As auto show season gets underway, we've had the chance to do some digging to see what's in store for pickup trucks, sport/utility vehicles, vans, and, yes, crossovers, in the next few years. Here is some of what we've uncovered.
Fiat and Chrysler chief Sergio Marchionne outlined a five-year strategy for the Pentastar that will have the Italian automaker supplying platforms for smaller crossovers. This is a detailed look at how that will play out into 2014.
Model year 2011: "Major modifications" for Jeep Liberty, Patriot/Compass. Face lift for Liberty. New Ram chassis cab.
2012: All-new Dodge Durango shares Mercedes-based unibody platform with the Jeep Grand Cherokee, but is offered with three rows of seats. Face lifted Dodge Journey, Nitro, 70th-anniversary edition Jeeps across the lineup, "major modification" for Wrangler. On-again, off-again unibody Ram Dakota off a Fiat platform most recently is off-again.
2013: Fiat-based large and small commercial Ram delivery vans (like Sprinter, Ford Transit Connect). Major refresh for light- and heavy-duty Ram pickups, chassis cab.
2014: New Jeep Liberty, single Compass Patriot replacement, and new B-segment Fiat-based Jeep crossover.
Pentastar V-6 launching in 2011 Grand Cherokee is 3.6 liters. The engine replaces Chrysler's aged 2.7- to 4.0-liter V-6 lineup. Pentastar is "protected" for downsizing to smaller displacements, especially important for Fiat. The engine can make 280 horses and 260 pound-feet and has a cast-aluminum block, dual-continuously variable cam phasing, and a variable-displacement oil pump.
Fiat is preparing a diesel Multijet II engine for Chrysler products beginning with the Jeep Wrangler, although North American sales remain questionable.
Fiat's dual dry clutch transmission will see its first duty in 2011 sedans. A three-shaft design with six speeds, it can handle up to 260 pound-feet of torque.
Hybrid Ram 1500 is due this year. Chrysler/Dodge hybrid minivan arrives in 2011 and an electric light-commercial vehicle is scheduled for 2012.
Chrysler SRT 6.1-liter Hemi V-8 gets a displacement bump to 6.4 liters.
On sale: 2010
Ram 1500: Hybrid launches.
Dodge Grand Caravan, Chrysler Town & Country, Jeep Liberty, Patriot, and Compass: All get mild facelifts and upgraded interiors.
On sale: 2011
2012 Jeeps: Full line gets 70th-anniversary special-edition treatment.
Dodge Grand Caravan/Chrysler Town & Country: Hybrid models launch.
On sale: 2012
Ram delivery vans: A small Fiat-based panel van will compete with the Ford Transit Connect, while a larger Fiat-based van will replace the Ram Sprinter.
On sale: 2013
Dodge Journey/Chrysler variant: All-new Fiat-based '14 models.
Jeep Liberty: All-new. A next-generation Dodge Nitro version is under consideration.
Jeep Patriot/Compass: Replaced by one C-segment crossover on a Fiat platform.
Dodge Hornet: Chrysler's answer to the Mini finally makes its debut on the Fiat Punto platform.
Chrysler Hornet variant: Probably sharing styling with the next Lancia Ypsilon.
Jeep B-segment crossover: Also on the Hornet's Fiat platform.
Dodge Dakota: Unlikely. Chrysler was considering a Fiat-based, unibody Ram replacement, but the latest intelligence suggests American truck makers see no future expansion of the Honda Ridgeline's segment.
On sale: 2014
Dodge Grand Caravan/Chrysler Town & Country: All-new.
Small cars like the Fiesta and Focus are the next big thing at Ford, true, but the company isn't exactly getting out of the truck business. It has new engines and a new heavy-duty version for its F-Series lineup, still the best-seller in the U.S. On the SUV side, it's finally embracing the crossover movement. Soon, its only body-on-frame SUVs will be the Ford Expedition and Lincoln Navigator. You've already seen the new Super Duty (Truck Trend, November/December 2009); here's what else is coming from Ford:
2011 Ford Explorer: The truck-based, rear-drive model that had peak sales of 431,000 in 1998 sold only 78,000 units 10 years later. Even the Chevy TrailBlazer and Dodge Durango ceased production ahead of it. The new, unibody model is based on the front-drive (Ford Taurus) platform (Ford America concept shown). It will be available with AWD, and essentially replaces the Freestyle/Taurus X in Ford's lineup. Engines will include the 3.7-liter Duratec V-6 and the 3.5-liter EcoBoost, making about 265 horsepower. Ford may add a 2.0-liter EcoBoost four later for better Corporate Average Fuel Economy numbers. On sale late 2010.
2011 Ford F-150 EcoBoost: Ford's new engine technology, combining dual variable valve timing for the twin-cam head, direct gas-injection, and a turbocharger makes its long anticipated pickup-truck debut. If tuned to the same level as the Mustang's V-6, at 305 horsepower and 280 pound-feet, the 3.7-liter EcoBoost in the F-150 would make more power than the 4.6-liter V-8 and come close to the 5.4-liter's 320 horses, while vastly improving fuel mileage. It's Ford's alternative to a light-duty diesel. On sale fall 2010.
2011 Lincoln MKX/Ford Edge: Lincoln's midsize crossover gets a moderate facelift, including the "split bow" grille, new rear fascia with LED taillamps and oval chrome exhaust tips. Seats and the instrument panel are all new, and the interior features hand-stitched French seams. Also, you control stereo volume and fan with touch-sensitive horizontal bars that follow your finger with a ray of light as you turn them up and down. Ford says it works with gloves, as long as they're not ski gloves. Suspension has been retuned to cure the current model's floatiness.
The Sync system gets upgraded to a new program called MyLincoln, there's a 4.2-inch color nav/info monitor, adaptive cruise control, the MKT's parking assist system and, most important, the new, optional 3.7-liter EcoBoost V-6, rated 305 horsepower and 280 pound-feet. The Edge gets a similar face lift. On sale fall 2010.
2011 Ford Transit Connect EV: It's expected to look very much like the four-cylinder gas Transit Connect, but with an Azure Dynamics Corporation powertrain using a lithium-ion battery pack. Expect very low volumes. On sale late 2010.
2012 Ford Escape: The next model will be a bit smaller, based on Ford of Europe's next-generation Kuga crossover, itself a derivative of the Focus platform. No plans for a Mercury Mariner replacement, though Lincoln will get its own version. Ford will add a plug-in hybrid for 2013. On sale late 2011.
2012 Ranger: After Ford figured out that an F-150 cut down to F-100 size wouldn't save much money or fuel, especially with the F-150 EcoBoost in development, it considered the global Ranger replacement being developed in Australia. Engines would likely include the new 1.6-liter EcoBoost four, but the project remains iffy for the U.S.
2014 Econoline replacement: Depending on the success of the Transit Connect, Ford may replace its venerable big van with the European Transit, its larger brother. On-sale date is uncertain.
2011 Super Duty: Features a version of the 411-horsepower, 6.2-liter V-8 in the F-150 SVT Raptor, and the new Scorpion Diesel, a 6.7-liter V-8 with aluminum heads. On sale fall '10.
2012 Ford C-Max: Mazda5 competitor based on the Focus. On sale mid- to late '11.
GMC Granite Concept
On sale 2013 (if ever)
Behold what may come to be the smallest GMC ever. Conceived as an urban utility vehicle, it's fully two feet shorter than the Terrain. It has a suede-like Nubuck interior, with a front passenger seat that can be reclined flat, then folded up against the center console to make room for a bike. It is 161.3 inches long by 70.3 inches wide by 60.5 inches tall, too wide, squat, and short in length to be a minivan; too short in the nose and close to the ground to be an SUV. Inside, gear selection is via a rotary knob that turns with the precise clicks of a torque wrench. There's even a big floating compass incorporated in the barrel speedometer so nobody ever gets lost.
The suggested powertrain in this concept is a 1.4-liter turbo mated to a six-speed dual-clutch transmission. At this point it is still just a concept, but design director Dave Lyon assures us "a pathway to production has been identified," meaning a platform has been chosen and drivetrain compatibility as been confirmed, but the program has yet to receive the green light.
2011 GMC Acadia Denali
On sale fall 2010
GMC will bring Denali bells and whistles to its crossover Acadia this fall with a choice of either front or all-wheel drive, bearing the familiar drilled chrome grilles, Xenon headlamps, monochrome fascias and cladding, chrome accents, and special 20-inch chromed wheels with black-chrome centers. Inside there's a mahogany steering wheel, perforated leather heated and cooled front seats, head-up display, dual sunroof, tri-zone climate control, special footwell lighting, chromed sill plates with red light-up Denali badging, and most every other creature comfort you can imagine (rear-seat entertainment remains optional). A more meaningful upgrade is fitment of most of the Enclave's quiet tuning elements (extra mastic, triple seals, and acoustic windshield--the front door glass is not acoustic, as the Acadia's windows are a different shape). Maximum towing capacity is a class-leading 5200 pounds. Expect the price jump to be less than the $15,000 leap from Yukon SLE to Denali.
2012 Chevrolet Orlando
On sale mid/late 2011
Ostensibly a Delta-platform Cruze wagon, the Orlando will take on the Mazda5 microvan, offering three-row seating for seven. It may replace the HHR, and we hope it gets that trucklet's engines, as the Cruze's 1.4 turbo will likely be overwhelmed by this rig.
2011 Audi Q5 for less: For the 2011 model year, you'll be able to get into a Q5 for about $3000 less with the appearance of the 2.0-liter TFSI inline-four that offers 211 horsepower and 258 pound-feet of torque. The existing 3.2-liter FSI V-6 will come as quattro-only. Expect them to be joined by a hybrid early in 2011 and all to get a face lift in 2014.
2011 Infiniti QX: Infiniti has announced that production of its second-gen QX will move from Mississippi to Japan, which means the full-size body-on-frame sport/ute will be based on the JDM Patrol, Nissan's version of the Toyota Land Cruiser. Our sources in Japan tell us the QX was developed first and then reverse-engineered as the Nissan. We also hear that the QX's interior will represent a big leap in luxury, on par with Range Rover and Lexus LX cabins. Power will most likely come from a version of the M's direct-injected 5.6-liter V-8, so expect over 400 horses.
strong>When: Fall 2010
2011 Nissan Juke: Based on the Qazana concept (pictured) that bowed at last year's Geneva motor show, the Juke will represent Nissan's third crossover when it goes on sale this fall, slotting below the larger Rogue and Murano. If the Qazana's dimensions (159.8 x 70.1 x 61.8 inches) are any indication, the Juke will be significantly smaller than the already compact Rogue (182.9 x 70.9 x 65.3). Unlike the concept, which sported rear-hinged half doors, the production crossover will get four front-hinged apertures, although the concept's rally-inspired front end should carry over. We hear front- and all-wheel-drive versions will be offered and expect power to come from the Rogue's 2.5-liter/CVT combo.
strong>When: fall 2010
2011 Toyota Sienna: Best in minivan class? So minivans are a dying breed, eh? Toyota begs to differ, offering an all-new Sienna in five trim levels, powered by either an all-new 187-horse, 2.7-liter inline-four or a 266-horse 3.5 V-6, coupled to a new six-speed automatic and optional AWD with the V-6. What's more, the new SE trim is a minivan blast, wearing 19-inch wheels, a firmer suspension, and quicker-responding, recalibrated steering. It's even cool-looking, with considerable enhancements to its face, tail, rocker panels, and red-needles-on-white-fascia gauge cluster. Other nifty features include lounge-chair second-row seats (with leg supports) and a 16-inch video screen capable of presenting two movies at once.
2011 Mitsubishi Outlander Sport: At around 169 inches long, the upcoming RVR crossover--our moles tell us the U.S. version will be dubbed the Outlander Sport--will measure about 15 inches shorter than its Outlander big brother, yet will provide "ample utility space," according to Mitsubishi. Think Scion xB and you get an idea of the Sport's size. Power will come from a new 1.8-liter four cylinder mated to a CVT sending power to the front wheels. n
strong>When: Fall 2010