Hyundai’s Kona grows edgier, lifted Crosstrek tows 3500 pounds, and more


Second-gen Kona retains gas alongside electric power

Intake: Hyundai showed the 2024 Kona at the New York Auto Show, and to say the styling is polarizing is an understatement. Since we first saw the new base model in December, this debut was for the 2024 Kona Electric, the Limited, and N Line variants. Kona is positioned as an “upscaled multiplayer in the small SUV segment, led by a 201-hp, all-electric variant that offers advanced safety, convenience, and outstanding electric range of 260 miles based on preliminary Hyundai internal estimates.” (That’s a whole two miles more than the 2023 Kona Electric.) The ’24 Kona also offers a choice of two gasoline powertrains. The first is a 2.0-liter four-cylinder Atkinson-cycle engine that produces an estimated 147 hp, mated to a continuously variable transmission (CVT). The N Line and Limited trims offer a 1.6-liter, four-cylinder turbocharged engine generating an estimated 190 hp, with an eight-speed automatic. The second-generation Kona will arrive at U.S. dealers this summer, and the Kona Electric will be available in late fall.

Exhaust: In an unconventional move, Hyundai developed the new Kona platform with an electrified powertrain first, in line with the company’s accelerated electrification strategy announcement that it will bring 11 new Hyundai EVs to market globally by 2030. — Steven Cole Smith

Crosstrek heads to Wilderness, or wants to

2024 Subaru Crosstrek Wilderness towing camping

Intake: Subaru’s most outdoorsy vehicles, each dubbed Wilderness, have a new sibling. If you remember the first installments in the Wilderness series, the Outback and the Forester, you won’t find any surprises in the Crosstrek version. The “Wilderness” name brings both cosmetic and mechanical changes to the 2.5-liter, 182-hp version of Subaru’s smallest SUV: Longer springs and shock absorbers bring a 0.6-inch lift, increasing ground clearance to 9.3 inches. Approach and departure angles improve by 2 and 3 degrees respectively, while breakover angle increases by 1.4 degrees. (Final figures: 20.0, 33.0, and 21.1 degrees.) The CVT sports a new, low final drive ratio of 4.111:1, down from 3.7:1. The white-lettered tires are the same found on the Outback and Forester Wildys—Yokohama Geolanders—wrapped around the same black, 17-inch five-spokes. Up top sits a roof rack rated for a 700-pounds (static), for all your rooftop camping desires. The biggest news to camping fiends is the towing capacity: Thanks to a transmission oil cooler, the Crossterness can tow 3500 pounds. Price-wise, the $33,290 Wilderness slots above the Crosstrek Sport but below the range-topping Limited and, like all other 2.5-liter-powered Subarus, will be built in the U.S.—a first for the Crosstrek model.

Exhaust: We really thought the next Wilderness would be an Ascent. Subaru’s three-row SUV is growing stale, while the Crosstrek just got a hefty (though not exhaustive) overhaul for 2024. But call us simps—this Crosstrek’s aggressive outdoorsiness is kinda adorable, and that water-resistant upholstery really does come in handy. — Grace Houghton

Off-roadiest Sierra swaps gas V-8 for turbodiesel six

Intake: GMC’s most off-road-oriented light-duty pickup is getting a heart transplant for the 2024 model year. The Sierra 1500 AT4X will now default to the 3.0-liter Duramax straight-six turbodiesel engine, which replaces the 6.2-liter gas-burning V-8, the only engine option for the ’22 and ’23 model years. (You can still get the 6.2 on the ’24 Sierra 1500 AT4X; it’s just an option.) The Duramax six is now in its second generation, with advancements including revised pistons, a retuned turbo, new injectors, and better thermal management features allow it to produce 305 hp and 495 lb-ft of torque, gains of 10 and 7.6 percent over the first-generation unit from two years ago. The engine joins other rugged off-road hardware on the AT4X including front and rear electronic-locking differentials, those magical Multimatic DSSV dampers, and a suit of underbody armor to help you pick your way through tricky trails.

Exhaust: While we always love a good GM small-block, the low-end grunt of this diesel is a huge plus off-road. Around 20 percent of all Sierra 1500s were optioned with the second-gen Duramax when it arrived last year on other Sierra trims, and GMC expects the take rate among buyers of the 2024 AT4X to be even higher. — Nathan Petroelje

Honda recalls almost 564,000 crossovers for frame corrosion

2011 Honda CR-V

Intake: Honda has issued a recall for nearly 564,000 older CR-V models for corroding frames, according to Automotive News. The recalls cover 2007–11 CR-Vs that were sold or ever registered in salt-belt states including Connecticut, Illinois, Michigan, Ohio, Wisconsin, and more. According to the recall document filed with NHTSA, Honda says that the de-icing agents (salt or similar) “could enter the rear frame through drainage/positioning holes when the vehicle is driven through flooded areas or puddles at high speeds.” Over time, the accumulated mixture could cause corrosion to the frame’s internal structure, potentially resulting in the rear trailing arm of the CR-V’s suspension system falling off. Not great, though Honda told NHTSA that it has not received any reports of death or injuries related to the issue. The fix will involve dealers inspecting the rear frame for corrosion and determining a resolution based on whether the rear trailing-arm bolt can be removed. If the bolt can be removed, the dealers will attach a support brace to the rear frame. If the bolt can’t be removed, or if it falls off with the support brace, dealers will either further repair the frame or offer to repurchase the vehicle.

Exhaust: Owners of 2007–11 CR-Vs that would be affected by this recall will be notified starting on May 8. This is Honda’s 7th recall of 2023, and the total number of vehicles affected now climbs to 1.5 million. Earlier this year, Honda had to recall newer Pilot, Passport, and Ridgeline models for detaching sideview mirrors. This recall seems a bit more serious, so don’t delay getting to a dealer to get yours checked out. — NP

Where did all the cheap cars go?

2023 Grand Wagoneer L Obsidian exterior front three quarter

Intake: That’s the title of a research piece on that chronicles the frankly startling climb in car prices over the past five years. According to Edmunds, just 0.3 percent of new vehicles sold last month were $20,000 or less, compared to 8 percent five years ago; 4 percent of new vehicles sold were $25,000 or less, compared to 24 percent five years ago, and 17 percent of new vehicles sold were under $30,000 compared to 44 percent five years ago.

According to Edmunds data, the average transaction price for a new vehicle was $47,713 in March 2023, while five years ago, the average new-vehicle transaction price was $35,794, which translates to a 33 percent jump. We’re definitely paying more, and trucks and bigger SUVs are the main reason. Last March, 17 percent of vehicles sold were $60,000-plus, compared to 6 percent five years ago. And 10 percent of vehicles sold were $70,000-plus, compared to 3 percent five years ago. Trucks have made a startling jump: 50 percent of full-size trucks sold were over $60,000, compared to 5 percent five years ago.

Exhaust: Edmunds’ prediction: “Now that low rates are no longer available to enable higher-dollar purchases, demand will grow for lower-priced vehicles. American car shoppers may not have the same enthusiasm for them as much as their bigger, flashier counterparts—but they will find that these options are what’s actually financially feasible in today’s credit environment.” – SCS


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    So cheap credit artificially sold more expensive cars to people who basically couldn’t otherwise afford tech-laden flashy new cars? Who knew?

    I just hope this means a return of more and more varied economical cars. It’s what I prefer and they’re simply not out there now. :/

    Where did the cheap cars go? Yeah I agree, so few good options. Too many penalty boxes on the low end the manufacturers don’t want to make because they want to sell profitable bloat-mobiles. At some point it’s going to crash while people mortgage themselves to death with car payments.

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