The most important new crossover SUVs for 2020

October 2, 2019

Crossovers SUVs make up nearly half of all new cars sold in America. And crossovers keep coming for 2020. Some are new, such as the Hyundai Venue and Cadillac XT6, while some are fresh takes on old standards, such as the Ford Escape Hybrid and Toyota Highlander. 

To be clear, crossovers are car-based SUVs distinct from the old rough-and-tumble SUVs built on truck platforms such as the Toyota 4Runner or modern full-size SUVs such as the Ford Expedition and Chevy Suburban. 

We call the rest of them crossovers, and automakers are still filling in gaps in their crossover lineups, including three-row crossovers, five-seat mid-size, compact, and subcompact crossovers. 

Crossovers typically have a higher ride height, more cargo and passenger room, come better equipped, and charge a higher premium than sedans.This is one reason why the average new car transaction price hovers at record highs of about $37,500 in 2019. 

We want ‘em, well, we get ‘em. Here are the most significant new and redesigned crossover SUV models for 2020. 

2020 Buick Encore GX

2020 Buick Encore GX

2020 Buick Encore GX

The GX shows how automakers are squeezing a crossover into every gap. Slotted between the subcompact Encore (last year's carryover under the same name) and mid-size Envision, the Encore GX rides on a new platform with two new 3-cylinder engines, a 137-hp 1.2-liter or a 155-hp turbocharged 1.3-liter. Front-wheel drive vehicles get a continuously variable automatic transmission (CVT), while all-wheel-drive models get a 9-speed automatic. It will be offered in three trim levels, Preferred, Select, and Essence, with standard active safety features including automatic emergency braking, active lane control, as well as Apple CarPlay and Android Auto compatibility. The base price of the Encore GX will be announced later this year. 

2020 Hyundai Venue (Australian spec)

2020 Hyundai Venue (Australian spec)

2020 Hyundai Venue

The new Venue is the smallest, most affordable crossover in the Hyundai lineup and is more like a tall five-door hatchback than anything related to an SUV. Clad for the urban wild, the subcompact crossover is powered by the Accent’s 121-hp 1.6-liter inline-4 with a 6-speed manual or CVT to drive the front wheels only. It’s nearly five inches shorter than the Kona, but has a spacious cabin that can fit four adults. Automatic emergency braking, active lane control, and automatic high beams are standard, as is an 8.0-inch touchscreen with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. The EPA rates it at 32 mpg combined in most configurations, and we expect it to cost about $18,000, including destination fees, when it goes on sale later this year.

2020 Hyundai Palisade

2020 Hyundai Palisade

2020 Hyundai Palisade

The 2020 Palisade is Hyundai's best shot at dislodging vehicles like the Honda Pilot and Toyota Highlander from the top of three-row shopping lists. It's a capacious SUV with an edgy front-end look and an interior with beautiful trim once you've spent up to the top Limited version. With room for five adults and a pair of kids in the wayback, the Palisade can also tow up to 5,000 pounds, thanks to a beefy drivetrain that pairs a 291-horsepower, 3.8-liter V-6 and an 8-speed automatic. The front-wheel-drive Palisade can be configured with all-wheel drive, of course—and a top $46,000 Palisade Limited can be optioned up to about $50,000 with a surround-view camera system, Harman Kardon audio, nappa leather, heated and cooled first- and second-row seats, a 12.3-inch digital instrument cluster, and a head-up display.

2020 Kia Telluride

2020 Kia Telluride

2020 Kia Telluride

Take the Palisade's goodness and wrap it in what's arguably a more handsome shape, and you'll arrive at the 2020 Kia Telluride, easily the best vehicle ever to wear that nameplate. The Georgia-built Telluride (Palisades come from South Korea, for now) can seat up to eight people in three spacious rows of seats, and can wrap them in lovely quilted leather and entertain them with either an 8.0-inch or a 10.3-inch touchscreen interface. The Telluride has bountiful cargo space, a square-jawed look that we think plays better against American rivals, and about 46 cubic feet of cargo space behind second-row bench or captain's chairs. Automatic emergency braking is standard; options include blind-spot cameras and automatic headlights, all for a base price in the low $30,000 range. 

 

2020 Subaru Outback

2020 Subaru Outback

 

2020 Subaru Outback

Once upon a time, the Subaru Outback was a wagon with off-road versatility. It has since evolved to be a family crossover with all-wheel-drive assurances, exceptional safety ratings, and the can-do attitude that has earned it the “Swiss Army knife of cars” moniker. The updates for 2020 include a “hiking boot look” with more cladding and chunky side panels, an available 11.6-inch touchscreen, and a more efficient 260-hp 2.4-liter turbo-4 with a CVT. A 182-hp 2.5-liter flat-4 is standard, and the flat-6 is no longer offered. The EyeSight suite of active safety features with automatic emergency braking, lane departure warnings, active lane control, and adaptive cruise control is standard. It starts at $27,655, which is $300 more than the 2019 model.

2020 Ford Escape, 2019 New York International Auto Show

2020 Ford Escape, 2019 New York International Auto Show

2020 Ford Escape Hybrid

The redesigned 2020 Ford Escape compact crossover comes with three engine choices, including a hybrid, and a plug-in hybrid due in spring. The Escape is Ford’s best-selling vehicle behind the F-Series pickup truck, and the Escape SE Sport hybrid is our pick of the bunch. The 200-hp 2.5-liter inline-4 with an electric motor in front- or all-wheel drive is smooth, responsive, and well-equipped for just under $30,000. The small battery pack doesn’t make much of a dent in cargo volume compared to non-hybrid models. And we expect the Escape Hybrid to exceed 40 mpg combined, which is the combined mpg of the 2019 Toyota RAV4 hybrid. The 2020 Honda CR-V hybrid may top them both when EPA testing is complete. 

2020 Lincoln Corsair first drive

2020 Lincoln Corsair first drive

2020 Lincoln Corsair

Mechanically similar to the Ford Escape, the 2020 Lincoln Corsair replaces the slightly smaller MKC in Ford’s luxury brand, and we can once again call Lincoln a luxury brand based on its impressive lineup of crossovers and the full-size Lincoln Navigator. Take note, Cadillac. The Corsair is the more refined and luxurious take on the compact crossover, with a calming, technology-rich interior with some of the most comfortable seats on the market. At $36,940, the Corsair starts about $2,000 more than the outgoing MKC. Such is the price for actual luxury.  

2019 Audi E-tron

2019 Audi E-tron

2020 Audi E-Tron

Technically a 2019 model launched midway through 2019, the Audi E-Tron electric crossover is the first all-electric vehicle from Audi, and may usher in a new era for VW’s luxury brand. It slots between the Q5 compact and Q7 mid-size crossover but it isn’t as tall, so it’s sporty like a wagon but still seats five adults with cargo room comparable to most mid-size crossovers. The 95.0-kwh battery pack powers two motors on either axle for all-wheel drive, and makes up to 402 hp and 490 lb-ft of torque to hit 60 mph in 5.5 seconds. It’s quiet, loaded with technology, and is capable of 204 miles on a single charge. With a starting price of $74,800, it’s cheaper than the Tesla Model X and looks more like a crossover than the Jaguar I-Pace. 

2020 Mercedes-Benz EQC 400 - first drive - Norway, May 2019

2020 Mercedes-Benz EQC 400 - first drive - Norway, May 2019

2020 Mercedes-Benz EQC

The other all-electric crossover for 2020 is the Mercedes-Benz EQC, and like the Audi E-Tron, it provides the basis for MB’s future electric vehicle family dubbed EQ. Similar in size and shape to the GLC crossover, the EQC is 4 inches longer, seats five, and squares off against the Jaguar I-Pace and Audi E-Tron. The 80-kwh battery pack powers two motors on either axle to make 402 hp and 564 lb-ft of torque to hit 60 mph in 4.9 seconds. Despite that instant torque, our colleagues at Green Car Reports said it was built for comfort, with a high seat position with great forward vision, and rear seats roomy enough for a 6-footer. We’re still waiting for official range and price before it’s scheduled to arrive in the U.S. in early 2020, though, like Tesla, the EQC has been delayed coming to market.

2020 Cadillac XT6 Sport

2020 Cadillac XT6 Sport

2020 Cadillac XT6

It is mildly baffling that Cadillac waited this long to develop a three-row crossover when parent-company GM has a crossover SUV for every size and style. Slotted between the Escalade full-size SUV and the two-row XT5, the XT6 comes with a 310-hp 3.6-liter V-6 with a 9-speed automatic transmission in front- or all-wheel drive. The XT6 can tow up to 4,000 pounds when properly equipped. It comes with six or seven comfy seats to give the Lincoln Aviator a run for the money, but the third row in the XT6 is cramped. The XT6 is also up against the less expensive Kia Telluride and Hyundai Palisade. The 2020 XT6 starts at $52,695 in Premium Luxury trim, but rises to $57,095 in Sport trim with AWD.  

2020 Toyota Highlander, 2019 New York International Auto Show

2020 Toyota Highlander, 2019 New York International Auto Show

2020 Toyota Highlander

It might be easy to overlook the stalwart family hauler because it seems like the Toyota Highlander has been here since the beginning of time and, like the Land Cruiser or Sequoia or 4Runner, it never really changes all that much. The redesigned 2020 Highlander gets boxier like the RAV4 but also more spacious inside, with room for up to eight passengers. An 8.0-inch touchscreen is standard, as is Apple CarPlay and Android Auto compatibility, and active safety features such as automatic emergency braking, adaptive cruise control, lane-departure warnings, and active lane control. The changes are subtle but significant, especially on the Highlander Hybrid, which is expected to get 34 mpg combined, a boost of 6 mpg over the outgoing version. We should hear more about how much the 2020 Highlander will cost when it goes on sale later this year, with the hybrid model arriving in February 2020.


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