Review coming soon!
After watching the 1994 Toyota Rav4’s success in the compact SUV market, Toyota decided to use its Lexus division to launch a luxury SUV. Introduced in 1998, the Lexus RX was considered one of the world’s first luxury SUVs. Using an enlarged version of the sixth generation Camry’s platform (shared with the Lexus ES also), the RX combined car like performance with ground clearance akin to an SUV. Its success prompted other rival companies to take notice. The Mercedes-Benz M-Class and the BMW X5 are the results. As the RX reached even more sales, it grew in size. Whereas the original was a compact SUV, the second generation (2003-2008) was labeled as a midsize SUV. This iteration also introduced the world’s first production luxury hybrid, the RX400h. Lexus redesigned the RX in 2009. It received a facelift in 2012 which included mechanical improvements as well as revised exterior and interior updates that brought it in line with Lexus’ latest design philosophy. Continue reading
Even though Porsche is thriving, and it is currently the most profitable subsidiary of Volkswagen, (Volkswagen owns Porsche), it wasn’t always this way. In the early 1990s, Porsche experienced financial struggles due to the economic recession and lack of exciting and new models. The 911 was notorious as a world famous sports car, but it did not sell enough to offset Porsche’s monetary issues. The solution to this was to build an affordable sports car that could sell more units than the 911 while retaining high profitability. Enter the Boxster. Introduced for the model year 1997, the Boxster renewed Porsche’s importance. Four years after the Boxster’s debut, Porsche’s volume quadrupled. Continue reading
Seeing how the market reacted to the Chevrolet Camaro and the Ford Mustang in the 1960s, Dodge went to work at developing a rival. In late 1969, the Dodge Challenger and its twin, the Plymouth Barracuda were introduced. Their advantage over the aforementioned Camaro and Mustang was that they both could be ordered in numerous trims and options with any engine from Chrysler’s lineup (Dodge and Plymouth are owned by Chrysler). Plymouth positioned the Barracuda against the Camaro and the Mustang while the Challenger rivaled luxury muscle cars such as the Mercury Cougar and Pontiac Firebird. It sold well but there was one caveat: timing. These two muscle cars rose to prominence as the muscle car segment declined, not to mention there was the oil crisis shortly after. Discontinued in 1974, the Challenger was revived not as a muscle car, but as a rebadged Mitsubishi Galant Lambda. Unsurprisingly, this Challenger was discontinued in 1983. As the 2004 Ford Mustang restarted the pony war, Dodge revived the Challenger. This time, it would stay true to the 1970s Challengers and Barracudas.
True Hyundai purists will argue that the second generation Sonata is the original Sonata. The first Sonata, introduced in 1985, was nothing more than a revised Stellar with an upgraded engine. It was never sold in the US market due to not meeting emission standards. After only two years, Hyundai discontinued the Sonata due to poor sales. However, as Hyundai expanded in the US, it revived the Sonata name for its family sedan. While later generations of the Sonata were competent, they still fell prey to the stereotype of Korean cars: cheap, boring, rubbish. It was not until the fifth generation (2004-2009) that the Sonata became a real contender in the midsize sedan class. Boasting great value for the money, the fifth generation aimed to compete against the Honda Accord and the Toyota Camry while offering great value for the money.
Post World War II England faced high fuel prices, creating a need for a fuel efficient car. Alec Issigonis, an engineer for Morris (a now defunct British auto manufacturer), tried to come up with an affordable and fuel efficient car that would carry a family of four. The solution was to push the wheels out to the corners and turn the engine sideways in order to make the interior roomier while aiding handling. Launched in 1959, the Mini met with critical acclaim. British buyers flocked to the Mini the same way German buyers flocked to the Volkswagen Beetle.
BMW resurrected the Mini brand, debuting the Mini Cooper in 2000.