NEW YORK AUTO SHOW: SUVs take center stage, again

2019 Acura RDX 1.jpg
2019 Acura RDX (Sinclair Broadcast Group / Jill Ciminillo)

I have a feeling of déjà vu when I say this, but here it goes: The big news at the 2018 New York International Auto Show is SUVs.

The past few years of auto shows have been all about the utility vehicles, and this show is no different as more than half of the press reveals in New York are, you guessed it, SUVs.

This makes sense considering that SUV and crossover nameplates accounted for 42 percent of all vehicle sales in 2017 – a 39.5 percent increase in market share in a year’s time.

We’ve already spilled the beans about the Lincoln Aviator, so here’s a roundup of some of the other SUV news from this year’s show:

2019 Acura RDX

The RDX is completely redesigned for 2019, and Acura calls it “the most extensive overhaul in decades.”

It will be equipped with a 2.0-liter turbocharged engine that delivers 272 horsepower and 280 pound-feet of torque. RDX also gets the only 10-speed transmission in its segment.

The biggest news with the RDX, however, is what Acura calls its “tech forward” cabin, including features such as the True Touchpad Interface, a 10.2-inch infotainment display screen, 3D premium audio, a 10.5-inch, four-color head-up display, Apple CarPlay and a 4G LTE Wi-Fi hotspot.

No pricing has been announced, but Acura says the all-new RDX will be in dealers mid-year.

2019 Cadillac XT4

Cashing in on the compact SUV craze, Cadillac finally gives the XT5 a younger sibling. The XT4 will have a 2.0-liter, 4-cylinder turbocharged engine that delivers 237 horsepower and 258 pound-feet of torque.

XT4 will come standard as a front-wheel-drive vehicle, and all-wheel drive will be available across all trims.

Cadillac overhauls the user experience infotainment system (otherwise known as CUE), creating an intuitive interface and (thank goodness) bringing back an honest-to-goodness volume dial. Other tech features include near-field communication, a 15-watt wireless phone charger, four standard USB ports and an 8-inch interface screen.

The XT4 is slated to go on sale this fall with a base price of $35,790, and customers can begin pre-ordering at the end of March.

2019 Hyundai Santa Fe

In addition to a complete redesign, the Santa Fe has some nomenclature changes as well. Previously, Hyundai had a Santa Fe (3-row) and Santa Fe Sport (2-row). The Santa Fe Sport moniker goes away, and the Santa Fe for 2019 will be the smaller, 2-row variant, while the Santa Fe XL will be the 3-row variant.

The big news here is that the Santa Fe will have an available diesel engine. In total, there will be three engine variants: a 2.4-liter, 4-cylinder; a turbocharged 2.0-liter, 4-cylinder; and a 2.2-liter turbodiesel engine.

In safety news, Santa Fe adds a couple cool new features including automatic reverse braking and a rear occupant alert that will honk the horn if it senses movement in the rear seat after the driver leaves and locks the doors.

The new Santa Fe will hit dealers this summer

2019 Lexus UX

Following the small SUV trend, Lexus dubs the UX an “urban explorer” with a petite length of 177 inches.

UX will have two powertrain options: a front-wheel-drive UX 200 with a 2.0-liter, 4-cylinder engine and an all-wheel-drive UX 250h, which will have the fourth-generation hybrid drive system. The UX 250h will have a projected combined output of 176 horsepower while getting an estimated 38 mpg in combined driving.

The big news, however, is that the UX will come standard with Apple CarPlay, which is something that parent company Toyota Motor Sales has been shunning.

UX will start production this fall and go on sale in December. No pricing has been announced.

2019 Subaru Forester

Safety seems to be a huge theme this year among the SUV set, and the fifth-generation Forester is no different. In addition to standard all-wheel drive, it now comes with standard EyeSight driver assist technology, which includes pre-collision braking, adaptive cruise control and lane keep assist. Another new safety feature: reverse automatic braking.

Forester will be built on the Subaru Global Platform and is equipped with an updated 182-horsepower, 2.5-liter Boxer engine with auto stop/start engine.

The cool bit of tech introduced on the new Forester, however, is DriverFocus. The system uses facial recognition to monitor driver alertness, but it can also recognize up to five drivers and remember their presets for seat position, climate and the multifunction display.

Pricing and availability haven’t yet been announced.

2019 Toyota RAV4

For 2019, RAV4 enters its fifth generation and manages to maintain its petite proportions with a decrease in length of 0.2 inches and an increase in width of 0.4 inches.

RAV4 will once again be available in gasoline and hybrid variants, powered by a 2.5-liter inline 4-cylinder engine. All-wheel drive will be available with a rear driveline disconnect.

Continuing with the safety theme, Toyota Safety Sense 2.0 will be standard and includes forward collision mitigation, adaptive cruise control, lane departure alert with steering assist, lane trace assist and road sign assist.

Similar to its lux-level Lexus sibling, RAV4 also gets Apple CarPlay integration. Other tech features include hands-free access to Amazon Alexa, standard Entune 3.0, up to 5 USB ports, available JBL premium Audio and Qi wireless charging.

No pricing has been announced, but the gasoline version of the RAV4 is slated to hit dealers by the end of 2018, with the Hybrid following in early 2019.

Volkswagen Atlas Cross Sport Concept

The Atlas Cross Sport Concept is on the larger side of the SUVs revealed in NY, and it’s built on the same platform as big brother, three-row Atlas. It is 7.5 inches shorter than Atlas, but retains the same wheelbase.

The concept has a plug-in hybrid powertrain, utilizing two electric motors and a V-6 engine for a combined output of 355 horsepower. The Atlas Cross Sport Concept is designed to achieve 26 miles of all-electric range.

The actual production vehicle will be built in Chattanooga, Tenn., beginning in 2019.