If you’re looking to buy a large three-row family SUV, there’s little doubt the newly launched Kia Sorento has grabbed your eye.

But this demonstrably more premium and high-technology offering will soon be competing against a flurry of new or facelifted competitors.

These competitors come from brands such as Hyundai, Toyota, Nissan, Mazda, Peugeot, Skoda and even Isuzu Ute.

Want something smaller? Hold off buying your new mid-size SUV: These ones are coming soon.

2021 Hyundai Santa Fe

  • Petrol/diesel from late 2020, hybrid from mid-2021
  • New platform, even though it’s just an update
  • Significantly changed interior, tweaked exterior

Unlike most running updates, the 2021 Hyundai Santa Fe range gets a new platform – the same one used under the new Kia Sorento and Carnival. So it’s a significant change over a generation of car that only arrived in 2018.

Compared to the current model, the updated Santa Fe features a more aggressive front end, pairing a brash grille that spans the width of the nose with slimline LED headlights. The rear light signatures are new too.

Inside, there’s a new 12.3-inch digital instrument binnacle and 10.25-inch infotainment screen. The transmission tunnel has been redesigned with a new off-road mode selector and gear shifter, and a more button-heavy look.

Hyundai says fixed points for the steering arms are closer to the middle of the front wheels to theoretically sharpen handling, while extra sound and vibration damping have apparently been used to improve refinement.

Expect petrol V6 and 2.2-litre diesel four cylinder engine options to remain at launch, but later in 2021 Hyundai will also be launching a hybrid with 169kW and 350Nm.

Hyundai says the revised MY21 Santa Fe will arrive late this year, but the hybrid is still six months off. Check out our showroom page for the Hyundai Santa Fe here.

2021 Hyundai Palisade

  • Should launch in Australia by end of 2020
  • American looks, 210mm longer than Santa Fe
  • Will be the biggest, priciest Hyundai

Yes, another Hyundai. This five-metre long behemoth launches before year’s end to top Hyundai’s range, above the 21cm shorter Santa Fe. While US-focused it’s made in Korea, in right-hand drive mostly for our benefit.

It’ll be Hyundai’s most expensive non-Genesis product, with pricing on certain grades to be in the $70,000 range. It’ll seat either seven or eight people depending on grade, with a third row able to accommodate adults.

Range-topping Palisades will feature a dual-pane sunroof, Nappa leather trim, digitised instruments, a Harman Kardon sound system, and a cabin microphone that amplifies the driver for the kids in the third row to hear.

Safety tech will include AEB that detects pedestrians, active cruise control, blind-spot monitoring, cross-traffic alert, lane-keeping assist, and a 360-degree camera. 

Two engines will be offered: a 217kW 3.8-litre V6 petrol mated to an eight-speed automatic with a 2.3 tonne tow rating, or a less powerful but more efficient 2.2-litre diesel, familiar from the Santa Fe.

2021 Toyota Kluger

  • Arrives first half of 2021, should be top-seller
  • Fuel-saving hybrid confirmed, alongside V6
  • Moves to whole new ‘TNGA-K’ underpinnings

The new Kluger will arrive in Australia in early 2021, two years after its premiere as the Toyota Highlander at the 2019 New York motor show. And not a moment too soon, given the outgoing model has been the top-seller.

The bolder new looks are headlined by distinctive side sculpting, while underneath Toyota suggests the lighter and stiffer platform shared in large part with Camry will give this iteration better handling and a comfy ride.

The seven-seat interior will also be brought into line with its rivals on the technology front, finally gaining Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. Don’t expect it to be less utilitarian than before though, based on press images.

The full suite of Toyota Safety Sense systems will be available, from autonomous emergency braking and lane-keeping assist to adaptive cruise control and rear cross-traffic alert.

Pure petrol power will come courtesy of a 3.5-litre V6 engine 218kW, put to the road through a choice of front- or all-wheel drive and an eight-speed automatic. A 179kW hybrid with dual-motor AWD will also feature, and pending supply issues and pricing should be the more popular option.

Toyota says the new MY21 Kluger will arrive in the first half of 2021. Check out our showroom page for the Toyota Kluger here.

2021 Subaru Outback

  • New model expected in Australia by March 2021
  • Higher-tech cabin includes large portrait screen
  • Evolutionary style, but improved driving character

While the Subaru Outback is a five-seater unlike these seven- and eight-seater competitors, industry statistician VFACTS considers the Outback a Large SUV, so we’ll mention it here regardless.

The sixth-generation has been on sale for a little while in the US, but is expected to hit Australia in the first quarter of 2021. The outgoing model was consistently one of the class’s top sellers.

The newest iteration sits on a new platform (the modular Subaru Global Platform), that ups stiffness to better handling and safety. The front and rear suspension have also been rejigged, and cabin noise suppression is said to be much better than before – particularly on highways.

While the exterior styling is an evolutionary step-change, the cabin is quite different. The headline act is a new Volvo-style 11.6-inch portrait-oriented centre touchscreen.

Engine choices stateside include a 2.5-litre naturally aspirated Boxer petrol engine and a new 2.4-litre turbo unit making about 190kW of power, to replace to six-cylinder option. All are symmetrical AWD and use a CVT with eight stepped ratios.

Subaru says the new MY21 Outback will arrive in the first quarter of 2021. Check out our showroom page for the Subaru Outback here.

2021 Mazda CX-9

  • Mazda Australia finalising local launch timing
  • Bigger screen, new infotainment software
  • The US gets a cool Carbon Edition that we’d love

Mazda updated the CX-9 for the vitally important US market during August this year, though the company’s Australian division is yet to lock in when the changes will make it here.

But they’re worth mentioning, since Mazda is the second most popular car brand in Australia and the CX-9 is an important model, and range-topper.

The headline change is the addition of a bigger 10.25-inch centre screen running new Mazda Connect software – the same as that found in the Mazda 3 and CX-30. This promises to be an evolution over the current CX-9’s MZD Connect infotainment.

There’s also a new Carbon Edition with Polymetal Grey paint. gloss-black mirrors and grille, 20-inch black wheels, red leather seats, metal pedal caps, and paddle shifters. Hopefully this style-leader makes it to Australia…

There appear to be no changes to the 2.5-litre turbo four-cylinder petrol engine or other mechanicals.

So when might we see the revised CX-9? “Mazda Australia is currently assessing how the model updates will be deployed in the local CX-9 model range, with items such as the latest-generation Mazda Connect system a priority,” it says.

Mazda says the updated MY21 CX-9 is being evaluated for our market. Check out our showroom page for the Mazda CX-9 here.

2021 Peugeot 5008

  • Arrives in early 2021
  • Uber-stylish option gets sexier
  • Revised cabin tech, more active safety

This French seven-seat MPV on stilts has been given a makeover in keeping with its 3008 little brother, and should touch down in Australia over the first quarter of 2021 with petrol and diesel power.

Externally there are new headlights and a new grille, new wheels, and revised trims for the bumpers. Inside, the existing 8.0-inch touchscreen infotainment has been replaced with a 10.0-inch unit, and the digital display in front of the driver measures 12.3 inches.

An update to the active safety systems has brought a night vision system capable of seeing more than 200 metres beyond the high-beam headlights. The autonomous emergency braking detects pedestrians and cyclists between 5 and 140km/h, and there’s lane-keeping with steering assist, adaptive cruise with stop/go, and a better traffic-sign recognition system.

Engine will again includes a turbocharged 1.6-litre four-cylinder petrol (120kW and 240Nm), mated with an eight-speed automatic transmission. The range-topper has a 2.0-litre four-cylinder diesel (133kW and 400Nm).

Unlike its updated 3008 little brother, there’s to be no plug-in hybrid (from launch at least).

Peugeot says the updated MY21 5008 will arrive in the first quarter of 2021. Check out our showroom page for the Peugeot 5008 here.

2021 Kia Sorento hybrid and PHEV

  • PHEV expected first, then hybrid. Both expected for 2021
  • Electrified options will join petrol and diesel models
  • To be Kia’s most expensive car to date

Kia plans to put the petrol-electric Sorento hybrid and Sorento plug-in hybrid (PHEV) on sale in Australia from 2021. If all goes to plan, the Kia will therefore become the only vehicle on sale in Australia with diesel, petrol, regular hybrid, and PHEV options.

“[Kia head office] has given us the green light to develop, for our market, both the plug-in and the hybrid for our Sorento,” said Kia Australia’s head of product planning, Roland Rivero, adding that the PHEV will likely hit our market first, in the first quarter of next year.

The PHEV pairs a 1.6-litre petrol engine with an electric motor and water-cooled 13.8kWh-capacity battery, that can be recharged via a wall plug. System outputs are 195kW/350Nm and there’s a projected 40-50km of pure electric driving there before the petrol engine needs to deploy.

Given the Sorento GT-Line diesel costs $64,990 drive-away, it’s easy to imagine the PHEV version will launch above $70,000, making it the priciest Kia SUV yet in Australia.

The Sorento Hybrid’s new powertrain pairs the same 1.6-litre as the PHEV with a 1.49 kWh lithium-ion battery pack under the floor, a less powerful electric motor, and six-speed automatic. The system makes 169kW/350Nm. Kia is yet to release fuel efficiency figures, but for context the diesel’s claim is 6.1 litres per 100km.

Kia says the new MY21 Sorento hybrid and PHEV models will arrive in 2021 to sell alongside the existing petrol and diesel models. Check out our showroom page for the Kia Sorento here.

2021 Isuzu MU-X

  • Diesel 4×4 to be based on D-Max ute
  • These pics are from a patent office
  • Expect better in-car tech, safety features

Isuzu’s redesigned rival for the Mitsubishi Pajero Sport and Ford Everest has been revealed in patent images from Japan. As before, it’ll probably sit on a reworked D-Max ute platform with different rear suspension.

That means it can keep the utilitarian, frame-based 4×4 abilities of the current model replete with a new 140kW/450Nm 3.0-litre diesel, rear diff-lock, and tweaked low-range 4×4 (unlike these other city slickers), and will also get the new D-Max’s vastly nicer cabin and plethora of active safety.

Autoweek Netherlands recently shared these rather unflattering images of the redesigned MU-X from the Japanese Patent Office.

They reveal an SUV with a strong familial resemblance to its ute counterpart, with headlights and a grille that appear almost identical. But the front bumper has a smoother, more car-like look. The rear features slimmer tail lights than the current MU-X.

The current MU-X was introduced in Australia just under a year and a half after its D-Max counterpart, back in late 2013. Despite its advanced age, the MU-X remains a strong seller. Last year, Isuzu sold 8419 – more than the Ford EverestMitsubishi Pajero Sport, and Toyota Fortuner.

Isuzu Ute Australia isn’t saying much regarding the new MU-X, but expect a global reveal in 2021. Check out our showroom page for the Isuzu MU-X here.

2021 Skoda Kodiaq

  • ‘PA’ update expected to arrive locally during 2021
  • RS flagship to ditch diesel, go petrol
  • Spy pics hint at design tweaks front and rear

Skoda is due to update its large seven-seat SUV in 2021, with spy images hinting at revisions to the head- and tail lights, bumpers, and grille.

Inside we’re expecting the Volkswagen Group’s latest infotainment systems (including wireless Apple CarPlay), and more sophisticated driver assistance systems should also feature.

At the top of the range, Skoda’s local arm confirmed with CarExpert the updated RS performance version will ditch the 176kW/500Nm diesel it currently runs, in favour of petrol power.

It’s expected the new Kodiaq RS will feature a version of the EA888 2.0-litre turbo petrol engine shared with various performance models like the Volkswagen Golf GTI and R, as well as the Skoda Octavia RS and Superb.

Europe will get 48V mild-hybrids and likely an ‘iV’ PHEV, but we doubt those will come to Australia for the time being. We’re expecting the MY21 Kodiaq range to lob before the end of next year.

Skoda Australia expects the updated Kodiaq to arrive before the end of 2021. Check out our showroom page for the Skoda Kodiaq here.

Up in the air

Nissan Pathfinder

There’s a full model redesign set for the US in 2021. “Nothing is recognisable from the current version,” said a source familiar with product plans when talking with Automotive News. “There’s not one bit of that car that would remind you of the current Pathfinder.”

You can expect design language outside and inside to resemble the smaller new-generation Nissan Rogue/X-Trail, which has been locked in for Australia before the end of 2021. But we don’t know whether it’ll made made RHD for Australia in the US like the current version. Stay tuned.

Jeep Grand Wagoneer

After more than 25 years in the wilderness, Jeep has dug into its back catalogue and dusted off a much-loved badge for its new flagship seven-seater. It’ll sit above the Grand Cherokee and is based on the Ram 1500.

It’ll sport a bold design as previewed by the late-stage concept, a high-tech cabin full of screens, and a PHEV option. As for Australia? Jeep has had nothing to say about local plans, so it hasn’t been locked in – but it hasn’t been ruled out either. Like the Pathfinder, stay tuned.

Ford Everest

Confidential plans about the 2022 Ford Ranger and Everest leaked ahead of a drip-feed of information about the new models, which kicks off later this year.

The new ute-based, Prado-rivalling 4×4 is expected to offer a 2.0-litre BiTurbo diesel, a plug-in hybrid option, a diesel V6 range-topper, a 12.8-inch centre screen, and new Wildtrak X and Platinum spec grades. We have a lot more details on that here.

Want something smaller? Hold off buying your new mid-size SUV: These ones are coming soon.

Mike Costello
Mike Costello is a Senior Contributor at CarExpert.
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