New Model News

2021 Toyota Corolla Cross likely coming to America to compete with the Hyundai Kona

Thought the 2021 Toyota Corolla Cross just debuted in Thailand, it could be slated to come to the U.S.

Photo courtesy of Toyota Motor Corporation

Let's face it, the Toyota CH-R was never really supposed to be a Toyota. The model, destined to be a Scion, had its life's direction altered when Scion closed up shop and parent company Toyota merged select members of its lineup with the Toyota line. For the last three years, the model has been doing its damnedest to escape the Scion mold, but hasn't. It remains the odd duck in the stable, not delivering the high-quality interior, good handling, and capability that earns the brand sufficient praise.

Enter: the Toyota Corolla Cross. Though its name doesn't quite invoke the feelings, of "Why? Whhhhhhyyyy?" that the Mitsubishi Eclipse Cross moniker does, the Corolla Cross name is clearly a strategic move meant to capitalize on the one already worn by one of the best-selling cars of all time.

2021 Toyota Corolla Cross

Photo courtesy of Toyota Motor Corporation

Marketed as "Corolla Meets SUV", the Corolla Cross looks like it executes at every level. It rides on the same TNGA platform as the Toyota Prius, Prius Prime, C-HR, and Corolla, and the Lexus UX. That architecture make the slightly longer and taller Corolla Cross spacious with class-leading cargo room for its class.

Though the model is undoubtedly going to be modified a smidge if it comes to America, Toyota has outlined its highlights as part of its launch in Thailand.

The Corolla Cross makes much of its looks from the RAV4, but it's a copy. It's a natural progression of the design language, the same way the Highlander is. Toyota notes that this design allows for an "impressive rearview".

A new torsion-beam suspension delivers a cushioned ride. Toyota notes that the Corolla Cross is easy to maneuver and has a tight turning circle.

Toyota is selling the front-wheel drive model with a traditional gasoline-powered engine setup and as a hybrid. These variants are similar to the Corolla and Lexus UX in the States.

The gasoline-powered model has a 1.8-liter four-cylinder engine that delivers 140 horsepower and 129 pound-feet of torque. The hybrid model returns 122 total system horsepower. Both engines are paired with a CVT.

The interior has good headroom and wide door openings. These are similar characteristics to the modern Corolla.

Toyota has already trademarked the Corolla Cross name for the U.S. according to Car & Driver. The model, which would fill a slot in Toyota product plans that were leaked earlier this year, may be the vehicle set to be made at the end joint Mazda-Toyota plant that is under construction in Alabama. It would fill the gap between the C-HR and RAV4 in the Toyota lineup, and compete directly with the Kia Seltos and Hyundai Kona.

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The Jeep Wrangler Islander is now aviallable to order.

Photo courtesy of Stellantis

Jeep is bringing back its popular Islander special edition SUV for the 2021 model year, but with a twist. This year, the Wrangler and Renegade are getting the treatment. This is the first time the Jeep Renegade has been available with this special edition treatment.

"Our Jeep enthusiasts expect legendary Jeep 4x4 capability, and they also embrace the Jeep brand's fun 'go anywhere, do anything' adventure lifestyle," said Jim Morrison, Vice President, Jeep Brand North America. "With Surf Blue accent stitching, Islander-embroidered front seats and available white three-piece hardtop on the Wrangler, you can't help but think summer and the beach life when you see these new Islander special editions."

2021 The Jeep Renegade Islander beings the spirit of coastal communities to the off-roading family hauler.Photo courtesy of Stellantis

2021

The Wrangler Islander has been gone for 11 years after being first introduced as a special edition in 1988. The new model is based on the 2021 Jeep Wrangler Sport S with either two- or four-doors. It comes standard with the following features and equipment:

  • Jeep Command-Trac 4x4 part-time, two-speed transfer case with a 2.72:1 low-range gear ratio
  • 17-inch Rubicon aluminum wheels in Silver Finish with all-terrain tires
  • Rubicon Rock Rails
  • Uconnect 4 with a 7-inch touchscreen with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto
  • Dual-zone temperature control
  • Exterior details include a Tiki Bob hood decal; interior details include a Ceramic White mid-bolster and black cloth seats with an embroidered Islander logo and Surf Blue accent stitching
  • Available white three-piece hardtop
  • Optional Islander Plus Package by Mopar adds front/rear grab handles, cargo tub liner, solid sunbonnet top and Tiki Bob soft spare-tire cover

The Jeep Wrangler Islander is available in Billet Silver, Black, Chief, Granite Crystal, Bright White, Firecracker Red, Hellayella, Sarge Green, Snazzberry and Sting-Gray.

Each Islander model receives unique interior appointments.Photo courtesy of Stellantis

The Renegade Islander is based on the 2021 Jeep Renegade Latitude. Its list of standard and available features and equipment includes:

  • Available Jeep Active Drive full-time 4x4 system
  • 19-inch Silver Alloy wheels with all-season tires
  • Dual-pane panoramic sunroof for ultimate open-air freedom
  • Uconnect 4 with a 7-inch touchscreen includes Apple CarPlay and Android Auto
  • Exterior details include a Tiki Bob hood decal; interior details include premium black cloth seats with an embroidered Islander logo and Surf Blue accent stitching
  • Keyless Entry with panic alarm
  • Remote start system
  • Available Alpine White painted roof

The Jeep Renegade Islander is available in Bikini, Jetset Blue, Glacier and Omaha Orange paint jobs.

The two models serve up a unique look.Photo courtesy of Stellantis

All 2021 Jeep vehicles get the Jeep Wave premium owner loyalty program with purchase. It gives access to benefits and exclusive perks like three years of worry-free maintenance at Jeep dealerships, including oil changes and tire rotations; 24/7 support via phone or chat; 24/7 roadside assistance and first-day loaner coverage; access to select Jeep events.

The 2021 Jeep Wrangler Islander has a starting U.S. MSRP of $33,370 for two-door models and $36,870 for four-door models (all prices exclude $1,495 destination). The starting price for the 2021 Jeep Renegade Islander is $27,430.

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NXP Semiconductors has two chip plants in Texas that were effected by Winter Storm Uri.

Photo courtesy of NXP Semiconductors N.V.

The effects of Winter Storm Uri are still being felt across Texas and it's impacting the auto industry. Reporting by Reuters tells that chipmakers, like Samsung Electronics, are still weeks away from resuming normal operations in Texas.

Traditionally, this sort of production slowdown wouldn't much impact the industry. There would typically be enough dealership and inventory and automaker back stock to make up for many, if not all of the shortages for a short period of time. However, COVID-19 has put a strain on the chipmaking industry and is already slowing production, limiting sales, and hurting automaker bottom lines.

There's also been increased demand for semiconductor chips as sales of laptops, gaming consoles, and other entertainment and exercise equipment soared as coronavirus-related lockdowns changed lifestyles globally.

Ford and General Motors have both said that their 2021 sales and profits will be hit hard by the shortage. Additional analysis by Reuters says that Toyota has enough inventory to last four months while Hyundai and Kia, which share common ownership, purchased a stockpile of chips when production was going full steam in late December and are thus far unaffected.

Samsung and NXP Semiconductors shut their factories in Texas last month when Winter Storm Uri took hold. Like Lone Star State households, Texas businesses lost access to electricity, natural gas, and water.

Samsung's logic chip plant is located in Austin. It began operating 2017 and makes chips using Samsung's 14-nanometer, 28-nm and 32-nm chip production technologies. The facility is Samsung's biggest logic chip production facility outside of South Korea, where the company is headquartered. The company also has a NAND flash chip facility in Austin.

NXP's plants are also in Austin where the company has its corporate headquarters. While there are nine other NXP offices in the U.S., there are no other manufacturing sites.

Edward Latson, CEO of the Austin Regional Manufacturers Association, told Reuters that chipmakers now have the power, water and gas they need to operate, but they need time to restart tools and clean the factories. He characterized the process as being slow and "very expensive".

The one month of lost production is most likely to hit automakers hardest five months down the road, in the third quarter.

Many analysts had been predicting an uptick in new vehicle sales for 2021 after car sales rallied in the fourth quarter of 2020. However, these chip shortages are deeply impacting those sales predictions.

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