Manufacturers Add Comfort to New SUVs, Pickups

YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio – With gasoline prices just above $2 a gallon, consumers once again are returning to pickup trucks and SUVs when they visit dealer showrooms. In the Mahoning Valley, the Chevrolet Equinox has led sales of new cars since the start of the year and will have a small design upgrade for the new model year.

For those looking to drive off in a new SUV or truck, options remain plentiful, whether you’re looking for a work truck or a top-of-the-line SUV. With the 2016 models to arrive shortly in showrooms, there’s no shortage of redesigned products or altogether new lines.

“Audi has introduced the new Q3, which is a small SUV, a segment that Audi has never been in before,” says Pat Primm, Internet manager at Cascade Auto Group in Cuyahoga Falls. “The Q3 is going to be a volume car because of its price point and size. It’s going to bring a lot of younger clients into the Audi family.”

The Q3 starts at $33,700, he says, and will have most of the standard Audi features, including leather seats, Bluetooth connectivity and satellite radio.

For something a little more rugged with just as much comfort, the Jeep Grand Cherokee is a viable option, says Clay Campfield, sales manager at Bob & Chuck Eddy Chrysler Dodge Jeep Ram Fiat Alfa Romeo. The Grand Cherokee has been in line for an update for a year or two, but no date has been announced. Still, Ward’s Automotive recognized the SUV as having one of the world’s top-10 interiors.

“The Jeep Grand Cherokee goes head-to-head with Range Rover and Porsche. It is a luxury vehicle,” he says. “There’s anything you can find on any high-end luxury model around the world. We can get rear-seat DVD, in-car Internet, apps on the large screen systems and anything you can really imagine.”

Volvo, meanwhile, is updating its XC90 by “leaps and bounds,” says Chuck Masirovits, sales manager at Toyota and Volvo of Warren.

“They’re starting with a completely blank slate. It’s all completely new,” he relates. “There will be what they’re calling the Safety Connect app, which will let you unlock your car, start it or check fuel. All in all, it’s a pretty cool car.”

For pickup trucks, Chevrolet is introducing a diesel engine to the Colorado, something customers have been clamoring for, says Greenwood Chevrolet sales manager Nick Amendola in Austintown.

“The Colorado, which recently came back, is going to have a 2.8-liter, four-cylinder diesel engine to compete with Dodge,” he says. “People don’t need the big three-quarter ton trucks with a diesel. They’re looking for something smaller. With these diesels, there’s no smoke, there’s good mileage and they’re clean.”

Toyota unveiled a redesigned Tacoma pickup earlier this year and it’s starting to hit showrooms, Masirovits says, with an upgraded engine. While the look of the truck is “a departure but not radical” from the old model, customers will take note of the new engine.

“It’s an Atkinson Cycle 3.5-liter V6. That basically means it gets better fuel mileage than the old engine,” he says. “On top of that, it gets 278 horsepower, which is up from last year.”

Last year, the Ford F-150 made the change to an aluminum body from the traditional steel, reducing its weight by 700 pounds, says Jeff Stockman, Internet manager at Fairway Ford, Canfield. A year after the change, the F-150 features a few changes to the body and interior for the 2016 version.

The truck is also available with Ford’s Blind Spot Information System, which detects vehicles as they change lanes and signals the driver if it’s not safe to move. The system is available on most Ford vehicles, Stockman notes, as is adaptive cruise control.

“They are totally redesigned for this year. It’s really a truck the competition is trying follow as far as innovations and looks,” Stockman says. “That lower weight translates to better fuel economy, to a better ride and to a wider appeal for consumers.”

Pictured: Ford is sticking with an aluminum body for its 2016 F-150, cutting 700 pounds and improving fuel efficiency. The truck has a few small upgrades after last year’s redesign.

Copyright 2024 The Business Journal, Youngstown, Ohio.