Top 2013 SUVs
The new model year is upon us. In days of yore, downtown dealerships would actually put paper over their windows until they were ready to unveil the new hardware. Not today. We have seen these SUVs at auto shows for a year, and we have had a chance to drive them before you get to test drive them.
These are the best, we think, of the all-new SUVs, arriving at dealerships near you in the next few months.
Among the good news items: all of them are more fuel efficient than the ones they are replacing because of some clever engineering done by the companies. Check out our gallery of SUVs we think should be on your shopping list this Fall.
Hyundai Santa Fe
Hyundai is known as a "value" brand, meaning its models always give you a bit more for the money versus the competition. Hyundai itself decided to economize a little by getting rid of its pretty unsuccessful Veracruz SUV and offering a five-seat and seven seat version of its much more popular Santa Fe model.
Seating isn't the only multiple choice question. There are multiple engine options: a 2.4 liter four-cylinder, direct injected engine that cranks 190 horsepower; a turbo-charged 2.0 liter four-cylinder and a 3.3 liter direct injected V6 for the seven seater.
Hyundai has been on a tear the last couple of years with pleasing designs. We love the Sonata, the new Elantra and new Veloster. The Santa Fe's looks are crisp and modern and we like what we see of the interior materials. It definitely should go on shopping lists, and the seven seater is a suitable alternative to minivans.
The Pathfinder has long had a niche, almost cult following. It has gone back and forth over the year from being built on a body-on-frame truck chassis to a unibody platform, to a truck chassis, and now back to a unibody where we suspect it will stay because of higher fuEl economy standards for all automakers.
The new 2013 Pathfinder, touting 30-percent better gas mileage, has room for seven people, and is thus another possible and worthy alternative to a minivan.
Changing the Pathfinder's architecture allowed Nissan to shed 500 pounds and achieve 20 mpg in the city and 26 mpg on the highway in the front-wheel drive model, which weighs in at 4,149 pounds. The all-wheel drive model (which adds 100 pounds) will get 19 mpg in the city and 25 mpg on the highway.
The smallest of Bavarian crossovers has been available in overseas markets for a while now, but hits U.S. showrooms in September. When deliveries begin at American BMW showrooms this coming September, buyers will be able to choose between two twin-turbo engines: the 245-horsepower sDrive28i (in rear-wheel-drive) or all-wheel-drive xDrive28i, and the 306 hp X1 xDrive35i. The first and last are U.S. exclusives.
Pricing? Glad you asked. The X1 sDrive28i will carry a $31,545 price tag--including $895 in delivery fees. The churns-at-all-fours xDrive28i commands $33,245, and the 306-hp xDrive35i can be yours for $39,345.
Mercedes Benz GLK
The 2013 GLK is not all-new, but rather has upgrades. BUt we are including it in the list here because we love what's all-new under the hood--a diesel engine if that's your bag. And it is our bag.
The GLK is a true small, rugged all-rounder that you can use just about any way you need. Yes, the design can be a bit polarizing--some say it doesn't look like a proper Mercedes-Benz--but for us, the poles seem to line up more often than not.
The addition of the GLK and next C-Class will make seven Mercedes model lines offered with diesel in the U.S. With the GLK's fuel economy addressed, the hope is that the entry-level crossover can find roughly 13,000 more buyers per year. Mercedes already offers far more diesels than its German competitors here, but still wants to raise percentage of diesel sales from 12-to-20 percent to 15-to-20 percent.
As much as we have long liked tooling around in a Range Rover any chance we get, we have never been too keen on the 12-14 mpg we see in the instrument cluster, constantly reminding us how many dead dinosaurs gave their lives for our wanton pleasure.
Range Rover has decided to do something about it…shaving 700 pounds of weight off the carcass of the new design that goes on sale in the U.S. come December. That's damn impressive, and it's all thanks to an all-aluminum unibody structure. Additionally, new aluminum chassis structures are found at both the front and rear, as well as a re-engineered four-corner air suspension. Land Rover says that this new suspension allows the Range Rover to deliver flatter, more confident cornering prowess.
Of course, this is a Range Rover, so off-road capability is still top notch. Land Rover is introducing its next-generation Terrain Response system which automatically monitors road conditions and selects the appropriate settings based on the road (or dirt, or sand, or rock, or snow) surface.
The first RDX that debuted about six years ago underwhelmed us. This all-new one is a much better job by the luxury arm of Honda.
Gone is that performance-oriented turbo-four-clylinder engine that was so out of place in the first RDX. Honda's luxury arm has instead gone with the company's tried and true 3.5-liter V6, placed it in a new larger platform, and added a raft of much-needed refinement.
Acura did an uncharacteristically (for Acura) nice job on the interior here. The seats are especially comfortable and supportive. Our positive impression of the RDX's interior was aided by the fact that our test model was completely loaded--$40,315 including an $895 destination charge.
The RDX can be ordered with all-wheel drive ($1,400 option) and the Technology Package ($3,700), or essentially every option that this Acura offers. The tech adds ELS Surround Sound, navigation with voice commands, solar-sensing climate control, High Intensity Discharge (HID) headlamps and a very clear and easy-to-utilize multi-view rear camera. Each RDX also comes standard with a 10-way power driver's seat, moonroof, leather seating surfaces, Bluetooth, USB and more.
The JX is jam-packed with luxury features and the latest technology you'd expect from a Japanese luxury automobile. That includes the usual suspects: adaptive cruise control, cameras all around, lane-departure warning and a Bose sound system. There's also a new industry-first safety system that warns the driver and even stops the vehicle if something scurries across its path while backing up.
All that tech and cabin space is handled by Nissan's 3.5-liter V6 driving 265 horsepower and 248 lb-ft of torque through a continuously-variable-transmission (CVT) to either the front wheels or all four.