BMW’s first-generation X1, introduced to the world in 2009 and shipped to our shores for the 2013 model year, was a bit of an odd duck. Underpinned by the E90 generation 3-series Touring, it was a low-slung, long-hooded, basically-a-station-wagon version of a station wagon that already existed. In fact, it actually boasted less interior room than the equivalent 3-series wagon, largely as a result of being dimensionally shorter and narrower (and only slightly taller). And therein lies the rub: the X1 was too small for Americans.
Tag - crossover
2015 saw the true coming of age of the small crossover – a surprising number of them popped up almost overnight from various mainstream brands, suggesting that the development work required to bring one to market required little more than a stretch in roof height and a marketing team to name it. Premium marques certainly aren’t immune from the segment’s charms of quick showroom turnover and easy profits; indeed, the luxury “big four” of BMW, Mercedes-Benz, Lexus and Audi now each have small utility vehicles of their own filling dealer lots, most of them based on each brand’s entry level sedan offering (and Infiniti’s bowed just recently). We think a lot of the A3 and S3 sedans, which have a small footprint but carry themselves like Audi’s larger offerings. How convincing was the transition of the Q3 – based on the same platform – from sedan to crossover? Let’s find out.
The Escape is an incredibly important vehicle for Ford, given that it holds the brand’s second-place sales crown (behind the F-series and narrowly edging the Fusion sedan) and frequently dices it up at the front of the compact crossover race, trading top-seller status with familiar faces like the Honda CR-V, Toyota RAV4 and Nissan Rogue. I first drove the current Escape last year in 1.6-liter EcoBoost form; Ford just sent us a full-zoot 2.0-liter Titanium model to compare it against. Read on how to find out how we got along.
Hot on the heels of a recent three-row crossover comparison, we just sampled yet another variation on the luxury crossover theme, the Infiniti QX60. Positioned between the smaller QX50 and sportier QX70 models within Infiniti’s burgeoning line of crossovers and SUVs, the QX60 intends to lock horns with near-luxury competitors like the Acura MDX, Lexus RX and Buick Enclave.
Lincoln’s caught a lot of flack from the press lately for padding its product offering with what are basically gussied-up mainstream Ford products. The aspirational “premium” brands that Lincoln is gunning hard for also do this, but those vehicles are usually offset with some higher-end niche platforms. Take this MKC, introduced for 2015 – it’s well-proportioned and wears perhaps the best execution yet of Lincoln’s waterfall grille treatment yet. Under the skin, though, it’s little more than a Ford Escape – a crossover near the head of its class, albeit a class that starts about $15 – 20 grand cheaper. We like the Escape – but does the MKC have what it takes to charge up to $50k for its mainstream bones?
This Renegade, a plucky little toaster of a vehicle that’s probably been more divisive to hardcore Jeep enthusiasts than any new model the company has introduced short of the Compass, has been on my radar for “must-drives” this year. That isn’t because it’s composed of especially compelling parts – in some ways, I’ve already driven the Renegade a few times over. The Fiat 500X I sampled over the summer shares its underpinnings with the Renegade, as well as its powertrains. And in the case of this Latitude model, the hotter Abarth version of the Fiat 500 donates its 1.4-liter turbo and six-speed manual. Why, then, was I so compelled to drive the new Jeeplet?