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Whether by deft planning or stroke of luck, Mitsubishi has found itself in an enviable marketing position.
With the introduction of the new Eclipse Cross compact crossover slated for next spring – and the dropping of the electric i-MiEV and long-running Lancer sedan – Mitsubishi will be fielding a lineup of three crossovers and one car line (the slow-selling Mirage) for 2018. That puts the bulk of its wares in the hot-selling “small crossover” segment.
The subcompact-car market isn’t anywhere near as hot as the subcompact-SUV category these days, but there is still activity afoot. The segment’s biggest news for 2018 is the introduction of two redesigned contenders from South Korea—the Kia Rio and the Hyundai Accent. Both of these vehicles are built on the same basic platform; we’ll be driving the new Rio in the near future, and we just got our first taste of the new Accent.
It’s all about the launch.
That was the lesson we learned when Dodge invited a group of journalists up to US 131 Motorsports Park in Martin, Michigan, to pilot its new Challenger SRT Demon down a gen-u-ine drag strip – complete with burn-out box, gooey starting-line surface, staging lights, and a full quarter-mile run. The real deal. Personally, it was the first time I’d ever driven a car on a drag strip … at least, one that didn’t have center stripes and a grossly ignored speed-limit sign (don’t tell the feds). We also learned that getting the launch right is not nearly as easy as one might think.
Although consumer sentiment has shifted to crossovers of late, midsize sedans still account for a sizable chunk of automotive sales. And for more than two decades, Honda’s Accord has accounted for a sizable chunk of the midsize market.
Hyundai redesigned its compact Elantra sedan last year, but the Elantra’s hatchback sibling–the Elantra GT—wasn’t included in the party; it was carried over on the previous-generation Elantra platform. For 2018, the hatchback catches up with the sedan as Hyundai introduces a redesigned GT based on the latest European-market Hyundai i30 platform. And, Hyundai has sweetened the pot with a zingy new performance version that shares its surname and its mechanical enhancements with the recently introduced Elantra Sport sedan.
With the massive shift in consumer preferences to compact and midsize SUVs, the traditional midsize sedan isn’t quite the sales juggernaut that it was just a few years ago, but that doesn’t mean that manufacturers are abandoning the category. A redesigned, dynamically styled 2018 Toyota Camry is arriving in dealerships right now, Honda just unveiled an all-new Accord for 2018, and we just had our first test drive of the significantly refreshed 2018 Hyundai Sonata.