Crossovers/CUVs auto news

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BMW X4 reclaims dash of utility with Clemson student project [w/videos]

08/06/2014   [Original: Autoblog]
Category: Aftermarket, Concept Cars, Trucks/Pickups, Videos, Crossovers/CUVs, BMW, Design/Style

BMW X4 Clemson University Project

BMW seems willing to exploit every automotive niche it can find with creations like the four-door, 'crossover coupe' X4 and X6. Of course, these designs come with a compromise. That svelte fastback means that they just can't haul as much cargo as a more traditional, boxier hatchback. Fortunately, students at Clemson University's International Center for Automotive Research might have a novel solution: the engineering graduate program has turned the crossover into a unique pickup.

Dubbed Deep Orange 4 concept, this functional prototype has an enclosed cargo area with a sliding glass panel that opens up to expose a pickup bed if more room is needed. Think of it as the GMC Envoy XUV of German crossovers. This isn't just an X4 with its roof hacked off, though. The students actually started with an X3 and grafted on this top later in addition to the two barn doors for access to the bed.

To make this project even more impressive, this pickup-crossover could conceivably be produced. The graduate students conducted an in-plant analysis of BMW's manufacturing abilities and went back to the university to create a plan for a low-volume vehicle that could actually be built. "The students working on this phase of the project did an excellent job of keeping costs down while finding optimal integration opportunities," said Rich Morris, vice president of assembly at BMW Manufacturing, in the university's release.

Deep Orange 4 is now on display at the CAR Group Management Briefing Seminar in Michigan. Scroll down to read the university's release and watch two videos about the concept; one shows the final product and the other a time-lapse of the build going from X3 to X4-looking pickup.

Continue reading BMW X4 reclaims dash of utility with Clemson student project [w/videos]

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Fiat 500X gets up close and personal

08/05/2014   [Original: Autoblog]
Category: Spy Photos, Crossovers/CUVs, FIAT

Fiat 500X prototype

Jeep's introduction of the Renegade just months ago at the Geneva Motor Show took the brand into new territory. Not only is it smaller than anything else Jeep makes, but it's also the first Jeep to be made outside of North America. But the Renegade is only half the equation.

Based on the same platform but with a much more rounded appearance will be a new Fiat crossover (at least tentatively) dubbed the 500X. Expected to arrive later this year, the 500X will replace the discontinued Suzuki-based Sedici and join the existing 500 hatchback, 500C convertible and 500L in Fiat's growing family of Cinquecento-themed models.

Pictured here in the latest batch of spy shots (sent to our photog by a sharp-eyed civilian, hence the slight quality issues), we can see the heavily disguised prototype up close, both inside and out. From the outside you can discern a much bubblier shape and rounded details than the Renegade, while the interior (apart from all the loose wires and warning signs) looks to adopt similar cues to the existing 500 family members, from the color-keyed dashboard panel to the rounded switchgear.

Details are few and far between at this point, but you can expect similar specs to the Jeep Renegade, which is driven by a range of four-cylinder engines from both the Fiat and Chrysler powertrain portfolios ranging from 109 horsepower to 168. Don't expect the same standard of go-anywhere off-road ability as its American counterpart, however.

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Honda CR-V caught wearing facelift in Europe

08/05/2014   [Original: Autoblog]
Category: Spy Photos, Crossovers/CUVs, Honda

Honda CR-V Facelift: Spy Shots

A few years on from its 2011 debut, the current Honda CR-V is preparing to go under the knife for a refresh. Typical of these sort of mid-cycle deals, the changes for Honda's popular CUV are minor.

The front of the car is home to the most dramatic (a relative term here) changes, with revised headlights sporting what looks like a slimmer profile. The three-bar grille has been heavily tweaked and is now a two-bar item, with a larger lower bar and a nose badge that covers both upper and lower sections.

The fascia itself has been modified with what looks like a larger lower intake, while the foglights have gone from the circular pattern of the current car to a rectangular pattern on the facelifted model. It looks like they'll still sport conventional bulbs, although the shape of the lights themselves look like a natural fit for a set of LED running lights (as is the trend).

Changes in the back are decidedly calmer. Honda has modified the rear bumper, and at least on these British-plated, Euro-spec CR-Vs, a larger set of reflectors have been integrated in a higher, more outboard position than on the current model. The taillights look to have undergone the most minor of changes, retaining the shape of the ones found on the current CR-V.

Finally, our spies point out that the cabin will be home to some very minor changes, as evidenced by the bits of camo on the center stack.

It should be noted that as these are European market vehicles, we may not see all of the changes to the North American market CR-V. That said, we're still expecting there to be some tweaks coming to our version of Honda's crossover sooner rather than later.

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BMW X4 M40i spotted testing in Germany

08/05/2014   [Original: Autoblog]
Category: Spy Photos, Sports/GTs, Crossovers/CUVs, BMW

2016 BMW X4 M40i

The stream of segment-busting BMW variants is showing no signs of letting up, and with the latest addition now upon us, questions have been circulating as to whether the Bavarian automaker would do an M version of the new X4 crossover. The jury may still be out on that proposition, but the latest intel suggests that, while a full-on X4 M may not be in the cards, a next-best-thing X4 M40i is in the works. And that appears to be what we're looking at in this fresh batch of spy shots.

Spotted for the first time undergoing testing in Germany, this X4 is tipped to be the next addition to the M Performance line that's already given us near-boiling models like the M135i and M235i on the one hand and the diesel-powered M550d, X5 M50d and X6 M50d on the other. Power in this case is tipped to come from the same 3.0-liter turbo six as the upcoming M2, producing between 360 and 380 horsepower.

Unlike the current top-of-that-specific-line X4 35i, which has two tailpipes on one side, this partially-camouflaged prototype has one pipe protruding from each corner of the rear bumper, but looks like it could easily accommodate twin pipes on both sides. Expect commensurate suspension, brake, rolling stock, aero and trim upgrades to come as part of the package, though they likely won't be quite as substantial as those applied to the X5 M and X6 M.

Sources expect the X4 M40i (or whatever it's ultimately called) to debut at the Frankfurt Motor Show in September 2015 before production gets underway in December.

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Mitsubishi readying Outlander refresh

08/03/2014   [Original: Autoblog]
Category: Spy Photos, Crossovers/CUVs, Mitsubishi

Mitsubishi Outlander Refresh

Mitsubishi has a big secret to keep under wraps when it comes to the looks of its refreshed Outlander crossover. Our spy shooters recently caught it testing in Germany, and the CUV had enough buckles, straps and snaps covering up the front end for the vehicle to fit in at an S&M party for cars. The rear was hidden just as thoroughly, too.

Given the areas that Mitsubishi's engineers are obscuring, it seems safe to assume that the Outlander is getting a heavily revised front end with redesigns for the grille, front bumper and possibly hood. The lights might be reshaped too, judging from these photos. The changes are just as hard to spot at the rear, but you can make out the shape of the taillights. They appear more rectangular than the current model, and the bumper looks more angular, as well.

This is likely our first glimpse of the of the major restyle for the Outlander that Mitsubishi execs told Autoblog about in July. The interior is also getting an update to improve interior material quality, we were told. The revisions are supposed to coincide with the launch of the PHEV model in the US at roughly the same time.

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Hyundai recalls over 419k vehicles in three campaigns

08/02/2014   [Original: Autoblog]
Category: Sedans/Saloons, SUVs, Recalls/TSBs, Crossovers/CUVs, Hyundai

Hyundai Sonata

Hyundai VeracruzGeneral Motors is the undisputed king of recalls for 2014. No one is going to contest this point. The American company is far from the only one with vehicles that need fixing, though, as Hyundai has announced another recall totaling 419,000 vehicles in three separate campaigns.

The majority of the vehicles affected come from the Santa Fe family, where 225,000 of the model year 2001 to 2006 CUVs will need their front springs replaced. It seems that the early Santa Fe's coils can rust and crack when subjected to frosty temperatures and the road salt that so often accompanies them. Should they fracture, it's possible that a crash would be the end result.

As this is an issue linked to road salt, only Santa Fes sold in 20 states - from Maine to Iowa and Wisconsin to West Virginia - are affected. Vehicles sold in Washington, D.C. are also covered in the recall.

Meanwhile, the Sonata sedan is getting dinged with another recall, the nameplate's third in less than three weeks. This time, the 2011 model is at fault, with 133,075 vehicles that could be leaking brake fluid, thanks to a bad seal between brake hose and the brake-line fitting.

Finally, the Veracruz is facing a recall, with 61,122 of the SUVs suffering from potential alternator failure. This issue is caused by a bad valve cover gasket in the front cylinder bank, which could cause oil to leak on the alternator causing the vehicle to stall or refuse to start.

None of these issues have lead to any crashes or injuries, although the Santa Fe's spring issue has resulted in 1,200 warranty claims and 90 cases of the spring contacting the tire, according to the Associated Press. As is usually the case, repairs on each vehicle will be conducted free of charge, while Hyundai plans to have notified owners of all affected cars and SUVs by the end of September.

Scroll down for the trio of bulletins from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.

Continue reading Hyundai recalls over 419k vehicles in three campaigns

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Here's why our Lexus NX is uglier than the rest of the world's

08/02/2014   [Original: Autoblog]
Category: Hybrids/Alternative, Government/Legal, Crossovers/CUVs, Lexus, Design/Style, Luxury

2015 Lexus NX 300h

Take a good look at the image above. That's the US-market Lexus NX 300h, and it looks, well... distinctive. Although the entire NX crossover sports styling that could certainly be described as controversial, it's the front end of the 'ute that seems to draw most of the ire, befitted as it is with Lexus' so-called spindle grill.

Now, take a look at the pair of images just below. The one on the left is from the States (the same model seen above), while the one on the right comes from Europe. Notice a difference? The lower front fascia of the European Lexus NX dips down much lower than the one from the US, and it looks much more refined because of it.

2015 Lexus NX 200t from the US2015 Lexus NX 200t from Europe

Why the disparity between the two designs? According to Top Gear Philippines, the reason why the US gets the more pointy proboscis is because of its classification as a light truck. It seems trucks are required to have some sort of concession to the car's approach angle - in other words, a truck should be able to clear an obstacle that a car might hit. Why does Lexus care if the NX is a car or truck? Well, that has to do with how fuel economy is reported, as trucks are given less-stringent requirements for Corporate Average Fuel Economy purposes.

We wish this weren't the case - the Lexus NX looks much better with its lower fascia in place. As it stands, though, you can still opt for the F Sport package on either the turbocharged NX 200t or hybrid NX 300h, which replaces the front end of the NX with a much more menacing, if not necessarily more attractive, fascia, along with other more overtly sporty finishing touches. Take a look at the 2015 Lexus NX 200t F Sport in our image gallery below, and tell us which version of the CUV you prefer.

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What you missed on 7.31.14

08/01/2014   [Original: Autoblog]
Category: Hybrids/Alternative, Etc., Crossovers/CUVs, Porsche, Toyota

Daily U-Turn

Thumbs downOur controversial automotive beliefs

Everyone's got an opinion, and some of ours are more unfavorable than others. Whether its one staffer's pro-vote for the Smart Fortwo, or another's dislike of a certain Hellcat-powered Challenger, these not-so-popular beliefs are often kept off the pages of Autoblog. Until now. Read our confessions, here.

Porsche MacanQuick Spin: 2015 Porsche Macan S

We already gave Porsche's Macan Turbo a proper shakedown over in Europe, but back at home, west coast editor Michael Harley was able to take the less-powerful, less-expensive Macan out for a proper drive, on- and off-road. Yes, we hit both track and trail in the new baby Porsche. Have a read in our Quick Spin.

Toyota Camry HybridCR pushes for Camry recall

There's a potential problem with certain Camry Hybrid models from the 2007 to 2011 model years, but Toyota hasn't issued a recall - yet. The folks at Consumer Reports are urging the Japanese automaker to call back some of these sedans due to problems with the brakes. Read the full rundown of CR's claims, here.

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Hyundai readying Juke rival with 'edgy, dynamic styling' for 2017

08/01/2014   [Original: Autoblog]
Category: Crossovers/CUVs, Hyundai, Design/Style

2011 Hyundai Curb Concept

Love it or hate it, the Nissan Juke has drawn attention to itself and to its maker. Little wonder, then, that Hyundai wants to follow a similar formula.

According to our compatriots over at Edmunds, Hyundai has a whole raft of new products in the works - as you'd expect from the world's fourth-largest automaker - including replacements for the current Tucson and Elantra sometime next year, but also a subcompact crossover to target the Juke, not to mention tiny softroading rivals like the forthcoming Chevrolet Trax. Details at this point are few and far between, but it appears Hyundai is committed to making it as zany as the Nissan it will target. The Korean automaker revealed the Curb concept (pictured above) along similar lines at the 2011 Detroit Auto Show.

Hyundai Motor America CEO Dave Zuchowski tells Edmunds not to expect a mini Tuscon, but to "Think of maybe something that looks like a Juke or something that has edgy, dynamic styling." Considering how off-the-map Hyundai went with the Veloster and its unconventional array of doors, we know the Korean automaker can think outside the box for this Gen-Y crossover. Whether the edge tiny CUV market has space for more than the Juke, however, is another matter. One way or another, look for the tiny Korean crossover to arrive sometime in 2017.

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Infiniti to get Leaf-based electric sedan after all

08/01/2014   [Original: Autoblog]
Category: Sedans/Saloons, Crossovers/CUVs, Hatchbacks, Infiniti, Electric, Luxury

Infiniti LE

Infiniti suffered a huge blow a few weeks ago when CEO Johan de Nysschen jumped ship after two years on the job to take the helm at Cadillac. As boss, he spearheaded change within the Japanese luxury brand and was among the biggest champions of the Q50 Eau Rouge. However, the company is far from sunk. Plans put in place prior to de Nysschen leaving are still on the table, according to Nissan product planner Andy Palmer to Automotive News, and that could mean a rosy future for the once AWOL LE sedan (pictured above) and other models.

Back in 2012, Infiniti promised that it would have the LE on the market as a premium electric sedan by 2014. It was supposed to share the battery pack with the Nissan Leaf but with a more powerful, 134-horsepower motor. But have you seen one on the road recently? The luxury EV was eventually shelved, but de Nysschen pledged the idea wasn't dead. Maybe now is a better time for it. According to Automotive News, the LE is rescheduled to launch in 2017 or 2018. The latest version would use the Leaf platform but with a more potent, next-gen battery to give it a range over 90 miles.

Of course, the LE isn't the only thing on the way from Infiniti; it also appears to be planning a two-pronged approach for small cars. Palmer recently tweeted that the company would build the forthcoming Q30 hatchback and QX30 crossover in the UK in 2015. Additionally, the automaker is firing up a new joint venture factory in Mexico with Mercedes-Benz; building compact models there starting in 2017. According Automotive News, the Mexican-built models will be more US-focused while the UK-built ones will appeal more to Europeans.

Finally, it looks like de Nysschen's plan for a flagship Infiniti sedan may still see the road too around 2018. It will be called either the Q80 or Q90 and use four-door coupe styling with a turbocharged V6 boasting about 600 horsepower, according to AN. For a guy who is no longer with the company, he appears to still be casting a long shadow over its future products.

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