Edmonton Motorshow: Big, small SUVs diversify the market

Diversity is the word that defines the sport-utility and crossover segments, a big change since the time when SUVs first began to gain popularity.

In the early 1990s, the main players were the Jeep Cherokee and Ford Explorer. They are still around, but there are now many more vehicles to choose from among those on display at the Edmonton Motorshow, Thursday, April 10, through Sunday at Edmonton Expo Centre.

Porsche purists were aghast when the sports car builder added the Cayenne sport utility to its lineup. Now there’s another, smaller choice in the Porsche stable — the Macan crossover which can perform capably when it goes off pavement.

The Macan is available in S and Turbo models with V6 engines displacing 3.0 and 3.6 litres.

Bob Devlin, head of Chrysler Canada’s Western Business Centre, said the introduction of the 2014 Jeep Cherokee in late 2013 was a factor in helping Chrysler achieve No. 1 sales status in Alberta.
The Cherokee brings back the Cherokee name that had disappeared when the Liberty was introduced. But now the Liberty name has fallen by the wayside.

The growing number of crossover choices include new vehicles such as the Lexus CT200h and the Subaru XV Crosstek hybrid. Lexus will also have the RS350 AWD at the Motorshow.

In addition to the hybrid, Subaru’s exhibit will include the 2014 XV Crosstrek Limited, 2014 Outback with convenience package, 2014 Outback Limited package with Eyesight, 2014 Forester with Touring Package and 2014 Forester 2.0 XT with Eyesight. The Eyesight system uses two cameras to scan the road ahead for danger.

Among the other small or mid-size vehicles on display at the Motorshow include the Toyota Highlander, the compact 2015 Lincoln MKC crossover, Mazda CX-5 and CX-9, Mitsubishi Outlander Limited Edition, Range Rover, Volkswagen Tiguan and Touareg and a pair of Nissan crossovers — the Juke Nismo RS and the Rogue.

Ford and General Motors are squaring off with big SUVs such as the 2015 Ford Expedition, Chevrolet Tahoe and Suburban, Cadillac Escalade and new GMC Yukon and Yukon Denali. The big changes made in Chevrolet and GMC pickups have also come to the full-size SUVs — not surprising since they share the same platform.

These are full-size SUVs that offer plenty of room — up to nine passengers in the Suburban and Yukon XL — and have plenty of power to pull large cargo or travel trailers. The 5.3-litre V8 delivers 355 horsepower while the 6.2-litre churns out 420.

Even though the vehicles are bigger than before, GM has managed to improve fuel economy with an active fuel management system that shuts down half the cylinders when they’re not needed.
The focus of changes to the large GM SUVs is inside where everything is easier to use and more comfortable.

The Expedition is another large SUV that offers similar choices to its GM competitors. It’s available as the Expedition or the even longer Expedition EL.

Again, the chief attribute of this big SUV is its ability to carry passengers and to tow a big trailer. A 3.5-litre Ecoboost V6, mated to a six-speed transmission, is the only engine available for this full-size SUV.

Ford says horsepower and torque will be similar to the 5.4-litre V8 the Ecoboost engine replaces, but the new powerplant will offer better fuel economy.

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