Posts from ‘First Spin’
The product-planning teams at major automakers typically develop detailed demographic profiles of the consumers they’re targeting with their new vehicles, sometimes going so far as to create a hypothetical ideal target customer. Infiniti has done just that with its redesigned-for-2022 QX60 three-row, 7-passenger crossover SUV. Her name is “Claire.” She’s smart and stylish. She’s a leader at work and someone friends come to for advice. She’s a mom, and like most people today, she’s very, very busy.
As American new-vehicle buyers continue to choose SUVs in significantly greater numbers than traditional passenger cars, affordable cars of any type are less prevalent than they were as recently as five years ago. Enthusiast-friendly examples are a rarer breed still. When you sharpen the search to affordable, track-ready, rear-wheel-drive sports cars, you quickly determine they are approaching unicorn status.
Though clearly a small pickup truck, Hyundai calls its new-for-2022 Santa Cruz a “Sport adventure vehicle,” and to the company’s credit, it is unlike any other car or truck currently for sale in the U.S.
Despite being one of the oldest basic designs in the midsize-SUV segment, the Jeep Grand Cherokee is consistently one of the best-selling vehicles in its class. However, the Grand Cherokee has never offered one key feature that would allow it to compete more directly with rivals such as the Ford Explorer, Honda Pilot, and Volkswagen Atlas—a third-row seat. That changes with the introduction of the 2021 Grand Cherokee L, an all-new model that kicks off the Grand Cherokee’s fifth generation and comes standard with a third row of seating for 6- or 7-passenger capacity.
With the redesign of its long-running Pathfinder midsize SUV for 2022, Nissan seems to be trying to have its cake and eat it too. Stylistically, the new Pathfinder gets a sharper-edged, beefier look that recalls the rugged styling of the truck-based, body-on-frame Pathfinders of the 1990s and early 2000s. Underneath, however, is a heavily modified version of the more family-friendly, crossover-style unibody architecture that the Pathfinder has been built upon since 2013.
We’ll admit that when the first wave of fastback-roofed sport-utility vehicles started hitting the market, kicked off by the BMW X6 back in 2008, we didn’t really “get it.” Why would an automaker take a vehicle that’s primarily designed for utility—heck, the word is right in the name!—and deliberately turn it into something less practical?
Well, believe it or not, we’re already almost at the end of Buick’s first full model year as an SUV-only brand. The LaCrosse large sedan and Cascada convertible both said sayonara after the 2019 model year, and Buick’s last traditional passenger-car holdouts—the midsize Regal Sportback hatchback sedan and Regal TourX wagon—were dropped after the 2020 model year.