New SUVs are on the way from Ford, Tesla, Land Rover, and more
If you can be patient for a few months or a few years, these vehicles will be rolling into dealer showrooms.
Last year, automakers abandoning the manufacturing of sedans for more popular (and profitable) SUVs was shocking news. But even though some of those cars haven’t gone out of production yet, it already feels like reality. The feeling only gets stronger as you look into the future.
Our Future Cars special used to be dominated by sleek coupes and sedans; now it’s the domain of boxy SUVs and crossovers. From cheap and cheerful city runabouts to six-figure, four-wheel-drive limousines, there’s an SUV or crossover for every purse and purpose. We haven’t forgotten about cars and trucks, though. The best of what’s on sale soon and what’s coming down the road is coming later this week on MotorTrend.com.
As for performance, regardless of what it looks like or how high it rides, there’s a good chance every vehicle is going to have some form of electrification. Tesla has kicked open the door of the marketplace for electric vehicles, and with gas prices inching up again and battery costs inching down, plus emissions and fuel economy laws worldwide in a constant state of flux, everyone’s getting on the electric powertrain train. From plug-in hybrids to pure electric vehicles, there isn’t a style or type of vehicle coming to market that doesn’t have some kind of alternative powertrain on the options list.
There are more storm clouds on the horizon, too. Sales in the U.S. and China, the world’s two largest markets, are slowing. Brexit and slowing Chinese growth pose threats to the worldwide economy, as does a potential slowdown in the U.S. economy, where defaults on car loans are at a historic high. Thankfully, with long lead times for new products, it’s a bit easier to forecast the immediate future of the automobile than the economy. No matter where the winds of change take us in the next few years, we have a lot of exciting new cars, trucks, and SUVs to look forward to along the way.
More on future cars:
*All prices in U.S. dollar value.
What’s New: Despite early fears that the new Bronco would be a warmed-over overseas-market Ford Everest, that’s thankfully not the case. With a boxy shape, round headlights, and a rectangular grille, the new Bronco should be the retro off-roader fans have been craving. It will be offered in two- and four-door form, with removable doors and roof panels.
What’s Not: Mechanically, the Bronco will have a lot in common with the 2019 Ford Ranger. In addition to sharing the Ranger’s body-on-frame platform, that probably means the Bronco’s base engine will be the same 2.3-liter turbo-four making 270 hp and 310 lb-ft of torque paired with a 10-speed automatic. It’s possible a manual transmission will also be offered.
When: Late 2020
How Much: $40,000 (est)
Land Rover Defender
What’s New: Almost everything. Gone is the body-on-frame construction and the coil-sprung live axles that were the hallmarks of the previous-gen Defender for 33 years. Instead, Land Rover’s reimagined icon, code-named L663, rolls on a brand-new unibody platform known internally at JLR as MLA, for Modular Longitudinal Architecture. Suspension is all-independent, with height-adjustable air springs on higher-spec models. Two wheelbases will be available. The short-wheelbase models, badged Defender 90, will be two-door, and there may be a soft-top version. The long-wheelbase four-door model, likely the volume seller in the U.S., will be badged Defender 110. The new Defender’s styling is a closely guarded secret, not the least because concepts that have attempted to modernize the original’s straight lines and flat surfaces have not been well received. But it’s safe to say the new Defender’s sheetmetal is probably only slightly less boxy than the camo covering prototypes spotted in the wild.
What’s Not: Powertrains, mainly. The engine lineup will include the 2.0-liter Ingenium turbocharged four-banger, in gas and diesel form, and JLR’s new 3.0-liter Ingenium turbocharged gas inline-six, which is just being rolled out in the Range Rover Sport. Mild and plug-in hybrid versions of both will be available.
How Much: $50,000 (est)
Tesla Model Y
What’s New: Repeating the script that saw the Model S vertically expanded into the Model X, now it’s the Model 3’s turn to gain a tall, platform-sharing sibling. Called the Model Y, it completes Tesla’s “S3XY” lineup of model names, and it won’t arrive a second too soon as sales of all sedans continue to slide. Although only 25 percent of the Model Y is actually new, it’s a critical percentage: a taller height, an optional third row (increasing seats from five to seven, but you better be short), and a base-version range of 230 miles (370 km) (300 (483 km) for the top-of-the-line trim).
What’s Not: The Model Y’s other 75 percent, including the Model 3’s drivetrain and interior details. Also, fortunately, the conventional hinging of the Model 3’s second-row doors carries over, avoiding the problems that beset the Model X’s falcon wings.
When: 2021 (in Tesla time)
How Much: $40,200
What’s New: The Explorer enters a new generation with an impressive degree of innovation. Not only does it sit on a new rear-wheel-drive platform, but its wheelbase also grows about 6 inches, which bodes well for a roomier interior. The base four-cylinder engine now makes 300 hp, while a 3.0-liter twin-turbo V-6 ups the ante to 365 hp. A 10-speed automatic replaces the old six-speed. Ford is expanding the lineup further with an optional hybrid powertrain and an ST performance variant.
What’s Not: The Explorer is still a crossover, having parted with its truck-based roots with the introduction of the previous generation for the 2011 model year.
When: June 2019
How Much: $33,860
What’s New: A bit long in the tooth, this seven-seat luxury SUV is in for a full redesign. It will sit on a new high-strength steel–intensive platform to help it shed weight. An ultra-luxurious Maybach version will enter production in Alabama alongside the standard model. With an expected price tag of around $200,000 USD, this version will compete with the Bentley Bentayga.
What’s Not: Once again, expect to see a standard six-cylinder and a high-performance AMG variant with a V-8 engine.
How Much: $75,000 (est)
What’s New: Slotting between the CX-3 and CX-5, the confusingly named 2020 Mazda CX-30 joins a growing niche of not-too-subcompact crossovers. The CX-30 rides on a variant of the new Mazda3 platform, sports the latest iteration of the brand’s Kodo design language, and gets a new infotainment system. We expect the CX-30 to get Mazda’s full complement of chassis wizardry, which should turn it into the athlete of its small but growing segment.
What’s Not: Mazda’s Skyactiv-G 2.5-liter I-4 paired to a six-speed automatic will likely be the only engine available on the 2020 CX-30 for the U.S. market. The automaker’s trick Skyactiv-X compression ignition engine could come as a late addition if it can pass muster with the EPA.
How Much: $22,000 (est)
Alfa Romeo Tonale
What’s New: The whole insalata. This is to be Alfa’s BMW X1/Audi Q3 fighter. Named for another twisty mountain pass, it aims to meet or exceed the dynamic brilliance of those competitors in a more beautiful wrapper. Shown in Geneva as a plug-in hybrid four-seater with electric rear drive and combustion front drive, we expect to find five seat belts and more conventional powertrain offerings—at least in base models.
What’s Not: It will share its structural architecture and Italian assembly location with the Jeep Renegade and Fiat 500X. It’s also likely to share basic powertrain elements, though perhaps with specific Alfa tuning.
When: Mid to late 2020
How Much: $33,000 (est)
Aston Martin DBX
What’s New: It’s been four years since we first saw the DBX concept. In that time, Aston Martin’s first CUV has gained a more conventional crossover shape and a pair of rear doors. And instead of attempting to repurpose one of its existing platforms for crossover duty, Aston Martin has developed an all-new platform for the DBX. So don’t expect it to drive like an overgrown DB11.
What’s Not: As with other Aston Martins, the infotainment system and some of its controls will be sourced from Mercedes. And although it’s not clear which engine options will be offered, expect them to be sourced from Mercedes, as well. The base engine will probably be a 3.0-liter turbocharged inline-six with a mild hybrid system. The 4.0-liter turbocharged V-8 found in the Vantage will likely be an option.
When: Late 2019
How Much: $175,000 (est)
What’s New: Combining the luxury appointments and off-road capability of a Range Rover, the space of a Ford Expedition, and the electric performance of the Tesla Model X, the Rivian R1S aims to please well-heeled millennials when it launches. Built on a slightly shorter version of the R1T pickup’s platform, the R1S replaces the truck’s bed with a third row, giving this electric off-roader room for seven. Rivian claims 34-, 30-, and 29-degree approach, departure, and breakover angles and between 8.1 and 11.7 inches of ground clearance. Even more impressive is its claimed street performance: 0–60 mph in as little as 3.0 seconds. Clearly Rivian is promising the world with its R1S and R1T. We hope it can deliver.
How Much: $70,000 (est)
Volkswagen ID Buggy
What’s New: Everything. We can’t believe VW found a company to build this electric dune buggy. It has no roof, doors, and no grille but crazy-high fenders and back end. It’s street legal and rides on 18-inch all-terrain tires; it has a 62-kW-hr lithium-ion battery in the floor and a 201-hp, 228-lb-ft electric motor in the rear axle to ensure power is always at the ready, even off-road. Electric range is about 155 miles (250 km). The cloth seats are weatherproof, and there are drains throughout to get rid of rainwater. The interior is deliberately minimalist. The two-seater hearkens back to the Meyers Manx dune buggies that cruised the California beaches in the ’60s.
What’s Not: The ID Buggy will ride on VW’s MEB modular electric drive platform. VW plans to introduce 70 new electric models over the next 10 years.
How Much: $32,000 (est)
What’s New: General Motors has tapped Cadillac to lead its electric offensive, which will begin with an EV crossover wearing the storied crest badge. The vehicle’s name will be revealed closer to its launch in 2021, but we know it’ll be the first to use GM’s new BEV3 architecture designed to support rear- and all-wheel-drive EVs. For now, Cadillac promises more than 300 miles (483 km) of range, two rows of seating, and the latest version of its Super Cruise semi-autonomous tech. You can also expect the model to continue the torque-based badging strategy that began with the XT6.
What’s Not: Competitiveness continues to be a major challenge for the Cadillac brand, and GM president Mark Reuss has admitted that the pivot to electrification is Caddy’s last chance to reinvent itself. With nearly every other luxury automaker planning to roll out EVs in the next few years, Cadillac will again have to work hard to stand out from the competition.
How Much: $60,000
Alfa Romeo Large SUV
What’s New: Alfa’s versatile Giorgio platform grows again from the Giulia sedan and Stelvio midsize crossover to accommodate a longer, taller seven-passenger crossover. The unnamed family hauler will likely follow the Stelvio’s precedent with a rear-drive layout and optional all-wheel drive, turbocharged four- and six-cylinder engines, and an eight-speed automatic transmission, plus all-new plug-in hybrid drivetrains. It will also lend its platform to the all-new Jeep Grand Cherokee.
What’s Not: Expect parts sharing where you can’t see it to keep costs down and a scaled-up version of the Stelvio’s all-wheel-drive system, similarly tuned for street performance rather than rock-crawling.
How Much: $50,000 (est)
Infiniti QX Inspiration
What’s New: News flash—our automotive future is electrified. And that includes Infiniti, whose intriguing QX Inspiration concept strongly hints at the brand’s direction. Will upcoming Infinitis feature a gold flower vase or a striking marble center console that stretches to the rear seats? Don’t count on it. But buyers should expect an electric Infiniti crossover with bold styling, uniquely Japanese design touches, and a spacious cabin.
What’s Not: We’ve seen Infiniti reinvent itself before. Can electrified powertrains and a new design language elevate Infiniti’s brand stature?
When: Late 2021 (est)
How Much: $75,000 (est)
What’s New: Following BMW’s first electric crossover, the iX3, 2021’s iNext will be larger and more tech-intensive. That model will mark the debut of a number of technologies for the brand, including standard Level 3 autonomous capability, gaze recognition, and enhanced gesture control. Because all that tech takes time to develop, our sources say the BMW i4 electric sedan will launch before the iNext, though both are due the same year. The iNext promises a range of 435 miles (700 km), and power will come from new induction-type motors.
What’s Not: The production iNext will draw inspiration from the controversially styled Vision iNext concept, but the design should be toned down significantly. You’ll still see the “i” brand’s take on the BMW dual kidney grille aesthetic, but we expect the look won’t be quite as in-your-face as the concept when the first iNext rolls off the line at BMW’s Dingolfing plant.
How Much: $80,000 (est)