2019 Nissan Altima

For 2019 Nissan fully redesigned its Altima midsize sedan, adding a slew of updates to the popular model. Slotted between the compact Nissan Sentra and below the full-size Nissan Maxima, the Altima competes head-to-head with other mainstream midsize sedans.

Two key updates for 2019 are the availability of all-wheel-drive, a rarity in the segment, and an optional variable compression powerplant, that Nissan asserts delivers the performance of  six-cylinder and the efficiency of a four-cylinder.

As before, the Altima is a no-nonsense type of car that offers a roomy and comfortable cabin and decent performance. Its controls are simple to operate and there are no major compromises. Pricing for the 2019 model starts at $23,750.

Pros: The well-equipped base S model comes standard with advanced safety features. A comfortable ride and supportive seats make the Altima a pleasant road companion. Available all-wheel-drive makes it an appealing choice for shoppers in colder climates.

Cons: Unlike the Toyota Camry, the Nissan Altima no longer offers a V-6 engine for shoppers looking for the smooth and linear power delivery experience that only a larger non-aspirated engine can offer.

Looks Best In: Lighter exterior paint colors set off the blacked out C-pillar and dark trim around the grille surround nicely. Charcoal interior fits the utilitarian Altima’s mission well.

2019 Nissan Altima exterior2019 Nissan Altima interior

Competition: The Altima’s main rivals are the Honda Accord and Toyota Camry, two of the segment’s top sellers. The Ford Fusion and Subaru Legacy are the only other vehicles in the segment that offer all-wheel-drive.

For shoppers looking for a sporty driving experience, the Mazda 6, Honda Accord and Toyota Camry are the best handlers in the segment. The large Volkswagen Passat and Hyundai Sonata are roomy and practical picks within the segment.

Safety Score: The 2019 version of the Nissan Altima has not yet been crash tested by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, however based on the precedent set by the previous generation Altima as the recipient of the organization’s Top Safety Pick designation, it is expected to perform well.

Summary: The 2019 Altima does without embellishments and gimmicky tech of some competitors, making it an appealing choice for a wide swath of shoppers. It’s simplicity and comfort make it easy to live with, and competitive pricing makes it a good value.

[Images: Nissan]

[Design Preview?] 2020 Cadillac XT7

The upcoming Cadillac XT7 will join the compact XT4 and mid-size two-row XT5 in the brand’s crossover lineup. Expected to be based on the same front-wheel-drive platform as the Chevrolet Traverse, it will offer seating accommodations for seven or eight passengers and significantly improved efficiency compared to the Escalade.

2018 Chevrolet Traverse High Country

2018 Chevrolet Traverse

2020 Cadillac XT7

Interpretation of the Traverse-based Cadillac model, known as the XT7, expected around 2020

The already attractive Chevrolet Traverse provides a good template for Cadillac to express its signature design language. Up front, expect to see headlamps similar to those found on the recently introduced XT4. The bodyside may take on same additional flourishes and chrome adornments than what’s featured in the design preview shown here, however the basic proportions are expected to carryover from the Traverse. Around back is where we can expect to see Cadillac’s impressive light column from the Escalade and XT4 incorporated to add drama and also set the Cadillac apart from the Traverse’s horizontal taillamps.

At a time when crossover sales are white hot, the XT7 could be just the ticket for Cadillac to recapture lost market share and appeal to shopper that find the truck-based Escalade too inefficient and cramped inside.

The Cadillac XT7 is expected to make its official debut at some point in 2019. Stay tuned to ThirdAuto.com as we report on additional details as they come available.

RELATED: Does Recent Patent Filing Reveal Future CTS?

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RELATED: 2018 Cadillac XT5

[Images: suvdrive.com]

2019 Acura ILX

For 2019 Acura has updated and restyled its smallest sedan, the compact ILX. With styling that now matches the brand’s latest design philosophy, it looks sportier and more premium than the 2018 model. As with other Acura models, a sporty A-Spec package is available that mostly offers cosmetic enhancements, like side sills and larger wheels. For 2019 Acura made previously optional advanced safety tech standard and also upgraded the seats and infotainment system. Within the brand’s lineup the ILX slots below the TLX mid-size luxury sedan.

Notably, Acura also lowered the base price of the ILX, which now starts at $25,900. That’s significantly less than other entry-luxury compact sedans like the Mercedes-Benz CLA and Audi A3.

Pros: The ILX offers the cachet of a premium brand at a relatively affordable price compared to its prime competitors. A lower price and added features make its value proposition compelling. Strong safety scores are also a plus.

Cons: Fresh styling and new features don’t fully conceal the ILX’s mainstream roots. Based on the Honda Civic, the ILX has a choppy ride and lack of road noise isolation that are unbecoming of the Acura brand and could prove tiresome for shoppers seeking a truly luxurious experience.

Looks Best In: For 2019 Acura updated the interior and exterior color palettes. Perhaps the most eye-catching exterior color is Performance Red Pearl, which nicely sets off the redesigned grille and headlamps and emphasizes the car’s performance focus. However, it is the deep and rich Apex Blue Pearl that perhaps best suits the ILX, and many of the other Acura models this unique color is offered on. When paired with the bold Red leather interior, it makes the ILX look quite striking.

2019 Acura ILX exterior2019 Acura ILX interior

Competition: Top compact luxury sedan competitors with strong safety scores include the Audi A3, BMW 2-Series, Mercedes-Benz CLA, and Volvo S60. The ILX’s price point also pits it against midsize mainstream sedans with performance-focused variants, like the Mazda 6, Honda Accord and Toyota Camry.

The Mercedes-Benz CLA is compromised in that it features a cramped cockpit that lacks isolation from road noise and, like the ILX, its ride is not as smooth as might be expected from a luxury brand. The Audi A3 is among the most well-rounded competitors, offering avant garde design and a more composed ride, plus standard all-wheel-drive.

Safety Score: The Acura ILX has received strong crash test ratings from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, although weak headlamps precluded it from receiving a Top Safety Pick designation.

Summary: For shoppers drawn to the ILX’s premium styling and not bothered by the ride, the ILX is an efficient, responsive and affordable entry point into the luxury fold.

[Images: Acura]

 

 

 

 

2019 Subaru Forester

For 2019 Subaru completely redesigned the Forester, its popular two-row compact SUV. With a bevy of new safety tech, handsome styling inspired by the mid-size Ascent, and more attention paid to refinement, Subaru really leveled up with this update to make the Forester a very compelling choice within its segment.

Prices for the 2019  Subaru Forster start at $24,295 for the base model and go up to $35,270 for the top Touring trim, with all-wheel-drive being standard across the board. In terms of efficiency, the 2019 Forester beats all non-hybrid competitors with all-wheel-drive, achieving 29 highway/33 city gas mileage. 

Pros: With class-leading efficiency and a more refined driving experience, the 2019 Forester is an excellent choice within its segment. The Forester’s buttery-smooth ride sets it apart from competitors that struggle to isolate their cabins from harshness.

Cons: There is no hybrid model to compete with the Toyota RAV4 for shoppers seeking peak efficiency in a compact SUV. The Forester is smaller than some vehicles in the segment, like the Volkswagen Tiguan which offers a third-row seat. The Subaru Forester is not exciting to drive and could prove to be boring for driving enthusiasts.

Looks Best In: Subaru offers several great exterior paint options, like the bright Crimson Red Pearl and soothing Horizon Blue Pearl. However, it’s Jasper Green Metallic, a light-medium green that best suits the Forester’s low-key and outdoorsy vibe. Inside, the Saddle Brown leather available on the top-end Touring trim creates a rich and earthy ambiance.

2019 Subaru Forester exterior in Jasper Green

2019 Subaru Forester interior in Saddle Brown

Competition: Top compact SUV competitors with strong safety scores include the Honda CR-V, Toyota RAV4, Hyundai Tucson,  Kia Sportage, Chevrolet Equinox, Nisan Rogue, Volkswagen Tiguan, Mazda CX-5.

The Toyota RAV4 stands out for its aforementioned available hybrid powertain, while the Volkswagen Tiguan offers the added versatility with seating for up to seven passengers. The comfort-oriented Honda CR-V and Nissan Rogue most closely match the Forester’s character. For shoppers looking for a sporty and engaging driving experience, the Mazda CX-5 makes a much better dancing partner on winding country roads than the Forester.

Safety Score: The 2019 Subaru Forester has not yet been tested by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety. However, the 2018 model received a Top Safety Pick designation from the organization. Based on that precedent it’s expected that the 2019 model will perform well.

Summary: Efficient, comfortable and practical, shoppers cannot go wrong with the 2019 Subaru Forester. If an effortless driving experience is prioritized over sportiness, this is a top contender in the compact SUV segment.

Forester angle.PNG

 [Images: Subaru]

 

2019 Lexus ES

The Lexus ES is the brand’s entry-level midsize luxury sedan, which underwent a complete redesign for the 2019 model year. Changes are mostly evolutionary inside and out, but stylistically the ES has become more nuanced and sophisticated. Detailed character lines and a bolder grille leave more an impression that the rather anonymous exterior styling of the previous generation.

Inside premium materials are showcased, including unique seat embossing and a selection of interesting wood trims. Overall, it evokes the welcoming and modern atmosphere found inside the full-size Lexus LS.

While it mostly appeals to shoppers looking for a full-on luxury sedan as opposed to a performance vehicle, Lexus does offer the flashy F Sport trim with bolder styling details, bright color options inside and out, and a stiffer suspension. However, the regular ES or ES hybrid are most true to form for the car and serve up the familiar isolated and luxurious experience that has become expected of the nameplate. Prices for the 2019 Lexus ES start from $39,500, with well-equipped models coming in around $45,000.

Best Color Combination: Sunlit Green exterior/Flaxen interior

Competition: Acura TLX, Mercedes-Benz C-Class, Volvo S60

Safety Score: As of publication date the 2019 Lexus ES has not yet been crash tested by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety. However, it is expected to receive a Top Safety Pick rating based on the performance of the Toyota Avalon, with which its shares structural and safety components.

Summary: More opulent than ever, the 2019 Lexus ES delivers on the luxury front for drivers who value a smooth and supple driving experience over all-out exhilaration.

[Images: Lexus]

2019 Cadillac XT4

The 2019 Cadillac XT4 is a compact luxury SUV with a starting price of $34,795. Competing in a crowded segment, the XT4 goes up against the likes of the BMW X1, Lexus NX, Audi Q3 and Volvo XC40. What sets the Cadillac XT4 apart from the competition is bold styling borrowed from the famous Escalade. Available in Luxury, Premium Luxury and Sport trims.

The mid-level trim should suit most as it comes with leather, park assist and a power liftgate. The Sport trim is primarily comprised of cosmetic updates, like a unique grille design and larger wheels. Front-wheel-drive is standard, with all-wheel-drive being optional on all trims. Ride and handling characteristics are unknown, however it is expected that the XT4 will take after its larger XT5 stablemate, which offers a firm but composed ride.

Pros: Great Exterior Styling, Roomier Interior Than Competitors, Good Fuel Efficiency

Cons: Mostly Boring Exterior Paint Selection

Looks Best In: Twilight Blue exterior/Sedona/Jet Black interior

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Competition: BMW X1, Mercedes-Benz GLC, Infiniti QX50Lexus NX

Safety Score: As of publication date the 2019 Cadillac XT4 has not yet been crash tested by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety.

Summary: The 2019 Cadillac XT4 is a stylish and compelling choice within its segment. Offering a number of interesting available features like adaptive cruise control and a heated steering wheel.

[Images: Cadillac]

BMW 3 Series: Looking Forward, Glancing Back

The next-generation BMW 3 Series is set to make its debut any day now. While its unveiling awaits, looking back at the venerable luxury sport sedan’s heritage provides context for what can be expected for model year 2019.

Over six generations the 3 Series has gone through evolution and revolutions in terms of style and has grown significantly in size. Will the next 3-Series take on a retro flair and embody the minimalism of the E21 or go a more radical route with flame surfacing like the E90? Let’s examine every generation of the 3 Series to get a better idea of what could lie ahead.

BMW 3-Series E21

The first-generation BMW 3 Series (code named E21) made its debut in the United States for the 1977 model year. Its simplistic form, prominent double kidney grille and circular headlamps set against black fixtures gave the vehicle a purposeful and sporty look. This design was ahead of its time. Over the next three decades the minimalist style would prove highly influential as sedan designs became progressively more understated in the 3 Series idiom, with excessive chrome and opera lights falling by the wayside as a sportier and less ornamental design philosophy took hold.

BMW 3-Series E30
The second-generation BMW 3 Series (code named E30) made its debut for the 1984 model year in the United States and ushered in an evolutionary design that had a bit more substantial presence. Four headlamps adorned a more upright front fascia. Taillamps increased in size and the trunklid was higher in this generation. Interior dimensions also increased, which drew the compact 3 Series further into the mainstream and contributed to its surging popularity.

BMW 3-Series E36
1992 brought the third 3 Series (code named E36), which ushered in a more aerodynamic design language. Headlamps were encased in plastic housings and the double kidney grilles were more elegantly incorporated into the front end. Out back the taillamps took on a more nuanced form, giving the 3 Series a more aggressive stance. Aprons below the door sills provide a grounded and sporty look.

BMW 3-Series E46
As the millennium approached, so did a new 3 Series. Making its debut for the 1999 model year was the fourth-generation 3 Series (code named E46). While enthusiast began to grumble that the car lost some of its excellent steering sharpness, the design at least was well executed. Sharp curves of the previous generation were gently rounded all over the vehicle, lending this generation a very sophisticated aesthetic. A significantly higher trunklid and upsized taillamps took away slightly from the hunkered down look of prior 3 Series. This generation would see its coupe and cabriolet come equipped with body-colored rub strips, while the sedan carried on with the traditional black rubber strips.

BMW 3-Series E90
As the Bangle design era took hold at BMW, which saw the release of the radical 2002 7 Series and 2006 5 Series, the fifth-generation 3 Series (code named E90) made its debut for the 2006 model year. While its design was not as outlandish as its stablemates, the 3 Series did take on some funky design detailing, which coincided with lessened driving dynamics as the model became ever so softer and more mainstream. Scuff guards were removed altogether, lending the design a clean look, but also increasing visual mass. On the sedan the double kidney grille was bisected along the top whereby the upper portion was placed on the hood while the remainder was attached to the front fascia, the coupe retained a more traditional grille treatment. A mid-generation refresh would see the coupe’s more elegant grille treatment grafted onto the sedan, along with other updates that honed in the quirky design. Sharp and deep bodyside creases known as “flame surfacing” added definition to the 3 Series, but also removed the subtlety of prior generations.

BMW 3-Series F30
A full return to traditional design came with the 2012 release of the six-generation 3 Series (code named F30). BMW played it safe with this model and removed all echoes of the Bangle era with this interpretation. Aggressively shaped headlamps hark back to the fourth-generation model. The horizontal taillamp design that made its debut on the fifth-generation coupe was carried across the range for this generation, provided a more grounded appearance for the sedan. Along the sides of the vehicle sharp creases were incorporated with more subtle and organic forms compared to the prior generation.

BMW 3-Series G20
BMW has released a teaser of the seventh-generation 3 Series, however the camouflage obscures detailing. An official debut is expected in autumn 2018.

[Images & Video: BMW, Wikipedia]

Top 5 Cars for Young Executives

Whether in search of an economical commuter car, a large car or truck to transport goods for a startup, or something prestigious that conveys success to potential business partners, there are many excellent vehicles on the market that can fit the lifestyle and budget of executives. Below are five recommended vehicles for young professionals.

1.) Toyota Camry

2018-Toyota-Camry.jpg

The new for 2018 Toyota Camry is the brand’s bread and butter midsize sedan. It features the latest safety equipment and has a stylish new exterior design. There’s an available hybrid that offers excellent fuel mileage and an available V-6 that provides a fun driving experience. Pricing starts at an MSRP of $23,495. With its reputation as a reliable, economical and affordable sedan, the Camry is a highly sensible choice.

2.) Ford F-150

2018-Ford-F-150.png

As a no-nonsense hauler, the 2018 Ford F-150 is a capable and rugged choice for young professionals who frequently transport large quantities of goods as part of their trade. Prices start at $27,380 and no less than five available engines, three cab configurations and three bed configurations are available to make the F-150 fully customized to fit your needs, not to mention budget. The F-150 was the best-selling vehicle in America last year with 820,799 units sold.

3.) Audi A3

2018-Audi-A3.png

Arriving in a stylish car from a respected luxury brand can go a long way toward making a great first impression with potential business partners. For young professionals with a larger budget, the 2018 Audi A3 is a sub-compact luxury sedan that has a high level of appeal, without being too flashy. Pricing starts at $31,950 and includes standard leather seating and a sunroof.


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4.) Volvo XC40

2019-Volvo-XC40

For trend-setting young professionals the stylish 2019 Volvo XC40 could be especially alluring. This is Volvo’s latest offering in the white-hot sub-compact luxury SUV segment. Available in a range of eye-catching interior and exterior colors, it’s a youth-oriented design that has practicality in spades and carries the prestige of a luxury nameplate. Pricing for the XC40 starts at $32,200.

5.) Hyundai Kona

2018-Hyundai-Kona.png

A more affordable alternative to the Volvo XC40 is the all-new 2018 Hyundai Kona. This sub-compact mainstream SUV has a striking design and offers excellent fuel economy. A good city runabout, the Hyundai Kona has a starting price of  $19,500 and offers a number of available comfort and entertainment features to make commuting to and from the office a breeze.

[Images: Toyota, Ford, Audi, Volvo, Hyundai]

 

Exploring the 2019 Audi A8

For 2019 Audi redesigned its flagship sedan, the full-size A8, and loaded it with innovative technology. Initially available with a V-6 and standard Quattro all-wheel-drive, prices start from an MSRP of $83,800.

In terms of design the exterior is mostly evolutionary, which is to say understated and handsome in the Audi tradition. No new ground is broken in terms of body sculpting, however the lighting elements put on theatrics, which helps to lemd the design some personality.

Unexciting paint colors seem to be the norm among larger German luxury sedans. Just like the Mercedes-Benz S-Class and BMW 7-Series, the A8 has a very understated exterior color palette. Perhaps the nicest shades available are Seville Red and Navarra Blue.

2019 Audi A8 Navarra Blue

2019 Audi A8 in Navarra Blue

2019 Audi A8 Seville Red

2019 Audi A8 in Seville Red


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Interior design and materials is an area where Audi has long been segment-leading, and that’s no different when it comes to the 2019 A8. Opting for the $4,250 Luxury Package provides upgraded leather, an Alcantara headliner, extended leather trim covering surfaces throughout the cabin, and aluminum trim. It all makes for a finely crafted and appealing interior, especially when outfitted with the Nutmeg Brown color scheme.

2019 Audi A8 Nutmeg Brown interior

2019 Audi A8 Nutmeg Brown interior

When it comes to the aforementioned technology, the A8 does not disappoint. Perhaps the most impressive feature is the Predictive Adaptive Suspension, which will automatically adjust the air suspension if there are poor road conditions, if the vehicle is cornering or coming to a stop. All of these measures provide a serene and secure driving experience. Other technology includes a highly advanced infotainment interface and available rear-seat tablets integrated into the front seatbacks.

[Images & Video: Audi]

2019 Acura TLX

The 2019 Acura TLX enters its final year in its current form, as a full redesign is expected for 2010. With a starting MSRP of $33,000 the TLX is a mid-size luxury sedan that slots above the compact Acura ILX and full-size RLX in the brand’s sedan lineup. Its available with a 2.4 L 4-Cyl and optional 3.5 L V-6. As with other Acura models, a sporty A-Spec variant is available, which mainly consists of cosmetic enhancements. With a new model around the corner, expect discounts to be readily available on the 2019 TLX. If having a prestigious badge is not important, check out the larger mainstream Honda Accord and Kia Optima, both of which are available with high-end features.

Pros: Available AWD, Expressive Color Combinations, Smooth Available V-6

Cons: Outdated Design, No Hybrid Available

Looks Best In: Still Night Blue exterior/Red interior

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Competition: Lexus ES, BMW 3-Series, Audi A4, Volvo S60, Kia Optima


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Safety Score: The Acura TLX received a Top Safety Pick designation from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety.

Summary: The 2019 Acura TLX is a solid pick within the mid-size luxury segment, it offers a comfortable driving experience and a stylish design that imparts a sense of occasion lacking in mainstream sedans. With expected discounting during the final model year of the current design, a good deal could be had by the savvy shopper.

RELATED: Infographic: Acura MDX 2001-Present

[Images: Acura]

Infographic: Acura MDX 2001-Present

The Acura MDX has been a mainstay in the Acura stable since its debut in 2001. A perennial strong seller, the MDX is now in its third generation. Learn more about the MDX and its changes over time.

RELATED: 2019 Acura MDX Review

RELATED: Lux SUV Olympics: Going for Gold!

Acura MDX 2001-2019


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2019 Acura MDX

The 2019 Acura MDX is a three-row luxury crossover with a starting MSRP of $45,295. Although mostly carried over from 2018, the 2019 model features a sporty A-Spec version that lends some sporty design cues inside and out. The MDX offers luxurious accommodations and a smooth V-6 engine. It’s also available in hybrid form, although it’s quite pricey with a starting price of $52,800, which diminishes its value proposition. The Acura MDX is an upscale variant of the mainstream Honda Pilot, which is a good choice for shoppers on a budget to consider if they’re willing to forgo some of the frills that come with the Acura.

Pros: Stylish Exterior, Powerful Engine, Safety Score, Comfortable Ride

Cons: Non-Hybrid Version Less Efficient Than Competitors, Interior Less Upscale Than Competitors

Looks Best In: Apex Blue Pearl exterior/Ebony interior

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Competition: Infiniti QX60, Mazda CX-9, Volvo XC90, Buick Enclave


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Safety Score: The Acura MDX received a Top Safety Pick designation from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety.

Summary: The MDX is a practical people hauler that delivers a refined driving experience. For a more modern interior design, look toward the Volvo XC60 or Mazda CX-9. The MDX’s archrival is the Infiniti QX60, which offers slightly better fuel efficiency and a lower starting price.

[Images: Acura]