Consumers soon will have more options in the growing sport-utility vehicle market as manufacturers introduce crossover-utility vehicles, which look much like conventional SUVs but have rides and fuel efficiency more like cars.
Eight such crossovers, called CUVs for short, are planned or already have been introduced for model years 2007 and 2008, and dealers here say they expect high demand from customers who want the look of an SUV, but with better handling and less pain at the gas pump. CUVs have vehicle architectures similar to cars, rather than truck-based underpinnings, which makes them lighter than SUVs, although theyre typically not as well equipped for towing and off-roading.
Crossover seems to be the new buzz area, says Andy Keys, general sales manager at Wendle Motors Inc., of Spokane. Theyre more car-like vehicles, with smaller frames and engines, which rewards (CUVs) with better mileage and a quieter ride.
Among the other new and redesigned vehicles for 2007 are subcompact hatchbacks, Jeeps, SUVs, and light trucks. In response to higher gas prices but persisting consumer demand for trucks and SUVs, manufacturers are employing new technologies in larger vehicles to boost gas mileage, dealers say.
People still need work trucks and have big families, so unless you own two vehicles, trucks and larger SUVs are inevitable, says Sean Kendrick, general sales manager at Kellogg, Idaho-based Dave Smith Motors.
Among the new CUVs is the Mazda CX-7, which sells in the mid-20s to mid-30s price range and was released last month, says Phillip Buxton, a salesman at Foothills Lincoln Mercury Mazda, of Spokane. It has a 2.3-liter, four-cylinder turbocharged engine that has direct-injection spark ignition, which is a more precise way of delivering fuel to the gas chambers that improves fuel efficiency, and rear-vented disc brakes, which help during long downhill drives, Buxton says. The CX-7 is available in three trim levels, and features can include a BOSE audio system, a navigation system, a backup camera, and all-wheel drive.
A longer version of the CX-7, called the CX-9, will have third-row seating and should be available by the end of October, he says.
Another new CUV for 2007 is Lincolns MKX, which will be priced in the mid-30s and is scheduled to be on the market by early November, Buxton says. The MKX will have a 3.5-liter, 265-horsepower, V-6 engine with a six-speed automatic transmission. Features can include all-wheel drive, an extra-large sunroof, heated and cooled front seats and heated rear seats, a 14-speaker THX-certified audio system, and DVD navigation.
Saturn plans to release the Outlook CUV early next year, says Michelle Zeran, a sales consultant at Saturn of Spokane. The Outlook will have a 3.6-liter, 263-horsepower, V-6 engine with a six-speed automatic transmission. Features can include all-wheel drive, a sliding second-row seat that makes access to a third-row seat easier, a DVD player, sunroof and rear skylight, OnStar emergency-service technology, and electronic stability system, Zeran says. Pricing information hasnt been released yet, she says.
GMCs Acadia CUV is due out this fall, but prices havent been disclosed yet, says Kendrick, of Dave Smith Motors. The Acadia will have a 3.6-liter, 267 horsepower, V-6 engine, and will get 25 miles per gallon on the highway and 17 in the city, he says. Features will include six airbags and a stabilitrack electronic stability system with rollover prevention technology.
Ford plans to release the Edge CUV by early October. The five-passenger vehicle will start at less than $30,000, Wendles Keys says. It will have a 3.5-liter, V-6 engine with a six-speed automatic transmission, and will be able to tow up to 4,000 pounds, he says. It will be available in three trim lines, and features can include all-wheel drive, a panoramic sun roof, and an MP3 player jack.
Suzukis SX4 five-passenger CUV is slated to arrive here within the next month, and will start at $15,000, Keys says. The SX4 will have a 2.0-liter, inline four-cylinder engine with a five-speed manual or four-speed automatic transmission, and will be available in two trim lines. Features can include 38 cubic feet of storage space, six airbags, all-wheel drive, and four-wheel disc brakes.
Dodge plans to release the five-passenger Nitro CUV in about a month, and prices for it will range from the low $20,000s to the low $30,000s, says Tom Maine, general sales manager at Dishman Dodge, of Spokane Valley. The Nitro will come in two engine packages and three trim lines, and features can include all-wheel drive, performance suspension, 20-inch chrome-clad wheels, and a Load N Go cargo floor that slides 18 inches to the rear for improved loading and unloading.
Buick plans to introduce the Enclave CUV for model year 2008, Buicks Web site says. The Enclave is expected to have a 3.6-liter, 270-horsepower, V-6 engine. Pricing information hasnt been released yet.
Subcompacts, sedans, muscle cars
Nissan introduced the hatchback version of its new Versa this summer, with prices ranging between $13,000 and $17,000, says Scott Christensen, new-car sales manager at Wendle Motors. The Versa has a 1.8-liter, dual-overhead-cam four-cylinder engine with six-speed manual, four-speed automatic transmission, or continuously-variable transmission, which is a type of automatic transmission. Nissan plans to introduce a sedan version of the Versa later this year.
Hondas Fit, a subcompact hatchback thats been in production in Japan for seven years, was redesigned for the U.S. market and introduced in April, says Ron Stein, senior sales consultant at Spokane Valley-based Valley Honda & Acura. The Fit ranges in price from the low teens to the high teens and has a 1.5-liter, four-cylinder engine, Stein says. Its available in two trim packages and features can include keyless entry, MP3 and iPod playback capability, and six airbags, he says.
Mazda plans to release limited numbers of the MazdaSpeed3 subcompact hatchback in November, and it will be priced starting in the low 20s, Foothills Buxton says. The MazdaSpeed3 will have a 2.3-liter, 244-horsepower, direct-injection spark-ignition turbocharged engine. Features will include performance 18-inch wide tires, a performance exhaust system, and high-watt premium stereo system, he says.
Saturn released the Aura four-door sedan, which is priced starting in the mid-20s, last month, says Zeran, of Saturn of Spokane. The Aura comes with two engine packages and two trim levels. Features can include traction control, four-wheel disc brakes, remote-vehicle start, power adjustable brake and accelerator foot pedals, and a tire-pressure monitoring system. Saturn plans to introduce a hybrid version of the Aura next spring, she says.
Pontiacs G5 was released earlier this summer and starts at $18,000, says Molly Gee, general manager at Liberty Lake-based George Gee Automotive. The four-door sedan is available in two engine packages and two trim lines, Pontiacs Web site says. Features can include remote-vehicle start and keyless entry, OnStar, and satellite radio, the site says.
Chrysler plans to introduce a redesigned version of its Sebring four-door sedan in November, says Gil Griffiths, assistant sales manager at Spokane Chrysler Inc. The redesigned Sebring will have a new body style and available navigation system, heated and cooled cupholders, and a 20-gigabyte hard drive for storing music and photos.
The 2008 Dodge Avenger four-door sedan is expected to arrive here next fall, Dishman Dodges Maine says. The car will have a 3.5-liter, V-6 engine and available all-wheel drive, with the look of an SUV.
Dodge also is redesigning its Challenger for model year 2008, and those vehicles are expected to hit the market here next fall, Maine says.
Ford released its Mustang Shelby GT500 early last month, with prices starting at $42,000 for the coupe and $45,000 for the convertible, Wendles Keys says. The Shelby GT500, with a supercharged 5.4-liter, V-8 engine that has 500 horsepower and reaches speeds of 155 mph, is the fastest Mustang ever produced, he says. Features in this limited-production muscle car include leather seats, a high-powered stereo system, and satellite radio.
Chevrolet plans to release a new design for its Camaro in model year 2009, says Kendrick, of Dave Smith Motors. The muscle car will have a 400-horsepower, 6.0-liter, V-8 engine with independent suspension and a six-speed manual transmission, he says.
Other models and redesigns
Jeep, meanwhile, has introduced or plans to introduce two new vehiclesthe Compass and the Patriot, Kendrick says. The Compass, which was released earlier this summer, starts at $15,000 and has a 2.0-liter, inline four-cylinder engine. Similar to a CUV, it has the versatility of an SUV with the handling and fuel economy of a compact car, he says. Features can include a tire-pressure monitoring system, stability control, and all-wheel drive.
The Patriot is scheduled for release early next year, and pricing information hasnt been disclosed yet, he says. It will have a 2.4-liter, four-cylinder engine with 172 horsepower and 165 foot-pounds of torque. Features can include four-wheel drive, brake assist, and traction control.
Jeep also has redesigned its Wrangler for 2007 and plans to release it by October, Kendrick says. It will be available in a four-door version, and will have a 3.8-liter, V-6 engine with 205 horsepower and 240 foot-pounds of torque. The price will start at about $17,000, he says.
Chrysler plans to introduce its first SUV, called the Aspen, later this month, with prices ranging between $35,000 and $45,000, says Griffiths, of Spokane Chrysler. The new vehicle will be available in two engine packages and two trim lines, he says. Features can include power rear liftgate, remote vehicle start, rear-seat DVD system, navigation, and satellite radio.
Suzuki plans to introduce a seven-passenger SUV called the XL7 this fall, Wendles Keys says. The XL7 will have a 3.6-liter, 252-horsepower, V-6 engine, and be priced from $23,000 to $29,000. It will have two trim lines, and features can include all-wheel drive, a DVD entertainment system, and satellite navigation.
Hyundai plans later this month to release a redesigned version of its Santa Fe SUV, says Tom Suwanmaneedang, salesman at Hallmark Hyundai, of Spokane Valley. The new Santa Fe will seat seven passengers, instead of five like the older version, and will have two engine packages, including a 3.3-liter, V-6 engine that will replace the former 3.5-liter engine. The manufacturer switched to a smaller engine to improve fuel economy, he says. The new Santa Fe will have three trim lines, and will range in price from just under $20,000 to just under $30,000, he says.
Hyundai introduced its first minivan, the Entourage, about two months ago, Suwanmaneedang says. The Entourage ranges in price from the low $20,000s to low $30,000s, and has a 3.8-liter, V-6 engine with three trim levels, he says. Features include a hideaway third-row seat, a foldaway center tray table, and tri-zone climate control.
Chevy plans to release a redesigned Silverado truck in about a month, Kendrick says. The Silverado will have a new interior and a displacement-on-demand (DOD) engine. Features can include a rear-seat DVD player and OnStar.
Ford is scheduled to introduce a redesigned Expedition by the end of October, and prices will range to nearly $50,000, Keys says. The SUV will be available with an extended length, with an extra 15 inches of length and 24 more cubic feet of space, he says.
Toyota dealers here couldnt be reached for comment, but on its Web site, Toyota says it plans to release a redesigned Tundra in early 2007.
Other new models and redesigns for 2007 include Acuras RD-X SUV, Cadillacs Escalade SUV, and GMCs Sierra truck.
Contact Emily Brandler at (509) 344-1265 or via e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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