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First Look: 2017 Buick Encore

Utes expected to make up ¾ of Buick sales.

by on Mar.22, 2016

The 2017 Buick Encore makes its NY debut.

Buick is set to give a new face and more to the best-selling model in it line-up. And if the 2017 Buick Encore only does as well as the current model, General Motors’ “premium” brand is betting that crossovers will soon account for as much as three-quarters of its U.S. sales.

First launched in 2013, the Encore is not only the number one model in the Buick line-up but the leader in its market segment, a key reason why the brand has so much riding on the debut of the 2017 update at the New York International Auto Show this week.

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“The Buick Encore created the premium small SUV segment and remains the top choice for customers seeking premium features and dependability coupled with timeless design,” said Duncan Aldred, vice president of Buick Sales, Service and Marketing.

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Chinese Buick Could Be Precursor for GM’s Reentry in U.S. Minivan Market

GM will launch new GL8 minivan on Nov. 28.

by on Nov.10, 2010

General Motors will launch the Buick GL8 for the Chinese market on Nov. 28. Could it eventually make its way to the U.S.?

Maybe General Motors’ minivans aren’t extinct. They still live in China and are about to get a makeover. Could GM also be planning a reintroduction of the boxy people movers in the U.S.?

GM isn’t talking about U.S. plans for GL8 minivan, which it continued to offer in China, even after it stopped building them for the American market in 2008.

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GM offered just two paragraphs about its planned Nov. 28 introduction of the next-generation GL8, but it’s the pictures that tell the story.

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Sneak Peak: Mitsubishi Outlander GT Prototype

When does a crossover morph back into a station wagon?

by on Apr.10, 2009

“The grille is for somebody who wants a little more attitude and not a silly wide mouthed grin.”

“The grille is for somebody who wants a little more attitude and not a silly, wide-mouthed grin.”

When the next version of the Outlander crossover vehicle arrives it will have more performance, higher fuel economy and a new exterior design that in my view moves it back towards a tall station wagon look. The styling of the prototype unveiled at the New York International Auto Show was billed as an “aggressive” new design inspired by Mitsubishi’s own Lancer family of automotive products. It is also the latest attempt by Mitsubishi to sharpen its image after a decade of confusion.

Mitsubishi says that its designers sought to create a “dynamic and athletic presence by utilizing new materials and a wider stance.” A “jet fighter” look grille, from the Lancer Evolution model, is added to introduce the reshaped front bumper, side mirrors, fenders and hood. One happy byproduct of the new body style is a reduction in the coefficient of drag. Revised Bi-Xenon High Intensity Discharge headlamps also lend a different appearance.          

The fully polished aluminum roof is, for once, a real touch. It is actually painted over on all existing Outlander models. The use of the lightweight material is an attempt by Mitsubishi to reduce the tolling tendencies of the high center of gravity that SUVs, CUVs or tall station wagons all exhibit — no matter what you call them. Fortunately, electronic controls are now in extensive use throughout the industry to stop this potentially life-taking phenomenon.

In Mitsubishi’s current search for identity, marketing executives think that by emphasizing its off-road and rally racing background, and promoting all-wheel-drive sophistication that enough buyers will show up to keep its 420 dealers in business. Slightly lower, and employing a shorter and stiffer suspension than the current production Outlander, the GT Prototype has a racing look with its 19-inch OZ Racing wheels and large Brembo brakes.

And it’s not surprising that the four-wheel drive system is called, S-AWC or “super all wheel control,” with claims of increased handling, traction and stability, (against unspecified competitors) while still maintaining “maximum” fuel economy. With a limited-slip differential and an electronically-controlled four-wheel-drive coupling, S-AWC can prevent wheel slip between front-to-rear and side-to-side to enhance tire grip. Three selectable S-AWC modes are available on the Outlander GT Prototype, including Normal,  Snow, and Traction. (more…)

First Drive: 2010 Lexus RX350 and RX450h

Making it tough or tougher for the competition.

by on Feb.20, 2009

The 2010 RX350 - 3rd generation luxury crossover.

The 2010 RX350 - 3rd generation luxury crossover.

It’s a rare occurrence, but every so often, an automaker introduces something unique and exciting, a product that creates a niche of its own in an otherwise crowded market. Ford’s Model T was one, of course, as was that automaker’s Mustang, which followed decades later. Chrysler hit a home run with its minivans.

In 1998, Lexus weighed in with the all-new RX300, which boasted the functionality of a minivan, the go-anywhere cache of an SUV and the comfortable ride and fuel economy of a sedan-like crossover. Adding the quietness, luxury features and reliability that Lexus was already known for, the RX was an instant success, quickly becoming the Japanese marque’s top-selling product line.

The second-generation RX330, which followed in 2005, delivered more of what customers craved, including an optional gasoline-electric powertrain – making it the world’s first luxury hybrid. Together, the two versions nudged RX sales to an all-time record of more than 100,000 in 2007.

Can Lexus three-peat with the third-generation RX350, and its companion hybrid, the RX450h? The new offerings certainly looked good, when we got our first look at last year’s Los Angeles Auto Show. The 2010 crossover is the most sophisticated and attractive version we’ve yet seen, and as we’ve come to expect from Lexus, it was loaded with an array of upscale and high-tech features, from the all-new, leather and wood-clad interior to the Remote Touch controller, a mouse-like device that easily operates systems such as the Navigation computer and audio.

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First Drive: Volvo XC60

Forget the box.

by on Feb.03, 2009

2010 Volvo XC60: where's the box?

2010 Volvo XC60: where's the box?

Let’s play a game of word association. We’ll say the name of a brand, and you respond with the first word that comes into your head. Ready? Volvo…

If you said “boxy,” you’re not alone. That’s the classic shape most of us have grown up knowing. And it’s why a lot of people are likely to be confused by the pictures they’re seeing of the new Volvo XC60. It’s a sleek and sexy crossover that’s about as far as you can imagine from the staid Swedish wagons we’ve seen on the road in years past. Maybe that’s why Volvo designers decided to bolt an oversized brand badge on the grille.

Will diehards may be a bit disappointed by this dynamic new look, Volvo is betting on the XC60 to draw in a whole host of new buyers who’d normally drive past the company’s showrooms. And if our first drive of the new crossover is any indication, they just might be able to grab some of the folks who’d normally opt for more passionate brands, like BMW, with its compact X5, Audi, with the new Q5, Acura, with its RDX, or Volkswagen, with the oddly-named Tiguan.

The big grille, with that oversized Volvo logo, is flanked by a pair of upright daytime running lights, and sweeping headlamps that roll off into the fenders. The broad shoulders are familiar touches, found on a number of recent Volvo production models and concept vehicles, but the XC60 adds a cinched and sexy waistline. The roof is almost coupe-like, though it still provides a reasonable amount of headroom for rear seat passengers. The rear view might be the most familiar angle, distinctly Volvo with those broad shoulders and narrowed rear hatch.

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