Concept Cars

New Kia Futuron Concept has a 360-degree core

Kia has introduced a concept car that gives a hint at what future SUV design will look like.

Photo courtesy of Kia Motors

Kia Motors is giving a hint of its future electric vehicle design with the debut of the Kia Futuron Concept, an all-wheel drive high-riding hatchback that they're calling a "sports car on an SUV platform."

The automaker choose the name of the vehicle because it's a portmanteau of the words future and on. They say that it will help give consumers an idea of what to expect from Kia in the future. Looking closely, it's likely that many hallmarks of this concept car will play out in future Niro designs and in a forthcoming subcompact SUV that is related to the Hyundai Venue.

Kia Futuron Concept side The high-riding coupe has sleek lines and a sophisticated overall aesthetic.Photo courtesy of Kia Motors

With the design, Kia is emphasizing elegant proportions rather than funky characteristics like what you'll find in their Soul. Sweeping lines that flow from front to rear are common in modern concept vehicles and this is no exception. Kia's designers were drawn to the 360-degree styling because of its flowing shapes that easily move from the exterior to the interior, expanding and contracting.

The face of the car has a new interpretation of Kia's tiger nose grille, with a wide opening across the front of the car. That grille incorporates LED headlamps with a distinct light signature.

Kia has given the Futuron Concept an all-electric powertrain with all-wheel drive. It has a high-capacity battery (no exact numbers are available) and in-wheel electric motors.

Kia Futuron Concept top roof It features a panoramic glass roof.Photo courtesy of Kia Motors

The interior of the model features leaned back seats that allows for an "interactive driving experience suitable for urban city environments." The two front seats are made out of flexible materials that offer seating flexibility in the vein fo what first-class passengers would find on an airliner.

Its roof has diamond-shaped panoramic glass. Inside the greenhouse is a network of LiDAR sensors capable of Level 4 autonomous driving features.

Kia Futuron Concept seats Kia has given the SUV unique seating that is meant to provide first-class comfortability.Photo courtesy of Kia Motors

Kia touts the car's seamless cockpit area that features the instrument cluster wrapped in harmony with the rest of the car's audio and visual displays and through the steering wheel.

The 2020 Nissan Armada is already passed its prime.

Photo courtesy of Nissan North America

The 2020 Nissan Armada has a reputation for being a strong and capable vehicle but in an increasingly competitive field, it's not the stunner it could be. As 2019 comes to a close and 2020 begins, the three-row full-size SUV will be competing against completely redesigned Chevrolet Suburban, Chevrolet Tahoe, and GMC Yukon models for buyer dollars.

Both the Armada and the 2020 Infiniti QX80 offer a similar driving and handling experience. They're powered by the same 5.6-liter V8 engine that is paired with a 7-speed automatic transmission. The engine is thirsty and competent but both SUVs suffer from lane wandering habits that make a driver's arms tired and patience wear out in a jiffy.

2020 Nissan Armada Platinum Reserve rearview camera mirror The SUV does have a nifty rearview camera mirror. It's distracting in the daytime but helps mitigate headlight blindness at night.Photo courtesy of Nissan North America

Both can tow up to 8,500 pounds and have enough off-road prowess to more than satisfy the average owner.

Seating is especially comfortable in both of the vehicles' front rows. Second row seating is decently comfy with enough leg- and headroom for adults to be comfortable. The third row is best only for short trips as adults feel easily squished.

Nissan introduced the Platinum Reserve trim level for its Armada for the 2018 model year. Designed to be the top-tier offering, the Armada Platinum Reserve features all the bells and whistles including Dark Chrome exterior trim, Dark Grey skid plate and tow hatch cover, two-tone leather-appointed seats, interior trim with unique stitching, and 22-inch wheels and tires. It also gets a standard rearview camera mirror.

interior Nissan Armada 2020 screen shifter The center stack immediately dates the Armada.Photo courtesy of Nissan North America

But, and this is a big but, it still includes Nissan's outdated infotainment system and driver information screen. There are large buttons galore on the center stack in a time where most SUVs at the Armada Platinum Reserve's price point have gone to either one large infotainment screen and a minimalist button setup or a dual-screen setup with buttons only where absolutely necessary.

The driver information screen is a relic of another generation of vehicles. Despite technically only being in the second year of its second generation, the screen looks much older.

Nissan Armada instrument cluster driver information screen The driver information screen in the Armada looks a decade old.Photo courtesy of Nissan North America

With a $68,030 starting price for the 2020 Armada Platinum Reserve 4x4, it's easy to see potential buyers looking elsewhere for more updated equipment.

If you're set on getting a Nissan but want a more modern SUV, take a stroll over to the other side of the lot to the Infiniti dealership where a fresher 2020 Infiniti QX80 sits.

This SUV combines the power and performance buyers expect from a Mercedes-AMG branded product.

Photo courtesy of Mercedes-Benz

Mercedes has done it again. The 2021 Mercedes-AMG GLS 63 combines the performance buyers expect from anything with the AMG label with three rows of seating and high-end appointments befitting its price tag.

Its exterior is accented by an AMG-specific radiator grille that features high-gloss slats and is the largest in the Mercedes-AMG lineup. It features standard LED headlights with high beam assist. The SUV has the first implementation of a new AMG front bumper style, which integrates the front splitter, trim strip, and side air inlets.

2021 Mercedes-AMG GLS 63 lights wheels grille The SUV rides on standard 21-inch wheels.Photo courtesy of Mercedes-Benz

Around the side there are flared wheel arches, body-color mirror housings, and chrome window surrounds. There is a rectangular twin-tailpipe setup at the rear. The model rides on standard 21-inch AMG multi-spoke wheels. Up to 23-inchers are available.

The SUV is powered by a 4.0-liter biturbo V8 engine that achieves 603 horsepower and 627 pound-feet of torque. It has a 48-volt electrical system that helps boost off-the-line efficiency and gives the car additional power at low speed. That adds 184 pound-feet of torque to the 627 the gasoline engine achieves. A nine-speed automatic transmission completes the powertrain. To get from zero to 60 mph takes 4.1 seconds and ther SUV has an electronically limited top speed of 174 mph.

2021 Mercedes-AMG GLS 63 profile wheels windows The SUV has an elongated wheelbase, which allows for more legroom in the 2021 model.Photo courtesy of Mercedes-Benz

All GLS 63s feature all-wheel drive and active ride control, which is an air suspension that works to stabilize the cabin of the vehicle no matter the terrain.

Mercedes has equipped the model with six drive modes:

  • Comfort - suspension and steering are set up for an emphasis on comfort.
  • Sporty - more agile response to accelerator pedal input, shorter shift times and earlier downshifts
  • Sport+ - even more agile throttle response, selective torque control for upshifts, increased idle speed
  • Individual - individual adjustment of the drive system, transmission, AMG DYNAMICS, suspension and exhaust system
  • Trail - maximum performance on soft, muddy or slippery ground; suspension is raised to a two inches when below 44 mph
  • Sand - adjustments to the suspension and all-wheel drive system are made for sporty driving on loose, sandy surfaces; two additional inches of ground clearance when below 44 mph

The seven-seater features all the typical high-end GLS design elements alongside the usual list of AMG treatment items including brushed stainless steel pedals with rubber studs, illuminated door sills, "AMG" lettering throughout the cabin on a variety of surfaces, and high-gloss trim elements.

2021 Mercedes-AMG GLS 63 interior screen drive modes High-end appointments and fresh, modern technology fill the cockpit of the SUV.Photo courtesy of Mercedes-Benz

In front of the driver is a 12.3-inch driver information display and a 12.3-inch infotainment touch screen takes center stage. The instrument cluster has AMG-specific content including a variety of drive modes and track-ready instrumentation.

Second-row seats are heated as standard while heated seats are available for third row passengers. Both of those rows of passengers benefit from the GLS's longer wheelbase in this new generation, which allows for significant additional legroom.

2021 Mercedes-AMG GLS 63 interior cabin drive modes The Mercedes-AMG GLS 63 features a driver-centric interior design.Photo courtesy of Mercedes-Benz

The SUV comes with a long list of innovative safety technology, including Active Distance Assist with route-based speed adjustment. This system uses live traffic monitoring software to adjust speeds accordingly.

Additional available equipment includes a Burmester surround sound system, the Warmth and Comfort Package, Air-Balance Package, and Energizing Package, all of which add additional levels of sophistication to this family hauler.