Crossovers and SUVs are the focus of this month’s roundup of new vehicle announcements, and like January’s headlines, nearly all of those new models incorporate electrification.
Among mainstream automakers, Mazda and Toyota are ready to roll out their newest mid-size, three-row crossovers, both of which will offer hybrid powertrains, while Volkswagen and Subaru have revised crossovers powered by more conventional drivetrains.
In the luxury sphere, Genesis is adding a new all-electric crossover, and BMW has redesigned its mid-range SUV models around the brand’s latest mild hybrid technology.
2024 Mazda CX-90
This spring, Mazda will launch its new flagship and largest crossover model, the mid-size CX-90, which will roll into showrooms on a brand-new platform and with new powertrains — including Mazda’s first-ever plug-in hybrid (PHEV) setup – at a starting price of $45,900.
Notably, the CX-90’s underpinnings orient the engine front-to-back, which is common practice in luxury mid-size crossovers, but not the mainstream models Mazda typically competes with. The engine itself – a turbocharged 3.3L inline six-cylinder — is also a departure in a class where V6 and turbo four-cylinder engines are the norm.
Mazda says the new turbo six-cylinder makes 280 hp and 332 lb-ft of torque in its base form, while a high-output version reserved for the poshest trims cranks out 340 hp and 369 lb-ft, making it the most potent mass-production engine Mazda has ever produced. In between is the CX-90 PHEV, which mates a naturally aspirated 2.5L four-cylinder with an electric motor for 323 hp and 369 lb-ft. Mazda says the plug-in model will “operate purely on the electric motor in a variety of driving scenarios,” but stops short of offering an electric driving range estimate, which will be revealed closer to the car’s on-sale date.
All three powertrains will be bolted to a new eight-speed transmission and come standard with all-wheel drive.
The new CX-90 slots in above the brand’s current CX-9 mid-size crossover, but it’s not clear whether the new model will replace the CX-9 or be sold alongside it.
Mazda will offer the CX-90’s base and PHEV models in GS, GS-L, and GT trims, while the high-output engine will be used in GT-P and Signature configurations. The CX-90 PHEV GS’s entry price will be $54,900. GT-P and Signature will go for $59,300 and $63,300, respectively, and include features like a digital gauge display, highway driving assistance, 360-degree cameras, 21-inch wheels, power-adjustable steering column, and a driver personalization system that uses facial recognition to determine who is behind the wheel.
2024 Toyota Grand Highlander
Toyota also has a new top-line crossover model, the Grand Highlander, which was unveiled in early February at the Chicago auto show and should reach Canadian showrooms by the end of this year.
Building on the name recognition of the existing Highlander model, the new Grand Highlander is a larger vehicle that promises more interior space and a third row that can accommodate adult passengers.
Toyota hasn’t revealed full details of the Grand Highlander’s powertrain options, but we do know that two of the three available drivetrains will be hybrids, while base models will use a 2.4L turbocharged gas engine.
In the 2023 version of the standard Highlander, that 2.4L turbo makes 264 hp and 310 lb-ft of torque, and those figures sound like they would suit the larger Grand Highlander as well. Toyota says the next step up will be a 2.5L four-cylinder hybrid setup; again, a similar arrangement in the regular Highlander generates 243 hp. Topping the Grand Highlander range will be a Hybrid Max powertrain making 362 hp and 400 lb-ft of torque; in other recent Toyota models, like the Crown hybrid sedan, the Hybrid Max drivetrain is built around Toyota’s 2.4L turbocharged engine.
Toyota has yet to announce Grand Highlander pricing, but says gas and hybrid versions will come in XLE and Limited trims, while Hybrid Max will be offered exclusively in Platinum trim level. We’ll know more about the Grand Highlander’s pricing and arrival date toward the end of this summer.
2023 Genesis Electrified GV70
Genesis has revealed that its latest all-electric model, the Electrified GV70 compact crossover, will go on sale in March 2023 at a starting price of $84,000.
Building on the existing range of gas-powered GV70 models, the new Electrified GV70 will be offered in a single Prestige trim that will become the model’s top configuration. While the price seems steep – it will cost nearly as much as the larger GV80’s top model – the Electrified GV70’s power output of 429 hp and 516 lb-ft of torque is a big step up from the 375 hp/391 lb-ft currently on tap from the gas GV70’s turbo V6.
The Electrified GV70’s 77.4-kWh battery can also provide 10-second bursts of 483 hp, is capable of charging from 10 to 80 per cent in 18 minutes when connected to an 800-volt charger, and includes a vehicle-to-load function that lets drivers use the car as a mobile power source. Genesis says it will reveal its newest EV’s driving range closer to the car’s arrival in showrooms.
For now, we know that the Electrified GV70 will come standard with niceties like a panoramic roof, wireless phone charging, a 14.5-inch touchscreen with navigation, and a full suite of safety kit that will include highway driving assist and surround-view cameras.
2024 BMW X5 and X6
BMW has redesigned its X5 and X6 mid-size crossovers for the 2024 model year, including speedy M variants that are the first members of the brand’s high-performance family to use 48-volt mild hybrid powertrains.
In the newest X5 M and X6 M, BMW says an electric motor adds 12 hp (yes, 12) and 147 lb-ft of torque to the 617 hp/553 lb-ft generated by a 4.4L twin-turbo V8 engine.
The same 48-volt tech is put to work in non-M models, where it’s matched with a 3.0L turbo six-cylinder that makes 375 hp and 383 lb-ft in xDrive40i models – 40 hp and 52 lb-ft more than this year’s car – and, in M60i variants, a turbo V8 that’s good for 523 hp/553 lb-ft, output that matches the old M50i.
BMW has also revised the X5 xDrive50e’s plug-in hybrid (PHEV) powertrain to make 483 hp/516 lb-ft, a boost of nearly 100 hp over last year’s xDrive45e. A new electric motor can generate 194 hp and 331 lb-ft on its own – 83 hp more than before – and drive the car for about 64 km on a full charge of the battery, which is 14 km better than the old X5 PHEV.
The shapes of the new X5 and X6 are similar to the old cars, with the main differences in details like the head- and taillights. There are more significant changes inside, where a new curved display contains a 12.3-inch digital gauge display and an 14.9-inch infotainment screen.
That infotainment system has better speech controls that recognize more natural language and can pick up on user behaviour and suggest how the driver and passengers can best use the car’s controls.
Prices for the new X5 and X6 start at $86,000 and $92,000, respectively, while X5 M and X6 M will go for $142,000 and $145,000. BMW says it will start building the redesigned models in April at its factory in Spartanburg, North Carolina.
2024 Subaru Crosstrek
Subaru has announced the third generation of its Crosstrek compact crossover will go on sale across Canada in late spring at a starting price of $28,995.
That’s a $4,000 increase over the current Crosstrek’s base MSRP, which you can blame partly on Subaru’s decision to drop the manual transmission from the lineup. The new 2024 Crosstrek’s starting point – Convenience trim with an automatic CVT – goes for $1,800 more than the comparable 2023 model.
For that extra money, buyers will get a stronger chassis that promises better ride quality and a quieter cabin at cruising speeds, and functional air ducts in the front wheel wells and rear bumper to add aerodynamic stability for highway driving. Subaru says it has also improved its EyeSight safety system for better pedestrian and cyclist detection and smoother automatic braking performance. Dual-zone A/C will be included in all trims; in the current Crosstrek, buyers can only get that feature in the top Limited trim. Subaru will also install its 11.6-inch infotainment display in the new model’s upper trims.
The 2024 Crosstrek’s powertrains are unchanged: The aforementioned CVT comes matched with a 152-hp, 2.0L four-cylinder engine that upgrades to a 182-hp 2.5L in the car’s Onyx ($32,195) and Limited ($36,995) trim levels.
2024 Volkswagen Atlas
Volkswagen has touched up its Atlas mid-size crossover for the 2024 model year with sleeker styling inside and out and more stylistic differentiation for the two-row Cross Sport variant.
This marks the second refresh for the Atlas since its 2018 debut, but it’s a more significant update than the one VW made in 2021.
All 2024 Atlas and Atlas Cross Sport models will be powered by a turbocharged four-cylinder engine with 269 hp and 273 lb-ft of torque, figures similar to those for the outgoing 3.6L V6 and a useful improvement compared to the current base model’s 2.0L turbo, which makes 235 hp/259 lb-ft.
The cosmetic differences between the Atlas and Atlas Cross Sport centre around exterior lighting, with standard adaptive LED headlights for all trims and, in all but the base configurations, an LED lightbar that spans the grille, which frames a lighted VW logo.
All Atlas models get new wheel designs and a larger rear spoiler, and the Cross Sport boasts a more aggressive rear bumper.
Inside, all models come with a new 12.0-inch central touchscreen, ventilated front seats, a heated steering wheel, and three-zone A/C. The interior looks more expensive than before, thanks to a sleeker dash with nicer materials and a floating touchscreen.
VW says the revised Atlas and Atlas Cross Sport models will go on sale in Canada in late summer or early fall, with pricing to be announced shortly before that.