It should come as no surprise that red-hot crossovers dominated this year's New York International Auto Show, with innovative entries such as the new one from Jeep and Mitsubishi's all-new Outlander. But trucks and SUVs continue to have a big presence--Jeep revealed the four-door Wrangler and Ford showed a cool new version of the F-150. There were also concepts that displayed technology coming to future production vehicles. Here are some of the best vehicles coming your way.
2007 Jeep Wrangler Unlimited
With the all-new 2007 Wrangler comes the Unlimited, the first-ever four-door Wrangler. It seats five, and, like the standard-length Jeep, comes with a 205-horsepower, 3.8-liter V-6. The Unlimited, with a 20.6-inch-longer wheelbase, receives all the improvements found in the 2007 two-door, including next-generation four-wheel-drive systems, an electronic-disconnecting front anti-roll bar, a refined suspension, and a 100-percent-stiffer frame. There's also a Rubicon model, with electric front and rear lockers, NV241 transfer case, and 32-inch BFGs.
2007 Jeep Patriot
Jeep is ready to tread unfamiliar waters with the Patriot, a compact, entry-level crossover. Though car-based, the Patriot will have best-in-class off-road capability. Freedom Drive II, the optional full-time four-wheel-drive system, has a type of low-range--and it's good enough to be Trail Rated. Patriots equipped with Freedom Drive II sit an inch higher than non-Trail Rated models, have nine inches of ground clearance, and come with skidplates, tow hooks, and extra body seals. Power is derived from a 2.4-liter four, producing 172 horsepower and 165 pound-feet of torque. It's backed by a five-speed manual or a Gen-II CVT with a special "low" gear.
Land Rover Land_e
Not much to look at--literally. The Land_e concept was created to showcase the company's e_Terrain system, which reduces fuel consumption and emissions without sacrificing trail capability. The biofuel-capable Land_e uses a unique starter/generator, power-shift automated manual transmission, and Terrain Response e-Mode. The hybrid can run on electric power around town, but off-road, the motor works with the engine to increase torque or pulse to limit loss of traction. The prop shaft is disconnected when 2WD is all that's needed, but when it senses slip, rear drive is reconnected. The technology displayed here could be available on production models in the near future.
Acura MD-X Concept
Acura displayed the MD-X concept, with a wider track and longer wheelbase than the outgoing MDX. The company remained tight-lipped about details of the production version, which will go on sale this fall, but expect styling to be close to the prototype you see here. Power will still come from a V-6, but it should offer more power and more refinement. Also, Acura's Super Handling All-Wheel Drive will be a part of the next-gen MDX.
2007 Suzuki XL7
Not only does the all-new XL7 lose the hyphen once in the SUV's name, it also waves goodbye to the outdated styling--and excellent four-wheel-drive capability--of the old model. The new XL7 is larger and more powerful, and, like the old XL-7, offers optional seven-passenger seating. It's built on GM's Theta platform (Equinox, Torrent) and uses what's described as a "GM-designed, Suzuki-built" 250-horsepower, 3.6-liter V-6. Suzuki took the rear-drive platform and made it front drive, with four-wheel independent suspension and available all-wheel drive.
2007 Mazda CX-9
Hot on the heels of the all-new CX-7 (see story elsewhere in this issue) is the larger, more powerful CX-9. Even though Mazda's first seven-passenger crossover SUV looks remarkably similar to the CX-7, they don't share platforms. Like its siblings, the Ford Edge and Lincoln MKX, the CX-9 is propelled by a 3.5-liter, 250-horsepower V-6 and a six-speed automatic transmission--but Mazda has significantly retuned front and rear suspension pieces. An Active Torque-Split All-Wheel-Drive system is available, as are 20-inch wheels and a one-touch power liftgate. The CX-9 will come in Sport, Touring, and Grand Touring trim levels, arriving in dealerships in early 2007.
2007 Kia Sorento
It may be hard to tell, but the Kia Sorento has received a facelift. The projection-beam headlights are new, as are the grille insert, front fascia, and bumper, but where the improvements are most noticeable is under the hood and in the cabin. The Sorento's all-aluminum V-6 produces 262 horsepower, a 36-percent increase over the engine in the 2006 model. Inside, the center stack, gauges, and floor console were redesigned, more creature comforts are available, and there are now more safety features.
Ford F-150 FX2 Sport
For those who crave the look of a street truck and don't want or need four-wheel drive, the FX2 Sport is coming. Little information has come out about this F-150, but the on-road cousin of the FX4 off-road package is said to have a dark billet grille, clear headlights, and color-matched body accents. The cabin will have black leather or cloth captain's chairs stitched with red accents. Expect the truck to go on sale this fall as a 2007 model.
2007 Saturn Outlook
Also hopping on the full-size crossover bandwagon is Saturn, with its eight-passenger Outlook. It's powered by a 265-horsepower, 3.6-liter V-6, which goes up to 267 horses (and increased torque) when buyers opt for the uplevel XR, which comes with a dual exhaust. Offered in front- and all-wheel drive, all Outlooks have a new Hydra-Matic six-speed automatic. The Outlook will share its platform with several other GM products, starting with Buick and GMC.
2007 Mitsubishi Outlander
The little crossover is all grown up. The new Outlander, not too far off from the concept revealed in Japan last year, comes as either a five- or seven-passenger model, both with a 3.0-liter, 220-horse all-aluminum MIVEC V-6 and six-speed automatic, available with paddle shifters. The new Outlander is larger than the outgoing model and comes with front drive standard or optional electronically controlled four-wheel drive. The new Mitsu will get LS and XLS trim levels and will go on sale in November.