While the crossover and SUV segments are still expanding as demand grows, the relatively new market does have a few older models that are starting to get a little long in the tooth. Normally, automakers give their best nameplates a complete overhaul every five or six years, but some linger on after this best by date, leaving a sour taste in the mouths of fans and turning newcomers away with a single glance. This is quite a shame, since some of these models were great when they first released, such as the Mitsubishi Outlander, Toyota Sienna, Nissan Rogue, and Cadillac Escalade. This doesn’t even take into account brand-new names being added to the roster, or the revival of older and beloved models that we thought we’d never see again. Here is a list of five upcoming debuts for 2021 that fall into at least one of these categories, with some key changes in features, performance, and appearance, naturally.
#1 Ford Mustang Mach-E
Starting off with something truly exciting, the Mach-E is a totally original addition to the Blue Oval lineup, despite the use of the Mustang moniker. Apart from its ultra-modern styling, it proves that the American company is more than willing to move with the times and move away from conventional propulsion systems. True, we already have the Nissan Leaf, but it’s a pretty unexciting car in a segment that is quickly losing favor in the USA. The latest EV dons a far more appealing SUV frame with several design cues borrowed from the already existing Mustang range.
What will really excite fans from either side of the court is what’s under the hood. The electric powertrain is on par with the best on the market, similar to those found in the Tesla Model S Performance or Porsche Taycan. The standard trim develops 332 horsepower and 417 lb-ft of torque, while the GT Performance ups this to 459 hp and 612 lb-ft, resulting in a blistering 0-60 mph time of under four seconds. For those who want an SUV with a little more kick, this is one to wait for.
#2 Cadillac Escalade
It would be hard to talk about reinvigorated nameplates without mentioning the 2021 Escalade. Caddy has been struggling to remain relevant in a rapidly evolving industry, since many rivals are providing better quality at a similar price. This is especially true in terms of the European luxury circuit, with examples including the BMW X series and Volvo XC series. However, having seen the way the wind is blowing, the automaker has made some widespread changes to the flagship vehicle.
But, where a new engine is usually the biggest news when updating a model, the new turbodiesel is not overly exciting. Instead, it is the use of much higher-quality materials, better construction methods, and the most high-tech features that will help draw attention away from the more exotic competition. These include a comprehensive safety suite, an autonomous driving system, and an enormous 38-inch multi-information display across the dash.
#3 Kia Sorento
The Seltos may be the big news from the Korean manufacturer, but that doesn’t mean it has abandoned its other avenues. The larger Sorento has been redesigned for the new year to more perfectly fill the spot below the highly popular Telluride. Since American shoppers seem to crave the most value and practicality in the smallest, most affordable package, this may very well be the nameplate to look out for, despite the fanfare surrounding the new subcompact.
Inside, the updated crossover is very much like its big brother. High-quality materials abound and there is more than enough back-seat room for adults. However, if you want space for more than five occupants, you’ll want to look at a slightly larger, more expensive three-row SUV with extra rear seats. Another interesting bit of news is that a pair of hybrid power plants will bolster the lineup of two gas-fed motors, offering improved fuel economy and moderate electric-only mileage on the plug-in.
#4 Mercedes-Benz GLA
The smallest crossover in the garage of the prestigious German brand has been totally revamped for the upcoming production cycle. Renowned for its ultra-luxurious sedan and coupe lineup, the company has now had a bit more time to come to grips with newer configurations. The GLA is very much proof of this, as the outgoing generation felt more like a somewhat oversized sedan instead of a genuine crossover.
All that has changed, though. With access to a 302-hp turbo four-pot, it’s still a zippy little vehicle that lives up to its more athletic design philosophy. But inside is where the biggest changes have been made. Tech abounds, as it should in any family hauler, granting access to a comprehensive infotainment suite and loads of driver aids, all laid out within a gorgeous and spacious cabin. Naturally, it is supremely comfortable, which is not to be unexpected with a starting MSRP of around $35,000. One more piece of advice, you can use protection covers for your vehicle.
#5 Toyota RAV4 Prime
Once again turning our attention back to the Asian automakers, the Prime is not technically a new nameplate, but rather an enhancement to an already much-beloved model. With one of the highest sales figures Stateside, the RAV4 is clearly a top-notch SUV that offers a superb balance of quality, comfort, and value. But, for those who want a little more than the base model has to offer, the newest expansion is the PHEV rendition.
Thanks to its 302-horsepower power plant, it is one of the fastest Toyotas available, meaning that you can really have some fun with it when running errands around town. And it is still eminently suited to this purpose, with space in the trunk for up to 33.5 cubic feet of cargo, just slightly less than the gasoline variant. Passenger space takes a minor hit, too, but it is still an excellent family hauler. But any possible shortcomings are overshadowed by its EPA-rated 40/36/38 mpg or 94 MPGe. This results in impressive savings at the end of the month, more than making up for the slightly higher starting price.