Sport utility vehicles have become ubiquitous on American Roads. We like their reassuring size, their power, and their (perceived) ruggedness. While the economy and fuel costs have hurt sales of many of these vehicles, auto manufacturers are not giving up hope. Here are five SUVs slated to arrive in 2011 and the features that their makers are hoping will make them big sellers:
2011 Land Rover LRX: When I think of Land Rover, I usually think of very tall, top-heavy looking vehicles that are more suited for deserts and jungles than suburban roads. However, with the LRX, Land Rover has come up with a design that should appeal to soccer moms as well as frontiersmen. It is lower in height by eight inches and length by six inches than the LR2 model(1).
Aside from a less truckish appearance, the LRX will share many of the same elements of the LR2, including the 6-cylinder engine, the “Terrain Response System”(a handling package), and most of the LR2’s extras. With the ability to seat five, a 230 horsepower engine, and a price expected to be around $35,000, I’m expecting this stunningly sleek Land Rover to be a hit.
2011 Audi Q3: This compact SUV is somewhat of a high-end version of the Volkswagen Tiguan, but it is not just a Tiguan with nicer seats. There are some substantial differences. First of all, the engine is supposed to be a bit more powerful than the Tiguan(2).
It should also have a 6-speed transmission and all-wheel drive. It is estimated to cost about $36,000, and might make for a formidable competitor to the Land Rover LRX. The Q3’s looks are a bit more aggressive than the refined LRX, as the front grill on the Q3 has an almost “beastly” look to it.
2011 Infiniti QX56: With a new look featuring headlights and quarter panels that are sloped back, the new QX 56 sports a very sophisticated look, which matches well with the power under the hood. That power comes in the form of a 5.6-liter, 400-horsepower, V8 engine(3). It also boasts 12% increased fuel economy, in part due to the new 7-speed transmission.
Of course, with any Infiniti the engine and outward appearance of the vehicle is only the beginning. Inside there is a cockpit that compares favorably to a top-end spa. With premium audio system, navigation system, and, DVD player, you might find yourself spending more time driving just to enjoy all the fun toys the QX56 has to offer. Of course, none of this is cheap. The price for the QX56 will be around $80,000.
2011 Toyota Rav 4: This popular compact SUV undergoes an update for 2011 featuring a chassis that I personally think resembles the 2011 Mercedes BLK(coincidence?). With its down-swept hood and stretched-back headlights, the new Rav 4 looks much more “adult” than previous versions. Perhaps this is to cater to fans of the vehicle who were younger when they purchased earlier RAV 4s and have grown beyond the sort of fun, cotton-candy look of the previous editions.
The RAV 4 will feature 2-liter standard and 2.2-liter diesel engines that improve the already superb fuel economy, but drivers will probably be more impressed by the upgrade in creature comforts. The engine is said to provide a smoother ride, and the interior is highlighted by nicer upholstery and a more comfortable seating system(4). With a price starting around $23,000, this SUV should be popular with a wide variety of car buyers.
2011 Ford Explorer: The granddaddy of all SUVs takes a step away from its truck-based origins and will now be built on the Taurus platform(5), giving it a more station-wagon look that will probably serve to attract suburbanites but might turn off those looking for a serious off-road vehicle.
The Explorer will utilize the EcoBoost V6, which should give it a ride pretty similar to the popular Taurus, but like most SUVs, it will still be a bit weak in the fuel economy department. It is still early, but I am guessing this vehicle will be in the $28,000-$30,000 range for the base model.
1. Poole, Chris, 2011 Land Rover Review and Prices,
2. Poole, Chris, 2011 Audi Q3 Review and Prices, http://consumerguideauto.howstuffworks.com/2011-audi-q31.htm
3. Elmer, Howard J., Preview: 2011 Infiniti QX56, http://life.nationalpost.com/2010/05/27/preview-2011-infiniti-qx56/
4. Calogera, Stephen, 2010 Geneva Preview: 2011 RAV 4 Gets Upgraded Look and Quality, http://www.egmcartech.com/2010/03/01/2010-geneva-preview-2011-toyota-rav4-gets-upgraded-look-and-quality/
5. Wojdyla, Ben, 2011 Ford Explorer Continues the Off-Road Charade, http://jalopnik.com/5517792/2011-ford-explorer-continues-the-off+road-charade