The automotive industry is — and has been — in the midst of a great upheaval in the wake of the financial crisis, a transformative force that for better or for worse has seen some serious commitment by automakers to redesigning and re-energizing their lineups to gain traction in the burgeoning auto sales sector, one of the few aspects in American commerce that has seen substantial growth in the last several years.
Cars like the new Chevy Corvette, the new Mustang, and the Challenger Hellcat have been soaking up a lot of press recently, and for good reasons — all of them. But the more sensible side of the industry has seen great changes as well, and families now have more choice than ever before. Better choices, too; cars today are safer than ever, more tech-laden, and better looking (though that’s largely subjective).
Here’s a smattering of ten new family cars that will be making a debut for the 2015 model year. Some are brand new, and others are complete or near-complete redesigns of existing models. This list is by no means a comprehensive one, nor is it meant to be; the cars are listed in alphabetical order. Some cars are already in production, and some have yet to be built, but will be in the near future. A hat-tip to The Globe and Mail for the inspiration.
1. Chevrolet Cruze
The Chevrolet (NYSE:GM) Cruze isn’t seeing as drastic a change as others on this list, and aside from some small details and aesthetic adjustments, it is remaining largely the same for the 2015 model year. Those small differences add up to big changes, however; the new grille gives the Cruze a more premium appearance, and inside, there is OnStar 4G LTE, which also offers a mobile WiFi hotspot and text messages that are read aloud over Bluetooth. A completely new Cruze is slated for 2016.
2. Ford Focus
In efforts to battle the Cruze, Ford (NYSE:F) will be unleashing a new Focus family, which takes after the company’s updated design language seen on the Fusion, Transit van, and Fiesta. There is now a rearview camera that comes as standard, an optional three-cylinder engine with manual transmission, more feel in the steering, and a quieter ride, according to Ford. Though the Focus EV is being left as-is for now, the Focus ST will be getting a similar treatment.
3. Kia Sedona
There are some cars that desperately need attention in one way or another — and the Kia Sedona minivan was one of them. After many years of riding on the same stale design, Kia finally brought the minivan up to the present so it looks more in place among it’s other vehicles. Buyers can choose to seat as many as eight people as standard, or instead outfit their new kid-carrier with first-class style rear seats with leg rests. The same V6 is standard, like before.
4. Mini Countryman
Though the Cooper Hardtop saw some pretty significant changes, the Mini Countryman’s new suit is far more subtle. There have been some slight changes to the grille, LED fog and running lamps, some slight revisions to the head and tail lights, better sound insulation thanks to a thicker floor carpet, and the cool shade of green (“Jungle Green Metallic”) paint. The Mini is an ideal choice for those looking for an athletic, unique ride that’s as quirky as it is versatile.
5. Nissan Murano
Nissan’s Murano has been a quiet favorite for many for some time, but its understated appearance is now looking pretty tired against much bolder competition. Thankfully, Nissan’s engineers have primed a much more exciting and visually stimulating option for 2015, which takes the new V-inspired design language into account. The sheet metal has a far more sculpted and artistic appearance, which gives the whole vehicle a better flow — at least aesthetically speaking.
6. Subaru Outback
The Subaru Outback has long been a go-to favorite for outdoor enthusiasts, as it combines handy off-road capabilities, a versatile and utility-oriented interior, civilized driving manners for around town, and plenty of space for equipment and/or children and passengers. There’s new torque vectoring for better handling on the 2015 model, which boasts cleaner lines and less plastic body-cladding, giving the whole vehicle a sleeker and slimmed down appearance.
7. Toyota Camry
Although it’s the best selling car in the U.S. and has been for some time, the Toyota (NYSE:TM) Camry needed a good dose of personality as it gets ready to fend off renewed competition from around the world. The new Camry will feature much bolder styling, helping separate it from the very vanilla styling that once defined the midsize sedan segment; though the roof remains the same, every other bit of sheet metal has been redone to give the car a new lease on life.
8. Tesla Model X
For affluent families looking to do away with gasoline entirely, it doesn’t get much more appealing than the Tesla (NASDAQ:TSLA) Model X. The first SUV/crossover from the electric vehicle maker will be the first mass-produced electric vehicle to feature all-wheel drive (which comes standard), and it will offer all the luxury and refinement that Tesla owners are already enjoying in their Model S sedans.
9. Volkswagen Golf SportWagen
The current Volkswagen SportWagen is based on the Jetta sedan, but the forthcoming model will instead be based on the Golf — and for the better, we feel. The styling is far better with the new Golf look, and the SportWagen will make a better large Golf than a smaller Jetta. There will be a TDI diesel option, and it could be available with Volkswagen’s 4Motion all-wheel drive setup too, making one of the most economical and capable entrants in the wagon segment to date.
10. Volvo XC90
After ten years on the market and virtually zero significant changes, Volvo is making a stunning return with its new XC90, which has been redone in just about every way. While the outgoing model straddled utility and luxury, the new 2015 model fully embraces the latter; it’s slated to become one of the most beautiful SUVs on the road, and a new menu of powertrains — including a plug-in hybrid model — will make it one of the most desirable family haulers on the market.