact crossovers have become one of the U.S. market’s hottest segments right now. And as sales surge, a growing number of manufacturers are competing for buyers attention with new or restyled offerings.  Over the last year or so we’ve seen major remakes of the Toyota RAV4, the Honda CRV and the Ford Escape, to name a few.

Now, Nissan is weighing in with a redesigned version of the Rogue targeting a broad cross section of consumers, from older, empty nesters to young buyers just starting families.

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The second-largest Japanese maker is taking an unusual approach, however, launching a new 2014 Nissan Rogue while maintaining the old model as the budget-priced Nissan Rogue Select. Whether that strategy will work remains to be seen, especially if Nissan hopes to get buyers to shell out the several thousand additional dollars it takes to get into the newer model.

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Nissan to Offer Both Old, New Versions of Rogue

“Rogue Select” to remain through 2014, possibly 2015.

by on Oct.31, 2013

The new 2014 version of the Rogue - which is now Nissan's second most popular model.

Nissan is planning to sell two different versions of the Nissan Rogue by offering both a new model and the old version of the popular crossover vehicle which competes directly with products such as the Honda CRV and the Ford Escape.

The completely redesigned 2014 Rogue, which is being built at Nissan’s big assembly complex in Smyrna, Tenn. will begin reaching U.S. showrooms starting in mid-November.

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Since it was first introduced for the 2008 model-year, the Rogue has become Nissan’s second most popular vehicle after the Altima by addressing the functional and emotional needs of the buyers, according to Pierre Loing, Nissan vice president of product development, while offering great value.

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Compact Luxury Cars Could be the Next Big Thing

Mercedes, BMW, Audi and other high-line brands move mainstream.

by on Oct.02, 2013

The new 2014 CLA 250 takes Mercedes-Benz into a segment where competitors include Ford's upscale Fusion Titanium editions.

While the all-new 2014 S-Class sedan might serve as the “flagship” of the Mercedes-Benz line-up, the German luxury maker’s big news this coming year is actually its smallest offering, the new CLA.

At first glance, it’s easy to confuse the coupe-like sedan with the older Mercedes CLS model, something that was far from coincidental, company officials concede.  But there’s no confusing the numbers on the Munroney window sticker, the compact CLA starting at just $29,990 – compared with the $73,025 base price of the bigger four-door.

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With the launch of the CLA, Mercedes is going after a new generation of luxury buyers that it hopes will become long-term brand loyalists. But the German maker isn’t alone.  Virtually every manufacturer in the luxury car segment, from BMW to Volvo, is rushing to market downsized and lower-priced luxury models, whether sedan, coupe or crossover.  And that could be particularly bad news for mainstream manufacturers like Ford Motor Co. who have themselves been pushing upwards into the luxury segment.

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Compact Crossovers Becoming a Full-Size Market Segment

Small CUVs rapidly gain traction with mainstream, luxury buyers alike.

by on Sep.26, 2013

The Lexus LF-NX may have been the single most controversial vehicle to debut in Frankfurt this year.

It created quite a buzz – and more than a bit of controversy – when Lexus officials lifted the covers off the angular LF-NX concept vehicle during the Frankfurt Motor Show earlier this month. But while the edgy look is a subject of hot debate among industry insiders and potential buyers alike, there’s one thing everyone seems to agree on: Lexus, like its competitors, critically needs to add a compact crossover to its line-up.

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And the maker isn’t alone.  In fact, an assortment of production models and compact crossover concept vehicles shared the stage during this year’s Frankfurt Motor Show, and even more are expected to make their debut in the months ahead as brands as diverse as Infiniti, Lincoln, Cadillac and even Jaguar enter the fray.

“We’re all reading the same tea leaves,” suggests Mark Templin, the new global chief executive for Lexus, Toyota Motor Co.’s luxury brand.

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