Medium SUVs are the most popular type of new vehicle in Australia. This year, the segment has a 20 per cent market share here, meaning it accounts for one-in-five of all new vehicle sales.
It’s safe to say that any brand worth its figurative salt, is pulling out all the stops to grab more sales. That competition is something you can use to your advantage.
2021 Ford Escape
The previous iteration of Ford’s Escape was an underrated option, with car-like handling and sharpened pricing on account of low demand.
The new one is a departure, and not just in terms of its more curvaceous design. It’s roomier inside than its predecessor thanks to larger overall dimensions, yet also up to 90kg lighter due to a new platform.
It also has new infotainment; FordPass Connect app services; and standard active safety tech such as autonomous emergency braking, traffic-sign camera, blind-spot monitoring, lane-keeping assist, tyre-pressure monitoring, and active cruise control.
Both front- and all-wheel drive will be offered, with most grades using an unusually (for the class) powerful 2.0-litre petrol engine making 183kW of power and 387Nm of torque. It’s mated to an eight-speed automatic.
There’s also a plug-in hybrid option with a claimed electric-only driving range of up to 50km, thanks to the 14.4kWh battery. Combined engine and motor power is 167kW.
There are only three spec levels: the base grade ($35,990 before on-road costs), the ‘sporty’ ST-Line ($37,990 FWD, $40,990 AWD, $52,490 PHEV), and the ritzy Vignale ($46,590 FWD and $49,590 AWD).
The new Ford Escape is set to launch in September/October this year. You can find more content on the new Escape here.
2021 Hyundai Tucson
The outgoing Tucson has been one of the top-sellers during its life cycle, but next to the space-age new model looks rather dour.
Hyundai’s bold new sheetmetal (the design language is called ‘parametric dynamics’) combines creases with curves in a way that makes it stand out irrespective of your opinion.
The interior design includes a wraparound dashtop, and the availability of dual 10.25-inch screens for infotainment and instrumentation. The are more sophisticated materials, and Mercedes-style ambient cabin lighting.
There’s wireless Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, satellite navigation, Bluetooth connectivity for two phones, and a new native voice control system designed to be more natural than before.
The Tucson will be available with a full suite of active safety assist including the usual (AEB, blind-spot monitor etc), plus safe exit warning, which beeps if the driver is about to open their door into the path of traffic or a cyclist.
The 2021 Tucson will be available with updated versions of the existing engines. That means a naturally-aspirated 2.0-litre four-cylinder petrol, a turbocharged 1.6-litre petrol, and a 2.0-litre turbo-diesel.
The hybrid and PHEV versions are on the cars but not yet confirmed, though a 215kW 2.5-litre Tucson N-Line is also expected.
Two versions of the Tucson will be available globally, but Australia will only get the larger option. The new Tucson is 15mm longer than a Toyota RAV4 with a 65mm longer wheelbase, although both are the same width.
The new Tucson is set to launch in the first half of 2021. You can find more content on it here.
2021 Nissan X-Trail
One of the most popular models on the market, the X-Trail is poised for a major revision with the fourth-generation model. It was revealed in the USA – where it is called Rogue – during June this year, though it’s still up to 12 months away from Australian shores as production gears up.
The design doesn’t entirely revert to the boxiness of the first two generations, but it’s certainly a departure from the outgoing car. It retains the current car’s two-level boot, and those big back seats – now more easily accessed by near-90-degree back doors.
As well as sporting far more modern infotainment (including wireless CarPlay), and a slick new instrument cluster and head-up display, it also gets plenty of active safety features like AEB, blind-spot warning, cross-traffic alert, a 360-degree camera, active cruise control, and all the rest.
The range of active safety features are supported by a new electric power steering system. Nissan says a new Vehicle Motion Control system works with the all-wheel drive to brake the inside wheels in a corner and tighten the car’s line
The all-wheel drive system packs a new electro-hydraulic clutch, which is designed to more accurately and quickly shuffle power to where it needs to be when slip is detected.
The American-market Rogue will feature a carryover 2.5-litre naturally-aspirated petrol engine at launch that should also come to Australia, but the range is expected to feature an e-Power range-extender hybrid option from 2022.
The e-Power system uses a petrol engine solely to generate charge that powers the electric drive motor. Nissan Australia managing director Stephen Lester has previously indicated his desire to have one third of the company’s range electrified by 2022.
The new X-Trail is set to launch around the middle of 2021, potentially into the third quarter. You can find more content on it here.
2021 Mitsubishi Outlander
Mitsubishi will reveal an all-new version of its crucial Outlander mid-sized SUV next year. The current Outlander has been on sale since 2012, although it received a significant facelift in 2015.
The new model will be inspired by the Engelberg Tourer concept revealed at the 2019 Geneva motor show and pictured above. It will pack more active safety features than the current model.
Under the skin, the Outlander will presumably be the first Mitsubishi built on the latest Renault-Nissan-Mitsubishi Alliance SUV platform, likely the same one underpinning the latest X-Trail.
Details about the engines haven’t yet been confirmed, but the range-topping Outlander PHEV is expected to feature a larger battery than the current plug-in hybrid model, extending all-electric range from 50km to around 70km. This might launch a year after petrol-only models.
The Engelberg Tourer concept had a dual-motor electric drive system, but Mitsubishi hasn’t confirmed whether that will make its way into the production car.
The new Outlander is set to launch around the end of 2021, potentially into 2022. You can find more content on it here.
2021 Mazda CX-5 update
The Mazda has been relegated to second-in-class behind the RAV4, but an update revealed in the USA a few months ago will come to Australia. A local spokesman said “we are currently working on finalising local model lineup and specification”.
The CX-5 won’t look particularly different, but it will pick up a bigger 10.25-inch screen running the company’s new Mazda Connect infotainment system debuted in the Mazda 3, including Android Auto and Apple CarPlay.
The new screen is notably bigger than that of the current CX-5, which uses an 8.0-inch touchscreen running the older MZD-Connect system.
The updated CX-5 is set to launch here, though we’re still seeking precise dates. We’d expect some further details soon. You can find more content on it here.
2020 Subaru Forester 2.5i Sport variant addition
Subaru has announced some running tweaks to the Forester range headlined by a towing capacity bumped from 1500kg to 1800kg. But the headline is a new Sport grade.
While it lacks performance upgrades to match go-fast turbo Foresters of yesteryear, it gets some nice additions like black alloys, LED fog lights, a sunroof, black and orange highlights inside and out, and water-repellent grey cloth seat trim.
The Forester Sport hits showrooms from October at $41,990 before on-road costs. You can find more content on the Subaru staple here.
2021 Honda CR-V update
The upgraded CR-V is rolling out nationally during September, but it’s worth flagging here.
The running changes include new bumpers and wheel designs, a more thoughtful centre console area with a wireless charging pad made available, and the Honda Sensing active safety pack fitted to all grades bar the base Vi variant.
There are now Vi, VTi, VTi X, VTi L and VTi LX spec options, with front- and all-wheel drive, and either five- or seven-seater cabins.
The updated CR-V is now in showrooms priced between $30,490 and $47,490 before on-road costs. You can find more content on it here.
2021 Volkswagen Tiguan update
Volkswagen’s classy mid-sized SUV gets a revised look inspired by the Mk8 Golf. The headlights feature new LED lights, front bumper, new taillights, and badging.
Changes are similarly low-key inside. The new Volkswagen steering wheel features, as does a new climate control binnacle with touch-based controls in keeping with the new Golf.
Engines appear carryover for us – meaning no hybrids due to production shortages – though the new 235kW and 420Nm Tiguan R with active AWD and a DSG is on the wish list.
The updated Tiguan is set to launch here in 2021. You can find more content on it here.
2021 MG HS PHEV
The China-made plug-in hybrid MG HS is on track to touch down in Australia in the first half of 2021, with the promise of class-leading electric range.
The e-HS is powered by a turbocharged 1.5-litre four-cylinder petrol engine mated to a 90kW electric motor and a 16.6kWh lithium–ion battery. Power is sent to the front wheels through a 10-speed automatic transmission.
Pricing for the e-HS hasn’t been locked in, but the current petrol-powered flagship (the Essence Anfield Edition) is priced from $40,680 drive-away.
The updated MG HS is set to launch here in H1 of 2021. You can find more content on it here.
2021 Peugeot 3008 update, including new PHEV
This French crossover isn’t a huge seller next to some of its Japanese and Korean rivals, but it’s arguably the best-looking of the bunch.
The 2021 3008 takes an evolutionary approach. The new grille melds into the headlights, which have been redesigned to more closely mimic those of the 508 fastback and wagon. The claw-shaped taillights has also been updated.
There’s a new 10-inch touchscreen inside, and while the unorthodox small steering wheel, high-set instruments, and pared-back centre console are carried over, the graphics on the 12.3-inch driver display are new.
Peugeot has expanded the range of active safety features, adding a night vision camera to the options list.
Petrol and diesel models will be touching down locally in the first quarter of 2021, while new plug-in hybrid options are expected to follow before the middle of the year.
As implied, it will be available with two PHEV powertrains in Australia, offering a choice of front-wheel drive (165kW) or all-wheel drive (220kW). The former has 56km of electric-only range, the latter 59km.
The updated 3008 is set to launch here in early-ish 2021. You can find more content on it here.
2020 Australian sales race
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