On Motoring Monday for November 9th we’ve got SEMA Show concept car highlights from Jeep, Kia and Toyota. In our quick drive we sampled the new 2016 Lincoln MKX and were a bit surprised at what we found.
And in our Reality Check segment, Hyundai finally launches their own silk purse luxury brand.
SEMA Show: 2016 Kia Concepts
While some automakers at the SEMA Show bring concepts aimed directly at their showrooms, with dealer accessories or other bolt-ons that show the car’s potential, Kia just goes crazy building toys that make you smile.
Our first example is the A1A Optima, named aptly for Florida’s coastal byway most known for its winding tropical paradise route through the southern Keys. So the A1A Optima loses it top so you can take in the Sunshine State, seeing it, and smelling it as you motor along.
Built by LUX Motorwerks, the car gets suicide doors and a strengthened body structure trimmed out with white leather seats, a shortened windshield, and a custom turquoise paint job. The 20-inch HRE wheels and Tiarra Luxury grilles make it just as at home in South Beach as in the Keys.
The PacWest Adventure Sorento is just as bonkers, but themed for the Pacific Northwest mountain life. It’s a crossover, but this one has been fully tube framed and gets a major lift with an infusion of robust mechanicals to back up its looks in the rough.
Looking like something out of a Jurassic Park movie, the custom Sorento has a chameleon paint job to go with its LED light bars, matte black trims, and 17-inch bead-lock wheels. The roof rack is a survival kit, with everything needed for extended immersion in the woods.
And just because it’s a minivan doesn’t mean it can’t be fun. In fact of these concepts, this one to me smacks the most possible of a production intent model. That being a crossover pickup. But that pie-in-the-sky notion aside, this concept is still over the top.
The Photo Safari Sedona is themed as an image-capturing machine with endless possibilities for photographers to capture nature as they ride. It’s packed with camera mounting possibilities in addition to all the off-road mods – a list way to long to get into here.
Then there’s the Forte Koup Mud Bogger. Really? Yeah really. This is what happens when you take the dune buggy approach to your average front-wheel drive sport compact coupe and add a dose of race-built off-road hardware.
Another built by Lux Motorwerks, this one got a 4-inch lift, 28-inch off-road tires, and a full tube frame and suspension makeover to make it the real deal. And just makes sense doesn’t it? A Forte Koup, for Mud Bogging.
I tease, but I have to hand it to Kia for making even Galpin Auto Sports creations look pretty mild mannered at the SEMA Show. Someone has to build the toys that only a kid could dream up.
SEMA Show: Jeep Wrangler Red Rock Concept
Jeep always comes to SEMA with something special, and this year the Jeep Wrangler Rubicon Red Rock stole the stage, a concept which more than likely may come to reality.
The Wrangler Red Rock Concept is based on the Wrangler Rubicon Hard Rock, but includes a lot of visual details and even mechanical goodies to set it apart. What’s expected here already is its next-generation Dana 44 front and rear axles and a Rock-Trac transfer case with a 4:1 low range and 73.1:1 crawl.
Visually it’s got a power dome vented hood, off-road rock rails, and red tow hooks front and rear which are Rubicon staples. Red Rock specific doo-dads include unique badges and decals, low gloss Granite Crystal off-road bumpers, a body-color grille, and low-gloss black grille and headlamp accents.
The Red Rock Concept looks meaner by way of its 2-inch lift kit and 17-inch low-gloss black bead-lock wheels. Wrapped around them are 35-inch BFG K02 all-terrain tires which by the way seem to be the hot rubber of late for off-roading.
There’s also LED headlamps and fog lights, and a Jeep-branded CB radio, an aftermarket Warn Rubicon winch, front and rear differential covers, and a reinforced swing gate and wheel mount to add some custom vibe to it.
Its interior gets rich Amaretto Brown Katzkin leather seats with silver accent stitching and of course “Red Rock” is embroidered into the seat backs. A serialized “Red Rock” grab handle plaque is on the dash to commemorate the 50th anniversary of Easter Jeep Safari.
Will the Red Rock Concept make it to a showroom? Chances are the answer is yes, though with perhaps a few less of the aftermarkety details we see here. If I had to guess, we’ll see it by next Easter.
SEMA Show: 2016 Toyota Concepts
At the SEMA Show, Toyota likely had more modified vehicles than most manufacturers with a lot of aftermarket parts and product intent, but even a good bit of crazy.
The milder forms of automotive candy this year were a full line of SEMA Edition TRD concepts of their production cars. While they were all different, the common thread was lowered and modded suspensions, better brakes, and performance exhaust from TRD.
These included a Toyota Avalon, a Camry and a Corolla sedan with parts that are either currently available through your dealer or with prototype parts they wanted to get thoughts on from their dealers.
There was even a SEMA TRD Edition Highlander which looked pretty wicked. It got the full deck-out with TRD seats, a black and red interior makeover and a healthy dose of new visuals on the exterior. A lowered suspension and 20-inch wheels really go a long way to transforming this soccer-mom’s car to something else entirely.
With the redesign of the 2016 Land Cruiser, it too got the TRD treatment with a more off-road path than the others. The front is lifted 2-inches and the suspension got TRD adjustable remote-reservoir coil-over shock absorbers all around.
There were many more builds, but my favorite was the Tundrasine concept. They took a 1794 Edition Tundra and stretched it a full 90-inches, added two sets of doors, and just really created something that will be even harder to park than the base truck.
The custom brown interior trappings are designed to rival corporate jets, in creating what Toyota calls the ultimate in executive transport. Well whatever you call it, the Tundrasine has a lot more gravitas than any Lincoln Town Car.
Incidentally, we’re test driving a much shorter 2016 Toyota Tundra 1794 Edition this week and will have a review coming soon. My bet is that’s I’ll get better gas mileage with mine than this thing will.
Quick Drive: 2016 Lincoln MKX Black Label
Speaking of test drives, I recently got the chance to get behind the wheel of the all-new 2016 Lincoln MKX luxury crossover. I was prepared to be underwhelmed based on my last few Lincoln drives, but I’m glad to say I wasn’t.
Our tester was a fully loaded Black Label model, with a Black Tie exterior and very rich interior in the Thorobred theme. That interior featured acres of warm woods, hand stitched leather hides not only on the seats but everywhere you look.
I had to sit in the interior a while just to soak it all in before taking it for a drive. It has the 22-way power adjustable seat which after making 2-3 of the 22 adjustments found a happy spot and was on my way.
This one had the range topping 2.7 liter EcoBoost twin-turbo V6 and all-wheel drive. That brings 335 horsepower and 380 pound-feet of torque, which is good. The surprise was the fact that the computer lets you have that power when you ask for it, and I mean now.
It’s acceleration is therefore neck snapping right out the gate as I found just before I had slow to miss a deer. And with the Lincoln Drive Control mode selector, you can dial the ride from the typical Lincoln mush bucket to a pretty firm and precise feel when you get to corners.
And that here, was my big good impression with the new MKX. While all the leathers, woods and technological features are impressive and things we could talk about all day, its the premium driving experience which really took me by surprise.
It feels for the first time in a long time, like much more than a gussied up Ford. And while the MKX does share its underpinnings with the Ford Edge, the transformation here is nothing short of impressive. And it needs to be as our tester stickered in at a pretty heady $65,000.
That puts it directly in the cross-hairs of Lexus and Mercedes-Benz price-wise, and that may be hard to swallow for some at first blush. But after spending some time in this one with its rich natural finishes and refined demeanor, I can say that if Lincoln continues down this path they might just stick around.
The 2016 Lincoln MKX is on sale now and performing pretty good in the showrooms in terms of sales. While it might not make it to my I’d buy it list, it’s worth your time to drive if you’re looking at it with a curious eye.
Reality Check: Hyundai launches Genesis luxury brand
You knew it had to happen soon, and this week Hyundai finally announced they would break off their Genesis line of cars into an all-new stand alone luxury brand similar to Lexus and Infiniti.
It makes sense as Hyundai has been reaching into the higher echelons of automotive market segments with their large Genesis and Equus models which are priced and marketed far and away from the brand’s bargain basement cars like Accent which currently share the same showroom floor.
The new Genesis brand starts officially in December, and they say will offer six new models by 2020 which will compete with the likes of Lexus, Infiniti, Audi and the like. They plan to concentrate on four main areas, human-focused innovation, refined and balanced performance, athletic elegance in design and a hassle-free customer experience.
And what they may be selling us in the immediate future, is some of what we have already seen, such as the Genesis sedan and the next generation range topping Equus. And that sexy new coupe concept Hyundai showed us this summer at Pebble Beach, well we expect something like that too.
These will get a newly designed version of the Genesis logo when the brand becomes official, which is more elegant and upscale. The cars like most competitors will get their own alphanumeric naming structure starting with G for Genesis, and numbers like 70, 80, and 90 for the vehicle size.
Design will be headed up by Luc Donckerwolke, who cut his teeth designing for Audi, Bentley and Lamborghini. He along with veteran designer Peter Schreyer, who has already redesigned Hyundai and Kia from the dark days, are likely to come up with some good looking sheetmetal.
Genesis will get stand alone sales and service channels, coming initially to Korea, China, North America and the Middle East with Europe and the rest of Asia to follow later. The plot thickens.
Now it’s time for our Money Shot where we take the hottest photo from this week’s automotive news and we show it to ya!
Mazda made a splash at the SEMA Show in Las Vegas with two concept versions of their 2016 MX-5 Miata. The MX-5 Speedster brings the open-top 1950s era to life, even foregoing a windshield for its pure look and execution. Wicked.