Ford to Add Four New SUVs by 2020 – Is One of Them the Bronco?

At the 2016 Chicago auto show, Ford announced that it will add four nameplates to its global SUV lineup in the next four years, including in segments that the automaker doesn’t currently compete. The Blue Oval said that millennials and baby boomers are driving the growth in demand for SUVs while their increased fuel economy are making consumers less sensitive to the cost of fuel.

“As members of the 80-million-strong millennial age group enter their prime child-rearing years, a leading indicator of more SUV sales, nearly 80 million aging baby boomers continue to prefer their SUVs,” said Mark LaNeve, Ford’s vice president for marketing, sales and service. “It’s a demographic double whammy and it all points to one thing — more SUVs for the foreseeable future.”

2017 Ford Escape Titanium front three quarter view 2016 Ford Explorer Limited EcoBoost front three quarter in motion 2015-Ford-Expedition-King-Ranch-EL-promo Ford-EcoSport-right-front-42

LaNeve also cited recent research done by Ford that found that once millennials begin thinking about starting families, their interest in SUVs grows significantly, and represent additional growth opportunities for the automaker. Baby boomers, on the other hand, stay or return to SUVs because they are easier to get in and out of thanks to their increased ride height. Additionally, according to LaNeve, “baby boomers feel younger and more active” when they drive an SUV.

Improved fuel economy in SUVs have also contributed to the growth in SUV sales in recent years, which led Ford to believe that owners of SUVs won’t get pushed back to passenger cars should gas prices rise. “Some SUVs now rival the fuel efficiency of V6-powered midsize sedans from only a few years ago,” said LaNeve, “and as baby boomers grew up with much less capable, much less efficient vehicles, they tend to appreciate the efficiency of Ford’s newest SUVs.”

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Ford’s announcement is the latest evidence that the auto market is shifting further toward crossovers and SUVs. Recently, FCA announced it would seek partners for developing small cars and midsize sedans — effectively killing the current Chrysler 200 and Dodge Dart — due to a stronger demand for crossovers. Just last week, Toyota killed its Scion brand, citing changes in buyers’ preferences as one of the primary reasons.

Earlier this week, we reported that the Ford EcoSport will likely join Ford’s U.S lineup thanks to the small crossover segment’s rapid growth. But what’s perhaps more interesting is a future vehicle revealed by a Ford-UAW contract late last year. The contract detailed a new SUV due by 2020 that could be the Ford Bronco. It would be assembled at Ford’s Michigan Assembly Plant, and could be based on the global Ford Ranger, which is also slated to come here.

Source: Ford

 

 

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Full “Top Gear” Host Lineup Includes Chris Harris, Sabine Schmitz

“Top Gear” will return to TV in May with a total of six hosts, the BBC has confirmed today. Along with previously announced presenters Chris Evans and Matt LeBlanc, the lineup will also feature Formula 1 heavyweight Eddie Jordan, German race car driver Sabine Schmitz, automotive journalist Chris Harris, and car reviewer Rory Reid.

“The new team will cover the entire automotive spectrum and bring with them their own unique and very individual love of cars that will resonate with every type of Top Gear viewer, from the family who enjoy the entertainment values of the show, to aspirational car lovers and fanatical petrolheads,” the BBC said in a statement.

As of late last year, we heard rumors that Harris as well as Schmitz, a.k.a. “Queen of the Nürburgring,” would be added as “Top Gear” hosts. But other rumors had suggested actor Philip Glenister, news presenter Guy Martin, “Classic Car Show” host Jodie Kidd, and even Formula F1 champ Jenson Button also might have joined.

As the BBC tries to resuscitate “Top Gear,” the show’s three former hosts are preparing to launch a new show on Amazon Prime. That show is expected to launch sometime this year. It looks like the only original cast member to join the new version of “Top Gear” is none other than The Stig.

Source: BBC

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2017 Hyundai Santa Fe, Santa Fe Sport First Look Review

One of the most important features of the updated 2017 Hyundai Santa Fe Sport is the ability to get one. A new face and additional technology that will attract more buyers are somewhat moot when the automaker is already struggling to meet demand of the current model.

Hyundai is adding production of the two-row Santa Fe Sport model in Montgomery, Alabama, alongside the Sonata and Elantra. The Sport is also built at Kia’s Georgia plant that makes the Sorento and Optima.

David Zuchowski, president of Hyundai Motor America, has said he could sell more Santa Fe Sports—which competes in one of the hottest segments in the U.S.—if he had a bigger allotment for the U.S. The automaker sold 86,433 Sports last year, and Zuchowski said demand could be in the 125,000 range for the third generation of the vehicle that quickly became a best-seller when it was first introduced.

2017 Hyundai Santa Fe rear side view in motion2017 Hyundai Santa Fe rear side view in motionThe three-row 2017 Hyundai Santa Fe

The automaker is hoping the mid-cycle upgrades to the Santa Fe family, the two-row, five-passenger Sport and the three-row, seven-passenger Santa Fe that replaced the Veracruz, will increase demand.

Hyundai spent about $50 million to retool the Alabama plant to add Sport production this summer. Capacity in Alabama stays at 400,000 vehicles a year, but Hyundai would rather allocate about 30,000 of it to the profitable Santa Fe, especially with slower car sales in today’s world of low gasoline prices.

For 2017 the Santa Fe lineup has a redesigned front fascia and new headlight design as well as upgrades to the rear fascia with new taillights. For the first time LED daytime running lights and foglights are available on some models.

2017 Hyundai Santa Fe Sport front side view2017 Hyundai Santa Fe Sport front side viewThe two-row 2017 Hyundai Santa Fe Sport

Engines are unchanged with a continuation of the 2.4-liter, direct-injected four-cylinder engine with 185 horsepower or the turbocharged, 2.0-liter four-cylinder with 240 horsepower. There is no V-6 offered in the Sport, but the three-row Santa Fe has the 3.3-liter Lambda II V-6 with 290 horsepower. All are mated to a six-speed automatic transmission.

For 2017, all powertrains now offer new drive mode selection with a choice of Sport, Eco, and Normal settings. And the estimated fuel economy improves by 1 mpg across the lineup.

The mid-cycle refresh includes a new design for the 17-, 18-, and 19-inch alloy wheels.

And like every refresh, there is new technology including a new 7-inch touchscreen with Android Auto that is standard in the three-row Santa Fe and optional in the Sport. Also available: an Infinity audio system.

2017 Hyundai Santa Fe Sport rear view2017 Hyundai Santa Fe Sport rear viewThe 2017 Hyundai Santa Fe Sport 2.0T

Next-generation Hyundai Blue Link is standard on the Santa Fe. The embedded system makes it possible to offer remote start and door lock and unlock, provide navigation guidance, and help recover stolen vehicles.

On the safety side is a host of new features with a new multiview camera system, cruise control with stop-start, lane departure warning, an electronic parking brake system with auto-hold, and automatic braking with pedestrian detection.

Hyundai says a quarter of the parts on the Santa Fe Sport are new for 2017. The 2017 Santa Fe is arriving in dealerships now. Pricing starts at $26,245 for the FWD Sport with the 2.4-liter; the Limited AWD Ultimate starts at $42,045.

2017 Hyundai Santa Fe front view on curvy road 2017 Hyundai Santa Fe rear side view 2017 Hyundai Santa Fe front three quarter in motion 01 2017 Hyundai Santa Fe front three quarter in motion 02 2017 Hyundai Santa Fe Sport front three quarter in motion 01 2017 Hyundai Santa Fe Sport door mirror indication light 2017 Hyundai Santa Fe rear view in motion 2017 Hyundai Santa Fe grille 2017 Hyundai Santa Fe front three quarter 2017 Hyundai Santa Fe front three quarter in motion 03 2017 Hyundai Santa Fe Sport front three quarter in motion 03 2017 Hyundai Santa Fe Sport rear three quarter in motion 2017 Hyundai Santa Fe Sport wheel 2017 Hyundai Santa Fe cabin 01 2017 Hyundai Santa Fe cabin 02 2017 Hyundai Santa Fe center stack 2017 Hyundai Santa Fe Sport rear view mirror 2017 Hyundai Santa Fe Sport instrument cluster 2017 Hyundai Santa Fe Sport cabin 2017 Hyundai Santa Fe rear view mirror 2017 Hyundai Santa Fe dashboard 2017 Hyundai Santa Fe dashboard at night

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2017 Kia Niro Hybrid First Look Review

The global debut of the 2017 Kia Niro Hybrid Utility Vehicle today at the Chicago Auto Show is Kia’s way of putting the world on notice that it thinks it has a better way to drive green.

The car showcases the Korean automaker’s new dedicated eco-car platform and hybrid system in a subcompact crossover with a targeted fuel economy of 50 mpg. Kia packaged its future in a small crossover, a nod to the fast-growing segment and one with few electric vehicles to date.

“The Niro hits the sweet spot by offering the best combination of outstanding mpg, an engaging driving experience, utility, and most importantly, a stunning design that doesn’t shout hybrid,” said Orth Hedrick, vice president of product planning Kia Motors America, who thinks the practical car fills a niche.

So what’s the 2017 Niro Hybrid like to drive? Read our 2017 Niro Hybrid Prototype First Drive Review HERE.

The car is described as a key part of Kia’s Green Car Roadmap, which aims to nearly triple its global green car lineup by 2020, suggesting the vehicle is destined for production.

The Niro falls under the EcoDynamics sub-brand that previously introduced the Kia Optima Hybrid and Soul EV. But the Niro is the first Kia on a new eco-car platform specifically engineered to accommodate a plug-in hybrid powertrain to be added later in the lifecycle.

2017 Kia Niro Hybrid front three quarters2017 Kia Niro Hybrid front three quarters

To that end, 53 percent of the concept’s body is advanced high-strength steel, including reinforcement in the A- and B-pillars and roof rails with high hopes of top scores in safety testing. The strong but lightweight steel was also used in areas such as the seat frames, and engineers used aluminum for the hood, tailgate, and parts of the suspension including the front lower control arms, front and rear knuckles, and in the brake calipers. The parking brake pedal is made of a reinforced plastic. And weight was reduced by replacing the 12-volt battery with a high-voltage lithium-polymer battery.

The powertrain consists of an all-new Kappa 1.6-liter, direct-injected four-cylinder engine that was engineered specifically for hybrid applications. The engine generates 103 horsepower and has cooled exhaust gas recirculation as well as an exhaust heat recovery system to warm up the engine more quickly. Adding the 43-hp electric motor brings output to 146 hp and 195 lb-ft of torque.

Kia mounts its smaller electric motor to the second-generation six-speed dual-clutch transmission so that the motor’s narrower optimum range of operation can be leveraged over multiple gear ratios. The final ingredient is the 1.56-kilowatt-hour lithium-polymer battery under the rear seat.

2017 Kia Niro Hybrid front interior2017 Kia Niro Hybrid front interior

2017 Kia Niro Hybrid center console 2017 Kia Niro Hybrid gauges 2017 Kia Niro Hybrid cargo area seats folded 2017 Kia Niro Hybrid wheel close

The Niro was designed at Kia’s design centers in Irvine, California, and Hwaseong, South Korea. The family resemblance is reflected in Kia’s signature grille. Designers sought to show that a hybrid can appear strong by giving it a long roofline, short overhangs, big wheel arches, a rear skidplate, and headlights designed to suggest broad shoulders. But it is a subcompact crossover, a segment with dimensions that skew more to cute than menacing.

The high-tech interior has glossy white or black accents and an uncluttered instrument panel. With a 106.3-inch wheelbase and wide stance, the subcompact tries to maximize interior space. Putting the battery under the rear seat means the technology does not encroach on cabin or cargo space and allows a flat load floor. The seats have extra-dense padding and are elevated similar to the seating position in the Soul, so it’s easier to get in and out and has a commanding view of the road.

To keep noise in check, Kia went heavy on the insulation, sealants, and acoustic glass, and the shape of the side mirrors also helps mitigate wind noise. Because it is a hybrid, engineers designed special engine mounts and put a damper inside the steering wheel hub so there is less vibration felt in the steering wheel.

2017 Kia Niro Hybrid badge 2017 Kia Niro Hybrid front grille close 2017 Kia Niro Hybrid front pair 2017 Kia Niro Hybrid front three quarters 02 2017 Kia Niro Hybrid front three quarters 03 2017 Kia Niro Hybrid front three quarters in motion 2017 Kia Niro Hybrid front three quarters in motion 02 2017 Kia Niro Hybrid front three quarters in motion 03 2017 Kia Niro Hybrid profile 2017 Kia Niro Hybrid rear three quarters 2017 Kia Niro Hybrid rear three quarters 02 2017 Kia Niro Hybrid rear three quarters in motion Kia Niro HUV hybrid teaser rear Kia Niro HUV hybrid teaser front

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2017 Kia Optima PHEV, Optima Hybrid Debut in Chicago

Kia has revealed details of its first Optima Plug-in Hybrid (PHEV) as well as details on its next-generation Optima Hybrid (HEV). The all-new 2017 Kia Optima PHEV and redesigned 2017 Kia Optima HEV make their official debut at the 2016 Chicago auto show. The automaker introduced the fuel-efficient sedans under its new environmentally friendly EcoDynamics sub-brand.

Both models are powered by the automaker’s 154-hp 2.0-liter “Nu” GDI I-4 engine mated to a six-speed automatic transmission. A new electric water pump and new high-voltage electric oil pump help increase engine efficiency. The 2.0-liter replaces the previous-generation Optima Hybrid’s 2.4-liter engine. Kia rates combined total power output for the 2017 Optima Hybrid at 193 horsepower. No combined power output was given for the all-new Optima PHEV.

While both cars feature a transmission-mounted electric motor and clutch in place of the traditional torque converter, the motors differ in power output. The Optima PHEV uses a 50-kW motor, while the Optima Hybrid uses a 38-kW motor. Kia says the PHEV’s electric motor is 42 percent more powerful than the last-generation Hybrid’s motor.

2017 Kia Optima Hybrid parked2017 Kia Optima Hybrid parked

A 9.8-kWh lithium-ion polymer battery pack provides the juice for the Optima PHEV, which is said to give the plug-in sedan up to a 27-mile range in full electric mode. Kia says the 2017 Optima PHEV has an estimated 600-mile overall range. The Optima Hybrid uses a high-density lithium-polymer 1.62-kWh battery pack. Kia says those battery packs provide 60 percent and 13 percent more energy, respectively, than the battery pack in the previous Optima Hybrid. The PHEV’s battery pack is tucked behind the rear seat and tire well, while the Hybrid’s battery pack is under the trunk floor. Both cars feature a 60/40 split-folding rear seat.

The revised hybrid control unit and brake actuation unit work together for a 10-percent increase in regenerative braking. A full charge for the Optima PHEV takes less than 3 hours with a 240-volt (Level 2) charger or less than 9 hours with a 120-volt (Level 1) charger. The Optima PHEV features three modes including an all-Electric Mode (EV) for short-range city driving, Hybrid Mode (HEV) for highway driving, and a Charging Mode that recharges the battery pack at higher speeds.

Both models feature the automaker’s new Eco-DAS (Driver Assistance System) with Coasting Guide, which coaches the driver on when to coast and brake for maximum fuel economy.

Aerodynamic features exclusive to the 2017 Kia Optima PHEV and 2017 Kia Optima Hybrid models include active grille shutters, a front air curtain, beveled rear bumper, rear diffuser, and unique alloy-wheel design. Both models feature LED lighting. The Optima PHEV features chrome side sill molding and an “Eco Plug-In” badging, while the Optima Hybrid features satin finish accent trim and “EcoHybrid” badging. Kia claims a coefficient of drag of .024 Cd — the same as a Tesla Model S.

2017 Kia Optima Plug In Hybrid motion view2017 Kia Optima Plug In Hybrid motion view

Standard driver assistance technology on both models include Autonomous Emergency Braking (AEB), Blind Spot Detection (BSD), Advanced Smart Cruise Control (ASCC), Lane Departure Warning System (LDWS), and Front Collision Warning System (FCWS).

Both models feature the latest version of Kia’s UVO telematics with Android Auto and Apple CarPlay. A 10-speaker, 630-watt Harman/Kardon QuantumLogic Premium Surround Sound Audio System with Clari-Fi music restoration technology is available. The UVO system in the Optima PHEV can search for charging stations as well as check vehicle charge status and schedule charging times.

Expect pricing for the 2017 Kia Optima PHEV and 2017 Optima Hybrid models to be revealed closer to their on-sale date this fall.

Source: Kia

2017 Kia Optima Hybrid parked2017 Kia Optima Hybrid parked

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