You might want to wait a couple years for the updated version
We’ve been lucky enough to witness the rebirth of a few icons in 2019. The C8 Corvette went mid-engine, the Supra came back with BMW running gear, and the Bentley Continental GT was reborn as a modern-day Porsche 928 in a well-tailored suit. But while some models have been celebrated, others have started to go stale.
This is bound to happen. Automakers typically stagger midcycle refreshes and full redesigns so their entire lineups aren’t out of date all at once, so there are always some stragglers desperate for a breath of fresh air. As we close out the year and the decade, here’s a look at some of the cars most in need of an update.
When we first drove the current-gen Jeep Cherokee back in 2013, we were impressed with its off-road chops and Grand Cherokee-inspired interior, though it hasn’t aged all that well. Even after a midcycle refresh for the 2019 model year, the Cherokee finished seventh in our eight-car compact SUV Big Test.
Compared to other cars at its price point, the Cherokee has a bare-bones interior with a smaller infotainment screen. Packaging is also a weak point, with a cramped back seat and limited usable storage cubbies. Jeep also loses a couple points for limiting its active safety tech to pricier trim levels, whereas the segment-leading Toyota RAV4 and Honda CR-V include their active safety suites even on base models.
We’d love to see a better-packaged, safety-forward Cherokee in the next few years. Perhaps they’ll even include a hybrid version with the Wrangler’s 2.0-liter eTorque setup.
The RAV4-sized Lexus NX isn’t a bad compact luxury SUV, but there’s certainly room for improvement. In our most recent drive of an NX 300, we cited excessive pitch, dive, and body roll as reasons to revise the suspension tuning, and we also called out the archaic laptop-like trackpad infotainment system.
While they’re at it, why not incorporate the plug-in hybrid drivetrain from the recently revealed Toyota RAV4 Prime? Yes, there’s already a hybrid NX, but it’s not as powerful, quick, or efficient as this new RAV4, and that just doesn’t seem right for Toyota’s luxury brand.
There’s no hiding that we’re big fans of the Subaru Crosstrek here at MotorTrend. Subaru’s plucky Impreza-based crossover rides well, has great visibility, and is more capable than you’d think with 8.7 inches of ground clearance.
That being said, Subaru has made great strides recently with full redesigns of the Forester, Legacy, Outback, and the introduction of the three-row Ascent. The Crosstrek would be greatly improved with the addition of Subaru’s new 11.6-inch infotainment screen and 260-hp 2.4-liter turbocharged engine. If the powers that be decide the Crosstrek is worthy of a turbocharged powerplant, might we suggest a full-blown Crosstrek STI?
The Chevy Camaro made leaps and bounds forward when it inherited GM’s Alpha platform in 2015. That switch is what earned the Camaro our 2016 Car of the Year award. It elevated the Camaro beyond its status as just a Mustang competitor to the point where it was winning comparison tests against cars like the BMW M4.
A few years later, the Camaro exists in a different context. The brand-new and very excellent 760-hp Mustang Shelby GT500 overshadows the three-year-old Camaro ZL1 in terms of power and performance. With the front-engine Corvette now a thing of the past, the Camaro occupies a niche in the Chevy lineup and has nowhere to go but up. Instead of resting on its laurels after the launch of the C8 Corvette, hopefully GM is hard at work whipping its pony car back into world-beating shape.
There are a lot of great things to say about the Lexus GS. When it was new in 2012, it beat out competition from Audi, BMW, and Infiniti in a six-cylinder midsize luxury comparison test. We said it might be the new Ultimate Driving Machine, praising its comparatively light weight, communicative and balanced driving dynamics, and gorgeous interior.
That was in 2012, though. In 2019, the infotainment system is aging poorly, the lack of a 360-degree camera system is disappointing, and no Apple CarPlay compatibility makes for a tough sell. The only engine available (other than the 5.0-liter V-8 in the GS F) is a naturally aspirated V-6 that provides enough power but only adequate fuel economy.
As much as the GS could benefit from a full redesign with a plug-in hybrid option, the twin-turbo V-6 from the LS 500, and an infotainment system that feels newer than a laptop from 2005, don’t get your hopes up. Lexus discontinued production of the GS for European markets in 2018, and with demand for luxury sedans waning, we wouldn’t bet on the current-gen GS getting a replacement.
Jeep Grand Cherokee
This generation of Jeep Grand Cherokee has been around since 2010—it’s the oldest car on this list. To give you an idea of just how stagnant this car is, we haven’t published anything about a non-Trackhawk Grand Cherokee since 2016.
Of course, the 707-hp Trackhawk is a bucket of laughs, but standard Grand Cherokees leave room for improvement. Now that the EcoDiesel is no longer an option, the most efficient powerplant—a 3.6-liter Pentastar V-6—achieves just 22 mpg (10.7 L/100 km) combined in a rear-drive Grand Cherokee. We’d love to see an updated or all-new Grand Cherokee with an efficient eTorque powertrain and Ram’s 12-inch infotainment display.
There’s also something to be desired in terms of safety. The Grand Cherokee received a Marginal score in the small overlap front crashworthiness test from the IIHS and Poor/Acceptable ratings for its headlights.
I don’t mean to pick on Lexus, its lineup is just a little dated. The RC coupe has been around since 2014 and its high curb weight and clunky infotainment system have been issues ever since. Lexus now has access to the excellent rear-drive platform it developed for the LC coupe and LS sedan, why not shorten it a bit for a new RC?
It would still be on the heavier end but they could dress up the interior with LC-inspired flourishes and really lean into the RC as an athletic grand touring machine instead of a porky sports car. Update the infotainment system and upgrade the radar cruise control to work in stop-and-go traffic and Lexus would have another awesome modern coupe in its lineup.