Sports Utility / 4x4

Sports Utility / 4x4

  Sports Utility Vehicle and 4x4 cars and trucks news and reviews

2014 Geneva Motor Show Preview

This year’s Geneva Motor Show sure provided a lot of new metal to be covered with automakers from around the world choosing to debut their latest vehicles on the world’s stage. The level of excitement about the show had been building for quite some time and to be honest, many of the vehicles were rather polarizing.

Even designs that were generally liked garnered a few nay-sayers regarding their lack of originality, while other designs only attracted drool and positive feedback. As they say, beauty is in the eye of the beholder, but in this article, the TopSpeed editorial staff cover their top five best cars of the show along with the bottom five bombs.

Don’t forget to check out more of TopSpeed’s Geneva coverage on our Podcast pilot episode . And be sure to pipe up in the comments section telling us your thoughts on our choices.

Click past the jump for our list

I recently spent a week behind the wheel of a 2013 Toyota 4Runner , and while it missed Toyota’s 2014 mild refresh , it still had the guts of a true off-roader and honest-to-goodness sports utility vehicle. My 4Runner was decked out with the Trail package that included part-time four-wheel-drive, a locking differential and Toyota ’s KDSS suspension system with Multi-Terrain Select. With all the right option boxes checked, this 4Runner was set to live up to its name.

It was 1984 when the 4Runner began making its name known to Americans as the SUV adaptation of Toyota’s popular pickup. In fact, the 4Runner was basically a Toyota pickup, or Hilux as its known outside the U.S., with a removable fiberglass camper shell over the bed and a removable rear seat installed inside. It competed directly against the Ford Bronco and Chevrolet Blazer and won a loyal following with its nimble size and bulletproof powertrain.

Over the years, the 4Runner has undergone many changes and became its own vehicle apart from the pickup. But that body-on-frame construction, four-wheel-drive, and nimbler size still lives on. Even in a time when the traditional SUV is becoming an endangered species, the 4Runner hasn’t lost its rugged appeal. The crossover crowd has the Highlander , and that’s just fine, as it leaves the 4Runner to cater to a more adventurous crowd who still use low range and the trailer hitch.

Click past the jump to continue reading our review of the 2013 Toyota 4Runner

The Skoda Octavia Scout will make its public debut at the Geneva Motor Show and it should mark Skoda’s intention of becoming a player in the crossover market.

To be fair to Skoda , the new Octavia Scout does possess some notable elements, even though the crossover does follow some of the same characteristics of its predecessor. The notable rough and sporty exterior is a big plus, given the rather bland public perception the company has in the industry.

More than that, the Octavia Scout also gets a choice of engine and a four-wheel-drive system that should improve the car’s performance and handling credentials.

Whether it’s enough to attract a new segment of buyers is another thing; Skoda still has some work left to do in that regard. But it’s pretty comforting knowing that the company is trying and at this stage in its ascent, you can be sure that it’ll have more surprises for the Octavia Scout when the vehicle makes its debut in Geneva.

Click past the jump to read more about Skoda Octavia Scout

Those January winter blues are in full swing and dreams of summertime fun and easy livin’ are incessant. Eluding those dreams just got even more impossible when we stumbled upon this amphibious beauty. Half SUV , half boat — the Panther is a completely custom vehicle designed and built by the small California company WaterCar; and it’s our idea of a good time.

The Panther’s obvious main attraction is its ability to transform from a road-going SUV to a seafaring boat within seconds, giving passengers the ultimate go-anywhere capability without huge compromises in either department. WaterCar says the Panther will do an impressive 80-plus mph on the road and 44 mph (38 knots) on the water. It will even tow a wakeboarder or skier at a decent clip.

A rear-mounted Honda 3.7-liter, VTEC V-6 sends power through a proprietary four-speed manual transaxle/transfer case that can switch between powering the rear wheels or the “Panther Jet” water-propulsion system. The Jeep Wrangler -like body is constructed of lightweight fiberglass and features a non-lawsuit-inducing six-slotted grille (seven slots on a real Jeep ), a folding windshield, half-doors, and a roll bar.

Under the bodywork lies a fiberglass V-type hull that allows for the high on-water speeds. Unlike the Titanic, sinking isn’t an issue. The Panther is filled with 32 cubic feet of U.S. Coast Guard-approved closed cell Styrofoam. Holding everything together is a custom chromoly tube chassis that’s impervious to corrosion. Huge hydraulic shocks retract the wheels up and down in second for quick changes between land and water modes.

All told, the WaterCar Panther is one awesome machine that somehow makes regular boating appear boring. Selling for $135,000, the Panther isn’t cheap, but it seems like a deal if life becomes as fun as the video above depicts.

Click past the jump to see another video of the Panther in action

Posted on by Simona  

The first Jeep Wrangler Altitude special edition was revealed back in 2012 when the company combined it with the Wrangler Unlimited version. Now, for the 2014 model year, this special edition returns, but this time Jeep combined it with the Wrangler Sahara.

The new Wrangler Altitude is offered in Amp’d, Black, Granite Crystal and Hydro Blue exterior paints combined with a matte-black grille with gloss-black throats, headlight rings and Jeep badge, and gloss-black front and rear bumper appliques.

Under the hood, the model gets a 3.6-liter Pentastar V-6 engine delivering a total of 285 horsepower and 260 pound-feet of torque and mated to a either a standard six-speed manual or an available five-speed automatic transmission.

The new Jeep Wrangler Altitude is offered in Jeep Wrangler two-door models priced at $31,595 and Wrangler Unlimited priced at $35,395.

Click past the jump to read more about the 2014 Jeep Wrangler Altitude.

While we admittedly enjoy the aesthetic spectacle that comes with an exterior tune-up, what really gets our juices flowing is when an aftermarket company can turn an interior cabin straight into one you normally would find in a luxury car . One of the best in the business at doing that is Vilner and recently, the Bulgarian aftermarket company took up the task of dressing up a 2014 Jeep Wrangler Sahara Unlimited . And the results are glorious.

First of all, pay no mind to what you believe a Wrangler stands for. Sure, it’s an off-road SUV, and one of the best at that . But it’s also more than that; it can also be turned into it’s own luxury ride, and that’s where Vilner comes into the picture.

With generous helpings of Alcantara and leather appointments, Vilner was able to turn the interior of the Wrangler Sahara Unlimited into a two-tone blend of red and black, the likes of which you normally don’t see in an off-road SUV. From there, Vilner also painted the metal components found on the roof in black while also adding chrome treatment on the steering wheel, doors, and air outlets.

Outside, the Bulgarian specialist was also nice enough to toss in some new duds, including new LED headlights, rear turn signals and fog lights, more chrome finishes on the mirrors, grilles, door handles and tank cap, and a new set of 20-inch gloss-black rims.

Finally, Vilner gave the Wrangler a modest performance tune, ratcheting up the output from the vehicle’s 2.8-liter diesel engine to 261 horsepower and 412 pound-feet of torque, which is a nice bump from the standard 200 horsepower and 339 pound-feet of torque numbers of the off-road SUV.

Click past the jump to read more about Vilner’s work on the Wrangler Sahara Unlimited

Now that Ford has announced that it will discontinue the SVT Raptor variant for the 2015 Ford F-150 , we’re left with the kind of sadness normally reserved to seeing one of our favorite TV shows get cancelled.

The SVT Raptor trim for the F-150 was a personal favorite of ours and now that it’s going to be discontinued, we’re beginning to appreciate more and more when an aftermarket company has an impressive tuning program at its hands.

That’s precisely what Roush Performance has and it’s definitely worthy of our attention. Roush fitted its Phase 2 performance upgrade onto this F-150 SVT Raptor so, off the bat, you know that this isn’t some purely aesthetic upgrade.

Nope, this one has it all in spades, including the aforementioned aesthetic upgrades. That comes in the form of a predominantly red body finish with matching custom graphics on the sides and back, finished off by some camo detailing on the rear.

But that’s not what’s tickling our fancy for this particular Roush program on the SVT Raptor. It’s the Phase 2 performance upgrade that adds a slew of new mechanical components on the pickup ’s powertrain. A huge intercooler was dropped into place, as were high-flow fuel injectors and a dual-tip, performance-tuned, cat-back exhaust system that bumps the output of the F-150 SVT Raptor to a staggering 590 horsepower, a sizable increase from the standard 411-horsepower output from the pickup’s standard 6.2-liter, V-8 engine.

Click past the jump to read about the 2014 Ford F-150

Posted on by Simona  

Mopar unveiled today the first details on the new Muscle Monster Truck, which is loosely based on the 2014 Ram Heavy Duty truck. The model is the result of a recent collaboration between Ram and Hall Brothers Racing, and it will see use in numerous Monster Jam competitions, starting with the one on January 11th in Detroit.

The new Mopar Muscle Monster Truck is the first original equipment manufacturer (OEM) monster truck to be introduced in the Monster Jam series in more than a decade. The model is based on a highly modified Ram Heavy Duty truck that is 10-feet high and weighs 10,300 pounds.

Under the hood the new monster truck gets a 565-cubic-inch, supercharged version of the iconic Gen II 426 HEMI engine that delivers a total of 2,000 horsepower — an increase of almost 1,600 horsepower over the most powerful Ram Heavy Duty version.

Click past the jump to read more about the Mopar Muscle Monster Truck.

Posted on by Tushar  

Earlier this year, Volvo unveiled the Concept Coupe — the first of three concepts — based on the company’s new Scalable Product Architecture. The coupe was a design study commissioned to give us a glimpse of the future Volvo design direction.

Now under the watchful eye of Thomas Ingenlath, Senior Vice President of Design, the Swedish car maker has unveiled the second concept dubbed the Concept XC Coupe.

Per Volvo’s naming convention, ’XC’ is the prefix used for all things SUV . So, the Concept XC is nothing but a showcase future Volvo SUV designs, and it will show its face at the upcoming 2014 Detroit Motor show . This being a concept, Volvo has not revealed any technical details as of yet.

Like all manufacturers, Volvo too is switching to modular construction in order to keep a tab on development costs. The company’s Scalable Product Architecture will underpin all future Volvo cars, including crossovers , full-size SUVs and sedans .

Update 1/8/2014: With only a few days before it does its full undressing in Detroit, the Volvo Concept XC Coupe has dropped cover and revealed a few details about itself. You can see more after the jump.

Click past the jump to read more about the Volvo Concept XC Coupe

Posted on by Simona  

Everyone knows that most SUVs can tackle about any road and some light off-road duty. However, when you look at the Range Rover Evoque and its elegant lines, you may think that Land Rover had something else other than off-road trekking.

If you were questioning the Evoque ’s off-road capacities, the off-road specialist Milner came up with some pretty interesting concept — the LRM-1 — that will likely change your opinion on it. To facilitate the transformation into this stunning concept car, the Milner modded just about everything beneath the Evoque’s skin to get it ready for a real off-road thrashing.

A base Evoque delivers a total of 240 horsepower, which is not quite enough for the Milner folks, so they replaced the standard in-line four-pot engine with a 5.0-liter, supercharged V-8 engine that produces more than 550 horsepower and 501 pound-feet of torque. The engine is mated to a six-speed sequential gearbox driving a Milner transfer box and Milner differentials with Quaife centers.

Click past the jump to read more about the Range Rover Evoque LRM-1 by Milner.


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