There are three big things happening in the automotive world right now. First and foremost, technology is transforming the automobile as we know it. Second, the market for new cars is cooling after seven years of record-setting sales numbers. And finally, crossovers and SUVs are taking over everything. Because of their popularity, both the compact and midsize sedan market is in mortal danger as automakers shift resources to meet demand for these tall, family-friendly people-movers.
But like any trend, companies as large as automakers sometimes take time to catch up. There are plenty of popular models on sale today that haven’t been updated much since before George W. Bush left office. But for 2018, that really won’t be the case anymore.
Big changes are coming across the board for 2018, but nowhere will they be more acutely felt than in crossover and SUV segments. These 10 models might not be in showrooms yet, but we think they’re worth waiting for.
1. Jaguar E-Pace
Jaguar took a big risk moving into the SUV segment with the F-Pace a few years ago. Because that risk paid off handsomely, it’s moving into the smaller crossover segment with the E-Pace. With a 246-horsepower, 2.0-liter turbocharged inline-four as the base engine, this sub-$40,000 SUV could soon be the most successful cat in Jaguar’s pride.
Next: This blast from the past is one of the most anticipated SUVs in decades.
2. Ford Bronco
Ford’s reboot of its iconic 4×4 will be a 2019 model, but it should hit showrooms — or more realistically be delivered to the faithful who are willing to pay for a ridiculous dealer markup — in late 2018. Very little is known about the 21st century Bronco, other than it will be built on the same platform as the new Ranger pickup and will compete with the Jeep Wrangler Unlimited. Still, that’s more than enough to get fans of Ford’s go-anywhere truck hot and bothered.
Next: This Italian upstart is looking to make a big splash.
3. Alfa Romeo Stelvio
The fact that it’s named after a twisty Alpine road should give you an idea of the Stelvio’s character. Alfa Romeo’s first crossover, the Stelvio is powered by a turbocharged inline-four that cranks out 280 horsepower and 306 pound-feet of torque. Sure, most will never be driven in anger, but this $42,990-plus people-mover should be more than enough to make your daily commute more exhilarating.
Next: This popular crossover got a long overdue redesign.
4. Buick Enclave
The outgoing Enclave was essential in Buick’s reinvention as a builder of affordable yet premium SUVs. But that model had barely been changed since 2007. All new for 2018, Buick’s design language gets even more upscale. Mechanically, it becomes lighter and more powerful. With moves like this, it seems like as long as the demand for crossovers remains high, Buick will be one of the hottest American brands on the roads.
Next: This German best-seller could be more competitive than ever.
5. Audi Q5
Audi might be known for its sporty, all-wheel drive cars, but with each passing year more customers are turning to crossovers, such as the popular Q5. New for 2018, the latest version of its best-selling Q5 is sharper looking and more dynamic than the outgoing model. Blending the brand’s performance DNA with an easy to handle crossover package, we’d be shocked if the Q5 wasn’t a runaway success.
Next: This brand shot to the forefront of the SUV segment.
6. Volkswagen Atlas
After years of being lost in the shuffle, Volkswagen has committed to SUVs in a big way. Its first entry into the three-row foray is the handsome Atlas. Starting at just over $30,000, it’s the perfect Jeep Grand Cherokee fighter for fans of German cars.
Next: This SUV is so new, its automaker is rewriting history for it.
7. Ford Expedition
Ford’s king-size Expedition has been around since 1998 with three distinct styling generations. Yet Ford claims the new model is so different that it’s lumping all 1998 to 2017 trucks into one generation and calling this one the second-generation truck. How does the automaker justify it? An aluminum-intensive construction, an EcoBoost turbocharged 3.5-liter V6, and 40 new-to-the-model features. Chevy’s Suburban may rule the full-size SUV roost, but the new Expedition should make for some very tough competition.
Next: This popular suburban hauler is new after nearly a decade of service.
8. GMC Terrain
The GMC Terrain was introduced in 2010. Then, for a long time, nothing happened — except for hundreds of thousands of sales. But for 2018, the Traverse (and its platform-mate, the Chevy Equinox) are new. That means it’s slimmer, peppier, and more spacious inside. Prices start at around $25,000.
Next: This new model is about as bold as this automaker gets.
9. Toyota C-HR
For those who want the added versatility of a crossover but think the segment is just a little too bland, the Toyota CH-R should do the trick. Originally slated to be a Scion, Toyota took on the funky little people-mover when it shuttered its youth brand. The result is a formidable Honda HR-V competitor that starts at just over $23,000.
Next: This small crossover should only make its automaker even more popular.
10. Subaru Crosstrek
The Crosstrek has been an essential part of Subaru’s explosive growth, and for 2018 it’s all new. More of an evolution than a ground-up rethinking, the new model shares its 2.0-liter flat-four with the Impreza and is available with either a CVT or six-speed manual transmission. With plenty of pep and interior space, as well as an attractive price (new models should fall in the low-$20,000 range), we expect Subaru to sell these by the boatload.