The Friday Five:The QX55 Booty Shot, Gladiator New Editions Drop, and Explorer Price Chop Edition

Beverly Braga | Aug 07, 2020

This week, the industry was abuzz with some positive news on the sales front—finally. While numbers aren’t quite where they were forecast to be, a few automakers who report monthly sales figures saw year-over-year increases for the first time in months. This includes Acura, Hyundai, Volvo, and Mazda. Hopefully consumer confidence continues.

But that’s not everything that was happening in the automotive space.

Infiniti Teases the 2022 QX55 Again but Also Sets a Reveal Date

Third time’s the charm? Perhaps that’s what Infiniti has in mind with yet another teasing of the all-new 2022 QX55, a coupe-style crossover designed to rekindle the magic of the original Infiniti FX for Nissan’s luxury brand. 

2022 Infiniti QX55 Red Rear View

The first hint of the SUV was a black-and-white profile sketch released during last year’s Monterey Car Week (host of the renowned Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance). The second crumb dropped just before the Los Angeles auto show in November. But this time the sketch was filled out, albeit in blurry brush strokes, to reveal a coupe-like body style. For its third voila, the QX55 is as clear as day. At least its backside is, which confirms that super-sloped rear hatch and also a striking taillight design. 

Initially meant to launch this year, production delays have pushed back the QX55’s on-sale date. However, the date of its full reveal is set. The 2022 Infiniti QX55 will premiere via social media on November 11 before arriving in dealer showrooms next spring.

2021 Jeep Gladiator Willys and 80th Anniversary Edition Details Leaked Via Dealer Bulletin

Ahead of any official announcement, a fan forum has uncovered some interesting updates to the 2021 Jeep Gladiator lineup. In a post that includes a screenshot from a dealer bulletin ordering page, three new Gladiator models are made clear: Willys Sport, Willys, and an 80th Anniversary Edition. 

Say what? These versions are not unexpected since the Wrangler already offers a Willys model, but Jeep has made no indication regarding release dates or pricing. Not that it matters now.

The 2021 Jeep Gladiator Willys Sport starts at $35,245. The model will feature 17-inch black wheels outfitted with mud-terrain tires and a Trak-Lok limited-slip rear differential. Willys decals, Rubicon cab rock rails, black exterior accents, and body-color fenders complete the look. The more expensive Willys edition includes the contents of the Technology and Convenience packages.

Eighteen-inch wheels paired with all-terrain tires don the 2021 Gladiator 80th Anniversary Edition. Starting at $41,740, this model will feature special edition badging, neutral gray exterior accents, and body-color fender flares. Remote start and an 8.4-inch display with premium audio also are standard but keyless entry is extra. Pricing may or may not include the Gladiator’s $1,495 destination fee and there was no mention regarding dealership timing.

Kia Soul EV is Dunzo for the U.S.

After an official unveil and completion of EPA testing, but hampered by parts delays, what would’ve been the second-generation Kia Soul EV has apparently been dropped from the U.S. lineup. Kia reps won’t confirm either way, only reaffirming previous statements that the Soul EV wouldn’t arrive prior to 2021. But the EPA fuel economy website no longer lists the 2020 model, which had been rated with a range of 243 miles. Oh, and the Soul EV has been essentially erased from the U.S. consumer and media websites as well.

The all-electric Kia Soul will continue its sales run in high demand markets like Europe while leaving the Niro as the sole EV offering for U.S. Kia fans. Although they do share the same battery pack and electric motor, driving dynamics are notably different.

Volkswagen Offers First-Ever Digital Signature Program for U.S. Buyers

The coronavirus pandemic has forever changed the way we shop. Regardless of whether a vaccine is developed or not, contactless purchasing will likely be a permanent fixture just as delivery and curbside pickup have increased in popularity, in part due to convenience. To further assist car buyers, Volkswagen, along with VW Credit, has launched a new digital signature tool that takes the salesperson out of the purchasing experience—literally.

Called Sign Anywhere, the system is the first of its kind in the U.S. to allow buyers to complete financial paperwork securely and remotely without having to set foot in a dealership or meet with a salesperson. Add this to available services like online ordering and vehicle delivery for overnight test drives, and the digital signature is the final step in a truly no-contact transaction.

2021 Ford Explorer Gets a Price Cut

Crossovers and SUVs continue to be the largest slices of the automotive sales pie, and the competition is fierce. Maybe this is why the 2021 Ford Explorer sees a price drop across its lineup. Or maybe it’s just more realistic expectations regarding value for consumers. Either way, Ford utility-vehicle shoppers will enjoy $540 off the base model with increased savings on better equipped trim levels.

The mid-level Explorer Limited, for example, has a starting window sticker of $45,955 (including $1,245 destination), which is a $3,670 decrease from the 2020 model. If opting for the hybrid powertrain, there’s a savings there as well. Rear-wheel drive versions are down $2,675 while all-wheel drive models drop $2,875. The top-of-the-line Platinum sees a price reduction of $3,770 and even the bread-and-butter volume leader XLT gets a $3,000 discount. 

So, if you’ve been eyeing that new Explorer, pounce on a 2021 model. The built-in savings combined with additional incentives will only sweeten the deal on a vehicle redesigned just last year.

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