Volvo has become the darling of the North American Utility of the Year award program in recent years, having just won last year with its then new XC90 mid-size SUV, but now it’s the redesigned 2018…

New Volvo XC60 wins 2018 North American Utility of the Year

2018 Volvo XC60 T6 R-Design
The stylish new Volvo XC60 has just won the 2018 North American Utility of the Year award. (Photo: Volvo)

Volvo has become the darling of the North American Utility of the Year award program in recent years, having just won last year with its then new XC90 mid-size SUV, but now it’s the redesigned 2018 XC60 compact SUV’s turn to be honoured with the prestigious title.

Like the previous winner, the sharp looking 2nd-generation XC60 represents a completely fresh approach for Volvo and a much more competitive entry within the compact luxury SUV segment.

“The Volvo XC60 raises the bar for safety and driver assistance systems in compact utility vehicles, and does it in a package that exudes Scandinavian design,” said Mark Phelan, president of the North American Car of the Year Awards organization.

2018 Volvo XC60 T8 Inscription
A factor benefiting the new XC60 is a strong engine lineup that includes this T8 model’s 400-hp plug-in hybrid drivetrain. (Photo: Volvo)

It’s true, Volvo is one of few models in the compact luxury SUV segment to include autonomous emergency braking and lane keeping assist as standard equipment, while additional standard safety gear include full LED headlamps, a backup camera with dynamic guidelines, a driver’s knee airbag, and more. On top of these advanced features, the new 2018 XC60 can be upfitted with automatic high beams, adaptive cruise control, blindspot monitoring with rear cross-traffic alert, road sign recognition, and new Pilot Assist, which is Volvo’s highly advanced semi-autonomous driver assistance system that manages steering, acceleration, and braking on well-marked roads up to 130 km/h (80 mph).

2018 Volvo XC60 T8 Inscription
Few XC60 rivals offer standard LED headlamps, this just one of many advanced safety features that set the compact luxury SUV apart from its peers. (Photo: Volvo)

Like in previous years, the 2018 North American Utility of the Year was chosen by a jury of 60 professional automotive journalists from the US and Canada who provide content for independent print newspapers and magazines, TV and radio stations, plus websites. The results of their findings were presented at the North American International Auto Show in Detroit earlier this month. The award, which also includes a Car and Truck of the Year, honours “excellence in innovation, design, safety features, performance, technology, driver satisfaction and value,” stated a press release.

2018 Volvo XC60 T8 Inscription
The XC60’s standard infotainment system is large at 9.0 inches, plus it’s an award-winning system that’s been lauded by customers and industry professionals alike. (Photo: Volvo)

“We are so proud the XC60 has won this prestigious award,” said Anders Gustafsson, President and CEO of Volvo Cars USA. “It is a very tough competition and we thank all the judges for recognizing the great style, technology, and engineering in the XC60. All car shoppers should take a test drive to see for themselves how great it really is.”

It appears a lot of Canadian consumers have done just that since the new 2018 XC60 was introduced in August last year. Prior to that XC60 annual deliveries had been hovering between 1,500 to 1,700 unit sales for years, but despite only being on the market for five months the new redesign helped push XC60 sales up to 2,315 deliveries for 2017. More specifically, year-over-year XC60 sales were up 41 percent in August, 140 percent in September, 290 percent in October, 264 percent in November, and 251 percent in December. The importance of this growth can’t be underestimated, as the XC60 represented 30 percent of the Swedish brand’s worldwide sales before the redesigned version arrived, so therefore the new model’s uptick in popularity will be a boon to the Volvo brand overall.

2018 Volvo XC60
This panoramic sunroof is standard across the entire XC60 line, just one of many examples of the XC60’s value proposition. (Photo: Volvo)

Part of the 2018 XC60’s appeal is its highly efficient yet powerful engine lineup. All utilize Volvo’s direct-injection turbocharged 2.0-litre “Drive-E” four-cylinder, with the base T5 version making 250 horsepower and 258 lb-ft of torque. The same turbo-four in T6 trim adds a supercharger for a boost to 316 horsepower and 295 lb-ft of torque, whereas the XC60 T8 includes the supercharger as well as identical Twin Power plug-in hybrid technology to the XC90 T8, resulting in 400 horsepower and 472 lb-ft of torque. This allows the XC60 T8 to sprint from zero to 100km/h in only 5.3 seconds.

2018 Volvo XC60 T8 Inscription
This top-line XC60 T8 Inscription model shows how far upmarket Volvo has taken its luxury image. (Photo: Volvo)

All powertrains are made even more efficient thanks to a quick-shifting eight-speed automatic transmission featuring automated engine start/stop functionality to reduce emissions and save fuel, the technology helping the new 2018 XC60 achieve a five-cycle Transport Canada claimed rating of 10.7 L/100km in the city, 8.5 on the highway, and 9.8 combined for the XC60 T5 AWD powertrain, or 11.4 L/100km city, 8.7 highway and 10.2 combined for the XC60 T6 AWD, albeit no estimate yet for the XC60 T8 eAWD.

This won’t stop us from guessing that the smaller, lighter XC60 T8 eAWD will be slightly thriftier on fuel than larger, heavier mid-size XC90 T8 eAWD, an SUV already rated at 10.1 L/100km city, 8.8 highway and 9.5 combined. This said, when factoring in regular charging an owner could potentially drive the XC90 T8 eAWD every day without ever needing to fill the gas tank, although its official Le/100km (gasoline litres equivalent per 100 kilometres) rating is more conservatively estimated at 4.7 combined city/highway. A slightly better rating should be achievable with the new XC60 T8 eAWD.

2018 Volvo XC60 T8 Inscription
The XC60’s rear legroom is best-in-class. (Photo: Volvo)

While the new 2018 XC60’s powertrain lineup might be reason enough to earn it North American Utility of the Year status, its many other attributes combine for a truly special compact SUV. Its styling, which combines key design cues from its larger XC90 sibling as well as other recently redesigned Volvo models, also has some completely new elements of its own, while its uniquely rich interior design and execution raises the bar in the compact luxury SUV segment.

Its 965 millimetres (38 inches) of rear legroom is best in class as well, while its 731 litres (25.8 cubic feet) of cargo capacity behind its 60/40-split rear seatbacks and 1,792 litres (63.3 cubic feet) of maximum luggage space make it one of the easiest to live with in its segment. Additionally, the XC60 comes standard with a convenient rear centre pass-through that lets rear passengers enjoy the more comfortable outboard seats while longer cargo, such as skis, get stowed down the middle.

2018 Volvo XC60 T8 Inscription
The XC60 delivers one of the roomiest cargo compartments in its class, plus the convenience of a centre pass-through as well as optional power-folding rear seatbacks. (Photo: Volvo)

The 2018 XC60 represents strong value as well, with additional standard features not yet mentioned including an electromechanical parking brake, an auto-dimming rearview mirror, rain-sensing wipers, a high-resolution colour multi-information display, dual-zone auto climate control, leather upholstery, heatable powered front seats with driver’s memory, one of the largest infotainment touchscreen’s in the class at 9.0 inches, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto smartphone integration, voice activation, SMS/text message reading and response capability, 10-speaker premium audio, satellite radio, a panoramic sunroof, a powered rear liftgate, roof rails, and much more.

The base 2018 Volvo XC60 Momentum is available now from just $46,350 before freight and fees, while the sportiest R-Design model can be had for $56,000 and top-tier Inscription trim starts at $57,600.

Audi and Subaru have been named best Mainstream Brand and best Premium Brand respectively in ALG’s 2018 Canadian Residual Value Awards (RVA), an important benchmark used for forecasting future vehicle…

Audi and Subaru earn top honours in 2018 ALG Canadian Residual Value Awards

2018 Subaru Impreza
The Subaru Impreza achieved best residual value in its “Compact” class. (Photo: Subaru)

Audi and Subaru have been named best Mainstream Brand and best Premium Brand respectively in ALG’s 2018 Canadian Residual Value Awards (RVA), an important benchmark used for forecasting future vehicle values by auto industry professions.

Now in its 10th year, ALG’s RVA projects future values of new models from 26 separate market segments, ranging from “Alt-fuel” to “Fullsize Commercial Van” and everything in between. There are many ways to measure value, although within the car industry the difference between the initial price paid for a new vehicle and its resale value after three or four years is a key parameter. ALG uses the average ownership duration of four years to determine mainstream volume brand values and three years for premium brands, with the results showing both Subaru and Audi are tops in their respective sectors.

2018 Subaru Crosstrek
The Crosstrek earned best resale value in the “Subcompact Utility” category. (Photo: Subaru)

“Depreciation is the single biggest cost of vehicle ownership, and informed consumers understand the importance of resale value when making their purchase decision,” said Eric Lyman, vice president of ALG. “The ALG Residual Value Award is a meaningful achievement in the hyper-competitive automotive landscape. Residual values are a key indicator for the market success of a vehicle, factoring in quality, product execution and brand desirability as primary drivers of ALG’s forecast.”

This is Subaru’s fourth consecutive RVA mainstream brand win, showing an impressive consistency in quality, execution and desirability. This year the brand earned four segment awards, including the Impreza in the “Compact” class, the Crosstrek in the “Subcompact Utility” segment, the Outback in the “Midsize Utility 2nd Row Seating” segment, and the WRX in the “Sportscar” segment.

2018 Subaru Outback
Subaru’s Outback has the highest residual value in the “Midsize Utility 2nd Row Seating” segment. (Photo: Subaru)

Other notable mainstream brands include Toyota that dominated SUV and truck segments with five RVAs including the Tundra achieving its eighth consecutive year topping the “Fullsize Pickup” category, the Tacoma at five RVA “Midsize Pickup” class awards in a row, the Highlander winning the “Midsize Utility 3rd Row Seating” segment, the 4Runner in the “Off-Road Utility” class, and the Sequoia earning top marks in the “Fullsize Utility” category. Honda received three RVA segment awards including the Fit in the “Subcompact” class, Accord in the “Midsize” category, and Odyssey in the “Minivan” segment.

Nissan managed two winners including the Rogue in the “Compact Utility” class and Maxima in the “Fullsize” segment, while the only one-off deserving mention is Kia’s Niro in the “Alt-fuel” category.

2018 Audi A5 Coupe
Audi’s A5 has the best residual value amongst “Premium Midsize” models. (Photo: Audi)

Audi, which has experienced a dramatic upsurge in new vehicle sales in recent years, achieved four category wins including the A5 in the “Premium Midsize” class, A7 in the “Premium Fullsize” segment, Q5 in the “Premium Compact Utility” segment, and Q7 in the “Premium Midsize Utility 3rd Row Seating” category.

“Audi has emerged in recent years as a contender in the luxury space against top European rivals, finding success with new product entries in the utility space and emphasizing innovative technologies that have resonated well with luxury consumers,” stated an ALG press release.

2018 Audi Q5
The new Q5 is rated highest for resale value in the “Premium Compact Utility” segment. (Photo: Audi)

Mercedes also took home four awards, albeit with two in the commercial sector. The winners included the Metris in the “Midsize Commercial” segment and the Sprinter in the “Fullsize Commercial” category, while its CLA Class took home top marks amongst “Premium Compact” models, and the G-Class achieved the highest score in the “Premium Fullsize Utility” segment.

No other premium brand earned multiple RVAs, but notable mentioned include the Maserati Quattroporte in the “Premium Executive” class, the Porsche 718 Boxster in the “Premium Sportscar” segment, and the Land Rover Range Rover Velar in the “Premium Midsize Utility 2nd Row Seating” category.

Subaru Canada, Inc. (SCI) capped off calendar year 2017 with its best December on record, helping the Japanese automaker to achieve its sixth consecutive year of annual sales growth. December 2017’s…

Subaru Canada achieves six consecutive record years of sales growth

2018 Subaru Impreza
The Impreza experienced growth of 42.4 percent in 2017. (Photo: Subaru)

Subaru Canada, Inc. (SCI) capped off calendar year 2017 with its best December on record, helping the Japanese automaker to achieve its sixth consecutive year of annual sales growth.

December 2017’s total was 3,876 units for a 4.6-percent gain over the same month in 2016, pushing Subaru’s total annual deliveries to 54,570 vehicles for an 8.7-percent year-over-year sales increase when compared to 2016’s 50,190-unit tally.

2018 Subaru Crosstrek
The Crosstrek found 14.9 percent more buyers for a total of 11,168 deliveries last year. (Photo: Subaru)

“More Canadians than ever before drove Subaru’s sales with a record-setting results streak, which gave rise to Subaru’s highest sales ever,” said Yasushi Enami, chairman, president and CEO of Subaru Canada, Inc. “With our sixth consecutive annual sales record in the books, we are ready for 2018 as our strong dealer network steps forward into 2018 and we bring our best product offering yet.”

2018 Subaru WRX STI
The WRX and WRX STI collectively increased from 4,217 to 4,616 units for a 9.5-percent gain in 2017. (Photo: Subaru)

Movers and shakers included the Impreza compact four-door sedan and five-door hatchback, plus the Crosstrek subcompact crossover SUV that achieved 38.6 and 48.0 December growth respectively. The Impreza’s yearly sales were even more impressive, with growth of 42.4 percent to 10,617 units overall in 2017, while the Crosstrek found 14.9 percent more buyers for a total of 11,168 deliveries last year.

2018 Subaru Outback
The Outback crossover’s 2.1-percent year-over-year growth was more modest last year. (Photo: Subaru)

Additionally, the WRX and WRX STI performance models collectively increased from 4,217 to 4,616 units for a respectable 9.5-percent gain in 2017, while the mid-size Outback crossover’s year-over-year growth was more modest, from 11,255 to 11,490 units for a 2.1-percent upward trend. Despite its smaller numbers, BRZ sports coupe growth was a solid 6.3 percent from 740 units in 2016 to 787 last year, although it should be noted that the BRZ’s 2016 sales represented a significant drop when compared to much stronger sales in years prior.

2018 Subaru BRZ
BRZ sports coupe growth was a solid 6.3 percent from 740 units in 2016 to 787 last year. (Photo: Subaru)

Ironically in a market that predominantly favours utilities, Subaru’s best-selling Forester compact SUV was one of the only models to slip backward due to sales of 13,441 units in 2017 compared to 13,798 in 2016, this being a 2.6-percent slide, the other model losing ground year-over-year being the Legacy mid-size sedan that dropped from 3,001 units in 2016 to 2,451 deliveries last year, representing an 18.3-percent downturn.

2018 Subaru Forester
Ironically in a market that favours SUVs, Forester sales fell backward in 2017. (Photo: Subaru)

On the positive, the 2018 Legacy has received a refresh that should boost interest, while the Forester will receive a dramatic redesign later this year. Available even sooner, the all-new 2019 Ascent mid-size crossover SUV, which just made its Canadian debut at the Montreal auto show, will arrive this summer. The Ascent is Subaru’s largest-ever crossover SUV with the choice of seven- or eight-occupant seating, expanding the Japanese brand’s market reach to a much broader market than ever before. This should help Subaru continue its sales growth momentum.

After taking home the award for Best Large Car in the Automobile Journalist Association of Canada’s annual Car and Truck of the Year program in January, beating the refreshed Mazda6 and thoroughly redesigned…

Accord and Pacifica win 2018 Canadian Car and Utility of the Year awards

2018 Honda Accord Touring 1.5T
The 2018 Honda Accord has triumphed over a long list of worthy challengers to win AJAC’s Canadian Car of the Year. (Photo: Honda)

After taking home the award for Best Large Car in the Automobile Journalist Association of Canada’s annual Car and Truck of the Year program in January, beating the refreshed Mazda6 and thoroughly redesigned Toyota Camry in the process, the Accord has now been named 2018 Canadian Car of the Year.

Likewise, after besting the entirely new Honda Odyssey and Kia Sedona minivans the all-new 2018 Chrysler Pacifica has earned Canadian Utility Vehicle of the Year.

“We’re thrilled to declare the Honda Accord to be the Canadian Car of the Year for 2018, and the Chrysler Pacifica to be the Canadian Utility Vehicle of the Year,” said AJAC President Mark Richardson. “They’ve both been decided through the most vigorous system of testing possible by AJAC’s automotive professionals. They’re both deserving of being considered the very best vehicles you can buy in 2018.”

2018 Chrysler Pacifica
Bill Levasseur, FCA Canada’s VP of Sales and Marketing, accepts the AJAC Canadian Utility Vehicle of the Year award for the new Chrysler Pacifica. (Photo: FCA)

The latter award might be the more important of the two, being that trucks, SUVs and vans now make up the majority of new vehicle sales in Canada. Of note, the Canadian-made Pacifica not only beat out its “Best Minivan” category competitors to earn the coveted award, but also scored higher than other category winners.

These include the Mazda CX-5, which beat the new Honda CR-V and Nissan Rogue for “Best Small Utility Vehicle,” as well as the Mazda CX-9 that overcame the challenge of Chevrolet’s Traverse and Toyota’s Highlander for “Best Large Utility Vehicle,” plus the Range Rover Velar that earned “Best Small Premium Utility Vehicle” over the Porsche Macan and Volvo XC60, the Acura MDX that earned “Best Large Premium Utility Vehicle” over the Land Rover Discovery and Volvo XC90, and finally the Ram 1500 that won “Best Pickup Truck” over the new Honda Ridgeline and refreshed Toyota Tacoma.

2018 Chrysler Pacifica
Chrysler Pacifica’s luxurious interior pushes the minivan sector way upmarket. (Photo: Chrysler)

“There’s an extra air of significance when one of our homegrown products wins a domestic award,” said Reid Bigland, President and CEO, FCA Canada. “Chrysler Pacifica’s recognition as 2018’s Canadian Utility Vehicle of the Year reinforces its position as the most awarded minivan of the last two years, and provides important third-party validation for the exclusive suite of versatility, style, safety and technology that it brings to Canadians.”

2018 Honda Accord Touring 1.5T
Stylish Accord strengthens Honda’s position as a leader in profitable mid-size sedan market. (Photo: Honda)

The redesigned Accord also had its share of challengers, including the Volkswagen e-Golf that achieved “Best City Car” over the Hyundai Ioniq Electric and Nissan Micra, Mazda3 that earned “Best Small Car” over the Chevrolet Bolt EV and Hyundai Ioniq Hybrid/Electric Plus, Jaguar XE that took “Best Small Premium Car” honours over the Alfa Romeo Giulia and Infiniti Q60, Volvo S90/V90 that overcame the Genesis G80 and Lexus LC to win the “Best Large Premium Car” title, Volkswagen Golf R that won “Best Sports/Performance Car” over the Honda Civic Si and Honda Civic Type R, Jaguar F-Type that achieved “Best Premium Sports/Performance Car” over the Porsche 718 and Porsche 911, and finally the Mercedes-Benz SL that won “Best Convertible” over the Mazda MX-5 and Porsche 718 Boxster.

2018 Honda Accord Sport 2.0T
New Accord moves entire mainstream mid-size market upward when it comes to refinement and technology. (Photo: Honda)

“We’re honoured and humbled to receive this recognition from a group of respected automotive journalists in Canada,” said Jean Marc Leclerc, Senior Vice President of Sales and Marketing at Honda Canada. “We’re both proud and thankful for all of our associates who supported the production and development of this vehicle and for our passionate customers who have supported the Accord for the past forty years.”

To qualify for entry a vehicle must be entirely new or significantly updated, and the winners were not only up against the challengers noted, but other offerings that didn’t make the “finalists” cut in December.

Just because the Discovery Sport is Land Rover’s entry-level model and one of the lowest priced compact luxury SUVs in Canada, don’t expect it to be common. Along with plenty of eye-catching style,…

2018 Land Rover Discovery Sport HSE Road Test

With a base price of just $43,500 plus freight and fees the 2018 Discovery Sport is Land Rover's entry-level SUV, not to mention one of the most affordable luxury sport utilities available in Canada.

On the flip side it's the compact luxury SUV segment's most accommodating offering, thanks to a spacious interior with up to three rows of seats for a maximum of seven occupants, while all of its rivals seat just five. What's more, with 981 litres (34.6 cubic feet) of cargo capacity behind its rear seatbacks the Discovery Sport is best in class (by a long shot) for hauling gear. That second row is divided in the usual 60/40 configuration, but unlike many in this class a large centre pass-through creates a 40/20/40-split that's ideal for loading longer items like skis down the middle while those in back enjoy greater comfort from the outboard seats.

With 947 millimetres (37.3 inches) of second-row legroom the Discovery Sport is also one of the more comfortable for rear passengers, Read Full Story
The 7-passenger Pathfinder SUV was updated last year with fresh new styling, more power and better handling, but that didn’t stop Nissan from adding new standard safety features for 2018. Check out…

2018 Nissan Pathfinder Platinum 4×4 Road Test

Nissan gave its mid-size seven-passenger Pathfinder a mid-cycle update last year, giving it more of a traditional SUV design, increasing power and sharpening up its driving dynamics to good effect. The result has been positive, with 1.7 percent more Canadians choosing it over a competitor in calendar year 2017 than during 2016.

While any growth is good, it was rare for any SUV to lose ground last year. In fact, the Pathfinder's 2017 results weren't even as good as its 2015 total of 9,898 units, while its archrival Toyota Highlander grew its sales from 10,412 units in 2015 to 12,964 in 2016 for an increase of 24.5 percent, and finally 15,259 deliveries in 2017 for growth of 17.7 percent, after it also received a mid-cycle remake-the two ran a dead heat back in 2014.

Other three-row competitors that grew their 2017 sales include the best-selling Ford Explorer that went from 15,275 units to 17,333 for a 13.5 percent gain despite no changes until year end, the Kia Sorento Read Full Story
Normally when an automaker launches a rugged looking 4×4 they take photos of it tackling treacherous wilderness terrain, such as the backroads, trails and riverbed crossings that access Waiparous…

Nissan rethinks the 4×4 with Xmotion Concept

2018 Nissan Xmotion Concept
The 2018 Xmotion Concept strikes a dramatic pose. (Photo: Nissan)
Normally when an automaker launches a rugged looking 4×4 they take photos of it tackling treacherous wilderness terrain, such as the backroads, trails and riverbed crossings that access Waiparous Falls, Alberta, or the vertical sandstone formations of Hell’s Revenge in Moab, Utah, not parked on a driveway in front of a slick contemporary modernist home, or posing within an exposed concrete and black glass office complex courtyard, but then again the Xmotion isn’t your ordinary off-roader. While the Xmotion concept might look like a future interpretation of Nissan’s now legendary Xterra 4×4 from the outside, or possibly the next-generation Armada done to the extreme, in actuality it’s been designed to appeal to a more refined kind of outdoor enthusiast who prefers natural woods and leathers over rugged utility, not to mention digital displays galore.
2018 Nissan Xmotion Concept
The Xmotion’s taillights are actually quite elegant, while its floating roof design and integrated roof rack storage box give it a fully utile look. (Photo: Nissan)
Then again, without any mention of what type of propulsion system moves this sharply angled, origami-inspired SUV, there’s no way of knowing whether we’re looking at the future of “UN” decaled Nissan Patrols or merely a much cooler way of autonomously arriving at the shopping mall, so let’s just consider the design exercise before us without concerning ourselves with how Nissan managed to roll it onto its Detroit auto show stage. The Xmotion, pronounced “cross motion,” made its world debut at the 2018 North American International Auto Show on January 15th. In Nissan’s words the concept “fuses Japanese culture and traditional craftsmanship with American-style utility and new-generation Nissan Intelligent Mobility technology,” and does so in a most unusual yet welcoming way.
2018 Nissan Xmotion Concept
A unique take on Nissan’s trademark “V-motion” grille, sharply detailed LED headlights, and an aggressive lower fascia define the frontal design. (Photo: Nissan)
“In the Xmotion concept, we explored the more rugged and powerful side of Nissan Intelligent Mobility,” said Alfonso Albaisa, senior vice president of global design at Nissan Motor Co., Ltd. “Bold and powerful forms and proportions are, upon closer inspection, contrasted with aspects of traditional Japanese craftsmanship expressed in a contemporary way.” Nissan claims the Xmotion signals “the future of Nissan design,” so we should get ready for a new level of bold, rugged, in-your-face styling from an automaker that has a history of pushing the design envelope with a handful of models (Cube, Juke, Murano, Maxima, Z, GT-R) and otherwise playing it conservatively safe (Micra, Versa, Sentra, Altima, Kicks, Qashqai, Rogue, Pathfinder, Armada, Frontier, Titan, etc).
2018 Nissan Xmotion Concept
The Xmotion’s taillights are quite beautiful when lit up. (Photo: Nissan)
The Xmotion sets a new design tone by utilizing new technologies more creatively, a trend we’re starting to see across the entire industry. For instance, where LEDs were initially used to add “signature” elements to conventional headlight and taillight designs, now we’re starting to see narrow light strips that follow the outline of a fender or fascia’s surrounding shape. The taillights are integrated subtly, creatively playing off the unique red rooftop spoiler element above, albeit inverted, while that spoiler appears as if it’s an extension of yet more red roof panels placed below integrated body-colour roof rails overtop.
2018 Nissan Xmotion Concept
The Xmotion’s 21-inch wheel/tire combination consist of a one-piece laminated design. (Photo: Nissan)
The front grille is an evolution of Nissan’s trademark V-motion design, whereas the headlights are simple curving LEDs positioned behind sharp blade-shaped extensions of the front fenders, these appearing to float above cavernous gloss black vents that dive down each corner. A look down either side presents a stunning set of “mechanical tool-inspired” alloy wheels on all-terrain tires, although unlike a regular wheel and tire combination these are actually a single-piece all-in-one design featuring an interlocked tire that’s “physically laminated over the 21-inch aluminum-alloy wheels.” These sit below lightweight carbon fibre reinforced plastic (CFRP) fender flares, textured in a traditional Japanese design.
2018 Nissan Xmotion Concept
Possibly the Xmotion’s “rooftop box” is roomier than it looks. (Photo: Nissan)
Look higher and what at first appeared to be a centre roof panel is actually an external container attached to integrated roof rack cross members, this dubbed a “rooftop box” by the design team. It’s difficult to contemplate what might be narrow enough to fit inside, but the design looks pretty slick so let’s not allow practical reasoning to negate the effect. Compared to the front and profile designs, the Xmotion’s rear view almost comes across as conventional, although those tidy taillights noted earlier were actually inspired by Japanese woodwork, a theme that’s much more prevalent within the cabin.
2018 Nissan Xmotion Concept
The Xmotion’s pillarless doors provide a good view to its artful interior. (Photo: Nissan)
“The exterior’s combination of western and eastern concepts continues inside the Xmotion, where advanced connectivity and autonomous technologies mix with modern Japanese digital art and cultural craftsmanship,” continued Albaisa. “At a glance, Xmotion may appear to have a minimal design language, but a closer look reveals layers of detail that make this concept exceptional.”
2018 Nissan Xmotion Concept
A massive digital display, airplane style steering wheel, and beautiful woodwork are instrument panel highlights. (Photo: Nissan)
The interior woodwork might look more apropos in a classic boat than a futuristic SUV, but it’s nevertheless a breath of fresh fir (albeit the grain appears like natural maple—Nissan didn’t say, but then again it looks like BC Douglas Fir in a video showing it being planed from a 2×4) in an automotive world that’s seen much too much piano black lacquer in recent years. The lower instrument panel and cabin-length floating console appears to have enough of the stuff to make this SUV buoyant in case of a river crossing gone awry, the Xmotion’s creators using “a modern interpretation of traditional kigumi wood joinery” for the beautifully complex construction of the former, while the latter incorporates a “traditional Japanese architectural wood joinery technique, kanawa tsugi, found in the carpentry used to build religious temples and shrines,” said Nissan.
2018 Nissan Xmotion Concept
The intricate dash and floating console woodwork is best seen from below. (Photo: Nissan)
While the wood is beautifully crafted and artistically arrayed, most of today’s smartphone addicted consumers will be more immediately drawn to the Xmotion’s massive dash-wide digital instrumentation. It’s actually comprised of five screens, featuring three large main displays and another two slightly smaller ones at each end, while their control comes via eye movement, hand gestures, and voice activation. Additionally, a “digital room mirror” gets added overhead and one last display is fixed to the centre console, the combined number of digital interfaces totaling seven. In a video, Nissan illustrates their interconnectivity by showing a coy swimming from the lower console touchscreen up to and across the displays on the dash, while a self-levitating magnetic disc spins atop the rear portion of the console for no apparent reason other than providing another sense of awe.
2018 Nissan Xmotion Concept
The seats appear to float like boats on top of a near seamless river-like floor. (Photo: Nissan)
The avionics inspired steering wheel is an interesting addition, making it appear as if it might only be put into used when autonomous capability isn’t possible, whereas the white-and-black front and scarlet-and-black second-row mesh pedestal seats seem to float atop the Xmotion’s near seamless floor like traditional Japanese “wasen” boats, the lower surfacing actually representing a river, with the aforementioned centre console being the bridge overtop. “The centre console symbolizes a wooden bridge connecting two cultures, but also bridging timeless traditions with tomorrow’s technology,” said Albaisa.
2018 Nissan Xmotion Concept
This console-mounted touchscreen is just one of seven digital displays in the Xmotion. (Photo: Nissan)
Scarlet represents “sun and energy in Japan,” while “white is purity, cleanliness and simplicity” and “black symbolizes contrast and intensity,” says interior designer Myung-Eun Lee. The seat upholstery incorporates Japanese latticework patterns, whereas their mesh-like upper backrests have their tradition in “kumiko” woodwork. It’s difficult to tell at first glance, but the Xmotion is a three-row SUV, set up in a unique “4+2” passenger layout. While that might sound like most of today’s sport utilities that tout a six- to seven-passenger capacity yet only have room for pre-teens at best in the rearmost seats, the Xmotion differentiates itself by providing a lounge-like, sofa-style wrap-around back row. This said the seats in the very back were designed for even smaller kids or pets, so this SUV follows the pattern set by most three-row family haulers in this respect. Still, despite rolling art interior and exterior styling, this new Nissan could be made into a practical people mover.
2018 Nissan Xmotion Concept
Nissan doesn’t explain what this self-levitating magnetic spinning disc does, other than create a sense of awe. (Photo: Nissan)
“We envision the Xmotion concept to be a highly functional SUV that can be driven every day, yet can take the owners and friends to a national park or recreation area on a whim,” continued Albaisa. “With its combination of style and technology, this concept fulfills Nissan’s mission of moving people to a better world.” Whim or whimsical, that’s for you to decide, but Nissan has nevertheless created a exterior design that, toned down somewhat, would likely be widely accepted by tomorrow’s SUV buyer. Expect future concept SUVs to adopt a similar design language, and hopefully future production utilities as well. Until then, enjoy three videos Nissan provided at the launch of the new Xmotion:   Quick visual overview (0.52):   Detailed overview with interviews (note: set up closed captioning as much of the video is in Japanese) (3.59):   Full introduction of Xmotion at Detroit auto show (16:39):
Jaguar’s F-Type sports car needs no introduction, but you may not realize this 2018 model has gone through a much more comprehensive mid-cycle makeover than mere appearances suggest. Along with subtle…

2018 Jaguar F-Type R Coupe Road Test

There's no more iconic modern-day Jaguar than the F-Type. It's the heart and soul of the famed British brand, just like the sensational XK, elegant XJ-S, legendary E-Type, and revered XK150/140/120 were in decades' past. For good reason the F-Type has become one of the best-selling sports cars in the premium sector, and likewise it goes without saying that any opportunity afforded me within its cockpit is met with enthusiasm.

I was especially excited to get my hands on this 2018 model, as it represents the F-Type's first-ever mid-cycle refresh. Premium sports cars don't get made over as often as volume-branded alternatives, this being the fifth model year of its availability, so its changes were welcome even if ultimately subtle in application. Look closely and you'll see the new standard LED headlights that add a premium-level, high-tech appearance and better nighttime visibility no matter the trim, while the front bumper and lower fascia design features new air intakes with Read Full Story