Here we are having just finished playing Pomp and Circumstance for the graduating class of 2020, and we are almost ready to introduce the Class of 2021. No, I’m not talking about high school and college students, but instead the new SUVs that will be hitting your local dealerships sooner than you think. Each year, automakers come out with a new class of vehicles. Most of these entail simple incremental changes, like maybe an extra trim level, a little more horsepower on an existing engine, or more standard safety and infotainment features on a lower trim level of an existing model. However, once in a while, the manufacturers decide to take a great leap forward and come out with either an entirely new model or a new generation of an existing model. This is definitely the case with SUVs, with no fewer than 12 new and improved models from 9 different ready to take a bow as part of the Class of 2021.
Among the highlights are five new generations of famed models from General Motors, a Ford high-performance SUV based on a muscle car, a super-luxury SUV from Mercedes, and three different SUVs featuring alternative energy drivetrains. 2021 could prove to be a real watershed year in the advancement of the sport utility vehicle.
General Motors is introducing the next generation of a number of its most popular models for the Class of 2021. Starting at the top is a reimagining of the legendary Cadillac Escalade. This aspirational luxury SUV features a one-of-a-kind customizable display 38-inch OLED display, which uses OLEDs that produce more pixels than standard LED displays. This curved display has twice the pixel density of a 4K television. It also has the Super Cruise system for a true hands-free driving-assistance experience, including lane change on-demand functionality.
This luxury SUV will be powered by a 6.2-liter V8 engine with dynamic fuel management. The 2021 Escalade will also feature a 36-speaker sound system courtesy of the amazing folks at AKG, making this the first vehicle to feature audio technology from this cutting edge company. The 2021 Cadillac Escalade will come in five different trim levels: the Luxury, Premium Luxury, Sport, Premium Luxury Platinum, and Sport Platinum.
Chevrolet will be launching updates to three of its most popular SUVs, the Tahoe, Suburban, and Trailblazer. The 2021 Tahoe will have seating for up to nine passengers and room for up to 122.9 cubic feet of cargo. The base engine is a 5.3-liter EcoTec3 V8 gas engine with dynamic fuel management. Higher trims will offer the choice of a 6.2-liter EcoTec3 V8 and a Duramax 3.0-liter Turbo-Diesel. Each engine is paired with a 10-speed automatic transmission.
The 2021 Chevy Tahoe will feature a few new trim levels. The base model is the LT, with the top-of-the-line High Country, the sporty Premier, and the off-road Z71 trims available as well. The 2021 Chevy Suburban also underwent a major redesign and features the same engine options and four trim levels as the 2021 Tahoe. The Suburban also has room for up to nine passengers and an astounding 144.7 cubic feet of cargo space. Both the Tahoe and Suburban show Chevy’s commitment to providing the maximum passenger and cargo space on a large SUV, so you don’t have to compromise between your guests and your stuff.
The final next-generation Chevy SUV is the 2021 Trailblazer. There is plenty of room for you and your four favorite passengers in this new Trailblazer, and despite its cute looks, there is also 54.4 cubic feet for cargo as well. There are two engine options, an EcoTec 1.2-liter Turbo engine, and an EcoTec 1.3-liter engine. The standard transmission is a CVT with a 9-speed automatic transmission available as an option.
Not to be outdone, GMC has also hopped on the bandwagon introducing an all-new Yukon for 2021. The full-size SUV comes in standard Yukon and Yukon XL models, the latter for those who just can’t get enough of this muscular sport utility vehicle. The 2021 Yukon comes in three trims, the SLT, off-road AT4, and fully loaded Denali. There are also two engines to choose from, a 5.3-liter V8 engine with 355 horsepower and 383 lb-ft of torque and 6.2-liter V8 engine with 420 horsepower and 460 lb-ft of torque. Each engine is paired with a 10-speed automatic transmission to provide maximum control. The 2021 Yukon not only looks strong, but it’s strong enough to tow up to 8,400 pounds, making it the ideal camping road trip SUV.
South Korean luxury automaker Genesis joins the SUV market with the luxurious 2021 GV80. You’ve probably seen the great ad campaign featuring power couple John Legend and Chrissy Teigen promoting the “young luxury” of the 2021 Genesis GV80. Well, this midsize SUV meets and exceeds the expectations raised by the promotion. It starts with elegant styling inside and out, including heated and ventilated seats, including power reclining seats in the second row. There are also special features like remote smart park assist and Genesis’ advanced safety suite. The GV80 features two engines, a 2.5-liter turbocharged engine, and a powerful 3.5-liter twin-turbo engine. Best of all, the base MSRP is a very competitive $48,900, an amazing price for a luxury vehicle like the 2021 Genesis GV80.
Also coming to you from South Korea are a new generation of the Kia Sorento and a brand new compact SUV called the Kia Seltos. The 2021 Sorento is estimated to have a base MSRP of $28,000, and will be a complete redesign of this model. It will now have a more aggressive, aerodynamic look eschewing its stodgy minivan old looks. There will also be a new 2.5-liter turbo four-cylinder engine with an 8-speed automatic transmission. This should provide more speed and power than the current Sorento model. Kia will also offer the 2021 Sorento with a hybrid powertrain combining an electric motor with a 1.6-liter turbo four-cylinder engine.
If you love compact SUVs that are as versatile as they are fun to drive, then you are going to go nuts about the 2021 Kia Seltos. It has striking good looks, room enough for you and four passengers, and a really sporty and efficient engine. The base engine is a 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine, but if you really want some power you can get the optional 1.6-liter turbo four-cylinder gas engine. The Seltos is front-wheel drive standard with available all-wheel drive, and comes in five trims: the LX, S, EX, S Turbo, and SX Turbo.
If money is no object and you want the ultimate in luxury, then prepare to get blown away by the all-new 2021 Mercedes Maybach GLS 600. This ultra-luxury SUV has an estimated base MSRP of $300,000, which about what most folks pay for a house. Nevertheless, this three-row SUV is probably as roomy and better appointed than most homes, and you don’t have to spring for furniture. The GLS 600 is powered by a twin-turbocharged V8 that produces an impressive 558 horsepower, able to propel this SUV at an outrageous 0 to 60 mph in just 4.8 seconds. If that isn’t fast enough for you, Mercedes offers one with a 603 horsepower engine. To give the engine a little more oomph, Mercedes added a 48-volt hybrid system to the drivetrain.
Alternative Energy SUVs
Four new alternative energy SUVs will be making their debut with the 2021 model year. Elon Musk’s company will be premiering the Tesla Model Y. This cute and futuristic all-electric crossover is all-wheel drive, and has an estimated range of 316 miles. Despite its relatively small size, the designers at Tesla have made it capable of holding seven passengers with an optional third row of seats, and up to 68 cubic feet of cargo space. The Model Y uses two digitally controlled independent motors to provide torque to the front and rear wheels, giving it a maximum acceleration of 0 to 60 mph in 3.5 seconds and a top speed of 145 miles per hour.
Ford Motor Company has taken its famed muscle car the Mustang and made it into an all-electric SUV. I’ll wait while you let that sink in. The 2021 Mustang Mach-E combines the performance you expect from a vehicle bearing the Mustang logo, with aerodynamic styling, and an electric drivetrain with a 300 mile range and the power to go 0 to 60 mph in 3.5 seconds. It comes either rear-wheel drive or all-wheel drive. The engineers at Ford have added additional cargo space in the Mustang Mach-E’s hood. There are three trims, the base model Select, the First Edition, the California Route 1, the Premium, and the top-of-the-line GT. Imagine cruising in a Mustang Mach-E with the speed of a classic Mustang, the roominess of a luxury SUV, and the fuel economy and low emissions of an all-electric vehicle. In 2021, you won’t have to imagine anymore.
Sweden’s Volvo has long been known for making vehicles renowned for their safety and innovation. Volvo has joined the all-electric SUV market with the 2021 Volvo XC40 Recharge. This is basically the current generation of the XC40 luxury SUV with room for up to five passengers in its two rows of seats. The difference with the XC40 Recharge is its large 789 kWh battery with the ability to hold a long charge, giving this SUV a range of over 250 miles and 408 horsepower.
The 2021 Model Year
There is much to be excited about with these new additions to the SUV world. From the all-new Cadillac Escalade to the Volvo XC40, there is truly something for every kind of driver. We can’t wait to find out what else is in store for us.