High-rise wagons with off-roading abilities – or pretensions – are now the most popular pick for Aussie parents, and the catalogue of fresh family-sized SUVs for 2016 reflects that.
The year’s arrivals are headlined by the likes of Volkswagen’s long-awaited second-gen Tiguan and Mazda’s next-gen, turbocharged CX-9.
There is some innovation in medium and large sedans – long the family mainstay – but it’s SUVs in the driver’s seat.
The next Tiguan looks set to remove the main criticism of VW’s soft-roader – that it lacks cabin and cargo space – by growing 60mm longer and 30mm wider. Cargo capacity will grow to a far more competitive 521 litres, expanding to 617 litres with the rear seat slid forward.
Expect to see front- and all-wheel-drive variants with power from a range of small turbo petrol and diesel engines. VW’s second-gen compact SUV will bring safety equipment such as pedestrian detection, automated city emergency braking and lane-keeping assist systems.
Mazda’s new CX-9 (pictured top), as the last of the line-up to adopt SkyActiv engine tech, will bring a new 2.5-litre petrol turbo engine in place of the outgoing model’s 3.7-litre V6. The big Mazda SUV, which is due in June, will continue to be offered in both front-wheel and all-wheel drive forms. It should use a lot less fuel than its predecessor, without sacrificing real-world performance.
There is also a freshened SUV from Toyota – an updated RAV4, with early examples landing shortly before Christmas 2015. The mid-life facelift brings new styling, a stiffer body and revised suspension tuning. But the more significant update is possibly the active safety package, which uses camera and radar systems to provide active cruise control and auto emergency braking.
A facelifted Holden Captiva will arrive early in 2016. New frontal styling incorporating LED daytime running lights will introduce the updated version, which will boast a redesigned interior featuring Apple CarPlay and Android Auto multimedia connectivity. There will be five-seat and seven-seat options within a single model, with Holden dropping its dual-model Captiva 5 and Captiva 7 strategy.
Two big players size-wise, the Ford Edge and Ford Explorer, should make an impression, too. The Edge slots into the local Blue Oval line-up in an effort to fill the tyre tracks of the outgoing Territory. The Explorer, meanwhile, sits above the medium Kuga, and brings the capacity to seat seven.
A sibling for the VW Tiguan, the Skoda Yeti, will also arrive in next-gen form, underpinned by the Volkswagen group’s MQB chassis component set. We’ll also see Skoda’s as yet unnamed large SUV during 2016.
The plug-in hybrid variant of Mitsubishi’s updated Outlander is likely to lob in January, and Kia is set to spring a new Sportage on us in March.
In more traditional family form, Volkswagen is poised to take its midsize wagon off the beaten track with a new Alltrack version of the polished Passat (pictured above). And, finally, Skoda’s big sedan/liftback and wagon, the Superb, will be reborn as a classier, more upmarket model about April.