Five Brand New Sport Utility Vehicles for 20112011 has seen a number of automakers release brand new sport utility vehicles that significantly improve on the models that they are replacing. In addition to their design tweaks and upgrades, looming corporate average fuel economy regulations have led to a serious investment in more efficient drivetrains in almost every one of these models. In some cases the changes are dramatic, while certain other automakers offer a more evolutionary take on their refreshed vehicle platforms. Let's take a look at five brand new sport utility vehicles for 2011.
Photos courtesy of respective manufacturers
The redesigned 2011 Infiniti QX56 proves that even large truck-based luxury suvs can be tuned for better fuel economy. This new sport-utility vehicle features a 400 horsepower, 5.6-liter V-8 that also produces 413 lb-ft of torque. Despite its high output, the V-8 returns 14 percent better fuel mileage than it did for 2010, coming in at 20-mpg on the highway. A new seven-speed automatic transmission transmits the eight-cylinder grunt to either the rear or all four wheels if four-wheel drive is selected. Towing capacity for the QX56 tops out at 8,500 lbs.
The changes made to the QX56's drivetrain and platform haven't reduced its comfort level as it still offers an extensive list of luxury features, including adaptive cruise control, full leather seating, a heated steering wheel and a voice-activated navigation system.
The 2011 Jeep Grand Cherokee is one of the most off-road ready in our crop of new sport utility vehicles. The five-passenger SUV offers better interior room yet still maintains a platform size that is manageable out on the trail. Three separate four-wheel drive systems can be installed underneath the 2011 Grand Cherokee, including the Selec-Terrain unit which offers five modes of adaptability to driving conditions.
Engine choices have also been improved for 2011, with an all-new 3.6-liter V-6 engine now standard. Rated at 290 horsepower and 260 lb-ft of torque, this engine returns fuel mileage of 22-mpg on the highway and is matched with a five-speed automatic transmission. Those seeking more power can opt for a 5.7-liter HEMI V-8 that generates 360 horsepower and 390 lb-ft of torque. Transmission choice remains the same, and thanks to advanced engine management technology the HEMI sees 19-mpg in highway driving.
The 2011 Ford Edge is a crossover SUV that is better suited to the boulevard than the wilderness, but its five-passenger seating and 69 cubic feet of cargo space make it a practical option for families not interested in a minivan. The Edge has been given a technology update to go with its new look and feel, with the MyFord Touch LCD display system, available adaptive cruise control and a new navigation system rounding out its list of installed gadgets.
The 2011 Ford Edge is a fuel-efficient entry into the list of new sport utility vehicles, starting out with a 3.5-liter, 285 horsepower V-6 rated at 27-mpg on the highway. A 3.7-liter, 305 horsepower six-cylinder engine comes with the Sport trim, and it provides fuel mileage of 25-mpg during highway cruising. A six-speed automatic transmission is matched with both power plants, and the option of all-wheel drive is also available.
The 2011 Kia Sorento is a compact option for those seeking a seven-seat SUV. This affordable SUV is all-new for 2011, and its larger dimensions give it an additional interior room advantage over some other new sport utility vehicles in its class. In addition to its three rows of seating, the 2011 Sorento can also swallow up to a maximum of 72.5 cubic feet of gear with the rear accommodations folded forward.
The Sorento can be had in either front-wheel or all-wheel drive editions. Value-oriented SUV shoppers will be attracted to the 2.4-liter, four-cylinder base engine found in Sorento. Offering 175 horsepower and 169 lb-ft of torque, this engine is rated at 29-mpg on the highway and is shifted through either a six-speed manual or a six-speed automatic transmission. A more robust 3.5-liter V-6 (rated at 276 horsepower and 248 lb-ft of torque) is also available, and it is matched exclusively with a six-speed automatic. Highway fuel economy drops to 26-mpg with this engine.
The 2011 Ford Explorer is a radical reboot of one of Ford's most popular SUVs. This new sport utility vehicle shifts into crossover territory thanks to the adoption of a unibody frame and the availability of front-wheel drive. Four-wheel drive remains an option for the Explorer and is bolstered by the new Terrain Management System. Ford has positioned the 2011 Explorer to compete with high capacity SUVs thanks to its seven passenger seating and good interior volume. As much as 80.7 cubic feet of gear can be stowed in the new sport utility vehicle with the rear rows out of the picture.
A V-8 option is no longer offered on the 2011 Ford Explorer - instead, it has been replaced with a 283 horsepower V-6 engine that is also capable of generating 252 lb-ft of torque. This 3.5-liter unit is matched with a six-speed automatic transmission, and the vehicle's maximum tow rating comes in at 5,000 lbs.