By Chris Chase
Marking the beginning of a new year was particularly poignant as we flipped our calendars from 2020 to 2021 in the hopes of better things to come.
After a brief hiccup early in the COVID-19 pandemic, the auto industry is just about back to normal and ready to roll out all kinds of new models in the next 12 months. Many of these will be crossovers and SUVs designed to satisfy the marketplace’s thirst for utility vehicles. Hybrids and EVs will also factor heavily into automakers’ latest offerings.
If a new vehicle is part of your plan for 2021, here are a few of the SUVs and crossover models you can look forward to.
2021 Ford Bronco
No longer content to let the Jeep Wrangler have the off-road market to itself, Ford is bringing back the Bronco name this summer on an all-new SUV.
This thoroughly modern utility is styled to evoke the original Bronco of the mid-1960s, a design effort that is to SUVs what the 2005 Mustang was to muscle cars.
Ford will offer the Bronco in two- and four-door body styles, powered by your choice of turbocharged 2.3L four-cylinder or 2.7L V6 engines. Two-door models will offer a seven-speed manual transmission, a rare configuration used in past versions of the Porsche 911 and Chevrolet Corvette. The optional gearbox will be a 10-speed automatic shared with the F-150 pickup truck.
If you believe Ford’s specs, the Bronco’s rugged look is not just for show. You’ll be able to option this SUV with off-road assists like one-pedal driving and trail turn assist to help you navigate rough terrain. More conventional off-roading aids will include locking differentials, a front stabilizer bar disconnect feature, bash plates, and rock rails.
The mid-size Bronco will follow the smaller Bronco Sport, which arrived in dealerships at the end of 2020.
2022 Genesis GV70
By the end of 2021, Hyundai Motor Group’s upscale Genesis brand will roll out its second SUV model, the compact GV70.
This follow-up to the mid-size GV80 (which went on sale in late 2020) shares styling cues with that larger model, most notably its stacked head- and taillight designs and a bold grille. If you’re not a fan of the GV80’s bulky look, the GV70 may be more your speed with its car-like profile.
Speaking of speed, look for the GV70 to offer plenty of it. While Genesis hasn’t revealed detailed specs yet, it has said the GV70 will come to Canada with turbocharged 2.5L four-cylinder and 3.5L V6 engines, which make 300 hp and 375 hp, respectively, in the GV80. Even if Genesis turns down the volume a little for the GV70, it should have no trouble keeping up with its key European competitors.
The dash is dominated by an elliptically shaped panel for the A/C controls that Genesis says was inspired by the shape of an aircraft wing. Naturally, there will be a large infotainment display atop the dash, and a digital gauge cluster will at least be an option, if not included as standard.
Along with the expected driver safety assists, the GV70 will offer firsts like a radar-based system to warn you if you’ve left a child unattended in the rear seat. Genesis says the system will be able to detect the “small respiratory movements” of a sleeping infant in a car seat.
2022 Hyundai Tucson
Hyundai’s other SUV news this year concerns a redesigned Tucson compact crossover set to arrive in Canada in the first half of 2021. Among the highlights are some neat styling touches and the model’s first-ever hybrid option.
The new Tucson’s front end will take inspiration from the Sonata family sedan with “hidden” daytime running lights that look like part of the grille when the car is off. Inside, the cabin will be built around a pair of 10.25-inch touchscreens and a digital gauge display.
Base Tucson trims will use a 2.5L four-cylinder engine making 187 hp and 182 lb-ft of torque. Buyers looking for more power will be directed to the Tucson’s hybrid powertrain, whose 1.6L turbo engine and electric motor will make 226 hp and 258 lb-ft.
Hyundai has also teased plug-in hybrid (PHEV) and sporty N Line packages, but won’t reveal specifics until closer to the Tucson’s arrival.
2021 Jeep Grand Cherokee L
In January, Jeep revealed it will rejoin the seven-seater SUV market this year with the Grand Cherokee L, the next generation of the brand’s poshest model.
This will be the first Jeep model with three rows of seats since the underwhelming Commander of the late 2000s. Wisely, Jeep decided to capitalize on the Grand Cherokee name for its newest effort. And while the immediate focus is on the L model’s third row, a redesigned five-seater will come later this year as a 2022 model.
Initially, the Grand Cherokee L will use 3.6L V6 and 5.7L V8 engines carried over from the outgoing generation, and will be offered in familiar Laredo, Limited, Overland and Summit trims. Around the time the five-seat model arrives, Jeep will also add a plug-in hybrid option.
Jeep will position the Summit trim to compete against luxurious European SUVs with items like ventilated massaging seats, real wood interior trim, and a 360-degree camera system. A new Summit Reserve package will go all-in on luxury with ventilated second-row seats, quilted leather upholstery, and a high-end McIntosh sound system.
A full suite of driver safety assists will be standard, and the 2022 option sheet will add a Level 2 automated driving feature.
2022 Volkswagen Taos
This summer, Volkswagen will launch its newest crossover model, a compact five-seater called the Taos that will slot in below the Tiguan.
The Taos is part of VW’s strategy to replace the Golf hatchback, the next generation of which will only come to Canada as the sporty GTI and Golf R.
Powering the Taos will be a 1.5L turbo four-cylinder engine whose 158 hp and 184 lb-ft torque specs are similar to those of the current Golf. Heated seats, 17-inch wheels, LED headlights, and a digital gauge cluster will be standard, and AWD and 18- and 19-inch wheel sizes will be available.
VW says it will reveal pricing and full specs closer to the Taos’s showroom arrival.
2022 Volkswagen ID.4
Around the same time as the Taos goes on sale, Volkswagen will also launch its newest electric model, a small crossover called the ID.4.
This is where VW will direct shoppers looking for a compact utility with more performance: Base spec will put 201 hp to the rear wheels, while an AWD model will boast about 300 hp. VW says that version will do 0–100 km/h in about six seconds, and the ID.4’s estimated driving range will be around 400 km.
Standard features will include winter-friendly heated seats, steering wheel and windshield. The ID.4 will also boast a heat pump to warm the cabin in cold weather.
2022 Nissan Ariya
Nissan’s long-awaited follow-up to the Leaf EV will be the Ariya, a compact crossover set to arrive in Canada in late 2021 as a 2022 model.
It will start with 215 hp and front-wheel drive, a combination that promises nearly 500 km of driving range on a single charge. All-wheel drive will be available along with 389 hp.
Base models will use a 65-kWh battery, and a larger pack with a capacity of 85 or 90 kWh will be an option. Either way, the battery will live in the floor, which Nissan says will lend the Ariya sharp handling thanks to a low centre of gravity. Nissan has yet to announce trim levels or pricing, but look for standard kit to include a pair of 12.3-inch digital dash displays and touch-sensitive secondary controls.