THERE’S plenty of action ahead in one of the fastest growing parts of Australia’s new-car segment in a year that SUV sales are expected to overtake those of passenger cars for the first time. Here are five of WhichCar’s top cars to watch.
Not satisfied with the fact it already sells more SUVs than any other brand in Australia, Toyota will enter the baby SUV segment in February with the C-HR. The sharp-looking model will take on rivals such as the Mazda CX-3 and Honda HR-V. One confirmed engine is a new 1.2-litre turbocharged four-cylinder with 85kW, though it’s the 185Nm of torque available between 1500 and 4000rpm that promises flexible performance. There will be two trim grades, though even the entry version will feature as standard adaptive cruise control, lane departure warning, auto high beam, reverse camera, and autonomous emergency braking. A starting price in the low-$20,000 bracket is likely.
The second-generation Japanese mid-sized SUV arrives in April. Replacing a model that has established itself as Australia’s favourite SUV, it’s perhaps not surprising Mazda hasn’t meddled too much with the formula. The styling is an evolutionary change and dimensions are similar, while 2.0-litre and 2.5-litre petrol engines, plus a 2.2-litre turbo diesel, carry over, albeit with updates. Mazda says it has worked on improving the CX-5’s refinement, particularly in the area of road noise. There’s also a more premium look and feel to the interior.
The US bush-bash brand has replaced both its ageing Compass and Patriot SUVs with this bigger Compass that will take on the CX-5 and other mid-sized competitors from late in 2017. It will sit in the Jeep range between the compact Renegade and slightly larger Cherokee. A Trailhawk version should make it the most capable off-roader in its class. Engine options are a 1.4-litre turbo petrol, 2.4-litre normally aspirated petrol and 2.0-litre turbo diesel. Pricing is expected to start from about $30,000.
Holden’s planned resurgence in the SUV arena starts properly in late 2017 with the rebadged Chevrolet Equinox that replaces the ageing Captiva. The all-new model will be offered with front-wheel or all-wheel drive. An all-turbocharged engine range will comprise a 127kW 1.5-litre, 188kW 2.0-litre and 101kW 1.6-litre diesel. Features of note on the US version not yet confirmed for Australia include low-speed autonomous emergency braking and a Teen Driver system that allows for parental control and monitoring of the vehicle.
The Czech Republic brand’s SUV offerings to date have been limited to the compact and slightly odd-looking Yeti, so the new Kodiaq is a big deal. And bigger. Skoda Australia has suggested it will import only the seven-seat version and leave the five-seater alternative for Europe. It’s not interested in lower-priced manual, front-wheel-drive versions, either, so models will be all-wheel drive with the option of either a 132kW 2.0-litre turbo petrol or 140kW 2.0-litre turbo diesel. The sole gearbox will be a seven-speed dual-clutch auto.
2017 Top 5 SUVs
|Toyota C-HR||$ TBC|
|Holden Equinox||$ TBC|
|Skoda Kodiaq||$ TBC|