The next phase of Nissan's EV plans for the U.S. are finally taking shape, although we're not yet privy to the exact contours of those plans. Automotive News reports that the Japanese carmaker previewed a compact EV crossover for U.S. dealers last month, expected to be the production version of the IMx concept shown at the 2017 Tokyo Motor Show, and perhaps with a touch of the chunkier IMx Kuro concept thrown in. According to dealers at the preview, the crossover will be roughly the size of a Rogue with the cabin space of the larger Murano, seat five, dash to 60 miles per hour in fewer than five seconds and run for 300 miles on a charge. Built on a new, dedicated platform, the people hauler will be one of eight new all-electric models to be launched globally over the coming years, but it isn't expected here until late 2021. AN claimed the production vehicle's look are only "loosely based" on the IMx concept, with one change being a shorter hood on the retail model. The powertrain will undoubtedly come in for revision as well, the IMx concept's twin-motor system putting out 429 horsepower and 516 pound-feet of torque, turning both axles on the way to a 373-mile range. Even with advances in battery tech, those figures would likely put the crossover beyond the mainstream pricing Nissan would target. The carmaker didn't reveal battery capacity at the dealer meeting, but AN estimates a pack with as much as 85 kWh. The tech suite sounds closer to the IMx, though. The previewed crossover took the same minimalist approach as Tesla and Porsche, a dealer telling AN the only visible button on the instrument panel is "a pulsating start button." A high-res digital instrument cluster lights up when that button is pushed. If Nissan can get the high-res, 3D, centimeter-scale digital maps it needs in time for production, the next-generation ProPilot should feature. That could bring hands-free highway driving from on-ramp to off-ramp, the ability to pass cars without driver input, and the ability to take directions from the navigation system. A production concept could make an appearance at next month's Tokyo Motor Show. If that happens, the Nissan will join possible production previews of the Mazda Vision Coupe, next-gen Subaru BRZ/Toyota 86, Acura NSX Type R, and Honda EV Sports concept as must-see cars.
Lexus is updating its RX and RXL lineup of luxury crossovers for 2020 with tweaks to its steering and driving dynamics, interior and exterior, new Android Auto integration and standard Lexus Safety System+ 2.0 technology. The changes also boost the RX 350 starting price to $45,245, including destination.
On the outside, Lexus changed the look of the front by updating the spindle grille, which had previously featured horizontal slats, and adding more prominent surrounds to the fog lights that echo the grille. Also echoed are the hand-drawn angles of the grille surround at each corner of the bumper to harmonize the visual flow.
Lexus says the RX line is its first to get Android Auto integration, joining the existing Apple CarPlay and Amazon Alexa compatibility. The touchscreen — both the standard 8-inch display and available 12.3-inch split-screen version — has moved almost 5.5 inches closer to the driver and now offers control over both audio and climate systems, plus display for the rearview camera when backing up. There are also two new USB ports, bringing the total to six, plus a new designated mobile phone storage area near the front of the center console.
If you opt for the 12.3-inch display, you get dynamic voice command, which Lexus says is capable of recognizing millions more phrases, is more accurate and offers expanded points of interest searches than its conventional voice-recognition systems. And finally, you get a three-year trial with Lexus Enform Remote to remotely start the car from your smartphone.
Lexus is also adding its Safety System+ 2.0 as standard across the lineup, which adds daytime bicyclist detection and low-light pedestrian detection, plus road-sign assist and lane-tracing assist, which works in conjunction with dynamic radar cruise control.
On the driving side, Lexus added hollow front and rear stabilizer bars to reduce weight, but they're thicker in diameter and feature reinforced bushings to help reduce body roll and improve response on steering. The shock absorbers were re-turned to work with the stiffer roll bars, and there are upgraded dampers with a new friction control device to better control high-frequency vibrations and smooth out the ride. Further refining the ride is a stiffer suspension design, to reduce noise and vibration from the road, and added active corner braking to help prevent understeering by braking the inner wheel and providing more stability to the vehicle's handling.
There are two new exterior colors available, moonbeam beige metallic and nori green pearl, plus two new wheel designs: an 18-inch wheel and a 20-inch wheel available in the Luxury trim. The interior color palette will also be available in a new birch color.
New for 2020, the RX 350 F Sport will be split into an F Sport appearance package and Performance package. Both include unique a steering wheel and shift knob, plus aluminum pedals and ornamentation, bumpers, grille, 20-inch wheels, front and rear performance dampers, LED ambient illumination and other goodies. The Performance package adds adaptive variable suspension based on the Lexus LC500, vehicle dynamics integrated management, sound generator, electric sport power steering, moonroof and heated and ventilated seats.
Both the 2020 RX and RXL have started production and will be available in dealerships soon.
Seeing how German automakers are printing money with less-practical but arguably more stylish crossover "coupes," Japanese luxury brand is getting in on the action, too. The company announced it will introduce a fastback crossover named QX55. And while the company hasn't revealed the actual vehicle yet, it did release the above conceptual sketch. As you can see, it doesn't reveal much except that the QX55 will have a low, curvy shape. It will probably have four doors like its competitors. Infiniti says the roofline is meant to evoke the company's first crossover, the FX. We disagree on that detail, because while the FX did have a stylish, low-slung roof compared with its contemporaries, it still had a fairly conventional and upright hatch (see below). Judging by the name, the QX55 will probably be based on the platform and powertrain of the QX50. That means it should have a version of that crossover's variable-compression ratio turbocharged four-cylinder, along with front-wheel drive or all-wheel drive. Infiniti says the QX55 will go on sale in the summer of 2020, so expect a full reveal during the coming auto show season.
TOKYO — Subaru reported a 48% increase in first-quarter operating profit on Monday as global sales grew, led by demand for the Ascent and Forester SUVs in the United States. The smallest of Japan's major automakers posted an operating income of 92.2 billion yen ($870 million) for April-June, versus 62.1 billion yen a year earlier and an average estimate of 65.6 billion yen from eight analysts polled by Refinitiv. Sales in the United States, by far Subaru's biggest market, rose 20%. It accounts for about 60% of Subaru's overall sales. The maker of Legacy sedans and Forester SUV crossovers maintained its forecast for operating income at 260 billion yen for the year to March 2020, up 45% from a year earlier. The previous fiscal year was marred by a string of recalls, production stoppages and inspection improprieties that cut the automaker's earnings in half. Subaru reiterated its annual forecast for global sales of 1.06 million vehicles. It also left unchanged its assumption that the yen will average 110 against the dollar over the course of the fiscal year, versus 111 last year. A stronger currency eats into profits because cars exported from Japan become more expensive and the value of earnings made overseas decreases.
The 2019 Mitsubishi Eclipse Cross is a funky little crossover with a name that has angered more than a few Eclipse fans out there. Today it gets honors from the IIHS, though, in the form of a Top Safety Pick award. It's great to see the totally new Mitsubishi get safety honors for what is probably the best car the company sells in the U.S. now. You will have to get an upmarket version of the vehicle for it to be one that qualifies for the award, though. That nets you the LED headlights rated as Acceptable and the front crash prevention technology. It avoided collisions when traveling at 12 mph and 25 mph in IIHS testing. On top of that, it needed to score Good in all the major crashworthiness tests, which it did. The full breakout of scores showed it scored an Acceptable rating for some of the specifics the IIHS was looking into, but the car appears plenty safe from a crash perspective. Child safety seat testing found that the car's LATCH system was extremely easy to use, netting it a Good rating in that category, too. The 2019 Mitsubishi Eclipse Cross starts at $24,690 for a completely base car, and stretches to around the $30,000 mark in its most expensive form.
Here's our first look at what we think is the next-gen Nissan Rogue, and it looks like Nissan is shaking it up this time. The swoopy and swept-back design on the current Rogue's front end is nowhere to be found, as it's replaced by a blocky, straight up and down look. If not for the semi-visible V-Motion grille seen through the wrappings, it would be rather difficult to I.D. this car.
Much of that is due to the rather generic crossover shape seen through the camouflage. The closest thing to a Rogue-like concept car we've seen from Nissan as of late is the Xmotion, and this doesn't exactly take much inspiration from the wild concept. That particular car is much more rugged in appearance, while this one remains a staid crossover, making sure it doesn't rock the boat. One specific design element we can pick out is a separate headlight/driving light setup. Similar to cars like the Hyundai Santa Fe or Chevrolet Blazer, the Rogue appears to be splitting up the DRL from the main headlight. The size of the gap between the two visible headlight fixtures is just too large for it all to be one massive headlight unit. With headlights getting smaller all the time, and this design trend starting to take off, it's no big surprise to see it here.
TOKYO — Toyota and Subaru announced they will jointly develop a battery-electric crossover on a platform developed for multiple production vehicles. The first crossover built on the platform will be a C-segment vehicle, which will be a small vehicle similar in size to a Toyota RAV4 or Subaru Forester. It will also be sold by both brands with altered styling and badging.
The small crossover will only be the first vehicle to use the platform, though, as it's being developed for use in medium-small C-segment sedans and both D-segment larger sedans and crossovers. So we could see electric cars similar to the Corolla and Impreza, Camry and Legacy, and even the Highlander and Ascent on this platform in the future.