The Latest: Fiat Chrysler CEO says 3 new SUVs in the works

DETROIT (AP) — The Latest on the North American International Auto Show in Detroit (all times local): 9:45 a.m. Fiat Chrysler CEO Sergio Marchionne says three new SUVs are in the works, including sporty versions from Alfa Romeo and Ferrari and a Chrysler based on the Pacifica minivan. Marchionne told reporters after an updated Jeep Cherokee was unveiled that Alfa Romeo will add a three-row large SUV by 2022. It will be larger than the Stelvio, Alfa's first SUV. The company also has developed an SUV based on the Pacifica minivan underpinnings but hasn't decided whether to produce it, he said. It could come in 18 to 20 months. A new Jeep Wrangler pickup truck will debut early in 2019, and the Ferrari brand is working on an SUV that likely will go on sale around the start of 2020, he said. ——— 9:50 a.m. Jeep relatively slow sales growth in Europe is "shameful" and needs to be improved, Fiat Chrysler CEO Sergio Marchionne says. Marchionne says he's "really ticked off" about it and is planning to push for faster growth this year. For the first 11 months of 2017, Jeep sales rose 2.6 percent to 96,077 over the same period in 2016. That left market share in the European Union unchanged at 0.7 percent even though the overall market grew 4.1 percent, according to the European Automobile Manufacturers Association. Marchionne says he replaced the brand's European manager and the company will campaign for stronger sales this year. "We need to get the machine started. It's the laggard in the system," Marchionne told reporters after the Jeep Cherokee compact SUV was unveiled. ——— 9 a.m. When Fiat Chrysler's Jeep brand unveiled a revamped Jeep Cherokee compact SUV Tuesday, it came toward the stage from about 10 feet above, with the driver making a perilous trek down a jagged set of stairs. The bright-red Cherokee came to a stop at a precise angle to show it off to reporters, and the driver had the difficult task of bringing it to a halt Continue Reading

2018 Volkswagen Atlas carries 3-row SUV class on its shoulders

With the all-new Atlas, Volkswagen is one of the last automakers to debut a proper three-row SUV. Being late to the three-row party has its advantages; Atlas feels roomier, smoother and altogether more unified than the competition. It may just carry the beleaguered brand on its back, much as its mythological namesake holds up the sky, a sky less polluted by diesel emissions now that VW has made amends. The 276-horsepower V-6 engine in the tester is middle of the V-6 pack in fuel economy at 19 mpg combined. With so many SUVs getting more fuel-efficient turbocharged four-cylinder engines, such as the Mazda CX-9 and forthcoming Subaru Ascent, why not go for the 235-horsepower turbocharged four cylinder offered in the Atlas? With torque relatively even with the competition, it comes down to towing. The V-6 is rated for a 5,000-pound towing capacity; the turbo tows 2,000 pounds. While engine specs don’t stand out from the competition, the V-6 Atlas is peppy for a 4,500-pound vehicle and the eight-speed transmission is excellent. The shifts are so smooth it might be mistaken for a continuously variable transmission if not for the slight blip of the tachometer. It’s not a CVT, which is nice. The driver has control over the four drive modes within Volkswagen’s 4Motion Active Control. That’s not really German for conditional all-wheel drive. In the default on-road setting it’s essentially front-wheel drive, with four drive modes such as normal and sport that delay the shift points. Shifting the selector on the center console to “snow” mode, for instance, adds power to the rear axle as well. The eight-speed shifts earlier, the throttle response is dampened and there is more grip for more confidence. The system was barely noticeable in our week in snow and ice with the tester, which is exactly what we’d want. It did the work while we did the driving. As good as the variable all-wheel drive system and transmission are, the real Continue Reading

Dodge touts new 2018 Durango SRT as most powerful three-row SUV

By Carol Christian, / Houston Chronicle Published 9:33 am, Wednesday, February 8, 2017 window._taboola = window._taboola || []; _taboola.push({ mode: 'thumbnails-c', container: 'taboola-interstitial-gallery-thumbnails-5', placement: 'Interstitial Gallery Thumbnails 5', target_type: 'mix' }); _taboola.push({flush: true}); window._taboola = window._taboola || []; _taboola.push({ mode: 'thumbnails-c', container: 'taboola-interstitial-gallery-thumbnails-10', placement: 'Interstitial Gallery Thumbnails 10', target_type: 'mix' }); _taboola.push({flush: true}); window._taboola = window._taboola || []; _taboola.push({ mode: 'thumbnails-c', container: 'taboola-interstitial-gallery-thumbnails-15', placement: 'Interstitial Gallery Thumbnails 15', target_type: 'mix' }); _taboola.push({flush: true}); window._taboola = window._taboola || []; _taboola.push({ mode: 'thumbnails-c', container: 'taboola-interstitial-gallery-thumbnails-20', placement: 'Interstitial Gallery Thumbnails 20', target_type: 'mix' }); _taboola.push({flush: true}); window._taboola = window._taboola || []; _taboola.push({ mode: 'thumbnails-c', container: 'taboola-interstitial-gallery-thumbnails-25', placement: 'Interstitial Gallery Thumbnails 25', target_type: 'mix' }); _taboola.push({flush: true}); window._taboola = window._taboola || []; _taboola.push({ mode: 'thumbnails-c', container: 'taboola-interstitial-gallery-thumbnails-30', placement: 'Interstitial Gallery Thumbnails 30', target_type: 'mix' }); _taboola.push({flush: true}); window._taboola = window._taboola || []; _taboola.push({ mode: 'thumbnails-c', container: 'taboola-interstitial-gallery-thumbnails-35', placement: 'Interstitial Gallery Thumbnails 35', target_type: 'mix' }); _taboola.push({flush: true}); window._taboola = window._taboola || []; _taboola.push({ mode: 'thumbnails-c', container: 'taboola-interstitial-gallery-thumbnails-40', placement: 'Interstitial Gallery Thumbnails Continue Reading

First Drive: Land Rover serves up the new 2017 Discovery, sating full-sized appetites for adventure both on and off the road

Full Car Details More Reviews While driving the new 2017 Land Rover Discovery across the barren but beautiful Utah terrain, and after traversing near-vertical boulders, 16-inch-deep sand dunes, and mud with tentacles, I experienced an epiphany. There might be an engine in front of me, four wheels beneath me, four doors surrounding me, and seat belts securing me to comfortable leather-capped chairs, but any kinship the 2017 Discovery has with the average SUV currently roaming suburbia is remote. Nevertheless, the new Land Rover Discovery excels at nearly every task. It serves the roles of the luxury-lined SUV; the family hauler with seating for seven; the towing rig that tackles up to 8,200 pounds; and the off-roader's faithful working dog. It's a waterdog too, able to wade through rivers and ponds at over 35 inches of depth, which is four inches above the tippy tops of the tires, at which point an opened door turns the Discovery into an overpriced swimming pool. Perhaps Land Rover could even appropriate the U.S. Postal Service’s unofficial motto for the Discovery: “Neither snow nor rain nor heat nor gloom of night stays this SUV from the swift completion of its appointed rounds.” The creed certainly fits this impressive jack-of-all-trades. New aluminum bones Replacing the LR4 in Land Rover’s lineup, the 2017 Disco is totally new right down to its aluminum-intensive bones. Those bones replace the traditional body-on-frame construction used for the LR4, LR3 and prior generations of the Discovery with a new unibody vehicle architecture, trimming a bewildering half-ton of weight off the old LR4 while strengthening its foundation at the same time. Still, despite the crash diet, the new Discovery is not exactly a featherweight, tipping the scales at about 5,000 pounds. Equally as significant, the new Disco wears a completely Continue Reading

Ratings and Review: With a finer-tuned recipe, the 2017 Honda Pilot would be just about perfect

Full Car Details More Reviews In the automotive world, there are minivan drivers, and there are crossover SUV drivers. Minivan drivers blithely go about their day and extol the virtues of their functional vehicle while making stops at the school, the playfield and the big box store before packing up for the big annual road trip to the family cabin. Crossover SUV drivers tend to look down upon minivan drivers. They bristle at the mention of the suburban domesticity inferred by minivan ownership, imagining their allegedly more rugged vehicles negotiating unpaved trails before they make stops at the school, the playfield and the big box store in advance of packing for the big annual road trip to the family cabin. What’s the difference? The crossover SUV drivers find that they can’t bring along as much gear as the family owning the minivan. As ridiculous as this sounds (and is), crossover SUVs are red hot right now, and sales show no signs of cooling off. One of the most popular of the breed is the 2017 Honda Pilot, now in its second year following a complete redesign in 2016, and sometimes it is genuinely hard to tell if it’s a minivan or an SUV. That, believe it or not, is a good thing, making the Pilot an excellent compromise between the two. Huge inside, the Honda Pilot easily fits adults in all three rows of seats while sporting the silhouette of a utility vehicle. In order to see if it could serve the needs and assuage the vanity of my suburban-dwelling family of four, I spent a week driving a fully loaded Honda Pilot Elite wearing a window sticker of $48,010. This is my story. Design: 8.0 rating While the Pilot’s rounded front end looks more like a minivan than the overwrought, chunky slabs of steel that some car companies employ to convey an image of burly adventurousness, the side view tells you that this is no minivan. Continue Reading

Ratings and Review: The 2017 Volvo XC90 is one of the best luxury SUVs you can buy

Full Car Details More Reviews Blending style, safety, substance, and sensibility in equal measure, the 2017 Volvo XC90 is easy to like. Add comfortable seats, generous cargo space, and coddling touches of luxury, and you’ve got a roomy, upscale, and desirable SUV. Plus, Volvo offers an XC90 is just about every flavor. You want the basics? Volvo provides the T5 Momentum version with front-wheel drive. You want something sporty? Try the T6 R-Design with all-wheel drive. Inscription trim ladles on the luxury, while the T8 Plug-in Hybrid variant adds power and efficiency in equal measure. And then there is the opulently decadent T8 Excellence, carrying a six-figure sticker price. FOLLOW DAILY NEWS AUTOS ON FACEBOOK. 'LIKE' US HERE. The range runs from $46,745 to as much as $105,805. For this test, I sampled a T6 Inscription with just about every option, and priced at $74,390 including the $995 destination charge. After a week spent shuttling family, running errands, and driving a variety of roads stretching from downtown Los Angeles to idyllic Santa Barbara County, this is my take on Volvo’s impressive SUV. Design: 9.7 rating Especially when equipped with its available 21-inch wheels and tires, the distinctive XC90 is a terrific looking SUV, easily the most attractive vehicle in its class. In my opinion, Volvo gets not a single line, curve, or detail wrong. Decked out with Inscription trim and a cabin rendered in Amber leather, Linear Walnut matte-finish wood, and classy knurled metal detailing, the XC90’s interior is to personal transportation what a chocolate fudge brownie drizzled with caramel is to desserts: Yummy. Gorgeous inside, the Volvo XC90’s colors, materials, textures, and Scandinavian design principles represent visual perfection, even if the minimalistic control layout takes a toll on ergonomics. As far as fit and finish is concerned, the only flaw I noticed was that the test vehicle’s Continue Reading

First Drive: The 2017 Nissan Pathfinder needs a redesign, not a refresh

Competition within the free market economic system fosters the creation of ideas, products and services that exceed the standards set by those that preceded them. In the automotive industry, competition is what motivates car companies to offer more value for less money, to simultaneously supply greater power and improved fuel economy, and to engineer extras that dazzle and impress potential customers. You cannot expect to win market share and set sales on fire by phoning in your product development. Having now spent some quality time with the revamped 2017 Nissan Pathfinder, I’m left wondering if a competitive spirit exists amongst the people charged with building the company’s SUVs. Though improved, the new Pathfinder still ranks as entirely average. In a marketplace where the stylish and fun-to-drive Mazda CX-9 rules the dynamic roost, and where the roomy and versatile Honda Pilot can handle just about any suburban task, there’s no excuse for Nissan’s seemingly half-hearted approach to creating 3-row family transportation. This is especially true because the Pathfinder nameplate once stood synonymous with capability and rugged sensibility. Now, sitting on a fortified Altima sedan platform, the Pathfinder exists as a neutered shell of its former adventuresome self while the competition runs rings around nearly every one of its crossover-ized capabilities. Improved, but still in need of improvement The invitation to try out the 2017 Pathfinder was part of the same “Adventure Drive” experience that included my first turn behind the wheel of the 2017 Armada and one other vehicle (that story is coming soon). “Adventure,” I thought to myself, “from a lineup increasingly devoid of adventurous products?” With the discontinuation of the off-road-focused Xterra and the funky Cube, a spirit of ennui is seeping through Continue Reading

Ratings and Review: 2016 Infiniti QX60 adds style and refinement to bolster appeal with upscale crossover SUV buyers

Full Car Details More Reviews Infiniti characterizes itself as a luxury performance brand, though it has infrequently produced truly luxurious or truly sporting vehicles. Consistently, however, Infiniti has clearly distinguished its U.S.-specification models from those offered by parent company Nissan. Notable exceptions from history include the I30 and I35 (Maxima), and the QX4 (Pathfinder). Otherwise, Infiniti showrooms have always contained cars and SUVs that you couldn’t buy elsewhere. This is changing, and you might as well blame the success of the Infiniti QX60, the brand’s 3-row, 7-passenger, luxury crossover SUV. Like the old QX4 did, the 2016 QX60 shares a platform, powertrain, and various bits and pieces with the Nissan Pathfinder. Starting in 2017, the QX60 will be joined by the small QX30 crossover, which is essentially a re-bodied and re-tuned Mercedes-Benz GLA-Class. Also, when the new 2017 Nissan Armada rolls into American showrooms, it will basically serve as a discounted QX80. Getting back to the QX60, this is one of Infiniti’s best-selling models. Inexplicably, it remains a relative rarity in a country whose residents enjoy increasing amounts of disposable income while demonstrating an insatiable lust for 3-row crossover SUVs. Alternatives equipped with a standard third-row seat are limited to the Acura MDX, Audi Q7, Buick Enclave, and Lincoln MKT. The extra seating is optional for the BMW X5 and Volvo XC90. Given this favorable market position, Infiniti naturally wants to capitalize on opportunity. Thus, the 2016 QX60 gets a facial and a massage, in the form of subtle but effective styling changes and revised tuning for the steering and suspension. To effectively deliver on the promise of luxury, Infiniti upgrades the interior materials and takes measures to quell noise, vibration, and harshness. New collision avoidance technologies also debut, along with a 24-hour concierge service. Continue Reading

GMC aims right for the middle of the SUV market with smaller, lighter 2017 Acadia

GMC's resolution for 2016 must have been to lose a few pesky pounds. In this case, the brand's Acadia SUV is the recipient of this new gym/engineering regime, thanks to a weight loss of roughly 700 lbs. when compared to the previous model. FOLLOW DAILY NEWS AUTOS ON FACEBOOK. 'LIKE' US HERE. Introduced at this year's Detroit Auto Show, the 2017 Acacia is also slightly smaller in every exterior dimension. This positions GMC's popular three-row SUV right into the thick of competition, which includes rivals like the Honda Pilot, Toyota Highlander, and Ford Explorer. For better or for worse, the previous Acadia was sized just a bit too big to directly compare to many of these segment leaders. Plenty of people still bought the Acadia, of course. The extra room and towing capability gave it more truck-like capabilities, even if the overall size made it more cumbersome. Then again, the old Acadia could swallow more than 116 cu. ft. of cargo with the second and third-row seats folded. In the 2017 model, this shrinks to 79 cu. ft. Will that be a deal breaker for people considering this GMC? That remains to be seen. The massive weight loss in the new Acadia is coupled to a extra savings at the fuel pump. For the first time, a 4-cylinder engine is available, and GM promises it will achieve a highway fuel economy average of 28 mpg. A 3.6-liter V-6 is still available, as if your choice of front- or all-wheel-drive. That more carefully engineered chassis should translate to better safety ratings, too. Remember, just because a car or truck is heavy doesn't mean it's necessarily safer. The Acadia will continue to offer seating for anywhere from 5 to 7 people, though the new All Terrain time level is not available with the third-row seats. In its place are storage lockers, to better fit the owner's outdoorsy lifestyle (we guess). The All Terrain trim also includes its own unique dual-clutch AWD system, giving it extra Continue Reading

Detroit sedans, Tesla Model 3 missing from NACTOY honors

Correction: This story has been updated to say that Tesla decided not to participate in the 2018 NACTOY awards.Semifinalists for the prestigious 2018 North American Car, Truck and Utility of the Year were announced Friday morning, and the list is as notable for what did not make it as for what did.For the first time in the award’s 25-year history, not a single Detroit-based automaker is nominated for Car of the Year — a sign of the massive market shift to sport utility vehicles over sedans.Since the 2008 recession, SUV sales have surged to over 60 percent of market share, with General Motors Co. and Ford Motor Co. studying whether to end production of full-size and subcompact autos. No new Detroit Three sedans were eligible for this year’s NACTOY selection process.Ironically, one of the year’s most anticipated vehicles is a sedan, the Tesla Model 3. But Tesla decided not to participate this year, citing commitments to other projects including scaling up Model 3 production.GM leads all manufacturers with four nominees in the truck and utility categories. Up for Utility of the Year will be the midsize Buick Enclave, and GM’s Chevrolet division will have three nominees for the NACTOY trophy. The compact Chevy Equinox and mid-size Traverse will compete for best ute while the Colorado ZR2 pickup truck will vie for Truck of the Year honors against the Ford Expedition and Lincoln Navigator — the only nominees from the Blue Oval stable.Ford’s stunning GT supercar was deemed ineligible for NACTOY in July due to its low sales volume, its $450,000 sticker price and lack of availability to the general public. Ford has selected all 750 buyers of the GT through an application process.Also ineligible was Dodge’s halo, 840-horsepower Challenger SRT Demon coupe that has set a production car record 9.65-second quarter-mile time. With the same drivetrain and structure as Dodge’s 707-horse Challenger SRT Hellcat — introduced Continue Reading