Among the hottest offerings for 2015 is a collection of small and midsize sport utility vehicles. All new in the ever-growing, small-but-tall class are the 2016 Fiat 500X, 2016 Honda HR-V, and 2016 Mazda CX-3. Here’s a run-down of what’s ahead in this burgeoning segment for 2015.
2016 FIAT 500X: The Fiat 500X is a new crossover utility version of Fiat’s other five-door, the 500L. The X is sculpted with a more bulbous hood and more curved roof. It rides higher, but has a lower top than any other Fiat. The interior is tasteful and trendy, with a gauge cluster comprising three instrument binnacles, a flat-bottom steering wheel, and classy trim-colors.
A 1.4-liter turbocharged four-cylinder engine touts 160 horsepower and 184 lb.-ft. of torque and is matched to a six-speed manual transmission; a 180-hp, 2.4-liter “Tigershark” four-cylinder gets a nine-speed automatic. It comes in front- or all-wheel drive, which is a first for Fiat in North America. Drivers can program Auto, Sport, and Traction modes. It goes on sale in the middle of 2015.
Fiat 500X video with Jason (head of brand), Roberto (head of design) and Art (chief engineer).
2016 HONDA HR-V: The all-new HR-V crossover is a new class of vehicle for Honda. It comes in front-drive and AWD versions, rides on the underpinnings of the Honda Fit, and is a smaller version of the recently updated CR-V, borrowing a similar front fascia, but with a squat and fun look overall that comes from its large fender flares, high roofline, and rounded sidelines.
It is powered by a 1.8-liter four-cylinder rated at 138 hp and 127 lb.-ft. of torque, matched to a continuously variable transmission (CVT) or a six-speed manual on front-drive versions only. Although pint-sized, it features Honda’s “Magic Seat,” which folds and flips the second-row seat for more configuration options and storage space.
2016 MAZDA CX-3: The all-new CX-3 is a small, stout, and sporty compact utility vehicle based on the Mazda2 hatchback, and offered in front- or Mazda’s next-generation AWD. Powered by Mazda’s SKYACTIV-G 2.0-liter engine (horsepower has not been announced), with a six-speed automatic transmission, it has been engineered for responsive driving and environmental thoughtfulness.
2016 MAZDA CX-5: An updated 2016 CX-5 crossover, this model combines sporty drive and feel with utility vehicle practicality, and has slightly-revised styling with a new trapezoidal grille and large wheel arches. LED lighting is available at the front and rear, with sophisticated new interior trims and more comfortable seating.
Standard power is provided by a 155-horsepower 2.0-liter four cylinder, with a choice of a six-speed manual (in front-wheel drive only) or a six-speed automatic (which can be ordered with all-wheel drive also) on Sport models, Touring, and Grand Touring models. Also on tap is a 184-hp, 2.5-liter four-cylinder, available with the automatic transmission only that gets up to 29 mpg combined.
2016 FORD EXPLORER: Ford’s popular SUV gets an updated exterior, a new engine and an all-new, luxury-level Platinum edition that will be priced near $50,000 and be laden with upscale features and technology; it will wear the first Ford Oval badge that isn’t blue — it’s platinum.
Replacing the 2.0-liter EcoBoost four-cylinder engine currently offered as a mid-level engine, the newest Explorer will now have an available 2.3-liter EcoBoost that will get “at least” 270 hp and 300 lb.-ft. of torque and be offered in front- and all-wheel drive. Although this engine brings a 12.5-percent boost in horsepower, Ford says there will be no loss in overall fuel efficiency (the current engine is rated with 23 mpg combined). The 2.3-liter EcoBoost is paired with a six-speed automatic transmission and is optional on base, XLT and Limited trims and standard on the Sport and Platinum versions.
2016 KIA SORENTO: This popular midsize SUV that comes in five- or seven-passenger models grows larger and wider, has been updated outside and in, and gets more luxury features. It comes with a choice of three engines: a new 2.0-liter turbocharged four-cylinder engine that achieves 240 horsepower; a 2.4-liter inline-four GDI engine with new Electronic Intake Continuously Variable Valve Timing that produces 185 horses, or a 3.3-liter V-6 that will generate 290 hp. The front fascia is updated and gets a new version of Kia’s “tiger nose” grille.
2016 VOLVO XC90: The 2016 XC90 is part of a new generation of Volvo models that will be based on an adaptable Scalable Product Architecture (SPA) platform; it will underpin the replacements for every model Volvo offers in North America, including the next-generation 60 series (S60, V60, and XC60) and additional 90 series models to include an S90 flagship sedan and V90 wagon.
Smaller models in the 40 series will be based on new architecture to be shared with Geely. The new architecture is also lighter (it sheds close to 300 pounds) and will be powered by a 2.0-liter inline-four that will come in gasoline, diesel, and hybrid versions in a range of outputs; all will be mated to an eight-speed automatic transmission. Volvo says a supercharger, a turbocharger, and a hybrid electric assist will create “around 400 horsepower.”
2016 VOLVO V60 CROSS COUNTRY: Volvo V60 Cross Country models get bolder styling with more rugged capability and increased ground clearance for improved off-road competence. Everyday driving is also enhanced as a result of new torque vectoring technology and corner traction control. The V60 Cross Country launches with Volvo’s five-cylinder 250-hp gasoline engine with all-wheel drive coupled to an automatic transmission delivering a highly competitive 23 mpg.
— Sue Mead, Motor Matters
Copyright, Motor Matters, 2015