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Honda CR-V Nabs SUV of the Year Honor

Motor Trend picks small SUV over Macan, X4 and others.

by on Oct.15, 2014

Honda's CR-V captured its second award of the year: Motor Trend's SUV of the Year. It was also named Compact Crossover of the Year by Texas autowriters.

As the leaves on the trees change color it means the new season is upon us: automotive vehicle award season, that is, and Motor Trend kicked it off by declaring the 2015 Honda CR-V is SUV of the Year.

The choice is somewhat surprising given the competition included: the Porsche Macan, Cadillac Escalade, Chevrolet Tahoe and Suburban, Ford Expedition, GMC Yukon and Yukon XL, Lincoln MKC, Nissan Rogue, Lexus NX, Mercedes-Benz GLA, Volvo XC60 Subaru Outback and BMW X4 and X5.

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“Some years, a vehicle wins our calipers almost unanimously,” wrote Frank Markus, Motor Trend’s technical editor, in the story about the winning CR-V. “This year our jury entered the final discussion split almost down the middle.” (more…)

Mercedes Hopes GLA Will Tap into Booming Compact Crossover Market

German maker with find plenty of competition in segment.

by on Sep.29, 2014

Mercedes expects the new GLA to duplicate the success of its CLA sedan, which is a hot seller.

Barely a year after launching its new CLA coupe-like sedan, Mercedes-Benz has sold more than 30,000 to U.S. buyers and, the maker claims, probably would be doing twice that volume if it could get more from its new factory in Hungary.

No wonder the maker’s senior executives are positively jumping for joy as the even newer Mercedes-Benz GLA heads for U.S. showrooms. “The segment is potentially three times as large,” suggested communications chief Rob Moran, during a media drive of the new crossover-utility vehicle in Vermont.

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Crossovers are already beginning to outsell conventional sedans in the U.S. market, and most analysts anticipate the same thing is about to happen in the compact luxury segment. That’s spurring a flood of new offerings, the GLA just one of the latest to join such alternatives as the BMW X1. (more…)

First Drive: 2015 Mercedes-Benz GLA

Compact crossover among best in crowded segment.

by on Sep.29, 2014

The new GLA is the fifth - and smallest - crossover/ute in the Mercedes family.

What a difference one little letter can make. In many ways, the new Mercedes-Benz CLA and GLA models are a lot alike, starting out with the German maker’s basic small car platform. But there are also a surprising number of ways the two models diverge.

The CLA is the compact, coupe-like sedan that Mercedes launched last year, quickly becoming one of the maker’s most successful products ever, demand so far well exceeding supply. The new Mercedes-Benz GLA adopts a more hatchback-style crossover body style that targets an even larger segment of the luxury market.

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But the differences are even more substantial, as we learned during several days of driving the new GLA through northern Vermont just as the leaves began to turn their autumn colors. The year-long delay in bringing the crossover to market appears to have given Mercedes engineers the time they needed to address earlier complaints about the coupe-like CLA’s ride and handling. (more…)

Lexus Counts on F Sport to Improve Sales

Line-up competes against luxury sport models.

by on Aug.01, 2014

Based on the success of its IS F Sport line-up, Lexus is expanding the portfolio to the NX and RX models.

The F Sport models will play a bigger role at Lexus going forward.

The F Sport version of the new Lexus IS 250 and Lexus IS 350 has been a major success, accounting for roughly half of all sales of the new IS Lexus last year according to Owen Peacock, Lexus’ national marketing manager.

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“The F Sport makes up 50% of the IS sales mix and the average buyer is five to 12 years younger for the than standard model,” he added. (more…)

Lexus the Latest to Go Turbo with New NX

New, high-performance engine likely to see broad use.

by on Jul.08, 2014

The 2015 Lexus NX 200h will be the Toyota luxury brand's first turbocharged model.

It has become known as the hybrid luxury brand, but with the upcoming launch of its new NX crossover-utility vehicle, Lexus becomes the latest automaker to turn to an alternative technology that can deliver not only good mileage but the solid performance that appeals to younger, sportier buyers.

And while the 2015 Lexus NX is about to become the maker’s first turbocharged model, it certainly won’t remain unique in the luxury brand’s line-up for long, with a senior official suggesting turbos will play a “significant” role in the next five years as Lexus pushes to drive more passionate performance into its products.

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“Observing the trends in the industry,” said Brian Bolain, the Lexus corporate marketing manager, “it would be foolish to develop (the new engine in the NX) for only one model.”

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Japanese Automakers Go All Out in Beijing

by on Apr.21, 2014

Lexus brings the production version of its NX crossover to the Beijing Auto Show.

Japanese carmakers came to the big auto show in Beijing this year determined to show they are prepared to fight for the hearts and minds of Chinese customers.

Struggling to regain momentum lost due to an ongoing debate between China and Japan over a chain of uninhabited, but strategically located, islands, Toyota, Nissan, Honda and other Japanese makers rolled out an assortment of new models they hope will help them close the gap with more established players in the huge Chinese car market, notably including Volkswagen AG and General Motors.

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One of the most significant introductions came from Lexus, which unveiled the new Lexus NX utility vehicle, the long-anticipated production version of a controversial concept vehicle, then called the LF-NX first unveiled during the Frankfurt Auto Show last autumn.

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Lexus Reveals New NX Compact Crossover

Maker tones down styling from radical LF-NX concept.

by on Apr.11, 2014

Lexus transforms concept to production as it prepares to roll out its new NX compact crossover.

More than a week before its official debut at the Beijing Motor Show, Lexus is offering up a look at the new NX, its entry into the fast-growing and increasingly more competitive compact luxury crossover segment.

The production model, shown here, significantly tones down the radical styling of the earlier Lexus LF-NX concept vehicle first seen at the Frankfurt Motor Show last autumn. The 2015 Lexus NX will be, nonetheless, boast one of the more aggressive designs in the Japanese maker’s line-up, reflecting the demand by parent Toyota Motor Co. CEO Akio Toyoda’s demand for more “passion” in the brand.

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While a number of details will have to wait for the Beijing Motor Show preview on April 20th, Lexus confirmed that the 2015 NX will be offered with three different powertrain options: (more…)