Quirky, defiant little Mazda and the CX-5

Quirky little Mazda Motor is a rebellious, independent-minded and outspoken carmaker with a no-apologies love of cars in general and the driving experience in particular – and the CX-5 compact sport-utility is a perfect example of what this actually means.

Tall and entertaining.

You will not find a more entertaining little rig amongst its many, many, many competitors. The Mazda’s steering is sharp, the brakes strong. The grippers here are a lovely example of how to put feel and response into the stopping powers of a tall, functional rig whose apparent first purpose in life – for buyers — is to drag home do-it-yourself furniture from IKEA.

The 187-horsepower petrol engine in my GT tester ($38,495 as tested) is NOT turbocharged, yet it is lively and just what you’d expect from a car company skilled at squeezing performance out of small displacement mills, rotary or otherwise. The six-speed autobox delivers sharp shifts and encourages enthusiastic drivers to play with the paddle shifters – to control your own gear changes.

In short, if you want a small rig with some heart and soul, get the CX-5. If a simple, thoughtful, accessible infotainment interface will win your heart, this is your choice. If you insist on a tallish wagon with firm seats, an excellent driving position, admirable outward visibility and good-quality materials all-around, you must at least test drive the Mazda.

Indeed, if you remain skeptical about the much-hyped electrification of the car market, if you just want a fuel-efficient small/tall wagon, the CX-5 is an obvious selection. It’s not a hybrid or a plug-in of any sort and you will need to drive it yourself.

Clean, useful and best of all, simple.

In a nutshell, if you enjoy the drive and remain dubious about the imminent arrival of all these much-hyped autonomous or “driverless” cars, then Mazda and its CX-5 should most certainly have a place in your heart.

Because, folks, Mazda has long been the champion of truth and honesty when it comes to automotive technology. It’s not that Mazda denies there is a future in the electrification of the automotive fleet; rather, Mazda is simply sanguine about the timeline for the wholesale, broad adoption of EVs (electric vehicles) and self-driving rides of all shapes and sizes.

Sure, these technologies are coming, but not immediately. In the meantime, what about normal, sensible people who retain an emotional connection to driving?

They will find a home in Mazda’s products, including the CX-5. This SUV is not the absolute winner in reliability and quality studies, but it does just fine. However, if you want a little truck-like runabout that trades on its unbreakable-ness, then the Toyota RAV4 or Honda CR-V are probably more up your alley.

If you want the latest in 4G LTE technology, the you might want to look at the Chevrolet Equinox or GMC Terrain.  Kia’s Sorento and Hyundai’s Tucson are well-built, strong designs available with some very interesting engine technology at reasonable prices. However, the brands remain a tad weak and the road manners need work.

For drivers.

Ford’s Escape is very close to the CX-5 in terms of driving dynamics and it’s available with all sorts of fancy technologies. But Ford’s quality has been dreadful for years and there are few signs that the company takes these woes seriously.

If you know the owner of a small Ford, in fact, you probably know someone who’s gone through several transmissions. In fairness, however, Ford has picked up its game a little when it comes to the Escape, though I remain wary and you should, too.

Volkswagen’s Tiguan is okay but nothing about it stands out other than a pretty decent reliability record. Nissan’s Rogue is well-priced and kind of pretty, but it’s saddled with a CVT (continuously variable transmission) that is the very antithesis of entertaining technology. And the materials inside fall on the wrong side of cheap.

As for the newest version of Jeep’s Cherokee, well, the styling is attention-getting, but like Ford, the Jeep brand’s long, long history of sub-par quality is a red flag. Subaru’s Forester, by the way, is a stolid player here and very safe. A new version is coming shortly, so if you want the outgoing model, drive a hard bargain.

The back seat.

As for the CX-5, I will warn you about the pricing. With freight and such, my tester tipped over 40 large. That said, the all-wheel-drive responses are both subtle and superb, fuel economy is strong, and the all-independent suspension layout keeps the car planted and controlled, despite the high centre of gravity.

The Mazda people love the drive and it shows here.

2018 Mazda CX-5 GT

Base price: $35,000. As tested: $$38,495. Freight, dealer prep: $1,895. (Base CX-5: $25,900.)

Engine: 2.5-litre I4 (187-horsepower/186 lb-ft of torque)).

Transmissions: 6-speed automatic.

Drive: all-wheel.

Fuel economy (litres/100 km): 9.8 city/7.9 using regular fuel.

Comparables: Toyota RAV4, Honda CR-V, Hyundai Tucson, Kia Sorento, Volkswagen Tiguan, Ford Escape, Jeep Cherokee, Chevrolet Equinox, GMC Terrain, Subaru Forester.

 

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Trump brings his chaos to car biz

Canada has a Ministry of Environment and Climate Change headed by the esteemed and very well-spoken Catherine McKenna from Ottawa Centre.

McKenna, a heavyweight in the Liberal cabinet and an obvious aspirant to the prime minister’s job, is an international trade lawyer who participated in negotiating the Paris Climate Accord. Bravo.

Not everyone agreed with President Obama’s fuel economy and emissions regulatory plan, but it was predictable, it allowed the industry to plan for the long term and it has proven to have helped change consumer and social norms and attitudes.

Alas, nothing she can say or do, no amount of good will, smarts or ambitious manoeuvring, will likely stop the next bit of crazy from the sociopathic numbskull that is U.S. President Donald Trump. The implications for Canada and the rest of the planet are serious if not dire. For the auto industry, what Trump appears poised to do is disastrous.

You see, reports indicate that Trump is about to roll back Obama-era greenhouse-gas and fuel-economy standards that really have been the industry guide dating back to 2008-2009. Obama’s plan was given real teeth, however, in 2011, and since then the car business globally has invested hundreds of billions in a drive to reduce greenhouse gases, improve overall fuel economy and electrify the passenger car fleet.

Trump is finding cover for his utter stupidity in a long-standing and somewhat disingenuous request of a slightly schizophrenic auto industry. That is, the car business, through its industry group, begged Trump during the U.S. election campaign to relax Obama-era standards. Even so, individual companies – Ford Motor and General Motors among them — say they are generally supportive of the Obama-era regulations. Don’t kill them, they, say, but do build in a little flexibility, if possible.

Flexibility is unnecessary and to understand why, let’s pause for a moment and go back to the summer of 2011. Flanked by auto industry titans, Barack Obama announced aggressive new targets on US fuel economy standards. They were generally welcomed as an “historic agreement” that would prove to be good for both the economy and the planet.

Canada, of course, has since fallen in line. It’s government policy. Transport Canada officials have told me several times that its goal is to harmonize Canada and U.S. “regulations as much as possible.” Our government’s priority, then, is to harmonize Canadian regulatory requirements with those of the U.S. Our Climate Change ministry and its minister are not going to change that. And our car business, completely dominated by foreign companies, will sell us whatever meets standards in the U.S. Period.

And so, for about a decade the car business has been aligning itself with ever-stricter fuel economy and emissions rules. That is, in 2008, fleetwide standards were set at 35 mpg (US) by 2016, ratcheted up to a fleetwide average of 51.4 mpg (US) by 2025.

These regs explain why in recent years we’ve seen an explosion of fuel-savings technologies in new cars and light trucks – from  stop-start systems to lightweight materials, streamlined designs, advanced engine technologies, hybrid drive systems and such.

As well, to meet expanding zero-emissions mandates, car companies from Beijing to Tokyo, from Seoul to Detroit, Coventry, Stuttgart and Munich have accelerated their electric vehicle product plans. There has been an obvious change is the marketplace as a result of a near-decade of regulatory compliance and future product planning.

We are now seeing a growing fleet of evermore fuel efficient and electrified new models. This industry has reinvented itself dramatically in the last decade and everyone is better for it. The new technologies planned through 2025 hold the promise of slashing billions of tons of carbon dioxide emissions. They are also saving consumers money at the pump and at the EV charging station and will do so more and more in coming years.

Trump, who even his chief supporter, Ann Coulter, now calls “a shallow, lazy ignoramus,” has made it his mission to dismantle as much of the Obama legacy as possible, regardless of harm and without any interest in the well being of the planet. For Trump, this is obviously personal. And so this looming change to fuel economy and emissions regulations.

But there are broader implications to consider.  The most obvious one is for the planet. But even if you are a moron — that is, a climate change denier – you might be able to understand the economic implications.

That is, this Trumpian move will throw the auto industry into chaos and threatens the long-term health of Detroit-based automakers, Ford, GM and FCA.

Here’s the problem. China and Europe, the world’s largest and third-largest auto markets, are pushing full-steam-ahead with ever-tightening regulations. The stated goal everywhere but in Trumpland is to phase out the internal combustion engine and replace it with electrification.

As well, a number of U.S. states, led by California, also plan to proceed using the Obama/EPA template and say they will sue Trump’s Environmental Protection Agency if there is any attempt to force them to comply with weaker environmental rules.

You can see the incipient chaos: car companies forced to comply with an even greater hodgepodge of state AND international fuel economy and emissions rules – or withdraw from particular markets. Shifting and whimsical regulatory standards are a nightmare for an auto industry that needs years and even decades to develop, test, certify, implement and sell new technologies that meet evolving standards.

Not everyone in the car business liked Obama’s plan, but it was at least predictable. It provided a clear template with attainable demands set out on a reasonable timeline. President Dolt, as usual, looks to throw the auto industry into chaos and hurt the planet at the same time.

And there is nothing our Ministry of Climate change will be able to do about it.

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Winners and losers of 2017: slumping cars, surging trucks

Nissan’s Sentra compact car jumped onto the list of top 10 best-selling passenger cars of 2017. So, why isn’t the Sentra a winner (and no jokes about the hum-ho styling)?

The Toyota Corolla, Canada’s No. 2 seller among cars and a winner.

Easy. Sentra sales were down last year, by 2.8 per cent. Not great. Yet that performance was strong enough to take the No. 10 spot on the list of 2017 best sellers. Cars.

Here’s the thing: the overall passenger car market slumped 3.4 per cent in 2017, notes DesRosiers Automotive Consultants. Meantime, light truck sales jumped 8.7 per cent.

Canadians, in fact, bought more than twice as many pickups, vans and sport-utility vehicles as passenger cars – 1,398,975 versus 639,823. And the most popular light trucks were compact SUVs (424,760), while compacts were the most popular cars (389,838).

The Sentra was kind of a winner because sales did not slump as seriously as the overall passenger car market.

Ford’s F-Series pickup was also sort of a winner. Sales last year were up 6.8 per cent (155,290), making Ford’s popular full-size pickup the most popular light truck in the country. Yet sales in the overall large pickup segment jumped a whopping 13.1 per cent.

Rivals to the F-Series all performed better than the No. 1 rig: Ram sales were up 10.6 per cent; GMC Sierra sales were up 21.1 per cent; and Chevrolet Silverado sales surged 31.5 per cent.

When taken in context, then, the F-Series held onto the No. 1 crown for another year, even though sales lagged major competitors. Does that suggest problems ahead for the F-Series? Consider: FCA (Fiat Chrysler) and General Motors soon plan to launch reinvented versions of their big rigs. Hmm. This is going to be interesting.

Honda Civic: still No. 1 and a winner.

On the car side of things, Honda’s Civic remains Canada’s most popular car – and did so in winning fashion. While car sales continued to slump in 2017, Civic sales were up 6.8 per cent last year (69,030 Civics sold). Toyota’s Corolla was also a winner, with sales up 10.3 per cent to 50,332 units.

Another compact car winner: Kia’s Forte. The Forte finished 2017 as No. 8 overall after sales surged 33.3 per cent to 16,388. The Forte was redesigned last year. Yes, buyers noticed and approved of the changes – not to mention the discounts slapped on virtually all the cars on the top 10 list, not just the Forte.

Luxury vehicles were winners, too. The overall luxury segment was up 6.1 per cent, notes DesRosiers, while sales of higher-end luxury vehicles jumped 18.7 per cent and luxury sport-ute sales were up 7.6 per cent.

A big loser: small vans – minivans. Sales slumped 2.8 per cent.

On the other hand, subcompact sport utilities jumped 32.6 per cent and compact luxury SUVs were 16.6 per cent. Winner, winner.

For more, here’s a look at the top 10 best-selling cars and light trucks for 2017:

Passenger Cars

2017            2016          % gain/loss

1 Honda Civic                         69,030        64,552           6.9%

2 Toyota Corolla                    50,332         45,626        10.3%

3 Hyundai Elantra                 46,112         48,875         -5.7%

4 Mazda3                                27,862         26,824          0.6%

5 Chevrolet Cruze                  27,520         26,824          2.6%

6 Volkswagen Golf                 22,288          17,513       27.33%

7 Volkswagen Jetta                 17,483         20,954       -16.6%

8 Kia Forte                               16,388          12,296        33.3%

9 Toyota Camry                       14,574          15,683          -7.1%

10 Nissan Sentra                     13,883          14,281         -2.8%

 

Light Trucks

1 Ford F-Series                       155,290      145,209           6.8%

2 Ram pickup                           98,465        89,048         10.6%

3 GMC Sierra                            61,883          51,091         21.1%

4 Chevrolet Silverado             59,066          44,932         31.5%

5 Toyota RAV4                         50,894          49,103           3.6%

6 Honda CR-V                          50,443           44,789         12.6%

7 Ford Escape                           47,880           46,661           2.6%

8 Dodge Caravan                      46,993           51,349          -8.6%

9 Nissan Rogue                         43,418           40,055          8.42%

10 Hyundai Tucson                   30,467           23,789          28.1%

Source: DesRosiers Automotive Consultants

 

 

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GM tops the list of winners and losers of 2017: the stories behind the numbers

Whew! What a stunning year.

Canadians snapped up a record 2,038,798 new SUVs, crossovers, pickups, light vans and pickups in 2017. As DesRosiers Automotive Consultants notes, for the first time in history, Canada’s new vehicle market broke through the 2.0 million sales mark.

The Chevrolet Bolt in San Francisco with Jeremy Cato. Chevrolet sold more plug-ins than any other brand for 2017.

For eight years running, Canadians have been snapping up new rides in record numbers – with 2017 sales up 4.6 per cent. But the party may be winding down. Sales were down 1.1 per cent in December, after slipping 1.2 per cent in November.

For the better part of a decade, we’ve gorged ourselves on new vehicles – especially pricy pickups, crossover wagons and SUVs (sport-utility vehicles). But rising interest rates surely are making an impact on sales. Canadian garages stuffed with new rides suggest we may have satiated our hunger for new vehicles and the incipient trends in car-sharing and urban mobility promise to impact on sales in the future.

As well, Canadians may be facing the economic realities of the new vehicle marketplace. According to J.D. Power and Associates, the average transaction price of a new vehicle in Canada is $33,000. The average new loan payment in now $590 a month, with the average monthly lease payment $550.

In a country where StatsCan reports that the average weekly salary is $986 before tax, Canadians are stretching out payments as long as possible; it’s the only way to make ownership affordable. More than half of Canadians (55 per cent) are opting for loan terms of 84 months – that’s seven years! – or longer.

Scotiabank auto analyst Carlos Gomes expects a small annual decline in sales this year, to about 2.0 million units. But sales of light trucks will continue to increase, as car sales slip.

That will be consistent with a trend that has building for years. We saw in 2017 a tipping point in consumer tastes – to light trucks. Sales there posted a double-digit increase year-on-year over 2017. Seven out of 10 Canadians now buy a new pickup, van or SUV/crossover, notes Gomes. Three years ago, it was six out of 10.

Of course, SUVs/crossovers led the way, but Canadians also bought more than 400,000 pickups last year – a double-digit increase, year-over-year.

Which brings us to winners and losers. DesRosiers notes that 15 of the 26 major brands posted all-time record sales in 2017. But not all were true winners.

BMW was a loser in 2017,

BMW Canada sold a record 38,562 BMW brand vehicles, an increase of 1.4 per cent over 2016. Yet BMW lost market share (down to 1.9 per cent of the market, from 2.0 the year before).

Jaguar sales were up 52.3 per cent. Good as that appears, Jag did not increase market share at all (steady at 0.2 per cent). That speaks to the sort of action we’re seeing in luxury sales – they’re booming overall and even large increases for minor players do not necessarily result in more market share.

The big luxury winner? Audi, which added two-tents of a point of market share (to 1.8 per cent from 1.6), and is now poised to overtake BMW in 2018. Audi’s sales were up 17.9 per cent in 2017 and there is no reason to think Audi’s momentum won’t continue in 2018.

DesRosiers also points out that Porsche (+16.8 percent), Volvo (+16.4 percent), Volkswagen (+16.0 percent), General Motors (+13.3 percent), Mercedes-Benz (+11.8 percent), Lexus (+10.0 percent) and Nissan (+10.0 percent) registered double-digit increases in 2017. Mercedes-Benz broke 50,000 sales for the first time, and Porsche broke 8,000 units.

That’s the big picture for 2017. Here’s a closer look at the winners and losers of 2017:

Luxury brands:

Winner: Audi. Honorable mention: Porsche, Volvo, Jaguar.

Audi R8 V10: halo car that works.

Audi, despite bearing the taint of the larger and global Volkswagen Group Dieselgate scandal, is on fire in Canada, and has been for a decade. The secret is no secret at all: a wide range of well-positioned SUVs that are stylish and nicely hide their VW platform roots.

In addition, Audi has worked hard to develop its dealer body in Canada – opening new stores across the country to broaden the brand’s appeal and improve local customer service.  Audi’s R8 Spyder is a wonderful halo car, the latest A8 breaks new ground in autonomous technology, but what matters most for Audi Canada are the bread-and-butter rigs like the Q5 and Q3; they are driving sales.

Porsche, another Volkswagen brand, has also been pushing a steady stream of new models, but it’s the Macan and Cayenne SUVs that account for the bulk of sales. Volvo, meantime, is the poster child for brand rebuilding, with gorgeous new models like the XC60 and XC90. And Jag’s growth is almost entirely attributable to the F-Pace, the brand’s first crossover.

Loser: BMW. Honorable mention: Land Rover. When it comes to SUVs and crossovers, BMW lacks the depth and breadth of its main rivals. The X1 should be a big winner in Canada, but it’s not. The X3 feels old and tired and the X5 is big and unimaginative. As for Land Rover, in a Canada wild for SUVs, this brand’s sales were up just 0.1 per cent, which meant Land Rover lost market share (0.4 per cent from 0.5). Land Rover is in desperate need of a relatively affordable SUV.

Mainstream brands:

Winner: General Motors. Honorable mentions: VW.

GM Canada is within a few thousand units of overtaking Ford, which has been No. 1 in Canada for most of the last decade. Amazing. Ford, notes DesRosiers, held onto the sales lead with 308,474 unit sales, but GM Canada sold 302,826 units.

GM CEO Mary Barra (left) with GM product czar Mark Reuss (right): profits driven largely by SUV and pickup sales in North America.

GM Canada sales were up 13.3 per cent, which meant a market share pickup of 1.2 per cent (to 14.9 per cent, from 13.7). Ford of Canada, meanwhile, lost half a point of market share (down to 15.1 per cent, from 15.6) on sales that crept up a paltry 1.3 per cent.

GM’s emphasis on launching new SUVs in big and growing segments, like the Chevrolet Equinox and GMC Terrain, is paying off. All GM’s brands enjoyed impressive growth in Canada last year, largely thanks to light truck sales.

But here is something that may surprise your: Chevrolet is the No. 1 retailer of electric plug-in vehicles in Canada, with more than 6,400 units sold. The new Bolt battery car has helped, but a surge in Volt sales is the big story for GM plug-ins.

Loser: FCA. Honorable mentions: Ford, Toyota, Hyundai.

All-new 2018 Jeep® Wrangler Rubicon: needed desperately.

Many of Fiat Chrysler’s big sellers are old and tired, including the Ram and especially the Wrangler, which is being replaced with an all-new model this year. Thus, FCA sales were down 3.7 per cent, with market share off more than a point (to 13.1 per cent, from 14.2). FCA desperately needs new SUV models, with the Dodge Journey perhaps the most neglected popular model in the entire FCA universe. Yet for some reason, in 2017 FCA put enormous energy and resources into a marginal seller, the Chrysler Pacifica. Ugh.

Toyota, meanwhile, is also a surprise loser. Sales were up just 2.3 per cent, which translated into a 0.2 per cent loss of market share (to 9.8 per cent). Again, Toyota lacks the proper and broad range of SUVs,  the Tundra pickup is a dog,  the small C-HR landed with a thud and RAV4 sales crept up just 3.6 per cent. At least Prius sales were up to 3,640, for a 27.5 per cent gain.

Emerging/small brands:

Winner: Maserati.

Sales were up 83.8 per cent last year – to a whopping 1,246. We’ll see if that kind of growth is sustainable in 2018. Not likely.

Loser: smart.

The Smart electric drive: a step towards emission-free driving. And disastrous for sales.

Smart is just about out of business in Canada, other than the car2go franchise. The final nail in the coffin: smart has gone all-electric in Canada and the United States.

Stalled brands:

Winner: Acura, Land Rover, Mitsubishi.

Being the winner of the Stalled Brand Award is not something to celebrate.  Honda should be embarrassed by the performance of its Acura premium brand. Sales increased by just three units, year-on-year (to 20,300). Yes, three. Acura’s Honda-like offerings will never break through the cluttered premium market as long as they remain dressed up Hondas. I’ve already hit on Land Rover. And Mitsubishi lacks new models that appeal to Canadians.

Surprises of 2017: GM, Audi.

My mailbox is regularly stuffed with GM-haters who cannot forgive and forget the 2010 bankruptcy. This vocal chorus of naysayers is becoming increasingly irrelevant. GM is growing and has a plan to become a very modern and highly profitable car company. One day the share price will catch up with the reality of the company.

How to kill a brand: smart.

Offer a lineup of tiny two-seaters and then make them all-electric. What a mess.

Next time in winners and losers: Star models of 2017, and the dogs, of course:

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Falling out of love with cars, embracing trucks

The numbers don’t lie: cars in general are headed to the endangered species list, though specific models will surely survive in small numbers — like the New Guinea Singing Dog.

In October, actual passenger car sales in Canada declined 7.9 per cent, while light truck sales surged 13.6 per cent. Seven of every 10 Canadians who bought a new vehicle in October chose an SUV (sport-utility vehicle), pickup or van. Shocking.

2018 Hyundai Kona: one of the many, many crossovers and SUVs that are storming the marketplace.

Yes, you read that correctly: pickups, vans and SUVs accounted for 70 per cent of all the new vehicles bought in Canada for October, reports DesRosiers Automotive Consultants.

“The only declines among the top ten selling light trucks were recorded for the Dodge Caravan (down 11.1 per cent) and the Ram Pickup (down 2.6 per cent),” says DesRosiers in a note to clients, adding that in October, sales fell for most of the top selling cars in Canada.

Honda Civic? Down 7.8 per cent in October.

Toyota Corolla, down 7.8 per cent.

Chevrolet Cruze, down a whopping 32.2 per cent.

Volkswagen Jetta, down 26.2 per cent.

Hyundai Accent, down 30.7 per cent.

Civics, Corollas, Cruzes, Jettas…these have been strong sellers for years, but they all are suffering mightily in 2017, and more pain is looming.

Honda Civic: sales down 7.8 in October

But light trucks? Sales are up across the board, save minivans which are actually down 3.7 per cent year-to-date. I’d argue that minivans are long, roomy cars with sliding side doors and all sorts of negative baggage, image-wise. So there’s nothing surprising about this slump in minivan sales.

SUVs and crossovers?

Scotiabank auto analyst Carlos Gomes, commenting on November sales, points to the crossover utility craze that “remains in full force. In contrast, nearly all manufacturers sold fewer cars than a year ago. In fact, car sales actually fell below the level prevailing during the Global Financial Crisis in late 2008.”

That’s right: while global vehicle sales are surging around the world (expected to top 92 million in all), and Canadians remain on track to buy more than 2.0 million new rides in 2017, actual car sales in Canada are lower than they were during the worst economic crisis since the Great Depression.

2018 Chevrolet Cruze Sedan Diesel: Cruze sales were down 32.2 per cent in October.

The exception? Luxury cars. DesRosiers notes that sales of luxury, luxury high and luxury sport cars are all up this year (7.4, 18.0 and 4.9 per cent, respectively).

Canadians, then, are feeling flush. At least when it comes to buying a new vehicle. In fact, J.D. Power and Associates reports that the average transaction price for a new vehicle in Canada is about $33,000. Wow!

That number is being driven by the SUV and crossover love affair. Consider that even the least expensive crossover is some $5,000 more than a similar-sized car which often shares its architecture, or mechanical underpinnings. Under their skins, a Civic, Honda Accord and Honda CR-V share a platform. They are essential the same car/SUV.

Today’s buyer, however, wants the image of a crossover/SUV, along with more ride height and the accompanying improved visibility. Buyers also want the perceived safety of a truck-like rig; and the overall functionality of a tall station wagon with luxury features like a rear hatch that opens automatically with a kick to the air underneath the rear end (Ford pioneered this with the Escape, but others have this feature now, too).

A slew of new crossovers and SUVs will keep feeding the market’s insatiable appetite for bigger, taller rigs – despite the exorbitant pricing.

2018 GMC Acadia All Terrain

Just this past week, FCA’s Jeep brand showed us the 2018 version of the Wrangler SUV. Nissan is about to introduce a new compact SUV called the 2018 Nissan Kick, too. And we also have coming:

  • Hyundai’s new “urban” SUV, the Kona;
  • Volvo new XC40 small crossover;
  • Subaru’s three-row SUV, the 2018 Ascent;
  • Lexus’s three-row version of the RX crossover, along with the 2018 Toyota Sequoia;
  • Lincoln’s 2019 Nautilus SUV, another monster rig;
  • General Motor’s new GMC Acadia, to go with the recently launched GMC Terrain.

New Volvo XC40 – exterior

What kinds of rigs are most popular? The big action is in compact and intermediate SUVs. DesRosiers reports that nearly one in three new vehicles sold through October was either a compact or intermediate SUV (513,757 sold out of total sales of 1.75 million). And if you’re keeping track, compact SUVs rule in Canada: 361,554 compact SUVs sold, versus 152,203 intermediate SUVs.

If you’re a car lover, here’s the sad news: automakers have begun to aggressively pare their passenger car lineups. Slow sellers are being banished to history’s junkyard and marginally popular cars are ending up in rental fleets or car-sharing schemes. They’ll all be gone when the factory tooling wears out.

Names? Want names? Here’s a small sampling of the cars slated to be extinguished after the 2017 model year: Buick Verano, Dodge Viper, Chrysler 200, Lexus CT 200h, Mitsubishi i-MiEV, Mitsubishi Lancer, gasoline-powered smart fortwo and Volkswagen CC.

Yes, cars – actual cars – are on the endangered species list. And some models have left us forever, or will soon. Sad for some, but true for all of us.

2018 Lexus RX 350L – Lexus USA 1

2019 Lincoln Nautilus

All-new 2018 Jeep® Wrangler Rubicon

Subaru Ascent

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