Your eyes do not deceive you: this is an updated version of the car formerly known as the Fisker Karma. This zombie electric luxury vehicle refuses to die, and for that it has my respect. More on that later. For now, the focus will be on much newer cars.
I’m fairly confident the 2019 Forester will end up being more popular than the Karma. What isn’t going to thrill some potential buyers is the lack of a premium engine or a manual transmission, both of which will bow out when the current generation ends production. Subaru is probably okay with losing some customers because those models never sold in high enough numbers to justify their continued existence. Although I can imagine some people going to the Ford Escape or Chevrolet Equinox because they both offer a range topping engine in their top trims.
The new Forester looks a lot like the next generation RAV4. That’s not really the fault of either company, especially because Subaru played it safe and basically just refined the exterior of the 2018 when designing the new one.
Are you seeing double? Nope! This is the new Ascent. The front end just happens to look a lot like its smaller sibling. It also doesn’t help that this particular one is the same color as the Forester that was nearby. How important is the Ascent for Subaru? I wouldn’t be surprised if this eventually outsells the Forester, so…very important. Fortunately, if you’re one of the customers that wanted a product like the Ascent for the last couple of years, its styling isn’t likely to turn you off, as it mirrors other vehicles in the Subaru lineup.
The Ascent is basically an Outback that found some human growth hormone. Or some Pym Particles. Anyway, if you’re okay with that, you may want to look at it. I imagine this crossover is going to eat into sales of the Explorer, Highlander, and CX-9.
Like any Subaru not named BRZ, the Ascent comes standard with all wheel drive. It also has a turbocharged version of the 2.4 liter boxer found throughout the rest of the Subaru lineup. It’s packing 277 horsepower and 260 Ib.-ft. torque, which isn’t terribly great for the segment, but on the other hand, Subaru claims the Ascent can achieve 27 mpg highway, which matches the EPA rating for the 2.3 EcoBoost variant that’s optional on the Explorer. The Ascent’s CVT probably makes it more likely that it will achieve that figure, but I guess we’ll have to wait and see if and when a major auto publication gets one in their fleet.
Brushed aluminum mirrors aren’t really a thing in the full size crossover segment, but their availability on the Ascent may prompt other automakers to offer them on their own vehicles. I couldn’t completely verify their authenticity, but they did feel like the real deal, and they were a bit colder than the surrounding metal, so its entirely possible that Subaru is actually putting real aluminum trim on their side mirrors.
The interior seemed pretty straightforward and aesthetically pleasing, but a bit lacking in segment appropriate materials compared to others in its class.
The second row seats are home to a plethora of outlets ready to charge your electronic devices, provided you bring the right cable. Subaru also opted to make one giant floor mat instead of two, which is odd, but I’ve seen that before.
In the near future, the Focus Active will be the only four door passenger car in the Ford lineup . If you want to know why that is happening, look no further than the Crosstrek. The slightly raised hatch is now selling over six figures, which is far more than Subaru had anticipated. They’re probably ecstatic about its success, especially since the base automatic commands a roughly $2700 over the Impreza hatchback. There is no way it costs that much extra to make a Crosstrek.
As long as it has standard all wheel drive and competitive pricing, the Active should do fine.
The Ascent and the Crosstrek have nearly identical interiors. The key difference is that the interior pictured above is more competitive with the competition in the compact segment compared with the Ascent and its relative position in its market. As I said before, these interiors are decent and functional, but not terribly premium.
Volvo currently only offers the regular V90 to American customers if they order the wagon directly from them. For 2019, the V60 will be far less exclusive, as it will be sitting on dealers lots as soon as it arrives.
Volvo’s modern wagons are lovely, but I’m still not sure there is a business case for their continued existence. Hopefully the company still keeps making them regardless of market conditions.
That market will likely favor the new XC40 over the V60 or any other wagon. Reviews for the new crossover have been very positive, and its not hard to see why. Its got very good looks and competitive powertrains. Did I mention that it looks good as well? The XC40 is an attractive vehicle, in case you didn’t already know. I used this manufacturer photo because people surrounded the floor models to the point where it was impossible to get a good shot of one up front.
I did manage to snag this pic of the rear side profile, which shows the XC40 in a very striking blue. Kudos to Volvo for being bold enough to outfit the car in regular and two tone paint schemes.
That window may claim that the Volvo was locked, but the person in the drivers seat determined that to be a lie. Someone at Volvo probably forgot to hit the lock button. What could they possible be hiding at this point anyway? The interior of the XC40 is the least exciting part of the vehicle, not because the cabin is boring or ugly, but mainly due to it being a carbon copy of all the other modern Volvo interiors.
The 2018 Lexus GS is a rear wheel drive sedan that hasn’t been updated for quite some time. It’s doubtful we’ll see a next generation model. But fear not! This one has a matte paint finish, which means you’re probably going to think its cool.
While we’re on the subject of paint, why don’t we gaze in awe at the sight of the Lexus LC 500 and its amazing Structural Blue paint job?
The LC 500 has been a prominent fixture at the show for at least two years now. I’m fine with that, and very happy I got to see this thing in the flesh.
And this year they unlocked at least one example so the unwashed masses could satiate their desire to sit in one. This particular LC 500 may not pop as much as the blue model, but it still looks damn good.
Inside is where things get complicated. The low slung and curvy exterior does not mesh well with the ho hum interior. Although the leather smelled great. The disappointing cabin would not stop me from owning one though, and I’ll seriously consider buying one if I win the lotto.
The spindle grille never really justified its existence until it appeared on the LC 500. The UX continues that tradition. Slated to arrive this December, the UX will be available with a gasoline engine, a performance hybrid powertrain, and a more explicit sport model under the Lexus F Sport moniker.
I am skeptical buyers want all three of those options. Regardless, the exterior is a huge step up from its platform mate, the C-HR, which has been a rare misstep for Toyota.
It’s been about ten years since Acura debuted the divisive “beak” style grille. The brand is still trying to sort itself out, and I’m not sure they’ve really recovered from it. That being said, the RDX does look pretty good.
For the 2019 model year, the RDX is returning to its turbocharged four cylinder roots. When it debuted in 2006, people were skeptical that a luxury crossover equipped with a turbo four would sell. Those same people were vindicated when the second generation dropped the 2.3 turbo for Honda’s ubiquitous 3.5 liter V6. It’s now pretty obvious that Honda jumped the gun a little bit. Four cylinder engines are significantly more refined now, so I highly doubt Honda is sweating the release of this new setup.
Genesis, Hyundai’s luxury division, hasn’t really gotten off to a great start. There’s the whole “Genesis needs stand alone stores in order for it to succeed! Wait, we take that back! So sorry!” thing going on right now. In addition to all that bad publicity, their entire lineup consists of sedans. It’s not exactly encouraging to stroll up to their display and see some wild concept car called the Essentia sitting on a pedestal. Whatever type of halo car the Essentia is supposed to represent, its the exact opposite of what the brand needs right now.
And I’m not sure the G7o needs to exist either. My cell phone seems to have come to this realization sooner than I did, because it screwed up all three of the exterior shots I took of the floor model at the show. Perhaps it just really didn’t care enough about this car to take good pictures of it. Critics really like the G70. Does that matter? Can this car make serious inroads in a segment dominated by the likes of BMW, Mercedes, and Audi? I’m extremely skeptical. I’m also over the idea that a luxury brand has to have sportiness baked into every single component of every one of its vehicles in order to be taken seriously. And don’t get me started about all these boring, impersonal alphanumeric names.
Does Mazda get a pass for switching to a lineup almost devoid of actual names? I’m not sure. What I do know is that this iteration of the Mazda6 is probably the best looking one yet. The refreshed 6 gets Mazda’s new turbocharged 2.5 liter that has an output of 227 horsepower and 310 Ib.-ft. of torque. Paired to that engine is a six speed automatic and front wheel drive, which is probably a few gears and two tires short of ideal. At least the Fusion Sport gets all wheel drive.
The CX-3 also gets a nice nip-tuck for the 2019 model year. Mazda might be the only car company that currently makes attractive vehicles in every segment they’re in.
And that’s probably going to remain true for quite some time. The Kai concept likely previews the next generation Mazda3, and it also portends the potential application of the new SKYACTIV-X engine, which borrows compression ignition technology from diesel engines and applies it to gasoline powertrains.
Mazda already let journalists sample an early version of their new engine last year, so expect it to debut some time in the near future.
Once thought forever dead, the Karma has been resurrected and will apparently go on sale in the near future. The car that used to be known as the Fisker Karma is now known as the Karma Revero. It’s a plug-in hybrid that generates electricity from GM’s 2.0 turbocharged Ecotec four after its battery has been depleted.
Is the Karma any good?
I’ll cap off part 3 with a shot of the Karma’s solar panel roof, which was designed to supply power to the climate control system but only tops off the 12v lead acid battery in the production model.