2006 SUV Sneak Preview

0500 Acura Rdx 200

Acura RD-X
WHAT: Acura plans to launch a BMW X3 competitor, previewed by the Detroit show concept above.
WHEN: Late 2006.
KICK GLASS: The RD-X concept features acres of glass, including a massive windshield-moonroof combo.

0503 Sp Audi Q 01

Audi Q5 and Q7
WHAT: The Q7 and the Q5 are Audi's ultra-late arrivals to the SUV party. The Q7 (previewed as the Pikes Peak) is based on the Volkswagen  Touareg and the Porsche Cayenne but is stretched to squeeze in a third-row seat. Audi ditches the low range, skid plates, and diff locks to save 385 pounds, but  the Q7 does get a three-position air suspension, MMI (Multi-Media Interface), and dual sunroofs. A 4.2-liter V-8 will be joined by a 3.6-liter VR6 and, later, by a version of Lamborghini's V-10. The Q5, based on the next A4, aims at the BMW X3. Like the Q7, it forsakes heavy-duty off-road gear but offers hill-descent control and air suspension. The Q5's Quattro all-wheel-drive system has a 40/60 percent front/rear torque bias. Likely engines include a direct-injection 2.0-liter four and a 3.2-liter V-6. The 4.2-liter V-8 could power an S-line version. A six-speed manual or seven-speed DSG do the shifting. There's no third row, but the back seat moves fore and aft. Audi hopes to sell 70,000 of each.
WHEN: The Q7, an '06 model, will debut at this fall's Frankfurt show; the Q5 follows in 2007.
CHANGE OF PLAN: The Allroad Quattro was supposed to be Audi's sport-utility, but now that idea seems hopelessly naive. The Q7 and the Q5 will attend to SUV folk, while upcoming Allroad versions of the A6 and A4 Avants target the neo-SUV crowd.

BMW X5
WHAT: The larger second generation moves farther from the X3, with third-row seating, refined ergonomics, and an improved four-wheel-drive system, Dynamic xDrive.
WHEN: Late 2006.
MORE OF THE SAME: The current model has aged well.

0503 Sp Ford Sporttrac 01

Ford Explorer SportTrac
WHAT: This is the long-overdue second-generation SUT.
WHEN: Fall 2006.
LIVIN' LARGE: The Explorer pickup will grow longer and wider, complementing the 30 percent larger pickup bed. Ford might even give it an independent rear suspension.

0503 Sp Hyundai Santa 01

Hyundai Santa Fe
WHAT: The all-new, larger, Sonata-based Santa Fe moves away from the Tucson, gets a third-row seat, and ditches its loopy styling for angular new sheetmetal that apes
the Honda Pilot.
WHEN: Fall 2005.
ONE TO WATCH: Hyundai continues its relentless growth.

0503 Sp Jeep Commander 01

Jeep Commander
WHAT: This larger, seven-seat sibling to the Grand Cherokee has sheetmetal inspired by the late Cherokee. Spy pics reveal an upright greenhouse and a neo-Cherokee face.
WHEN: Fall 2005.
A SHAME: That Jeep is following the three-row-seating herd.

0503 Sp Jeep Srt8 01

Jeep Grand Cherokee SRT8
WHAT: The next chapter in the SRT8 saga (Chrysler 300C, Dodge Magnum) also will focus on the 6.1-liter Hemi, upgraded brakes, and a sport suspension.
WHEN: Fall 2005.
ROLE REVERSAL: SVT takes a hiatus; SRT takes the stage.

0503 Sp Lincoln Aviator

Lincoln Aviator
WHAT: The late-arriving Lincoln crossover on the Mazda 6 platform will replace the slow-selling Explorer-based version.
WHEN: Fall 2006.
NEW POWER: The Aviator will be one of Ford's first applications of the new 3.5-liter Duratec V-6 that will likely go into the Five Hundred and the Freestyle soon.

0503 Sp Mercury Meta 01

Mercury Meta One
WHAT: A crossover concept built on the Ford Freestyle platform, it's powered by the Euro-spec Jaguar S-type's well-regarded new diesel plus a 35-kW electric motor.
WHEN: 2007.
IT'S ALIVE!: Mercury continues its return from near death.

0503 Sp Mitsu Raider 01

Mitsubishi Raider
WHAT: A new, Dodge Dakota-based pickup gets extended or double cabs and V-6 or V-8 power.
WHEN: Fall 2005.
AH, JEEZ: We don't need another mid-size pickup, but Mitsubishi sure needs new products.

0503 Sp Pontiac Torrent 01

Pontiac Torrent
WHAT: The replacement for the Aztek has a 185-hp V-6 and available all-wheel drive.
WHEN: Fall 2005.
DING, DONG, THE WITCH IS DEAD: The most significant thing about the ruggedly handsome Torrent, a rebadged Chevy Equinox, is that it isn't the Aztek.

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