From sport to luxury: The freshest new cars for fall
2017 Nissan Armada
Availability: Fall, 2016
The outlook: There's still thirst for traditional body-on-frame SUVs in the US due to their towing and off-road abilities, and Nissan's generational update to its eight-passenger Armada looks like a robust entrant for the category. Nissan bases the new Armada on its world-market Patrol model, and it shows off the same future-forward exterior design over a ruggedly capable frame. A direct-injection V8 gives it plenty of power.
The outlook: Ford's F-150 may dominate the pickup truck market, but there's plenty of interest in Honda's reborn alternative. The Ridgeline mixes conveniences learned from the passenger-car market with truck capability. Honda finally put the first-generation Ridgeline out to pasture in 2014, and now it's back with this all-new version, showing off a more traditional truck design yet retaining its car-like ride and trademark features like a two-way tailgate and in-bed trunk. The Ridgeline holds its own with 5,000 pounds of towing capacity while its unibody construction ensures a comfortable ride.
The outlook: Jaguar's first-ever SUV might be met with a few puzzled looks, as the British automaker cut its teeth on sports cars, but if Porsche can sell the Cayenne and Macan, there's room in the market for the F-Pace. Along with a typically elegant interior derived from Jaguar's passenger-car heritage, the company can count Land Rover as its secret weapon. As a unit of Tata Motors, Jaguar/Land Rover shares technology, meaning the F-Pace benefits from some of Land Rover's superlative off-road technologies.
The outlook: Volvo entered a new era with last year's XC90, a crossover SUV that set a very high bar for its segment and high expectations for Volvo's next flagship sedan, the S90. Although competing with mid-size cars like the Audi A6 and BMW 5 Series, the S90 promises luxury features similar to the XC90. Remarkably, has decided that all new internal-combustion-engined models will be powered exclusively by four-cylinder powerplants. However, a combination of forced induction and hybrid electric propulsion technology promises ample power.
The outlook: Lincoln has long been a legendary US luxury brand, but for far too long, that reputation is the product of distant history, not the present. With its Continental, Ford's premium marque is not only reviving one of its most important models, it's attempting to reclaim its place in the luxury-sedan spotlight. Lincoln fits the new Continental with signature elements including 30-way power adjustable massaging seats and a 19-speaker Revel audio system. Taking a modern tack, the Continental eschews larger V8 engines for an equally powerful but more economical V6.
The outlook: Infiniti is the midst of reenergizing its lineup, and the head-turning design of the 2017 Q60 Coupe will certainly earn it plenty of interest. The two-door benefits from many of the innovations of Infiniti's Q50 sedan, although instead of an optional hybrid powertrain, Infiniti is aiming to bolster its sport credentials with a 400-horsepower turbocharged V6. For those people more into style, Infiniti will offer engines with less output, and likely better fuel economy.
The outlook: The latest-generation Prius came out with a challenging exterior design, but it's hard to argue with its impressive 50-plus mpg fuel economy. For 2017, Toyota is taking the range a step further with its Prius Prime, a new plug-in version. With a lithium-ion battery pack, the Prime can operate for up to 22 miles as a pure electric vehicle, after which it switches to full hybrid mode. A rating of 120 mpg equivalent sounds very impressive, but that figure will depend on how frequently owners can plug it in.
The outlook: With the Ioniq, Hyundai has created a new platform with different levels of electrification available in its drivetrain. The company showed off pure electric, hybrid and plug-in hybrid versions of the hatchback at the New York Auto Show earlier this year, with the promise of coming to market later this year. The Korean automaker has been quiet on details, but rumors suggest its first model could be the Ioniq Electric, boasting a 28 kilowatt-hour battery pack and a range of around 110 miles.
The outlook: The newest-generation Honda Civic came out last year, and it has proven to be a formidable entrant in the small car segment. Honda is now following sedan and coupe versions of the new Civic with a hatchback variant, promising more usable cargo space. As a bonus, the design looks even more aggressive than the earlier examples. Honda says it will only offer this five-door variant with the Civic's more powerful turbocharged drivetrain, nixing the base engine offered in the sedan and coupe.
The outlook: Subaru's loyal fanbase has a reason to rejoice this year, as the automaker is coming out with a new generation of its entry-level Impreza range. The Impreza, masquerading as a typical small sedan and hatchback, comes standard with all-wheel drive, giving it a unique foul-weather edge over competitors. This latest version increases in size, offering more passenger and cargo room, while Subaru has imbued the engine with greater output. The new Impreza also serves as the first taste enthusiasts will have for a new generation of the performance-oriented WRX and STI models.
The outlook: An entirely new automotive brand is a rare occurrence these days, although in this case, Genesis owes its provenance to Hyundai, with at least one carryover model, the G80. However, the G90 is the new brand's true launch vehicle, a full-size luxury flagship sedan with a design that gives it presence on the road. The G90 hits a number of key luxury notes, including a quiet cabin, excellent audio system and ready power. And while it may have some rough edges compared to a Mercedes-Benz S-Class or BMW 7 Series, Genesis is likely to undercut competitor prices by a substantial margin, making the G90 a potentially interesting mix of luxury and value.