utility vehicle

utility vehicle

Posted on by Simona  

Audi announced plans to expand its SUV lineup with the unveiling of the Cross Coupe quattro concept at the 2007 Shanghai Motor Show. Ever since that unveiling, it has been pretty clear that the company is preparing a compact premium sports car with the spaciousness and versatility of a four-seat SUV.

When the Q3 finally arrived in production form at the 2011 Shanghai Motor Show, it offered no big surprises, as its exterior language remained nearly identical to the concept. The Q3 is built on the same A5 (PQ35) platform as the Volkswagen Tiguan and at launch, Audi was offered with a choice of three engines, with a fourth engine – diesel one – coming at a later date.

The Q3 was put on sale in Europe in June 2011 and it received no updates since then, except the recent addition of the most powerful version in the lineup: the Q3 RS .

Click past the jump to read more about the Audi Q3 SUV.

Posted on by Simona  

Back in July 2012, Audi announced the 2013 SQ5 TDI , which is the first S model in Audi’s history to bear a diesel engine. That’s all well and good, but what if you really want the new SQ5, but are not a big diesel fan? Well, then you will have to wait for the petrol version to debut. And it will next week at the 2013 Detroit Auto Show.

The new Audi SQ5 TFSI will be specially developed for markets like United States, Canada and China, while in Europe the only version available will be the TDI one.

The model will be offered with the same "S" model upgrades seen in the TDI version: standard 20" wheels in triple-spoke design, a platinum gray radiator grille and of course a quadruple exhaust tips. Despite this similarities, the new petrol version has the advantage if being a little bit more powerful than the previous TDI engine, so the American customers will enjoy an extra 40 horsepower.

Updated 06/17/2013: Audi USA announced today prices for the 2014 Audi SQ5 that will arrive in U.S. showrooms later this summer. Click past the jump to learn how much you have to pay for the first-ever S variant of any Audi Q model.

BMW has been twiddling around with the BMW X4 since 2008 when the idea of a sportier version of the X3 was looking like a profitable venture. Back then, the German automaker was calling it a Sport Activity Sedan (SAS) and had thought they might be able to crank it out in 2010. Obviously that didn’t pan out, but plans for the X6’s smaller brother are still in the works, with a possible debut in 2013.

As you can see from the leaked prototype image provided above, the BMW X4 will get many of its exterior components from the X3 , including the use of the X3’s platform. Rumors suggest that the future vehicle will be produced at the company’s Spartanburg plant in South Carolina, which would be fitting considering the passion we, as Americans, have for SUVs.

Do we need another sporty off-roader to cram into our parking spaces and guzzle up more gas? Probably not, but that doesn’t mean that the future BMW X4 won’t zoom right out of dealerships when it finally goes on sale.

UPDATE 04/05/2013: BMW has officially lifted the veil from the X4 Concept to confirm that the leaked concept images are, in fact, a reality. Also released were three videos of the new X4 concept (above). BMW went rather deep into the design of the X4 Concept, but left any details regarding the drivetrain out. See the details after the jump and you can find the images in the gallery.

UPDATE 04/17/2013: BMW has dropped a set of new images for the X4 Concept car. Find them in the picture gallery!

UPDATE 06/14/2013: The folks over at BMW Blog were at BMW Welt in Munich, Germany, and caught the real-life X4 concept sitting on the floor. So they did what any auto-loving bloggers would do: snap tons of images and put them online. The new images are after the jump and more in the Gallery.

Hit the jump to get details for the BMW X4.

Posted on by TB +  

On the eve of a new 2014 Touareg launch from Volkswagen later this year, here is a look back at the model’s mechanical and style evolution during its 9-year run in the U.S. from 2004 through 2013 – between 2002 and 2004, it was available in other markets. No fewer than seven unique engines have powered this PL71-platform VW behemoth in production form. Even including its stable-mates the Porsche Cayenne or Audi Q7 , no other SUV in the history of the automobile has packed more mechanical variations over a relatively short run.

From basic I-5 diesels to V-6s up to the monster V-10 TDI and W-12 gasoline engines and even a hybrid in the mix, the Touareg has been a true jack-of-all-trades and a phenomenal global success for the Volkswagen group. It is worth remembering that the platform development and manufacturing partnership between VW and Porsche had long been dead until this SUV project brought it back to life in 1999.

The first Porsche-VW baby of the new era was born a healthy, slightly pudgy infant with the Volkswagen Touareg. A name only a mother could pronounce, it is said as both “twa-reg” and/or “toar-reg.” If you don’t already know, the Toureg – the real ones, not the car – are a North African group of people that speak Berber.

Ostensibly a response to the success of the Mercedes-Benz ML series launched in 1998, the Touareg’s mission was to be all things to all buyers. The goal was complex: Range Rover comfort, BMW 5-series road-going abilities and G-Wagen strength when all paved roads turn to dirt.

Click past the jump to read about the evolution of the Volkswagen Touareg.

Posted on by TB +  

The Lexus LX 570 is an important model that’s reaching near-icon status by delivering a blend of luxury and off-road ability that sets it apart from other $80,000 full-size SUVs. It helps define the brand and add some much-needed cool points based on its redesigned exterior and massaged features for the 2013 model year.

It is easy to dismiss the LX 570 as a big player on the super-SUV scene that also includes the Audi Q7 , Infiniti QX56 and the Land Rover Range Rover . After all, the core Lexus high-dollar models like the LS and LF-A make up an increasingly slim portion of sales for the luxury heavyweight, as prices ratchet ever upwards and the competition grows increasingly fierce.

In fact, the biggest, toughest Lexus has a strong global following in high-dollar markets as diverse as Russia, North Africa and the Middle East region. The reasons are easy to fathom: unstoppable off-road, a seriously opulent interior, and the hard-earned reliability of the LX’s Land Cruiser sibling all bolstering its image.

The LX has been a fixture since launching in the U.S. exclusively in 1996 as the LX 450, a true bruiser only slightly dressed up for the occasion. The most recent iteration has been around since 2008 and is on a bit of a sales up-swing to nearly 28,000 units globally in 2012. The United States only accounted for 18 percent of that number, but remains a trend-setting market among international consumers.

As such, the 2013 model features heavily updated styling to bring the LX into the latest “spindle grille” and “arrowhead LED” styling themes embraced by the rest of Lexus line. Dozens of detail tweaks also help the LX 570 stay current with the leading luxury off-roaders.

Click past the jump for the full review of the legendary Lexus LX, plus a mega photo gallery of the new exterior and interior and a video from INKAS Armored about their bullet-proof LX 570.

Posted on by TB +  

The full-size van segment is facing a big shakeup at the moment. Mind you, the standards for improvement are pretty low – these vans skipped all the manners and refinement courses undergone by their pickup-truck siblings, like the Ford F-150 and Chevrolet Silverado .

New competition from the Nissan NV , Ram CV, Mercedes Sprinter and the upcoming full-size Ford Transit means the Express will have to work harder than ever to maintain its huge 44-plus-percent market share in the segment.

In addition to far more modern options from Dodge and soon Ford, the full-size segment is under assault from above via pricier pickup trucks and from below via the Ford Transit Connect and other urban commercial runabouts. Despite the challengers, the Express logged nearly 77,000 sales in the U.S. in 2012.

So, the Chevrolet Express is long past its glory years where it represented the most sophisticated and modern full-size van available in the U.S. Despite seeming like it’s been around for eternity and beyond, the Express debuted in 1996 to rave reviews by thousands of contractors, conversion van companies and Church groups happy to have (slightly) more refinement than the previous models and the competition of the time.

No one will argue that 17 years is a long time on the market, but its tenure on dealer lots means the Express is both super affordable and also mechanically customizable with four engines, passenger or cargo setups, multiple wheelbases and a myriad of other options.

How does the Chevrolet Express stack up to the latest buyer priorities, and comfort and safety demands? Can its low price and spray-clean cargo area overcome the harsh ride, unbelievably bad seats and almost complete lack of modern interior tech?

Click past the jump for the full review of the Chevrolet Express.

Posted on by TB +  

There’s a big shakeup taking place in the full-size van and truck market as Ford prepares to replace its wretched Econoline with a far superior vehicle called the Transit. At first, the setup for the new Transit seems all wrong, as a uni-body is the polar opposite of the traditional body-on-frame truck construction.

The Transit is indeed a big change for a group of hard-working van buyers who are scarily familiar with all the gritty details of the Econolines they’ve run for the last 50 years. The Transit, at first, looks like a botched Euro import, but in fact, Ford’s spent years of planning, engineering and customizing the global Transit line to make sure it answers every question asked of the Econoline by American van buyers.

Part of the admirable and smart “One Ford” strategy, the Dearborn teams take a long, hard look at which of their worldwide models is best fit to tackle global challenges. In the case of the Mustang , it turns out Europe has been clamoring for it all along, so the next-gen car will be sold in Europe and in many more global markets than ever before. In the case of the large commercial van market, the Transit is simply a far better model than the Econoline in terms of fitness for purpose, modern safety and efficiency needs.

Yes, it is a V-6 uni-body without off-road options or the four-wheel-drive system of some Econolines. As we’ll discover over the full review of the lineup, these things bring only benefits but keep the core attributes: a dozen plus different body styles and engine configurations, massive passenger or cargo payload ratings, better performance and economy, more comfort, more tech and finally, more safety.

As Ford educates and comforts the long-trenched Econoline market, the two models will briefly overlap before the eventual phase-out of the E-series altogether after 2015. Let me be the first to say it: good riddance Econoline!

Click past the jump for the full review and image gallery of the 2014 Ford Transit.

Back in December of last year, Nissan unveiled a unique one-off Juke crossover, adorned in everything and anything Batman. Or in this particular case, the Dark Knight Rises.

At that time, nobody had any idea what Nissan had planned for the one-off Juke, only saying that it would be a prize in some competition "down the road.”

Well, that "down the road" has come and passed, and the one-off Batman-inspired Juke Nismo has found a lucky new owner. His name is Adam Williams, a self-confessed action film fan and local baker from Wales.

After winning Nissan’s Thrill Test, Williams’ prize was unlike any other: this one-off Juke that features a host of Batman-inspired details making it the envy of every movie fan and car buff.

Williams took delivery of the one-off Batman Juke in front of Carmarthen Castle and to no one’s surprise, the man was thrilled to be the proud owner of a truly unique showpiece vehicle.

"I can’t believe I’ve won this fantastic car - it was the biggest surprise of my life and I was so excited to take delivery of it," Williams said. "I’ll certainly turn a few heads driving around Carmarthen - it’s great to think I’m the only person in the world with my very own version of the Batmobile!"

Click past the jump to read about the Nissan Juke Nismo Dark Knight Rises

Posted on by Simona  

After the VelociRaptor APV concept announced back in 2010, Hennessey finally decided to come with a production version. The new package will be applied to the Ford F-150 Raptor SVT and will be limited to only 30 units per year. Customers interested will have to pay a total of $149,500.

The tuner transformed the Raptor pickup into an SUV, so it now offers seating capacity for up to eight people, making it the ideal car for a big family.

In standard form, the VelociRaptor is powered by the Raptor’s standard 6.2-liter V-8 engine delivering a total of 411 horsepower, but you know as well as we o that Hennessey wouldn’t stop there. For an additional cost, the tuner will install a 600 Supercharged upgrade, which will increase the SUV’s output to 600 horsepower. If you have a few more dollars in your pocket, Hennessey also offers a Brembo front brake upgrade, larger wheels and tires, LED lighting upgrades, bespoke interior and electronic upgrades, and new security and armoring systems.

With all these updates, the VelociRaptor’s weight will be increased by about 600 pounds. With this added weight, the base version will sprint from 0 to 60 mph in just 7.5 seconds and the 600-horsepower version does the same sprint in just 5.9 seconds.

Click past the jump to read more about the standard Ford F-150 Raptor SVT.

The Suburban nameplate is the longest continuously running name used in General Motors ’ lineup. Granted, the model has not been the same for the entire 81 years it’s been in existence, as the nameplate started on essentially overgrown station wagon that was for military use only, then it became a windowed “carryall” truck and didn’t really resemble the modern day model until 1967.

Now 81 years young, the Suburban is going stronger than ever as it enters the 2014 model year and shows no signs of slowing down. With other makers downsizing their full-size SUV s into more agile crossover models, the Suburban remains one of the handful of body-on-frame SUVs left roaming the Earth. Essentially, it is the automotive equivalent of a brontosaurus.

Even though the 2014 model for the most par carries over aesthetically and mechanically, Chevy has tweaked the model ever so slightly to keep it fresh and ready to roll with all-new standard features and a new color.

Click past the jump to read more about the 2014 Suburban


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