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Architectural digest the suv redefined.01 2004
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Architectural digest the suv redefined.01 2004

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Architectural Digest article

Architectural Digest article

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  • 1. MOTORING Audi Allroad Quattro 4.2 By Phil Panon o judge from the new Examples include Chrysler'S Pacifica- T crop of vehicles arriving on the automothre scene, manufacrurers must be big fans of John Edward, whose television show Crossing Ovtr chalUlels the souls of the departed. Crru:r· over is the new buzzword in Det roit. part wagon, part minivan, part SUV- which arrived last summer, and Cadillac's new SRX, '"~th three rows of seats and a 'ast sunroof. Tbe Lexus RX 330 (suc- cessor to the pioneer of the class, the RX 300) brings elegance- an optional air suspension system, an optional navi· Mo,"-ing beyond trucks and SUVs, cross- gation unit, real mapl e or walnut on the overs channel our favorite vehicles of dash- to the crossover. lnfiniti's FX4S, the past-station wagons, pickups-in whose striking body style, with a hunt- varying proportions. er's face and muscular bauncbes that Some look like cars but drive like make it seem poised to leap, is described trucks; others look like trucks and drive by its designers as a "bionic cheetah." like cars. Most are somewhere in be- Nissan offers the Murano, which looks tween. Maybe iI's Nickelodeon's cartoon like a less fearsome Infiniti, and Ford ClltDog auto design ers are watching. will bring out its Freestyle this year. Crossovers arc a stnlnge breed thai marks Porsche's Clilyenne looks more like 1iI the next stage in automotive evolution. crossover than the rugged SUV itis under Like Luther Burbank, automakers are the skin. The Volkswagen Touareg is the not content to leave evolution in narure's milder sibling of the Cayenne. Pikes hands. They are impatiently cross· breed- Peak, Audi's wagonlike concept car, has ing our favorite vehicles and hastening the likely shape of the sibling to come. the process. Fundamentally, while trucks In 2002 crossovers accounted for only and traditional SUVs are buih of bodies about 8 percent of North Americliln attached to rugged frame s, crosso,·ers light-vehicle sales, but the figure is pre- use unibodv construction, like cars, and dicted to grow to nearly 20 percent over have softer·rides and bener handling. the next five vears. SUV sales continue 175
  • 2. MOTORING - - -- - - - - - - -- - - BMW X33.0i to rise, but more and more of us are finding fault with them. This is not because of "$UV guilt,n it should be noted, before Arianna Huf- fiugton and Bill Maher start congratu- lating themselves on theif persuasive powers. SUVbuyers tell auto researchers they still like four-wheel drive, generous interior space and high, or "command,n searing; they are tired of the noise, rough ride, difficult access and poor fuel econ- omy-the last not necessarily because they want to save the planet but because rising gas prices and frequent fill-ups crimp their lifestyles. Psychology as well as practicality plays a role in the change. A recent research report from Strategic Vision, a San Diego , finn that tracks driver preferences. found that basic SUVs "fell short of meeting I owners' emotional needs." According to Daniel Gorrell, the company's vice president, people want luxury and a sense of control, along with a sense of i I fun and freedom. But, Gorrell says, the SUV has had a profound impact on all vehicles---even future family car~. Now, for instance, I I "command" seating arrives in future fam- ily sedans such as Ford's upcoming 500. ! SUVs reminded drivers of the pleasures of riding high..once noted by E. B. White, i when he declared that the tall seat of i the Ford Model T made him feel "a man I enthroned"- a king of the road. • I Crossovers will multiply, Gorrell says, ; but will follow no simple recipe. "We're ! going to get a lot of arranged marriages," I he predicts. "Some will be the Princess j Bride, some the Bride of Frankenstein." I l Whatever the result, the name will likely remain elusive. Few makers actu- ! ally call their vehicles crossovers. I 176
  • 3. .. - - - - - - -- Crossovers will multiply, says Strategic Vision's Daniel Gorrell, but will follow no simple recipe. "Some will be the Princess Bride, some the Bride of Frankenstein." CUV-for crossover utilirv-is clum- Porsche Cayenne S sy, and hybrid leads to confusion with hybrid power plants, combining gaso- line engines and electric motors, as in Toyota's Prius or Ford's upcoming Es- cape. (Lexus plans a hybrid hybrid: a ver- sion of its RX 330 crossover with both electric power and a gas engine.) The Pacifica-designed in Derroit but named for the West Coast-is "a ca t- egory buster," according to president and CEO of Chrysler Group Dieter Zetsche. "It's too cool to categorize. It's unpinnable." Pressed, Chrysler officials call it a sports tourer, the same name given their Dodge Magnum, due Out this year, which the casual observer would swear is a station wagon. The Pacifica may look to some like a ! macho minivan, b~t miniwn carries the i soccer mom stigma. And statiqn wogqn is the one tenn no one in the auto business ! i seems willing to take into his mouth- even though sporty station wagons are i enjoying a renaissance. ! The maner of names is revealing. Sport ! utility seemed a useful phrase for auto· THE STATS I makers.ln Freudian tenns, spqrt inflamed the id, while utilit), placated the superego, CadiUac SAX; 4.6·liter VB engine, 315 hp, seats"'~::::.'~:~: Audl AUroad Quattro 4.2: 4.2·liter VB engine. 3 I and the ego signed the check. "It's a big Corvene," declared the proud owner of a Volvo XC90 T6 AWD: 6·cylinder engine, 268 hp, ,."'~ ,",.,~ ...;: I new yellow Hummer H2 in a recent tele· vision show on SUVs. The SUV appeals 8MW X3 3.01: 3·titer engine, 225 hp, seats five; www.bmw.com Inflnltl FX45: 4.5·liter VB engine, 315 hp, seats five; ::~:;::::::;~ I as a sportS car- but a useful one. It is a I tool, and, as Da~d Brooks notes in Bobos volkswagen louareg V6: 3.2·liter engine, 220 hp, seats five; Chrysler Pacifica: 3.5·liter V6 engine. 250 hp. seats she www.duysler.com , ! in ParadiJr, boomers who avoid luxuries and toys will happily indulge in things Porsche Cayenne S: 4.5·liter VB engine, 340 hp, seats five: www.porschl.t.om i they see as tools. They aloid fine china amtinutd qn pllgt 239 lexus AX 330: 3.3-liter'V6 engine, 230 hp, seats five; www.lexlIS.com J77
  • 4. THE SUV REDEFINED ((J1Itinutd from pllgt 177 in favor of professional stoves, fine fumi· man~ Hybridity is the way life evolves ture in favor of woodworking tools- for the bener," he savs. and sports cars in favor of sport utilities. Apparently, consu'mers are not both- The early SUVs bore such western ered by the lack of a simple categoriza- names as Scout, Bronco and Blaz.er, and tion of the Pacifica. In fact, they enjoy it, they attracted people who thought of "They don't define the vehicle as a type, themselves as ahead of the pack, as risk- They regard themselves as undefined takers. No wonder the disdain for the as well-still in process, A car is a place term statirm UJagrm. Wagon suggests the where vou can redefine and reinvent wagon train and the hapless settlers who vourself," Malefvt adds, "The Pacifica follow trails blazed by the scouts and is a vehicle you 'define for yourself, in I pathfinders. To settle is to compromise. your own way," The qlinte~~entjaJ American car is Cro~sing over is :lbout reinvention. the getaway car, according to Eric Mot- Cadillac, Malefyt says, had been rein ~ tram in his Blood on the "rash Ambilliodor, vented as the company of the Escalade In keeping with the American predilection for roughing it easy, SUVs are growing more carlike. the classic interpretation of American SUV and the SRX crossover. "Ameri - popular culture, In films from They Drivr cans believe in reinvention and second by Night and Bonnie and Clyde to 2 Fast chances and comebacks." 2 Furious, cars provide escape. A few If actors can cross over into politics years ago the PT Cruiser put a truck~ and reinvent themselves as governors, like body on the base of a Dodge Neon whv can't SUVs reinvent themselves and channeled the image of a gangster the' same way: Arnold Schwarzenegger getaway car. has promised to make his Humm er What may be the first crossover- green . A hybrid Hummer? Suharu's Outback, "the first sport utility SVVs can cross over as sports cars. The wagon"--came on the scene even earlier, corners of once boxv SUVs have been and it's been more than twO decades softening in style fo; several years now, since the minivan and the luxury SUV like blocks of chocolate passed gently arrived, Today the Outback seems like a through flame. In keeping with the Amer- down·to·earth rugged all~wheel~drive ican predilection for roughing it easy, wagon, but it wem on to inspire more SUVs have heen growing more carlike luxurious wagons in the same vein, such in perfonnance and appearance. BM~T's as Audi's Allroad Quanro and Volvo's X5 and new X3 and Mercedes M-Class XC70, wagons with black·clad bonoms have soft lines and sporty handling. that make them seem to be wearing Concerned that loyal911 owners would L. L. Bean boots with rolled~up khakis. bristle at the idea of a Porsche Suv, the , , Timothy Malefyt, director of cultural sales staff at Beverly Hills Porsche were i; discoveries for BBDO Advertising in New York, researches the crossover from instructed to present the vehicle as a "big rally car," like those on the exdting ! an anthropological perspective. He re~ and popular European road rally cir~ cently conducted an "ethnography" of cuit-and equally popular video games, l: customers for Chn'sler's Pacifica, and Crossovers mav be an evolution, but ". ~: he has also charted the psychograph~ isn't a crossover ohen an awkward mix- , ics of buvers of Cadillac, whose SRX e'en homely: Isn 't rrossover a polite crossover" JUSt arrived. word for, well, mongrel or mun? !~ " Crossovers are natural to us, he ar- "MuttS!" Malefvt exclaims. '~mericans 'il , gues. '~erican ingenuity grows out of love mutts. Re~ember Lad" and the crossed cultures, ~'asn't the cowboy's Tramp? Always look to the fairy taJe to best working horse a cross of breeds? find the meanine-.ln the Disnev version, Isn't our favorite character on 5wr Trek, the mutt outdo'es the purebr~ds-and Mr. Spock, a hybrid of Vulcan and bu ~ !leIs lht.: girl. " 0 , II 239