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.

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Nuts & Bolts

 
 

The Acura MDX Prototype has debuted, showing off the future of the SUV.

Photo courtesy of Acura

The Acura MDX Prototype is here, which means that the next-generation MDX is right around the corner. The newest version of the three-row SUV will arrive at dealership lots in early 2021 with MDX Type S models coming in the summer of 2021. This is the exact same lath the 2021 Acura TLX took for its redesign.

The MDX Prototype features a dramatic exterior with sculpted features and a wide face that takes the design of the TLX and moves it to a SUV model. It looks fresh though perhaps more importantly, it looks premium.

Acura MDX Prototype The Acura MDX Prototype is the first step in the official direction of the fourth-generation MDX.Photo courtesy of Acura

Acura is showing off the concept car in Liquid Carbon and Performance Red exterior colors. The Diamond Pentagon grille is flanked by four-element JewelEye LED headlights that have Chicane LED daytime running lights underneath that are inspired by the Acura ARX-05 race car.

The new SUV serves as the debut of the company's next-generation truck platform. It's the most rigid model to date and comes complete with a double wishbone front suspension. It comes with all-wheel drive (available on the next-gen model) and features Brembo four-piston brake calipers, finished in Ivory paint, at all four corners.

Acura has put its strong and tested 3.5-liter V6 under the hood and paired it with a 10-speed automatic transmission. The forthcoming MDX Type S will have a turbocharged 3.0-liter V6 that produces 355 horsepower and 354 pound-feet of torque.

The SUV's 21-inch wheels highlights the MDX's 3-inch longer wheelbase that allows for a larger and more versatile cargo area and added spaciousness for passengers. The prototype shows off more legroom in all three rows than was in the previous-gen model.

Acura MDX Prototype

Photo courtesy of Acura

Acura sport seats are featured in all three rows and offer 16-way power adjustment and integrated massage functionality with nine massage modes.

The interior of the MDX Prototype features a sophisticated cabin that is mostly duplicative of what you'll find in the TLX. There is open-pore wood that is infused with metallic flake, polished aluminum, and soft-touch Milanno leather. The instrument panel and steering wheel feature two-tone Ebony and Light Orchid leather.

There's an ultra-wide panoramic moonroof. The SUV's LED ambient lighting is available in 27 different schemes tied to driving modes and representative of various locations, such as iconic roads and race circuits around the world.

Like the TLX, the MDX Prototype features Acura's Precision Cockpit. It features a customizable 12.3-inch, high-definition display in front of the driver. The 12.3-innch infotainment display matches in size and is controlled with Acura's touchpad.

Acura's audio system partnership has resulted in the model featuring the ELS Studio 3D premium audio system. It delivers 1000 watts of power and utilizes 25 speakers.

Acura has promised that, as in the prototype, the company's suite of driver assistance and safety technology, AcuraWatch, will be standard.

Stay tuned to see the next-gen MDX soon.

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The 2021 Toyota RAV4 Prime is a big step ahead for the RAV4 brand.

Photo courtesy of Toyota Motor Sales U.S.A. Inc.

The Toyota RAV4 is not a great SUV. It is perfect suitable and serviceable as a daily driver-slash-mommy hauler. That doesn't make it great. If it were great, its seats would be more comfortable, its engine would be more powerful, and less road noise would be passed into the cabin. Oh, and that terrible grinding noise that the RAV4 Hybrid makes when it's running in EV mode would be changed to something that doesn't sound like the car is malfunctioning.

That being said, there are some excellent things about the RAV4. It has a long list of standard features, including safety technology, that puts most other automakers with entries in the compact SUV category to shame. The RAV is fuel-efficient in every variant and comes with gobs of cargo space. It's also insanely reliable.

2021 Toyota RAV4 Prime The RAV4 Prime has a few distinguishing exterior features but is mostly the same as the traditional RAV4.Photo courtesy of Toyota Motor Sales U.S.A. Inc.

Toyota now makes the SUV in three variants: the gasoline-only RAV4, the traditional hybrid RAV4 Hybrid, and the RAV4 Prime, a plug-in hybrid (PHEV). The RAV4 Prime is designed to be the company's most fuel-efficient and also highest-performing RAV4. It achieves said goal in spades.

The2021 Toyota RAV4 Prime has a 2.5-liter four-cylinder engine and an electric motor that generate a combined 302 horsepower. That's 99 more horsepower than the RAV4 and 83 more than the RAV4 Hybrid. Sure, the RAV4 Prime is heavier due to its 18.1-kilowatt-hour lithium-ion battery, but that stored up power waiting for the touch of the accelerator makes the RAV4 Prime downright peppy off the line.

It delivers 42 miles of all-electric range and 600 miles of overall range. This is good for 94 MPGe and 38 mpg (when running as a traditional hybrid). It is nearly as fuel-efficient as the Ford Escape PHEV, the leader in the segment.

2021 Toyota RAV4 Prime The RAV4 Prime is a plug-in hybrid, which means it runs on both gasoline and battery power.Photo courtesy of Toyota Motor Sales U.S.A. Inc.

That all-electric range means that the RAV4 Prime runs its internal combustion engine less often. That's a good thing. It means less engine noise is passed onto the cabin. It also makes the drive experience more fun (a feature vehicles in the segment are frequently lacking), even when using the SUV as a more traditional hybrid and eschewing the plug-in feature, which limits the amount of time it can run on all-electric mode.

But at its core, the RAV4 Prime can't escape its roots. Toyota hasn't changed the interior of the RAV4 much with the Prime model. It contains the same hardy surfaces and rubberized elements that make the RAV4 so livable for families. There's isn't much in the way of cheapness-for-the-sake-of-lightweighting like what is in the Prius, and that's a good thing.

However, the seats remain uncomfortable and the 8-inch infotainment touch screen is starting to look outdated compared to what the competition offers. There's likely a fix coming for this, perhaps for the 2023 model year as the RAV4 nears its generational midpoint.

2021 Toyota RAV4 Prime The RAV4's interior isn't as plush as what you'll find in Nissans and Mazdas.Photo courtesy of Toyota Motor Sales U.S.A. Inc.

But, most people won't be as fixated on the interior as they are on the drive. And, the drive is splendid - genuinely enjoyable. I just wish for the $40,000-ish price tag it was nicer to be in while driving.

But don't worry about the price. You provably can't buy one anyway. Due to battery production constraints, the supply of the RAV4 Prime is VERY limited. However, if you do find one available, and you're in the market for the RAV4, do take it for a spin. You'll probably be surprised with how much you like it.

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