If you take a look around the motoring landscape, we're pretty much surrounded by crossovers and SUVs. With rough roads and ever-persistent flooding in several parts of the country, it almost seems that you need something with high ground clearance to drive around.
Car manufacturers responded to that prevalent market preference. As a result, we're expecting 14 all-new and facelifted SUVs and crossovers coming to the country this year. If anything, 2021 is shaping up to be the year of the SUV and the crossover... or another year of the SUV and the crossover.
This year, we're looking forward to six new SUVs, and leading the charge is Chevrolet with two land yachts. The Covenant Car Company Inc. (TCCCI), the distributor of Chevrolet in the country, is ready to roll out the all-new Tahoe and Suburban. Chevrolet Philippines even said that they want to bring in the diesel versions of these behemoths, which can get up to nine kilometers per liter in city driving, according to factory claims.
There's another SUV from TCCCI, but this time from MG. Yes, MG is bringing in a truck-based SUV in the form of the sizable RX8. It's set to be a contender for the mid-size Pick-up Passenger Vehicle (PPV) class, so it's up against the likes of the Toyota Fortuner and Mitsubishi Montero Sport. It's a tall order, but MG is keen to make an impression on that segment.
Nissan and Ford also head into the new year with facelifted SUVs with the mildly updated Everest and the new-look Terra. The Ford gets some equipment and cosmetic tweaks while the Terra wades into the PPV arena with a redesigned front and rear end, along with a brand-new interior.
But perhaps the most significant SUV that may be launched this year will be the second-generation Mu-X. Among its peers, it's the only one that's been re-engineered from bumper to bumper. More power, a new chassis, and more tech are just some of the headline figures of the 2021 Mu-X, and Isuzu Philippines says it won't be a long wait before it lands.
If you think that's a lot of SUVs coming in this year, there are even more crossovers slated for 2021. Hyundai has three for 2021, one of which includes an all-new model. The Kona and Santa Fe facelift are arriving here soon, but it's the fourth-generation Tucson that takes the spotlight. That said, the specific Tucson model for the Philippines is yet to be determined as there are standard and long-wheelbase versions in the global market.
Not to be outdone, Subaru also has three future attractions. The facelifted XV will soon be available in local dealerships, along with the first-ever Evoltis. We've seen the Evoltis before when Subaru Philippines previewed it just before the lockdown. It's a massive crossover too, reminding us of the Ford Explorer and discontinued Honda Pilot when it comes to size. As for the third model, that would be the redesigned Outback. The wagon-crossover has been on sale in the US for quite some time already, and it's about time we get it too.
Nissan also has a crossover ready for release. It's the subcompact Kicks and it might be the replacement for the Juke in the Philippines. Nissan isn't saying much about it, but the ASEAN New Car Assessment Program (ASEAN NCAP) “accidentally” confirmed it when they crash tested one for evaluation. In case you're curious, it received a five-star safety rating.
Meanwhile, Maxus has the D60 waiting in the wings. The Chinese automaker says it will arrive sometime this year, likely during the first half.
Of course, it's not just SUVs and crossovers that will be launched in 2021. Three new pick-ups are landing here soon. Like the Everest, the Ford Ranger gets a subtle refresh, while Nissan gave the Navara a more aggressive look for its facelift.
Then there's Isuzu with the all-new D-Max. It's been more than a year since it made its world premiere in Bangkok, so you could say this might be the most anticipated pick-up here. It packs a new frame, a more powerful engine, and an upmarket interior that makes it looks heaps ahead of the outgoing model.
But what if you want something that isn't an SUV, crossover, or pick-up? Well, we're expecting two new sports cars, sedans, a van, and an MPV in 2021. The two sports cars are the mid-engined Chevrolet Corvette and Subaru BRZ coupe. Volkswagen and Geely are keeping the sedan flame alive with a new Santana and a soon to be revealed model, respectively.
Hyundai might also bring in the next-generation Starex this year, and the spy photos hint at a radical redesign.
Last but not least is a new Toyota. It may not be a full model change, but it's a significant model nonetheless. It's the facelifted Innova, and our neighbors from Thailand, Malaysia, and Indonesia already have it. Given how important the Innova is for Toyota in the Philippines, we don't think they will delay its launch.
Of course, this isn't a definitive list and we're sure several surprise launches will come along the way. Still, that's 23 probable launches to look forward to in 2021; a healthy number considering the local auto industry is still reeling in from the effects of last year's pandemic and subsequent economic downturn. If anything, these new models show optimism for the industry, and we can't wait to take all of them out for a spin.